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T-rex of Tri
Joined: 13 Jan 2005
Location: Wellington, NZ

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Below a couple of profiles on different sites:

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Races
 
Need to put some 2009 and 2010 results in here... in truth the last 2 good races I did were in 2008, couple of good halfs on hard courses, since then bad form, illness and bad execution have got in the way.

2008 Races

Ironman New Zealand- Taupo, NI
01/03/08
S3.8k B180k R42.2k
Time - S:1:13:08 B:5.20:14 R:4:04:02
Position - 257/1080
Happiness - 9.5/ 10
Great race, very solid result.


Challenge Wanaka Ironman - Wanaka, SI
28/10/08
S3.8k B180k R42.2k
Time - S:1:11 B:5.30 R:5:06
Position - 57/119
Happiness / 10 - 8
Great race, not great result.

2007 Races

K2 Road Race - Thames, Coromandel
28/10/07
B192k - 2300m vertical
Time - 6:54:13
Position - not 1st
Happiness / 10 - 6
Blew up at 100 miles!

Scorching Duathlon
2/9/07
distance 5/20/2.5
Time - 1:18
Position - 8 / 25(ish)
Happiness / 10 - 6

Levin Half Marathon, Taupo
5/8/07
R21.1k
Time - 1:38:00
Position - 83rd Open Male from 300+
Happiness / 10 - 7/10
Not fast but great to finish in one piece.

Wellington Half Marathon
24/6/07
R21.1k
Time - DNF
Position - Last
Happiness / 10 - 0/10
Through 5k in 7 min miles then hit curb and ripped hand up again Doh

Xterra NZ
15/4/07
B40k
Time - DNS
Position - Last
Happiness / 10 - 0/10
No chance of starting with hand.

Odyssey MTB ride - 300k
8/4/07
B320k
Time - DNS
Position - Last
Happiness / 10 - 0/10
No chance of starting with hand.

R&R series MTB race
1/4/07
B40k
Time - DNF
Position - Last
Happiness / 10 - 0/10
2.5k in and cut hand to smitherenes, 4 days in hospital

Wellington Standard Distance Champs
Very Windy Day - 18/3/07
S1.5k B40k R10k
Time - 2:28
Position - 15 / 60
Happiness / 10 - 8/10


Ironman New Zealand 3/1/07
S3.8k B180k R42.2k
Time - 11:47:42
Position - 395
Happiness / 10 - 7/10

McMillan Memorial Du - 28/1/07
R2.3Mi / B4.6Mi
<30 Mins
2 / 12
9 / 10 - Hello Mr Hurtbox!

Greenmantle Dash Hill Race - 2/1/07
R2Mi
22:47
51 / 119
6 / 10 - downhill poor

Edinburgh NYD - 1/1/07
S400m B11mi R3.5mi
S7:40 B36.59 R27.07 - 1:13:51
23rd of 317 finishers (less some teams) S41, B25, R43
7 / 10

Key:
Distances
Time
Position
Happiness / 10
Personal Bests
 
These need updated, the ones that I can think of that are wrong are: 5 Mile, beat this in the same trail race 3 years later.

10 Mile, I'm aware I've been through half marathon 10's quicker.


Run
5k - 19.46 - 25/9/05 (Scottish Aquathon Champs)
5Mile - 32.35 - 26/8/05 (Kilmarnock Trail Race (went faster in '06)
10k - 41.12 - 10/5/05 (Troon 10k)
10Mile - 72.21 - 8/5/05 (Deeside duathlon - gone faster in halfs)
1/2 Mara - 90.50 - 6/09 (Christchurch Half)
Mara - 3:41:21 - 2/10/05 (Loch Ness mara)

Bike
10 Mile - 22.51 - 07/11 (Old Loans Course)

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Challenge Wanaka 2014
Mon Jan 20, 2014 9:44 am T-rex of Tri
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Challenge Wanaka 2014

Why?

The whys revolve around writing this, this blog has lain dormant for quite some time now, I havenít felt the need to write about my exploits much more than just enjoying the moments that Iíve had in the last year. Any documentation Iíve done has been through YouTube or via an acquaintance I have in Wellington Paul Smith who wants to inspire people to ride through his writing a magazine and his website http://www.inspiring-riding.co.nz I really like his work, the writing is great to read, it reminds me of my love for the sport, whatever sport that may be, endurance sport let us say.

But this report is a race report, it doesnít belong to inspire other people, it serves to document what I did in the last year to get me to Wanaka in a state to remove another monkey from my back. I seem to spend time removing monkeys from my back, in September this year I ran the West Highland Way in 3 days (160k) something that had bugged me for some time after only getting to 80kís into in in 2003 when walking it with my brother before succumbing to terrible blisters.

Exorcising Wanaka was a different project, this was kinda exorcising the iron distance to me. Reading this blog youíll see a heap of race reports where I wasnít happy with my performance one way or another, youíll read of ďthis went wrong here, that went wrong thereĒ and some of those were just plain bad luck but I just couldnít match my personal best at the distance from 2008 where I went 10:46 on a wet day at Taupo. But was it about the time, Wanaka is a harder beast in so many ways than Taupo.

Reading through my race reports opens up negative thoughts over the years when Iíve struggled to continue and the distance has got on top of me. I had to break this down somehow.

How?

I looked a number of different ways of breaking down ironman, I reluctantly read Chrissie Wellingtonís book, I looked at some neuro-lingustic programming. I didnít go very deep into the latter, a book by the name of ďAs a man thinkethĒ piqued my interest though, itís a very well written piece with an overwhelming theme of not judging others and thinking positively yourself. One look at Chrissie Wellington shows you the power of positivity, you donít see people quite as positive as her, and I saw it in a number of long distance athletes over a range of biographies that I have read. I needed to change my outlook on iron distance, a positive mindset was important.

