The Race of Six Friends is an event which is a little unique in road cycling: part race, part adventure, part orienteering, part Sunday cruise with your mates. This this 6th edition of the RO6F we started from town of Matakana north of Auckland. The race route and distance are kept secret until the morning of the event when a cue-card is handed to each team to guide them through the day’s roads. There are designated check points where each team needs to assemble in front of a camera to prove they travelled the whole distance and didn’t get lost.
This year’s route was a 116km figure-8 heading forth to Magawhai through a collection of beautiful paved and gravel roads. Our team roster had changed quite few times in the leadup to the event with people falling foul of winter colds, plus a crash in the previous weekend’s Melbourne Roobaix, the result being three old friends I knew well plus two new faces. 116km is a great way to get to meet someone!
Our team decided to approach the event as more of a fun day out in the sunshine and less of a race so we stopped in Magawhai for sausage rolls and coffee before battling the fierce headwind back home. This relatively casual pace was perfect for me as it provided plenty of opportunities for photo stops :-) Some of the teams were there to win and we saw the Kiwivelo boys come flying past us in full team-timetrial mode, while other teams appeared to start as 6 friends but after punctures, getting lost and battling headwinds finished as 6 individuals.
I haven’t done a lot of riding north of Auckland and I was simply amazed by how beautiful the countryside was and how much fun the roads were to ride. Other than a short section on a main road we saw almost zero traffic for the day.
The weather was perfect and although rain threatened a few times we stayed dry. The wind picked up but I’m from Wellington so didn’t have much of a problem with that.
We finished up at the Matakana Pub for a beer and burger and to swap stories with the other teams. It was a great day out.