19 January 2010

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.