19 January 2010

EC NZ '10 Epilogue

EC NZ ’10 Epilogue

Well I just read G-Man’s epilogue while taking a break from finishing this one of mine here and I’ve just sent him a note to encourage him to take all the time he needs to re-consider his future involvement with these camps.
Now I’ve edited this one quite a bit as he’s got me thinking again as he’s prone to do.

Like many things in life what we do is mostly about time and place. Even the camp creators aren’t going to be able to do this type of thing forever.
One of the main goals I had when we established the camps is to create and incentive for me to be in super shape at some point each and every year. I also wanted a great environment to share the tri experience with some of the athletes I work with and like-minded people.
Those goals are still there for me and I hope to be able to do the camps for another 5 years. Since this one is the first one I really couldn’t complete satisfactorily (to me) I need to look at the way I’m preparing for them more closely and have more discipline in my approach. Running the 60km Kepler Trail race in December turned out to negatively impact my camp some, but it was something I really, really, wanted to do so I’m content with the outcome. It was another aspect of this wonderful little country to experience.
It was also an initial test to see if I was ready to start preparing for the Leadville 100 Trail run which is still on my list to do as it has been for over 20 years.
When G-Man moved from NZ one of the main reasons I bought all of his CAT altitude room stuff and treadmill was to be able to prepare for Leadville here at home. My dear wife doesn’t want to sleep in a tent (bless her heart….) and I haven’t been able to renovate this house enough to set up the altitude chamber properly but I’ve already bought my next house so perhaps we’ll move into that in time for me to renovate that and _then_ start getting ready for Leadville. I can play the long game! :-)
I will run that sucker one day. I can say that with 100% conviction and don’t mind putting it out there.

Although I’m still and always optimistic about my future running the last 8 years history of injury is a clear indication that I need to work harder and differently at being injury-free.
There may be some photos of me that my friends will put out there on the net to show me I really, really need to run to get my body back to some semblance of TERMINATOR shape. Don’t believe everything you see! There’s got to be at least one flattering photo of me we can put up on the site to dispel the rumors of my imminent demise……..

One of the un-expected bonuses of not being able to run well this camp was realizing just how much I take joy from others running feats. Seeing Steven and Tara out there running so much after their miserable injuries over the last year was an example. They were ecstatic. Seeing David Craig and Petro run waaaay more than they ever has was another. Seeing how much Blanco enjoyed his trail runs was another. There’s a lot of joy to be found in running and I continually vow to myself to keep that option open. At the moment I’ve got the opportunity to experience another of my lifelong goals – running the Boston Marathon. Erin and I are entered and I’m hell bent on enjoying it this April.

We adapt the points system a little each camp to keep it fresh and to challenge the Epic Vets in slightly different ways. G-Man’s suggestions for improving the points system are all good ones but some of them look tough to enforce. We’ll work on it though. The points system is designed to re-enforce my Epic Camp ethos – you only cheat yourself if you try to fake it. To me this sport is about the work and the camps try to provide the right environment to take that to a higher level.

This was a monumental undertaking for John who does all the ground work for these camps. With a energized young 2-yr. old teaching he and Belinda all about the “terrible two’s” and another younger baby he’s got more than enough to do with his normal day job of coaching. His commitment to providing a great experience for everyone on the camp; staff included; is a testament to his character and I hope he’ll be able to convince his dear wife to allow him to continue. Although the appeal to the campers to do all point-point riding is attractive its super hard on the support crew so we need to really look at how much of that we include in the future.

A sincere Thank You to Kay, Russell, Turps, Mair, Susie, Janet, Paul, Bruce and Dave for their hard work and great attitude.

Also big thank you to all the partners and family who’ve allowed your athlete to do this crazy thing, as it’s the shared experience with them that’s unique and special each camp.
Asking your partner to allow you to prepare for and the do something of this magnitude is a hell of a lot to ask.

Its good to be home.
I feel really content.
My own dear partner has put up with me doing these camps exceedingly well lately and after 20 years together our understanding of each other is still growing. I know I need to continually commit to growing as well and feel more motivated than ever to work on different aspects of myself. She deserves that at the very least.
Her allowing me to be me and loving me for who I am doesn’t mean its OK to not grow.
My daughter (Jenny) Rose is having a baby in March too so I’ll be grandpa Scott soon and look forward to helping my child grow with hers. Her and her husband live here in Christchurch so this year is going to be very special for us.

I’m not one to wear my heart on my sleeve, and I don’t usually offer un-solicited advice, but for those of you returning home to loved ones I do have something to offer you in appreciation for all you’ve given to me on this camp. It concerns commitment.
I’ll offer the lyrics to our (Erin and I) song which speaks to our level of commitment to each other better than I ever could.
The song is “The Way It Goes” from The Vocal Album by the Crusaders. I hope you get to listen to it one day.

The Way It Goes

The way it goes…..
Some day when my dreams won’t come true I’ll turn to you
When I need some tenderness to hold onto what will you do
And can I count on you?

The way it goes
This world may not give me a thing and I’ll still sing
And any blessings that may fall we will share them all together
Are you with me so far?

If you know the way it goes
And if you want to go with me
I’ll be there when you need me to
I’ll be good as I can be
I won’t care which way it goes if you will love me every day
If you say any way it goes you won’t let me go
That will do…. I’ll go with you……

The way it goes
I see how the best things go bad
Its oh, so sad
And I know you see it too
There are so few who make it through
To where the sky’s shining blue

The way it goes
I need some one who will believe what I believe
There will come a better day
If we work and we pray together
Oh how sweet it can be


Saxophone lights it up!


Until next time…..

Train Hard,
Satiate The Need


EC NZ '10 Day 15 Balclutha - Bluff

EC NZ ’10 Day 15 Balclutha – Bluff

Every one seemed in good spirits last night at dinner. It is hard to fathom how 2 weeks have gone by so fast and just how much training and travelling has been done.
Tonight the support crew were starting to figure out:
1) how to get all of the stuff to our motel in Invercargill while supporting us on the road all day
2) collect us in Bluff after our ride and run that ends there which is 29km from where we’re staying.
3) How to get the 9 people (including support people) and the bikes along with all support gear into 2 vans and trailers back to Christchurch.
They’ve been working their tails off all day every day and I think they’ll be very relieved when this is all over.

We started at 6:30 with brekkie followed by a 7:30 roll-out.
The profile looks very lumpy with 6 significant climbs through the Catskill mts. We’re sort of following the coast but not the closest roads to the sea because that would add another 20-30+km to an already too-long day.

The “scenic highway” route we followed really does give you a good sense that you’re at the end of the planet. Its very remote. I was joking with G-Man at about the 50km point going through the little hamlet of Papatowai that it would be a good place to take the little woman for a nice quiet week-end get-a-way. He thought his chances of success with that idea were also pretty remote.
The hills on that side of the Catlins (mts.) were big and once the sun came out it was easy to see that there was nothing but pristine wilderness for a very long way.
We caught up with many of those who left early pretty quick as they seemed determined to be more tourists than athletes today and that’s understandable. Roger was riding great and Dr. Scott was determined to do it all on his own (no drafting) and he zoomed through the day and we only caught him at lunch.
Great to see David Langley rolling up all the hills with me relatively easily the last 2 days. He did hold back the first week+ as he wasn’t sure how he’s hold up for such a long camp but its easy to see he’s riding a lot better now. He’s got Port MacQuarrie coming up (is that right Dave?) and it looks like he’s set for a good one.

After the 90km drinks stop we had an amazing tailwind and were zooming along at between 40-55kph over rolling hills. When you roll over gradual 1km hills at 42-45kph that’s a decent breeze at your back!
Lunch was really good today as we had everyone there, lots of food and sun.
We stayed together cruising into Bluff and a lot of us when up the Bluff Hill which is a toughie ramping up to over 20% near the top. Douglas did a back flip trying to get through the steepest curve and cracked the back of his helmet. Otherwise he didn’t even have a scratch but he did say his pride was hurt………. His sense of humor helped keep me in a good mood the entire trip.
Some had to get off and walk. I had to work hard to make it up in my 34x25 but it’s a damn tough hill. Lots of photos at the top with Stewart Island in the background.
193km today.

