The lowest of the low – Brunner

I have just got back from a weekend away on the lovely west coast. It was Around Brunner weekend. I was looking to do better than the last year, but not expecting much else (Just quietly was hoping for a top 20 placing overall). My race plan was quite simple, Go hard at the start and hang on to a fast bunch… this would have one of 2 results, I would do well, or I would die spectacular… the later occured, though not in the way I expectated.

The weekend started well, had friday of work, Tanya came around about lunch time and we packed the car up and prepared for a weekend road trip. Love driving over to the west coast, and driving down the Otira gorge, it was a bit of a “reminiscing” trip, as it was the first time I had been that way since the c2c.

That evening we got our HPA team tops, it was very cool being part of a big team and having our own team colours. The team is made up of about 20 riders with a range of different rider abilities, from the experinced Geoff, with over 20 years experince on the bike, who would be a top ten overall placing. To Glenys, who was doing it in a team and 65K would be one of her biggest rides and started riding her bike a few months ago. A big thanks has to be given to Tim for organising the team and the sponsors that made it possible.

  • NV Interactive (yes my company, I have to put them on top, thanks guys)
  • Asteron
  • AIGlife
  • Hamiton Hindin Green
  • Stone
  • Receivables Management Ltd
  • The Integrity Service Centre
  • Caltex Greymouth
  • The Beach B&B
  • Baker boys

Hopefully will have photos and results on the team later, but I suppose I can’t put it of any longer and get to my race…

The morning dawned icy cold, yet fine. I had a slight headache, though have no idea if this contributed to the race outcome or not. We cycled down from the campground to the start and got (what I thought) was a good postion on the start line. Then we had to stand around in the cold for about 45 min, I think this did contribute to the race result as I was very cold when I started (but then so was everyone else). They started the riders of in waves, I thought I had positioned myself in the first wave but turned out I hadn’t. I was a little pissed of about that. But that’s life, and not much I could do. Anyway eventually I got going, got into after a bit of hard spurt at the begging I got into I good rhythm in the the waves front bunch. It all went pear shaped at the rail bridge.

This bridge scared me the first year, its a bridge that has rail way down the middle, so the bunch is split into 3 lanes, I got the left lane, where most of the bunch went, so many others were going faster in the 2 lanes. At the end of the bridge, I had about a 5 meter gap to get back on to the bunch, there was a slight uphill, but my normal ability to accelerate, like I would normally had completely deserted me, my legs were like lead and my heart rate quickly got to max, and I wasn’t going any faster, and was feeling extremely nauseous. Somehow, I managed to claw onto the back of the bunch, but not for long, soon I was eventually dropped, and felt shattered that that had happened. I tried to get my breath back and wait for the next bunch. It wasn’t long before they arrived, and I was back off again, but when the pace picked up a bit I once again had nothing and eventually had to give up, pull over and throw up.

Surprisingly, I had pulled over directly opposite Kumara Racecourse, where we had camped the night before the c2c start. stood on the side for a while was about considering what to do form here, to go on or to turn around and head back to the start. I knew there would be support crew at half way, but it was only a hour back to start. Nadine road in a bunch, out converstation was “You alright?” “No” “Anything I can do?” “No, keep going” so she kept on going. Next Rebecca, came past she did stop, I kept on telling her don’t stop, but she said she wanted to get a slower bunch. So we stayed around on the sideline for 5 to 10 min or so, and the we saw Kalina, Kelly and Paula. I decided I would keep going be the girls “bitch” for the rest of the ride. It was more fun at the back of the feild, the bunches were smaller and less co-ordinated but you didn’t have to worry about crashing into wheels etc.

I was still feeling ill, legs were struggling up the hills, and felt ill at the top of them. By half way, I had decided that there was no point in continuing on. Firstly, because I didn’t want to make myself worse, but what was actually on my mind, it had taken me 2hr30 or so to get to half way, and my time would have been crap by the end, I didn’t want that on my record. Think that sounds a little bit shallow, but was quite prominent in my mind at the time. So HPA was at half way supporting the team members so I pulled out and got a lift back to the start.

So what caused the first DNF of my life? I had been feeling slightly “Off” for the prevoius few weeks. So I could have been carrying a virsus. I might not have taken enough time off after the c2c, these 2 on top of the cold might have prevented my legs from being able to move probably and I could have put too much expectation on myself. So going to have a complete week off, and hopefully I will be able to restore myself to full health.

I might have something to prove next year, but I ain’t going to let this weekend get me down, and hopefully I have learnt a lot from this failure both physically and mentally.

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Previous Posts from Old Blog

Friday, April 4, 2008

City 2 Surf and What a lazy Week!

