The secret to the success of a group of Waitaki Boys’ High School mountain bikers is simple.
They won one event, so they thought “why not try another?”.
The five-man team – Will Plunket, Ben Strang (both 16), Jonty Nelson, Jakob Cunningham (both 15) and Vandy Selfe (18) – has won four endurance mountain biking events over the past two months.
It all began when the group decided to enter the Naseby 12 Hour Challenge, in October.
The boys wanted to win, but were shocked when they completed 20 laps of the 11.6km circuit a full lap clear of clear of second-placed Verdon College, to win the junior teams category.
To make their feat more impressive, the schoolboys finished ninth overall, out of 106 teams.
Ben said it was “pretty cool” to finish in the top 10, up against several tough teams.
“Naseby had a really cool environment about it,” Ben said.
With one win under their belts, team members got back on their bikes, and competed in and won the Deans Bank 10 Hour event.
But it was not all smooth sailing, as the team ran into several difficulties.
Will, who was the team’s last rider, blew his tyre on his first lap of the course and the cassette of Vandy’s bike broke down.
Jonty said the pair’s bikes began to fall apart, and a massive “boom” could be heard coming from Vandy’s bike.
“It all got fixed – we were pretty lucky.
“Will was last so he had enough time to put another tube on. It all worked out,” Jonty said.
The team completed 16 laps to win the school category, and was ninth overall, out of 68 teams.
At the Alpine Energy 10 Hour event, in Timaru, the team was back to its best, winning the under-19 division, completing 20 laps of the 9km course in 9hr 36min.
The team also finished fifth out of 37 teams overall.
And then came the height of their success, to finish off an almost unbelievable run.
They won the under-19 category of the Tekapo 10 Hour mountain bike race and were first overall, out of 27 teams, finishing two laps clear of the next team and five laps ahead of the next under-19 team.
Vandy said the team had been made to work for the Tekapo win.
The riders all did their utmost, working well as a team.
Prior to this season, they had never ridden as a group before.
Will, Ben, Jonty and Jakob had competed at the Naseby event last year, but adding another member, Vandy, had worked to their advantage.
It was easier to prepare for each lap and provided a better recovery time for each rider, Jakob said.
They switched their riding order for each race to give everyone an opportunity, and most riders averaged 18min a lap.
Vandy got as low as 16min in one event.