The rest of the group waited for us at the bottom, had a coffee, and then we rolled the last few km to the end of the road where there were more photos, lots of hugs and hand shakes and some bubbly to celebrate.
Most ran the 7km track around Bluff Hill. Then we hopped in the vans to drive back to our accom in Invercargill where most people had to pack their bikes asap prior to dinner as they had early flights out the next day.
You probably don’t need to guess what I did! No shit!!! I also had a hell of a head cold so went off to get something to clear my nose and eyes which were watering as bad as I can ever remember. The meds didn’t do much but the beer did wonders for my mood.

We strolled down to the Lonestar in bright, hot sunshine and it was hard to believe we were actually done and in Invercargill which is renowned for its foul weather.

John and Dave chose that restaurant because of their huge meals and they didn’t disappoint although it did take a long time to get them. We also had a little frenzy as they brought out the deserts. Lots of Calories went down. Hope some photos of the stack of ribs a few guys ate comes up on the photo page. For the record Newsom killed Nick in getting through their plates of ribs. Even eating does seem to have a competitive aspect at Epic most of the time.

We finished the eve back at our hotel bar and Rob Q treated me to a fine whiskey and it was perfect.
More tomorrow in my Epilogue.

EC NZ '10 Day 14 Waianakarua - Balclutha

EC NZ ’10 Day 14 Waianakurua – Balclutha (another bloody 190km…….)

The town of Waianakurua consists of the lodge and the backpackers we stayed at. That’s all that remains of the town. Very nice lodge. Cozy and warm, great atmosphere and food.
6:30 – 7:30 breakfast, then we rolled out. There were a few early starters but not many today as we had a tentative plan to do an aquathon in the Dunedin harbor at Port Chalmers en-route.
Very casual 50km to the first drink stop, then a hilly 15km to the base of the KOM.
From the map it looked to be about 1,000ft climb and approx 7km. It did start out very steep so there was a pretty quick sorting out in the first km.
Gordo told me after the climb he saw some PB Watts numbers for best 5 and 20-minute readings. And he got dropped pretty quick. Steve and I had a good battle for 3rd but Newsom and Clas are clearly better. Clas can just sit on whoever is in the lead and then come around at the end. Newsom doesn’t let me have a crack at him with less than a km to go any more as I usually can summon up a good effort if I get that close at the top.
Tara and Jo also were in there fighting for position today and Jo had a particularly good climb today.
We had a bit of a wait after the climb to find everyone and changed the plan for the day to go through Dunedin so we could get to the bike shop as Charlsey broke his shift cable and Rob Q broke a spoke. So we dropped them off there and had Nick (who went to Uni here in Dunedin) escort us through the neighborhood of his youth and a steep bloody hill to get to Brighton where we had lunch by the beach.
The sun had come out and a good tailwind was blowin’ so the general mood was pretty good.
A van stayed back with charlsey and Rob Q but they were going to be a while so we rolled and the pace was pretty quick all the way back with the tailwind. There was one very tough climb to get over and it turned out to be way harder than I thought it would be. My back was feeling about 100 years old by this time.
At the last drink stop with 20+km to go the support crew brought out some of Nick’s grandmother’s home-made ginger oat slice and it was _divine_.
I’m going to get Nick to get the recipe for me. It had fresh ginger in it and it really gave me a lift. Perhaps the culinary highlight of this trip so far. No shit!!!

Even with the sun and tailwind 190km felt like a long way today. Some people headed off to swim at the local pool and some ran too. You can read about it in their blogs and get the jist of it when Gordo publishes the point totals. Its easy to see who’s been out there training a ton. You can guess what I did after the ride…………..

I won’t be getting my camp completion totals due to me not running enough and that kinda pisses me off, but the shared experience with these people more than makes up for any disappointments I may have. I’m so glad we decided to go through with this monumental mission.

One day to go and its a biggy.

EC NZ '10 Day 13 Geraldine - Waianakarua

EC NZ ’10 Day 13 Geraldine – Waianakarua

Well this evening I’m in a much better mood than yesterday.
Yesterday I wasn’t sure just how foul a mood I was in but now I can clearly see it was one of the darker days I’ve had on any Epic Camp.
What I want most for these camps to provide for the campers is a fabulous experience and yesterday contained more misery than I would ever hope to inflict on any one. The day started off great with a great run and Jo Carritt also was able to see a good doctor to get a start on fixing her mysterious foot problem, but after breakfast it all turned to custard.
It wasn’t just that we had miserable rain and headwind, we also couldn’t see a damn thing. It certainly wasn’t the scenic ride through the Canterbury countryside I usually get. The section on Highway 1 was very stressful and one of my best mates Pete went down hard and he’s an excellent rider in a pack.
We used that section of road for the same reason we’ve used all the main highways we’ve used – to get from one end of the country to the other without having to ride 3,000km.
But we won’t be using that Highway again I can assure you.
I also re-injured my left calf again which has plagued me for 8 years now and some real negativity from that slowly took over my brain all day. My rear wheel rubbing on the frame for hours and ending up in the rubbish bin was just the icing on the cake.
But the upbeat mood of the support and the campers saved the day for me.

Today started with early runs for some before we started with coffee and a snack and then to the pool at 8am for those who wanted to swim 6km.
Our session today included the traditional 400 Medley which was made a minor points race and mandatory for camp completion so everyone had to do it. The 400IM was inspired by Tom Dolan who I always had tremendous admiration for. He would have made a great Epic Camper.
I didn’t start out intending to swim 6km but I knew I was way be hind in swim kms to get camp completion swim kms so I just got going and ended up doing 6 in the end.
The 400IM is always good value. Triathletes aren’t the best of medley swimmers in general and when you’re this tired it’s a damn tough event to get though. I remember getting a bit of schtick from my friend Billy (who was in the Army) when I only did 50 push-ups during the EpicMan comp we had a few years back. I actually trained hard for that competition that year and would regularly do 3-4 sets of 40 strict push-ups prior to the camp. But when you’re this tired it’s a whole ‘nother ball game.
Petro, G-Man, Tara and Steven were put in the first heat and after not being able to beat me in 10 previous Epic 400IM’s I figured this was the G-Man’s day to clobber me. I had just done 4km prior to getting up onto the blocks and I had felt absolutely weak in the water. My only hope was to take it out hard and make him blow up. I didn’t think I’d be within 15 seconds of Steven although I knew he must be knackered too.
My 1:21 fly leg put me way out in front but from there Steven reeled me in and pushed off onto the f/s with a body length and stayed there. He touched in 5:55, me in 5:57 and Petro in a remarkable 6:07. I say remarkable because Petro will do more in this camp than his 3 previous Epic Camps _combined_ . No Shit!!! He’s holding up incredibly well. I thought he’d be sick in bed by now. My guess was that either his immune system couldn’t cope or his digestive system would be ruptured from him shoving in so much.
Newsom matched my 5:57 which was also impressive as he had done practically no swimming prior to the camp. Just goes to show that guile and determination are no match for youth and talent.
I got a huge kick out of seeing Pete take it out in 47 for he first 50 and then his second 50 fly split was 1:13! Pete’s very good in all 4 strokes but he’s absolutely shelled. Talk about the piano being firmly strapped on the back………. It looked like he might actually drown.
In general the IM’s were a lot better than I expected. Both Rob Hill and David Langley have very decent fly strokes relative to their f/s. Ex-swimmer Nick obviously still hasn’t lost his technique completely even though he hasn’t really trained his swimming in about 15 years. Just goes to show that once a good swimmer, always a good swimmer. He could be at the front of his age group in the swim in no time at all if he were to jump into a decent masters group.

