Category Archives: Events

Longest Day

I know TVJ and I have been very quiet in telling you of adventures this year, that does not mean there were none, as there were more than a few.

My most recent was a unique concept called the “Longest Day Ride,” where bicycles from all over New Zealand escort the sun from her rising to her setting.  These rides are flexible to be designed with plenty of escape routes.  Our Rider took that flexibility to heart.

At around sunrise (or perhaps a tad later) Our Rider leaped enthusiastically out of bed to make her porridge.  Shortly thereafter a text message from her riding companion greeted her.  He  had slept in!  He tried to come up with some feeble excuse that he had ridden all day the previous day and had not made it to bed until midnight.  Pffffffff.

I was secured inside the car with strategically placed bungy cords and we made a stop to pick up the other bicycle a red Avanti with funny bars off the front of the handle bars.  Somehow Red, that is what we will call him, despite being XL in size was placed in the back of the car too.  I really don’t know how Our Rider packs so well.  With Biggest Fan and Sleepy Boy (that is what we shall call Red’s rider) in the front Our Rider squished in the back with us two bicycles and we started to drive (one of those flexible interpretations) and drive some more.

After about 90 minutes or so our journey was stopped by a woman driving a ute who said she had lost her comb.  Biggest Fan suggested she find a hat!  She made way for us to pass and I got a peek of a lighthouse.  Intrigued I was with the events    it stood witness to.

A real live lighthouse

A real live lighthouse

I have spent a lot of time riding alongside the Manukau Harbour and had often wondered what was on the other side (a bit like Kermit and the Rainbow Connection) and today my curiosity was satiated and I had my answer.

However before climbing up to the lighthouse we met the lady who lost her comb and had not found a hat, she regaled us with stories, a discussion on plants and her belief on atheists (clearly they have never been in a lifeboat).  Then her dog arrived with the catch of the day.

The Day's Catch - Rabbit

The Day’s Catch – Rabbit

A very proud dog he was too.  After congratulating the dog it was off up to enjoy the view and to get a glimpse of where our day was to end.

The End - Just across the water

The End – Just On The Other Side

It doesn’t look very far at all, if we were amphibious.  So to the end of the road we went to begin.  Sleepy Boy on Red and Our Rider on me.

Eager ro be underway

Eager to be underway

The elevation on Map My Ride (which puts Pinocchio to shame), showed it was downhill all the way, and while that may have been true the downhill was interspersed with not infrequent ups often of a steep nature.  It was a pleasant day to be riding on extremely quiet back country roads, with the silence occasionally interrupted by a baa, moo or neigh (and that was Our Rider making noises at the passing animals).  The crimson Pohutukawa (New Zealand’s Christmas Tree) in full festive glory with the green grass and blue blue sea as its backdrop.  Simply glorious.

Somewhat surprisingly for Our Rider there were no scenic diversions, perhaps she has finally worked out the Garmin that rests on my stem, or not.  After a brief stop to consult with the paper map we turned right and headed for a beach.  A lovely downhill too (I did wonder how we were going to make it back up, but decided to delay that thought for the moment confident that Our Rider would have a  solution).

On arriving at Karioitahi Beach we saw the some public health people hammering up a sign warning against collecting shellfish from the shores.  Just as well Mr Snowy (an ice cream truck) arrived so Our Rider could lick on an ice-cream for sustenance rather than collect kai moana (food of the sea).

Also at the beach was Biggest Fan and the car – so that was how we were to get back up.  Although it was an exceedingly hot day by now, neither Our Rider or Sleepy Boy chose a dip in the sea (perhaps fearful of ending in Australia eek).  Instead Our Rider splashed cold water all over her face and then let out a screech as she poured some down the back of her shirt  (did she think it would be like a warm shower, sometimes I wonder about her).

With our water bottles refilled and more food secreted in jersey pockets it was time to continue to the next stop, Papakura.  Of course Our Rider could have chosen the main road, which is relatively flat and frequented by motor vehicles.  No!   She again chose quiet back roads and discovered that Bald Hill Road, really does have a hill in it!  How she could think otherwise is beyond me.

With the tarmac close to melting and sunscreen mixed with sweat the two adventurers stoically continued on.  I had been promised that Madame Trainer the rider of my dear friend (TVF would suggest girlfriend) Betty would be meeting us at Papakura and that incentive allowed me to pedal on.

Then from behind I hear a cheerful “Hello” and then a bicycle, who I did not recognise, went by ridden by MT.  Even though the bicycle was not Betty I was more than happy to ride its  wheel (name and sex of New Bicycle yet to be determined).  By the time we reached Papakura, Our Rider was in desperate need of a popsicle and coke.

