Thursday, November 24, 2016

Contact Epic 95km April 13 2016

Epic 2013 was just that.
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 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.

Naseby 12 hr mtb March 2016

Naseby last year was an unknown attempt at solo, riding one gear for 12 hours.

This year, I was all over it - handing out advice to first timers like jelly beans.

My nonchalant attitude wouldn't let me down on the day - I had a check list !

Accomodation - sorted.

Crappy nights sleep - check.

Helper on race day - sorted

Ok, I didn't have this as sorted as last year.

Bikes x 2 - sorted

I only rode one all day.

Game Plan - optimistic

Less organised than last year, but good at crisis management.

Sign on was the night before, so that was done.

Morning arrived not soon enough - I snore like a lumberjack and sharing a room basically means I don't sleep.
Oh well.

After racing the 24 hour Solo Worlds in Rotorua in Feb, I considered myself a bit of an expert so had two bikes this year. 
But one number plate. 
A bit of pissing around and misappropriation had me numbered up and ready to roll.

The first few laps were like having the flu standing in a puddle: congested and wet underfoot.

A recently logged section had queues of riders stacked up waiting.
They stressed out;  I waited my turn, cleaned the ups and downs and got on with my thing.

On the second lap I thought my shoes felt a bit roomy and realised I hadn't put in my orthotics. Pondering if I should carry on and what would be the long term implications of this I pulled in, undid the laces ( so hip right now, but jeez they ain't fast ) found my inner soles and rejoined the masses.

The laps passed me by, as did my realization of how good I had it last year with Trudy feeding myself and Matt Corbett...
This year I had a loose arrangement with Kristal ( looking after Gavin Mason's team) and Doug E Fresh ( looking after John Mezger ).
Unfortunately the food didn't really flow into my pockets in quite the right rhythm so a bit of extra time was spent fluffing around in the pits.
Otherwise everything was about the same as least year - lap times, weather, the course, the constant round and round, eat, drink, pee, repeat.
I couldn't be happier - stuck to the plan: start slow and aim to get slower, I walked the same hills again, a few yelled words of encouragement from old and new friends around the pits as you pass by.
Bike was running perfectly - much better than Rotorua where we shagged around changing my gear ratio and tires trying to tame those nasty tree roots. Naseby is a great course for a single speed if ever there was one.

Later in the day I waited for Kerri to roll past so we could ride together for a while - I'd talked her into going solo and felt somewhat responsible.
"How's your day going then ?"
She'd crashed into the water race, had a bit of faff time in the pits, but seemed to be enjoying herself. I think we did a couple of laps together then she crashed hard down the Cat Puncher which I didn't know about as I was in front and had my own schedule to keep.......

Around 6ish it was time for tea, lights and a change of clothes.
4 more laps should do the trick.

9.38pm rolls around as I cross the line; so that's me done for the day. 
14 Laps, 168km and third on the Vet Mens Single Speed podium.
Same as last year, but running one gear smaller. Go figure.
Pack everything up then back for another uncomfortable nights sleep.
Sunday I had the company of Kerri on the way home and that was the start of a whole new adventure..............

Oh, Cheers to Matt Corbett Photgraphy for the snaps.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Tekapo 10 Hour 31 Jan 2016

Last year, we raced this excellent course as a 4 person team.
And we came away with the win in the vets grade + 3rd overall.
I've never been so dusty.

This year, in preparation of bigger things; I solo'd it.

My good friend Peter Page also rode solo, but with gears, so that was the soft option.

Tekapo is about halfway between Christchurch and Wanaka, so an easy drive for both of us.

After an ok sleep in the local campground, we had a cruise down to the start for a 9am kick off.
Unlike John Mezger who woke up late in Wanaka and was turning an easy 3 hour drive into a frantic 2.5 hour pre race-race against the clock.

I had two bikes for the day - the Chinese Mystery hardtail with gears and Hard Eddie; set up all single speed.

