Sunday, November 30, 2008

Big Ups, Big Downs - The Moa Hunt

Pete and I left Christchurch around 4pm on Friday to travel to Kaikoura and camp the night. It was a nice drive and we had our tent mansion set up fairly quickly upon arrival. We scouted out some substandard food and were tucked up in bed nice and early. My alarm went off at 5:30am the next morning and we got up and started eating, and packing. The tent was soaked and not much fun to pack up. We were on the road before 7 and got to Kekerengu before 8. Pete discovered he had a broken spoke but the lovely Slim came to his aid and put a new one in for him, thanks heaps! Registration formalities were completed and the transponder (grrrrrrrrr) fastened to the front of our bicycles.
The start was the most crowded, stop-start one I’ve ever been in, lots of tripodding and then out into the river bed. Carried the bike through three braids of the river, wet feet, but soon was spinning through the gravel, across some shallow streams and out onto the road. Gentle spin up the tarmac and then a left hand turn at the moa (poor man in a heavy looking suit, it was very very hot in the sun) and the dreaded climb began. Up and up and up the 4wd track in the baking sun. I dropped straight into grannies and settled into an easy cadence to conserve energy. I kept my breathing under control and made sure I took the path of least resistance all the time. That was my strategy for the whole race, spin, breath, spin, plan, breath, spin, relax. It was fairly steep from that point on for the next 40 mins, lots of zig zagging up and lots of people pushing. Also a number of runners going past. Urgh. I keep spinning to the first false top and then I could see the portaloos at the top of the first 450m climb in the distance. Spin spin spin. Up past the portaloos and still climbing? Hmmmmm. This was my first clue that the profile and course description might have understated the climbing a bit. It did level off a bit and the views were stunning and I continued on, knowing the really steep bit was still up ahead. Uh-oh, downhill! Bugger. I pass a few people on this downhillish bit, but didn’t really enjoy it as I knew it meant the 200m climb ahead was going to be more like 250 or 300. And then it was in front of me. Back into grannies and spin, breath, spin, breath, pick smooth lines, stay low to the bars, relaxed upper body, thumbs on top, spin, breath, spin, breath, good smooth cadence, conserve energy. Lots of people walking this climb, but that seemed like the hard way for me, I really really didn’t want to waste energy pushing my heavy bike. The sun beat down like a hammer (good cliché, but apt) and I was making sure I drank a small sip every couple of minutes as the sweat was streaming out of me. Finally I made to the top of Moa Saddle at 640m, and 2 hours in. I was feeling good, I hadn’t been off my bike except to grab a cup of water to drink and pour over my head. Now for the fun fun fun downhill, and it lived up to expectations. I flew down it, passing people, calling strongly in plenty of time, only passing when then didn’t have to move. At my end of the field there’s not many strong descenders, even in the boys so I was passing everyone, well somewhere between 10 and 15 people. It was rutty with big loose rocks, tight switchback turns, steep sections and then a fun rollercoaster section with a steep straight descent into a steep climb back up the other side. I went into it with no braking and almost got air at the top of the climb I was going so fast. Full of adrenaline and smiles I continued on to the halfway point and was climbing again. Hmmmmm. I knew there was 3 “pinch” climbs ahead and after a chat to a woman going past me I decided that they must to somewhat more than little short climbs. Back into grannies and starting to feel it. The heat was really starting to get to me and after spinning for a while I sought shelter in the manuka and had a rest for about 10 minutes. I chatted to a few people including a woman who’d also done the Molesworth this year and we both agreed that this was much much much harder. I had some melted food and back on the bike. I was trying to conserve my water a bit as I knew there were no drinks stations up here. Spin spin spin, up the hill. Harder to control my breathing now and feeling tired. But still spinning, through the mud bogs and little creeks, spin spin spin. Then a slip on the track with a very steep slope to get up and I had to walk for the first time. Disappointing. Back on the bike on the top and wee down the other side across the stream and up up up a very steep nasty section. No breathing control here, just full noise and full effort to get up. Grind grind grind. Keep going, don’t walk, you’re bike is heavy. Bugger. Just couldn’t keep going. Flopped over the top tube, struggling to get breathing and heart rate under control. My spirits were greatly lifted by a woman who went past me and told me she was really impressed with my climbing to get to there. Yay. Push push push and bugger again, it was only a few more metres before the slope settled down a bit. Ah well, the perils of biking around the side of hills.

