Epic Dark Spot!!

 

Contact Epic is one of those races I’ve always looked at and thought why would you ever want to do that? Then I found myself debating whether I would do the Epic (125km) or the Classic (95km). Everyone who has done the event has their opinion “obviously you want to say you’ve completed the whole circumference of Lake Hawea”, “The first 25km’s on the road sucks on a mountain bike”. Eventually, I committed to the Classic 95km’s thinking that would be a great enough challenge for my first go. Then on a drunken night at Kai, Shona North convinced me that I should be doing the Epic to the point that I sent an email to the organizers asking to change my entry! I ignored the reply that said it wouldn’t be a problem, lesson: don’t drink and email:)

Heading into the week of Contact I was feeling pretty run down, after a few big weeks at work and just a week after Naseby12hr Solo I was using all my brain power convincing myself I felt totally fine. I hadn’t had a chance to get back on my bike since Naseby other than riding to and from work and was starting to get concerned that my goal of 6Hrs 20mins was not even in the realm of possibilities. Being happy with giving it a go was going to have to do.

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Bracing myself for snow, wind, and rain I was pretty stoked for race day to come with warm ideal conditions. My race plan was to ride with Richard Woodward, who’d had the unfortunate experience of racing this in 2013 with some pretty horrible sounding conditions. I should have read his blog before I’d signed up –

Anyways we arrived at the Kids Bush car park with the sun just starting to rise, the traditional start song of Eminem – Loose Yourself starts to play. Rick is still messing around putting his bib shorts into place, adjusting something other none essential item “hey Rick umm…. everyone has started to take off from the start line ya think maybe we should go?” We were literally the last people to head off down the mellow looking 4×4 track, maybe this was a mental tactic because it did feel pretty good to race past the slower riders. We started up the first big climb and my gears started jumping all over the place…. ok not ideal. We get to the top of the hill after what felt like forever, Rick grabs my bike performs some sort of bike voodoo and she was all good to go.

There is no other way to describe this course but relentless- if you’re not climbing you’re in the midst of a technical downhill. This makes it challenging to eat or drink, I kept thinking ok at the top of this hill, no wait at the bottom of this one, surely there is a small flat spot around here somewhere. Dougal Allen and the fastest riders from the Epic (125km) started to pass us before we hit Boundary Hut (approx 31Km in). Man, they were moving SO fast it was very impressive. We crossed the Hunter River (burr) and started to head back down the other side of the lake, with a quick stop at the Green Bush Hut.

While heading up thru the grassy tracks I may have made a small comment to Rick about him maybe needing to go a little faster on the downhills as I was having to keep braking when I couldn’t get around him. Well, let’s just say he gave me “the look” and that was the last I saw of him. I definitely cursed him for a bit thinking of our conversation regarding the repair kit, “Nah we’ll just split it between us”. So there I was with a pump and no tire levers or any sort of tool hoping that I don’t get a flat or any other mechanical issue.

I’d managed to keep myself fairly positive all day, even though I was feeling pretty shit. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks I went from positive just peddling along to hating life! I got into a really bad dark patch like I’ve never experienced before. My body was achy and sore but mostly my brain was dragging me down, I don’t even know how long I was in this head space or what was happening around me at the time. There was just a circle of terrible thoughts running around in my head, “What was I thinking?”, Why do I keep putting myself through this?” “Is this all really worth it?”. I was so frustrated and annoyed at myself for feeling so useless. Eventually, I’d had enough and knew I had to give myself a pep talk, I still had a long way to go with no options on how to get there. I started to tell myself (out loud) “Yes you can, you don’t have choice so put a smile on your face and get on with it” I’m sure the dude biking past me at the time thought I was going a bit crazy:) It worked I pulled it back together started to enjoy the beautiful scenery and the amazing weather, I was here and doing it so no point making it miserable for myself.

When I got to the Dingleburn station my bike was making some sad squeaking sounds. I’ve never been so happy to see Franck who asked what I needed, I replied with “I don’t know umm yeah I don’t know.” He pretty much started throwing bananas at me filled up my water bottle, lubed up my chain patted me on my head and sent me on my way.

Having ridden this section a couple of times before I knew what I was in for with the last 30kms to go and a few good climbs left. I had a nice chat with a man while walking up the Timaru Creek hill together, so close but so far. Finally turning onto Cemetery Road into across wind blowing me all over the place just had to hang in a little longer. The music came into earshot and the pub just ahead, I was very happy to cross the line in 6:39:10.