Last weekend did the City 2 Surf. Never done this event before, and it is quite mad really, 20 000 people participate and it’s mayhem at the start and mayhem and the finish with not much difference in between. 12K of Flat running, was going to be a bit of a test on my body that hasn’t see that much distance on the tarmac in a very long time. Came through without to much problem, wasn’t speedy but I felt strong throughout, and I finally got a good rthymn at the 5K to go sign.

Well the rest of the week, wasn’t quite so good, Running class on Tuesday, I felt “heavy” and everything just felt hard. Wednesday was going to do short bays after work, but got half ways to hills, and wasn’t feeling great, so just turned around and went home. Thursday I decided to take off, Firday I was going to go for a paddle but couldn’t get up early enough and couldn’t be bothered after work, this morning was going to do the Support race out at Cust, but period pain (I’m assuming that this is why haven’t been feeling good all week) like I haven’t had in ages when I woke up put a stop to that idea. Good thing this week is supposed to be a reovery one eh!

Well there’s only 2 weeks to brunner and I am a little worried, because I just haven’t been biking much. Well I might just drop down to a easy bunch… but I am way to competitive for that sort of business. and the chch half is only 8 weeks away, which means I really need to put some time on my feet soon.

Other news, I have joined a Canoe Polo team for over winter, it shall be interesting. Supposed to be good for boat control, and hopefully I get to learn to roll. Lets hope it fun, and I don’t have to catch a ball 🙂

Friday, March 14, 2008

Highs and lows

Well this morning, I had one of the best runs of my life. Went up and did the crater rim track from the kiwi, heading towards the Bellbird. The last time I did this track was about 6 weeks prior to the c2c and it was a disaster. I was having shoe problems and not feeling my best. Well this morning, I was jogging over the hills with not to much struggle, and really enjoying my self. I tried out my new Montrail running shoes, and was really enjoying them. The soles provide really good grip, which was really improving my confidence in sticking to the trail.

I think my rest up period and still taking it easy in training is paying off. Going to keep this level of training up for the next month or so.

Well the rest of the week wasn’t so grand was having relationship problems, and bored to death on the bike, though we did have a amazing ride along the summit last Sunday, with no wind, and a fast decent down into Sumner, got up to 80K down Evans, that’s probably the fastest I’ve gone :).

I still have trouble getting out of bed to get a jog in before work, especially as it now DARK when the alarm goes of to get up. brrrr… winter is coming.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Year of the running

I think on my last post I was getting a bit carried away. And after a bit of email ping pong with Olly, I have a new training plan in place for this year. This year will all be about running, so I need to focus, focus, focus and not get carried away with other events, which I’d really like to do… but No, will focus.

So Kepler is still going to the main focus for this year. As well as the Sydney half marathon. Still going to do the Tour de Tasman, but it will not be a primary focus. So bike and Kayak, will be on “maintenance” for most of the year, with a bit of specificity a few weeks out from Brunner and Tour de Tasman.

Coast to Coast is not on the plan for this year, firstly because, I’d actually like to be able to save some money this year, or even buy a new house (Focusing on running helps this also, because of the 3 disciplines, it is surely the cheapest). Secondly, so I just focus on the running. I’m putting Coast to Coast as a long term 2 year goal, wouldn’t mind to be able to get up on the stage at prize giving, but I know to do that, I will have to improve the running, ten fold. I know my body is not equipped to deal with it at this moment, but I also realise that the thing that will hold my body back from being able to achieve this is my mind. I am not genetically gifted, but then I haven’t been given genes that would prevent me, so as long as the mind is willing…

So what have I been doing? The last couple of weeks, I have slowly been getting back into doing some training. The weather hasn’t been cooperating, and I still am not in the right frame of mind to train what ever the weather. Just been for a 10K jog around the plantation, it wasn’t exactly easy, but it also wasn’t that hard.

Whats next? Well I have entered Around Brunner, and we have sponsorship this year. There’s going to be a team of us, called oursleves the HPA (High Perfomancce Athletes). Think we have Tanya to thank for that name. Then there’s the Mount Isobel challenge, in April, 8K run climbing 1000m, then a mountain bike, Kelly’s going to do the MTB. Then Christchurch Half Marathon.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

What’s next?

Why am I thinking about this? It seems I can’t even go a week without putting a new goal in front of myself. So my plan to not to make any new plans for 2 weeks after c2c has gone kupuut. So I have now developed a plan.

Focus on running, and improve my Kayaking and be up to the challenge of doing the gorge in a sprinter. Not sure weather I will do c2c again next year, but that can probably wait for a decision till about October.

