Monday, 19 June 2017

Why the outdoors is good for my mental well-being and confidence …

15 years ago I was working full time teaching in the outdoors with a fledgling company, a young family. Having just completed a trip of a lifetime on the Grand Canyon … life was pretty good on the whole! Sure, not everything was perfect, my wife at the time was from England struggled with the cultural differences and distance from her family and I didn’t really get it and was/am not the best communicator, but we were making a go of it.

My confidence/well-being (I see these intrinsically linked) was high! When life got turned upside down in a moment. For those who don’t know a client drowned while I was instructing … not the work story you want to live out …

I see confidence is like an egg shell … press on it one way it is incredibly strong but smack it from the other direction it shatters … my life-dream on kayaking full time, having it as a family business disappeared overnight … along with my confidence and well-being … it was a dark and moody place one at times I just didn’t want to see. At times I just wanted it to end or I end it.

I withdraw into myself … trying to answer the why, how, when, what … not communicating well with anyone … eventually, I went back to what I knew … sitting in a boat or on a bike or running, racing as an individual the only focus was me … it was how I could survive … one session at a time … it felt familiar … it allowed some of that eggshell to be repaired, to grow stronger.

I ended up, back building, not by choice but a necessity, I did not enjoy my apprenticeship and really struggled with going back on the tools. It felt like life was one big deep dark rut with no way out.
Racing in multisport and triathlon events certainly gave some hope, it got me back into the hills and rivers back into areas where I felt at home, it grew my confidence, but the demons were still there.
I started to identify what I required to be in a positive frame of mind and kept looking at where I could do this …

The first was to surround me with people who had a positive outlook on life … get rid of the negatives … this meant not seeing or minimising contact with some friends and family or work colleagues.

The second was to create goals, firstly in the area of recreation as it was the most familiar area, secondly in my career.

The third was to learn what triggers the dark periods … this is an ongoing process …

The fourth was to learn how to minimise the effect of those triggers … removing myself from a situation, withdrawing to think about what has gone on – sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.

The fifth was to learn how to get out of the spiral … which is the second step … set goals small steps.

Along the way the goals became bigger and bolder, the went from being solo to being duo/group/team goals. Each time I went back to my roots of being in the outdoors, being active in the outdoors, sharing activity in the outdoors … the stronger my confidence and the better my well-being has become.

So, what is about the outdoors which builds this confidence and well-being, I believe it is life becomes simplified, less complicated back to the basics of shelter, warmth, food, companionship, shared experiences, trust and reliance on yourself and others.

Where has it lead me to … a point in life as I enter my 52nd winter, where I am nearly back to the point I was 16 years ago with confidence but a stronger and more knowledgeable way of dealing with the dark holes. I still recognise that I am not the best communicator but I am working on it!

Life is not easy, it is full of challenges – some we choose to take on and others we have no choice to take on – but what is our choice is what we can learn from them, sometimes the learning does not appear immediately …


Monday, 1 May 2017

Wow! Where did the last 12 months go?

It has been 12 months since I last wrote anything, can't believe where that time has gone.

Last may I hadn't long returned to living in Nelson again, I am still here, settling back into the Nelson lifestyle and loving it!

During that year I set up and continue to develop and run my own business. I knew from having lived in Nelson previously, there are not a lot of jobs going so knew I had to create work ... so West Wind Projects Ltd was born.

One year down the track it is starting to feel like a full time job ... so what am I doing?
I specialise in Property Inspections mainly Pre-Purchase, so when someone is purchasing a house and requires a building report. Other reports have been Pre-Sale, Earthquake Damage and Certificate of Acceptance.

While it was slow last year, I took the opportunity to upskill myself and through the New Zealand Institute of Building Surveyors, have been studying for a Diploma of Building Surveying. This has been great in giving me a stronger professional network, access to a large number of resources and expertise.

Too say the last year has been challenging is a bit of an understatement! But I have loved just about every minute of it ... there is always tough times ... but that is often where the most learning was.

Meanwhile on the recreational side of life, my mountain biking skills have developed ... just that there is no choice living here in Nelson :-) After seven years I got back on the river to do some whitewater paddling, slipped into the hills for the odd walk, Found some coastline to explore sea kayaking. #lifeisgood

If that wasn't enough we purchased a VW van and fitted that out for trips away ... GAV as he affectionally known (Get Away Van) ...
Meanwhile we spent sometime at Project Remeka planting trees and building a bridge. I also manage to get away for a few days to work as crew on the NZEnduro race one of the wettest vents I have worked on ... but helps of fun!

So what will the next 12 months bring Helen and I ... plans for a new house are currently being drawn up at the moment ... I think that will keep me busy and loose some of this extra waist line I am developing while sitting behind a desk ... more on that as it happens.