How would I get this though? Well Iíd remove every other competitor from the equation, Iím not racing anyone, Iím not going to Kona or wherever you go when you do well, I just want to be happy with my performance, that itís in the realm of the best that I can do on a given day, someone else does well well they obviously put in the work too and are reaping the rewards but to be honest Iím not going to be interested in you. To maximise my performance I need to take control of everything that I can and ignore everyone else.

Psychologically I knew the run was also an issue, but why? I had tidied up an ultra running demon in the last year that Iíd had since 2005 where I did my only ultramarathon at the Lharig Ghru running from Braemar to Aviemore, itís a brutal run and my head told me I didnít like to run those distances so stuck to up to marathon distance when all evidence pointed to my inspiration that I draw from endurance events. Iíd completed the Bedrock Ultramarathon comfortably, a 52k mountain race in the South Island and managed to very much enjoy it. I could do this ultra running, if I could do that then I could enjoy the run in an ironman. Iíve already stated I was removing everyone else from the equation, people pass me, well done to them, they may blow, they may not, weíll see, so it was just down to me, what other factors were annoying me that I could do in an ultra but not do in an irondistanceÖ

It appears breaking it down was the issue, the famous NZ coach John Ackland had always harped on about eating elephants and that you wouldnít do it as a whole but in little bitsÖ and that was what I did with long distance running. At the Bedrock we knew that we would hit hills and at those points if we couldnít see the top we would walk, on my West Highland Way run likewise, sure Iíd get there but it would take time. How do I incorporate this into my iron distance strategy? And could I train myself to do it?

Run / Walk Ė as a strategy

I had heard about the run walk strategy over the years, the team at http://www.imtalk.me featured it several times in their podcasts and studies that had been carried out on it. I read some writings on the endurance corner website about different protocols and what might work. I gave several a try and through about 5 iterations I found what I liked, 5 minutes of running and 30 seconds of walking, with that I could actually get close to around 4 hour marathon pace with no great worry about too long a running interval that it seemed insurmountable.

I trained this over months, people looking at my Strava running would have thought my pace looked odd but I wanted to race as I trained, but it was cruelly slow to train at. I turns out that for this distance it was what I needed. Psychologically I needed the reassurance that I only had to run 5 minutes then I could have a break, a short break at 30 seconds was just enough to reset my heart rate and off I went again.

This might just work.

Power

My other big new thing for this year was to be a powermeter. Iíd seen what data I could collect over the years and Iíd seen the numbers start high and slide away, mostly speed and heart rate, some days Iíd rock the first 90kís of an ironman bike leg in under 5 hour pace only to finish with a 5.30 bike split and little ability to run the run. So I invested in a power meter. I got the Stages powermeter, a new player to the market bringing the prices down. Iíve had so many troubles with it itís not really funny, warranty replacements, batteries constantly running out all sorts of things. However I was increasingly extracting data from it and allied to a few years using the http://www.trainerroad.com software I felt I knew what I was doing regarding FTP figures and along with the power meter bible written by Coggan and Friel had a good idea what a good ironman should look like.

So I had my number for wattage throughout the bike, I wasnít going to follow it religiously but I wasnít going to exceed it by 10% on any lap and if it fell away mid-race due to technical difficulties or a downhill lap, thatís fine. At the end of the day I lost the power data as I was using a separate garmin to record that data and accidentally wiped it. But needless to say Iím happy to have kept things good on a lap by lap basis (Iíd have loved to have heavily analysed it to compare to other great files Iíve seen),

The best application of power that Iíve seen is this article by David Bowden regarding power in long distance triathlon. http://speedtheory.co.nz/lesson-half-pacing/ I took a lot of this on board, Iíve a lot of respect for Davidís writing.

So, mental and pacing strategies in place, what else was needed?

Weather

This race was about me, weather was a factor but it wasnít going to influence the outcomes that Iíve talked about, heat would be difficult but if I got this right then it would only have an effect on the pace that I ran and not on how I evaluated my performance.

Supporters

This was an external factor that would play a part. Maria and her parents had came down to Wanaka to cheer me on. It was great, the bike course is pretty lonely, at times I wouldnít see anyone ahead for half a kilometre or more but they popped up 10 or 15 times with a cheer. I was determined to be happy and positive throughout and they helped that through the day, both on the bike and run.

To the race:

Swim - http://www.strava.com/activities/107685799

The swim at Wanaka is cold, 14.5 degrees we were told. Scottish people are kinda used to that. It was clear in the lake and there wasnít much wind, all good. My biggest hole in my training was a lack of open water swimming, I had tested my wetsuit once this season over about 200m in Lake Taupo at the end of November, I hadnít got in the water since. I donít like swimming in the sea, my mind wanders. I had done a lot of swimming in an open air pool and I kinda just hoped that Iíd done this enough times before.

It seems that I was fine. I got in, I swam, came out in 1:12 or thereabouts. Wanaka has never been a fast swim course, I donít know if itís long, I hear a lot of people blabbing on that their Garmin measures something long when theyíre slow but never the reverse, maybe it was, my Garmin did say 4.2kís, I felt I swam well and in quicker iron distance swims (Taupo and Roth) Iíve gone around 1:05 and the distance from my GPS measured those at 3.8k and not this long number. Anyway, I was out the water, all fine.

Bike - http://www.strava.com/activities/107685834

Around the first corner on the bike and my wheel is squeaking like crazy, I knew something was up, it turned out that the wheel had moved in the bike and was fouling against the frame. I stopped briefly, reset it and went on my way hoping that was it for mechanicals. It turned out it was.

