11 February 2009

Tara's Leg 6 days after the tear. Ouch!

10 February 2009

EC NZ '09 - Epilogue

EC NZ ’09 – Epilogue

Some of the things I’d like to cover here:

Future Epic camps
Other great camps
Staying healthy
Group training
Personal responsibility

Future Epics - Our next Epic Camp is in the French Alps June 13-22. We’ll be taking in many of the famous Tour climbs as well as seeking out a few of the “more intimate” routes as usual. Some of the accommodation comes highly recommended as well as some of the restaurants we’ll be eating at. Hopefully the days of the likes of the Haast Motor camp are well and truly behind us! Ian and Julie Wright from Pyrenees Multisport http://www.pyreneesmultisport.com/ will be helping us out again for the 3rd time so I know we’ll all be well looked after.

For 2010 we’re working on a camp that will take in the complete length of New Zealand from Cape Reinga to Bluff. We’ve mapped it out and it will take at least 15 days in order to stick to our s/b/r every day format. If we pull it off then I hope to convince the other members of “the committee” to have a neutral day or two where we agree to a temporary truce in the points competition and don’t race on those days. I’ll keep you informed on how those discussions as they progress ….
In the June/July period of 2010 the tentative plan is to go to either Switzerland or Spain and most likely returning to the 8-day format for that.

Other great camps
My good friend Kevin Purcell http://www.coachkp.com/ and I are planning a new type of camp. They will be for the over-50 crowd and open anyone from age 50 – 100, to both sexes and all abilities. Our thinking here is that the approach to health and training, athletic goals and needs of the over-50 athlete are quite different than those of younger people. These wont’ be Epic in nature although there will be plenty of adequate challenges for those who are looking for them. We will have some discussions covering the topics that are important to older athletes and bring in some expertise to address various areas. At the moment there isn’t a camp that exists that will offer anything close to what we’re offering the older athlete and I’m really looking forward to them.
Our first camp is planned for this year - September 12 (Saturday) – 18th (Friday) in Sedona Arizona. I can tell you that we won’t be roughin’ it! The accom, food and wine will be of suitable standard to those who’ve earned/acquired a taste for the good life. J
Please pass the word on this camp to any prospective older friends you have as I haven’t gotten my lazy ass around to advertising it yet! In 2010 we’re also planning a Vet camp for Tuscany as well most likely in late May or early June.

– Ian and Julie do put on plenty of tri camps and cycling oriented tours so its well worth checking out what they have on offer.
– Gordo and the crew at Endurance Corner http://www.endurancecorner.com/ have some great camps coming up soon but I haven’t checked to see if they are sold out.
– John Newsom is opening up his Poland camp to others of a suitable standard (they’re tough m’f…rs over there!) and the date for that camp is June 4-8. Travelers will fly in and out of Warsaw for that one.

Staying healthy

This is where my priorities for the athletic part of me lie now. Training for performance in races isn’t anywhere near as high a priority for me than enjoying training consistently and pain-free for many more years.
There are areas of my physical life where I have been woeful for many years but I haven’t given up thinking I’ll improve at some point – my lack of flexibility and lack of restraint with booze are the most obvious ones. I ran 8 days in a row at this camp and the last time I was able to do that was the last Epic I did in June in Italy. The last time I was running really well was in June/July of ’03. So long ago its embarrassing and infuriating.
My short term goal is to run decent and pain-free for a month+ prior to Epic France and arrive at a good weight (73kgs) and more flexible than I am now. I did make an effort today on both fronts.

One area I have been good at over the last 20 years is in giving my body the anti-oxidant nutrients it needs to keep my immune system strong, my joints lubricated and my arteries clear. For those of you that have read this far I’d like to offer some useful advice! Here’s the list of supplements I use daily/religiously:

1x Multivitamin/Minerals tablet
Dry vitamin E – 400-800 units
Vitamin C powder (ascorbic acid form) 2-8 grams. (I stir it into every drink I drink other than booze or coffee.)
Selenium 200-400mcg
Beta Carotene 3-6mg
Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) 60mgs/day
L-glutathione – 350mgs/day + 350mg n-acetyl cysteine which also boosts glutathione level
Fish Oil – 1-5 grams
Glucosamine – 1,000-2500mgs
Boron – 3mgs
Magnesium – 400mgs
DMAE – 100mgs
DHEA – 50-100mgs am and pm
Melatonin – 3mgs @night

During really strenuous periods of training I also make sure to make protein a higher priority and often use Whey protein (20-40grams/day) and/or extra glutamine (5-10grams/day) and try to reduce booze.
Group Training