Well for now heres what I am going to do:

A race :

  • Kepler (or Luxmore Grunt if not up to the whole thing) – December

B races:

  • Tour de Tasman (2 day, kayak tour around marlborugh sounds) – August maybe
  • Sydney Half Marathon (Only ’cause the girls want to go) or the able tasman Coastal Classic ( Much more fun than tarmac) – September
  • Around Brunner – April (and maybe Graperide as well)
  • Teva big day at office (if it doesn’t clash with Kepler, which it might)
  • Amp Multisport or Chch Multisport (depends whats on??)
  • Ymak Classic (if it doesn’t clash with Kepler)
  • Captains Cook Landing(25K run) – July

C races:

  • Brass Monkey Series (Lets get the Sprinter out for these) – July – August
  • Prebablton Winter races (bike 40K, missed them all last winter, try not to this year) – over winter
  • Hopefully some local running club events (need to investigate running clubs)

Coast to Coast 2008

Here’s the race report for my coast to coast 2008 2 day individual race.

Race Eve – Thursday 7th Feb

I had spent most of Wednesday, packing, making lists and having everything organised, so there wasn’t much to do on Thursday morning. Thursday was the start of the adventure, and I couldn’t wait to be off. Had a 30min spin on the bike, to get the blood moving. Nades and Tanya arrived over at my house at about 10.30. We packed everything into the car (there wasn’t much room left over). Then we began the journey to Kumara, stopping at the Petrol Station, for what seemed ages, filling the car up and the girls grabbing a coffee, passed the keys to Tanya and we were finely ready to be off, there was one last stop to make, pick up my sister from the airport. Thankfully, the plane was on time. So after a minor delima about where to fit her stuff we were well and truly on our way.


The support crew
Let me pause for a moment and introduce my very good support crew, they were excellent the whole way through. I hardly had to do anything the whole weekend (well other than race). I have to admit that repacking, unpacking, organising is one thing I hate. But there I was calmly eating my breakfast on Saturday morning, while the support crew were running efficiently around me taking down tents, sorry getting a head of my self, I’ll come back to that later.

Nadine
aka Nades – the first member to join the support crew, I think she joined the day I said I was doing the Coast to Coast. This meant that when ever I had 2nd thoughts in training during the year, I had Nades in my ear going “you can’t pike out, I’m looking forward to the support crewing”. Nadine’s a very useful person to take along with you, she either knows everyone, or if she doesn’t give her a few minutes and then she does. A very useful thing for a introvert like me.

Olivia aka Olly – my sister and coach. Managed to persuade her to come down from Auckland and have a weekend away with us girls. Was very useful to have a few calm, intelligent and encouraging words along the way. She was the one who had done it before, although 10 years ago now.

Tanya aka Blondie – my own personal masseuse. While others were waiting in line to get their massage, I had my own masseuse, along with massage bed ready and waiting for me as I got of the run. Ahhhhh prefect…

Ok, so we were own our way to Kumara, we stopped along the way at mount white bridge, to show the crew where it was, and for me to have a first look at the river in a few weeks. And it looked low, there was just a narrow shoot where the kayaks would be able to get out of the launch spot. We got to Kumara just after 3, found a place to pitch the tent. I went and registered, and Nadine went shopping. Yes, there was good shopping to be had at the thermatech tent. Got my stuff mostly sorted for the next day, then it was a 3K trek into Kumara to get dinner at 5.30. Rachel came over to say hi at the end of dinner, and she looked jazzed, I think she might have had a permanent shocked look on her face. As I didn’t want to walk all the way back to the camp ground only to turn around and come back for the briefing, we lay on the grass and waited around. Briefing was the scariest and most entertaining briefing I have ever been to. Once briefing was over, we walked back to the tent and got ready for bed.

Day 1 – Friday 8th February

Day 1 started at the nice early time of 5am. I had slept reasonably well, the people next door to us had been washing dishes and talking loudly (about balloons of things!! I still can’t fathom the reason for this) to who knows what time. But other than that it was a ok sleep.

I left my support crew, still packing up the tent at about 5.40 and made my way down on the bike to the bike transition. It was kinda airy cycling down a dark highway, with only your bike lights and a bit of fog around. You could only see other bike lights in the distance. When I got to the transition, I parked the bike (next to the very first bush on the line, thought that’d be useful), put my cycle shoes into the pedals. and started the walk to the beach. The walk to the beach, though only 3 K seemed to take for ever. The excitement started to rise when you create a little hill and down below you, you can see th start line. As you approach the start you have to walk through a check point, and that’s when I saw Barbara, who gave me a howdy dowdy and pat on the back. I was smiling and amped, yet reasonably calm. Went down touched the ocean, short warm up and went and stood on the beach. Judkin’s without any fan fare announced 30 sec’s to go and then the hooter sounded and we were off.

