Sunday, March 30, 2008

Up and down, repeat as necessary

Still suffering from the monthly madness, too much work stress last week has exacerbated symptoms. So this morning I got fed up with this and decided to risk a ride. With next weekend's exciting and scary challenge I thought it might be good to practice going downhill faster. For the first time ever I loaded my bike onto my car and drove to the top of the seal on Kennedy's Bush. I was working on the theory that if my back seized because of the pain I could just coast back to the car and not have to ring Pete to come and get me.
It was a lovely morning and I was stoked to be back in the saddle after such a frustrating week. I rode up the zig-zaggy singletrack to warm my legs into climbing and then crossed onto the 4wd track. I cruised up to the first gate, turned round and blasted down the single track as fast as I could. A couple of hairy corners and some bouncy braking and I was grinning like a loon and heading back up the steepish 4wd at the beginning for another go. I did this 3 more times. On my 4th ascent for the morning my stomach started rebelling against the painkillers I'd taken before heading out and I knew this would be the last run for the day. I dropping down the back singletrack first and absolutely pinned it, even getting a little bit of air at the bottom, I love that bit of track. Cruised back up the 4wd and then back down the front. This was definitely the fastest I've ever gone down there and I had to tell myself off a couple of times when I slipped off the second and forth corners. I was very glad that my ability to recover from these miscalculations has improved dramatically in the last few months. I really nailed the bottom flowing section, carrying good speed into the switchbacks, particularly the really sweet 2nd one. I was flying through the gorse so fast that it actually made me bleed a bit rather than the usual little scratches.
It was a brilliant ride (car free shuttles!) and I think I might treat myself to a few more sessions like that this week in preparation for the Super D. When I think its only been a year since I was too scared of that track to ride it at all and now I'm really pushing my boundaries it really motivates me to lose this weight. I know its holding me back so it has to go! Only 4 weeks to Mt Somers, I'm looking forward to this race a lot. I need to get at least 3 hill rides a week in to feel prepared for it so after this fun week of play I'll be back to grinding up Kennedy's and Rapaki (with lights no doubt!).

Thursday, March 27, 2008

What have I let myself in for?

I've just booked flights to Wellington to participate in this


PMS is Evil!!

Hmmm, this week is not going the best. I had a nice rest day on Sunday with just a wee walk in the Port Hills to give my legs something to do. Monday I got all keen to go to Godley Head, what a mistake. I've never been there before so wasn't at all mentally prepared for the up hill, or the technical, rockiness (somehow in my brain I'd imagined it was flatter). As soon as I started climbing I realised I hadn't recovered enough from the race on Saturday as my heart rate skyrocketed and I couldn't catch my breath at all. Add to that incredibly insane hormones and you have a disaster waiting to happen. I won't bore you with the depressing details but let's just say after a lot of pushing, a couple of near misses (not even that near, I was just overloaded with adrenalin) and some track that I should have been able to ride super easily, I was a completely panicked, shaking, gibbering wreck. Not good. Having said that I can't wait to go back when I'm not such a cot case.

Since then the riding and exercise has been almost non-existent. I've been suffering horrid PMS pains and on the ride to work yesterday I actually had to stop and get off my bike for a couple of minutes it was so bad. It's so frustrating that one week out of every month is like this. I'm really not holding my breath for much in the weight lose area this week.

On the plus side, I got a lovely bunch of roses from Pete which has cheered me up immensely and had a delicious and fun night out at Volcano in Lyttleton on Monday. Yay. The diet is going well and I'm not too insanely bored with salad yet. Eating the carbs at lunchtime definitely seems to be helping the food cravings in the afternoon so that's good and I've started taking a supplement called Chromium again, which helps even out blood sugars.

Finally, I'm currently on the look out for riding buddies for winter and hope to be able to hook up with a group ride on Wednesday or Thursday nights that goes up Rapaki. I'll need to get some good lights and get faster!! I'm pretty excited about finding new people to ride with.