After breakfast we rolled out East to the Coast, then south. Newsom generously pulled the last group for 40km to begin again and it was a calm, cool, nice day. Bliss compared to yesterday.
G-Man decided to chill and coast (well 100-160 Watts for him is practically coasting) the whole 150km to our accom which I thought was unlikely. Guess he just wanted a little personal time. He did seem in a pretty good mood at lunch when he caught up having skipped the first drink stop.
Petro took it up to 40-44kph after the drink stop at 50km mark and after about 20km of that Steven kindly offered to give him a break and took over thus saving the rest of the group from being completely shelled. Jo was yo-yo-ing quite a bit and sweating buckets and Steven could see she was about to pop like a balloon so he wound it back to 37-40 so we could all stay on.
Lunch was superb. The crew made us some delicious wraps so we didn’t’ have to do it ourselves and they also bought some yummy chocolate chip muffins filled with mocha crème pudding. No shit!!! I had 2 of each and a crisp cold Cantina to wash down my caffeine pill and vitamins. Perfect………

The last 50km were neat. Once we got through Omaru (which seems like the longest little town in the world) we hit the coast for a magic last 30km of rolling farmland along the ocean. Great road.
The lodge we’re staying out is ours for the evening which is also really nice. Everyone seemed relaxed and happy to have a decent day. Great company and a scrumptious dinner, some massage from Susie and Janet.
The “committee awarded the green jersey for camper of the day to Jordan for once again riding most of the day on her own into the wind. She must have done about 1,000km so far without a wheel in front of her to block the wind and there have been quite a few campers who seem to not even have done 100km in total into the wind – yours truly included!

EC NZ '10 Day 12 Christchurch - Geraldine

EC NZ ’10 Day 12 Christchurch – Geraldine

When planning this camp this ride of 150km looked like it would likely be one of the easier rides of this camp. On previous camps we’ve ridden 90km further to Tekapo to get 240km for this ride. That’s why I thought we could do a swim in the ocean from my place before doing one of my favorite hilly trail runs. But it didn’t turn out that way at all.
This is how the day went………
John prudently decided to skip the swim and just do the run prior to breakfast. It took around 1:50 for the tail-enders to do this run which was very good considering how much they’ve done leading into it. This 19-20km loop has about 2,000ft of vertical gain on it and when Clas was ripping it to pieces here one summer he was doing it in just under 90 minutes.
I made it to the 40-minute mark before deciding my sore calf was getting close to the tearing to bits point and took a shortcut and walked back home. That was a 45 minute hike. Lucky it was a nice morning and my dear wife caught up to me and walked in with me.
I was very happy that most of the campers could do that run though as it is a neat part of the world to see.
Some tacked on to make it a 25km run for extra points and after yesterdays super long day I thought that was a bit silly! Steve just needs to keep healthy now to take yellow and David Craig and Petro have got to be on the edge with all they’ve done. Petro is in no danger of being kicked off of team Sumo though. The guy can eat! He even started this run with enough snacks to get across the Sahara desert.
Nice to see Big E get around those hills too. The guy is getting fit.
Tara didn’t rip or break anything either which was a huge relief to me.

Drive back to the motel in town for breakfast and then a 10:40 roll-out towards Geraldine. The forecast was for southerlies increasing (headwind) and rain later.
We had a headwind straight away and the plan was to keep the group together until 55km when we went over the Rakaia bridge which is a mile long and super skinny. That way we could have the tail vehicle right behind us and not let any traffic try to pass us. Well it took a f…n long time to get to that bridge in the headwind and Pete also came to grief on Hwy 1 and took a good chunk of tissue out just below his knee. The support crew bandaged him up and got him going again and it looks like he’ll be able to finish the camp. In windy conditions like that when every one is looking for some shelter there’s always a bigger risk of touching wheels.
It was getting colder and wetter by this stage and at the next drink stop we put on all we had in our day bags. Tara’s SRM was reading 12 C and with the rain and nasty head wind the wind chill was certainly way lower. Petro had 3 layers on his legs! Once all his layers got wet and in addition to the bucket full of snacks he was carrying he must’ve weighed close to a thousand pounds.

Lunch was at 100km but we didn’t’ linger long. Too cold. David Craig took off inb order to get warm as much as anything and soloed to the motel. Some of us hopped on Clas’s wheel and he motor-paced us for 30km to warm-up and catch all of the early leavers from lunch, then our group settled into a nice echelon for the last 40km. My back wheel had a spoke pull through the rim and I limped in the last 10km. I’ll be sad to see that rear wheel go as we’ve had about 4 years, 7 Epic Camps and lots of other great rides together.

I take my hat off to Jordan Caldwell once again today. She’s one tough cookie. She’s hanging in there doing all the sessions even though she’s in the company of some super fit pros and lunatic age groupers at the pointy end of the field. Today was a shit day for riding and she hung in there even though the gorillas kept disappearing up the road. Of the 500+km she’s done over the last 3 days about 300+km of it has been into a nasty headwind. Only 3 more rides to go and I can see she’s determined to make it. These camps are specifically _not_ designed for people of Jordan’s current fitness yet she’s managing to make it through.

For this camp for inspiration I’ve brought along a small book about New Zealand’s first Tour De France cyclist. His name was Harry Watson and he rode the Tour in 1928. The race was soooooo much harder than it is now. Its just mind boggling how hard it was with the dirt roads over the mountains, only 2 gears. They started some stages at midnight and the Pyrenean stage I just read about last night took over 18 hours! It helps with perspective when I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself and I’ll try to get through a few pages tonight.

13 January 2010

EC NZ '10 Day 11 Kaikoura - Christchurch

EC NZ ’10 Day 11 Kaikoura – Christchurch

We woke to clear morning and could see fresh snow on the mountains. Very nice sunrise. For most of us the first thing on the agenda was a 2km jog to the pool and back and a 3km swim in the 33m pool in our wetsuits. Last time we swam in this pool it was about 17 degrees C I think so we were prepared for the cold. It turned out to be around 22 C so not bad at all.

Last night at dinner I learned that Steve had run 40km all together and put the points our of reach for any one else if he gets his camp completion points at the end. All he has to do now is conserve, not get real sick or blow to bits and he’ll have his 3rd Yellow Jersey in a row.
David Craig has been running a ton too so the battle for the old farts jersey is getting closer between he and Petro. Both Steven and David have been doing way more than their fare share of pulling us along every day too. Very inspiring to watch.

The last bunch rolled out from Kaikoura around 9:00 I think. Not sure as my watch has bit the bullet so I’ll pick up another one from home tomorrow.
We thought we might get some southerlies again today but it turned out to be very favorable wind or none at all most of the way.
The KOM turned out to start at the 25km point of the ride so nice w/up.
Newsom made the first jump and it was a good one. After about 1km it was down to the usual suspects plus Blanco making a re-appearance. When the pace slackened a little Steven went to the front to keep the hurt on, but Clas and Newsom’s accelerations were decisive enough o gap us. G-Man went OTB quite early so I was relying on Steven to .bridge us back up to Newsom and Clas on the descent in the middle of the climb. On that descent Steven lost 2 bottles due to the bumpy road and one of them almost took me out on a bend at about 45kph!
I did manage to get back up there and lose Steven and just get Newsom with Clas only a few seconds ahead at the top which none of us knew the location of.
Good battle.
After that it was a very steady 140km to go! Lots of rollers and then the last 50km was flat. Not much to report except for Daniel McDonald leaving us to race home as he has to hurry down to Challenge Wanaka for the expo as he’s working there.
We had a drink stop at Cheviot at the 65km mark and somewhere after that Clas’s GPS watch popped off his wrist and he didn’t notice it until we were 15km down the road. So he pulled over and had the support crew drive him back to Cheviot where he proceeded to ride slowly looking for his watch on the side of the road!!! As ridiculous as it sounds he actually found it about 500m from the drink stop. That put him about 30km behind us so he had 70km to ride on his own to lunch in Amberley. Gordo kindly waited for him there to ride with him back to town and it was a chilly, long wait. I won’t be surprised if he calls in a favor or two because of it during the rest of the camp! J

Petro headed right out for run when we got to the motel and I think Steven did too. I had a shower, 2 beers and a massage! My dear wife came to fetch me so I could spend a night at home as the run tomorrow morning is starting and finishing at my place.
It’s a hilly beast of a 20km trail run around Godley Head and I hope like hell I can manage it because it will be a damn long hike home if I can’t.