3K Run
The first 3K run had me the most nervous about the whole thing. I am a slow runner, but I wanted to be fast enough to get into a good bunch. I decided to take it at my own pace, and didn’t push that hard. Emma over took me at about 2K. I was just wishing that the run would just end sometime soon, then there was the bikes and I was joyess to see them. Had a quick change over, my triathlon transition training paid off, for while everyone else seemed to be farting around getting there cycle shoes out of plastic bags and what not, I had stuck my feet in my shoes and was off and peddling.

55K Cycle
For the first 6 or 7 K’s was in a fairly small bunch, that was seeing a bunch in front of them and trying to catch, I thought stuff this and sat up and waited for a bigger bunch to join me. That’s when I caught a bunch of about 10 and mainly all team members and was hoofing it along. I thought I was riding quite comfortably, only had short spurts at the front and let the rest of them do the work.

I had purposely decided not to use a watch or HR monitor for the entire race. Though I think now that I should have used the HR monitor in the cycle. Because it is my strongest and most comfortable discipline I can push myself harder, when perhaps I shouldn’t have.

I had a fairly fast cycle time completing the run, cycle and transition to run in 2.06.

33K mountain run
My worse discipline and I knew it was going to be the hardest. But I didn’t know how much it would hurt. It was a fine hot day, which was good in some ways but was extremely hot in places. My transition to the run went smoothly, the support crew were there and dragged me to my gear, got me changed and ready to go. Started the run slow, I was feeling quite ill at this point, its a 3K run along farm land, before you start up the valley, and this seemed to take forever. My hamstring started cramping really early on. I never get cramp and I didn’t really have much of clue what to do, hadn’t bought any cramp stop with me, so I just though take it easy and run it out. Which eventually seemed to work, however I think this cramp, pulled on my knee, and I started feeling twinges in my knee. I incredibly happy to see the foot bridge, where we cross the Otira and head up the Deception valley. I stopped and thought, bloody hell I have already run 6K today and I have another 30 to go. I am not much of a runner so this seemed fairly daunting, But at least on crossing the river I could stop and walk for a bit, didn’t feel up to running over the riverbed, so just thought I’d walk it out and get the ill feeling out of me. But I had that feeling for at least another half an hour, but once I got over the first river crossing I was feeling better. Took it easy for the next bit, Rachel caught me just after the 3rd crossing, than Emma caught me before the big boulder and Orange hut. I strained my hip flexor scrabbling up a rock, and from that point on pulling up the rocks hurt like buggery

There was some people that you ran walked with for a bit, and never really lost sight of anyone so that gave you good confidence. Only went badly astray once, when I crossed the river when I shouldn’t have. Got to the top of goat pass in just over 4 hours, Not 100% sure as I didn’t have my watch, but going by the time the officials said at the top. I thought Ok good, should be able to get down in 2 – 2.5 hrs, so will make my aim of 6 – 6.5hrs. However, nothing much ever goes to plan. I am the worse down hill runner, clumsy, but add to the mix a knee that has pulled one of the tendons than running down hill is even worse. I was so happy when I was about 200m from the last of the down hill bits that I managed to trip over and bang my legs up a bit. I was tired by this time and even running on the nice tracks along the river bed was a struggle. I was starting to get teary and frustrated, trying to run because the more you run the faster you get to the finish line, but nothing was working, and then I came to the horrible section of the Mingha, walking across the river bed. Stumbling and hurting and damn hot. I was so happy to finely reach the pylons. But then there was still another 3K to go to the finish. I had never completed it in training, so didn’t know what it would be like. There was about 1K of 4wd track and then it was back on the torchress river bed. You could see the people hanging around the finish line, but took forever to get there, but finally, I scrambled up the bank and ran across the cushy grass (I almost stumbled because it felt so strange under foot) and through the finish line. I almost burst into tears, but a very nice gentlemen pored cold water down my neck, man it was nice.

7hrs 20mins of pure torture, what the hell had I been thinking!

The support crew were there to give me a drink, and Tanya help me take the shoes of. Man it was nice to have those shoes off. then I slowly stumbled back to the tent, where they cooked my bacon so I could have a bacon and avacodo Bagel. Then Tanya gave me a nice long massage and then it was pretty much dinner time. Throughout this we could still hear the loud speaker calling people coming over the line. I couldn’t believe that people had been still been going that long. At about 8.30, we went for a wander to try and get some stiffness out of my legs. As we were walking over to the finish line we past the last guy to finish hobbling home, he’d had some bad cramp. and he looked in a world of hurt, but it made me feel better about myself. I thought “at least I am not as bad as that guy”. But I was still not in a positive frame of mind about the next day (Nadine told me afterward she was worried that I was looking so bad that I might pull out of Day 2, but she didn’t want to say anything). I tricked myself as I went to bed, I said I’ll do the first cycle in the morning, I can always pull out before the kayak.

