Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Just 80% Ultimate

Ride Data:
Distance: 396km

21h04m (elapsed)

16h40m (moving)

Elevation gain: 3,561m
Ride Data: Garmin Connect
Location: Renwick, NZ
March 23-24, 2012


Stu, whom I met during the Lake Taupo Extreme Enduro (8 laps) did a great job drumming up support for this years 'Ultimate' by encouraging enough riders to enter to ensure we were above the 10 rider threshold required by the end of 2011. My rubber arm was once again easily twisted and my entry was in.


When March came around and the Graperide approached I was still recovering from some big efforts in February's Kiwi Brevet and Southern Kiwi Hunt double header. Never one to pike, I was always going to be at the startline regardless.On the way I met Andrew Morrison whom, I had previously only known from the Facebook Endurance Riding group. It is certain that there is enough comradary between endurance riders that when we see each other or even first meet, its like we're all old friends.


My first lap of five was certain one of deflation. It began in the bunch of 13 or so starters of which I feeling comfortable and spent most of the first 30-40km near the front until puncturing heading toward Koromiko, and then my second a few more kilometres down the road before arriving in Picton. After the second puncture, the motivation was well and truly waning and left me barely ambling around Queen Charlotte Drive, through Linkwater and Havelock back to Renwick to sign in to complete lap one. There was one brief check of my bearings when I saw a cycle race up a side street that I was not the direction of the course. On the way into the sign-in area I received my third puncture. Unbelievable. I had recently asserted that I was wearing out more 700x25C Continental GP4 All Season tyres than I had punctures when riding them. In just 100km the law of averages rapidly came back and bit me. 3h53m was disappointing for lap one on fresh legs. I was a little surprised that I was not last to sign in.  I had I somehow passed The Potato Guy without seeing him? I suggested he may have turned left down the road where the cycle race sign was. Indeed he had. TPG receives the award for the most kilometres covered during the first lap. (Thanks heaps for the spare tube Tim!).


Tim dropped me on the way up Blenheim on Lap 2. I think I spent the entire lap cursing the fact I lost the group so early with my three punctures on lap 1. The highlight of the lap was probably the ice cream I stopped for at Spring Creek. When I came around to check in with lap 2 complete (8h53m elapsed), the attrition was already showing with a couple of riders out already. While puncture-less this time around, I was already slowing down.


I had some soup and coffee between laps (thank Tim & Liz) and dragged Brandon and his sounds out to start lap 3. Brandon's MP3 player and speakers soon disappeared in front of me so I stopped in Blenheim for a pie and some chocolate milk and later curled up for a short a nap on the way out of Koromiko, getting back on my bike as race leader Greg Manson was about to lap me. We mostly rode together, or at least near each other until Linkwater when he powered beyond me along the Linkwater straights. Thankyou Greg's supporters for the coke and snacks :).


When I checked in to complete lap 3, the attrition rate was once again showing with Brandon was back at his motel, Tim asleep and a a couple of withdrawals on the sign in sheet. I headed off for my fourth lap with the main achievement of this lap being that I did not stop for pie nor chocolate milk nor ice-cream. However, my legs were gone as I ambled around, lapped by Colin on Queen Charlotte Drive and Nick Dunne at Linkwater. I surprisingly pulled the lap back from Nick on the run in to the finish which will have had more to do with his knee injuries than my own (not-so) strong form.


With lap 4 done and dark clouds over the Richmond Range I pulled the pin and recorded a very rare DNF. I was pretty knackered, but ultimately if may re-use that word I had no chance of finishing in under 24 hours and riding in the rain if it came would not be that much fun. I have ridden 500km many times, and just grinding out the final 100km was would neither prove, nor achieve anything. On the other hand the craft beer recovery drink on offer from Forrest Estate the "Peddlers Pilsner" was a fine drop and went down very well before I headed back to the motel for a shower followed by dinner at the Allan Scott Estate with the familiar faces of the Onslow Tarbabies.


I do find rides of this distance difficult. It is short enough to contemplate not resting at all which is possible when starting well rested. The increased average speed of a 400-500km ride over a 1000km ride makes them quite different beasts to tackle with muscular endurance coming more to the fore with less restful recovery opportunities. Stopping to eat as has become my habit doesn’t quite work that well for this distance. For myself, as much as I see the attraction of the multi-lap courses for logistics and support crews. I definitely prefer events that are not multiple laps of the same route to keep myself mentally stimulated.


I will likely ride the Ultimate again next year with my main motivation being that I know I can do much, much better and with the correct pre-event focus should be able to finish in 22 hours or less.