Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Further musings, the result of disrupted sleep

I'm sitting here in Melbourne wittering away at my computer as I look out over a fantastic view - it struck me that I am looking directly at Tasmania !
One week on from finishing, the reminder being my feet are pretty numb in places, i have a random selection of bits falling off and every now and then i struggle to remember something particularly simple. All the joys of sleep deprivation i think. Thankfully my bike reappaeard on Tuesday no thanks for Pacific Blue, well done Mrs Slater for her A-Grade thinking and going to see when she was at the airport anyway. Not sure how they managed to give her someone elses luggage but I am not complaining as it is squirrelled away at home waiting to be rebuilt for the weekend. WHAT did I just say ? Yep I want to get out and do some more exercise, mainly to make me feel a bit more buzzy and justify that second large G&T that i seem to be partial to. While ARWC was hard work I can;t let all that fitness go to waste so will start to tick along again. Next target - probably Karapoti seeing as the pinny is once again on the line and the trash talking has started. I'm hoping Barryn races on his drop bar frankenbiek as that might give me a small chance.
The washing machine has been working overtime and apart from a few missing items (the odd sock, some overtrousers, my Oakleys which i lost during the brain fade sand dune bash bike ride) everything seems to have survived. I keep thinking about the race and the fun bits and the bad bits all munge together into one fog. It was too long for my little brain, somewhere around the 400km range seems to be a bit more my style. GODZone should be a fantastic race and I recommend anyone with any interest in an expedition race to go for it - it's local, you don't have to fly or deal with airlines and excess baggage, its unsupported, kayaks are dealt with (announcement soon I believe) and it also is in the most wicked landscape. I seem to be talking myself into it - almost......

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Post-race musings...

[cs] So here we are, back at home, settled sort of into the old routines. It's weird being back, the whole race seems like a bit of a foggy memory and all you have to show for it is a bit of a weird walk, some skanky bits falling off you and a distant far away look in your eyes.
Man it was hard, that was the longest, hardest race I could ever imagine. I'm proud we finished as a 4 and made the hard decisions. Regrets, always, but you can;t change history. I've definitely never been that confused for such an extended period in a race - sleep deprivation and navigational challenges. My personal snafu was on the bike/dune push where my brain simply would not believe that we had to ascend a 10m high sand dune then push in an arbitrary line sort of N/NW to intersect a 4wd that miay or may not be there. That really pushed my brain that one. Anything sand related stumped us a bit. The team were great and I take my hat off to them for persevering and getting to the finish as a 4, ranked, on the full course. YEah we had to miss some CPs but that's life - we did it, we knocked it off. Not sure I'll be seen out there on another long one to be honest - time and motivation to suffer like that is at an all time low. Maybe I am getting old. Now is the time to heal, relax and focus on the positives - Team Bridgedale Socks NZ Finishers ARWC2011 Tasmania - Woot Woot !!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

We knocked the bastard off! The finishers couch

All done

(DR) fri 8:30 am. Others still sleeping which is very unusual, had to make my own cuppa. All a bit tired. Still not thinking straight but I think we finished about 3am thurs, slept a few hours at race hq before moving to cabin for sleep, cleaning, sleep and medical care. Dnner and beers with GOT and Nga Rakau. The second half of race was long and challenging as promised. Some stunning spots, some firkin horrible. There always seemed to be some extra challenge in a leg that took us by surprise, like coming across a 10m sand dune blocking a bush track. Today is cleaning packing and getting bikes handed in for transport. Home tomorrow.

Monday, 31 October 2011

The course is revealed

The live web site now shows the course. A few long legs, some wet legs and some very remote legs. Just done our packing, one box is a bit over weight which may be to do with the 40 hours worth of food in it, plus warm gear for overnighting on the Tarkine river. We're all a bit apprehensive for different reasons. Colin doesn't like caves or abseiling. Jill isn't looking forward to swimming in 13 degree water on the trek. I'm just nervous about .. all of it. We are now pouring over maps in detail to keep ourselves occupied, 19 hours to go.

We have the course notes.

We have a food plan (eat lots)

We have the maps

More info on the kiwi team.

Keep an eye on . Annie will be doing updates from the field on all the kiwis she can.

