The countdown is on, only a few days between me and the Motatapu ride.
I’ve been lucky this year on two counts. The first is that I won a competition for entry into the 2016 Motatapu event. This also came with the added benefit of Pure drink powder and coaching from the esteemed Richard Greer! Now spare a thought for Richard as that old adage regarding a Sow’s ear and silk purses floats around. I’m not what you’d call performance athlete material: in my 50s, with a perfect example of a Dad bod rather than the normal image expected for cycling, and close to the ‘Clydesdale’ category if truth be told.
I‘ve got an idea of what to expect as I’ve biked the Motatapu event 5 times previously: 2002, ’03, and ’04 were from Arrowtown to Wanaka, then ’10 and ’15 from Wanaka to Arrowtown. Each time I’d get 2/3 through and think “not enough training” alongside “this is the last time”. However my buildup has always been a little, sh7all we say, unfocused. A few hill rides to build up the legs and a few more rides to get the distance. My goals have been simply to ‘enjoy the scenery’ and ‘cross the finish line a little better than last time’. Having a coach has been a welcome surprise: not only the discipline of the rides I should be doing and why, but the things to focus on weekly and how they’ll assist me come race day. Nothing keeps you more honest to your training than submitting the gpx logs of rides as homework! Of course life/work/travel does get in the way, and that’s been handled superbly by Richard and the coaching calendar as well. I suspect I’ll be largely preaching to the Choir, but for those of you entertaining the idea I’d highly recommend a coach no matter what level you’re at.
I said I’ve been lucky on two counts. The second has been the opportunity to train on and around the Queenstown Trail tracks over January and parts of February. My normal haunt is Dunedin, and while the Peninsula and Mt Cargill have a lot going for them as scenic rides, in my book they don’t come anywhere close to the scenery, selection, and quality of trails around the Wakatipu. The Motatapu Event gives people access to stunning valleys that are private most of the year but the views are just as spectacular all around the area. Christmas holidays then weekend trips to Arrowtown as a base has allowed me to explore the wider area. This is all in the name of required training you understand, certainly not (purely) as a tonic for the soul.
So, will I be ready for the big ride on the 5th of March? Well another month or so of training would always help physically, but apart from that, yes. Yes I will be. Will I be up there with the strong, the fit, the full-time athletes, with times that would challenge a 4WD? Of course not! The engine for the bike is still that overweight Dad-bod that I started with after Christmas, but I’m fitter and mentally keen. I’m looking forward to being able to enjoy the ride as well as my own personal performance. See you there!