I had no speed showing on either GPS unit I had on, just something telling me the speed of my 10k laps. These looked OK, I was focussed on keeping my heart rate in the zone I wanted and my power in the zones I thought were feasible for me. I rode, early doors some people overtook meÖ cool, have a nice day, youíre nothing to do with me.

I had some Soreen malt loaf left from my trip to Scotland in October. I suspect Poundland in Irvine hasnít fuelled too many iron distance triathlons but it was ambrosia to me. That was the first couple of hours of nutrition. The next few hours involved dropping some handups from the volunteers and relying on gels and then finally catching a cliff bar from one of them and a banana. I was fuelled, I had used some contingencies, but thatís why you have them.

Coming off the bike I knew I was around 5:30, less than stellar but on reflection really quite good on this course. Iíd rode it on my own and within the bounds that I had set. Best of all I felt like I was just entering the race, it isnít unusual for me to feel fresh at 5 hours of a bike ride given some of my other exploits, it was unusual for me to feel this way at this stage in a long triathlon.

Run - http://www.strava.com/activities/107685828

Transition was a case of putting on shoes and sorting out where to store some gels, I wanted to take my own High5 ones so as to have isotonic ones rather than the unknown Cliff gels and off I went onto the run.

I did my usual and found it nice and easy to run the first km at a reasonable pace but had my first 30 second walk to look forward to, at this point it was time to lose the ego, no macho man, no ďIím an ironman I donít walkĒ what we got at this point wasÖ time to walk, this will pay back later and walk I did, 30 seconds, the watch then goes a second time and Iím running again. It just takes the edge off the heart rate.

On through the kms and the run and walk was working nicely, no panicking as so often happened in the past, run for 5 and then walk for 30, no thoughts on not getting going when the watch told me, all very runnable.

The only change to the pattern was at the lap turnaround point where the crowds were a bit too big for a little walk so I did 2 running lots and had a minute rest a little later to make up. Onwards we went.

Now the marathon in these events often seems unending, a process of breaking myself down and wondering what I had done wrong, this one didnít seem so. It wasnít quick by marathon terms, but for me, at Wanaka on this trail marathon it was very respectable. I think my splits were almost entirely equal, about 2:09 each side and a strong finish after taking a little walk up the brute of Gunn Road. The final 6kís saw a team runner and myself run in together keeping each other motivated and running along nice and strong, there was no need for any more walk breaks, I had broken the jinx that had plagued me in these events for so long.

Run: 4:18 and genuinely satisfied with my performance, no one standout leg, just a triathlon where I did triathlon type thingsÖ thatís got to be a good thing.

Total time: 11:11.04 Ė I think at the start I said about the time I did in 2008 at Taupo and that was under 11, this wasnít but it was a very complete performance for me. Maybe this was the day I grew up and paced a few things a bit sensibly?


Conclusion

I came to the realisation a couple of years ago that even if I donít enjoy the races Iím doing Iím really enjoying the training. Iíve had some fantastic adventures the last few years and Iíve been all over the place having these adventures. Somehow itís now starting to pay back by having really enjoyable races, long may it last. More and more thinking to make performances better in the future, I have ideas for that and also for what races I might do in the future, as long as Iím enjoying what I do and doing it for me.
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'Mon the Biff

Bike Tales 4 - The Forgotten World Highway
Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:18 am T-rex of Tri
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The ride

Back into the two day tours for this one and this one is a doozy... about a year ago the wonderful cycling tips blog posted an article about a ride in New Zealand that was really worth doing. I realised it wasn't that far away and well worth riding.

The original inspirational and well written piece is here: http://www.cyclingtips.com.au/2012/04/new-zealand-forgotten-world-highway/

The reason

It had everything, a visit to another "country", a bit of gravel (big plus), a finish in Taranaki so some opportunity to visit friends there, stunning scenery and a lot of distance... what an opportunity to ride.

The other country reference is in regard to Whangamomona a small town that has "declared" independence from New Zealand. It has an independence day every two years and trains are chartered from Auckland to this wonderful pub in the middle of nowhere for a big party, you can apparently get a passport too.

The gravelly sections also had some appeal, it added to the wild adventure of it all and they really aren't too bad, some sections are difficult in the corners due to gravel piling up but really nothing that can't be handled by a good road bike with 25mm tires. Maybe not your favourite carbon bike but your bike that you use to train on (we all have one don't we?)

Also, I'd been saying for years that I needed to make a visit to Taranaki, a wonderfully quirky part of NZ with a huge dominating volcano in the middle that defines a lot of the topography of the area. It's a great place but really cut off from so much of the rest of New Zealand. Chris Rose of this parish (edlscre) had introduced me to his friends there and we skyped Chris when we got there which reminded me of when I arrived in NZ 5 years ago. They really are like family and so kind in looking after me.

The journey

I had planned for 2 days of cycling and a lot of driving to get there and back, I left from Lower Hutt at 4 o'clock in the morning. I got to Bulls to be the first customer at the drive through at 6 a.m. I'm so proud of this fact and chomped down a quick breakfast. Passed through W(h)anganui soon after this and onto National Park... stunning views on the drive up, Mt Tongariro was having a week of being grumbly so there was a smell of sulphur in the air and I certainly hoped not to have to drive round any lava on the road.

I got to Taumaranui and parked outside the police station, seemed a sensible place and off I went on my bike after getting changed. I was packing as light as possible as my back gets a bit grumbly with a rucksack on. I was going to borrow some jeans and t-shirt from my friends in Inglewood for the evening, so no need to overpack my gear. I probably took too much food as the sort of stuff I was eating was readily available in dairies the next day, so carrying 2 days worth of food not so smart... but all good.

Off I popped... the ride itself was great, all the scenery as described in the report above, the classic "King Country" rolling hills, up and down all day, no long rides along valley floors, just up and down, up and down. I saw little by way of people, the odd house along the way, the odd dog barking from their kennels on farmers properties.