Having even one good training partner will help anyone train better and improve more. If we can set ourselves up with a good, positive group to push us then the entire process of improvement will be a lot quicker and certainly more enjoyable.
At Epic we try to create an extremely positive environment for exploring limits. We don’t articulate it very often but when we are screening potential campers for Epic one of the questions we ask is: “what will this camper offer the others?” We’d like everyone to be able to contribute to the experience of the others, even if its just to push from behind (my specialty!) or keep the humor of the group going.
If we are constantly in the presence of greatness its easier to see! Surrounding ourselves with excellence clarifies our insight into our deficiencies and hopefully encourages us to take action to improve or eliminate them. Not everyone wants to or is ready to see their deficiencies and that’s one good reason to train by yourself all the time – no one is there to show them to you.
I fully realize that there will come a time when I can no longer keep up with the Chris McDonald’s of the world but I’ll still enjoy playing the game of training (as Dave Scott puts it) with people better than me. I’ll always enjoy trying to get into better shape. I can’t envisage a time when I wont’ have some fun racing some one up a mountain. I also get a lot of satisfaction from putting myself out there for others to hammer into submission! Its what makes playing the game of training fun.

Personal responsibility

Gordo writes a lot about this. His website is a goldmine for those looking to improve any aspect of their life. I tend to keep my thoughts to myself more! but occasionally share here in this Epic blog or with those that ask for advice. It looks like I’ll also be writing for Inside Tri now as well so hopefully I can offer something useful to the general tri public.
Luck has always followed me through life, but I feel my life is like that saying “the harder I work the luckier I get”. When people tell me how lucky I am to be my own boss and have so much flexibility with my work, training, etc. I just thank them and tell them I’m glad it only took 25 years of hard work to get this lucky.
Somehow I learned some lessons about life from my parents that have enabled me to succeed to a degree in spite of my other obvious flaws.
For example I’ve always been a prudent person and “saved for a rainy day”. I’ve never lived above my means which over time has ensured my family and I are immune to the boom & bust cycles that seem to affect so many. Disclosing this isn’t to brag – its to stimulate some action in those who are ready to take action to set yourself up for the next 10-50 years whether its addressing the athletic side of your life or something else.
Its up to each and every one of us to get ourselves into good situations for training, work, relationships, what-ever. Its no use throwing your hands up and saying “well what can I do???” and then skulking around waiting for lightning to strike. Hopefully those of you who’ve attended an Epic Camp have received a little help in answering that question.

A big THANK YOU to our support crew on this camp. They are:
Dave Dwan, John Ellis, Daniel McDonald, Sarah Helmore and Steve Motley.

Another big Thank You to our sponsors. They are:
Blue Seventy, High Five Nutrition, Oomph Sports, Fuel Belt and Coffees of Hawaii.

Until France…..
Train Hard, Satiate the Need


EC NZ '09 - Day 8 - Finale

EC NZ ’09 – Day 8 – fun and games, Tri Race

For those of you Epic Vets who still vaguely remember what its like to do the camp here are a few figures from Steven to sharpen your memory of what’s needed to put yourself in the picture for the Yellow – here are his 7-day totals from the first week:
Swim – 26km
Bike – 822 miles (1325km)
Run – 70 miles (113km)
Hours – 62.9

It was good to see Steven in his new Epic kit today as the race shorts are smaller and tighter and actually look kinda snug around his quads. The other cycling shorts he’s been wearing look like Chris has worn them for a couple of months and then given them back with the elastic shot to bits. He doesn’t even need the pockets of a cycling jersey most of the time now as there’s enough room to stuff a couple of lunch boxes into his cycling shorts where it looks like his quads should be!
Looks like he’ll soon be giving Douglas a run for his money in competition for the skinniest camper.

Our day started with the swim races at Nayland pool at 8am. Great to have a little sleep-in today. I sure as hell needed it. We had decided that the cut-off for bonus points would end by the time we left the pool so there was still a chance to do a 3km swim or bands only for points so I did both. I’ve really got to learn to get my hips and legs up some how as my toes were scraping the bottom of the pool on the bands only.
As expected Heath easily took the over-all swim points with the only upset coming from Ken with his trade-mark fast 50 coming in at 28 flat.
We did a 400IM which is always a laugh and also did a 200 kick with a board. Mike seems to have some serious upside to come with his swimming if he ever learns how to kick! I think he is now the proud owner of the record for the slowest ever 200 kick on Epic coming in at around 9 minutes!
Bevan took down coach John in the 50 which probably surprised John quite a bit to say the least. Could this be one of the first signs of aging John???????
Marilyn hasn’t been swiming at all for many months but decided to join us for the swim races and at the end of her 400IM she looked like she was just finishing a crossing of the English Channel as Piet rocketed by her in the last few meters.

Back to the hotel for breakfast and then a leisurely roll down to Rabbit Island for the Tri.
Steven got a little extra credit riding for chasing down some people we thought were campers who were quite a ways up the road and headed the wrong way. Turns out they weren’t part of our group and he busted a gut for nothing!