What a day, what a course, the highs the lows it was a major challenge. The views are amazing, the terrain is relentless it is not just a little ride around the lake that’s for sure. I would like to say I enjoyed every minute but that is certainly not true. I learned a lot about myself and how to climb my way out of a dark spot which is a great accomplishment in it self. It always amazes me how powerful the brain is when you think you can or can’t do something, either way, you’re always right. With my first summer of races under my belt all, I can say is yes you can and you’ll never know till you try! What have you got to lose:) Thanks to Racers Edge Powered by Torpedo7 for the entry and Richard Woodward for the photos.

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The finish! I thought about not posting this photo but this is what it looks like when you’ve pushed yourself all day and believe me I feel exactly how I look.. exhausted:)
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Naseby 12Hour Solo!

I’d done the Naseby 12 hour mountain bike race before in a team of 5 and spent SO much time just hanging out waiting for my time to ride.

So this year we decided the perfect number was 3, one rider and 2 to keep each other company. February 1st registration opened and I was ready and waiting to secure our spot. Team name Bike Chicks, it was the best I could come up with on short notice. I was excited to spend the day with Nicky and Gracie, non competitive…. but obviously we were going to smash it:)

About 2 weeks out from the race Francis the Icebreaker rep said he had a team entry he could hook us up with. Which was totally awesome! Being that I’m super organised I had already paid for my entry and did think at one point I would like to attempt this as a solo rider.  With little encouragement I had opted out of the team and found myself going solo. Yikes!

I was pretty excited at the chance to race SOLO as most of the other events I’d done this season were in a team.  Hoping I could keep myself motivated and in a good head space without having buddies to rely on. Not really knowing what to expect I took on a lot of advice from friends who had done this kinda thing before. My favourite was “don’t skimp on the anti-chaffing cream” – seemed reasonable.

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The course winds through the camp.

Race day dawned to blue skies, which was a relief as it was raining the whole day before and I’m not the most confident in the mud. It was a Le Mons start which meant a little run around the camp and up a hill to spread out the riders. I wasn’t really prepared for what was waiting at the top of the hill which can only be described as pure chaos. The side of the track was lined with spectators holding bikes, yelling trying to get their riders attention, I ran along looking frantically for Kristal (camp mom and absolute legend) freaking out that maybe I’d ran past her without noticing. Finally she appeared ahead holding my bike, unfortunately I was on the opposite side of the track, I felt like I was going to get run over as I braved the sea of cyclists to get to her.

I knew the first lap was going to be my slowest, it always takes me a while to warm up and settle in. Also very aware that it was a long day ahead and didn’t need to go crazy straight out of the gate. Getting to know the course on the first couple laps, the muddy conditions sent me flying off my bike a couple times, my favourite being falling into the water race on lap 3, I was thinking you have got to be F-ing kidding me! Laps 4 to 6 felt really good, finally it was all coming together my heart rate had settled to where I wanted it to be, having a great time chatting to other riders, enjoying the beautiful tracks and the amazing day it was turning out to be. Then some nice person kindly reminded me I was only half way through. It was like a switch was flicked and all the little aches and pains came at once.

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Kristal preparing race food!

This was my chance to stop, have a proper food break, stretch,  change my clothes and load up on some ibuprofen. Feeling like a new person I hopped back on my bike for Lap 8. The best part of this event was the small chats you had with people as they were passing you or maybe in the off chance I passed someone with my slow and steady pace. Encouraging words from the team riders saying there is no way they could go solo, or bumping into the same people “how’s it going now” “still going which is good”. I did a few laps with Rick who’d helped me leading up to the race by passing on some of his knowledge in going solo, he was extra crazy opting for his single speed as his weapon of choice.

 

At the end of Lap 9, I was starting to feel a bit tired and thought instead of hammering the last fast section through the trees I’d be a bit more sensible and slow down…… I’m not entirely sure what happened but I ate Sh*t, landing hard on my left side, smacking my

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The after effects of my bail(s)! ouch:)

head on the ground, that did not feel nice at all! I spent the first half of Lap 10 telling myself this was the last lap, my goal was 12 but I said I’d be happy with 10, I’m tired and was probably going to kill myself. By the end of Lap 10 I had convinced myself to continue because I had come this far and am way to stubborn (I prefer determined) to give up. When I rolled into camp  I was pretty stoked to see Kristal dressed to ride the last couple laps with me (again she’s a freaking legend). Lights on full we ventured out for 2 more trips around the 11km loop.

12 Laps, 144 km, 11 hrs 35 mins and  7th in my category I couldn’t be more stoked with that!  Would I do it again? you bet. It was such a fun day. Great people on and off the course it was super social, what more could you ask for. I loved the challenge of pushing myself, the unknown of how my body would feel after 12 hours, and the amazing feeling of accomplishment when it was done. I’m not the best mountain biker in the world and yes I fall off my bike frequently but it’s not how you fall it about how quickly you get back up.