There was a tunnel just after Whangamomona which was pretty freaky to go through... lights on through there but generally it was just up and down all the way. The gravel section prior to the town was well compacted and really nice to cycle. The second gravel section was a little more serious as I had to climb parts of it and there was big collections on the corners meaning I had to unclip and clip back in as I found traction.

Eventually I reached New Plymouth (180km) and had to work out how to get to my accommodation for the evening at Inglewood, this is where the topography comes in, New Plymouth is on the coast, Inglewood is inland, and that is where the volcano has its effect. I found I had to climb for much of my last 20k's in the dark. Physically I was fine (bar a slightly sore back from the rucksack) but it was just a bit of a pain. I got up to Mark and Tigger's place which is on an unlit road knowing I was just short of 200k... but I wanted to get in and be done with my day so I didn't tack on the extra half a km.

Great day 1: http://app.strava.com/activities/18033023

A couple of beers were consumed of the evening at Mark and Tigs place and multiple cups of tea then bed then up the next day for day two.

Day two

Day two was to be the shorter day, we had came down from the high plateau on the first day (except the last 20k had claimed back that 200m in altitude) so it was going to be lumpy on the second day with many saddles to climb, I was going on a different route missing the trickier section of gravel out.

About 50k's in and soaked to the skin I was a little worried about this little ride... I was stretching my back out, standing forward fold a standard stretch being very popular for me along the way, almost every 10k's. This was where I decided that for future long jaunts I'd want a pannier rather than a backpack (http://www.freeload.co.nz) for all of you out there needing a rack for any bike at all... seriously good (but that's for future epic bike adventure posts).

I was making progress however it was a little slow, I figured this ride should be 150k's... I was wrong, it was more like 170, all good... I chugged along getting wet, talking to animals along the way (there were a lot of goats and cows to chat to), just proper wild farm and bush country that there is so much of when you get out of the cities in the north island... great stuff.

http://app.strava.com/activities/18033017

Eventually back to the car, still happily sitting outside the police station and drive back through the dark to Wellington... I think I went to a further 2 McDonalds on the way home... can't beat a bit of undoing all the good work you've just put in.

I'll upload some photos to here so as non-facebook friends can see my own perspective of this great ride but for now, if you can here are my facebook photos.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151184416196756.507604.719386755&type=3

Another great New Zealand biking adventure.

Plug for similar stuff

Someone I don't know from Wellington seems to be doing something similar and is going to try to make a professional magazine from his bike adventures, should make a great coffee table read, so if you like this kind of stuff but better told and nicely printed up then have a look here and think about pledging to them. http://www.pozible.com/index.php/archive/index/8979/description/0/0

I'm not in any way affiliated to them, but sounds great to me and I'd love to see it produced.
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'Mon the Biff

Bike Tales 3 - The extended Taupo Loop
Wed Oct 31, 2012 10:17 pm T-rex of Tri
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The Adventure

This one is just a one day and a fairly short description of a lot of fun. Maria and I happened to be up in Taupo one weekend and so I thought I'd do a lap of Lake Taupo, the destination for the 2 lapper that I'm doing in November and then I thought I'd add some extra in.



As you'll see in the picture above and file below the little addition was actually a huge addition in terms of climbing taking me up towards the ski fields and Mt Ruhapehu and Nguruhoe (Mt Doom from LotR fame).

http://app.strava.com/activities/12786113

The Reason

This ride was to simulate cycling the last 50k of the twice round Taupo route feeling tired and also to take me over the 200k mark for the first time ever. And also to reacquaint myself with climbs that I know reasonably well from having been round the lake a few times. It reinforced the view that going round the lake isn't easy in itself and going twice round will be tough.

It also gave me heaps of climbing and an opportunity to take in some of the fantastic scenery around National Park and time in Taupo is always good.

The highlights

Icy Start: I think I left around 7.30 to 8... Taupo sits at 300m elevation and so the first couple of hours were still icy (it was in winter but a lovely still clear day).

Right turn to Whakapapa: The ride up into the high country was a proper tough hill, categorised a "2" on strava so clearly pretty up there and it was very steep in parts.

Hitting 200km: I remember celebrating rather when I hit 200km for the first time ever, my previous longest rides had been the K2 cycle race at 192km so this was a cool thing to do.

Not to do: I got a craving for milk 50k's from home... downing a litre was a silly thing to do... so note to self is don't do this in future.

The aftermath

The next day I had entered a 10k trail running race... man that was fun, my legs were nice and toasted and I was pretty tired. But hey I did it, I got some ridiculous placing like in the top 10... http://app.strava.com/activities/12786128 but as you'll see it wasn't fast (most of the good runners were in the half marathon running at the same time).

I think I was (as ever) getting over a calf injury or something similar so it was just good to take part in a "race" and enjoy it. Running races when phrased the right was can be a lot of fun. Although the xterra model we have local of giving a rough time for completion is better than giving a distance... but maybe that's just me.

I don't know how I've described 210km and 2700m of climbing as not that epic... but there you go, this was a great ride for sure.
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'Mon the Biff

Bike Tales 2 - The Big Coast
Tue Oct 30, 2012 2:38 am T-rex of Tri
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3 weeks after my first bike adventure came the second on the list, The Big Coast, logistically a pretty sensible and easy trip to do. Leave the house, turn left, about 40k later hang a right, 40k later hang a right, 40k later hang a right. Problem with it being that it was on a mountain bike as much off road as possible and as it was Wellington it would have been rude to do it without a gale force wind.

It became a very grand day out.

Reason

This one is a bit of a mythical tour for local bikers, there had been a long established 2 day event called the Big Coast for adults to take their kids out for long bikes, a cut down version of this starting in Upper Hutt and finishing at Eastbourne. I think it doesn't run any more due to lack of funding but links still exist in the back end of the internet.

