Lots has changed.
The main things are that the first climbs (warm up and deadwood) are 100% rideable. I’ve never been able to ride it all in 15 years.
I rode around in 2hr 37min (moving time) with Eden Cruise and Jason Mccarty and thatwasn’t really race pace at all, but we weren’t hanging around either…Still that’s crazy fast and shows how much faster it is right now.
Really nice to meet the German guys in the carpark – sorry forgot your name but thanks for reading my blog!! Hope you had a good ride!
Second thing: the ridgeline bit from the top of Deadwood to the top of the Rock Garden has been bulldozed, and a lot of it is like a dirt road. No exaggeration it’s super fast. All the rough little techy slippy bits are 100% gone now. Probably worth maybe 3 – 5 minutes on it’s own.
Rock Garden: Pretty much the same. Way easier on the 29er though! Still got those 2 drops half way down and I still can’t ride them
Devils Staircase: 90% same, but there is a good rideable line between the ruts in a lot of the second half.
Big Ring Boulevard: Same. Quite sketchy and rocky in parts.
Dopers: 100% rideable from the very bottom. Probably a bit faster than previous years.
From experience of 7+ Karapoti’s…
Tyres: I’m riding Schwalbe Nobby Nics 2.35 with Snakeskin. They give a good wide grippy platform for the looser bits and the snakeskin (sidewall protection) is quite important for the ‘Poti. I rode a non-snakeskin Rocket Ron a few months ago and it lasted exactly 1km before tearing the sidewall…
I also put padding at the intersection of the down and top tubes for all the running bits although there is less this year. In fact might reconsider using it. I get this grey cellular rubbery stuff you use for pipe insulation from Bunnings. It works great.
29er wheels: Sorry but they just roll so much better on this rocky type of track.
It’s gonna be a fast year. I think the record will be broken