This posting is a bit long – but the race was long. Maybe you’ll find the time to take it all in, maybe you’ll become distracted with ESPN, HBO and the Home Cooking Network. Either way, the history is written. The stories must be told AND will be told for a long time to come. And as usual – don’t bag on me for grammar mistakes and sentence structure – recreating history is not easy, even for me.
So, let’s jump right into the action…
The Crew Chief and I arrived at the start 35 minutes prior… and it started to rain. Great. But just like bungy jumping – I couldn’t back out. I was a bit nervous, to say the least – as I had 1 month off the bike due to my Antarctica experience. So I just put on my happy face and figured it was time to dig deep and enjoy the pain.
The climbing started 1/4 mile from the start. The climbing continued for almost 10 miles. Not a big deal. It was only a 144 mile race. And 2600 feet of vertical in the 1st 10 miles was not a big deal either. Yeah, I’m never serious. Am I?
After the 1st long descent I had a mechanical issue at mile 16. Race over for me. Details? Not important. The funny thing about the breakdown… I was feeling pretty good, the legs were strong – strong enough. And this was after all the climbing in the first 10 miles. I was feeling so good that I was confident that I could ‘delete’ all my pre-arranged excuses. Yes there was a set of good excuses that my alter ego prepared just in case failure became the only option.
After a quick trip to Christchurch for some repair parts, courtesy of BPRs crew chief for the race, I was reinserted into the course – 30 miles down track and up the hill from Little River.
The Le Petite Brevet became a multidimensional adventure versus a straight forward race for glory – I was mentally squashed and fighting the demons while Jasper was digging deep and adjusting his pain threshold. Then there was Dan, the Magic Man, the BPR Crew Chief. Dan poured his heart and soul into the Crew Chief duties; he ensured that I didn’t succumb to the demons of pain, made a few business calls, setup the BPR cabin, rode a few hills and still found adequate time to monkey around with his new pride and joy – a 97′ Specialized Stumpjumper. Talk about multitasking.
Day 2 started of with the usual – biking and hike-a-biking. I’m pretty good at the hike-a-biking. But the biking was a bit tough for this dude on Day 2. And I hit some very dark times between hour 2 and hour 3, basically around Okains Bay. This pain and suffering could not be called ‘vacation’. Why was I riding? I was tired. I wanted to curl up in a ditch and cry. I wanted to sit on the beach with a 6 pack and a foxy mama. BUT Jasper stopped just before THE meltdown took me down. Jasper needed a bit of food. So I devoured an OSM bar – not a Clif Bar. Then Dan The Magic Man showed up with some lukewarm coffee. Perfect!
The food and caffeine saved the day, saved the ride for this dude. The whole world changed once I fueled up. I was back in the groove and I was confident that I could finish out the day, especially after Jasper and I synced up on the hike-a-bike speed.
- Jasper, the SS Super Freak… NZ style. 142 miles and over 25,000 ft of vertical:
- Jasper is a full member of Back of the Pack Racing – based on strict interpretation of the BPR OIs. But because of Jasper’s methodical pace and unwavering commitment to finishing the Brevet, Jasper has been vaulted to the supreme position, rarely obtained, of Super Freak. And let it be known, only a select few of totally cool bikers WITH freakish ability have been elevated to the status of Super Freak.
- Judd, the pace setter. 112 miles and about 17,500 feet of vertical:
- After the mechanical breakdown and after ALL HOPE for Fame and Glory was lost at the back of the Back of the Pack, Judd was reassigned the role of Pace Setter. But there was one minor problem, Jasper paced the pace setter. But that’s cool.
- Dan the Magic Man, the BPR Crew Chief. Mucho Mega miles in the Land Rover and the BlackBuck, with a few miles on the 97′ stumpy.
- Dan redefined the crew chief position, which included the role of tour guide for the South Island and race support for a worn out and tired yankee. The Crew Chief’s desire to excel at the position allowed The Judd to experience the multidimensional adventure and see so much more of the South Island. For this, The Crew Chief… The Magic Man, will go down in history as the one that redefined the highly desired position at the back of the pack.
- A good crew chief controls the weather – BPR style.
- In New Zealand 2600 ft of vertical in the 1st 10 miles is what you call a warm-up ride.
- In the single speed world the transition zone, the zone where one must decide to stop riding and walk, is the most painful. The suffering is extreme.
- but once two riders agree on the same transition zone, the suffering becomes manageable.
- Brakes get real hot during a 1000 ft descent in < 1 mile
- that’s like a 20% grade for 1 mile. Wicked!
- 70 miles & 11,400 ft of vertical creates a serious chaffage situation.
- chaffage in the Southern Hemisphere is as bad as chaffage in the Northern Hemisphere, just saying
- In the Kiwi world there is distinct difference between tools and bottle openers. AND bottle openers never ‘clutter up’ a good set of tools.
- an American Leatherman could have 9 devices – 8 tools & a bottle opener
- the Kiwi Leatherman will only have 8 tools, no bottle opener
- it’s a Kiwi beer drinker’s pride thing
- and now I have the skills to pop the cap without a ‘tool’. It’s my new party trick – thanks to Dan for showing me the secret.
- In NZ, a rider must shower at night if:
- shower facilities are available
- the hooligans are staying in cramped quarters
- Note: this rule should be carried up to the Northern Hemisphere, but I doubt that The Lt Col and The Morale Chairman will buy into such civilized behavior, or is it behaviour.
It’s not about how fast you go – its about ensuring that no one sees you cry… while in a ditch… in the fetal position.
- Water, water, every where, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink
Jasper and I were climbing out of Pigeon Bay. It was hot and we were tired. A couple was driving down the hill. The dude behind the wheel stopped just to tell us… Yeah. Thanks for the update, dude.
The Five Step Process:
- Re-evaluate the situation – and respond
- it didn’t take us long to re-evaluate and discuss our options
- Repair – if you know the right people, anything is possible
- not an option as Henry didn’t have the A-Team on call for this race
- refer to The Ultimate Adventure
- Replace – the part or the bike
- the 87′ Specialized Stumpjumper was crying for action
- but other options were available AND gears can be a liability when hammering up the hills at the back of the pack
- Retire – it’s always an option if Steps 1 – 3 do not provide a solution\
- the beer was chilled, the pizza was cold, I was still on vacation and everyday is a good day to ‘get the party started’
- but retire is not an acceptable option, as a solution always falls out from working through the 1st three ‘Rs‘ and the Crew Chief picked up his cell phone, worked the contacts and generated a solution.
- Reward with beer
- as always
- The process always starts at Step 1 and ends at Step 5. The transition to Step 5 occurs from any of the preview steps in the process – assuming a solution was theorized and employed.
- The dudes in the NZ Chapter have super human (alien?) intellect and adapt to all situations. Probably because the dudes sit around and reflect… daily… for hours
- to put it another way, the NZ dudes have arrows in their quiver that us American dudes can’t even begin to comprehend.
- The northern man is usually tempted to jump directly from Step 1 to 5, whereas the southern man is committed to the process
- when the BPR Founding Fathers are holed up in a BPR Supreme Council meeting – the transition from Step 1 to 5 is nearly instantaneous
I was on the road for so long I didn’t know that a song / video was made in my honor. Or is it ‘honour’?
And, the End of it All… the reason that I found myself in New Zealand:
As you can imagine, I’ve had a few life altering moments in the past 5 weeks.