For me camping would have meant too much time away from home so a one day epic and it was good to do as I didn't fancy spending a day on the road with the gale force winds forecast so the mountain bike was a good idea.

The Ride

I'll need to look out some photos I took along the way, I've got them somewhere, it looked like this on Strava: http://app.strava.com/activities/11498823

From what I can see (I ride this road a bit so the specifics are hazy). I've ridden up the Hutt River trail a gentle off road track with occasional on road bits to get the distance done quickly but I've headed off road at Maymorn and gone to Tunnel Gulley to ride up the Rimutaka Rail trail, another great local resource of a 10k trail that winds at a slight gradient up to about an elevation of 400m.

Coming down the rail trail on the other side was a new thing for me and the tunnels on this section which are totally unlit were quite an experience, my light wasn't nearly up to seeing anything in the tunnels, there were 2 or 3 of them and I was regularly disoriented by them and had to stop in them.

Coming out of the rail trail and back onto the road I had a 40k section to the coast. On coming out here were a bunch of triathletes with time trial bikes and tri bars on doing a downwind time trial... so what else would Andy do on his 29er but join in. After I'd overtaken some of them going at 35kph I thought that was a bit silly. So just kinda cruised out to the coast.

I took a bit of a wrong turn at Onoke Spit a wildlife reserve in the middle of nowhere and spent 20 minutes looking about out there before getting back on the road to get to the actual return leg.






The South East coast between Wainuiomata and the Wairarapa is really bleak with nothing out there, one of the best sights was the Mukamuka valley, I had run up there in the Munter race the year before and it was great to see it again but the wind was really stirring and forward progress was difficult. Even riding sections I was taking over an hour for 10k's progress... very tough with brutal terrain and headwind.



Eventually I got to the end of the Wainui road and had about 50k's to get home but the wind was so strong that riding the road was impossible, I got turned right round at a wind funnel uphill at one point so decided to head into the unknown land of the East Harbour Regional park... this was quite good fun actually but again brutal wind. It just meant less time to get to Eastbourne which was a bit of a refuge and place to get some coke into me.



So my lovely little 8 hour ride became a 9 hour 52 epic of epic proportions, I think I got back just before dark. But well worth doing to see around Wellington.
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'Mon the Biff

Bike Tales 1 - Pongaroa Trip - June 2012
Sun Oct 28, 2012 10:38 pm T-rex of Tri
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The first of the epic trips was relatively low key, go to somewhere that is literally in the middle of nowhere one day, return the next. Pongaroa is not known to many New Zealanders, a backwater farming town which I think is still in the Wairarapa but might be more in Bush country or even Hawke's Bay. It's just over 100 miles from home and a two day trip was called for.

Why?

An obscure start to biking adventures isn't it? Well yes and no, it was close enough to make a good 2 day trip but far enough away to be an epic adventure. Further the place had some history, when I moved to NZ 5 and a bit years ago much of my time in Wellington was spent staying in Plimmerton and particularly at a fantastic backpackers by the name of The Moana Lodge. The Moana Lodge was loosely twinned with this backpackers up in Pongoroa and some of the residents of one went up to this backwater escape to stay.

The Pongoroa backpackers is basic but did a great job for me and the owners looked after me like a member of the family it was great, for only 30 dollars they gave me a bed and had me round for dinner and to watch a Super 15 game which they really didn't need to do, just lovely folks. It was a bit of a right of passage going there and highly enjoyable.



The ride

Easy enough, 100 miles each way, big obstacles along the way were the Rimutaka hill range and any other unknown hills along the way that I might come across. Stops on the route were Masterton at around 90k's into the ride and nothing much else, most of the route was pretty much empty farmland as I found a lot about on my trips around NZ.

Masterton brought soup and pie and custard square... a holy triumvirate.



The ride suddenly got interesting on the way from Masterton to Pongoroa as a stone caught between my tyre and brake. It has happened before with running 25's and these brakes but this time it tore the tyre. No puncture on the way up but I kinda knew it would come.


So I rolled along on this tire to my destination which was just short of Pongaroa and about 162k's. A grand day out: http://app.strava.com/activities/9977400

I opened up the tire and put in some puncture patches as a makeshift tyre boot but really I should have had an old tyre puncture boot for the job which I've since instigated in my touring kit, still minimalist but just an added get there sort of job. Unfortunately on remounting the tire I puncture a tube but that's ok, still got one spare and one to go into the tyre. And then patches.

Return

So after a night being fed by the owners of the backpackers I returned, I hoped to Wellington, the ride on the first day was in fact slightly uphill, so downhill on the second day, yay!

About 40k's into the ride I got my first puncture... ok... it's fine... fix and go. So I did that... then about 5k's later my second... at this point 160k's was looking unlikely. So I was into patching the tubes I had with my puncture repair kit. That worked... for about 5k's... Hmmm... I switched the tyres on the wheels so it would be on the front wheel with the fraying which I should hopefully be able to put less weight on... Mmmn, puncture again after about another 5k's... so 55k's into my ride back and I've given up hope of fixing it.

Options: 1. Hitch - well there are about 5 cars come on this road in a day, that's not a great plan.
2. Get to Masterton riding on the rim and get to a bike shop, hopefully something will be open on a Sunday.
3. Hope that the train will somehow be available on a Sunday, they only run one or two a day.