Glad everyone had a good day today. I haven’t heard any tails of woe yet. 180km is a long way when you’re fresh. After what we’ve done so far it seems a hell of a lot of ground to cover but everyone seemed to handled it just fine.

12 January 2010

EC NZ '10 Day 10 Blenheim - Kaikoura

EC NZ ’10 Day 10 Blenheim – Kaikoura

We had about a 10 minute walk to the pool for a 6am-ish start today.
3 lanes booked as that was all they would give us and it was pretty tight once again.
Mostly it was just about getting it done but G-Man gave our lane a challenging set that included quite a bit of IM which was nice for a change today.

I do like the walks to and from the pool as it gives me some time to reflect on things and clear my head. Today I was remembering when Pete and another buddy Dave ran along the river here back in April the day after a 200km bike race the day before. That race is coming up again this April and we’re already committed to putting in a team effort there again.

We rolled out just before 9am towards Kaikoura knowing we’d likely have a headwind the whole way as well as some rain. The rain never really came until the very end but it was damn tough day to do this ride in this direction today. Some days on point-point rides you just get hammered and we did sure today
We had a KOM on the schedule with the climb starting about the 12km point and at about 4km into the ride Nick hit it hard and got the ball rolling.
From there it was a bike race to the bottom and I just missed the first bunch which included Steven and Clas. I knew I wasn’t going to beat them up the climb anyway, and although Petro made it into that bunch I guessed he wasn't going to be all that snappy on the ride today. In the pool in the mornign he wasn't looking good at all, and at breakfast he must've ate about 10,000 Calories.
So just had to mark Newsom and G-Man for the most part. I had Daniel with my group and he seemed keen to get up there but after towing us for a couple of km decided to not be quite so generous as to tow us all the way to the base. So some of us had to do a little work! :-)
G-Man missed the train so I tried to sit on Newsom and did OK until he hit the gas again with about 600m to go and spat me off his wheel.
Down the other side I knew it wasn’t going to take long for Daniel to come past so just had a drink and a snack and waited.
Then David Craig and Daniel proceeded to rip it up until Daniel’s aero bar bolt broke and he chose to sit on as to not knock anyone over.
It was pretty sweet sitting in the Bigger Sexier’s vortex for a while though and I was more than a little bummed to see he wasn’t going to tow me for the next 100km. David Craig stepped in and took over and pulled the whole damn way to Kaikoura. No shit!!
The guy is looking stronger as the camp goes on and he’s been running a ton too. I’ve barely been running at all yet I could barely hold his wheel.
Following David Craig today reminded me of riding behind one of my early training partner in Dan Diego around ’83 – ’84. His name is Ron Smith. He would have been around David’s current age when I was about 23-24. His nickname was “King”. He was built like David but a little thicker in the upper body from throwing around the big steel for years.
When he was training for the Spenco 500-mile ride he has these cushy hand rest grips on his drops and he would stay on them for hours without budging. We did a lot of 120-150 mile rides together on the coast and I often had to stop in and see my chiropractor Barbara Stewart in Carlsbad on the way home because I was so f…d from holding onto Ron’s wheel all day.
I don't know how he put up with this pesky young punk wheelsucer for so long but I'm eternally grateful he did as he was a tremendous role model and helped me make the transition from a kid into a man.
If anyone out there has news of how Ron’s doing these days please send me a private e-mail – scott.molina@xtra.co.nz

When we arrived in Kaikoura I had a quick snack, beer and shower and was asleep within 20 minutes of arrival. I’m rooming with Charlsey and he was passed out too. He ended up sleeping for 3.5 hours this afternoon!
I slept for 90 minutes before wandering out to find the sun was out, Nick was just heading out for his run so I tagged along with him. Caught some good rays too.
I still never know if I’m going to have to walk it in from a run so it was a nice surprised to only be a little sore and tight and to run the whole 10km.
Just as as Iwas finishing my run Super support Dave came over to my unit to bring me a special treat and that cheered me up no end. These guys are damn good to me.

Dinner was here at the motel, plentiful as always and people are generally in good spirits.
Fun to catch up with the others tonight to hear how it went out there.
Pete O’Brien had a good dose of personal time today. He was pretty shattered and spotted in town at the end of the ride trying to re-group by wolfing down a big mince pie and shake prior to rolling into the motel.
Good to hear that Big E (Eric Van Moorlehm) was back to his ol’ self pulling a train along today for most of the way. He wasn’t very fit coming into the camp so has struggled with all the hills we’ve had to climb. He should like the next 2 days because a total of 190km of it is flat.

We jog to the pool here and back, swim in wetsuits as the pool here is so cold, then on the ride we have another KOM right out of town and I’m sure it’s the absolute worst way to start another long ride. Its just the way the terrain worked out this year but for future camps I’m going to try my best not to let it happen so often.
It’s a very hilly 70km to start with to get to Cheviot, then gently rolling for 30km or so and then flat to Christchurch. 185km.

11 January 2010

EC NZ '10 Day 9 Wellington - Blenheim (via the Ferry)

EC NZ ’10 Day 9 – Wellington – Blenheim (via the Ferry) - Rest Day

Have you seen Keith Richards lately?
How is he still alive and kicking and producing great music?
Perhaps one of my new aims in life is to be the Keith Richards of triathlon.
As I sit here on the ferry watching some old music videos and drinking Steinlagers I’m in a very relaxed mood.
I’m with my people here and they’re good friends and we’re having a good time.
Petro was just saying that we’ve got the bar here, some chips, muffins, the NFL on one big screen, videos on the other and the view of NZ from the water is fantastic. At this moment in time I feel like I could do these camps for a very long time.

Reality is somewhat different of course. I’ve got to accept more moderation into my life at some point as things are wearing out.
Even though my body has a better than average capacity to heal and recover there is only so much wear and tear it can take and not being able to run much during this camp is a sure sign that things are changing.

Tara’s sitting next to me and telling me how her year is going to go and her dear husband is certainly one very understanding, patient guy! She’ll be away from home a lot this year.
She’s had more than her fair share of wear and tear too over the last few years and yet she seems as happy to keep doing this sport as ever although she says this will be her last year as a pro. Life will change for her somewhat but she’s got a plan to keep doing the sport via her coaching, camps, massage. Its times like these (right here, right now) that its easy fortify the desire to keep it rolling.

But of course there are other things to do.
Erin and I bought my 16-yr old son Miguel a new electric guitar and amp for Christmas. For the last 5 years he’s been playing on ones bought for me on my 30th birthday and he’s getting pretty good. I always intended to learn how to play it. Now 20 years later I still have that on the list of things to do.
I’ve also vowed to start yoga and dance lessons after this camp. Gordo will get a chuckle out of that because he bought me some yoga sessions for Christmas about 5 years ago and I still haven’t used any of them.
And the yoga studio is 200 meters from my house.
Its time I got there.

We’re in Blenheim now just about ready to have dinner. I went out to find a bottle of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc for Dr. Douglas Scott who casually mentioned that he might like some about an hour ago. He’s one of the senior members of the camp and very good value. This is his 3rd camp so he’s a good customer too. He’s always been one of the easiest campers for the staff to look after. He never asks for anything. I look forward to sharing a nice glass of wine with him tonight.

What a cruisy day as far as the camp is concerned.
This morning we said goodbye to Russell Maylin who was our masseur and general dog’s body on the N. Island and today we said good-bye to Turps (Andrew Turpin) who’s going home today.
Thank You both very, very much for your great company, tireless energy and good humor.

Back tomorrow.

10 January 2010

EC NZ '10 Day 8 Masterton - Wellington

EC NZ ’10 Day 8 Masterton – Wellington

Compared to most days on this camp today looked to be one of the easier days and that proved to be the case.
We re-jigged the day so we could get the ride done prior to the forecast gale force Norwesters kicking in. When they say “gale force” in the Wellington forecast you have to take that seriously. It means un-rideable conditions.