Back on the bike and spin spin spin to the top. Crikey, not sure how much more of this I can do. Legs feeling pretty wrecked. Then I made the mistake of looking at how far I’d come, 23kms! Aaarggghh, so far still to go. 2 more of these climbs. Shit. Weeeee down the other side, pass the people who passed me, stretch the legs, have a breather. And then back into the climbing. Hurting lots now, grind grind grind. Pop. Nasty steep bits, push push push. Pant pant pant. That second climb is a blur of pain and heat, but I must have made it. I know there was a bit of pushing and then some weeeeeeee, downhill and then more up. Spin spin spin, stick to the plan, try and relax. More hills stretching into the distance, spin, spin, spin, BONK. I just had to stop in the shade. My muesli, nut and energy bars had melted so much that I couldn’t eat them on the bike and it was just so hot. Rest in the shade, eat entire nut bar, take some photos. Chat to people. I could see the track stretching away across the hills and it seemed to go on forever. My water bladder was feeling very light which was a concern and mentally it was becoming tougher to keep going up. I had no idea how much climbing I’d done, but I was at the 3 hour mark on my speedo and it seemed like there had only been 15 minutes of downhill that whole time.
Back onto my feet, right get this done. Push push push up the next steep part and then spin spin spin. Round the corner and some marshalls tell me its only 15km to go, shit. I do know the last 10km are down down down so I guess it’s not so bad. I ask them if there’s any more hills and they say there’s one more nasty one. Shit. But it’s down from here for a while and then along and I pass some people and start catching up to the woman who did the Molesworth recently (she’s my target). Then up again. No more walking for me, spin spin spin, get passed by all the people I just passed on the downhill. Sigh. Then weeeeeeeeeee for a while, catch the people who just passed me, then another wee climb! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee and up the other side and then a farmer is telling me there’s no more climbing. I think he’s probably wrong and it turns out I’m right, but there’s not much and then the climbing is over. And I’m still alive and it’s all downhill from here. I can see my target quite far ahead down the hill, but descending tentatively. Well not me, there’s a reason I drag a heavy bike with lots of suspension up these hills. Fast descending. And this is a fast fun descent. Zoooooooom down the hill. Brake before the corners, keep control, catch people. I’m flying past people and then I’m past my target and have her husband in my sights. Zooooooooooom. Elbows wide, stable on the bike, weight forward, controlled braking. I don’t know how long it took me to come down the hill, but it was over very quickly and I was on the sealed road and in my big chain ring smashing it for the finish line. My speedo said 3 hours 30 so I knew I’d be over 4 hours with rests and pushing. I passed my target’s husband as he stopped to put his seat back up and kept smashing along the road. Tight left back into the riverbed and I just had time to read the sign that said “Tough Nuts”. I felt bloody tough at this point. I knew there was only a couple of hundred metres to go and I was going to make it. I spun through the gravel and 5 or 6 river crossing, loving each one as it gave me a bit if respite from the heat and then I was over the line in 4hrs, 3mins maybe. I remember the announcer said 4hrs 6mins after I’d been sitting on the ground broken for a while. I drunk lots of water and just let myself be broken for a few minutes. Then I started grinning. I’d done it. This race was insanely hard. More climbing than I’ve ever done before in the baking sun and I’d done it. Not only that but I think I only walked maybe a couple of hundred metres in total for the whole 25kms of climbing. Yesssss. I was still massively over heated so I stumbled back out to the river mouth and flopped into the water. Instantly I felt better and was able to actually converse like a human. Later I had some delicious fettuccini form The Store and felt much much better. My wonderful husband was stoked for me as I was way faster than he was expecting. I’ve never felt happy and proud after a race before. I couldn’t wait to see the results.
And I saw them this morning and was devastated. My transponder obviously didn’t work as I have no time recorded and therefore no place. I can’t believe it. I’ve emailed the organisers, but they’ll have enough on their plate as there was a tragedy in the race. One of the competitors missed a corner on the downhill and went over a bank and died. My thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends and to the race organisers. So today I’m feeling very flat and sad. I don’t know what to put in my results box, my time I think I got and my place I think I got, or nothing? I feel I earned my time and my place, but I don’t have anything to show I did it. Gutted. So emotionally this race had been a big up, I’m soooo proud of how well this race went and finishing something so hard; and a big down, I have no placing to show for all my hard work and it’s so terrible that someone died.