Since Newsom set out the swim course it was bound to be an honest effort. He said he certified the distance by driving the van along the road sorta parallel to the beach. If you spent a week+ with John and still don’t quite get his sense of humor then surely today you must be able to see what he thinks is hilarious.
It was choppy as hell out there but it was warm. In fact the ride and run looked to be a cooker as it was headed for 30 Degrees C today and probably close to that by the time we set off.
The rough water made it tough to draft so I got killed. Steven was up there with John but went the wrong way to get a little more extra credit (the guy just keeps finding ways to do more………..) and set off on the bike with Daniel, Chris and I.
Heath’s tire was flat when he came out of the water so he decided to skip the ride and get in the van to join us for the run.
Lou bridged up to me pretty quick and I though he was going to bury me but I rallied somewhat to pass Steven and drop Lou. The hilly part of the ride suited me but once we got into that last 15km on the flat I quickly lost all of my advantage and rolled into transition with Lou, Steven and Piet who had a hell of a ride to catch us.
Chris was way off the front and then decided to do the whole run with Heath which was a little surprising as he has been letting his running injury heal. He said afterwards that his legs felt good with no pain at all so he’s looking forward to getting back into a more balanced training program soon.
John’s knee seemed to be fine so he ran away with the race with Chris 2nd, then Steven, me, Piet, Lou (is that right???) and then I lost track as there was no more brain activity going on in my head. I did manage to drink about 2 liters of water, electrolyte and Coke in about 30 minutes following the race but still felt quite parched.
A massive lunch, a quick shower and back over to the Honest Lawyer……….

The rest of the day consisted of packing up and then dinner there at our hotel and they laid out a nice spread for us and some nice wines. Beautiful pavlova as one of the deserts. I love that stuff! A few of us went right to sleep (was I the only one??) and many went back over to the Honest Lawyer for a few more rounds till they closed the place down. The unanimous opinion from the campers was that super support crew Sarah was in fine form!
More in the Epilogue tomorrow regarding future Epics, thoughts on group training, other camps and Thank You’s.

EC NZ '09 - Day 7

EC NZ ’09 - Day 7

The plan today was to ride to Lake Rotoiti in the little village of St. Arnaud 85km from our accom in Stoke, swim, run and lunch there and then ride back. It looked like it was going to be 7.5-9 hour training day depending on the wind.

Personally; after finding our plush digs at the Monaco Resort kinda comfy; I was feeling like it would be a nice day for lounging around, getting caught up on coaching and sending the crew our for some cold refreshment. I really need to get a new hammock when I get home and park my lazy ol’ ass in that sucker for a while before winter ..……

I have done the ride to St. Arnaud a couple of times in bike races and it’s a doozy if there’s a headwind which in fact was on the forecast today. I was hoping Chris was feeling up to the job of pulling again today because if he was then that would save us about 30 minutes ride time getting there and save me from pulling us along at an agonizingly slow pace.
Chris, Marilyn and I did a 280km bike race up here a few years ago and the initial 80km was along this exact route to St. Arnaud. Marilyn flatted early in the race that day (at about the 20km point I think) so Chris and I waited for her to fix it and spent the next 260km as a quiet little trio. Not a lot of chit chat that day I can assure you! With Chris doing 95% of the pulling we did manage to complete that sucker though.

This part of NZ is great for riding, perhaps the best in the country. Good roads, lots of sun and variety of terrain, great scenery and very little traffic.
We rolled out just after 7 and it was already warm. So I knew there was going to be some wind and sure enough we had a very steady breeze to battle all the way to St. Arnaud. The speed was generally around 28-32kph even with Chris at the front and all of us strung out trying to hold on. We did have a touching of wheels with a couple of people going down after a couple of hours of hard slog which wasn’t surprising. People are tired.
Newsom was in the van today as his knee is bugging him. In a way I’m kinda glad he finally got a good niggle to deal with as he’s been pretty bullet proof over the last few years at Epic. When you’re young and strong it’s a little hard to have sincere empathy for those in the camp dealing with some hurt until it actually happens to you. He’ll also have to give up his streak of completing all of the camps he’s done as well as the 10-point bonus for camp completion this time. That stings.

We shortened the swim a little as historically this lake has been rather frigid. So it was a nice surprise when we hopped in and found it was approx 18 degrees C. We have had the warmest summer I can remember and that has warmed up this little lake considerably.
After the swim we did a 50-minute amble along the lake. A few more trips and spills but nothing more than a little dirt to show for it this time, unlike Tara’s fall the other day on the Heaphy.
I had 2 beers with lunch and that was perhaps 2 too many! As I really didn’t want to rush to get back onto my bike. The sun had come out as strong as ever and I was content to lie down and soak it up even though the sand flies were making a meal out of me. Luckily Chris and few others waited for me to tow me back to the group.
There’s only 2 major hills on the return trip and we hit those damn steady. The rest of it was mostly downhill with a good tailwind and we rocked that ride all the way back to Wakefield picking up everyone along the way. Douglas ran out of gears during one of the 60-70kph stretches and got dropped as the McDonald train picked up some momentum. Heath hit a rock, quickly developed a big bump and then had a massive blow-out about ¾ the way home and luckily for him he was on the flat roads at the time as he would be road kill if it had happened during the faster parts of the ride. Good to see super support Crew Dave Dwan out there hammering it and having some fun.
When Steven turned around to go gather up Jo I had a feeling a big tack-on was going to happen and sure enough he ended up doing another massive day at 240km. Jo had run 50 in the morning before we set off on the ride this morning and then ran another 50 minutes once we got back from the ride so that’s 3 x 50-mintue runs for her today. I guess her knee is feeling better!!!!