Link to Results below:

http://api.ning.com/files/4ZOdnxlws1UVw6DvJBWFWsSNX8jckx9mlOto6Rf8SelEtqt74QfVIWxt951i*J*5IMpbnYNW-bmtlIUTZXrhQJK*DQbIQn5M/2016Naseby12hrResults.pdf

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The after Shot!

What do you have to lose?

In August 2014 I under went a fairly serious knee surgery. Having grown up with a dislocating patella, I was SO excited at the prospect of being able to do sports without worrying my knee caps were going to pop off! In preparation for surgery I amped up my strength training at the gym, hoping that by ramping up my training the rehab post surgery would be easier. Originally I was told 2 weeks in a brace and that I’d be back to work in 6 weeks……..That’s not exactly how it went!

IMG_0931 The surgery it’s self consisted of relocating a tendon from my hamstring and attaching it to my kneecap to stop that pesky dislocation. Surgery was the easy bit; rehab is when the real work started! Lucky to have an amazing physio, the first time I got to see my knee (10 days post surgery) I was amazed at how quickly my muscles had disappeared and how foreign my leg felt. Trying to get my brain to activate the muscles around my knee (staring at them intently doesn’t work as much as you’d think), bending my knee 2cm was a massive achievement; this was going to take a lot of patience! It was the little things I found the most difficult like not being able to put on my own socks and underwear, walking down stairs was the scariest thing ever, forget moving a cup of tea from the kitchen! Mid September I got to sit on a stationary bike and it took 3 separate attempts (over a week) to make a full pedal rotation, the relief when I finally got it all the way around was overwhelming. This also meant I got to get back to the gym………spending hours balancing on the mini tramp, single leg squats and my personal favorite calf raises (oh so many calf raises). I was pretty determined to do everything I could to get myself back to where I was. Although I knew I was progressing it wasn’t till I got back to Tribe Life in the New Year that I really started to feel like myself again. I remember how I felt walking into the first session, so stoked to not be working out alone, I’m sure a waddled out of that class thinking something different. It was at least 8 months after surgery when the dull ache started to disappear and just in time for ski season. With the last 2 winter seasons (the longest I’d ever been off snow) a write off I could not wait to get back out there!!

The opportunity to do Spring Challenge, a women’s only adventure race came up and at first I thought, I don’t really do this kind of thing. After some pondering I came to the conclusion what do I have to lose, a day wandering around Wanaka with some rad chicks hey why not. Training for this started in May when the days are getting shorter and colder, it’s easy at this point to say “oh I’ll wait till a nice day” or I’ll do it tomorrow”. Something I’ve learned about myself thru this process is once I’ve set my mind to something there is no stopping me. I’m pretty sure my mom called me stubborn I like to think of it more as determination! Training during winter was interesting, getting out of bed to go for a run when its freezing cold, I defiantly rode my bike more then I’d done in winter before, and of course strength training at the gym. Not to forget that I was enjoying being back on the slopes! I was putting in about 8-10 hours of training a week.

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The adventure race format keep us guessing up till the night before as to where it would take us. We knew we would be rafting, biking and run/navigating but the area is massive with multiple course options. I felt more at ease once we got the maps and having home court advantage was a plus. We started with a run from the shores of Lake Hawea 2km to the Hawea River, then a nice paddle down to Albertown where our bikes were waiting. At this point we had to start navigating and looking for controls, which for anyone who knows me knows I have the worst sense of direction!! So easy decision to not allow me anywhere near the maps! Being local to the area did make this a bit easier for us, and our 40km bike ride landed us in Luggate, and onto a trek thru some amazing high country stations your would never see otherwise. This was the most challenging part of the race with a few steep climbs and extra controls that required some compass work. We popped out at the base of Mt Barker with just one more bike ride to round off the day. My legs were not enjoying being back on the bike but once we got going they came right (like they had a choice). From Mt Barker back thru Albertown, quick lap into the Hikuwais to finish at Eely point.

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Just over a year after surgery I completed the 80km event on a stunning Wanaka day, with 2 good mates by my side, totally stoked with the hard work I’d put in. To think at one point I didn’t think I could do it at all! I fully believe that if you think you can’t do something you probably won’t, but I would rather try and fail then not try at all because what do you have to lose? After Spring Challenge I was left with this thought of I know I can do more, push myself a bit further, I had defiantly started something. The only question now was what’s next?