Day 2 – Saturday 9th February

This time it was a 4am wake up. The Support crew needed to be gone with the kayak to the transition by 5am. I on the other hand had to wait around to 7.30 for the start. So I just got dressed and ate by breakfast while the effecient support crew pack everything up. Then, I wandered over to the marque and lay down and dozed. Though it did start to get quite cold, but they brought out a heater so warmed up a little.

15K Cycle
I was in the 2nd wave to leave, I was determined to take this cycle easy, so I just cruised in the bunch on the flat bit, and when we got to the hills I just put it in a easy gear and spun up the hill. When I got to the end of the cycle, theres a 1K run down dirt rd to the kayaks. I decided not to use mountain bike shoes, so I just changed into sandles and started of into trot which went well for the first 50m and then I knee seized up and protested about running downhill. So then i just walked it out with everyone running past me.

67K Kayak
Got to the kayak, and tricked myself again, said to myself just get in, if you are not doing well, you can always pull out at goosebury stream (the last pull out point before the gorge). So had another efficient transition, got in the kayak and was off. I think I took a wrong braid at some point and was groveling along in some fairly shallow water, it was hard work all the way to goosebury stream. The rock gardens about half an hour in, are what scare me the most on this paddle, and with the river so low, I thought they would be bad, but I just cruised down them, and my confidence just grew and grew. I started feeling good. So headed past Goosebury stream without a 2nd thought. Somewhere, near the start of the gorge, there was this big rock with a wave stopper, I could see the people in front struggling, there was a couple of jet boats rescuing people, but I couldn’t really tell exactly what it was until I got closer to it. It hadn’t been there when I paddled it 3 weeks ago, so took me a bit by surprise. But managed to navigate it without too much hassle. But a couple of corners after that there was another big wave train that I tried to skim the edge of, but misjudged it and hit the eddy and then spun. then a guy hit me turn me all the way around. I was in a bit of a precarious position. The wave train was beside me, and about 5 meters down was a bluff, so I didn’t have much room to manavoure. In hindsight I should have just gotten out of the boat and walk it down a bit. But I didn’t and tried to turn. Well the inevitable happened and I went for a bit of a swim. My confidence was rocked a bit, but there is no turning back once in the gorge, the only way out is forward so just kept of going. I was confident on bluffs and Hamilton rapid was pretty easy.

As I was going past a check point (I think it was broken river, not 100% sure), I heard over the radio that the first of the one dayers were on the water. Made me dig in a bit harder, as I didn’t want to get past by the one dayers. I decided to portage the rock rapid, even though looking at it, it looked pretty calm in comparison to previous times I had seen it. During the portage the girl I shared carrying boats with said the short cut was passable. I had a plan to go around the horse shoe, but no when I cam to it, I saw people heading down the short cut, so dum me didn’t stick to race plan and followed, DUH! Dum idea, had to get out and portage the boat twice. Not sure if I lost much time on it but it wasn’t a short cut. Finally, Woodstock was passed so it was only 50min of easy rapids to the end. I just sighed a relief, I can do Woodstock blindfolded I have done it so often. It was still painful but eventually the bridge was there and I saw the bright fluro green t-shirts(the were a very good idea, I could see them well when it came to the transitions) of my support crew and headed straight at them. Someone (I didn’t have a clue who it was at the time, later I found out it was Pete) lifted me out of the boat, I had told the girls not to worry about it, so it caught me a bit by surprise.

Cycle + Kayak took 6hr 45, which I was quite happy with considering the condition of the river.

70K Cycle
So it was then a run/walk (I opted to walk) up to the cycle transition. My parents had turned up at to watch at gorge bridge, and dad kept on asking me questions as we were walking up, have to say not that easy to answer questions walking up the hill after sitting in a kayak 6 hours. My legs were feeling good and I knew I could do a good cycle into town.