4 laps on the geared bike to get things rolling was all good, then I thought it wise to swap to the single speed.

Well - what an eye opener that was.
The handlebars sucked - Salsa bend 2's....actually they're great probably for bike packing, but the stem was too long to race on.
After a couple more laps I decided the wheels needed a swap around so off came the gears, on went the single sprocket and back out I went some 30 mins later.
I know it was a slow pit stop as Peter passed me twice and commented accordingly.

He was lapping it up on his Pivot dualie 29er  running 27.5+ wheels. 
What an over achiever.
John Mezger was killing it on his Epic.

I swapped bikes for the later part of the day to bring it on home - it seems a 10 hour that started at 9 finishes at 7pm, not 5 pm ( thanks for sorting that out for me Pete ) so the last couple of hours was a bit of a struggle.

The results say I chopped 18 laps at an average of 32 mins and a total of 127 km.

With the racing done I headed back to the motorcamp for a shower.
I wasn't staying the night, so had to be a bit stealth....
Parked up next to a tent site, hit the showers to find I left my wallet in the car - required as showers were pay first.
Got dressed, head back to car.
Ok, now have wallet and ready to shower..........
No change in wallet.
Got dressed, drove down to office, get small change.
Park up, hit the showers, put money in meter and finally have shower.
Thereafter I arrived in my driveway, not really recalling many details of the drive back.

An excellent weekend and a great chance to iron things out prior to the 24 solo worlds in Rotorua the following month.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Naseby 12 hour, April 2015

Matt Corbett is mostly responsible for the years installment of the Naseby 12 hour mtb race.

Whilst selling the solo idea to me, he said you do more laps than in a team, and at a slower pace.

So, I signed up.

Then Matt asked if I'd entered singlespeed ?
Not on your life I replied.
So I changed my grade to singlespeed after Matt again gave me his snake oil answer.

I'd recently smashed my previous time at Karapoti and the bike was still a mess, so I thought it quite smart to remove all the dirty parts and worry about them next summer.

Trying to find the magic gear and a chain tensioner that didn't slip was nigh on impossible, but I nailed it with a half link and a fat 1/8th pitch chain - and no tensioner.

I was in a post Club Road Champs slump after been dropped 5 km into the 100 km race so wasn't really enthused about road biking.

Mr Corbett was up in Wanaka a few times before the Naseby race; on wedding organisational duty so we did a few laps of Deans Bank and Luggate.

Easter Friday we knocked out 70 km in 4 hours on the singlespeeds which impressed the heck out of me - that's a long way with one gear in my world.

So, with a week to go - my riding was back online, the bike was sorted and of course I had a to do list as long as my arm.

There was just the small matter of what to eat for 12 hours and trying to stay away from the pub in the last 24 hours.

Sausage Rolls looked promising, but on advice from Gavin Mason they were dropped for pre cooked Cheerios.
And Pizza, bananas, gels, and the usual water and electrolytes in the bottles.

Managed to get to bed with only 3 beers or slow release carbohydrate drinks under my belt and dreamt of the unknown day ahead.

Race day weather was chilly in the morning, dry and not a snowflake to be seen.

My first lap was slow, I thought I was the only person around me with clip in pedals.

It was soul destroying compared to other years riding on the red line, served up with a side of vomit: in a team.

I can't remember if I stopped on the 2nd lap or not, but when I did call into the pits for food and drinks Trudy just piled the food into my back pockets, swapped empty bottles for full ones and I was off again.

I'd like to say I tore out of the campground and up the first hill like a bat out of hell, but I didn't.
I walked it.

And cruised around the water race like I was holding an ice cream.

The plan was going perfectly, in that I didn't have a plan, so it couldn't fail.

Early on 3rd lap it was action stations - slipping seatpost alert.
Like a knight in shining armour who should arrive ?
Marc Sharman, my usual partner in crime, who said he was really flying and couldn't stay and help.

