The penultimate day of training and whilst I’ll be sad for camp to end, my body is crying for it to be over! With under 400km to the end of the island I’ll be getting myself there somehow. Of course the last two days are some tough ones with plenty of Kiwi rollers in our way. On the other hand it looks like the weather has turned in our favour.
Once again it was an early start. Straight up and ready for the bike as the plan was to hold an Aquathon at Port Chalmers. You could sense the lack of enthusiasm for this over breakfast. Still my day bag had my wetsuit and run kit in ready for the event.
We rolled out at around 7:30 and the bunch rode very friendly for the first 50km. Nothing too hard at all even for my excessively tired legs. Somehow they keep going though there’s a lot more strain involved in keeping up the pace. At least in the group the time passed quickly and we were soon off the highway and onto more scenic coastal roads.
The views were once again spectacular and the terrain a little more lumpy. Climbing is really starting to take a little more out of me now. There was a KOM planned at a nasty little spike just before Dunedin. I’ve come to accept that I can’t do much in the KOM competition now so don’t worry about it. Despite that the lure of a little competition makes me push harder even if it’s for the final placings.
With a few of the guys riding ahead of the mandatory regroup at least I wasn’t quite last on points! It was a tough climb, but merely a preamble to what was to come. The reward for a climb is a nice fast descent. The roads were a little twisty for my taste and i took is easy till I met the group the other side.
Good news the aquathon was cancelled due to the cold. I don’t think anyone was too disappointed to see it go. We rolled friendly into Dunedin to visit the bike shop for a couple of repairs. It was also suggested I needed new shorts. Unfortunately most of the pairs I’ve brought with me have thinned to the point anyone on my wheel sees far more than they want. I’d managed to pick a particularly bad pair for today. The worst most people had ever seen!
Nick acted as the local guide through Dunedin and used it as an opportunity to show off a particularly vicious climb. It was out of the saddle grinding nearly the whole way. I started to wish I had a 27 on the back just for that little bit easier gearing. it proved I could still raise my heart rate though.
Lunch came a bit later in Brighton. A nice beach about 10K south of Dunedin. The climbing had really taken it’s toll on my legs and I made the decision then that I’d drop off the group. It didn’t more than a few kilometres of riding before I followed my plan. I teamed up with Lee for the remaining 60K with an aim of riding easy.
The final big climb of the day made that easier said than done. The road turned up once more and there was plenty of grinding to be done. It was a particularly cruel climb combining very steep sections which gave the impression of summiting the climb. Once you got there you’d find a small dip and then more ascent. I was wondering how many more I could take by the fifth of sixth time. Eventually it came to an end and a fantastic descent followed. Spectacular views over lakes and valleys. Lee and I agreed it looks a lot like the lakes back home.
The final section was along the highway once more. It seemed a little quieter round here than some of the past few days. We shared turns on the front. I wasn’t feeling that great so would secretly hope Lee would happily pull me along the remaining 40K! Halfway through that was a final drinks stop with some tasty flapjack on offer too. A bit of light refuelling and I perked up.
Just a few more hills remained between us and the motel. Mercifully they were no where near as steep as the previous ones. We kept a comfortable pace all the way to Balclutha. Arriving a little too late for it to be worth me heading to the pool. I’d not have time for a points swim and with all my swim and run done I was happy to call it a day.
One more day to go. 190km of riding with plenty more hills in the way. It’s going to be a tough one. No KOM to worry about and the final section will be ridden as a group. I’m sure the fact I’m so close to finishing will give me the motivation to get me through the day. After all that’s gone another 190km is nothing!