So after breakfast we had a nice social ride for 65km to Featherston where we had a mandatory re-group and drink stop.
We parked right in front of David Craig’s favorite bakery and he came out with a rugby ball sized scone to show us why. Quite a few coffees also went down and mine was sweeeeet!
From there we had a big KOM over into Upper Hutt and the wind was picking up and it looked like it was going to be one humdinger of a mission to get over that climb. I guessed it would be about 20 minutes difference from the front of the group to the back and it turned out to be just over that.

I cranked up my R & B playlist on my iPod and got things off to a decent start with Al Green for company.
When John Legend, then Barry White and Marvin Gaye came on in quick succession we were well into the main climb and I was in a great groove and good headspace calling in all the thoughts and memories that give me strength and power. I _do_ know where to go for energy when I need to and now was one of those times. That music has a strong association with so many of the good times in my life
Lee Wingate from the UK made an early move for glory at the base of the climb and as we went by him it looked t me like he had a bit of a puzzled look on his face. I’m not sure he realized just how long the climb actually was.

By this time it was down to Clas, Newsom, G-Man and I and I was determined to make sure they had to work for their points today.
The wind was phenomenal, it was spitting rain and it’s a steep motha’ of a climb. Good Epic stuff and it was like ol’ times. Windy Wellington was giving us a taste of home cookin’.
With less than a km to go Clas hit the gas hard and he was gone and G-Man was spat. Newsom put in a good surge to gap me and held onto about a 10-second lead to the top.
That was it and it was all I had.
So it was a good effort by the old guy and I’m looking forward to seeing the footage of the ride.

Turns out Lord twisted his chain right at the bottom and had to borrow film crew Annette’s bike which is pretty tiny! All credit to him for riding over that climb on that bike. He then had to ride it another 45+km to our accom. in downtown Wellington and the sight of him on that bike will stay with me for a long time.

After lunch the wind was mostly favorable to get to the hotel. We’re staying downtown and for those who want to celebrate getting across one island we’re in a good spot to have a fun night. Tomorrow is a cruisy day so plenty of time to recover.

At 3pm we met in the lobby and most jogged the 1.9km to the Frieberg pool. I managed 3km and hopped out and quite a few stayed in to do 6km. Pete O’Brien did his 1km with a band only and it must’ve taken him about 25 minutes. What a crack-up.

As I helped super support crew member Mair park the vans we had a little chat and she said the support crew are holding up OK. With all the shifting every day they have a hell of a job to get everything packed and unpacked and making sure everything is in place for the next few days. I hope they have a relaxing evening tonight. They sure deserve it.
But “What goes on Tour, stays on Tour” as they say in NZ so what-ever happens you won’t read about it in this blog.

Tomorrow could be a very easy recovery day for those who choose to make it that way as the ride is only 25km from the Ferry terminal in Picton to Blenheim which is where we’re staying. I have a hunch a lot of folks will take the opportunity to get in a little more swimming and running………………….

09 January 2010

EC NZ '10 Day 7 Wanganui - Masterton

EC NZ ’10 Day 7 Wanganui – Masterton

Today was always going to be one of the longest days of the camp and after 6 solid days already it turned out to be quite a mission, but one that everyone handled really well. We’ve never done a camp with so many long hard days in a row before an easy day which comes on day 9 of this camp when we transfer to the South Island.

The day started for some with a very early roll-out for the ride. They left right after breakfast.
Most of the rest of us jogged to the pool and back (8km in total) and swim our 3km which included various sets.
Petro decided to sit on Lord and Gordo (in an _illegal_ skinsuit) through a set of 10 x 200 on the 2:45 and I didn’t’ think he’s last through #2 so I bet him a double bacon cheeseburger from Burger King and I promptly lost that bet. The dude is getting in shape. Even drafting that’s moving right along, and considering the previous 6 days it was damn impressive.
As I was changing I heard some raucous cheering coming from the pool deck so I knew Jo Carritt must be doing her 200 fly. She’s not a natural butterfly swimmer!

The last group was down to 8 this morning and Daniel McDonald was in there I think more due to poor organization than a desire to drill himself.
But he ended up burning it up today.
First John pulled the first 65km to the first drink stop. That’s right – the whole damn way! Very impressive and it kept us together.
Soon after that he took over again and then Daniel took over nad that included pacing us up a solid 5km climb. At the top he proceeded to bomb down the other side and then blast the crap out of us for another 20km. He was on fire!
He didn’t know Petro stopped at the top of the climb for a photo and lost the pack.

I’ve known Daniel for a very long time as his younger brother Chris (Big Sexy) McDonald was one of my training partners in his early days. Daniel’s older Brother David who’s now 40 and lives in Port Macquarie has done 2 x 9:07 IM’s. The McDonald bro’s know how to ride.
But often Daniel takes long breaks from training so isn’t always in top form to say the least. Hopefully this year he’ll use this camp as a springboard to do some great racing. He’s got IM NZ on the plan at the moment.
So our pack lost a few enroute to lunch and there was one particularly grumpy camper in Petro who looked like he had some sand kicked in his face by the bullies. I promised him a Subway foot-long in addition to the double bacon cheeseburger and that settled him down somewhat.
But then the fireworks started soon after lunch and he went straight O.T.B again! Ouch.
Lord and Clas were gone.
Johnny and Daniel towed Gordo and I right along to the end. I think we averaged 34kph for that 200km ride. If you’ve ridden Kiwi roads then you know that’s movin’.

Other than Old man’s back I held up OK today.
As we were rolling into town we saw David Craig about 5km out from the motel running. The guy is racking up the km’s.
I did stop into Subway to get Petro’s foot-long but there are no Burger King’s in town so he just had to make due with that light post-ride snack.
After a few cold ones Petro and I chose to get a rub from the masseuse who showed up to help Russell out with massage today. So we had Pizza Hut deliver us a couple of scrumptious pizzas and it was bliss.
I haven’t had a chance to catch up with the early group yet and am off to bed now so will get the scoop tomorrow.

Tomorrow we’re riding first thing to hopefully avoid the gale force winds that are forecast to blow on the way to Wellington.

08 January 2010

EC NZ '10 Day 6 Turangi - Wanganui

EC NZ ’10 Day 6 – Turangi - Wanganui

forgot to saythat my roomie tonight is Lee Wingate and you can find his blog at:

(its January 8th for those of you on the camp who don’t know what day it is either……..)

The morning started with swims and runs with most going to the lake.
David Craig. Dr. Douglas Scott, Tara and I went to the pool.
I really couldn’t face a cold lake this morning.
What I was really hoping for was to wake up next to my lovely warm wife feeling generous with the conjugal rights followed by a big mug of coffee generously flavored with Baily’s and Cointreau and then a leisurely read through the morning paper and then a proper cooked breakfast……….

I did manage 20 x 100 on the 1:30 with Tara but that was a struggle. I’m not the simmer I used to be!!! HA! That’s an understatement. I need to get back into a good swim groove at some point soon after this camp and get in there and suffer with a swim squad again.
We had a nice flat white as we walked back to our accom and that fortified me for the day ahead.
The early group got about 20 minutes headstart on us but I knew with the route ahed that we’d quickly make that up and we did. There was about 8,000ft of vertical gain for those who chose the direct route, another 2,000ft for those who chose to do the KOM to Whakapapa. It took a lot of guts to do that optional extra and full credit to those that did it as well as a swim and run today. That made for a massive day.
We had a big climb in the rain to stat the day enroute to the National Park and it was just plain ol’ hard work for the first 2.5 hours to the aid station.
The guys who did the KOM graciously waited for jo Carritt to come down from the mountain or it would have been a very lonely 140km slog for her the rest of the way.

My group didn’t take long for lunch as we were keen to get the ride done. This was to cost me latyer as I had my first real bonk of the camp on a steep hill about 25km out from Wnaganui. Luckily I talked Pete and Roder into stopping with me as I re-grouped and wolfed down 2 of Em’s scrumptious bars.