So, that's how it was then.
I enter solo one time and that's it.
All those fun times in a team with Marc and like that, if was over.

I did my best to ignore Marc throughout the day when he tried to engage me in idle chat after that sideswipe.

A lightning pit stop, bottles, food and a seat post change over.
Boom, I walked out of the campground eating my peeled banana up the hill this time.
Things were looking up.

My food choice was good, the packaging not so good.
Everything was in one pocket.
Pizza, cheerios, peeled banana, jelly beans, muesli bar: all together.

Next lap, I'd inform the crew chief and we'd do better.

Although riding solo, I found a lot of other folks to talk to - who like me, weren't in a rush and were in for the long haul.

I'd been chatting with Cam Mchardy for a while, but didn't recognise him again after he stopped for a pee.
Great, three laps in and I'm losing it already.
Only 10.5 hours to go.

Lots of stuff was happening, but mainly plodding along trying not to break a sweat and remembering  to eat and drink everything each lap.

Next pit stop:  Trudy said Matt was dicing for 2nd or 3rd place !
Holy crap, it was on in the Corbett camp.
He had unleashed his can of whip ass early on against a young guy riding a rigid single speed with taped up wrists ;-like a boxer.

Myself, I had nothing like that to report, except smoking a few riders on the downhills while they then passed me back on the up hills.

Maths not being my strong point my 50 minute laps had my brain working overtime figuring out power output, lactate thresholds, rpm, tire wear, calorific intake, liquid exit strategy, and how many times I would make it around now I had completed 6 laps in 5 hours.

Normally 6 laps takes all day and a chunk of the night and here I was mid afternoon and I could have called it a day and still be further ahead.

The Wednesday Night crew from Dunners were in full flight and not far off cracking into the beers, they were taunting me.

I soldiered on with a quick stop to don vest, arm and knee warmers now the sun was getting low.

Round and round we go.

Having a Solo Rider yellow tag hanging under your seat tells other riders you are mental and have no friends, so they offer encouragement as they fly past.
"You suck loser "
"God you're slow "

Then they see you have only one gear.
You might as well be in a wheelchair and have a sign saying you have the plague.

Except Jess Simson who not only recognised me but said I was going great.

Anyways, around 530 I met Matt out on the course as I was walking up Ramp Road.
"How's it going ? "
- "First time I've walked this bloody hill all day - and you ? "
"Mate, I've been walking it all day! "
- "I'm pulling the pin after this lap, my knees are shot"
"Bugger, oh well maybe there was something in that woosie small gear I've run all day and all those hills I've walked up ? "

Matt Corbett pulls the pin, Rick Woodward has a full change of gear, lights on.
3 course dinner: soup, lasagne, stewed apple.
20 mins and we're off again.
Some would say that was slow, but I'd been slow all day - who cares !

Another 2 laps pas by, a 3 minute pit stop to change batteries and refuel.

I'd clocked up 12 laps !
And worse than that I was 3rd singlespeed overall.

Podium only goes to 3rd.

Mental arithmetic overload: 50 minute laps, 2 hours to go.
I could just stop now and suffer the humiliation from my peers for the next 12 months or plod along and prey for a mechanical.

Made it in with ample time to spare.

Suffice to say I felt pretty stoked standing on stage.

This one wasn't a medal for turning up, I'd actually done something quite well, for many hours.

Earned it you could say.

Man I was fucked the next day and the next and the next.

And then by Wednesday my heart rate was back to normal.

24 solo anyone ?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mountainbiking finally resumes in 2014

Last April, I rode around Lake Hawea on my dualie 29er.
Then it had one more ride before Alex (our summer intern from FOX) went home in May.
Then it got stripped back to a skeleton and had the suspension bearings replaced.
9 months later I had finished and came upon the next hurdle of which bike to raid back for parts....
Carbon hardtail or Bike Packing bike ?
- Might still fit in one more camping adventure if the weather plays nicely.
- Carbon hardtail has an internal brake hose - be good to leave it in place.
Pondering that issue I then got a call from a friend who was stuck for time to have his shock serviced before taking off on the Godzone adventure race.
So I did the good thing and lent him my shock.
Which prompted Marty to clean his frame properly and found it had cracks.
Which cracked him.
Then his replacement frame arrived and it was too small, which cracked him further.
- I hope it works out for him.