Note on photos: All the photos of the race track were taken around the 23km mark or just after. The red arrows are the track. In the photo with the arrow pointing at the zigzag of track in the distance, that’s the fun downhill before the 3 last big climbs, notice how far away it looks. The photo with the blue arrow, that’s the track I’ve just come up, and the red arrow shows the track disappearing off in the distance.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hunting a giant extinct bird

This bird apparently lives at the top of an enormous hill, and I don’t love riding up hills. So to prepare for said Hunt I’ve hit the hills a few more times in the last week. On Thursday I headed back up Rapaki with my speedy hubby and Michelle and him with whom she lives (what a mouth full, hehe). Michelle had a nice gentle ride up and was chatting away, while I managed to keep up with her, but was not capable of chatting. On the last stretch up to the top she got bit by the competitive spirit when a guy tried to pass her and she was off. I keep grinding my way up and was still happy with my time which was only marginally slower than Monday. I raced up the road while everyone else did Mt Vernon and had the luxury of waiting at the start of the Traverse, unusual for me. Then the most amazingly thing happened, I rode the whole Traverse clean for the first time, no dabs, feet down or anything. Woooo hoooo, I kicked those rocky sections arses.
From there it was a fun blast down Sesame St, Dazzas, Ponos and Bridges before zipping down the 4wd track. Fool that I am I forgot to put my seat down at the start of Sesame St and my back end was super loose in the berms. I quickly fixed that before Dazzas and then on Ponos I rode everything, although I did end up detouring towards a tree at one point (oops).
It was a great fun ride, but would have been better if Pete hadn’t broken his bike. Thanks Michelle and Richard for the ride home.
A busy rest of the week at work and working on Saturday meant no riding on Friday or Saturday, but we had a big ride on Sunday. A group of us headed up Kennedy’s, I went up the road this time and met them at the start of the 4wd track. My mission for Kennedy’s was to keep it out of the bottom gear till the top section and I managed that but again my rubbish line choice left me pushing the last couple of hundred metres. I must get to the top next week! From there it was up Flying Nun and in another first I rode everything I hadn’t ridden before, in fact I would have cleaned it but one of our riding companions was stopped in a corner in front of me and I had no choice but to get off. Bugger. It was a much faster ride down for me and I was buzzing. From there the decision was made to head up to Vic Park and do the Traverse. Again I made sure I was pushing my self the whole way up the road. In hindsight I really should have eaten my muesli bar in the car park before we did the Traverse, but I didn’t. We were off, with me in my natural place at the end of the line. I was feeling a little light headed from lack of food, but also feeling very confident from my descent of the Nun. That came to an abrupt end when I decided to ride the dreaded dip and made a complete mess of it. I went over the bars (I think) and some how my brake rotor rubbed its way along the inside of my left leg while my right knee skidded along the dirt. Ouch, but at the time it was really only my pride that hurt as a man was right there when I crashed. After assuring him I was fine I struggled to get my bike out of the ^^*($(%&)@!# dip continued on till I caught up with Pete. By the time I stopped my burn from the rotor was incredibly sore, OMG it hurt. I squirted some water on it and just about screamed. Owie. After eating a muesli bar, better late than never, we were off and caught up with the others to show off my new wound.
We then decided to head down the Bowenvale Singletrack. I’ve never ridden this before and once we got off the horrid, rutty, loose rocky 4wd track the flowing singletrack was a great reward. It was fantastic and I really can’t wait to give it another go. Back down the bottom at Bowenvale Ave I decide beer and wedges were called for. After a good feed I was back on my bike feeling very grateful for the tailwind home and Pete was being a mad man and heading back up Rapaki!!?!
It was good preparation for the Moa Hunt and I’m really looking forward to the race on Saturday. I’m not sure how I’m going to go, but I’m feeling confident that I’ll finish it in under 4 hours. I got my roadie out for the first time in ages today and had a flyer into work. I’m going to head out at lunchtime and see if I can get up to the Kiwi on it, could be a tragic attempt.