ARWC T minus 36 hours

Just back from the race briefing and pasta dinner. No real surprises in the briefing. Burnie confirmed as start and finish points. We are betting on a sea paddle to start. There will be really long legs. Be prepared to get very cold and wet. Watch out for snakes, they saw nine in one day while scouting the course, inclunding Tiger snakes with attitude that don't move so you have to go round. They didn't specify a safe distance for going round. There are also a lot of bio-security requirements, including bagging all clothes after one of the legs! Lots of queries as some teams are travelling light and are worried about having to race naked. Maps and final briefing at 8am Tues.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Packing - I have 4 hours before Jenny gets home!


Arghh. I have had all week to get ready and packed, so I have taken all week! I am sure if needed i could be out of the door in 30 mins, but as Ihave all day I expect to be doing the final touches at 4:45am tomorrow morning. The compulsory bits (safety and warm gear) are easy, as is putting in about 15 pairs of lovely Bridgedale socks. The hard bit is weeding my way through a huge pile of my fashionable lycra and polypro clothing. It was easy last week as weather report was clear, WET. Now they are saying it might be dry. Decisions, decisions. It's a good job black is in vogue.

Monday, 24 October 2011

5 More Sleeps, t-shirts and socks packed.

Well, most of the training is done so we thought we could afford an
evening off to support the All Blacks. The new team t-shirts have
arrived to distinguish us from the other teams with less comfy feet.
Unfortunately we let slip our greatest secret weapon - bbq tongs. I bet
no other team carries a set. A good night was had, just! Which obviously
means that if we harden up, make our tackles and hang in there for the
full 80 minutes we will do well at the Adventure Race World Champs ....
5 More Sleeps

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Why on earth ?

We'll all think it a few times, certainly those around us voice it quite regularly and randoms who find out what we are about to go and do definitely ask it - Why on earth ?....... Life is too short to not know what you can do. There you go, that is my answer.

It's all about the journey, Jerome is the man for journeying with. Best teammate ever - positive attitude, very rarely gets phased and maintains group harmony even when cooked. You need someone like that. Everyone is different and has different foibles. Jill is unstoppable, goes and goes usually with a smile. Dave trucks along displaying his normal grim humour and determination. I whinge a lot but am really enjoying myself. I sometimes even laugh you know!

So the journey is a long one, along the way we'll probably do 5 marathon distances on foot, we'll bike the equivalent of 2.5 times round Lake Taupo and we'll likely climb (and descend) the equivalent of Everest and a half over the race. Oh and of course we'll paddle what are in essence large inflatable rafts from Wellington to Masterton and back to Martinborough. Whereupon we won't have a glass of wine. No, we will sleep where we can , when we can, normally huddled together to keep the cold away for an hour. Or we'll cram 4 sweaty, minging, people into a 2 man tent which is always an enjoyable experience. 10 minutes sleep can feel like the best thing ever. Unless someone (not naming names Jerome...) has a "Russell" moment and uses a foil blanket whereupon you lie still seething for half and hour listening to him snoring. Then get up, get back on your bike and promptly fall asleep.

We'll laugh, we'll really really not laugh sometimes, sometimes we'll be a wee bit lost, usually we'll know where we are. We will eat anything and everything. A shop will be like some sort of miracle and a decent coffee is almost something that reduces grown men (Dave) to tears.

The strangest thing about it is that I am massively looking forward to it as usual. Not sure what that says about my state of mind generally.

Two weeks to go. Go the All Blacks

A quiet weekend for the team, too much rugby stress to focus on training. Weather persuaded us to trek on Saturday, while sunday was an early paddle before Jerome and Colin did some navigation practise at the local orienteering event, Jill went for a ride and I went to the Phoenix. If the lead navigators role was picked on the O results, Colin would be starting with Jerome on the bench!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Thinking, thinking, thinking

Well, it must be 3 weeks out from the race as my little brain has started to tick into "Expedition Race Details" mode.

Experience of the last 3 races has shown me that there is absolutely no way you can be overprepared. Details, details, details are the things that make the race run smoothly. All that time training, all the money spent on gear, trips and the race itself - we owe ourselves the best run at the race. Sadly that means busy brains in the weeks before the race.

What sort of stuff am I talking about ? Well, last year I, the organisation freak, managed to kill my lights on the first leg paddle - saltwater and Silva L1 LED lights do not a good bedmate make. I had no spare light available for the 100km mountainbike leg - at night. Jerry thankfully had something but of course that meant we were already compromised - Day 1, Leg 1 and I had made a massive F&^%&$% up of it. Saying that, Jerry had also lost one of his trekking shoes in the paddle as well ! That made me feel better and a good trade was made as I have the same foot size as him and use the same shoes!. This year - waterpoof lights !!

