Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Nearly time ...

Well ... there is only two and a bit days of work left before the end of the year and a couple of weeks holiday! But more importantly it is nearly time that Anja and I head off on our own adventure to cycle the Otago Rail Trail.

Talking with Anja's mother last week, there is a wee degree of apprehension!  That's a healthy thing in my eyes ... it shows respect for what's about to be undertaken ... 150 kilometres is a long way in anyone's books! Even over three days as a twelve year old.

Interestingly we were talking at Anja's School prize-giving, her School Principal announced that the theme for the School next year will be "Challenge" ... we said that this was a great way to start her next year!

For me I am really excited about spending five days with Anja and sharing this challenge with her.

We will report back afterwards ...

Wednesday, 4 December 2013


A fortnight ago we finished the second leg Deep South - Southern Alps Tour. A five day 783 kilometre stage race, organised by two very passionate friends Daniel and Kay. Their goal for this event is to give weekend warrior the opportunity to experience what it is to be on a fully supported Five Star stage race.

Everything is provided great accommodation, food, all the race nuitrition, sag wagons, massages, traffic management, there is daily awards for GC (General Classification) KOM (King or Queen of the Mountain) Sprint jerseys. They are pretty cool events challenging and fun!

My role in this is the Traffic Manager a position which carries a fair degree of responsibility! But I am going to jump back to 2001 ... back then I worked as a full time outdoor instructor my  specialty was kayaking ... sea, whitewater and multisport ... I had been "living the dream" for the twelve years previously. As a guide or Instructor you take on that responsibilty of sharing your knowledge, experience and making sure everyone got home safely at the end of the day! Well, one day I couldn't fufill the last part of that equation and a family lost a dearly loved son ... my worst nightmare came true.

I was devastated, depressed, lost my passion for sharing my knowledge and experience about kayaking, eventually stopping paddling altogether, I left working in the outdoor industry and went back to my trade as a Carpenter to pay the bills. During my apprenticeship I had hated building, one evening I had left the site and was heading home when I remembered I had left something on site, so turned around and headed back, when I got there the client was sitting on the deck of their half built house was the sun set over Christchurch with the Southern Alps in the back ground ... it dawned on me that by building this home, that I was helping this couple acheive their dream of a new home ... a similar experience of helping someone to learn to kayak or guide someone into a wilderness area. A wee first step of recovery ... I started to enjoy my building ... there was a purpose behind it!

A few years later my path crossed Daniels, we were both helping out on a Triathlon training camp known as HTFU camp, I was being camp mother and Daniel was sharing his vast Ironman experience. A few years later Daniel and Kay took over the running of the 5 Passes cycle tour and asked if I could help out. It is their passion to help out the small triathlon and cycling industry which really impresses me, they GIVE in a big way and from individuals to events, sure it helps their own business, but the time and the advice they share is huge.

During the next twelve months Daniel and Kay put together their own tour the first leg of the Southern Alps Tour - 800 kms West Coast tour. Somehow traffic management was an issue, not only was it expensive it caused a few headaches, well over a few ales we discussed some options and I volunteered to help out on that side ... this I admit certainly was scary, it put me back into that position of responsibility for people in an environment that is not fully controllable. There was several times I wanted to pull the pin on it!

Finally, the first tour came around and we set off, 22 riders eight staff, six vehicles, 800 kilometres, five days ... what the f#*k was I doing!  I had already lost so much of what I had loved and worked for and I had rebuilt that and was doing it again!

It was pretty intense for me and I am sure that came out at times when riders crossed the centre line or were riding more than two abreast!

We got to the end of the event just outside Wanaka and everyone had packed up and was heading to the Resort, I sat in the car by myself and sobbed ... finally some of the demons haunting me I had faced ... I hadn't beaten them and I don't think I ever will.

Twelve months later, we start the second Tour ... we left Dunedin heading to Queenstown (the long way) with 24 riders,6 staff, 5 vehicles 783 kilometres and a few challenges for them along the way ... for me the challenge was still there, along with those demons, but they were a lot quieter this year. I felt more comfortable in the role and technically we had a few bigger challenges on the management side.

