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The Team CP Backroad 100 – an epic and fun weekend of cycling!

Team CP Backroad 100
North Canterbury, 8/9 April 2017.

After a week of wet and stormy weather, I was super excited to see a clear sky and the stars shining when I got up on Saturday morning, ready for our 100km back road cycling adventure.

We set off bright and early from Christchurch in two vans, eager to get underway and see what this Backroad 100 event had in store for us. After a couple of pickups along the way, and a highly demanded coffee stop(!), we were soon in Waikari – the starting location for the day.

Stage One started with an 11km neutral section to get the legs warmed up and allow the group to settle in. But then the competition started! We were organized into teams of four, and the next section was an 11km Team Time Trial, each team set off at different times. I was put with three stronger riders than myself, and boy did they push me along! However, as the weaker rider I was very well looked after by a very supportive team. Kat (a fellow Team CP Coach) was instrumental in keeping us working together as a team, ensured we had great communication and when I started to drop off the pace, organized us well to keep me in the group and supported, as we sped along eager to catch the team ahead of us! This team time trial was a new experience for me, I hadn’t before cycled like this and it was awesome. Working together, rotating through the lead cyclist and great verbal communication and encouragement, were the key factors in us succeeding so well as a group. We didn’t record the fastest time nor win the section, but for me the win came from being pushed to dig deep and ride hard – extending me beyond my current level.

We then had another neutral section, before a 14km bunch ride with sprint finish. We were set off in two waves, however the bunch riding part didn’t really happen. Instead we got kind of spread out, and the sprint finish was up hill! So it was more of ‘push yourself as hard as you can’ section! This brought us through to the beautiful Motanau Beach – what a stunning spot. After soaking up the sights and grabbing a team photo, we loaded up our bikes onto the vans/trailers and headed through to Domett for some food and coffee.

Stage Two was a total of 21km, with a flat start, then a good ‘ol hill climb to burn off the late morning tea we had consumed…refueling is key when cycling! ? If you haven’t been to Mainline Station Café in Domett, it is a must with a gorgeous sunny garden, friendly staff and delicious food and drink!

Anyway I digress…once up the hill we weaved along the road until we were met with spectacular views along the coast line. Halfway down the descent into Gore Bay we pulled over to enjoy a stunning sight, ‘The Cathedrals’ – eroded siltstone pillars. Geez our NZ landscape is cool! After a few selfies, we continued down into Gore Bay to regroup, and then cruised as a bunch out to Cheviot where we slightly overwhelmed the Two Rivers Café with 20 hungry cyclists! We enjoyed a late lunch in their sunny garden, and joked that perhaps the rest of the afternoon could be spent here with a beer in hand…! However that wasn’t in the schedule, so we jumped into the vans and drove up the road to start Stage Three from Parnassus.

The final stage, Parnassus to Waiau – 36km. It is fair to say the energy levels in the group were a little low after sitting in the sun; however the King of the Mountain section of this last stage soon changed that! The competition was fierce and everyone pushed really hard to challenge themselves across this 6km stretch. Then to finish us off, we were back in our teams for a second time trial…this time predominantly downhill! The sun was getting low so extra concentration was needed as we sped off! I was left in my team mates dust on the downhill; I don’t have the nerve they do. However, once we regrouped we gave it everything we had through to the end, which resulted in a sprint finish between three teams! This was a highlight of the day with plenty of banter being thrown around and an exhilarating end to the final competitive section. As we then cruised the final 6km into Waiau, the sunset and scenery was magnificent, the perfect end to a perfect day.

Tired and a little puffed but on a natural high, we drove through to Hanmer to rest for the evening.  100km through the back roads of North Canterbury complete!

As I reflect on the weekend, I feel a great sense of achievement and have grown in confidence again, by improving my bunch riding skills, being challenged to lift my speed, and facing my fear of racing downhill at speed, a skill I need to continue to develop. To add to that, I joined a few riders the next day and backed up our big day with 40km on the bike around Hanmer. My bum wasn’t sore and my legs felt good – all positive signs my training is progressing well.

For me, nothing beats a day in the outdoors exploring our stunning countryside with a bunch of awesome and plenty of laughs.

It is no longer training. It is a soul enriching experience, offering the opportunity to learn, laugh and live. And is an excellent reminder to be grateful we have the freedom and ability to do such things.

Penelope Watson
Team CP Sports Coach