It was great to get back, have a quick shower and straight over to the Honest Lawyer pub across the road. Tara joined me as she was in need of some anesthetic. Her hamstring bruising is just starting to come out and it ain’t pretty.

After dinner we headed back to the pub as Chris wanted to have a little “Tri Trivia” contest. He donated some prizes and it was a good laugh. I was a little surprised by how well most of the campers have followed the sport over the years but then I remembered that there are 5 of us here in the 45-49 age group. We’re all long-term fans and tri geeks.

07 February 2009

EC NZ '09 - Day 6

EC NZ ’09 Day 6 – Collingwood – Nelson, Kaiteriteri Aquathon

Another magic morning to awaken to.
Coffees of Hawaii brewed long and strong.
Calm, clear shallow bay to swim in. Life is good.

We started the day with a swim mostly as a make-up for the 3km we missed on Day 3.
Nice swim. No dolphin diving!

Then more coffee and breaky. These people can cook. We never lack for good food on Epic.

8:45am roll-out for the ride towards Nelson with another trip over Takaka Hill enroute and another KOM sufferfest.
Newsom seemed determined to take over G-Man’s role of keeping the group rollin’ and had us motoring towards the mountain at 35-45kph, strung out and hanging on.
It was already balmy and the sun was pelting down as we hit the base of the climb. I was at Max sweat rate within the first 5 minutes and made a sensible call to back off and wait till we got higher to some cooler air and some shade before trying to recover some time. Chris, Marilyn and Bevan didn’t need to attack this time to get a solid gap as we were all pretty dead.
Newsom paced Steven, Ken and I up at a steady clip and I was finally ready to make a move with a km to go and managed to roll past a completely un-suspecting Douglas at the line. He was to get some payback later…….

We rolled down the mountain to Kaiteriteri with Chris and I taking more risks than is reasonable for married men ( me with 3 kids too! ). Boys will play wont’ they……..

Man – what great spot to spend the rest of the day. I was ready to call it a day and perhaps end my camp right there on that little beach. The sun was pelting down and this Desert Lizard was turning purple from the U.V. rays and loving it.
John laid out a nice swim course around some rocks and some buoys and off we went. The swim looked to be around 1200m and the run course estimated by me (I have spent a lot of time here on holiday) was around 8km. Typical Newsom course – fuckin’ lot of steep bloody hills! I was sure my ol’ creaky knee was in for some misery. Newson is the Epic Aquathon King and he seemed determined to make sure to keep his record in tact.

Heath had trouble sighting and got lost. Lucky for us as we came in with him. Lou came around me early and settled on the train of Steven, Chris and Newsom. I remember the last camp Lou came on. He improved immensely through the camp – especially his swimming and once again he seemed to be a different guy in the water.
Once on land Newsom raced away.
Lou had a great run too. Now that he’s in the 45-49 I’m sure you’re going to see him on the podium at some tri’s this year. He ripped his hamstring off the bone last year at the Triple T and is finally finding some form.
The real mover in the Aquathon was Bevan who ripped it to come in second.
I was happy just to finish and thought I might as well hold off Douglas since he was a couple of minutes back out of the water but he motored past me like a damn Kenyan with 600m to go and just nipped me at the end. Good battle. I know his legs will ache for at least a week for that effort but I know Douglas really enjoyed paying me back for my sneaky move on the KOM earlier in the day.

Tara can’t run! She is injured and after a little attempt soon realized it was smarter to just stop. She can ride though so off to the winery she went!

Some people skipped the Winery! Not me. Our support crew supplied the munchies and Nuedorf Winery supplied some yummy wines. Nice way to finish the day. Some people did roll the 25km back to our accom but I was happy to be done for the day. Great day.

We’re staying at the really nice place named Moncao resort here in Stoke which is on the outskirts of Nelson and just across from a historic pub called the Honest Lawyer.
A quick shower and I was straight over there.
Another fabulous dinner from our support crew and I was more than ready to call it a night.
Happy camper!
I haven’t sent the photos from today but hopefully we’ll get some up that take in the magnificence of Golden Bay, the views from Takaka Hill, the magic little beach where we had our Aquathon and our winery stop. I can’t imagine the photos could represent these experiences adequately but it will be nice to have them nonetheless.

06 February 2009

EC NZ '09 - Day 5 - Collingwood and Heaphy track

Day 5 in Collingwood

One of the main reasons we've come up this far is to run on the Heaphy Track which is one of th eSouth Islands "Great Walks" Along with the Milford track, the Greenstone, The Keplar, the Routeburn and Abel Tasman there is a hell of a lot of incredible scenery to be seen on this little island. I look forward to enjoying these at a leisurely pace at some point in the future.

