I've only raced the Coppermine Epic once before. This year I decided to trade in the NZ Nationals (which are always on the same weekend) for the Coppermine Epic. I practiced the course multiple times in training. I learned a couple of sneaky lines through Black Diamond Ridge from James Hufflet and was able to test my 1x11 gearing up the steep Classic climb. This allowed me to get optimal race preparation with minimal time effort- time I had to spent on finishing off my PhD thesis.
In the end, everything worked out perfectly. I sent my thesis off for examination on Thursday, had one day of rest on Friday and then a near perfect race on Saturday taking my first Coppermine Epic win.
Working hard up Tantragee Saddle
I didn't have it all my way though. To my surprise there was a handful of top females at the start line including current 24 hr NZ Champion Anja McDonald, last year's 24 hr Champ Erin Green and former XC elite racer Raewyn Morrison. I kept to my routine during warm-up and kept focused on my own race ahead. We lined up in the grassy paddock and after a quick BMX style loop on the gras, we funneled into a tight single trail. I worked hard from the start to avoid the bottleneck. I managed to get a good position. From their I kept a steady pace up Tantragree Saddle and along the Dun Mountain Walkway to the start of the climb up the classic. The climb was just a matter of getting through and keep pushing. This was helped by having the voice of my coach Trevor Voyce in my head saying 'Whoever gets up the classic first and through Black Diamond will win the race.' I got to the top but didn't know if I was first or not. I pushed that thought aside quickly and focused on the technical trail ahead. During my training sessions I discovered an unknown love for this trail and my new bike made it a lot more fun to ride.
Anja right on my tail at the bottom of the Coppermine downhill
I popped back out onto the Dun Mountain Walkway too soon. I went into time trail mode and kept pushing to the Coppermine Saddle. The marshall said I'm second women through. This information started to play with my head and I started thinking... As a result, I probably didn't have the best ride down the Coppermine and it wasn't surprising that Anja caught me at the bottom of the Coppermine. I stayed on her wheel along the flat pipeline section thinking we are racing for 2nd and 3rd. On the last steep hill I put in a big effort to get ahead. I raced as hard as I could for the last 10 minutes to keep my marginal lead and was delighted to hear that I have won my first Coppermine Epic when I crossed the finish line. Anja finished not far behind with Raewyn rounding out the podium. Although it was a close finish, the coach was right again!
Prize money for first to the top of Fringe Hill and overall- professional for a day