Also we have signed up for Tour Aotearoa again ... yep once in a lifetime event  ... twice!
Cheers Brett

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Statistic's from our Tour Aotearoa ride 2016

So after a few months recovery of just cruising on our bikes having fun riding the local trails, I have put together the statistics of our days ... how varied they were ... mostly because we stopped to catch up with family and friends except for a very wet day down the coast.

Hopefully it will help with someones else planning of completing the route. We pretty much rode during daylight hours and  had plenty of time to look around and enjoy the scenery.

Activity Name Start time Total Time Riding Time Distance Ascent  Avg Moving Speed Accom
Mossburn to Bluff Mon, 14 Mar 2016 6:45:23 5:59:00 142.5 567 23.8  
Arrowtown to Mossburn Sun, 13 Mar 2016 5:37 11:35:31 8:15:54 152.48 930 18.4 Pub
Haast to Arrowtown Sat, 12 Mar 2016 4:39 13:57:31 11:04:26 207.51 2,607 18.7 family
Franz Josef to Haast Fri, 11 Mar 2016 5:26 11:56:39 7:31:48 153.32 1,640 20.4 Backpackers
Harihari to Franz Joseph Thu, 10 Mar 2016 5:31 9:47:52 3:18:56 63.86 609 19.3 motel
Kumara to Harihari Wed, 9 Mar 2016 5:29 11:34:20 8:01:56 148.01 899 18.4 Pub
Reefton to Kumara Tue, 8 Mar 2016 5:01 11:01:39 6:07:08 109.96 584 18 motel
Murchison to Reefton Mon, 7 Mar 2016 5:19 10:07:16 7:00:34 123.99 1,346 17.7 motel
Wakefield to  Murchison Sun, 6 Mar 2016 6:33 10:50:53 8:10:47 138.81 1,638 17 cabin
Momorangi to Wakefield Sat, 5 Mar 2016 6:31 11:56:46 7:27:07 116.99 1,818 15.7 camp
Upper Hutt to Momorangi Fri, 4 Mar 2016 6:04 12:56:29 10:53:38 123.21 1,297 11.3 camp
Pahiatua to Upper Hutt Thu, 3 Mar 2016 5:27 14:16:05 10:32:15 192.13 1,495 18.2 family
Rangiwahia to Pahiatua Wed, 2 Mar 2016 6:45 10:35:13 7:43:24 130.24 1,468 16.9 motel
Whanganui to Rangiwhia Tue, 1 Mar 2016 7:18 11:24:20 7:03:31 106.26 1,623 15.1 camp
DoC Shelter to Whanganui Mon, 29 Feb 2016 6:31 13:18:46 9:31:03 141.32 2,362 14.8 motel
Taumarunui to DoC Shelter Sun, 28 Feb 2016 9:46 8:43:29 5:48:09 79.46 1,254 13.7 camp
CNI to Taumaranui Sat, 27 Feb 2016 6:33 7:40:07 5:47:24 63.76 970 11 family
Arapuni to CNI Fri, 26 Feb 2016 5:49 13:33:03 8:35:29 94.55 1,958 11 camp
Miranda to Arapuni Thu, 25 Feb 2016 6:15 12:38:04 8:21:15 152.19 378 18.2 Backpackers
Helensville to Arapuni Wed, 24 Feb 2016 5:07 14:55:38 9:35:03 160.62 1,344 16.8 Motel
Waipoura Forest Camp to Helensville Tue, 23 Feb 2016 6:46 13:33:57 10:28:34 166.77 1,408 15.9 cruising club
Ahipara to Waipoura Kauri Forest Camp Mon, 22 Feb 2016 6:43 12:39:29 8:02:58 125.05 2,163 15.5 cabin
Cape Reinga to Ahipara Sun, 21 Feb 2016 9:55 10:19:35 7:48:48 106.42 369 13.6 camp
    266:08:05 183:09:07 2999.41 30727 16.38  
Ave riding time per day   8:24:00 1397 average climbing per day

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Tour Aotearoa - Done and Dusted!

Well ... the time had finally arrived ... TOUR TIME!

It was with a bit of apprehension and excitement that I left Christchurch for Cape Reinga! To say the least - 3000 kilometres - known! Unknown was the 22 days 1 hour 45 minutes and 30,000 metres of climbing it would take!

This tour was not to dissimilar from other experiences I had completed ... Sea Kayaking in Alaska or Kayaking the Grand Canyon ... they all had a start point and a finish point ... they all had a big unknown in the middle ... How was the body going to hold up? How was the mind going to hold up? Had I made the right equipment choices?

We were about to find out ... things were about to get real!

Helen and I had a few goals for the event ...

Ride during daylight hours to enjoy where we are
Complete at least one 200 km day
Enjoy time with who we meet along the way
Aiming for 21 days but would not be upset with 24 and ecstatic with anything less than 21
Eat well to maintain a healthy body

Low Moments

Gordon, Jill, Emily and Helen on 90 Mile beach
The low points on this journey, were not many fortunately, but the first came early ... three hours into the event on 90 Mile Beach, if the head wind, flat unrelenting pedalling to get anywhere wasn't enough ... my lower back started to lock up ... dam frustrating as we had got ourselves into a nice wee group with some Nelson friends Jill and Gordon, and Emily from Wellington. I was soon reduced to stopping and stretching and Emily shared some Voltaren with me.