A dairy was found and us bicycles politely waited with our riders happily sitting on the concrete steps stuffing themselves with sugar and ice, although not meat pies!  Another bicycle joined us at the Dairy.  He looked rather different from us, with flat bars and panniers containing all sorts of important things as a book to read (on bicycles of course) a change of clothes and goodness knows what else.

It was time to continue and the merry band of four continued on flat roads with a bit of a head wind (not that I noticed as I was on the wheel of the bicycle whose sex and name has yet to be determined).  Next stop was a petrol station at the airport, where quite appropriately we filled our engines with more icy sugar.

At that point we were joined by yet another bicycle, with whom I have ridden before and whose rider bears the same name as me!  Through some more back streets, over the Mangere bridge where MT left us, her duty well done.  The remaining four headed towards Hillsborough, where Our Rider made the executive decision to detour to her place.  There was not too much dissent (none at all).  The bicycle whose rider bears the same name as me took his turn off home, so there remained three.

On arriving home we were greeted by Biggest Fan with more engine coolant, which were slurped down in record time.  The other two bicycles then continued on their amble eventually to end up in their own homes (possibly via a nightclub or two).

After Our Rider freshened up, she, Biggest Fan and I continued our journey and found ourselves at Huia where we watched the sun set  looking back over to where it had begun.

A satisfying end to the day

A satisfying end to the day

As I ride along the Manukau Harbour in the future now, I do so with the satisfaction that I  know what is on the other side.

The Longest Day Ride Concept

The longest day ride was dreamt up by Tama Easton who lives life with arthritis (as does Sleepy Boy).  They are both fine examples of how to see challenges as hurdles to be pushed aside and that an abundant life can be lived with a diagnosis.  Chapeau Chaps!

Tama lists three reasons that people participate in the longest day ride; a personal challenge, an enjoyable adventure, to raise money for Arthritis New Zealand.  

If you found entertainment and laughter in this story then you may want to make a donation to Arthritis New Zealand. 

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Jimmy & Choo Climb The Podium (Again)

Well, well, well, well, well.  Issue a challenge and it is accomplished.

On Saturday 2 April 2011 Jimmy & Choo propelled Diva & Goddess to a scintillating place on the podium (third fastest if you want the details).  Unlike Our Rider’s more recent endeavours with Jimmy and Choo where there was only one other competitor ( a 70-year-old on a single speed), there were 147 other riders in Goddess’ grade.

Jimmy and Choo have been beside themselves ever since, as for Diva she has diverted her amorous attentions from Eddy to Jimmy and Choo.  It was with great resistance, many tears and a performance resembling .. ah well.. a Diva that they were removed from her.

What is just as impressive is that Goddess, a wee slip of a girl, beat over 85% of all the men who finished.  Now as much as Jimmy and Choo like to make out the result was all because of them, we do feel that not a small amount of the kudos belongs to Goddess.

Jan was actually very happy with Jimmy & Choo having an outing without him.  Particularly as they attained such a spiffing result.

Running from the Law (Hard Labour Part III)

At 9am on Monday eight mountain bikes assembled at the start line.  For some reason the race organiser directed all his comments about Tail End Charlie to Our Rider. Pffffff.  After riding up the highway for around 10km we turned into a gravel road.  I looked behind me and saw a Police Car with red and blue lights flashing.  “Uh Ohh, what crime have I committed?” I asked myself.  Well I decided there was only one option: to out run the law.

Up and up and up we went for 7km of winding gravel road.  The pursuing Police car never gaining on us, even though we stopped for photos.

Being Pursued

Still not catching us

We rode past one property with a multi coloured painted picket fence adorned with a rainbow array of gumboots, which Noah would have been proud of.  Unfortunately Our Rider snapped a photo while we were in motion so it is rather blurry.  You will just have to ride up the road yourself to witness the work of art.

We finally reached the turnoff for the farm and Our Rider yelled out to the men on the farm bikes to delay the Police.  She was reasonably confident that we would move more quickly through the farm than a Police Officer in his heavy boots blowing his whistle.  I must admit that I am not a fan of farm tracks and these met my expectation.  They were thoroughly rutted by the hooves of many sheep.  Riding along them certainly shook me up like a milkshake being made.  After what seemed an eternity of juddering and some pushing we came across the official Charlie, except he was called Pogue.  I have no idea why.

Well Pogue told us that I was the last bicycle and he would ride back with us.  Well ride was not an apt description of what we did.  From that point the trail became single sheep track, very bumpy with many drop offs.  Apparently the bicycles ahead off us enjoyed their ride, although some did dismount their riders.  I tried as best I could to enjoy being pushed downhill !  Good grief what is the point of riding up if one has to be pushed down !  UNFAIR.