Option 2 was taken, with a punctured front, I know I can ride low speed with that and take the corners very slowly. Now, if you've ever tried to ride with a flat front for a long way you'll know that it really goes for your shoulders (I found this surprising). A slow run back to Masterton was taken and I started looking for bike shops... all closed... maybe The Warehouse would stock some inner tubes, they stock Bike Shaped Objects so maybe an inner tube would be possible... nope, nothing in 700c anyway. So my second day was short but hard! http://app.strava.com/activities/9977526

So I was left to look at train timetables and a curtailed weekend... but still a great adventure. Thankfully the Masterton train was going at around 6 so I just had a bunch of hours to wait (I think about 4) and it dropped me off within a couple of k's of home, which gave me some time to hang about at a bakery for a bit before waiting at the train station with an iPod and phone for company.



All good but a tough start to the epic adventure series! Very Happy
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'Mon the Biff

Coming soon - the big bike's roundup
Thu Oct 25, 2012 11:02 pm T-rex of Tri
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Long time no blog... story of life at the moment. Much has happened since I posted my "season over" blog, most notably had a wonderful marriage in April which went super well. Mostly thanks to the lovely Maria and her family who did a great job of organising things.

Since then I've also done a bunch of fun stuff and am about a month away from a "race". I say "race" as I'm not sure that 320km on a bike is ever much of a race but more an endurance challenge for me and my own mind.

I'd say that I've been training for this "race" but to be honest I've just been having awesome bike adventures and I am going to do some documentation of these adventures for posterity in here. I've posted albums on facebook and files on Garmin / Strava but it would be good to have a little textual description here too.

When I set out on these adventures I had a number of accessible adventures that might require some light touring or overnight stays and I have done all but one on my extended list of tours / rides / adventures with some other epics thrown in. It has been great. I'm not sure it has made me fast but I've got a few good ideas for how to do this long ride twice around Lake Taupo in a month's time.

My challenges were completed in the following order and I'll describe them in future blogs:

    Pongoroa Trip - 240k 2 day
    Extended Taupo / Rangipo Trip 210k 1 day
    Big Coast 150k 1 day MTB
    Forgotten World Highway 370k 2 day gravel sections road bike
    Arthur's Pass / Methven Tour 570k 3 day tour
    Motueka Takaka Hill tour 520k 3 day tour


Outside of these trips I think I've done 2 200k rides and probably 8 or 10 centuries, it's been a great voyage of discovery. I have a bucket list down the side of the blog... I guess this was pretty much my bucket list of rides in and around Wellington(ish) and I feel the need to write about them for myself.
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'Mon the Biff

Season over... all good...
Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:26 pm T-rex of Tri
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To the folks reading this from home it may seem a little odd, you're just heading into spring but for us Southern Hemisphere types that's pretty much it for the season. Time to get the muddy shoes out and run off road for a bit, go and hopefully try some cyclocross this year for giggles and most importantly of all, go get MARRIED to the wonderful Maria. It's an exciting time.

Getting married also means a trip to the South Island which is awesome, I love going down there, in fact I'd like to live there one day... bit more confidence in my own work (less procrastinating more doing) and I'll feel good to make the move from the well endowed Wellington market I'm sure.

So, a bit of a round up of races and thoughts for the future seems appropriate.

National Champs - Standard and Sprint

Since my last blog I've done 2 national champs as part of the Contact tri series. It was cool to be involved with the Contact races, they are the biggest short triathlons in the country, well run, probably over run with technical officials though (but I think I might rant about them more later) and great for giving people the 2nd or 3rd step in their triathlon lives.

I say this as most people will do some sort of local tri first, maybe a woman's tri or a "scorching" tri as we have here in Wellington, then they can move on to the bigger event. It's great to race against the guns of the age group sport in NZ but you might be a bit overwhelmed if you did it as a first up. I think they fill the gap for the short distance that iron distance does in the longer events.

How did I go in these, well quite well for me. The sprint nationals were first on a very lumpy course in Kinloch.

Swim - http://connect.garmin.com/activity/147566797
Bike - http://connect.garmin.com/activity/147566800
Run - http://connect.garmin.com/activity/147566805 (not all, made a Garmin oopsie)

The winner came home over the hour which showed how tough it was, I finished in 1:12 which although not great for me in a sprint given that the swim was about 100m long by my reckoning it was enough to qualify me for the NZ AG team for the world champs in Auckland. I chose not to take the spot for a couple of reasons... one was money and where I'd like to put it at the moment with the wedding coming and secondly I'm kinda waiting for Scotland to have its own AG team, racing for NZ is cool but it's not really the same (I'm qualified and have raced for them in past).

Nice to be in the qualification slots though.

The national standard distance champs were on Saturday just passed. The Wellington course if usually guarded by our legendary fierce winds but is a generally flat course with a run along the front so is very similar in many ways to the likes of a Portobello tri from back home.

I had all the toys on the bike, disc wheel, front tri spoke aero helmet so was hoping for a fast bike split but was determined not to sacrifice a good run. I've done some good work with power for the bike and some intervals for swimming and biking, so was keen to see how that would help, at Kinloch I was just 2 weeks after Challenge Wanaka, at Wellington I had 6 weeks to prepare for going fast.

It went very well:

Swim - http://connect.garmin.com/activity/156330411
Bike - http://connect.garmin.com/activity/156330415
Run - http://connect.garmin.com/activity/156330419

All up for a 2:13:25 time which was way outside expectations, I wanted to go inside 2:20 to get a pb by a couple of minutes but to grab 8 minutes of pb was fantastic. Very chuffed.

On reflection I'm a little disappointed in losing a bit of focus on the bike in the 20 - 30km section. My zip came undone on my trisuit right down to my belly button and I faffed trying to do it up and also lost some aero benefit. I was also distracted on the out and back around here by the packs of riders forming behind me. The 35-44 age groups were set off 5 minutes behind me and the top boys from those age groups were forming into "pace lines" and frankly just cheating. It's disappointing that this is the way that triathlon is going.