Lots of people ran off the bike to day and to no one’s surprise I just sat and sucked down Steiny’s. I’m wupped. Tired-est I’ve been so far on this camp.
I did get a nice rub from Russell Maylin again tonight. I seem to be getting my fair share of TLC and that seems to have been noted by the others. But HEY!!! Its my camp and you guys can just suck it up buttercup……

Looking forward to reading the other blogs after the camp to see how the day went for them. Too tired to read them now.
The plan for tomorrow is a jog to the pool and back for a swim, then breakfast and then another tough 200km ride this time ending in Masterton.
Looks like there will be a group rolling out really early and skipping the pool and the run so they can take it more leisurely.
Back tomorrow.

07 January 2010

EC NZ '10 Day 4 Matamata - Turangi

EC NZ ’10 Day 5 – Matamata – Turangi

The day of the Roleur and the Growing Grupetto

I must’ve missed the memo about the Grupetto generously accepting all broken and battered campers but as I readied myself after breakfast it was easy to see the last group is shrinking fast. Today the Grupetto had grown to include more than ½ the camp.
We still managed a very leisurely first hour which was great as I really needed to digest my breakfast today. Often the tempo or the hills are pretty severed right after breakfast and those days always end up being a sufferfest the end of the day and any calorie deficit is an even more severe penalty the following day.

We had some really nice roads to ride today. Lots of quiet country roads and even the main highways we rode today were nice and not too busy.
At around the 75km point soon after the first drink stop Steve the “Roleur” Lord took over and kept the pace on all the way to lunch at around 130km.
There was a lot of very long, gradual uphills with a tail wind and he kept it steady at 40kph on those segments and a nice 50-65kph on the downhills. No shit!.
When you sit on the wheel for that long you get a good sense of the depth of the guys fitness. He didn’t even use the aero bars so it would be esier for those following to sit on.
We had about a 10-15-minute deficit to the grupetto after the drinks stop at 65km and he ate that up in about 40km.
When you’re ripping along like you’re in the TGV train its tough sometimes to pull the pin and cruise as you know that for every 3-4 minutes you hang on you are saving yourself another minute of riding. For every hill you suffer through you get a free ride at the speed of light on the next descent.
After lunch Steve gave the group about an easy 20 minutes before seeing that there was only 5 of us holding on at his leiruely pace so no sense in cruising any longer nd once again assumed his steady tempo right to the end.
There was about a dozen points during the ride today both before and after lunch that I was wavering but glad at the end to have held on as we got that 182km done damn quick.

The ride around Lake Taupo is hilly but beautiful and interesting. Too bad the IM Here doesn’t use this route……….

After a snack a swim and run were on the menu. Some people ran to the lake and most ran back to get their 10km or more.
Richard Blanco did a total of 25km of running to get an extra 2 points. There was a little discussion among the committee because it was broken by a swim …..
We do need to stick to the rules and ignorance is no excuse (except this time………)
Gordo is even more of a stickler for the rules than John is and he dearly wants to hack 5 points from my total for crossing the center line when I was playing around and jumped behind a sheep truck.

The lake was choppy but the troupers got it done.
The run back was a crummy one along the highway but they got that done too.
But that venue doesn’t lend itself well to a aquathon at all so we’ve ditched that idea for tomorrow morning and will just go for a swim in the lake and hope its calmer in the morning.

Dinner was a buffet at a restaurant and was OK, perhaps just saved with a nice pavlova and ice cream at the end. David Craig sure can eat. Just goes to show that if you want to have 3% bodyfat you need a fast metabolism above all else.

I skipped both the swim and run today with self preservation in mind and washed the road grime and aches and pains away and took a little nap in the sun to get rid of those unsightly cycling tan lines…………

06 January 2010

EC NZ '10 Day 4 Auckland - Matamata + aquathon

EC NZ ’10 Day 4 – Auckland (N. Shore actually… ) – Matamata

We’re starting to get into the groove now.
6:30 breakfast which the support crew laid out for us. No cooked stuff today – just toast, yogurt, cereal, fruit, lots of great Coffees of Hawaii.
7:30 roll-out to get a ferry over to the Coromandal peninsula.
It was a leisurely 15km spin down to get the ferry and lucky John allowed us an hour as we went to the wrong terminal at first.
The N. shore is definitely the nicer part of Auckland. Swankyness oozes from the place.
He also booked a private ferry to take us all over from Devenport to the town of Coromandel which was a great idea since we were late getting there and the captain was fine to wait for all of us to arrive.
Nice 2-hour trip over there. Great way to chill out, chat, read the paper and have a snooze.

Before I forget to fully acknowledge Newsom’s admin efforts it must be said that he does all the ground work for these camps and he really does cross his t’s and dot his i’s with precision. It looks like G-Man will take on more admin responsibilities for the next Epic which is in his backyard of Colorado in August and perhaps I’ll get a chance to pitch in after that as my share of the work has been less than significant over the last few years.

New Zealand put its best foot forward for us today. Sunny, calm, balmy day, flat ocean.
What a stunning part of the country.
We did an aquathon race to begin the day with a 1km (approx. …. ) swim and 5km run.
I didn’t think I could run but thought I’d just give it a try and see what happened as the worst outcome would be to walk/jog/limp to the finish. Turned out fine as I was able to sit on G-Man in the swim and come out 4th after Lord and Newsom and then hold my place except for Clas who came by everyone easily except Gordo.
Nice to hold Petro off as I’m sure he thought I was an easy target.
The big mover on the run was David Craig and he had already done a 10km run before we set off from the N. Shore this morning. The guy looks like he’s in damn good shape and is riding and running great.
Not everyone did the aquathon and that was prudent. We still have a hell of a long way to go and the riding is hard.
When we set off at around noon for the ride we had to massive hills to begin the ride today with a KOM at the top of the second climb so the heat was on right from the first one.
These were about 15-minute grunty ones and I was sweating buckets.
Clas big-ringed Gordo to take this KOM with Newsom 3rd (again…) and then Lord, Petro just nipping Blanco with me a distant 7th.

After the KOM we had a very nice spin along the coastline of the Coromandel, then from Thames to Matamata a nice steady group ride with an aiding tailwind under the control of the G-Man at the front until the last drink stop with about 45km to go. Nice to hae the whole group together for a while. We don’t actually get the chance to ride like that too often because of all the hills and KOM’s.
Another 170km day and that is already starting to seem normal.
Petro broke his rear derailleur cable and we don’t have another one at the moment so will be stuck in his 16-tooth cog in the rear tomorrow. Should make for an interesting day!
Not much else to report from my end except we had pavlova for desert again and I could eat that every night until I die and be just fine with it.

Hope some pics of today go up soon for you all to see. Just heavenly views all day today.

The schedule for tomorrow is to roll out around 7:30 after breakfast for the ride to Turangi which is on Lake Taupo, then a run and swim in the lake there. Weather forecast looks brilliant again for tomorrow.

05 January 2010

EC NZ '10 Day 3 - Whangarei - Auckland

EC NZ ’10 Day 3 – Whangarei – Auckland

Coffee, toast and fruit was on a 5:30am for a 5:50 am jog to the pool. The “Committee” made a call last night to allow a broken 10km to count for points today so most people did 2km each way to the pool with 6km to do later on after the ride.
When we got to the pool we found the main pool was closed due to unknown reasons. Shit.
So we piled into another pool that had 4 lanes with lane lines and did our thing. I moved off to the side with the old folks to do my 1km Bands Only for a point as I would have been in the way had I joined in with the others. I suck at B.O. Later on I also did a 200 Fly for another point so I wont’ be at the bottom of the points table.

As we were getting out we bumped into Samantha Warriner who has been one of NZ’s best triathletes on the ITU circuit (and now does 70.3 events as well)for quite a few years now. She was school teacher in Whangarei as she started her pro career and still lives there when not on the road.