Post ride edit: Well I didn't make it to Sign of the Kiwi, but not because I couldn't, I ran out of time. I did make it to Sign of the Takahe, which means I got up the steepest bit and from there to the Kiwi it flattens off lots. Wahoooo! Just to give you some idea of the difficulty on my road bike compared to my lovely mtb, my easiest gear on my mtb is (I think) 22:34, my easiest gear on my roadie is a horrific 39:26.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Run to the Hills

With the Molesworth out of the way its time for me to start concentrating on my hill climbing abilities, especially since the Moa Hunt has a great big 600m climb in it and its only 2 weeks away. Eeeep! I had a pretty much bike free week last week so by Friday I was ready for a decent ride. Luckily it was a holiday here in Christchurch for Show Day and we headed for Kennedy’s Bush. Feeling like I was probably fully recovered I decided to tackle the Crocodile at the start of the ride (instead of my usual trick of heading up the road). Not fully recovered. The first 6 switchbacks went really well and I felt like I was climbing nicely and faster than previous attempts. It was probably this false sense of wellness that did me in because 5 corners later I was lying on the side of the track gasping for air and trying not to vomit. A nice young man checked if I was ok and told me I was mad for going up this track. I agreed with him. Things were pretty suck for the rest of the Croc with light headedness after each switchback and many more rests. By the time I got to the top of this bit I was destroyed and seriously considering heading home. It was a lovely day though, and I was in great company, so after a bit more resting we all continued on.

While I wasn’t faster I did manage to keep going to the top of Kennedy’s (with a few rests) and then up to the top of Marley’s Hill for some lovely Flying Nun action. It is slightly disconcerting when you’re about to head down a track and there’s a big group of armoured up downhillers waiting to head down too. I felt a little underdressed. Flying Nun was brilliant as usual and I managed to clear more of it than last time. There’s only one section I can’t ride now and I just need to harden up and do it because I know it’s only psychological.
Despite my protesting legs we decided to head up to Vic Park, more hill – booo, so we could head down Seasame St and Dazzas, yeah!!! It felt really different with my xc tyres on, but still super fun and flowy. Then the boring ride back to Halswell. A lovely and tiring way to spend a holiday morning. Thanks to Pete, Greg and Liv for their patience.

I rested my legs for the weekend after the Friday mission and last night hubby and I went home via Rapaki. I decided it was time to attack Rapaki. Usually I just cruise up in my usual hill cruising mode and it takes around 42ish mins for me to get to the top. I decided that I was going to do it in under 40 last night. I really pushed myself and got to the top in 32.35, wahoo, a huge improvement. After a brief lie down, Pete headed up Mt Vernon and I decided to try and race him on the road. Amazingly I was able to keep pushing and thanks to a chain problem Pete had I managed to beat him. Yeah. After a refuel, some warmer clothes and some strange hair standing on end (literally) weather we took off along the Traverse in the rain. It was really nice and I wish I’d had my camera as the view was stunning. I attacked all the rocky sections, taking the most techy lines and got through them all with only 2 dabs, which is a first for me. Then I was in the trees at the end and heading down the dodgy Thompson shared use track, which has a couple of harrowing bits that aren’t really designed for bikes and tend to send you down the bank if you’re not careful. From there it was more climbing to get to the top of Kennedy’s and a fast blast home.
It was a hard ride and today I’m feeling completely shattered, but that’s obviously a good thing and after a couple of days rest it’ll be time to head up again on Thursday.

For those of you who thought I might have lost my mind and started running after reading the title to this post, nope, I’m off to Iron Maiden in February with my hubby and brothers-in-law. Should be interesting. To balance that out I’m going to Don Quixote by the Royal NZ Ballet Company on Wednesday (no shuttlez!). A friend from school is dancing the male lead, it will be very cool to see him dance and I can’t wait.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dangerously Addictive

