January 25, 2011

Episode 15: Back in the saddle

Route: Paihia, Pakaraka and Kawakawa loop
Distance: 51.1km
Duration: 1 hour 54 minutes

Main beach at Paihia

Main beach at Paihia

Since we last spoke, Sharon and I have covered more than 1000km across New Zealand’s South and North Islands. Unfortunately, I’ve spent none of those 1000 on my bike.

After the stunning ride from Queenstown to Wanaka, Sharon and I drove through what is undoubtedly the most picturesque scenery I have ever seen. We followed the main road from Wanaka to Haast through the Mt. Aspiring National Park and through rainforest more lush and lovely than I would ever have thought possible.

Having spent most of the day driving I didn’t get a chance to ride when we arrived in Franz Josef that evening. Given that we were scheduled to go on a tour of the nearby glacier early the next morning, a ride the next morning was off the cards and I would have to wait to get my fix.

The open road - inland from Paihia

The open road - inland from Paihia

In fact, due to some seriously heavy rain – 200mm in 2 days in some parts of the North Island – I didn’t get a chance to get on the bike until this afternoon. We drove from Auckland to Paihia this morning, the latter being a lovely coastal township in the Bay of Islands. With a few hours to spare before dinner I mapped out a ~50km route, thinking it would take me the best part of three hours.

In the end it took me less than two in spite of some nasty hills on the final stretch from Kawakawa to Paihia. I managed to get into a great rhythm nice and early in the ride and I was cruising over the many ‘rollers’ that littered the course. The ride itself was actually pretty boring for the most part. The brief moments that I spent with the bay in view were terrific but the rest of the route was made up of boring backroads and state highways.

I have a bit of a magic figure in my training rides – if I can average 25km/h over the course of a ride, regardless of the terrain, then I consider myself to have ridden fairly well. Of course, this is a measure that is affected by many factors, not least of all the amount of climbing I’m doing, the length of the ride and the road surface, but when the average speed is up, I generally feel like I’ve worked hard. Today I managed to average around 27km/h on a ride which was rarely flat which felt good even though, objectively, it probably means nothing.

Paihia main street

Paihia main street

Similarly, feeling stronger and fitter and powering through a 51km ride in less than two hours also means nothing. Unless I can go out and ride 160-200km at some point in the next month or so, I’m going to struggle on March 16. To be honest, I’m going to struggle anyway, but the psychological boost you get from putting in a big day before an event like the 3 Peaks does wonders for the confidence. In addition to one 150km+ ride before the event I should really be aiming for at least 100km on each of my weekend rides from now on.

Green Powerade

Do we have green Powerade in Australia? And what about 750m bottles? I recall neither...

So, that in mind, here’s my goal –  ride at least 100km on three more occasions before 3 Peaks with at least one of those rides being 150km plus. It’s a lofty goal but if I’m going to give myself the best chance of finishing 3 Peaks, it’s something I really need to do.

Sharon and I are heading out on an overnight cruise tomorrow and after that we’ll back in Auckland for one final night. After that, it’s back to Melbourne for the weekend. Hopefully I can get one of those 100km+ rides in this weekend.

Thanks again for following my progress and special thanks to those who have been recommending this blog (or The Climbing Cyclist in general) to friends or others online. It’s been great to see the interest in the site develop considerably over the last few months, both through the hits that the site is getting and the conversations that are sparking up on forums, through email and in social media. Speaking of which, thanks also to those who have become part of the TCC community on Facebook and Twitter. We’re painfully close to 100 followers/fans on both sites and if you’d like to join in the fun and frivolity, please follow the links at the top of this page.

When we speak next Sharon and I will be back safely in Melbourne and I’ll hopefully have another long ride to write about. Fingers crossed!

47 days to go…

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