Monday, 4 January 2010

Digging in

Another very tough day at Epic camp (how many times will I roll that out?). After yesterday I thought I would be 'used' to the Kiwi rollers/SBH. I thought another day of the same would be ok, fun even. How wrong I was.

Lets back it up - the day started at 5.50am (urrgghhh) with a 2km run to the local pool in Whangerai for a 3km swim set. However the main pool was closed due to a 'chemical imbalance' so we decided to swim in the wave pool instead. At 27deg it was a touch warm for swimming and there were only 3 lanes for 25 athletes so a hot cram fest was in order. Still, its not called Easy camp is it? I was told it was a 30m length so set about 100 lengths as 50, 30, 10 and 10. After getting out we were told it was actually 25m so it looks like I was 20 lengths short. Some people heard this early enough to add the extra 20, some didnt (urrgghhh again). The structure of the camp allows you to make up the difference at another time so at some point i'll need to swim an extra 500m. This bad news was tempered by the arrival of Sam Warriner for her swim set. Ripped is not the word.

After running the 2km back to the accom. we had breakfast and I and the grupetto set off for the bike ride of the - 175km from Whangerai to North shore (just north of Auckland). Usually the grupetto comprises the slower athletes, however today one of the ladies decided to join the group, which might be ok unless that ladies name is Tara Norton, a pro Ironman athlete. As you can imagine the first 40k were very fast and I was doing as much as possible just to hang on the back. The surging started to take its toll and Tara and a few others pinged off the front after about 60km.

With about 75km to go the terrain really started to bite - rollers became proper hills. Grindfest hills where you go for another gear and get the dreaded resistance of a shifter already in bottom gear. Grindfest hills where you dont quite believe the power meter and heart rate monitor and you think the '180' is your cadence and the '80' is your heart rate and then realise through the fog of pain that you have mixed them up.

They just went on, and on, and on. A hot, late afternoon headwind sprang up to add to our misery as we all started to get very tired.

Finally we approached the final 20km and the gradients eased as we approached North Shore, the roads improved (more on that later - NZ roads deserve their very own civil engineering essay) and we could literally taste the recovery milkshakes. After exactly 7hrs on the road (ride time not including lunch and drinks stops) we arrived at the accomodation for the night. It seems everyone found the going tough - the front group still took 6hrs 30min!

We are staying at what seems like the NZ equivalent of Loughborough University - a massive sports complex with pools, gyms, tracks, courts etc etc where they build the stars of the future. Apparently i'm told the short portly gentleman in glasses playing pool about 10m from me now is the Australian national swim coach.

Tomorrow is an early start before catching a ferry to Coromandel where we will have an Aquathlon followed by another 160km to Matamata. Apart from two big KOM climbs in the first 30km, it should be much flatter. I'll believe it when I see it :-)

POTD today is me doing my best BlueSteel- just before the road started to get gnarly at about 50km into the ride. Apparently its one of the north islands best beaches. Had I known what was in store over the nest 5.5hrs, I would have just cycled straight into the ocean!


  1. Loving this Rob. Living it vicariously through you.
    Don't let the bastards (hills) grind you down.

  2. hahaha, Warriner & Norton in the same day, getting chicked can't be too bad eh? Making me feel bad about the same happening with Hector over the weekend ;-) - cenzo

  3. Gruelling but rivetting...full marks!