The plan for today was:
1) 3km swim race inGolden Bay followed by breakfast
2) Drive to the Heaphy Track for a 2 hour run, drive back for lunch
3) ride a minimum of 60km on yoru own or with others as you like.
A cruisy day with only 5.25 hours of scheduled training!

The swim was pretty funny as the tide wasnt' quite fulland the water here is super shallow (2-3 feet deep) until you get about 800m off shore. so there was a ton of dolphin diving in the race today.
Heath won handily with Steven, John and Chris towing me and Tara staying in range by dolphin diving like she's been doing it all her life.
Bevan swam about 400m off course before he stood up to check out where he was! What a crack up to see him about 600m from the beach walking along out there.

The road to the Heaphy is shingle for the last 10km so we had to drive.
The trail itself is a little rockier than I had imagined and we needed to focus on footing the entire time. It was a gradual 2,000ft. climb up to the turn-around and thank goodness it was mostly in the shade as it was getting pretty balmy ou there.
Mike and I were bringing up the rear on the way up and not too unhappy about it.
The trip back down was faster but the already sore quads took a hammering.
Tara stumbled and in catching herself from going down strained her hamstring badly and could barely manage to walk out. She wasn't a happy camper!!!
She had a few tears, iced it, had some celebrex, some massage from John and after a nap did manage to spin her 60km but it wasn't looking too good for tomorrow.
Piet tacked on to the end of that run as did Lou (without quite realizing it at the time) and later Steven did another run - get this - a 2.5 hour run!!!as well as his 60km ride. Jo did 150km and seems to be over the worst of her knee prblem
Some people went out to tswim to get the make-up swim of 3km done.

I on ther other hand was content to bake under the brilliant sun and drink beer and eat.
Perfect day! :-)
There was only a light breeze this afternoon so I did get out for my easy 60km ride with some others and still had an hour before dinner. Seemed like we had so much time to cruise today.
It was too nice outside and the company too good to get caught up on my blog so true to form I'm a little late.....

No change in the jerseys - Steven in Yellow, Chris in the polka-dots.
Hopefully John will update the points on his blog but it looks like Tara will be the big mover downwards and Jo will be rocketing back upwards in the standings.

Another great dinner from our support crew which included anothr top job by Daniel McDonald on the BBQ this evening. Nice to have him out riding again and getting the dust off of his bike!
But man was he tortuing the lycra in those bike shorts..........

EC NZ '09 - Day 4

EC NZ Day 4 (and rest of Day 3)

First - some other catching up on stuff…….
Mighty Might Jo Carrit has a knee problem since day one and has really struggled with what to do since then. Like the onset of any over-use injury its hard to know for sure how much you can train while you treat it. She has a very big year planned and that includes time off from her job in London so she can train and travel as she likes so this is a critical time for her as she doesn’t want to jeopardize here year which includes IM NZ, IM Lanzarote and Kona among other events. So far she’s sat out some of the cycling. I’m hoping she’ll not get too down about that and keep her big picture firmly in the front of her mind.

Ian from N. Cal has found the pace kinda crazy. He’s mostly here for the cycling so isnt’ all that interested in playing the points game but hopefully we’ll entice him out for some running and swimming. I hope to get a chance to catch up with him at some stage soon to see how he’s feeling.

Dell from the U.K. called it a day at the 200km point yesterday and that seems to have been a wise move as he’s back out there today and looking good.
Dave Langley from Brisbane is my roomie tonight and he just told me “so far so good”. He hasn’t missed a beat and seems to be handling everything just fine. He’s got IM Aussie (Port Macquarie) coming up as well as a possible IM W.A. and my bet is he’s gonna take at least an hour off of his IM PB as his prep for this camp has gotten him off to a great start to the year.

KOM – Chris looks to have a good lead there and I think only Bevan; when fully fit; would be able to challenge him on any climb. Bevan hasn’t been riding much (bit of an under-statement!) but has been running and he teaches group fitness (aerobics, Pump, Spin classes) for a job so I think he’ll keep Chris honest on the KOM’s.
Bevan has also started putting some podcasts up on this Epic Camp website so you can hear some interviews with the campers.
We’ve got the biggest climb in the country on tap tomorrow – Takaka Hill – so that should start to make the KOM pecking order a little clearer for the rest of us.

The food! – A very big THANK You goes out to our super support crew for preparing us fabulous, plentiful food.
Also – a plug here for Em of “Em’s Power Cookies” fame. She’s supplied us with the most fantastic healthy snacks. Yummy stuff Em!!!