PS For a photo of me climbing the hill at Tekapo go to, I'm even smiling.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Race Time - Wee McGregor

I'd "encouraged" Pete to join me in entering the Wee McGregor race in Tekapo that was on yesterday. I was hoping all the work in Hanmer would have paid off and I'd make it to the end. I've never done a race this big before, it was 40kms with a 350m climb.

Pete and I were staying in Fairlie and the day of the race dawn cold and wet, yuck. Luckily by the time we got to Tekapo the drizzle had stopped but it was still chilly. We registered and I was super stoked to get 007 as my race number (which meant that I now had the Mission Impossible theme music stuck in my head!). We saw a few familiar faces from previous races and after the race brief positioned ourselves for the start. Pete near the front and me at the back. The race started off with about 15ks of riding on a gravel road, which unfortunately had been freshly graded. This mean everyone riding in one narrow track through the thick gravel. I took it easy on the this section as I didn't know what the climb was like or how the course was. I chatted away to some people, passed a few people and made it to the turn off up the hill feeling pretty fresh and confident about tackling the hill I saw in front of me. I managed to ride most of the first hill, but I forgot one important fact. In these races there's always more hill than you expect. There was plenty of pushing to come and shoving my heavy dual suspension bike up there was bloody hard work. I tried to ride everything but still had to push for a couple of ks. I also managed to fall off in a sandy bit after taking a corner too quickly. Only my pride hurt though (and even that not badly as no one was around me at the time).

I was still with them same people I'd been on the road with and we were chatting away, when not struggling up hill. The track we were on was good high country farm track, super rocky, full of pot holes, rabbit hole and spike matigouri. This made climbing a technical challenge, but I managed much more of it than those around me so I was feeling pretty proud when we reached the top. And the view was stunning, even in the mucky overcast weather. It really made you appreciate how high we'd come up.

Now for the fun. 22kms of down. The track was still uber rocky and I was feeling very happy I'd dragged my heavy dual suspension bike up the hill. The top was bitterly cold and in a moment of extreme cleverness I stopped and put my jacket on. Off I went at top speed, well not really top speed. The track was extremely rocky so it was difficult to get too much speed up. But I was reeling in all the people who'd passed me on the up hill. There were a few nasty stream crossings where my already cold feet got very wet and soon I was vowing to ride all the crossing. This turned out to be a mistake.

The last crossing was through the main branch of the river and it looked rideable. Not too deep, good visibility. If I'd been paying more attention I might have noticed the rocks on the bottom seemed a slimy brown colour. About half way across the river it all came unstuck, literally. Both my wheels hit slime and as I went over I managed to unclip, but then my foot hit slime too and I was sitting in the river thinking I was very glad not to have the camera in my bag. I knew I'd bashed my legs and elbow pretty well when I went over but I couldn't feel anything because the water was soooo cold. (Apparently it had been sleeting about an hour before I'd got there!) I let all the water out of my jacket, assured those around me I was all right, zipped my jacket back up to keep the wind off my now soaked torso and walked out the river. I jumped back on my bike and took off back down the hill, determined to get my body temperature back up and to pass the ladies who'd passed me while I was taking a bath.

The track had improved a lot so I was able to go faster now, but my legs were very achy from the dunking. This last 8 or so ks flew by and I had a great time whizzing over bumps and zig zag about obstacles. Once I got back into the forest we started in I put my foot down and realised that I obviously hadn't gone hard enough for the rest of the race as I still had heaps of energy. I really went for it and flew over the finish line, pretty sure I wasn't the last person in my division.

My wonderful husband was waiting for me and as I hobbled back to the car I felt really proud to have completed this race. Lucky we had a fuzzy sheet in the car so I took my wet shoes and socks off and wrapped my completely numb feet in it. It didn't take long for them to warm up a bit and I was feeling very happy I'd bought my woolly slippers with me. One of the guys I been riding with turned up a few minutes later at the car next to us and congratulated me on my speed at the end. He'd been wanting to catch me on the last section, but I was way too fast, so that was really nice. Once I was into some dry clothes we headed to the bbq for our free sausage and chatted to some people in the line. I saw one of the race organisers put the results up and am super pleased to say I got 9th in the Open Women group (no idea how many there were in this group, but more than 10 so yay), with a time of 3hrs 10mins. Very happy with that. Pete did extremely well and got 14th in Open Men with a great time of 2hrs 14mins. Amazingly the guy who won did it in just over 1hr 36mins! Amazing.