I shouldn't let this distract me and focus on my own performance, I rode entirely on my own as I'm too slow a swimmer to be in with fast people, and just picked people off and left them all the way through, the group of the top 35-44 didn't catch me and I was well placed in my age group coming into transition just behind a Kona qualifier from last year who I had been catching towards the end of the bike leg, all good.

The run is the place I know I'm going to lose some places, but pacing it well should leave me with a good time. I'd been underperforming at Olympic distance for a while so really tried to focus on a sensible start and doing well throughout the run. So I was horrified I couldn't slow myself below a 3:59 in the first km when I knew a good run would be made up of 4:15's throughout... so I just tried to slow it a bit early... and managed to a little... it was getting very hard by 7 and 8 km in but pushed through those to finish relatively strongly. A 42.05 is, I think my 3rd fastest 10k ever, I think I've only run 2 41's... and this in a triathlon. Gotta be chuffed with that.

So all good... 16th in my age group in the nationals. Not enough to make the Age Group Olympic distance team (well in truth I didn't go to the roll down, it's possible it was, well within the 20% cut mark). Lots of good competition for people to get into worlds teams... good to see. I'm genuinely a bit bemused about the drafting and the fact that people seem to think that 1. They can't not do it and 2. It's what everyone is doing so is fair. Triathlon has a problem if that is the case. But for me, did it myself, did well, well done Andy. Very Happy

Time Trialling

And talk of drafting leads me to the return of one of my old loves. I did some time trialling this year, man I love that sport, so brutal so right... 25m draft zones, awesome.

Our course isn't a drag strip sadly, it is 4 laps, so lots of U turns and it's 23.6km long so no 16.07km as I'd like to do but it is great to just have a bunch of not cheating cyclists smashing each other to bits and it does have a few hills.

It has been great knocking out speeds in excess of 41kph on what is a hard course. I'd love to do the New Zealand nationals for time trialling, I'm finishing top 5 most of the time in these Wellington ones... I think if I can drop another minute somehow I could think about how to get into these. It's not like a triathlon bike split where your time seems to be influenced by where you come out the water, this is pure it is honest.

I've been glad to find these this year as it's the first year I've done the weekly Wednesday night ones, awesome speed work, great workout.

Ironman(ish) spectating

Onto a less bright spot of the season which was Ironman NZ. This year a "weather bomb" was predicted for race day that meant the race was postponed to a half ironman on the Sunday (it won't ever be a 70.3 in my book, stoopid name). As it turned out they could have had the race on the Saturday but NZ civil defence people wanted to keep their jobs and essentially banned the race from going ahead as it should have.

Maria had trained really hard for this event, her swimming had came on so much, she has a couple of nasty shoulder injuries but had really worked on her strength, her cycling is incredibly strong for a girl of her weight, her power numbers really stack up great and although constrained with her running due to injuries was so very fit for her race. So it was very disappointing for her that she didn't get to start as she should have in the full distance.

The half distance race had some issues with a choppy swim, it seems when they remeasured the course they had it at about 2.1 to 2.2 km's and this fits with Maria's Garmin and her time. Which is disappointing, times were also slowed by a bit of chop and Maria struggles with one of her shoulder injuries to clear herself out of the water properly on her stroke and chop from the side really gets in the way.

Onto the bike and massive bunches formed. Which is an awful shame, I've already made my views on drafting clear, but it was a real shame, more so than the standard distance champs, this was groups of 50 or 60 riding 3 or 4 wide out on the course. The over-penickity technical officials don't really seem to do their job with this sort of nonsense. Hand out at the start of the group, hand out at the end, ping them all I say.

Maria as a strong cycling girl gets into even more trouble with this as if she passes a man then he'll try and pass back as she's only a girl but just go past and slows down... apparently quite a few folk behind her got pinged. But she is quite down about all the people who got away hiding in groups up ahead and getting massive advantages. I've been explaining how well she did and how proud she should be of being honest and not just joining in the stupidity.

It makes it hard to assess friend's times too, some of them I'm sure have gone well and honestly so but who do you congratulate in this sort of situation? I better stop ranting... but generally disappointed.

Anyway, at the end of the day Maria got a personal best for the distance in very trying circumstances, she did very well, I'm very proud of her.

What next

Really at the moment, it's all about marriage, not that far away. Then we'll think of the next challenge. There may be a marathon on the horizon, possibly a trail one. Possibly a 310km sportive I promise myself each year and then possibly Challenge Wanaka again, we can but see. An exciting time, it's fun coaching myself and seeing where I can get gains, it strangely gives me a sense of pride in what I'm doing rather than sheepishly following a routine as I might be guilty of otherwise, making sessions count rather than clicking off numbers.

All good fun... I've written too much, sorry for making you sit through it. Very Happy
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'Mon the Biff

Challenge Wanaka - great day, great event
Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:36 pm T-rex of Tri
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I make no secret of it, I'm a fan of Challenge Wanaka. There's something magical about it, it holds a special place in my heart. It's the combination of the challenge company not filling us with "You are an Ironman" crap (it's a tough endurance race get on with it), the nature of the course and the nature of the competitors who go to such a race where you're trying for your best time on the day and not some wonderous personal best found by racing with either thousands of people or on the smoothest of roads.

It has been described as a tough man's course, I think that gives me added motivation for it. The last couple of years have been very testing with wind.

Bit of history around race

My history around this race is fairly long, I've done 4 now, I missed the first one and I missed the one in 2009 when I chucked a lot of eggs in a fast time basket at Taupo.

2008 was a great year for me at this race, my parents came along and as much as I had a tough run I was very pleased to finish the race coming back from my double hand surgery and associated weight gain.

2010 was a terrible year at the race for me, being sick multiple times on the run and ruining a bottom bracket on the ride making completion quite a reasonable milestone.

