‘Tough as’ just as she likes it
Mountainbiker hits Italian alps
Erin Greene could be described as a pintsized masochist.
The three times New Zealand 24-hour mountainbike champion likes her races as tough as she can find. That was why she recently competed in the Italian Ironbike – an eight day staged race in the Alps over some 700km, including 22km of climbing.
‘‘It sounded like it was my kind of race. It was the hardest I could find. I’m a bit silly like that,’’ the tiny Coronet Peak ski patroller said.
‘‘Anything more than six hours and I feel like I’m a bit more in my element.’’
The annual event attracts about 100 entrants but only half survive the course. Until this year only one female was an official finisher.
With the goal in mind of finishing, she raced for up to 11 hours a day, wearing the leader’s jersey for the first half but ultimately finishing second of the three women competing.
The winner, she points out, was there with a support crew, which definitely would have helped.
‘‘They are long days and then you have to get your bike washed and fix it, pitch a tent and stand in a queue for a shower.’’
This after days of riding between 65km and 140km with a massive amount of climbing – one day included a 4500m climb – that is 2.5 times higher than the Remarkables.
While she loved the uphills the descents were less enjoyable – ranging from rocks to mellow fourwheel-drive tracks requiring little of the skill she hoped to use and not as much fun as a rugged mountainbike trail.
She did not come home empty handed, having won a few bottles of Italian wine and eaten more pasta than she imagined possible.
Greene is hopeful that having partner Tom Lamb with her when she contests the 24-hour-world champion title in Scotland on October 11 will help. Although they completely pay their own way – her only sponsorship is product from Endura, despite being a three time national champion.
Two previous shots at the world title have seen her finish fifth but at 31 she is now moving into the age where many long distance riders excel.
From there she will be looking for the next one.
‘‘There’s so many races out there and I still feel like I’m searching for the perfect one.’’
On patrol: Endurance mountain biker Erin Greene at her day job as a ski patroller at Coronet Peak.