Another bog standard day in paradise. Just a 6k swim and 10k run before breakfast. Hardly seemed worth getting up for but these recovery days are important. Camp completion minimum today was 3k swim, 10k run and then just 105k to Clinton where we stop for a couple of nights. Johnbo announced at the briefing before the ride ‘you might wanna kill the jets a little today given there’s a race tomorrow’ …rumoured to be 2k swim, 55k bike and a 10k run. Hopefully before breakfast.
Anyway, today. Superb pre-breakfast breakfast laid on by the tireless support staff again; Double D, Michelle and Mark just take care of everything with zero fuss. Then it was off to the lake. There were a few interlopers in the van shuttle for the 6k only swimmers at 645. Hence it was a bit of a squeeze and a few got left behind. I’m not going to name names. Anyway it was good to be sat next to David and have a discussion about how his plan is to tick off the minimums each day and survive. So we rocked up at the lake and it was amaze-balls (have to put that in there to keep my kids interested). Nestled in a valley between some of those breathtaking mountains that are absolutely every-fckn-where (hopefully the kids have tailed off by this point). Suited (and for the NZ softees booted) and in we went to a lake that was a darn sight warmer than I’d expected. Fegan and I planned to do ‘6k’ given that neither of us have a measuring device. The distances etc are based on an honesty system but I think it’s fair to say we were unlikely to go further than 6k. Fegan led off for the best part of 30mins and then David, who had always intended to swim 3k, headed back. I was pretty pleased that whilst drafting I tapped Gary’s feet only 3 times. My turn at the front and Fegan had hit my feet 3 times within 30 bloody seconds. Cue a quick dose of outboard motor feet to let him know how I was feeling about the foot massage. So we were all good to turn for home when P-squared (Phil the Philinator Pattinson) and B-squared (Barry Breffle) turned up, having followed us… both with working bloody Garmins. We smiled politely and told them how delighted we were that we wouldn’t be telling any Porkie Pies to Uncle Johnbo about our ‘6k’ swim. Swam on back with the Noddy Holder’s getting a little tired and that was 2 bonus swim points in the bag. Probably only ever swum 6k a couple of times and NEVER swum more than 3.8k in open water.
When John announced the swim was ‘in the lake we passed on the way into to town’ I realised it would be pretty much all downhill back. Easy way to get the camp minimum sorted. So we chucked the run gear in and set off back with the fleet-of-foot Philinator. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy and chewed the fat with Phil while Gary ‘sat in’. We got to town and realised we’d need to pass the hotel by about a mile to get to 10k and I joked to Phil that Gary wouldn’t be able to avoid the magnetic pull of the buffet as we passed by. A few hundred yards after the hotel I turned back and Fegan had gone AWOL. Poor bastard ran 8k, got the munchies and now he’s got to run 10k after the ride as it has to be 10k in one go and not a total of 10k over several runs. Never knowingly under-nourished is our Gary.
Ride was pretty steady as a result of John’s heads up. Rumours of the road being closed due to a mudslip were a little out of date (thank God as it would have meant a mahoosive detour) and there was a marshalled cross point where they’d managed to clear a lot of it away. Big mountains means big landslips and there was an impressive array of hardware on display at the clean up operation, along with a lot of grizzly looking guys probably names Cleatus, Hank and Walt and almost certainly all related to their wives. Probably been a while since they last rode a bike that didn’t say Harley or Buell on it. After the halfway aid station it was taking it easy with Phil, Shannon and Coach Newsom (without a E) and apparently some people saw some bears but I didn’t and I’m somewhere inbetween upset and delighted on that one. John had announced there was 1700m of climbing in the 100k and with about 30k to go we had only knocked out about 1000m of that and were in what looked like flat country. He decided the calculation must have been wrong; I was more erring towards there being a sting in the tail. I was disappointed to be right. Just an incessant climb interspersed with a little rain just to lift the mood a little further. I imagined the Camp Jester Douglas whistling Don’t Worry Be Happy, beaming from ear to ear, as he cranked it out just ahead of us. Rolled into town that looked like the biggest dump in the Western World and John had set our expectations for our two night stay here. Fear ye not it’s a lovely place with smart rooms and very tidily kept. All good.
Main news on the road was Glenn broke his rear derailleur and just like Douglas’ puncture it was a lesson in the rules of Epic – as we came across him forlorn at the roadside the shout from Big Chief Johnbo was ‘Keep going!’ – heart of gold that boy. I think as long as you have pulse then nobody’s in the mood for stopping. Love it! So Glenn got it patched up and rode back solo and single speed. No mercy if you want camp completion. There are no bike shops in Clinton so he’s set that way for a couple of days. Just when he thought his day couldn’t get any worse the poor fckr gets lumbered with me as his roomie for two nights. Sorry buddy, but at least things can only get better from here.
EPIC MOMENT OF THE DAY – A bit reflective today. We’ve got 19 varied and wonderful people from all over the world ranging from 20s to a ‘little older’ spending two weeks (and a bunch of cash) travelling around on bikes generally costing in the thousands. We’re all healthy (even ‘mildy unathletic Gary’ – next time Scott, just call him a fat bastard, he’s got at least three thick skins) and presumably pretty solvent. Well today we whizzed past a guy sat in a layby with a shopping cart and all his rather meagre worldly possessions. He looked like he probably smelt worse than me after 5horus in the saddle. Who knows why he got there? Victim of circumstance, poor life choices? Whatever it was it made me feel fortunate for all that I have and the opportunities that life has presented me due to the lottery of life. Sliding doors and all that jazz. I’m sure with a race tomorrow the Epic Moment of the Day will be restored to someone inadvertently making an arse of themselves or suffering some form of misfortune… but I bet they wouldn’t trade places with Shopping Cart Guy.