Monday, June 2, 2008

The Tacky Way to Beat Ray

Nobody is going to beat Mr. Huang, The Death Ray, at the state TT championship. His competition can, however, keep him from winning by trying this, uh, tack -- tested and proven in New Zealand this past weekend:

A popular bike race along Tamaki Drive has been sabotaged by push pins sprinkled along the route, forcing at least 15 riders out with punctures.

The first of seven races in the annual Auckland Secondary Schools time trials on Auckland's waterfront early on Sunday was marred when an apparently disgruntled resident spread the pins indiscriminately along the 16km out and back course from Teal Park in Mechanics Bay to St Heliers - just minutes after organisers had paid $300 to have any debris swept off the road.

One distraught rider was stunned as he pulled nine tacks out of a tyre.
Racing tyres cost up to $150 each and inner tubes about $15.
[WWHAAA?!?!? - ed.]

The time trials, first raced in the late 1980s, are held with support from the Auckland City Council. They are scheduled for a 6.45am start and finish before 8.30am.

Sunday's race, which attracted 104 teams - up from 40 10 years ago - was over by 8.15am despite the mayhem which left some teams one or more riders short at the finish.

Many of the country's best cyclists, including Olympic/world champion Sarah Ulmer have had their first taste of competitive racing at the event.

Among the field on Sunday was St Kentigern team captain Myron Simpson, who won silver in the testing four-event omnium at last year's World Junior Championships in Mexico. [Do NOT race in Mexico! See below! - ed.]

With riders reaching speeds of up to 50km/h, a blowout caused by such stupidity could lead to a serious accident as the riders, in teams of four or five, are bunched closely.

"It is mindless and I can't fathom why someone would want to do it," said St [An aside: The English language in New Zealand must be pregnant. It's missing a lot of periods. - ed.] Kentigern director of sport Martin Piaggi. "These kids ride up to 500km a week in training to ride the time trials. They don't go out on Saturday night as they prepare to get up at 5am on a Sunday to race. Then, someone does something like this. I can't fathom it at all. I can't believe someone would stoop to such levels to stop the almost 500 kids who want be involved in their sport rather than go out and cause problems."

Event manager Lara Collins, from ASB College Sport, was flabbergasted by what happened, especially as they had, for the first time, paid an outside contractor to sweep the road to ensure a smooth, and safe, surface.

"Luckily, we got through without a major accident.

"But what could have happened if one or more riders had crashed doesn't bear thinking about."

- JN

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