2017 felt like a busy year, I did a rough calculation and added up all of the major races I did and it worked out to be something like 14 races and about 30 days of racing… roughly 1/12 of a year! By the time Kepler came around I was feeling pretty raced out, so by Christmas time I was really in need of a break to prevent burn out. This time by break I actually mean a break too, I spent 10 days down in Dunedin and went for a total of 3 runs, and about 3 bike rides. It was a good break, I even picked up a paint brush and did some painting something that I hadn’t done for years so it was good to know those skills haven’t been completely lost.
During this ten days I was able to have a good think about how to approach the next weeks leading into Godzone so when I was back at work, I was back into training too. And hence why all has been a bit quiet, the weeks have been solid and then the weekends have been full of training. I was up and down and east to west across the South Island.
After heading back to work for a week, I jumped back in the car with Sophie and we drove down to visit Nick who was doing some mapping down at Middlemarch. After the late night arrival, we had a late morning start. The weather was looking pretty perfect and being still in the middle of summer there was plenty of light. The plan was to bike up to the top of the Rock and Pillar range, go for a bit of a walk up there into Cambridge Creek (a former gold claim of the Cambridge family), then stay the night at Big Hut and bike back out the next day.
We rode right from Nick’s cottage where he was staying, along the rail trail until we reached the access route to the Rock and Pillars. The route was actually a 4wd track put in for the Leaning rock lodge ski field, and it was a fairly solid gradient. Slowly we ground our way up with a short stop for some lunch at the lodge, before emerging onto the tops. Once on the top it was pretty desolate and isolated up there and very cool place to be riding. We rode along the tops to Big Hut were we had some more food and contemplated our next move. We decided to ride back up the the junction and go for a short wander around the Cambridge Diggings. There wasn’t too much time left in the day, but enough to get us back to the hut in time to cook some dinner.
Overnight the wind was pretty strong, and made a lot of noise in the hut, but by sunrise it had started to die off a bit. We continued on the bikes, starting not too early but not too late either as Sophie and I had to drive back to Christchurch. We opted for a challenging route, through some an area marked on the map as the Castle and the Window, but unfortunately couldn’t find a track that was good enough to ride on so we continued all the way down to the Old Dunstan Road. This route took us past a big dam in the Great Moss Swamp, which was a pretty nice downhill, covering a lot of ground quite quickly. Then it was time for some off road again, and we cut down an accessway through the DoC land and tussocks into Middlemarch. At the very edge of the tops, just before the descent we stopped for a bit of lunch in some shelter as it was a bit cold and windy. After lunch the very steep descent began, this route did not really say it was suitable for biking and that as we discovered was because it wasn’t really all that suitable! It was hard work riding down, heavy concentration with some heavy brake control and the lower we got the hotter it got. Every hundred metres of down the temperature must have increased something like 5 degrees because now we were in the middle of a heatwave in the Middlemarch basin! Just a short slog along the sealed road to get back into town with time for a massive Ice cream before the long drive back.
The next weekend I was all set for the Old Ghost road with Isla, but unfortunately she had to pull out of that on recommendation of the doctors due to her knee injury, which was probably just as well in hind sight. With this mission put on the back burner, I was in need of a plan B. Plan B was hatched on friday afternoon with Tim and Stephanie, and not finalised until about 8pm. At 10:45pm, after doing a car drop we started our Trek into Wharfdale hut…with headlamps of course. We figured that it was unlikely that we would encounter anyone in the hut at that time of night, so we got a bit of a surprise when dogs started barking at 2am as we arrived at the hut. Two people were sleeping in the hut with a couple of dogs, so our entry to the hut was fairly abrupt and it was an uncomfortably hot sleep on the top bunks for about 4 hours.