Almost immediately I caught a bunch of 2 other riders and the team member at the front didn’t seem to want to give the us individuals a go at the front, which I was quite happy with so sat on his tail for about 20min. Then another group of about 3 riders caught us, and we were off fast. I was just hanging on in places, but there was no way I was losing this bunch, otherwise it would have rather long lonely road into town. Just after Yaldhurst we caught a slightly slower bunch and some of my bunch took of, and I had momentarily lost their wheel and couldn’t catch up, so I moved back into the other bunch and we moved through town. It was fun going through the Christchurch not having to stop for lights and people lining the streets cheering you on. Saw Rebecca standing at the ferry road round about cheering me on. Gave me a bit of a boost. I was quite content to sit at the back of the bunch, I didn’t really see much of a need to have to compete with the group to see who crossed the finished line first. We slowed down over the causeway and the always permanent cross wind hit us, then we were quickly, turning the corner at shag rock (where I had pictured before in training rides what I would be feeling when I came around this corner) and on the home straight and running up the sand to the finish line.

Got my beer and Judkins shaking my hand. And then I stumbled into the seething mass of the crowd. I felt quite giddy for a while. Then my friends and family were there to give me a hug and congratulate me.

Transition + Last cycle took 2hr 16

Total time 18hrs30

Summary

Will I do it again? Don’t know yet, only know that if I did I’d want to improve my run a lot. Do I want to spend the next year concentrating solely on improving my run? In some ways yes, but in other ways I know I would soon get sick to death of all that running.

Did I enjoy it? I am a bit numb at the moment, and honestly feel a bit lost. Thats done now I have nothing to do, work for. Ask me a again in a couple of weeks, probably by then I will have forgot the pain and think it was the best thing I have ever done. But at least I know, no matter what I can do it, won’t seem so bad next time.

I am a strong cyclist compared to the multisporters, unfortunately you can’t do well in this race on a few good cycle legs you need to be rarely good runner or kayaker and pretty good at the other.

I was still too heavy for this race, but if I keep up with my current regime then I will be looking good by this time next year.

I didn’t eat enough nutrition throughout the race, but especially on the run, and something I would seriously need to concentrate on. And would be best to wear a watch so know when I have to eat.

The Five Passes Tour

Disclaimer

I haven’t looked up the actual distances when writing below, I take no responsibility if my memory is at fault and the distances are wrong 🙂


Grade D

Before I start I shall introduce you to D grade, we started with 12 and added a couple more on from C and B grade as we went along. There was the “chosen ones”, Jane, Penny and Jo. The Aucklander’s, Matt, Lisa and Jenny. The aucklander’s dominated D, they were out of our league and probably should have been in a different grade. But they were exceptionally nice. Daryl from Wellington, Martyn, Murray and Emily. Then the was Zarnia and Barbara, who were registered in C grade, but started out in D. Later we were joined by Wayne (the worse bunch rider of the lot) ,Mark and James who both came from B because of injuries. I introduce them, because I rode most of the 650 K with them, so the people make the tour as much as the bike and the road. You have personalities clashing and disagreements and make some friends along the way.

Prologue

I am writing this on Tuesday afternoon, and Thursday Night seems like 3 weeks ago. A lot of experience has passed in that last 6 days. Anyway back to the prologue. Took the entire Thursday of work, to prepare. So spent the morning organising, and was ready by 1. As I didn’t need to leave to about 4.30 I spent the afternoon wandering around the house…

I Arrived at the prologue start and was immediately intimidated. There was some awesome looking cyclists warming up. I had to wonder what the heck I was doing in this sort of company. I Warmed up, stopped to talk to people, and just made my start.

The Time trial was a 3Km climb straight up Evans pass. I have done this climb many times in the past. Its hard, but not a killer. I went out to hard, I told myself to take it easy up until it started to get to steepest part. But that didn’t seem to work, I was already having the sick feeling to your stomach by the time I reached that point. From that point on it was just survival mode. They had the 500m sign at the hair pin, there was heaps of people standing around and I thought, “Oh they must have moved the finish down for some reason”. So I just kept on powering. Till I saw the sign properly, then I was “shit I still got 500m to go”. So just kept going. Had the very sick feeling at the top, I have never pushed myself that hard before.

That was the hardest climb of my life, and it was the first pass of the 5 passes. There was still 4 more to go. Oh dear what had I got into…

Day 1

Day1 started really early, the alarm woke me at 4.30, I arrived in summer at 5.30, for a 6.00 start, I was slightly anxious, but I think there was so much to do that I didn’t really stop and worry. It was a fine but chilly morning.

The first part of the day was easy stages out to waipara, we took a ticky tour about the out skirts of Christchurch, headed toward Rangiora then Amberly.

Waipara to Culverden was the first open stage of the tour. Had a KOM and a Sprint included. I went to hard to start with up to the KOM. This was also the first sign I had of other people in my grades climbing ability. The “Aucklander’s”, as I dubbed them throughout the tour, were awesome. I couldn’t keep up, and they took out the first KOM points. I completely missed the first sprint sign. The bunch suddenly speed up and took of passed me, and I was looking around going what’s the rush. So no sprint points for me.

