Epic Camp New Zealand 2010 Day 10 – Sea Breezes

Tough work out there today.

The least desirable winds for the rest of this trip are Southerlies. I’ve checked the forecast and that’s what we’ve got till Invercargill. We all got a taster of Kiwi sea breezes today. The bike stage was only 125km, shorter than most of the days we’ve done. A KOM at the start to get people going and then a further 100km straight into the wind.

Before the biking began a group of us went to the pool in Blenheim to get a 3K swim in. Some went for the medley 3K set for a point. I wasn’t really feeling up for that and opted to swim easy, but throw in the 1K band set. If you’re not familiar it’s a straight 1K swim with the legs tied by a band so you can’t kick. It tests your body position and works your shoulders hard.

I’d been considering running first and swimming in the afternoon once we’d got to Kaikoura. Potentially I could get my second 6K swim in for bonus points. Turns out I was wise to swim first thing as the pool here is closed. an important lesson I’ve learnt from past camps is if there’s an opportunity to do some training take it just in case. Plans have a habit of going wrong and you could miss out on the minimums.

After the swim and breakfast we all rolled out of Blenheim together. We rode easy to the edge of town and then people made their moves for the KOM. This is when I discover my legs aren’t going to play today. I try to go with the jump, but can’t catch onto a wheel and am slipping back pretty quickly. Once on the hill I can’t make any ground. Ultimately I decide I’m not going to have a position in the KOM and just to get over the hill.

Once over the top it was mostly downhill all the way to a drinks stop at Seddon. Here I picked up Nick and Pete and pulled them along all the way to the aid station at 70km. The wind had really picked up and the going was tough. I was feeling pretty driven though. If I wasn’t able to climb or put in big spikes of power I’d certainly ride hard into a headwind.

The three of us pulled into the aid station just as the larger bunch ahead of us were ready to leave. Nick managed a quick turn around and got himself into that group. Both Pete and myself failed to catch the end of the bunch and were on our own.

I powered along for a couple of minutes not making any ground on them before I gave up easing the pace to let Lee and Rob Q catch up with me. I wanted company for another 60K of that wind. I hadn’t realised Pete was also behind or I’d have waited for him to join us.

Lee was clearly suffering a fair bit and Rob and I took turns on the front to pull us all home. Having the occasional break from the wind was a real relief. The coastline in the region is spectacular, but it wasn’t a day to appreciate the scenery. Whilst grinding into the wind I watched my bike computer log the distance and counted down the kilometres to go. Every 5K I got nearer to the end was a big relief.

Once it was 10K to go I was on the front and not planning to stop until I reached the Kaikoura. Not that I was pushing that hard by now. My legs were feeling the last 4 hours of work and my pace had definitely dropped. The pull of home was strong though and it wasn’t too long till Rob, Lee and I rolled into town.

Plans for a 25km run following the bike were long gone from my mind. The main aim was to get my basic 10K run in and to rest up ready for another big day tomorrow. Better to give things a break than over do it on the first day of the second week. There’s still a lot of distance to ride to the bottom of this island.