When I first started mountain biking I honestly thought I would never ever want to ride Downhill, down hills was fine, but Downhill is insane. Recently I’ve been rethinking that a wee bit and after going and watching a DH race on Sunday I thought I’d like to at least try and ride the tracks they were using in the race. My how things change.
Three of us headed to Vic Park after work yesterday to suss out some easy and slightly more difficult tracks for a prospective women’s only event next year. Southstar are running a shuttle service in Vic Park now so that made organising our little expedition much easier. Michelle and Liv were both keen and both much, much more experienced than me (Michelle used to race downhill and Liv still does at elite level), so I knew I was in good hands.
Oh. My. God. It was sooooo much fun. We started off on the new track Seasame Street. It is so sweet, beautiful bermed corners, crazy gap jumps and step downs for the talented on big bikes, nana lines for the less brave, wee jumps and big jumps and just a whole lot of fast fun. Then onto Dazzas, again lovely berms, but with some roots and rocks and interesting lines. From there we did Brents which was a bit trickier, more drop offs, big roots and gnarly corners, but I managed to ride most of it and then on down the 4wd track grinning and doing wee hucks over the speed bumps. We just missed the next shuttle pick up so there was some sitting round, talking bikes and shite and generally chilling. Next run started in Brake Free, lots of table tops for practising jumping and berms, then Seasame Street again (how could we not), Dazzas again, then a line I think is called Ponos (please correct me if I’m wrong) that was pretty rocky with some exciting blind corners that I walked and some steep sections, then a bit I don’t know the name of, but I’ve ridden it a few times through some rooty stuff and then back down the 4wd track.
I think we’re getting a fairly good idea of some tracks to put together, but we’ve decided that Wednesday night shuttles should be a regular occurrence so we’ll have another run next week and get a better idea. I might also go for a walk through the park with my camera at the weekend and take some pics of the various tracks.
The 2 runs were so much fun and I rode things I never thought I would, let alone find them to be relatively easy. I can’t wait to go back and do some more, but I think I need to sort myself out with some googles because the dust was horrid. Some proper downhill shorts would also be good so I might have to pay a wee visit to Grind as they have a great range of women’s clothes.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Molesworth Muster – Mission complete

Skiving off work extra early on Friday and getting on the road helped my pre-race jitters a bit, but by the time we got to Hanmer it was snowing and I was feeling quite worried that we might not make in at all. This was exacerbated by the “Chains Essential” sign on Jacks Pass and the snow on the road. We made a quick return to Hanmer to call into the Krank shop and once more Neil provided as with the goods in the way of excellent advice and we were back into the snow. After about half an hour of driving we popped out into the sun and although it was pretty cold there was no more snow (in fact if we’d been half an hour later we wouldn’t have even seen any snow). I was paying careful attention to the road as this would be the route for the race. I was worried, and when we got to Wards Pass I was really worried. This was a damn long way and it had a number of decent climbs in it.