We had got permission to allow the riders to cycle through the Homer Tunnel on the road from Milford Sound to Te Anau. With the help of Downer the tunnel was shut while they rode up the 1 in 10 gradient, through the 1.2 kms basically hand hewn granite route, I stood at the exit with the stopped traffic watching the riders burst into the daylight with the biggest grins on their faces!

I got the same buzz from that, as I used when I was guiding and instructing, it was something I had not felt for nearly thirteen years!

I know that the riders grow their boundries of what is possible on these tours, for me I have felt there has been a lot of healing gone one. I can't reverse what happened to Tim on the river that day, but I also can't stop being passionate about helping people acheive their goals or dreams. I have a skill set which can do that and my confidence has grown again to do that ... time!

Christine, Daniel and Kay thanks!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Officially Entered!

Well, I am fully committed now! The funny thing about the Brevet is there is no entry fee ... but there is always a but ... and this is a good "but". Simon the Organiser just asks that you email him your confirmation to enter and make a donation to one of two organisations. Check out their websites and feel free to support these two worthy causes.

The first is the Canterbury Westcoast Air Rescue Trust http://www.airrescue.co.nz/ a very worthy and busy organisation which I hope I have to never use!

The second is Project Remeka https://www.facebook.com/ProjectRameka a conservation recreation group.

It was a hard choice which I couldn't make so donated to both!

A pretty cool idea for entry fees, considering some years I have paid over a thousand bucks in entries and don't seem to get much in return. There is a real old school adventure feel to this event!

The route is nearly confirmed and there is a Brevette (700 kms) option and there a few changes from the previous two courses - a few refinements which look interesting.

Keep pedaling ... catch you later!

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Training Partners ...

Training has been steady for the last six weeks and I am starting to feel the benefits, fitness wise. Study for the year is nearly over one more assignment to hand in!

I have been riding three times a week, while it has been going well, it has not been all smooth sailing, for a while I had a wee niggly knee injury. With a few adjustments to my set up and changing my massage routine from a one hour session a fortnight to a 30 minute session once a week, it has disappeared!

Thanks to Keith Boot, my masseuse for the help, even though I met Keith in the mid nineties while out sea kayaking I have been going to Keith for massages for six years now and he has not just been a masseuse but a mentor as well, Keith's huge background in endurance racing has definitely been freely shared!

One of the joys which makes cycling fun is getting out there with friends, family or colleagues.  Each week has pretty much been one mountain bike ride and two road rides which has been good to break up the boredom, also breaking up the boredom has been the different training buddies ...

Fridays after work mountain bike ... I have been joining a small group from work who range from the total newbie 22 year old to the cunning sinewy 60 year old! A very competitive bunch, plenty of entertainment along the way with smack talk all Friday prior to departure.

I have been able to get in one or two evening rides which have been fun, my favorite trials take on a different persona and keeps it interesting!

Looking over Christchurch early evening from the top of Kennedys

Saturday's ride I often get to ride with one or both of my favourite two riding buddies. My wonderful partner Chris (catch her blog a velolassie.blogspot.co.nz ) normally involves coffee then ride then more coffee! Chris is in training for Ironman Taupo this will be Ironman number 7! Having finished six and crashed out of 1. The house is fairly busy coordinating training, meals, etc.

My other buddy is Anja, my 12 year old daughter.

Anja after finishing the Little River Rail Trail

Anja and I have our own adventure the week before Christmas, we are off to ride the Otago Rail Trail, a 150 kilometre route in Central Otago about five hours drive from Christchurch. We will let you know how it goes!

Meanwhile November is looking good for heaps of riding with a small interruption, while I manage the safety of the riders during the Southern Alps Tour, leaving from Dunedin heading through the Caitlins to Invercargill upto Te Anau into Milford Sound before finishing in Queenstown. Some very spectacular country and am looking forward to it! I am a firm believer that it is good to give back to the sport, as sports/events run on volunteers ... apart from that it will be a BLOODY good time!

Monday, 9 September 2013

What's the attraction?

When talking to people about attempting the Brevet, I am often asked .. but Why!!!

So what is the attraction about enduring 1100 kilometres on a mountain bike over eight days or less?

For me it is the sense of an adventure! There is one definition of adventure which I really like and that is ....  " to attempt something where the outcome is unknown." 

