Thursday, 14 January 2010
The Final Push
And now we enter the final chapter in this journey. The final push to Bluff. Two days, 397km and two very sore, very tired legs. My body has got into a groove and there has been no change in how my legs feel when cycling. No matter how tired or 'dead' i think they might be, they always seem to be able to push. Its always the head that gives up first. Its always the head that lets the wheel go, its always the head that lets the group slip away up the climbs. The legs are simply following orders.
Todays ride was a good case in point. 150km from Geraldine to Waianakarua, mostly along state highway 1. I have to admit that so far the South island has not shown its 'pretty' side. This is mostyl to do with the fact that we are cycling along Highway 1 for 70% of the route (purely a logistical matter - the alternative 'scenic'route to Bluff down the west coast would add another 2-3 days to the trip as its more mountainous). Its not much fun as the traffic is pretty heavy, trucks and vans zipping along at high speed as you cycle in a 4ft wide shoulder made of heavy chipseal.
So today the choice for the head was sit in with a fast group for some surging pack riding at high speed or chunter along at medium pace for a long time. Well as you can imagine I decided to hang with a fast group, and fast it was. David Craig has us zipping along bug eyed at 40kph for long stretches - the bunch riding was typically surging and required 80watts at some points and 380watts at others. It wasn't relaxing at all, very tiring and the nature of the scenery didnt exactly inspire me. It was fast however and we made good time to the first aid station. I dropped back after lunch after having a nasty hayfever attack and nearly sneezing myself into the fast lane. After lunch I jumped on the CraigExpress again for the short 30km into Oamaru, where i promised myself an end to the pain and suffering with a solo coffee and a gentle spin home for the final 20km.
However, we finally turned off the highway and onto a back road hugging the epic South island coastline. Suddenly it was beautiful, picturesque, postcard quality New Zealand again. Epic vistas, crashing surf and scenery very reminiscent of East Lothian. All transgressions forgiven NZ - you have stolen my heart all over again.
As you can imagine we were all content to roll along slowly, drinking in the view. All thoughts of hammering it were gone and we sauntered the final 30km into our accomodation happy to have finally seen some of what the South island is famous for. Throughly worth the 120km of hammerfest misery on the highway i reckon.
In other good news I have now completed all my swim and run minimums for camp completion. I now dont have to swim or run any more this camp. We have a 7km on the final day that i will run (it is pretty ceremonial as it loops around the Bluff headpoint). I put my 26km to bed this morning with a 4.3km swim set which included the classic Epic camp favourite event: the 400IM.
As you can imagine the sight of 25 tired, freestyle only triathletes knocking out 300m of 'the other strokes' was a hilarious way to start the day. Quote of the morning goes to Scott Molina, remarking on one athletes impressively vigorous start to the 'fly leg - "I know this guy, he goes from swimmer to turtle in 15seconds flat" Sure enough, after 1 length his 'fly turned from "Phelps at Beijing" into "drowning moth". I didnt do too badly coming in at 7.21 - not bad considering I drank half the pool during the backstroke leg. Steven Lord won with a 5.51 (!).
So onto the final chapter, once more unto the breach dear friends and all that. We are so near the Bluff, yet so far away. Again tonight I pray for tailwinds and light weather. My legs will do the job, I just hope my head issues the right orders.
POTD is the beautiful Otago coastline - the final hour of todays ride.