Arriving at the Molesworth Station around 4ish it was lovely and sunny and in no time we had a lovely flat camp site set up by the river and were relaxing in the sun. Well, Pete was relaxing. I was checking my bike and making sure I had all the right things in my pack and generally fussing. With a hot pasta dinner in us we climbed into the tent before the sun went down to try and retain as much warmth as we could. Turns out this was a brilliant idea as it was a 5 degree frost and we were warm and cosy and slept extremely well. Unlike a lot of people. We awoke nice and early around 5ish and crawled out into the freezing morning air. Brrrrrrrr. Thank goodness for Kathmandu snow socks. My poor bicycle was frozen to the ground and everything was covered in ice. I wanted to take a photo, but the cold had killed the camera battery so no shots from the race unfortunately.
Soon after our stuff was all packed up and Pete was heading off in the convoy back to Hanmer, leaving me sitting on the side of a little hill in the sun, trying to stay warm and waiting for the race to start. I chatted with a few people and soon we were off for the 1.5km rolling start, up a nice steep little hill, just to warm you up. Nasty. I had a plan for all the hills and that was to spin as gently as I could and not expend any extra energy. Thumbs tucked under and upper body low to the bars I put this into practise and was up this nasty wee climb like it was nothing. Yay. Unfortunately I couldn’t really open it up on the other side as there was too much traffic, but I did work my way forward. At the base of Wards Pass we crossed a small ford and I didn’t think much of it at the time. My feet got wet, but it was sunny so I wasn’t too concerned.
Wards Pass stretched up steeply in front of me and I resolved that no matter what I was going to ride all the climbs. Dropped down into grannies and started spinning and breathing and just concentrated on keeping the rhythm and not going too fast. Lots of people whizzed past me at the beginning of the hill but soon I was passing walkers and the odd strong person was passing me. I got to the top sooner than I thought and wasn’t even out of breath. I popped my sunnies back on, zipped my top right up and cruised over the crest and down the other side. Wahoooo. I zoomed past lots of people on the descent and was grinning as I crossed the bridge onto Isolated Flat. I quickly put my strategy into action for this bit and built myself a nice wee bunch. Three of us at the start but when it was my turn at the front I managed to hook us onto another bunch and we were flying across the flat at about 30km.
The next 20km were a scenic blur. Climbs and descents and nice riding. Just before the halfway point I started to notice that my feet were freezing. Despite the sun there was a gentle southerly breeze and it was chilling my legs. My feet were really hurting at the halfway point and the pain was beginning to shoot up into my legs. It was about now I started ruing the fact I’d put my snow socks in the van to head back to Hanmer. I did have a dry pair of socks, but they were just cotton. I stopped at the halfway point and whipped my shoes and socks off and tried to massage some life back into my feet. I couldn’t feel my toes at all so I decide to have some lunch and give my feet a chance to thaw out properly. After a sandwich and some “delicious” leppin I put my dry socks on and my damp woollen socks over the top and headed off. Much better. Then pain in my feet was gone and so was the pain in my legs. I was a little concerned that I felt like this at the halfway point, but I pushed that thought away. I’d be going for around 2hours 30mins so was feeling good about finishing inside 6 hours. Of course at this point in time the guy who got first was already in Hanmer!
On I went, enjoying the scenery, passing people on the descents, being passed by the same people on the climbs, but riding at a pace I knew would get me to the end. At about the 50km mark my feet started hurting again and I could feel my legs getting colder and colder. I had tights in my bag, but instead of being sensible and pulling over I decided to tough it out to 60kms before stopping. In retrospect this decision, and the decision that my feet would be warm enough without my big socks, were my biggest mistakes. My feet and legs got progressively sorer and finally I pulled over and pulled on my tights over my shorts. I took the opportunity for some more cheese and marmitey goodness and set off again. I could instantly feel my legs warming up and working better. In fact I started looking forward to the hills because even though they hurt my legs got nice and warm.
It’s fair to say those last 20kms were horrible. They hurt a lot. More than I’ve ever hurt in a ride before. I was making deals with myself to ride for another 30 mins and then have a minute’s rest. It was pretty bad, but I wasn’t getting in a support van and I wasn’t going to walk any of the hills. By now the wind had got up a bit more and it was a constant oppressive force against me. How I longed for a bunch to tuck in behind. At one point just past the 5 hour mark I hooked onto a couple of guys for a short while, but they were working way faster than I could keep up with. It was just a mental game for me now. My legs were gone and no amount of food was going to bring them back. Seeing the pine trees on the back of Jollies Pass was a great boost. I knew it couldn’t be much longer. Then another hill, a man went past me asking if this was the last and I told him I hoped it was. It wasn’t. We turned off to Jollies Pass. I was really worried about this and told myself to just keep spinning. It wasn’t the nightmare I thought it would be, but it did go on and on and on. Finally I reached the top, feeling broken. I started down fairly tentatively as my senses weren’t really working to well and I felt a bit unstable. After a couple of minutes the adrenalin kicked in and I felt like a new person and really started riding down at speed. I flew past heaps of people. A woman in my grade had passed me at the base of Jollies Pass and I really wanted to catch her. I tucked low and pinned it down the hill. I was in control at all times, but it was pretty obvious some people weren’t as there were some scary looking skids and a group of people picking someone up. There was one hairy moment when I approach a big diagonal rut at high speed, but I unweighted the bike and sailed across it. At the bottom of the descent I started pedalling with reserves I didn’t know I had and soon I was passing my target. Yes!!! Then onto the singletrack and I had to get off as there was a line of people walking it. Frustrating. Then up a terrible tiny climb and pedal pedal pedal to the end. I’d made it and I was completely destroyed. I just lay down and waited for Pete to come to me. Then we hobbled out the way and I got my shoes off. It took a while but once my feet defrosted I felt immeasurably better. And after wolfing down some meat and chocolate milk I was better still and actually able to talk coherently.
I finished in the 5:53:43, under the 6 hour mark and 19th in my division. I’m a bit disappointed in my time, but I’m stoked I achieved my goals and rode all the hills. 80kms is a very long way and 5hour 30 is a long time on a bike. Huge thanks to my lovely husband for driving me in and looking after me at the end and for the rest of the day, putting up with all my riding and generally being wonderful. Also big thanks to Andy from Hub Cycles. He went the extra mile to get me a pair of Serfas RX Lite Woman’s gloves. These gloves are the best I’ve ever had and at the end of the race my hands were fine, no pain at all. Without Andy going the extra mile to get them in for me I’m sure I would have been suffering even more. Congratulations to Chris and Logan for completing their mission too!
I’m going to have a lazy week and just play on my bike, but I’ll need to get into some decent hill ride before the Moa Hunt in 3 weeks.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pre-race Jitters

