Friday, December 2, 2011

The first day of summer

Yesterday was the first day of summer and I decided to celebrate and to signal my intentions to karma, that this year I shall ride my bike a lot over the summer months. This is because over the last 3 years I have not ridden my bike much at all over the summer months.

26th of December 2008 – nasty broken elbow requiring surgery and subsequent 3 month recovery. No riding.
22nd December 2009 – high speed crash on the Bowenvale 4wd track resulting in sprained ribs front and back. Very little riding for 2 months and all of it painful.
19th December 2010 – mystery tummy bug which mutates into pleurisy (WTF!) and then becomes chronic fatigue syndrome. No riding, walking and very little being out of bed for 5 months.

This summer will be different. There will be so much riding done I will have ridiculous tan lines and calves of doom! I will not be injured or fall ill. I will ride my bikes.

Zealous rant over, I’ll compose myself now.

So yesterday, being sunny and gorgeous, seemed the perfect day to get out on the bike and see what my legs had in them. After all it is only three weeks till the longest day ride when I’ll be riding from 5.45am till 9.11pm to raise money for Arthritis New Zealand. Go here to donate money to my cause I’ll publicly proclaim my undying admiration for you right here on this blog!
I’ve worked out I’ll be riding at least 120kms over the insane 15 ½ hour period so a little warm up ride would be in order. I decided a jaunt up Kennedy’s Bush, along the Summit Rd, down Gebbies Pass, back to Tai Tapu and back into town, home. The plan was to stop at the Blue Duck Café in Motakarara for some lunch and a nice flat sift home. Of course you know what they say about the best laid plans.

In the glorious sun I really enjoyed my first full ride up Kennedy’s Bush in a year. My legs felt good and I took it easy knowing I had a long ride ahead of me. That said I made the decision near the top that I would ride all of the tricky steep last section. And amazingly I did. Sure I had to stop 5 times, 4 because of exploding lungs and legs, once because of poor line choice; but I did ride the whole thing. Something I’ve only ever done one other time in the 5 years I’ve been riding that track. Now my aim is to the ride the whole thing without stopping before winter comes.
The top of Kennedy's Bush
At the top I stopped to enjoy the singing of the Skylarks, the smell of the broom in bloom and the view over the city to the Alps. Plus a well-earned roast beef sandwich. Then it was back in the saddle and out to the road for the long tarmac section of my ride. There was still plenty of climbing to do before I got to drop down to Gebbies Pass, but I really enjoyed it. Especially since last time I rode this section of the Summit Rd it was completely fogged in and quite scary with no visibility.
Time for a sammich
I stopped briefly at one of my favourite places on the Port Hills, Sign of the Bellbird, to eat the rest of my sandwich and a nut bar to fortify me till my planned lunch stop at Motakarara. I was so relieved to see the ruins of the old tearooms still standing and enjoyed my chat with an English couple visiting NZ. Then it was back on the bike and up and up and away. The drop down to Gebbies was brilliant, steep, tight and fast. Unfortunately on Gebbies itself I caught up to a fully loaded sheep truck so I was on the brakes with a nose full of stench the whole way down. Boo.
The view from the Summit Rd over Lyttleton Harbour, stunning.
At the bottom my tummy started rumbling and I began to fantasise about what sort of delicious treats I would avail myself of at the Blue Duck. As the tailwind pushed me along I tried not to think about the fact that it would be a gusty side/headwind once I turned for Tai Tap. As I pulled up to the intersection where the Blue Duck sits I was overjoyed to see a large number of vehicles parked outside it. I had had a sudden thought it might not be open as I got close. Relieved I pulled into the car park only to be greeted with a large “Closed till early December” notice on the door. All the vehicles were tradesmen refitting the café. Bollocks.
Inside the old tearooms at Sign of the Bellbird
 There was nothing else for it but to get back on my bike and head for Tai Tap. I knew I was in trouble though. I really needed food and another 10kms into a headwind was going to leave me feeling pretty rubbish. I kicked myself for not packing extra food, flicked my speedo to distance rather than painful time and got on my way. The ride to Tai Tap was not fun, however the ever distracting mental arithmetic of “If I’m currently going x k’s per hour and I have y k’s till food, then it will take me z minutes to get there, and that’s really not that long” kept me going. I’m sure many of you will have employed this technique in the wind.

I reached Tai Tap with screaming legs and feeling rather light headed and ordered myself sugary treats and a sugary beverage to power on for the last 20kms home. Sitting in the shade I was slightly disappointed, but not surprised, to note that I had gone past the point of being able to eat and struggled to get the food down. I ended up wrapping up my gorgeous looking double decker afghan (yup, I’m going through a phase) for later consumption.
Treats! Get in mai belleh!
The rest of the ride was a mental game over the pain, predominantly in my gluts. I had bonked, but was determined to make it home and employed that age old classic – making a deal – to do it. I told myself once I got to 50kms I could have a lie down and I did. Lying in the shade of gum trees on a stream bank was heaven. The air smelt of warmth and gum trees and water. I was almost glad I was so tired or I wouldn’t have got to enjoy this lovely moment. Back on the bike I slogged into the wind until I reached Halswell where I stopped for a Cola Popsicle in the shade. Just the last push I needed to get home.

It was a great fun ride, but I now know that the 22nd of December is going to wreck me good and proper. But it is for a good cause so I’m still up for it. And don’t forget – donate here If you’re a mountain biker carrying injuries, there’s a good chance you’ll need the services of Arthritis NZ in the future. I know I will.


Haven MTB Park said...

Yeah Blue Duck was for sale since the Feb EQ, just sold, so almost good timing. Sounds like an epic ride!

Haven MTB Park said...

Yeah, the Blue Duck was for sale pretty much since the EQ, just sold, so it's almost great timing.

Sounds like you had an epic ride, good luck with all your riding.

I may see you out there!