Maybe my frame will be reunited with it's shock by end of the week and I can find another Juicy 3/5 rear brake ??

I'm planning on riding around Lake Hawea again, so best I get it rolling shortly. has been running a 5 race XC series this summer - so far I've number 2 & 4
The clusterfuck I mentioned in my previous post joined me for both.
A loose bottom bracket prior to the start had me using a cone spanner to tighten the end cap on the cranks.

The course was 4 laps, about 30 mins each.

When Jim Hawkridge says he might need another couple of gels on the start line you know it's going to be a toughie.
And it didn't disappoint - sweet place to race.

In between races I stripped down the bottom bracket but didn't test ride it.

So I had to use the cone spanner again, seating the seals properly this time.

Sign on guy: Steve, said put your number on the front of your riding top - I might have said I wasn't running a marathon and would put it on my handlebars: thanks.
Funny thing, got a flat tire on the start line and was then lent a bike.
Lost a few minutes swapping that pesky number over.
Ha ha.

A different course this time - fireroad climb, sweet single track with swoopy downhill berms for the first part.
Got passed by a girl on a 26"dualie on the uphills then realised I was kinda thirsty - my drink bottle back at the start on my bike.
Bugger, better peg it back a notch lest I expire.
A bottle of bright blue Powerade materialised track side.

I grabbed the front brake so hard I nearly flew over the bars !
Now back on track and sucking someone else's bottle of blue germs, but really did I care ?

Fiona was back in front and the course was getting shorter.
Smoked her by the bottom of the dual slalom and then past dayglo shoes guy in the last corner.
A hollow victory if ever there was one, but I now lead the points table for Vet Mens Long Course.
One race left and I could win a drink bottle or a tube.
Here's hoping.

Monday, March 3, 2014

2014 Cycling Season Resumes

January 12.
 Around Lake Dunstan, 90km mass start.
Wet. Really wet. Again.
Awesome ride - hung onto main peloton in howling tail wind for about 20km. Rode with another guy from Invercargill for 30km.
Got picked up by another bunch at Luggate for the final 40.
Everyone just put their heads down and got on with it - and it was crap.
Well if you were a fish it was great, riding a road bike in a 20 strong bunch: not much.
Got rolled on the line for a second place in the gallop and finally broke the spot prize drought.
Mr Sharman and Denise stayed with us for the weekend and did the ride too.
Much pre race nerves over the correct level of clothing etc etc, but Marc carved a way thru the chaos like an icebreaker with Little Toot following faithfully behind.
Then she drove home 'cause Marc was fucked.

Feb 16
Alexandra to St Bathans, 75km handicap
This is the start of a clusterfuck of recent racing nightmares.
Drove into Alex to realise the start is on the back road, not the main road, so a quick phone/maps look up and arrive with time to spare.
Front tire is half flat from when I pumped it up earlier that morning - threw a tube in while race briefing is happening. Get covered in tubeless tire sealant.
Leave repair bag/tube etc in car. Hope for no more self deflating moments.
- Ces (my new nemesis) did puncture 5 km in, leaving 4 of us to head off the faster bunch behind - they caught us after 14km, then scratch caught us just over halfway.
So that was it then; the laughing bunch for 30 km, which then decided we should keep smashing it.
Not a great start back on the horse.
Luckily got a lift back to the start with one of the lads, so at least I didn't have to keep my bottom lip off the handlebars all the way home.

