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 ?