Training days

The day has arrived (and passed) and it’s clear I’ve still not learnt my lesson.

It’s three months out before beginning the next big tour so the training now begins in ernest. After a few months of near constant rain and a winter spread, I’m expecting a yet more months of constant rain with a liberal dose of self inflicted pain. I’m not sure how oxygen efficient it will be, but I’m seriously considering buying a snorkel!

As I’ve noted in past posts, this time I have company – ‘Horse’ (Dean Ogilvie) from the League of Clevedon Wheelmen is joining me, so we are on a training programme to get our kneeses ship shape for the ride ahead. The route is plotted (the South Island traverse) with another big wiggle of about 1,700km over a three week timespan.

Today was a short 76km rolling ride west into world. Clevedon to Clarks beach return. Not to taxing, but I’ll still be applying a liberal dose of X-Zone tonight (this stuff was a god send on the last tour).

Be prepared for more mayhem, machinery and man bits in follow up posts in the months ahead!

No cold feet

Remarkable. Two back to back sun filled days. This was mid-year, months since I pack-muled the Surly and I wanted a challenge, plus I really needed to winter test my kit. So fully loaded and anxious I headed south.

From Highridge through the Hunua, eastward to Miranda, then onto the flat lands of the Hauraki. Destination Thames. Ninety six clicks later I arrived at camp north of town. It was time to set up and hunker down for the evening. A good days ride on good ground.

Steaming nostrils

As the sun slipped away back towards the west, the draft from the rearward ranges flowed down in an endless bitter current. It was going to be a cold night.

It was! It ended up being the coldest night of the year. Cold cold!

FullSizeRender 2I lay in whatever I carried; sleeping bag, layers of merino, leggings and with cold feet, it also meant shoes. Leaving only a set of nostrils exposed to the elements, snorting steam into the tent like an old leaking fell engine. It was little use, the ground cold meant for an endless rotisserie to retain what little warmth I had. It was an endless broken sleep.

Winter test over, I’d learned my lesson and now know what kit I’d need next. I packed early, hit the road and headed towards town to find somewhere warm for my toes (let alone my belly).

Waihi return

‘The Dean’ (of Clevedon Wheelmen fame) arrived for second breakfast a little later.  We latte’d and got on the road. The plan for the day was trail riding Thames to Waihi return.

Stage one to Paeroa was a gravel double track through dairy country direct to Te Aroha Maunga. Rest, photo op’, loo then onward up the rail trail through the Karangahake Gorge to Waihi. 

We completed our customary pie stop at 2pm just in time for a freshly invigorated shady wind to follow us back to where we began. A few aches aside, we made good time on the downhill trail. 

Then onward to Paeroa and the double track, a setting sun in front of us, elongated shadows at rear. All the while bemused heifers nodded at us, humming their line to another old Glen Campbell favourite: ‘that keeps you ever gentle on my mind’.

I was relieved and thankful to have reached that last bridge and completed those two days. A shade over 200 clicks, a few sore muscles and a few frozen memories.

Good ground and a good day for the Wheelmen.

Today’s top track: Glen Campbell – Gentle on my mind


And the league of Clevedon Wheelmen

Was it mud or was that a cow pat? It was neither, it was ‘the Dean’.

We were out west, Puhinui reserve to be exact, tracking down trails and backroads. Not training so much as escaping the consistent rain that was sheeting in from the east. The trek was a mix of gravel and grim. At my 5 o’clock he crashed through the knee high reed and pug like an 18 year old, taking the point at pace and showering me in a brown-green streak of something indescribable.

Onward, he whipped up the bridge between paddocks, lost his footing and ended up on his back in a shambles of man bits and machinery.

The Dean was done for the day. I smirked and sympathised. We moved on, feeling our age.

Introducing the wheelmen

Dean Ogilvie is the chief perpetrator of the League of Clevedon Wheelmen, a small collection of eccentric old fellas with big cycle touring dreams. This is the precursor blog of the pain to come. Yes there is another tour in the planning and ‘the Dean’ being the dean of the League of Wheelmen will be in attendance (acting his age).

Mama will be pleased.