Epic Camp New Zealand Day 4 – Recovery through Racing

Today was about recovery and taking it easier. My left leg has been pretty tight and the ankle is particularly sore. It started with a lie in. Relatively speaking. I slept the best I have so far on camp, straight through till 6:20. No worrying about sneaking in earlier workouts for extra points. It felt pretty luxurious, but even with eight hours I’d have liked a bit more.

We rolled out to the ferry at about 7:30. After thirty minutes of easy riding we arrived at the jetty with plenty of time. It proved to be a good job too as we were at the wrong jetty! Back over the other side of the hill we made it in time for our boat and a couple of hours cruise over to the Coromandel. There was some beautiful scenery out there. Not that I fully appreciated it in my semi-comatose state. Never quite falling asleep despite best efforts.

Once we landed the training started properly. Today’s events were an aquathon followed by some KOM points at the start of the ride. Being one of the weaker swimmers the aquathon isn’t my favourite event. I’m not sure how it happened, but somehow I was last out the water. I didn’t think I was that weak! A leisurely transition (I was worried about ripping my wetsuit more) ensured I was last on the run course.

With only 5km to run I did my best to make up as many places as I could. Hard running from start to finish. I moved up till I finished just behind Douglas. I’d been trying to catch him as he beat me at last year’s aquathon too. It wasn’t to be and he finished a few hundred metres ahead of me. I know there’s another aquathon coming up, hopefully it’ll be a 400m swim and 10Km run to give me more chance.

Racing may not sound like an obvious part of a recovery day, but being shorter it felt a lot less tiring. In fact despite the fatigue the race adrenaline kept the run pace relatively high. Certainly compared to some of those 5:30 kilometres that have been showing up.

Next up was the day’s ride. A couple of sharp climbs with the KOM at the top of the second and then largely flat all the way to Mata-mata. Being somewhere near the back of the pack when we hit the start of the first climb I worked my way forward. My dodgy descending gave a few people a chance to catch back up by the start of the second.

I settled in to a pace with Douglas for a while and we made good progress. As we neared the top I put a little bit more in and left him behind. I assumed he’d stick with me at first and potentially pip me just at the top. I checked over both shoulders to make sure he wasn’t hiding for me and was relieved that I shouldn’t have a close contest with him. The next target was Jo who was just ahead of me on the road. She’s climbing well though and I never managed to close the gap down.

Over the top of the KOM and after a short descent suddenly the road turned up again. There were a few grumbles at the prospect of more climbing, plus a little concern that maybe we’d got the wrong summit for the KOM! It was steep, but brief and then an amazing descent followed with fantastic views of the Coromandel.

Once off the hill I caught up with Dave C and we rode in to the lunch stop together. Nice gently undulating roads along the shore all the way for 20km. Dave did the work to his credit. I was just happy to be on a fast trip to lunch. The prospect of a further 100km afterwards wasn’t that appealing.

The ride to Mata-mata proved to be a friendly affair. We formed a large bunch and Gordo pulled us along for the next 60km. Whilst mercifully flat and with largely favourable winds the road was so bland it became mentally taxing. Just follow the wheel in front. The constant judder from rough Kiwi roads made my hands numb and I was desperately trying to find a comfortable position for them.

At some point I started to think that I’d actually like a few of those Kiwi Rollers just to break the monotony. I may regret my wish over the next few days as the terrain goes up again. Sugar from the drinks stop helped perk me up as we got close to town. I’d go so far to say I felt pretty good having been towed along for the last 80km.

Another day in the bag. Comparatively easy after the first three. I’m feeling pretty good at least like I can keep on riding. I’m going to need it as the next few days look pretty tough.