And just to cap a great race off nicely Pete and I both won spot prizes!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Conical Hill, Red Rocks, Detox and the beautiful Bigfoot

Three more days of intense riding followed in Hanmer. We rode tracks that Pete and I had ridden last time we were there, Conical Hill and Flax Gully and it was better this time (no visits to the doctor for me). We went down some scary loose tracks (Pete sprained his wrist), but I managed to ride most of it. We went up a track I'd never been on, Timberland. A straight forward track, but hard work up hill. That brought us up to the lovely Red Rocks. A bit more climbing and we were at the top. I had a really fantastic ride down and only walked the "wall of roots". Yay. Absolutely knackered after a day of steep climbs and brilliant descents.

The next day my legs were not happy campers. Off we went, back up Timberland and this time down Jolliffe. I hadn't been up this top section. Some steep bits where I had to push and then the down. Super tight rocky steep switch backs which I ended up walking after trying to ride the 2nd one and going for a run down the track while my bike went a different way (hehehe). Once down the switchbacks we were into lovely beech forested singletrack and soon back on familiar ground. The boys headed up Bigfoot once more and us girls went off in search of Detox. We headed up a short bit of lovely walking track that made us forget about our screaming legs and then out onto the road and met the boys. After a bit more climbing we reached the top of Detox and some more great views across Hanmer and the plains beyond. Then the sweet down hill. This a track was definitely worth the up, and I rode all of it again, except for one insane rock drop. A brilliant ride, and again I was completely stuffed. We headed back to the holiday house for a cruisy afternoon of napping and doing nothing. In the evening Pete and I went and picked wild blackberries which were delicious.

On the last day it was just Pete and I riding. It was bloody hard getting on the bike. My legs were reminding me that I'd had 3 days of hill climbing without a rest. Even cruising along the fairly flat Dog Stream was horrid. But once we got to the end I thought I could make it up Bigfoot. I've been wanting to do this track for ages, especially since Pete kept telling me how much I'd love it. 19 super tight switch backs and many many rests later I was wheezing at the top. This is definitely, without a doubt the best track I've ever ridden. Beautiful surroundings, lovely flowing single track with fun wee drop offs, beautiful flowing bermed switchbacks and little jumps (for those brave enough, not me). It was the perfect end to the trip and I'm super grateful to Pete for his patience and help to get me up there when I really didn't want to ride.

My skills have improved immensely from this trip and hopefully my fitness has got a bit better to.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Hanmer Springs - Heaven on a bike

So with Easter coming up sooner and the Wee McGregor race, I'd booked 3 nights/4 days in Hanmer to do lots and lots of riding. We've got a little 3 bedroom house booked and a couple of friends are coming up too. Hanmer is FULL of single track. There's something for all levels and its really challenging and fun. There's lots of hill climbing and descending, stunning views. tricky xxx sections and hairpin corners. Last time I was here was great, but there was lots I couldn't ride.
We arrived on Sunday and after unpacking the cars we headed straight out for a ride up Dog Stream via the forest. Dog Stream is a beginner track. Pretty flat, with a slight up hill gradient, no techinical bits (but great fun for blasting back down, carefully so a not to run any walkers over). From here we continued up the first part of the Jolliffe Saddle track. Very steep, rocky and rooting with a couple of small steps in it. I walked the whole first section and rode the next bit up to the bridge. From there we went up the road to the base of Bigfoot. A fairly new trial that I've heard is bloody hard to get up, but brilliant fun for coming down. The boys headed up this and us girls went back down the road to where Dog Stream turns into Jolliffe and raced back down this. It was a nice start to a biking holiday.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bowenvale Traverse and Vic Park