Because we are sticking to the rule that stipulates you have no more than 12 hours to complete all of your training each day and because the ride yesterday took so long we made a ruling that people could make up the swim or run if they missed it to get the end of camp bonus for completing a s/b/r every day. I chose to run before that long ride as I really can’t expect to be doing any extra runs. We have a 2-hour run on Day 4 on the Heaphy Track, an Aquathon race on Day 6 at Kaiteriteri enroute home and a 10km at the end of our Tri on Day 8. So lots of solid running coming up.
OK – on to Day 4 – Nelson - Collingwood

The plan was to swim or run (or both) in the morning before breakfast then ride the 130km to Collingwood with a race over Takaka Hill enroute.
There were a few 6km swims done and some very impressive swimming by Heath who cranked out 10 x 200 on the 2:40 for 3 extra points. I barely managed 20 x 100 on the 1:30 for 2 extra points along with John, Tara and Chris. It is nice to swim outdoors but that pool isn’t exactly a fast pool.
I also managed a 200fly after that for a bonus point and of all the things we do on this camp that is one of the things I’m most happy about getting out of the way. I’ve still got the 1km of bands only to do and that’s going to be a struggle for sure.

Lots of people ran this morning. Dave and I found a nice bike path that was built on an old railway line.

The ride to Riwaka which is near the base of Takaka Hill was very civil with Mike sitting off the front with Heath for quite a long time.
After a stop for drinks I attacked right off the bat to get things rolling and the hammering continued right to the top.
As expected Chris and Bevan pulled away quite quickly and Bevan won with Chris a close second. The battle for 3rd saw Heath and Lou gradually pull away at about the ½ way point with John, Piet, Tara, Steve and I staying in contact. John, Steve and I nearly caught that pair at the top with Piet and Tara suffering a little further back.
The rain continued to fall lightly all the way up and down the other side which kept it cool on the way up but pretty damn cold going down. I wish it would have been clearer as the view from the top looking down on Golden Bay is spectacular.
Good to hear there were no crashes when we assembled for lunch in Takaka. Since it was only 30km from there to our accom in Collingwood we cruised.

Once we arrived in Collingwood it started to clear up and a few people went out for some extra points, some went out to get the make-up swim done.
By this time the sun was high in the sky and the U.V. index was at Max. Sitting there at the end of this little island slowly turning purple with a few cold Epic Ales was just as good as I had imagined when I was thinking up the route for this camp. On a great summer day this part of the world really is magic.
Needless to say I don’t remember a hell of a lot else after that except that we made it to the pub and had lots of laughs telling stories of days long gone by……….

04 February 2009

EC NZ '09 - Days 2 and 3

EC NZ ’09 – Days 2 and 3
- Christchurch – Kaikoura
- Kaikoura – Nelson (Stoke)

The plan for Day 2 was:
6am swim, either breakfast or run and a 9:45roll-out for the 185km ride north to Kaikoura. The ride is flat for the first 60km and then there is a good amount of hilly terrain. We’ve got the same 70km individual TT for points from Cheviot to Kaikoura that we used 2 years ago.

We hopped in with the regular Tri/masters squad this morning. There were quite a few people who stayed in the water to do 6km for some extra points – Jo, Steven, Chris, Tara, are the ones I’m sure of.
I managed my 3km and that was plenty. There’s no real swim fitness in this body! Un-like previous Epics I just haven’t quite got around to getting ready. I put that down to mostly being completely nuked prior to and after Kona in October as well as having 3 injuries: 1) left calf and 2) right knee which mostly prevent much running, 3) Tendonitis in my left shoulder which has kept me from swimming much. Thank goodness for the gym or else I’d be a complete nutcase alcoholic.
Well…… I’m kinda part way there on the alcoholic part anyway! So there are my excuses for getting beaten to a pulp daily………….
In the pool today Steven was in the lane next to me ripping everything. That 50km he’s done in the pool since he landed in Christchurch seems to have worked! He looks like a different guy in the water than he was in Italy.

The ride was quite cruisy and cooperative through to the drinks stop in Amberley. Nice.
It was very cool the whole way and then it cooled off even more enroute to Cheviot with the temps around 13 at one point and some light drizzle. Completely the opposite of yesterday.
Once we hit the main highway there was quite a bit of tempo which surprised me given the hard TT coming up after lunch that everyone was briefed on. The KOM was at the top of a 4km rise and Chris and Piet got away early for a well-earned 1st and 2nd. Newson pulled the last km to the top and we nearly got Piet and I was happy to roll John in the last 50m with Marilyn and Steve right there too. That KOM wasn’t really a huge climb but we try to come up with some KOM points every day if at all possible.

For the TT we set off roughly in the order of reverse GC (general classification) at 30-second intervals. The conditions were a little more favorable than 2 years ago when we did this but even accounting for that Chris ripped through it 6 minutes faster than the fastest time then (Bevan) with a 1:54 and that included a flat tire.
My 2:03+ was 4 minutes faster than last time and that got me 4th this time behind Steven and Tara who continues to pound on me every chance she gets!
There wasn’t much time to tack on to get up to 200km or 210 but a few people did and then also ran after that. Long day. And tomorrow is the longest day on the camp.
There was some carnage out there today which necessitated some van rides. Its always hard to know what to say to some one who’s bits by Day 2!
All I can say to those people is that this “ain’t easy camp”. We do this because it’s a massive challenge. If everyone could do the whole thing then we’d change it to ensure there was at least a little more suffering and failure. But once again the camp has proved hard enough.