After the jog back to our accom and then breakfast we rolled out toward the N. Shore of Auckland. There were some early starters again and that was a good idea. This is a windy, damn hilly little country and the stronger riders were going to cover the 172km today about an hour+ faster than the slower riders. When riding terrain like this there’s just no way to hang onto the stronger riders. The hills and side winds make it impossible.
The first 35km along the busy highway was the worst as we had a strong side wind. I hit a big metal thing early on and got a quick wheel change from Turps who was driving the tail-end Charlie van but it still took a minute + and it was a ball buster to get back on the group.
Andrew Charles had his first flat in 4 Epics and it turned into #2 and #3 pretty quick and he spent a lot of time on his own off the back. Not nice. Turps was a busy dude with the wheels today.
By lunch time there were lots of tired folks and the next 50km promised no respite. Clas gave some of us a chance to do some Swedish motor-pacing for as long as we could hang on. Pete, Douglas and I hung on for 25km before detonating and Steve hung on the whole way back to Auckland. (I’m sure you took a turn at some point Steve! J )

Pete continues to surprise me even though he’s been one of my main riding buddies over the last decade. Now that he’s working in an office full time and no longer a part of my little house-boy/full-time dad’s club he’s not able to train quite like he wants and leapt at the chance to do this tour. He’s getting ready for IM NZ and hopefully getting a Kona slot. The last time we raced there he crashed on the little river crossing out in the boonies on the way to Reparoa. I think he fell asleep due to boredom! He finished and just missed a slot by a minute or so. If that isn’t the most boring bike ride in the world then I don’t know what is. Note to race director Jane Patterson – how about putting the ride around lake Taupo?????? That’s one of the most beautiful rides in the world and its right f…n there!!! (hopping off my soap box now……)

When we arrived at the Millenium Institute where we’re staying super support Kay had some ice cold protein shakes ready for us as well as salty chips and my recovery beverage of choice ready just the way I like it – cold and bubbly.
Others passed on that and went out to run. Some did 10km in addition to the 10km they did this morning. Steve is going for his 3 successive Yellow ( well it was pink in Italy) jersey and it will take a monumental effort even though we aren’t giving a lot of points for tacking on extra distance this camp which is where Steve’s superior to any previous camper we’ve ever had.

Gordo hadn’t finished totaling up the points by dinner tonight but it looks like Steve just inching in front for the Yellow with his second 10km run of the day.
Petro is still in Red and Tara will be in Green tomorrow as she didn’t get a chance to wear it today.
I don’t have much else to say except that this is a damn hilly, windy little country. Have I sais that before??? Today’s ride included 2,000m of vertical gain.

A prelude for tomorrow - we have a 15km spin down to the ferry to get over to the town of Cormandel on the Coromandel peninsula, then have an aquathon there and then ride to Matamata with a beefy KOM at the beginning of the ride.

04 January 2010

EC NZ '10 Day 2 - Kaitaia - Whangarei

EC NZ ’10 Day 2 – Kaitaia – Whangarei

Then training day started at 6:30 for many with a 10km run prior to breakfast. If you want to have any chance to factor in the points competition then you’ll need to commit to swimming and running nearly every day in addition to doing every ride.
Since I can’t expect to do much running I decided yesterday to not try and swim every day either as we need to do all 3 disciplines to get the significant bonus points each day.
Jo Carritt from the UK injured her foot 5 days before the camp started and can’t run. She’s gutted as she’s been right up there in the points on the 2 previous camps she’s done. Her only consolation is she had already decided to focus on cycling during this period of the year and is riding really well. She just told me she had a good ride today.

I think 5 or 6 people rolled out 20 minutes or so early so they could take it more leisurely and the main group rolled out at 7:40. Since we had a KOM at the 30km point today the early leavers gave up the chance for any points there which turned out to be a pretty smart move as the pace was very steady right from km #1.
Newsom had us in single file at 40kph due to a good tailwind but that tailwind and a light rain made it kinda miserable to sit on. The climb was only about 1,000ft over 5km but it still strung people out over about 8 minutes. Gordo took it out with a surprising Roger in 2nd, then Newsom, Me, Clas who didn’t really play but just went steady, then Blanco. The KOM points will be tallied up at the end of the camp to be worth double a “major” race, so should shake things up a little at the end.
The problem with going for all the KOM’s is they are f…n hard! and could jeopardize camp completion, so it is a little risky to hammer every one along with all of the other races we’ve got lined up.

The rain started in earnest after the KOM and although it wasn’t cold it was a nuisance. Roger came down on a bend and took Randy down behind him and is pretty smashed up. As I type this he’s at the Emergency room getting checked out. Randy’s knees are banged up and he’ll be a little sore and stiff tomorrow but is OK.
The “Tara Train” pulled some of us along for an hour or so at a damn steady pace and she ended up cramping prior to lunch barely making it in. After lunch she was fine even though we didn’t stop long. Since we only had 50km to go after lunch most people decided to have a quick bite and keep rolling as the rain was coming and going.

Once we turned off of the highways after about 65km the ride got really nice. At that point we were on quiet, beautiful country roads – the New Zealand I know and love.
I rode in with Steven Lord, Tara and David Craig who’s from Wellington. With Steven you know you’re going to get there in good time. He can go all day at a steady pace.
David Craig is going great. He had a prolapsed disc in the months leading up to Kona and couldn’t run. He wanted to race thee so bad he went anyway and suffered through it.
He’s one tough nut and the most ripped dude here. Its not hard to tell he was a gym junkie in his former life (prior to triathlon).

The film crew got a lot of footage of us out thee today and I’m looking forward to seeing it. With all the rain there was water spraying everywhere.

Tonight at dinner I found out how much swimming got done while I had a blissful nap. A lot of people did 6km including various special sets for points. Mark Petrofessa did 6km as well as added 3 more points from special sets to move into the lead for the Vets jersey and I have a feeling he’s going to find it hard not to play the game right to the end. This is the first time he’s ever earned a jersey of any type and this is his 4th Epic Camp.

Tomorrow we have an early start with a jog to the pool leaving at 5:50am so I’d better get some sleep as I’m on coffee duty at 5:30.

03 January 2010

EC NZ - Day 1 - Cape Reinga - Kaitaia

Epic NZ ’10 Day 1 Cape Reinga – Kaitaia

Day before the camp begins……..
It took a little longer than planned to drive on the bus from Auckland – about 6 hours with the stop for lunch in Whangarai. (Please excuse all spelling errors as I wont’ be spell checking and often type as I recover. For those who know me you know what that means…..).
Sure was nice for everyone and all bikes to arrive intact and on time.
I had lunch with Randy Weintraub from N.Y. Clas Bjorling from Sweden and my normal training buddy Pete O’Brien from Christchurch. We tried sitting in the sun to soak up some rays but we were nuked after 5 minutes and moved into the shade. Light lunches and beers all around. Great way to break up the drive.
Damn hilly here. There seemed to be more small passes on the route than the GPS profiles we have indicate. We discussed shortening Day 2 already as the 195km on the plan is looking like it will take 6.5 hours or so.

Once we arrived in Kaitaia we put our bikes together, gathered up the swag from our sponsors and had a little rest prior to dinner.
Our sponsors have once again very generously supplied us with some great gear.
Thanks to Vinu at Fuelbelt for once again looking after us so well, Blue Seventy for the fabulous backpacks, and Oomph for the fabulous cycling/race shorts. If you haven’t seen the new shorts Oomph have then you should. These folks just keep making better and better stuff.

Dinner was a buffet. The date pudding and the pavlova went over very, very well. I washed mine down with 2 Black Macs so now I’m not only in nitrogen balance, I’m fully carb loaded to the point of spontaneous combustion..

After breakfast we hopped in the buss at 7:30 to cover the 110km up to the lighthouse at Cape Reinga which is the tip of the country.
What a majestic place! Just breathtaking , raw New Zealand at its finest.