I didn't do any riding on Saturday, I spent 5 hours doing maintenance on my various bikes and the day disappeared. So I thought I'd tell continue the story of Friday's ride. I should say that Saturday will be weighing day (aarrrggghhh). I'll be keeping track of my progress weight-loss wise by weighing myself as soon as I get up every Saturday. Starting weight is 80 kgs :(
The Traverse is my most favourite track. It clings to the the side of the hills just beneath the summit road and links Rapaki/Mt Vernon with Vic Park. Its wonderful benched single track, that's challenging (and as you get better) pretty fast. Well it seems very fast when you know making a mistake could you disappearing down the hill, with a flight in the rescue helicopter to follow. (A few people have had very nasty accidents on this track involving too much speed). There's a couple of tricky rocky sections and one big intimidating rock half way along, but apart from that its pretty smooth, flowing heaven. I had a great ride on it on Friday, getting though the rocky sections (including the one where I've gone over the handle bars before) with no problems. I was pretty exhausted by half way along, but still wanted to give the big rock a go as I've never tried to ride it before. I actually managed to get on top of it, but didin't have enough power to make it off the other side. Now I know the next time I'm up there I'll be able to ride it no worries.
The Traverse spits you out at Vic Park and here there are many choices. 4wd tracks, downhill tracks, single track or the road. Usually I stick to the 4wd tracks as the downhill tracks scare me silly. But for a long time I've been wanting to have a look at what is considered a beginners downhill track, Gum Trees. A couple of weeks ago I went down it for the first time, walking almost the entire first half. Tonight I was determined to ride the whole thing (especially the scarey rocky, drop off invested first part). And I did..... well almost all of it. There's one hairpin in the middle I need to get, but I'm still super proud of riding the bits I did. My skill levels have improved hugely. My rear brakes, with their new brake pads, were giving me grief, but I made it to the bottom of Bowenvale ave in one piece, and even did some great jumps on the way. Yay, I'm really excited about the level my riding is at currently.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Rapaki - the short way up

The Port Hills, edge of a long extinct, enormous volcano. Moutain biking heaven for those of us lucky enough to live in Christchurch. Kilometres of single track trace almost the entire length of these ~500m high hills. Rapaki is the most direct way to the top. It's a lovely 4WD track that gradually climbs 400m to the summit road.

A ride up Rapaki after work is a great way to end the day, usually. Friday's ride was definately great with a whole group of us heading up, which meant I got to bike with someone. Usually my husband races up to the top and comes back and meets me, while I pouttle up at my slow pace. Its definately nicer having someone to chat to the whole time. It currently takes my about 41-45mins to get to the top, and I don't have to stop anywhere now. It's not technical riding, except in winter when it can get rutty and testing after rain. About halfway up there's a big rock on the side of the road that has a tricky wee drop-off on it. One of my friend's from work who is a really good rider showed me how to ride it, but it alwys scares the be-jesus out of my and a usually end up just riding past. Not this time! I just went straight for it and rode it perfectly. There's nothing like the adrenalin hit you get from doing something scarey on your bike.
Once at the top I was pretty knackered so no Mt Vernon on this occassion. Instead a group of us headed round the road to the Farm Track. This is a very fun, very fast 4wd track leading back down the hills. Near the bottom the gradient increases a lot, making the last section a good test of your brakes. Me and my husband parted company with everyone else here and continued round to the Bowenvale Traverse.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Kennedy's Bush

Once upon a time, in a suburb in Christchurch called Halswell, there was a wonderful track called Kennedy's Bush. This track is the longest way to get to the top of the Port Hills, climbs about 450m and has some lovely wee bits of single track on it.

It's also the first hill I tried to ride up when I started riding again about 2 years about. That first ride wasn't pretty, I made it to the first tight uphill corner and had to sit down for ages and then go home. The second ride I made it to the top of the first hill (about 50m on from the corner) and same story, had to wheeze my way back to life on the side of the road. After a few more rides and a lot of encouragement I made it to the top of the sealed road to where the actual 4WD track starts! Hooray. The next ride I attempted the first steep, short climb up the 4WD track. What a freekin nightmare. I struggled about halfway up, lungs and legs screaming and couldn't go on. So I got off and then I looked back where I'd come up and burst into tears of fear (no sowing the seeds of love for me that day, sorry very bad pun). I'd never ridden down anything like that before. There were ruts running down it, it was bumpy and it seemed like a vertical face as I stood there clinging to my bike for dear life. Wonderful husband to the rescue. He talked sense to me, told me I could do it, told me to go slow, and put my seat right down. So I gave it a go, once I'd composed myself, and I didn't maim myself in anyway shape or form, and felt soooo proud at the bottom (all 100 odd metres away)! A few weeks later I was barrelling down there at high speed and crashing into the gate at the bottom (oops).

