Epic 2014 came to a crushing halt 12 hours before the start - thanks to the 48 hour flu
Epic 2015 I couldn't be arsed
Epic 2016 - hello my old friend - and hello my new friend Kerri, who was having her first crack at it.
I was trying to be helpful with useful advice:
You might want a vest with pockets for easy access to your food
- Why would I ride in a vest ?
What cycle jersey are you racing in ?
- why would I wear one of those horrible things - they're like, not even merino
Can you change a puncture ?
- Why don't we ride together
Are you riding in knee warmers ? I am - they're really good.
- I don't own any, I'll wear tights instead
That might be too much
- I'll wear shorts then
That might not be enough, you can easily take knee warmers off if need be.
She borrowed knee warmers and they were great. Phew.
Mops took us to the start with John-Jo and Whitney in tow.
"Hey Whitney can you reach over the back and grab me a gel - I need to keep to my food plan"
- sorry Mops I get car sick said Whitney
Kerri reaches over - Mops is happy, outside it was still dark, inside the car it suddenly was too.
The 95km people had started and I was still getting dressed after a last minute trip to the loo.
Kerri is panicking - I am not.
We start passing riders before the first hill. They might have passed us back as I tuned Kerri's gears.
No matter, we roll along it's all good.
No rush, it's a big day.
Dougal and James ( 2nd & 1st podium) pass us before Boundary Hut - holy shit they are flying or we are not.
The turn approaches - some Muppet jumps the fence and cops a torrent of abuse. Wanker.
The river was wet, but at least it was a tail wind home this year..
Green bush hut pit stop sucked up too much time, but no matter, we were just cruising with no agenda in mind.
Or so I thought...
"Richard, do you think you could go faster on the downhills? I'm having to ride my brakes a lot"
- FFS I'm on a freaking hardtail and I just passed a guy in a dry river bed - I'm pretty much on the limit here (Kerri s on a 27.5 dualie)
So I gave her That look - yes that look and rode up the next hill and like that she was gone burger.
Nina McVicar was there instead, so we shared 24 solo stories then I dumped her on a techie uphill too.
My God, I was on fire.
Mental problem though - I said I'd ride with Kerri all day...but she was OTA.
I had half the tool kit and she had the other half.
Maybe I'd just ride till I exploded and wait for her at the Dingle scone stop.
Like heck - I was still in front of Nina, I wasn't stopping for nothing.
Descending around the Bluffs I did think that if I got a puncture I was royally screwed and if Kerri got a puncture - well much the same.
Nina passed me as I rode ( yes, I rode all of it ) up Timaru Creek...her 1x11 was like a f'd chainsaw.... my 3 x 10 was mint as bro.
I leapfrogged a few riders down towards Johns Creek then unleashed a big ol' can of Whupass.
Well until the headwind hit me like a ton of bricks.
No matter - not far now.
Crossed the line in just under 6 hours and sweated the remaining 40 odd minutes until Kerri rolled in puncture and mechanical free.
High fives all round - what a day.
A first for her and redemption for me.
Home for a shower, food, a wee kip and then back for prize giving....won nothing.
But I got my knee warmers back, don't you worry about that.