After another eternity we reached an even steeper part.  Pogue decided to be a clever chook and add some hilarity to our day.  Well either that or he thought that Sir Peter Jackson may be hidden in the bushes scouting for new talent.  Unfortunately Jackson was casting for The Hobbit not Peter Pan as Pogue performed a remarkable flying feat.  As we all know, Hobbits like kiwis do not fly. Pogue’s bicycle suffered some minor damage.  Pogue did not (well other a slight dent to his pride).

We had been warned that the sheep could pose a hazard.  On hearing many baas and bleats Pogue went ahead to muster those animals.

The Mustering Pogue

Apparently one of the bicycles at the head of the field went down this hill at super sonic speed.  Unfortunately he did not realise there was a sharp right hand turn at the gate.  He slammed on his brakes, slid along the grass then threw off his rider who tumbled many metres down the bank.  Again the only damage was to the rider’s pride.

Thankfully this was the end of the farm and so Our Rider was able to climb aboard and pedal.  The 7km climb seemed a wonderful respite.  Finally after all that upping and walking down we came across 5km of descending.  That was fun.  As I rode back into town I was congratulating myself on escaping the law and there I saw him on the second to last corner.  The Policeman leapt out of his car “You’re not catching me,” I cried as I immediately took a sharp turn, then a left with the finish line in sight.  Our Rider raised both arms in triumph as the roar of the crown greeted us.  Well the crowd consisted of a handful of other riders, some of whom had stopped off home, ate, drank and showered and returned to watch us finish.  The Policeman stood dejected unable to catch me!

Although I was the last bicycle over the line, I was the first in Our Rider’s grade.  I figure if Jan can claim a podium for beating a 70 year old on a single speed, than I can claim this one too.  There was no sign of biggest fan at the finish line, so there was one last hill for me to ride to get our rider home. We made it and for Our Rider the Spa and Sauna were a welcoming sight.

Despite having to be pushed so much, I did enjoy my weekend away with Jan.  I just wonder how I can turn it into a more romantic encounter?

Hard Labour – Part II

Sunday was a day of rest for the bicycles as it was the kayaks turn to flow into action.  They could either paddle 26 or 56km down river.  That must be real easy.  It would be like coasting downhill all day.  After we bid farewell to the kayaks we had a very lazy day.

The kayaks on the short option took between 1 1/2 and 2 hours to finish and the ones who went further took between 3 3/4 hours and almost five hours.  I am uncertain as to why it took so long, maybe they stopped for ice-creams or perhaps they are not as fast as bicycles.

Hard Labour – Part I

The Taumarunui Multi Sports Club hosts three events over a long weekend, which is aptly entitled  “The Hard Labour Weekend“.  The first event was a 115km road cycle to goodness knows where.  In the past Our Rider was meticulous in her planning of events, downloading profiles working out gradients and taking me to similar hills so that we can prepare ourselves as best as possible.  “Forearmed is forewarned” – or so they say.  As I am named after an East German, I thoroughly approve of such fastidiousness.

Well all that has changed with Our Rider choosing to believe that forewarning is the antithesis to adventure and would rather wake up like Piglet each morning asking the question “I wonder what is going to happen exciting today”.  Even Biggest Fan has picked up on this change and as he escorted us to the start line, he commented that we were on a great adventure and we did not know what was ahead.  This is more in accord with TVF’s nature than mine.

Although there were 19 bicycles racing there were only 18 at the start line.  One bicycle was given a 90 minute head start and quite fair it was too.  It was a single speed being ridden by a 70 year old women.  I hope that Our Rider is still taking me out when she reaches that age.  With riders called Tinkerbell and Pogue I did wonder if I was about to be transported with the Lost Boys through an Irish musical rendition of Peter Pan and Wendy to Neverland.

As is typical of road races the young whipper snappers, seeking to inflict as much pain as possible on each other, took off at the gun faster than Floyd Landis being pursued doping control officers.  Our Rider had two options: to immediately put herself at maximum heart rate in an attempt (not doubt unsuccessful) to keep up or to drop off.  Wisely she chose the latter and found herself with three bicycles ridden by men of an age where testosterone does not completely control them.  She quickly suggested that they ride together and enjoy the day.  The bicycles agreed.

For the next 56km the four amigos rode a solid paceline with each bicycle taking its turn on the front.  No wheel suckers in this bunch.  One rider was wearing a US Postal Service jersey and unlike the Tour de France he worked co-operatively with my T-Mobile team.  Not wanting to be dropped on the hills Our Rider ensured she was at the front on the climbs and set a nice steady pace that she could maintain.  The other bicycles were happy to sit on my wheel.  Obviously those rides with Eddy, Diva and Felicia have enhanced this ability.