Its a bit different for me up there now. I ride the single track that I swore I'd never ride because "I'm not into that silly dangerous stuff" and I'm get pretty fast. I ride up there at least once a week and sometimes I even go to the top, but I prefer riding up and down the single track. And now, I can hold a conversation with someone the whole time I'm riding, unless I'm really pushing myself hard. Which is exactly what I did last night and it was good. Riding up and down the single track a couple of times was also good, even better in fact. I've got new brake pads so it was a bit hairy in places as my brakes bed in, but it was still a fantistic ride. And best of all, the foul mood I was in when I got home from work was completely blow away by the ride. Tonight Rapaki and the delicious Bowenvale Traverse (mmmmm single track, I Y it so much).

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


A lot of people have inspired me to really go for these goals this year. My Mum really got me into biking, I guess you could say I caught it off her. She's been a great support and we've had some really great (and some really not very great at all) rides together. My best friend and her partner have achieved amazing goals in the last year and after talking to her about how she's done it I know that I can too. My brilliant and supportive husband who is the strongest person I know has shown me that with determination you can overcome anything and achieve whatever you put your mind to. Seeing how friends have progress with their biking, meeting other women like me who love riding. But I think the biggest inspiration now is the amazing community of cyclists, particularly mountain bikers, we have in NZ.

So now I've the made commitment, here's the starting point. I'm 33, I currently weigh 81kgs (the horror, the horror) and I'm fairly fit. I've stuck a "before" picture up to remind me why I'm doing this. I've got a rough training schedule (today was a rest day) and I'm off to join a gym tomorrow. Eeeergggh, I've never liked gyms but I need to do weight training according to my doctor. Plus it would be really nice to be able to lift my bike over fences and gates without needing someone to come to my rescue. I've started adjusting my diet (no carbs in the evening now), which according to my nutritionist was already very good. Tommorrow I'm going up Kennedy's Bush, up Marley's Hill, down the Flying Nun, down Old Dyers Pass road and then home the back way (around 28kms with about 500m of climb I think). The single track makes the horrid climbing worth it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

First, a bit of background

How did this all begin? Well about 2 years ago I weighed just over 90kgs and I was not very happy about this (given that I'm only 5ft 3"). I'd recently given up smoking after a good 12 years of the habit. However I hadn't given up my addiction to the couch and various games consoles. But I was highly motivated, I had a wedding coming. So I listened to my wonderful fiancee and got on my bike (and completely changed my diet). At first I was rubbish and couldn't even ride up a short hill. There were plenty of tears and tantrums but by the time I got married I'd lost 15kgs and was feeling pretty fit.

I kept eating right and biking lots, but I stopped being so strict (I'd lost the weight by eating bugger all most of the time) as I couldn't stand being hungery all the time anymore. Annoyingly my weight has crept back up. But on the plus side, my biking has improved hugely.

So that brings us to the here and now. I've become more and more passionate about biking and got fitter and fitter, but I really feel like my weight is holding me back. I've started this blog to chart my progress over the next year or so. I've got a few wee goals I want to achieve.

1. Lose 10kgs by November 2008
2. Complete the Molesworth Muster ( in 2008
3. Lose 15kgs in a year
4. Be competitive in the Sherwood Enduro 30km race and the Mt Sommers race

Apart from this blog I've come up with a cunning plan to keep me motivated: a new bike. My lovely husband has agreed that if I can lose 15kgs we can spead $300 per kg on a bike, so if I lose more I get more to spend on a bike. Yay!

So here we are. I'm 33, overweight and I want to race mountainbikes as fast as I can. Its going to be a tough and fun year.