At Culverden we had lunch then it was a neutral stage through to the turn off to Hamner. I honestly struggled a bit getting up some of the rolling hills. Once we reached the turn off Hamner, there was a 8K team trial into Hamner. My team was Matt, Murray, and Emily. We thought that Emily was going to be the weakest member of the team. So we let her set the pace. We were wrong, I was the weakest member, I struggled to keep up, and that final little hill into Hamner killed me.

We had arrived in Hamner, and it was only 1pm, so we had the afternoon to rest up, they had a bbq (when you go on this tour, you never get hungry, they are constantly feeding you, not sure how I am going to go back to standard size portions now), but I was tired and went and spent a couple of hours sleeping, before dinner.

Day 2

Was once again fine day, but chilly to start with, and D grade had the honor of leaving a 7am. I was having really negative thoughts for the first 40k of this day. Almost contemplated pulling out and getting a lift, after struggling through the first day, I didn’t know how I was going to manage this day, its 230K and Lewis pass, and Rahu saddle are in the way.

The first open stage was from the bottom of the first climb (20K from the start) to the Lewis pass. This was the longest open stage (70K) and the bunch split up on the first Climb, The aucklander’s powered away. I set myself into the 2nd group of about 6 of us, who worked together most of the way to Lewis Pass. We struck the wind from hell (NW) in the open stretches but once we hit the major climb we were out of the wind (thank god for that). Give me a hill over wind any day of the week. Think I was about 4th girl over the pass, so no KOM points for me. Then it was a fast down hill into Springs Junction, where we stopped for morning tea (yes it was almost 12 by this time).

Then it was straight on to Reefton, and you immediately hit the climb up Rahu, tired legs that have just cooled down, did not appreciate having to climb again, so just went at a cruisy pace up the hill. But once over the top there is the best ride down into Reefton. Rolling down hills, reaching good speeds. Emily made a break from the bunch. And Jane didn’t like that because we had waited at the top. So suddenly the heat went on in the Peleton about 10K out from Reefton, and we were pushing it catch Emily and beat her over the line. I didn’t really want to get dropped, so just hanged in there and took the sprint for the line. Unfortunately that meant we dropped several off the bunch along the way, and I didn’t think that was terribly nice of the group.

Lunch at Reefton, us D graders only got about 10min to stuff food down before we were off again, the misfortunes of being in D grade, we are slowest so don’t get very long breaks. Anyway there was about 90K left to get to greymouth. We ahad a 50K neutral stage, that was pure torture, everything hurt. When we stopped for a break just before the open stage I stuffed lots of lollies down my face and they did the trick.

We were of again, and there was 7 K to the next sprint. I actually decided to pay attention and go for it if I had the legs. There was a couple of climbs along the way, and I knew I had to keep up with the Aucklander’s if I wanted to take the sprint. I marked the 2 girls the whole way around. I knew if I stayed with them up the hills I was stronger to out sprint them. At the 500m mark I just grabbed Murray’s wheel and powered away from them all. I had shown my hand, I was going for the green.

After that sprint I was perked up and legs were flying, obviously there was a physical barrier that my body had broken and it was now in a whole new realm of endurance strength. It started to rain as we headed into Greymouth. Arriving just before 6, that was one hell of a long day.

Day 3

The shortest day of the tour, but has a whomping big hill at the end. Even though, by this time the 100K cycle to Otira seemed like nothing, there was still the thought of that hill looming in our minds.

It was still raining when we got up, and as we started out, though it wasn’t cold or windy, so it was actually kind of pleasant. We were all creaking as we headed out on very stiff legs, the first couple of hills (well slight bumps really) were rather tough.

First stage was neutral until Brunner. Then there was a 3K team time trial. Looked flat to start with, then you turned a corner and went straight up a hill. It Decided to rain heavier just as we started of, I ended up not being able to see much through my sungalsses, and just hang on to the wheel in front. I thought we might of taken time out of the team in front of us, but turned out we didn’t. Had a break by the lake, and for the first time D grade arrived first and got to wait around for the rest of the grades to arrive.

Then it was a open stage to Jacksons, there was a sprint at about 20K. The girls in pink, wanted the sprint bad. They started sprinting ages out, and I tried to hang on but it was to much of a effort, and only managed to take a 2nd. Lunch was supposed to be at Jacksons, but because it was raining we just kept on going. The stretch between Jacksons and Otira was hard, my legs were spent. I was seriously considering not giving Otira a go, and just getting a lift, but Jane talked me into giving it ago, after all I had all day to walk up it.

