10 February 2009

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.