Epic 2014 came to a crushing halt 12 hours before the start - thanks to the 48 hour flu
Epic 2015 I was a roving mechanic...jumped in the truck and drank beers with 20km to go...so only really did about 70km.
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
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.
Can you change a puncture ?
- Why don't we ride together
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.