Ginny Wood nearing Ahipara
As we were holding up the other three, Helen and I bid them farewell and were reduced to walking, watching other groups go past.  At one point we even waved a car down to see if I could get a ride out of here! Eventually the Voltaren kicked in and I was able to resume some riding ... eventually being picked up in a group of seven and rolling into Ahipara about 7.30 that evening ... one of the toughest days riding I have ever had!

There were times the event was a little frustrating, certainly catching the Jet boat down the Whanganui river, having to wait while the driver shepherd a couple of overweight tourists wearing inappropriate footwear up to the Bridge to Nowhere and back again ... didn't he know we were in an event ... time was kilometres not being ridden!

Catching the Ferry across Cook Strait ... who knew they would be so fully booked ... half a day in Wellington !

That's a serious bike rack powered by 500 cu in of V8 ... this was the better of the two companies to deal with!

These two days felt like they were disjointed and we could not get the flow to happen ... it played with your mind as by this stage you were into the habit of packing, eating, riding, eating, riding, eating, riding, eating and sleeping!

Equipment Failures

Even though I had taken care in choosing and testing my gear ... there are still those moments where shit happens! Riding out of Helensville on Day Four, taking it easy climbing as my back was still tight first thing in the morning and the body is adapting to the levels of fatigue ... I mess up a gear change and drop the chain between the cassette and spokes ... eventually Helen manages to get it unjambed! The problem was it bent the rear derailleur and stretched the chain, these were replaced in Mt Eden by Mt Eden Cycles!

What we hadn't realised was that when the chain had dropped onto the spokes it had damaged them, so while riding into Whanganui the first one went PING! The drive side spokes are the only ones we couldn't replace on the road, so it required a stop in at the bike shop. One spoke replaced and some additional bar tape added to my grips for some additional comfort!

The second one went PING! riding into Masterton. So for peace of mind we called into the bike shop and purchased a new back wheel and had the old one couriered home to be rebuilt at a later date!

How to Navigate on Tour

About half way through the Tour I worked this out ...

You come to an intersection, one road goes up, the other goes down ... you go up!
You come to an intersection, one road is sealed, one is gravel ... you take the gravel one!
You come to an intersection, one road is gravel, one is a 4WD track ... you take the 4WD track!
You come to an intersection, one is a 4WD track, one is a single track ... you take the single track!
You come to an intersection, there is a sign giving two routes to the same town, one is direct, the other is three times longer ... you take the long way!
You come to an intersection one road goes up and is sealed, the other goes down and is gravel ... you take the gravel road down because around the corner you know that it will go up and eventually become a 4WD track, before turning into a muddy single track ,which takes you away from where you are heading!

Simple! Just follow the Pink line on your GPS!


Food was one of the major concerns each day ... the rule of Brevets is ... if you see a place which sells food ... stop and stock up because you don't know where the next place is, whether it will be open or what it will have in stock!
A plate of Asparagas rolls and a pie for morning tea in Winton

Well ... I broke that rule riding from Franz Joseph to Haast, we rode right on past the Salmon Cafe, which Helen wanted to stop at and I said don't worry there is another cafe at Lake Paringa! WRONG ... there is no cafe at Lake Paringa ... lunch was later consumed at 5.30 in Haast at the Hard Antler pub! I am not going to live that one down very quickly!

Trail Angels

These people just really made our day!
Warm scones and Elder Flower Cordial in the middle of nowhere!
Paul cleaning and oiling our chains near Mangakino - Legend!

The whole Tour was one big highlight! It took us into rural New Zealand, along back country roads, allowing us to interact with many locals.  It is helping small communities by hungry riders needing accommodation, stopping and spending money, the economy of some of these places would have trippled overnight!

Broadwood's only store!
Family and Friends ... along the way we stopped to chat, eat or ride with Marty, Tank, Grant, Philip, Gillian, Penny and her two kids, Maria and Campbell, Jo & Crunchie, Sara & Harold, Paul, Max & Margaret & Mel, Jenny (Helen's mum), Helen's Dad, Tom & Paula, Louise, Debbie, Pete, Olwyn, Dillon, Jacqui, Bruce, John, Toni, Mary Jane, Damien, Lucca ... thanks for the support out on the track!

While others stalked us by the Maprogress site, sending messages and the occasional phone call ... thanks too! It was a little spooky at times who knew exactly where we were ... texts which would say ... Welcome to Reefton ... we hadn't even stepped off our bikes!

The tracks, the Kennetts have put together a fantastic route taking you onto some beautiful bike trials and back roads. I will let the photos speak for me ...

Would I do it again? Hell Yeah!