Throughout the majority of my life I have been having adventures, as a kid during our long hot summer school breaks, my mates and I would get on our bikes or go by foot and explore the local country side. swimming in the river, building forts in the local farmers hay barns, sliding down the local sand dunes on old car bonnets.

As I got older my interest developed towards the outdoors, particularly kayaking, soon road trips around the country to explore different rivers, compete in slalom and down river races, multi-day trips camping on the riverbanks were standard. Additionally there were hiking, rock climbing, ski trips, all that while at high school!

Eventually these "adventures" became a lifestyle, which then became a full time job! Some of the big adventures included sea kayak guiding in Prince William Sound, Alaska,

 rafting and kayaking the Grand Canyon.

So why do the big ones stand out ... well the were pretty challenging environments, they were both self supported, both were incredibly beautiful parts of the world, both were physically challenging and above all there was a fantastic bunch of like minded people to share it all with!

They are the same things I experienced in 1980 when I did my first overnight kayak trip on the Rangitikie river from Pukekahu to Mangaweka.

I see those attributes in the Kiwi Brevet ... that's the attraction!

Monday, 2 September 2013

The difference 23 years make!

The difference 23 years make ... that was my thought out on today's ride. During the week I had received my Revelate bags for the bike, I had headed out to watch my daughter, Anja play a game of Netball then a bit of a shake down ride to see how these bags changed the handling of my bike ... it has been 23 years since I last did a bike tour 

1990 Molesworth Station


So here are some of the differences ...
Avanti Chrome moly,  fully rigid, , cantilever brakes, shimano biopace 21 speed triple, straps on the pedals, Scott AT4 handlebar (was the beesknees!), Blackburn Alloy racks  with Tika canvas bags, oh and a Giro helmet, (which saved me about a month later when I crashed going downhill at 60 kmh into a lamppost).
Specialized Stumpjumper Carbon Comp, Rolf Prima Ralos 29 wheels set up Tubeless, SRAM X9/X0 2x10 drivetrain, XTR clipless pedals, XTR hydrulic disc brakes, Garmin 705 GPS, Led lights, lightweight Revelate bags. Still wearing a Giro helmet ( a new one!).

Both have the same engine!

What hasn't changed is I am still enjoying being out there on the bike ... which ever it is!

My other rides ...
 Giant TCR Advanced
 Kuota Kueen K
Specialized Epic 29er

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Kiwi Brevet 2014 - the start

Here is my first foray into the world of blogging, a bit scary in itself. It comes about from the idea that I would share my experience leading into and surviving the 2014 Kiwi Brevet http://kiwibrevet.blogspot.co.nz/.

After following the last two editions of the Kiwi Brevet, The Great Southern Brevet and the Tour Divide for the last couple of years the seed had been planted and watered. In July I finally ticked the box and committed to be there on the start line in Blenhiem on the first of February 2014!

What appeals to me about this unique event, is the sense of adventure and challenge ... approximately 1100 kilometres of mountain biking, over eight days, throughout the upper half of the South Island. The route designed by one of the legends of NZ mountain biking Simon Kennett, it has some great ingredients ... distance, iconic scenery, a challenging route, very few and simple rules  ...

My starting point is a reasonably fit 85 kilo, 47 year old, part time student, full time Construction Works Manager, part time Dad, with a sense of adventure and a history of enjoying the outdoors.

Over the last 35 years (gees I'm getting old!) I have enjoyed a lot of different adventures white water kayaking, mountain biking, sea kayaking, skiing, rock climbing, hiking, multi-sport racing, triathlons all of which have enriched my life each with their own unique challenges.

It is these experiences I will be drawing on to get me through the long days of the event.

The approximate route is here there maybe some small adjustments to it https://maps.google.co.nz/maps/ms?msid=210164429420192130959.0004b1851e8718f8ab7f4&msa=0

Along the way there will be many who will be helping and supporting me in many ways, so in advance a big THANKS to my partner Chris, friends Daniel and Kay who own DCM Sports  http://dcmsport.com/osc/ suppling HIGH 5 nuitriention and Rolf Prima wheels both of which I am using, they also run some great events http://www.ultimatetriathlete.co.nz/page3.php and http://southernalpstour.co.nz/