2011 was a great year personally, dubbed the hardest race ever in the Challenge series due to near gale winds on the bike. I sat in a portaloo on the bike course wondering how I'd ever finish. I battled through it and although not a fast time a great top 50 placing really pleased me.

So this race means lots to me, it doesn't offer up fast times, it does represent a place where I enjoy racing.

Race

Race morning came along and we knew it wasn't as bad as the year before, but there was wind and it appeared to be the North Westerly as the lake was chopping up. This is the bad wind for the course, choppy lake and tough bike from 110km to the finish. I knew from this point that pb's were not on the cards, this didn't mean that a great race wasn't.

Swim

My enjoyment of biffo in the swim is almost nil these days, I don't like being touched never mind punch or kicked so I started wide and at the pack of the swim. The first leg which is the longest leg was about 800m into the chop so a slow leg anyway and I spent much of it going forwards, getting to the corner I passed some guys doing breaststroke, that made it fairly clear that I wasn't going too fast.

The 4th leg of the swim was straight into the sun and I had decided that I wanted to use my clear goggles today, silly really the tinted ones would have been better. I think I had some issues sighting and wasn't unerring in swimming in.

On the conclusion of the swim I knew it had taken me a while but I knew it to be a slow one due to the chop and the genuine sighting troubles I was having. 1:15 was one of my slower swims at the distance but I knew my fastest times came from my slowest swims.

On investigation of my garmin files with the swim mode on it looks like I swam 4.3 km, the swim mode works quite well in open water, and from people's general times it does appear that it could be really quite long. All good, certainly better than doing a race with a short leg.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/143961415

Bike

Onto the bike and the main thing for me was to control the effort on the bike, something that I did well in the strong winds the year before up till about 110km, this year I intended to do it throughout. I thought I was fit enough for this to lead to a good bike time regardless of effort I was putting out. I hadn't done a single century ride since around September so there was some uncharted territory to enter but had been doing a lot of speed work so was hoping this would balance everything out.

The first stage to Glendhu Bay just cheers you up, it's amazingly scenic, you just get a big smile on your face riding that part. My HR was in the right sort of numbers although my HR strap needed occasional adjustment due to the static issues that can arise giving erroneously high numbers. Generally I stayed seated and just dropped gears on hitting hills.

Much of the bike was uneventful, just going relatively slowly throughout staying in control. I did need to stop for a pee at one point and had a lovely chat with the marshals / helpers. Peeing on the bike wasn't working and needed to really get rid of lots of liquid. This might have cost me 90 seconds or whatever but comfort on the bike is far more important and that wasn't going to be attained by doing little bits of pee on the bike.

My HR profile increases a bit on the graph below but that is because towards the end I stopped clearing the static in the top. Generally I'm happy it stayed consistent throughout, too often I've started high and fell away. Some work with finding out LTHR numbers lets me know what I can do.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/143961419

Run

Then to the run. Another long pee in transition which is fine, I was obviously reasonably hydrated, I also felt ready to run. Slow is fast is my mantra on Ironman running, and I know that I'm going to have to watch people pass me.

I was all good to about 11km's when we hit Gunn Road the toughest bit of the course and decided to walk up it. That was fine but I didn't quite have the gusto after that and had my struggling part of the run, I had no idea of what times I was on for just looking for good execution. The end of the first lap was a walk for me to keep the HR low and get ready to embark on the second lap. It was a bit tough walking past the amazing crowds but I needed it to have my special needs bottle of cold tea to prepare me to go.

The second lap of the run was for me to start on the coke, I hadn't had caffeine up to that point and this worked well for me. It meant when I finished I felt really good and was very chatty.

Coming into the last 1km I felt really good and it's amazing when you loosen up to a good jog and did the last km in 5:12 it felt great! Was very satisfied after my last 2 long distance races that had been real let downs this was just great:

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/143961421

It was my 2nd fastest Iron distance race (11:12) and I'm very proud of the performance, the way it all came together. On a less windy day maybe it would have been under 11 hours but who cares really, I'd overcome a hard day.

Next year

I was thinking that would be it for Iron distance but frankly I love the holiday in Wanaka and so does Maria, so I think we're going back next year.

http://www.marathon-photos.com/scripts/event.py?event=Sports%2FRSNZ%2F2012%2FChallenge+Wanaka&new_search=1&match=313

And I do love the challenge of the long race, I still need to get over what it does to your head and race through it... it's all in the challenge.

So that's the report, very pleased with it!
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'Mon the Biff

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Bucket List
 
To Do

Races
Coast to Coast
WHW Race
Ben Nevis Race
Powerman Zofingen
Kiwi Brevet

Places
Mt Tapi
Ayer's Rock - Uluru
Great Barrier Reef
Japan (Keirin Race watching?)
Belgium (CX race / classic watching?)
North Island's 3 big volcanoes - Ngurahoe,Tongariro, Ruapehu and Taranaki.

Things
NZ's great walks
Concert with Biffy Clyro, Muse
Canoe the Whanganui River
Ride a horse on a beach
Ride bullet train / tgv

Done
Sporting
Marathon
Olympic Triathlon
Ironman
4 * Hole in One
World Champs
Challenge Roth
Watch Scotland play in RWC
Spectate Tour de France (Alp d'Huez and TT stages 2011)

Places
New Zealand - all over
Niagara Falls
Swiss Alps


Things
Go Ferry to Ferry on Arran
Seen the All Blacks play
42 Traverse MTB
Tongariro Crossing
Drink some kopi luwak coffee
Saw Radiohead Live
Epic Bike Rides
 
Links to epic rides series:

Pongoroa 2 dayer
The Big Coast
Taupo 210k
Forgotten World 2 day
Arthur's Pass / Methven 3 day
Motueka / Takaka 3 day





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