Feb 23
Roxburgh, Moa Flat, Raes Junction & Return, 75 km handicap
Driving down with Russell and he says 
"don't rush the hill, it's like a half hour climb"
It actually took me 44 minutes : Tom Vessy = 28 mins.
Got dropped, got back on, got dropped, got back on.
Swooping downhill and cross wind; hung in there. 
Raes Junction and I was on my own.
Got on a couple of bunches, but really I was dreaming.
60 km mark (Millers Flat) and I was getting hungry - it was lunchtime after all.
Passing through Ettrick and the 60 year old powerhouse that is John Alabaster said jump on behind Ces.
Fuck me, that guy is strong - pulling 28km into a headwind that had me at 18-20.
Got spat and grovelled home.
Coffee order got screwed up at cafe for prize giving - of which there was none for me.
Very humbling experience; 10 km hill climb and gain 400 vertical metres. Ouch.

March 2nd
Chatto Creek, Oterehua Loop, 100km handicap
2 climbs within first 20 km, then rolling, so stay together - that was the plan on the start line.
Reality - our bunch of 5 got splintered by the schoolgirl climbing machine (Mikayla Harvey - new resident of Albert Town) and then we didn't regroup for another 10 km. Good one.
Picked up Darryl along the valley so we hustled along to Oterehua when everyone was a bit flat.
Turn to head home and it's howling head / cross winds and road works.
Bunch broke up again, Mikayla dropped us then bridged to next bunch.
Another 10km and got passed by Russell's bunch and that was it.
Laughing bunch with 40 to go.
Kept the foot on the gas, only got caught by Gav Mason & Jim Hawkridge ( fastest time of the day right there) in the last 5 km.
Standing round saying how hard that was and the young girl who went off first with one other rider, puts on her running shoes and goes off for a jog.
Guess we not that hard after all.

MTB notes to follow in next installment.
Many things also not going to plan.
Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Christchurch CX Race at Steamscene July 14 2013

Took Friday off work to drive up to CHCH.
1hour 10 to Omarama, looking forward to coffee at the Mobil station; the disappointment lasted all the way to Twizel as it was thermo nuclear.
Lunch at Farm Barn cafe near Fairlie = yum everytime.
Finally found the elusive Thompsons track which basically follows the old train line from Geraldine to Rakaia.
Then the new motorway leads round to Woolston way nicely without any of that snarl up through Hornby etc.

My host for the weekend; Marc Sharman said meet me at the Brewery
Pizza, beer and a friend of his; Ali who physco analysed me all night.
I was easy - she's a child physcologist.

Saturday we managed to achieve very little - at the market, a visit to Eastgate Mall which had Mr Sharman climbing the walls to escape the Zombie Apocolypse, coffee here and there and we didn't even get into the CBD.
Oh, I forgot Ewen chased and faced the headtube on my dualie 29er while Marc ogled the Cup Cake girls.

No pub before race and due to a lack of geographical awareness no coffee enroute to the race either.
Lucky we smashed one down in St Martins early in the morning.

Scott, Jeremy and the gang ( I guess we could mention Timo here and his nodding Mercedes dog) put on another sensational course with a spiral of doom, hail and rain at the start a new section out the back with actual sand, noted that it wasn't liquifaction !

Anyone in fancy dress or a skinsuit got a headstart on the Le Mons running start through the spiral of doom. Have to say that running in cycling shoes in ever decreasing circles is pretty dicey.

Somebody won, probably Logan or Dayle.
Results and more pictures here
I finished in front of the first Lady home and Marc and Peter Page so that's my bragging done.
Um, Darron Burns pasted me in pure straight line speed in his first CX race but did have to crash a few times in the corners. Top effort.

Then we went to the pub for Collector Card number 2 release party.
Special thanks to Ewen for bringing his stunt double along without a translator.
A good turn out, with Shark Marmon co-ordinating his floozies nicely throughout the night so there was never any down time.
For a Sunday night we once again behaved like small children who like drinking. Awesome.

Monday was low key, pack up have coffee with Marc & Scott then back track home with a stop at the museum in Fairlie for chow which was excellent and highly recommended.