Luckily our friends left the hut earlier than us, so we had a bit of time to sort ourselves out before heading up and over Black hill. From there we started the trip across to Salmon Creek, in what we thought might be set to become a classic Canterbury pack-rafting loop. As we made our way across in near perfect conditions the Westpac Rescue helicopter flew over, then hovered above the spur we were about to head down, before landing on an open patch. We hurried down to see if they needed any help (which they didn’t) then watch the helicopter winch out a patient with what looked like a broken ankle. No sooner had the helicopter gone, we wandered down and bumped into the injured persons team mates who also had the same plan as us. So we “teamed” up with them and wandered down to the Salmon creek biv, then into the creek for what seemed like a very long time. The creek was reasonably tricky to negotiate and it took quite a long time before we reached the Waimakariri. Here we inflated the packrafts and paddled out the gorge. It was heaps of fun for me as it was my first time in a single packraft, so it was a bit of a treat to cruise on into a bluff with little fear at all. It was a brilliant afternoon, and we were back in town by 10pm Saturday night.
That left time to get out for some orienteering on Sunday, I decided to dust off the TT bike and rode that out to Kairaki Beach… which didn’t result in great orienteering results, and then I just completely ran out of fuel on the bike, blowing up big time like I hadn’t done for a long time. A quick stop at the petrol station to fuel up and I was back on the road again.
I swear I spent a bit of time at working during the week, but before I knew it the weekend had rolled around, and we were off to the Lake Rotoiti for a weekend of Orienteering. As with most of the Orienteering events organised this about this time of the year, it turned into a bit of an all around adventure weekend, so the car was pretty loaded up with Packrafts, Paddles, Bikes and all the gear associated with it!
The Orienteering was super hot, quite long and tough, but I still managed to surprise myself with an ok result, even after a bit of bumbling around in the tricky stuff. Once the days orienteering was done, now was the time to play with the toys. First I biked into town for an ice cream and a bottle of that magical elixir Coca-Cola, then a swim, then a packraft down the top part of the Buller and then a Mountain bike around the teetotal flats. Fair to say that even though the total time of all activities wasn’t huge, I slept pretty well that night.
The previous days antics didnt really, help my orienteering the next day either. The West Bay map is notoriously tricky and I messed up big early on and then continued for a while ok, but again messed up and lost again a lot of time. Parts of it were fun, but its just when you suck that its not all that fun…. Another hot day of racing complete! Another long drive back to Christchurch.
Another week down, and I had something planned but it fell through, and the weather wasnt playing ball, so plan B was a Rogaine out in Mt Somers direction with Greig. I felt like we had planned an alright route, and as it happened our main rivals Matt and Nick (Ross) had a similar plan so we ran the first part with them, until our courses deviated, and we managed to pick up and extra control, putting us just ahead after they made a mistake. From then on the race heated up, I got super dehydrated for what seemed like the rest of the race, and we had to significantly cut down on our route. The last half hour I was really fading, and my pee was a very brown colour so I wasn’t too happy, but we still managed to arrive with a sprint finish within 30 seconds or so of the 6 hour mark. Good practise, and good wake up call on how not to do a rogaine in heat like that! We managed to pull of the win in the end but, I think that was more down to Greig’s initial route planning and then a semi-sensible B plan execution. Then back to work for one day before heading out on Waitangi day with Nick for a wet weather ride around the Wharfdale.
Godzone was now creeping up fairly quickly, just a couple of weekends to go, and Coast to Coast Weekend! Again I had opted to sit out racing, but with sitting out always comes the responsibility of having to do support crew. My services were in demand this year, but in the end I was on duty for Bobby Dean with Isla. We had a quite a stressful day there for a while, going backwards and forwards between, Mt White Bridge and Klondyke corner but we did a good job of helping Bobby hit the start of the paddle in even 2nd position. Two bad Bobby had an unlucky kayak, swimming a number of times, as he was in hot form.
Finally there was room for one more weekend of adventure before the packing started, Stru and I were dropped off at a very quiet looking Mt White Bridge and paddled the double packraft down through the whole Waimak gorge. The flow was up a little bit which made for a good trip, albeit a little windy and cool, but again cool to go down through the gorge without having that fear of falling out! While we were off paddling Nat who kindly did the car shuttle for us had gone for a run and a mountain bike ride, and hadn’t expected us to be done so quickly…. so when we arrived at Woodstock we did a quick pack and go practice and started walking back along the road. Very valuable practice for Godzone!
So there you have a summary of the beginning of 2018! All action… since Godzone its been all recovery!!!