Sunday, 3 January 2010

Rollin, rollin, rollin

Today was the first 'proper' ride of Epic Camp - 175km from Kaitia to Whangerai over rolling, undulating terrain. They call them 'Kiwi rollers' here, what they should call them is 'sodding bastard hills'.

The terrain doesnt 'roll', it pitches up and down like the Southern oceans, never flat for a moment. Establishing a rhythm is key and attacking the terrain results in the smoothest fastest ride as you keep momentum from the downhills into the next climb - however attacking this sort of terrain 100km into a 2300km trip is asking for trouble. As it was my legs felt great today and I 'had the power'. Lets hope it stays that way :-)

To cap it off we spent 5hrs in the driving rain as well - rain that stings your face and causes brakes to cease working. It never felt cold like UK rain, and perhaps after the heat horror of day 1 it was a blessing in disguise - but I would have prefered a simple overcast day. I hope my shoes dry out in time.

I joined a group that left 30mins early to give us some breathing space before the faster cyclists came through - a good decision as it turns out, we managed to get to the 125km point before being passed by the main group. Gordo and Molina came past like trains - something I am slowly getting used to.

The ride (terrain nonwithstanding) was stunning. The scenery was awe inspiring - a very tropical feel with lush greens and colourful flowers. Plenty of horses and cows (but suprisingly a lack of sheep, maybe the south islanders keep them to themselves ;-)

No run or swim for me today as the ride was the only mandatory session - of course most of the camp ran 10km before breakfast and have gone to the pool now for a 3km session to get their bonus points in. The level of discomfort some of these athletes are prepared to accept, nay WANT to accept, is beyond my ken. Part of my journey here is to tap into this way of life and see if its something I could do, or something that fits who I am.

The good news is that I have found some riders at about the same level as me, which should help when my legs are done. A major fear of mine was spending both weeks on my tod, 6 feet in front of the sag wagon. Of course, this could still happen. On the road its 'out of sight, out of mind'. Generally if you are dropped, then you are on your own if you don't bridge back up. People here wont compromise their goals, momentum or session for you without prior arrangement. As those of you who ride with me know, this means I can bu**er off the front without pissing anyone off ;-). Good times.

On a more sombre note, there was a crash today (or chute, as the French call it - much more romantic). One guy, Roger, literally cycled off the road, fell off and brought down the person behind him. Roger binned the ride and has gone to hospital for a suspected shoulder tear. The person behind him, Randy, landed on Roger. Good for Randy, he is fine. Not so good for Roger.

No one will be suprised to hear that a group of very tired triathletes may not be in the running for 'bike handlers of the year' award. My rule (as always with other cyclists) is trust no-one until you have spent some solid time with them, observing their skills. For that reason I will only follow a few select wheels at the moment, eveyone else I am giving a wide berth to for the time being. I fully expect others to treat me with the same principles. I hope Roger is ok, and I hope he can rejoin the camp as soon as possible.

I didnt take many pictures today so I will load up Days, 1, 2 and 3 on Facebook tomorrow. POTD today is the typical Epic Camp lunch stop - its just like a picnic with the family - except in the middle of a 10hour training day.


  1. Happy New Year Rob!! Enjoying reading your blog with my morning cuppa!! Sounds amazing and a great experience. Well done so far and keep up the good work. The Tidswell Clan x

  2. Great writing Rob. Vivid pictures. I trust I'm one of those who's wheels you're happy to follow when exhausted :)

  3. Good work fella! Keep it steady and keep out of trouble!

    I second what Jev said, great writing, especially when it is coming after a hard days training. Looking forward to the next installment!

    Sounds like the first 2 days have been tough, but not tougher than you might have expected for EC? How's the mojo now that you've started?

  4. Hey Rich,

    Thanks for the comments! Mojo is up and down really - definitely some down during the rides but as soon as i get in and everyone starts letting loose with their stories of the day, any dip in mojo is restored. Thats one of the key advantages to group training i guess?