The big race is tomorrow. It kinda feels like it starts today as we have to travel to Molesworth Station today. The car is all packed with a million duvets, sleeping bags and blankets. We’ve probably got enough bedding to completely fill our little tent we’ve borrowed (thanks Greg and Sarah). It’s just as well because it was snowing when we left home this morning! What!! It’s bloody November. So that’s making me a bit nervous.
My bike is safely tucked inside the car to protect it from its long gravel road journey into the station. I’m a bit nervous about the drive in too.
I’ve got food for Africa, but I’ve forgotten to bring a pot to heat dinner up in so I’m going to have to whip home and get one. I’m definitely sure I’ve got enough supplies to keep me going for the whole race.
I’m nervous about the distance…..

Have I done enough training?
Will I be able to pace myself?
Will I blow up?
Will I find a bunch to latch onto across Isolation Flats?
Will I get enough sleep?
Will my bike look after me?

Gah! Unhealthy thinking. So here I am at work, going a little bit insane. I just want to get on the road because once we’re at the camp site and all set up I can relax more. The weather forecast looks fantastic for the race, but it’s going to be a cold night tonight.
Wish me luck!!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rotorua Revisited

For anyone interested in snaps of thermic activity I've put together a wee album of pics from our trip. Clicky on the piccy.....

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Skillz Practise

A bit of a change of pace today. Last night I went for a short ride up the Crocodile. Managed to get halfway up before I was lying on the side of the track panting and dying. Turns out I was a bit tired. My climbing up the tight turns was pretty good, my descent down the nasty rutty steep section was great and my return down the switchbacks was really good too, thanks Vegas. I have to say though, after the wide flowing trails of Rotorua, man, the track seemed narrow. I played the whole way home, jumping off gutters and practising pumping. Once home I decided to try doing wheelies on the back lawn. That didn’t go very well. And because of that my lovely husband and I headed over to Bottlelake to play in the skills area for a while today.
Things started off well with me riding the whole length of the easiest low skinny and heading up the see-saw for the first time. Things quickly went wrong from there. This see-saw took longer to tip than I expected and I didn’t have enough speed and did a fairly ungraceful dismount from my bike and the see-saw, unfortunately whacking my knee on the way down and getting myself a nice lump and bruise. This didn’t deter me and on my second attempt I was successful and got all the way across the see-saw. When my next attempt again ended with me jumping off the bike I decided it was time to start learning how to do wheelies. Pete was fantastic at showing me what to do, extremely patient and didn’t laugh too much at my pathetic attempts. After many many many goes I was getting my front wheel 5 or 6 inches off the ground regularly, I know, I’ll never be a styling trick rider at this rate. After that we moved onto skids. Weeeeee. That was fun. Soon I had my back wheel sliding back and forward across the “grass” and I was getting the hang of doing a big skid to come to a halt with my foot down. Nice.

A bit more playing on the skinnies and then Pete went off to practise jumping. He got pretty good at the table top by the end. I gave it a couple of goes, but on the hardtail it wasn’t really much fun. Instead I went for a very quick blast in the forest. I focussed on keeping my upper body low over the handlebars and I flew round. I also did a couple of very good hucks in the middle of the forest. It was fun. Back at the skills area I videoed Pete doing some more jumps and did a bit more skinnies riding, including the high one that Pete doesn’t like me riding, and we headed home before the weather turned nasty. It was a really fun wee ride and just what I needed after a lot of roadie riding during the week. I’ll be heading off on a long roadie ride tomorrow morning, my last big ride before the Molesworth Muster. I’m really looking forward to it and I’m looking forward to having a wee break from riding after it (only a couple of days).