From there we ran 22km with the first 12km a cruise and then the second 10km a race for points. Only trouble with the cruise part is that road is a nasty, vicious and wickedly hilly piece of work
Today we have 3 races that add up to approx an Oly distance race which is a “major” as far as the points go. So there’s a 10km run race, a 30km (approx. !!!) cycling TT and a 1500m swim in the pool during our 3km swim later on
I won’t explain the points in detail. Suffice it to say we’ll be racing a lot during our trip the length of the country. Previous campers will get a nice kick out of thinking about us hammering ourselves with all the various races, KOM’s, or for no reason at all other than some one is feeling good and no one wants to get dropped.
After the 12km “warm-up” run we assembled for the 10km jog and I was close to completely wrecked. My right calf is a mess, but I kept hobbling with the only consolation being I will now be able to cover the length of the country as no other runs are point to point along the way.
Gordo and Newson jetted off with Clas close behind and eventually Gordo put the hammer down to take it out comfortably, Clas 2nd, Johnny 3rd and the rest mostly ahead of me at around 50 minutes. I was thrilled to get through that run.
There are certainly some others hobbling. Roger from Texas was miserable to watch!

I’ll get to naming everyone eventually, so until I do its not because I am neglecting people, it would just take too long to say how everyone’s day went each day. Hopefully some of the other blogs will fill in the missing pieces.

We had lunch and then rolled out towards Kaitaia and with a nice tailwind we were rippin’ along at 40km/hour. I felt like stirring things up a little to see who was feeling frisky and found quite a few folks willing to get it rockin’ right away.

We assembled on the roadside for a drink stop and then the TT leaving in reverse order of the run finish earlier. That meant I had Daniel McDonald leaving 30 seconds behind me and that was all the incentive I needed to hammer that sucker. When Daniel’s fit he’s a lot better TT’er than me for sure, but he’s a bit of a “binge” trainer and I’ve been riding my ass off all year with lots of hard bike racing in there so felt I didn’t deserve a large dose of humility by having him not only beat me in the run this morning but also him hammering me in the TT as well.
So I rode well with Daniel almost catching me and Pete O’Brien surprising once again with approx the same time as me. We did around 43:30 and I think Steven took it out with about 40:30 with Richard Blanco 2nd a minute or two back. Neither Gordo or Clas have aero bars on so they weren’t all that speedy.

The swim was funny to say the least. Everyone cramped.
We did an easy 1km w/up and then hammered out a 1500 race with Steven taking it out in 21:40 which is about 2 minutes slwer than he would have done if we had the swim first thing this morning. Gordo and a few others tried to stay on his toes but all cramped and lost the draft.
I was leading another lane and was lapped at some point around 1km into it. Ouch. Every push off the wall caused agonizing cramping and I was once again just glad to finish, then cruise a bit more to get the 3km minimum.
There were some very long swims! Rip Oldmeadow was doing all sorts of cramping contortions on the side of the pool and he’s sure to be one sore dude tomorrow.

The tri totals weren’t that surprising given the run results but Gordo’s dominance was. The guy is in good shape.
Clas had a week in the Canary Islands in early December so he’s coming around but not quite ready to hammer it every day yet. His total immune/adrenals system meltdown a few years ago that put him out of action for 18 months is making him understandably cautious as well. I hope he continues to be prudent over the next 2 weeks.

I’m finishing today’s blog just prior to dinner which is at the hotel again tonight. Glad not to be going anywhere. I might try to get Russell Maylin the masseur to work on me for a little while during dinner.

01 January 2010

EC NZ '10 Prologue

Well this is going to be quite an adventure.

This is the biggest group we've had at Epic - I think its 22 campers but we'll see who actually shows up.

Along with all that is involved with looking after such a big group we are also moving locations every day which is brutal on the support crew. In all previous camps we've tried to reduce the amount of shifting from place to place due to the strain it places on the support crew, but to cover the length of NZ we obviously couldn't do that.

So in considering if we could pull this off one of the main considerations was if we were sure of our support crew and having Dave Dwan return to lead the crew was the crucial part. Dave's been leading the support for 5 years now and his energy and direction allow us to keep changing the routes and locations.

One of the ongoing attractions of the camps for me is to go to new places, see new sights, take on new challenges and although it would be easier for all of us to use the same format each camp, its not going to happen. We have a lot of returning campers as well and its important to provide some fresh terrain for them too. I want everyone to be in suspense to a degree as to what's coming and whether they'll be able to pace themselves through the camp without knowing exactly what's coming up.

These camps are mostly about the experience. What we do each day is affected by so many things including the people we're sharing the moments with. My lasting memories of each camp are the shared experience of taking on incredible challenges. Doing the same routes and sessions alone doesn't appeal to me that much. I couldn' push myself to get it all done alone anyway.

It looks like Clas Bjorling is back!!!

We've had so many good times together over the years and Clas has been the one who's thrown in the most Epic sessions during the camps over the years. His 43km run on about Day 10 over the massive hills from Thredbow to Jindabyne (in around 3 hours!) at the Epic Aussie Camp still gives me goosebumps. When you train for a couple of weeks with a guy that goes 8:15 you're bound to see some f...n incredible shit.

We've had a lot of fast people at the camps over the years in addition to Gordo - Clas, Bjorn, Jonas, Bella, Monica, Tara - those are people who any tri fan would recognize by just their first names. Stephen Bayliss and Chris McDonald have also joined us so we've been able to see first hand just how strong the best pros are.

But its been the older age group guys who have given me the most food for thought.

When we think of a triathlon trainigng camp we mostly consider it to be a stepping stone towards a goal of an event or series of events. Nowadays the Ironman is the main thing that comes to mind.

Let me put this too you - what if John Collins had created the Ironman to be a 2-week stage race covering s/b/r for about 8 hours/day?

If he had then what we think of as Iroman would be just that and the 2.4/112/26.2 would not exist. That is does and that we train for it is totaly arbitrary. It could just as easily have been a race to complete 1,000 push-ups, 1,000 sit-ups and 1,000 chin-ups.

What I'm getting at here is at Epic we've provided a format for a particular type of athlete to shine in a way that isnt' available to them anywhere else. To me the fact that they may not go on to do 8 hours in Kona isn't a reflection of them failing to prepare properly, its just that the current IM format doesn't really suit their strengths any more than a bench press contest does.

And I like that!

Judging a persons tri ability based solely on a sprint tri or Oly dstance or IM doesnt' always give the best picture of their strengths any more than judging a persons cycling ability on the Individual Pursuit vs. Paris-Roubaix or the Tour de France.
I wish there were more tri stage races like the Triple T but even longer. I would have ate those up when I was a pro and would enjoy racing them even more as an age grouper. Until then I'll keep putting on Epic as long as my legs will allow.
Speaking of which........
My f..n legs are a pain in the ass!
I've been able to get through all of the camps except for 2 small segments of 2 rides during the first camp in '03. Getting through all of the scheduled runs this time is looking unlikely at this moment in time. My calves are both injured.
I can't really describe how much this pisses me off. We've come up with a special award for this camp that we've never done before - every camper that completes all scheduled sessions for the entire camp will get one and I really want to get one of those awards!
My running has been abysmal most of the last 8 years with only a few small highlights during that period. Running well at Epic Colorado (around '04 I think) stands out as a period when I was really running well. I still have some goals to attend to that involve running so I still need to stay hopeful and positive that I can turn things around.

One postive is that I'm definitely in nitrogen balance!! HA! That's a joke and the photos will certainly give you an idea of what I mean.
This year I'm heavier than I've ever been by quite a lot. A hell of a lot of pumping the heavy steel and a hell of a lot of protein have gone into this body in the last 2 years. I've got enough fuel on board for 6 trips the length of NZ.
Plus we've got a beer sponsor this year so it doesn't look like I'll be triming down all that much this trip unless I get sick.

I plan on blogging every day like I normally do and it looks like others will join in as well so we should have a good record of this camp. I dont' do a hell of a lot of admin for these camps so i feel like the least I can do is to put down a few thoughts for campers to reflect on years later as it all seems like such a blur during the camp.
We also have a video crew along this time. They're making a documentary and I'll let John fill you in as to the why and how but the end result should be a very special keepsake for every Epic athlete attending this year.

Enough for now - time to go pack the bike as I've got a 5:30am departure for the airport tomorrow.