Day 3

Cool, dark, starry morning at 5:15 when some of us headed out towards the seal colony for our run. It wasn’t a speedy run for sure. More like a glacial pace really.
Last time we were here we swam in the Kaikoura pool in our wetsuits because it was so cool. Today we really didn’t’ have that luxury as we couldn’t get some one to open the pool that early and we needed to get going on our ride which was at least 250km and hilly. As it turned out the ride time was at least 9 hours for everyone. Ouch.

We have a new term to add to the Epic New Zealand lexicon: :sea breezes”. That was what the weather forecast literally said for today.
And we got blasted for hours on end today.
So in addition to “kiwi rollers” to describe the hills we’ll add that term to all future camps here in NZ.
The first couple of hours were very civil to the 60km point drinks stop. Then the wind picked up and there really wasn’t any point in trying to work together too much so it was every man for himself. Some serious hills on the way to Blenheim too at the next aid station at 125km point of the ride.
Lunch wasn’t until we got to Havelock at the 160km point and by then I was well and truly ready to call it a day. It would have been even worse if we didn’t get a very friendly eschelon rolling during the last hour to lunch.
After lunch the real hills came with a KOM after the Rai Valley and other massive suckers in there as the sun came pelted down. I was at max sweat rate and OTB on those hills just praying to make it to our accom at Stoke 10km past Nelson.
The internet place is closing so I’ll stop here and pick up on the next post…………..

01 February 2009

EC NZ '09 - Day 1

EZNZ09 Day 1- Christchurch

The plan for today is to run to the QE II pool, swim 3km including the 2km TT, drive (or run) back to the hotel, eat, ride a 150km route we call “The Gorges” here and then once we get back to the hotel people can tack on additional training if they want to before dinner.
Each day everyone has a 12-hour window to do as much training as they please. We instituted that rule after Epic Australia when we had people training till midnight, riding around a velodrome in the dark and generally getting completely nutso. And its way to hard for the support crew to look after everyone with meals, laundry, etc when so many campers are out thee all hours of the day. I want the support crew to have a little fun too (because I want them to come back!) and they get very little precious time to do their own thing during the camp.

Before the camp started Steven and jo arrived from the UK and they’re staying until IM NZ.
They hit the ground running and Steven in particular just went for it in training.
Check this out!!:

Lordy! Lordy!!!

I purposely didn’t send this to any of the campers prior to the camp as I thought they might decide not to come! Lou Di Guiseppe in particular was worried that all the campers were training hard in some nice, warm place while he was in Missouri on the trainer and wouldn’t’ be prepared. Of course I re-assured him that he would be fine and that no one was really doing much more than him to prepare for the camp!!! HA!
So Steven is obviously fit and I’m sure it will be a very tough task to battle him for Yellow.

Most years I can expect to earn a good amount of points from swimming but this year I am certainly below par in that department along with the rest so I wasn’t looking forward to the traditional 2km TT in the pool we normally start the damp with.
Heath looks untouchable in the pool. He started our this morning doing the bands only 1km for a bonus point and I could see from the first stroke that we were in trouble. He looses absolutely no body position at all when wearing that thing. I tried drafting off of him for a little while to try and figure out how he does it but I couldn’t keep up!
So he handily won the 2km TT taking out the first 100m in 1:100 and then holding 1:15 for most of it. The rest of us battling for 2nd were sitting on 1:20 for a while, me drafting off of Tara and Newsom. Chris McDonald wanted in on that train so he shot under the lane line to get on my feet but he soon got burned off when Heath lapped us (in a 50m pool!) and Tara and John (and thus me) hopped onto his feet for a while. He actually pulled John up enough to barely nip Steven which was kinda sneaky! (I was hoping to do the same thing but couldn‘t stay on.) There was a wide range of times after we came in and it looks like some of the open water swims later on will be a very significant challenge for some. J

We ran an easy 10km to the pool and 6 people ran back from the pool for a bonus point. Ouch! Tough way to start the camp.

The ride – the route today is a standard one for us Christchurch folks and we were hoping for good wind today. It turned out very hot and windy and by the time we got to Lunch in Oxford at 75km it was about 28 Degrees C. There was quite a bit of carnage along the way to lunch and Piet gets the green jersey for “Camper of the Day” for his generous work at the front today.
Unfortunately we had a huge weather change on the way back and it turned Southerly so instead of the usual rocket-fast return trip down the Old Coast Road we had a grovel at 20-30kph all the way back to town. I was shattered and in a smart move towards self preservation I decided to amble in on my own as I was in the gutter trying to get a little protection for an hour and it wasn’t working. Chris generously pulled me back up to the group once and that served to make me doubly shattered!
Man, it was hard work and the pack was spread out over many kms.
Some people did tack on for extra points. Jo Steven and Russell went up Porters Pass from the top part of the ride to get 200km.
Tara did a total of 180km and is tied with Steven for the lead but since she beat him in the swim and the KOM she was awarded the Yellow Jersey – the first women ever to wear Yellow at Epic – a historic occasion!! I toasted her health and good fortune with a generous Epic Ale or course………
Chris did tack on too to get 180km. Since he's got a little running injury he's not running yet after winning Challenge Wanaka so he's not likely to factor in the over-all points but he's very likely to clean up all of the KOM points.