It's all the little things that count - this is 700km, possibly 6 days. Sanitation and health are two key things - keeping your hands clean when eating and not sharing bugs with the rest of the team. So having settled on what bum cream to use (vaseline mixed with nappy cream by the way ...), small bottles of hand cleaner, wipes, anti-everything sprays, Nuun tablets - you name it. Then we get down to gear. Oh. My. God. Gear - where do you start ? Well we start with luggage allowances which mean we have to be quite efficient in what we take. We also know that there is a finite amount of gear we can spread around boxes and trunks. Key things - best quality gear we can get means light, quick drying and comfortable. Anything on top of that is a bonus. Good rain gear is paramount - thank you Earth Sea Sky in ChCh who make the BEST wet weather gear and first-layer gear you will find. Designed and made in NZ so support local. Warm comfortable feet with good sock - TICK, thank you Bridgedale Socks. We choose these socks as they are the best by miles so this year we are very lucky to have LOTS of socks. Good drybags thank you Seal Line. And of course FOOD - we learnt a valuable lesson last year and that is that not every race means we can use the same food. Everything we had we didn't want which was a bit annoying at times. This year we are onto it - I'm saying no more so as not to show our hand. However, as always our friends at backcountry Cuisine have given us access to their amazing dehydrated meals and we'll be munching on our favourites every day - porridge, muesli and yoghurt, roast chicken, thai chicken NOM NOM NOM. Amazing how good you feel after a proper meal. That stuff is already in tassie - you see, preparation is everything.

So why then am I contemplating building a Corflute bike box 3 weeks out ? Who knows....

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Sunny Wellington

From the hills behind eastbourne - It was as nice as it looks.

Another great day in the capital

With time a bit short for a big day out (rugby schedule is impacting our
training plans), we headed out for a paddle, trek, paddle around sunny
wellington. Harbour trip first, out round Matiu/Somes and over to
Eastbourne, then a trek behind Eastbourne (the bush tracks in there are
one of wellingtons best kept secrets) before paddling back to Kupe. A
solid 5 hours and back in time for a kip before the rugby.

Jerry has a new bike

After cutting short the ride last week, Jerry decided to splash out on a
new toy. After trying to kill himself riding it down the stairs at home
(luckily most of the blood missed the carpet), we persauded him to get
it dirty out and about round karori

Friday, 7 October 2011

Time to practise Speed Tourism

[DR] With only 3 training weekends left before we go, it is time to move
on to race specific training. One of our race strategies is Speed
Toursim, making sure we get as much local flavour out of our travels.
Where better to practise than in Wellingtons hidden gem - Karori. Much
maligned by ignorant Wellingtonians as having poor weather & traffic
issues, Karori is in fact a high altitude mountain biking nirvana. Once
above the cloud, and if suitably dressed to prevent shivering, the views
and single track are stunning. We restricted our mtb tour to 3 kms of
my house, so started with Wrights Hill (Deliverance, or Salvation for
the Wimps - Me? a wimp!), then into Makara Peak MTB Park for a look at
the route for Sundays PNP MTB race and out via Zacs and varleys, along
Skyline to take in some different views then down into the cemetary
across to the upper St Johns Pool track to the Scout Den, and a final
sprint up Wrights Hill. Back down the Burrows Ave track (now legal to
ride) before heading home for hot soup & bread. All is well.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

In 4 weeks we will be off and running

Only 4 weeks to go before the start of the 2011 Adventure Racing World Champs in Tasmania. We've just received the final competitors update from the organisers with a little reminder about gaiters - "we've seen lots of snakes in the area", dry bags (surely Tasmania is sunny and warm?), and not drinking unpurified ground water (as if I would after last race in Cairns).