Just before the half way mark Our Rider felt an unfamiliar cramping in her right calf.  She had been eating and drinking as regularly and as reliably as a Swiss cuckoo clock so that was not the explanation.  The probable cause of this was the unpacking and repacking of 250kgs of product two days prior to the event and as a result she started the day a bit stiff.  Unfortunately she had to part company with the other three bicycles at this point.  She had arranged for fresh bidons to be available somewhere on the course and was told that they would be around the halfway mark.  With empty bottles and being beyond halfway and no dairies or petrol stations on the course, she decided to look for a welcoming farmhouse as a precaution. Sure enough she found a beautifully kept farmhouse with the ubiquitous dog to greet her.  The occupant was most obliging and before long Our Rider pronounced that the water was the most delicious and cooling that she had ever tasted.

Given Our Rider’s predicament and the fact it was a glorious day, I decided to try TVF’s approach and went into touring mode.  I cruised along as best I could nursing Our Rider as we proceeded.  At one stage Our Rider contemplated pulling out and hitching a lift back with one of the marshalls, wherever they may be.  Well we eventually found a marshall and Our Rider’s bidons with 43km to go.  Our Rider eyed up the marshall’s car and realised it was too small to fit the two of us.   There was really only one option: to continue.  The course up to that point had been relatively undulating with very rideable climbs.  What we did not know and slowly found out was that the topography of the last third was somewhat different and not what anyone would call undulating.

Shortly after uplifting the bidons we started a long ascent with Our Rider going deep to keep us in forward momentum.  On reaching the top I realised the benefit of not conducting a recognisance of the course.  I was greeted by one of the most amazing views I have seen in my entire cycling career, one that far surpasses the Pyrenees and the French Alps.  Juxtaposed on the landscape were three mountains standing independent of each other cloaked in white ascending from the green fields to the blue sky reflecting in the glory of the sun.  A beautiful reward and unexpected surprise

We Love Surprises

Clearly this view lifted Our Rider’s spirit and I was mightily impressed with her ability to go beyond the muscle fatigue and keep spinning her legs.  There were many many more climbs and of course the wonderful descents.  Then there was Tunnel hill.  This hill has the reputation of reducing grown men to tears as they cry out for a compact chain ring with a 27 cassette.   Our Rider certainly wished there was a tunnel we could have ridden through rather than climbing over it.  Still we persevered.  It was at this point that we spied the 70 year old and her bicycle.  What an inspiration and legend.  Her bicycle looked to be the same one she rode to school as a young girl and terrorised the boys.

At some point on the way home I reached my highest speed ever a massive 87 km/h.  I repeat 87 km/h.  Wow that was a blast.

It was with great pride that I carried Our Rider through to the finish line.  We traversed 115km, climbed 1500 metres, I witnessed a depth to Our Rider that I had not seen before, and we had an amazing adventure with wonderful scintillating unexpected surprises. Piglet would approve and Peter Pan too.

Jan

P.S. Although Our Rider has ridden my predecessor to first place finishes in her grade, and I have attained a podium finish, this was my first win with Our Rider.  First one must finish in order to win !

Pyjamas

In Sleeping Ladies I mentioned the man in his red and white striped thermals.  Here he is …..

Red & White Striped Pyjamas

Sleeping Ladies

Last Sunday I jumped into the car and headed South West for a ride around Mt Karioi near Raglan.  According to Maori legend Karioi was a beautiful wahine (woman) who fell in love with a strong warrior.  Well the warrior ditched her for a younger version. Karioi was so heart-broken she lay down where she was never to arise again.  Thus the mountain was formed.  I think those wahine needed some modern-day advice.  “Get a bicycle, they never let you down, or leave you for another.”

Well back to the story.  About 200 other bicycles turned up for our own petite boucle.  As it was a glorious day, many locals turned up looking as if they had just rolled out of bed still wearing their pyjamas.  One chap had red and white stripped thermals, top and bottoms – that sure was a sight !  Another man wheeled out his home-made single speed and rode in his woolly jumper and Gumboots.  It’s true he did.  Apparently he was using beer for hydration and nutrition.  You are probably surmising that this was a day where lycra and flash bikes were optional.  In fact it was downright frowned upon.

Home Made Bike, Woolly Jumper & Gumboots

The riders’ apparel may lead you to believe this was an easy ride.  Well it was short, around 50km.  Although there was almost 900m of climbing !  That means we were either going up or going down, there were no flat bits.  So easy, perhaps not.  I impressed a few of the boy bikes by passing them on the descents.  They’re not use to girls doing that.  One day we may pass them on the up, still climbing fast is overrated – you miss out on the view !