Great dinner and humor from our support crew tonight and the day is done. Back in the pool at 6am tomorrow to start Day 2.

EC NZ '09 - Prologue

Epic Camp New Zealand ’09 – Prologue

An Epic Camp with no Gordo!!?? YIKES!! It ain’t gonna be the same.
Life does impact training sometimes, and this is just one of those times.
So we’ll be thinkin’ of you G-Man and look forward to your return in the French Alps later this year.

We do have some old friends returning though including Chris McDonald who was here for Epic #1 in ’03 and again in NZ ‘04. He was just a chubby, goofball wannabe back then! Its been a lot of fun to work with Chris and then just watch him develop over the last few years. More on Chris later but for those of you who saw him rip another IM win in Wanaka a couple of weeks ago or IM Wisco or Lousville (2nd) you’ll know how strong he is. Its awfully fine to have my big motor pacer out there with me again.
Steven lord and his partner Jo Carrit are here in NZ for quite a long spell including Epic and IM NZ. Steven handily took out the Pink Jersey in Italy and I think anyone thinking of battling him for the Yellow here will have their hands full.
Russell Cox from the UK was in Italy as well but this time he’s done some prep in Aussie on the Gold Coast so will be much better prepared to attack the points.
Also returning are Dr. Douglas Scott for his 3rd camp, Ken Wallace who joined us in France (and came to NZ on his own to do his own version of EC NZ’08 – the West Coast version), Tara Norton who was here last year and Marilyn McDonald who did the ’04 EC NZ camp. She and Chris actually met on that camp but that’s a story for another day…… Marilyn is just bike racing at the moment but has promised to join us in the pool in her teenie weeneie bikini to work on her tan on sunny days.
Some Epic Vets will be severely missed like KP (Kevin Purcell), Andrew Charles, Michael Peters, Jeff Shilt, Clas Bjorling and Monica Byrn. You guys were always outstanding company and I hope we can ride together again at some point to re-live the laughs.
Some previous campers wont’ be missed all that much! J Bjorn – I can’t tell you how relieved I am not to have to try and hang onto your wheel for even one minute! That kinda suffering isn’t easily forgotten.
Ah ….. before I forget…. My part of the EC blog is rated “M” for mature audiences so please screen this from the yungins just as you would any other adult internet material. J

For the record I do this blog mostly for the campers so they have some record of where they went and what they did. We’ve got some great support crew to help us and one of their jobs is to take photos so everyone should be able to have some concrete memories after they get home no matter how fuzzy their experience seems while they’re here.

In my quest to always change the routes for Epic so we all can see some new sites we’re heading to the top of the South Island again but going all the way over to Golden Bay and then up to the Heaphy Track which I’ve never been to. I’ve been in the area 3 times when taking my family to camp over the Christmas holidays in the Abel Tasman National Park and it really is one of my favorite parts of the world. That part of the country really does make me feel very privileged to live in such a wonderful country.

Once again John Newsom has done a great job of organizing everything from sponsorship to accommodation to support crew so it looks like another smooth trip. Here in NZ we once again have Dave Dwan to look after us en-route along with John Ellis who’s helping us out for the 4th time (?) who also does massage so I know everyone is in good hands.
Bevan James Eyeles is joining us again but he won’t be here until day 3 due to work commitments but once he does we should get a few podcasts out via this site.

The points system we use is the same as previous camps. We do have some sort of race every day for points and sometimes even 2 races along with hammering for KOM’s or for no reason at all! We don’t have Mark P or Clive A along on this camp so perhaps the spontaneous 1 to 3-hour ride-everyone-off-your-wheel hammerfests might not be quite so common this camp!
One of the main objectives I have for all campers is to try their best to complete the minimum distances for swim, bike and run sessions each day. If some one is injured then of course I’ll try not to needle them too much! The point system weights total camp completion very heavily so there is the incentive to do so. I’ve completed all of the camps except for two (that’s 2 !!!) short van rides on the very first camp and I’ll try my damndest to complete this one as well.

We have a massive first 3 days to start the camp and if anyone is going to get into real trouble with fatigue, illness or injury I have a feeling they’ll know it by the time we get to Nelson.

We had a nice dinner at Winnie Bagoes restaurant in town tonight and there was even a little food left on the table.
Start time tomorrow is 6am with a run to the pool for a 7am start there and that will include our traditional 2km TT for points. Normally I can count on a few easy points there but my swimming isn’t what it has been for previous camps so a little humble pie is probably going to be jack-hammered down my throat. Oh boy………….

More tomorrow after day 1.