I had already talked myself into that I was going to walk when the going got steep, I mentally was not prepared to tackle this hill on this day. D grade only had about a 10min break in Otira, I guzzled ½ a bottle of coke, in the hopes that some energy would be giving to my legs. I put my sandles down the pockets of my top (I was going to be walking I most as well be comfortable). People were sent of in groups on 8, 30sec apart and I was in the last group.

Started of easy, but it then it got hard then harder still. There was road-works half way up the 1st steepest bit. It was 1 lane, so we couldn’t zig zag our way up. This was the point I gave up. I think, back and say why did I give up then, I could have keep on going… So put the sandals on and kept walking. A couple who were still on there bike over took me at this point and I was then last. It was a bit of a walk to the viaduct and then I could see no one, it was raining, I was walking over the viaduct, looking down at the most spectacular scenery and start to cry, couldn’t stop myself, I was disappointed that I hadn’t given the climb and better attempt, I was upset because I was last and alone, plus it is quite hard pushing your bike up the hill while crying. I had a bit of a mental break down really. Once over the viaduct there was a place to get back on. I was last over the line, I had done it! With tears running down my face!

The ride down to the village was quite scary, the road is steep and twisty, and very wet. When I go to the finish line, Ansley was there to great me with her smiling face, and all I could do was say “I can’t stop crying”. That night at prize giving I got the green jersey. Scotty decided he wanted to put it on, and embrassed me mightily my being in “awe” of the bosom while trying to do it up. Plus I got embrassed again as I was mentioned as the last one over the line (don’t like that kind of lime light).

Day 4

The final day, and the legs felt great! At breakfast, I was told by other members of D grade that Jane was trying to get their support in shutting me down for the final sprint. That back fired on her and they were all trying to support me getting over the line first. I wasn’t that concerned about getting the green jersey, the sprint were a bit of fun, but after hearing about Jane’s plotting, I thought right I am going to take her down (my competitiveness came to the fore).

It was a chilly 3 degrees at the top of Arthurs. Deciding what to wear was a problem, because I knew once we went down lower it was going to warm up. Anyway we were off, the first stage was open and the sprint 33Km away.

It was a fast decent with some rolling hills in the way. I flew over section from klondyke to White bridge (The 15K stage that I will next be riding in the c2c), me, Matt, Lisa, jenny, Murray and Mark got into a break away early, we just kept going, flying up the hills. The girls, said they would give me the sprint, so all I had to do was stay in the bunch and keep away from the rest (afterward, Zarnia said we were just flying, that the others didn’t have a chance of keeping up). I decided, that I would go hard for the first 33k and the rest of the day would just be about finishing. Just before the flat there was a nasty steep false flat (I hate false flat’s), Matt kindly gave me a push up the hill, once over the top it was a 500m dash to the sprint line, the green jersey was mine.

Then it was about 15K to Craigieburn cutting, just as steep as otira, but shorter. Me and Murray dropped back from the rest and just took it easy to the start of the hill. I told myself no way in hell are you walking today, and so I went up, I followed Murray’s style of zig zagging at times (don’t normally do that). I made it no Probs. I was very disappointed that there was no photographer at the top to mark my achievement. A couple of k’s up the road was stage finish. We stopped for a break, then were off on the next open stage (about 20k), to Porters pass. I hated this stretch, false flats and wind.

We just got to the top as Gurney and his porters plunge mates were going down in there birthday suits. That would have been chilly. It was warm and sunny at the top, by the bottom it had dropped 10 degree’s and a nasty southerly blasted us. The ride to Springfield was freezing. Then on to the long boring stretch along the old west coast road. Interrupted by a 20Km team time trial, which we powered though, the legs were still feeling good. The time trial was the last timed stage, then it was a neutral stage getting through Christchurch to Sumner. I knew the route like the back of my hand, I train along it. I decided I didn’t want to do it, so just took the 20K straight to home.

Conclusions

I got stronger through each day. My endurance base just got better. I mentally overcame some blocks that will just make even more stronger when I come to the same situation in the future. That was the purpose of this event for me. It was about building my endurance and mental capability for what was to come in the Coast to Coast. I will never make the best hill climber in the world, but can do it if I try. But I do need to work on my weight though, and this has made me more determined now to loose as much weight as I can before the c2c so, I can achieve more. I always knew I would be strong on the sprint, and the time trials are where my strengths lie, it may became my knew goal after the c2c.

Will I do it again? at the moment, I am thinking hell yes, though maybe a different one. This tour isn’t just about the riding, it’s about the people you meet along the way and the achievements you can make.