They are also pushing Tassie as a tourist mecca in case we have time and/or energy t explore after the race so check out

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Putting the bike miles in

[DR] Another great day in Wellington. Needing some bike miles we
headed out on the Big Coast circuit. From Petone, south and east round
coast to the Wairarapa. A road section from Wharekauhau up alongside
Lake Wairarapa to the Rimutuka Incline. Over the incline and through
Tunnel Gully to the Hutt Valley, and down the berms back to Petone.
Sounds a straight forward 130km ride. Just to spice it up we invited
Barryn, Trevor and Samara - you know, just to keep the pace honest!
The pace line got a little streched at times but there were moments of
respite, like when Jerome broke his bike just avoid going any further,
and the coke stop in Upper Hutt. It was the best conditions any of us can
remember for the trip which normally involves cold, wind and rain. There
was a 30km head wind up the Wairarapa but that was generated by
Barryn and Trevor. The section from the Orongorongo River to Wharekahu
is in good condition and mostly rideable except for the soft sand.

AND we got back in time for the rugby. It was a great night in Wellington
to be Tongan. Colin was home alone with whiskey and ipad for England
Scotland game. The updates dried up after 60 mins but we think he is ok

Monday, 19 September 2011

Training we don't mention.

[CS] As an addendum to yesterdays post - We don't discuss Saturdays surfski paddle which had Jerry and I swimming around in Cook Strait looking for Happy feet before abandoning the plan and making for the nearest warm, dry land. Dave of course was having a whale of a time in the surf. Jerry and I have decided to reconvene in less lumpy, windy, cold water next paddle session.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Nice training session

[CS] Sunday saw 2/3 of the team (minus jerome) heading out for a decent length of bike/walk/bike. Weather wasn't playing ball despite being reasonably OK on the way out. We headed North up the Hutt Valley to 'Kiwi Ranch' which is at the base of Puffer Saddle - otherwise known as the Gateway to marchant Ridge and the wider Tararuas. A speedy bike up there had us starting to trek in an ever increasnig rain band. Into Smiths Creek was wet wet wet and the climb back out up to the ridge was hard work. Nice loop though. Getting back on the bikes the weather seemed to have turned from the South which meant a nice headwind. The pelting rain was a bit sore on the way into Te Marua and a dairy stop for Coke was just the ticket. Great grind back home though - if it isn't raniing then it isn't training.

Spot track can be found here (for all sessions actually) :

Monday, 5 September 2011

Great sunny weekend

(Col) Yet another fantastic weekend of chilly nights/clear days. After the last few reasonably hectic weekends it was nice to have some more time to actually indulge in life ! Saturday had Jerome, Dave and I heading out past the massive south coast swells to grind up the Tip Track. Welly really is the place to live for riding. 25 mins of uphill unleashed a single track-fest back into town. A quick ride over Newtown saw us installed in the Spa supping post ride refreshments. Very necessary. Sunday saw a lovely walk over the back of Eastbourne into the 'feature' - a crazy weird freaky natural spot where you stand with one foot in the stream and literally 2 meters away the stream passes you again 20m down. Odd thing is the bend in stream has no big drops or distance. Totally inexplicable. But very cool. A long jaunt out to butterfly creek and along the tops before we dropped into Eastbourne. Nice wander on a sunny day.
This week of course is Rugby World Cup - awesome to see then new All Blacks sign up near the airport and of course my first game on Sunday night - South Africa v Wales. Go the Leeks. Going to be tough to fit training, work and rugby in !!!.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Dave gets In a team photo

[Drudge] Nice ride, Petone, round Pencarrow, lap round the lakes and back via Wainui MTB park and the Pie Shop. They only had to wait for me a little bit (!) at the top of the hill.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Another magic adventure

I think the training is actually one of the best bits of our XPD adventures. This year has been no exception, we have seen some interesting parts of the Tararuas that is for sure. Tasmania was always going to be a real pull this year and it being the World Champs means we will, errr, get the chance to spend at least the first 10 minutes of the race with the big boys. Should be a lot of fun.

Team Bridgedale Socks NZ hit the snow

Well, after an exhausting search for quality sponsors, and with the help
of NZ distributor Ampro, has rebranded as Team Bridgedale
Socks NZ. We are really happy about it and so are our feet (we've all
been wearing Bridgedale socks for years, including the last 2 XPD
adventures). To celebrate we had a little training outing from Jill's
place in Petone, cycling up to Tunnel Gully and then walking up Mt
Climie to enjoy the snow. Not that we think Tasmania will be that cold,
but after Threbo we just like to be prepared for all conditions.

We are: Jill Westenra, Colin Slater, Dave Rudge and Jerome Sheppard
(and for the next 10 weeks to be addressed as Queenie, Percy, Nursey and

[DR] I wasn't in country when I was named Nursey - I hate my team! AND I
am not in the photo.