Friday, March 26, 2010

New Zealand Northland

265 km north of Auckland, just outside of Kerikeri. Yesterday morning I drove 30k out to the Topshop on Million Dollar View Road. I began with a descent to the beach at Matauri Bay, hairpin on top of hairpin. Ocean views, too much speed, and the wow factor was off the charts. I did the turnaround at the sand's edge and soft pedaled a km back to... the climb out. The 1.1 mile climb took 11 minutes 34 seconds at LT+. Thanks to Andy and Wendi, my knee or hip didn't explode on the 20% pitches.

I rolled along the ridge, then down to Te Ngaere Bay, next a couple of short climbs away from the ocean and through Wainui Valley and up Radar Hill. Had a few 12-15 minute climbs at Tempo and another 9 minute climb at LT. In over 2 hours, maybe a dozen cars, most of them at the speed limit of 35 kph. I think Mario Andretti might have been driving that ute though.

Then I got back to Kerikeri for the 2 hour evening ride with Mike.

Hope y'all feel fast. Cheers!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

under Crux

Hey Blue Team, It's been 4 weeks. I've been in one of Auckland's many beach towns, Mission Bay, about 10 km east of City Centre along the coast. I'm staying a block from the beach, though I've spent very little time there. The first week I rode in the rain a little or a lot every ride. One day in particular the rain was horizontal for more than a half-hour and it was all I could do just to stay upright. Still, even the rain was warm that first week. It does get kind of dark when the clouds roll in 6 feet off the ground.

Warm days and lots of sun followed the rainy days and I spent a lot of time crawling up hills in my 27T, then "ripping" the twisting descents. Well, you can believe the "crawling" part, but the "ripping" part, maybe not. Suffice to say, it's hilly enough that pedaling downhill is a waste of time, if not impossible.

On the road? Motorists are pretty well-behaved. I've had the usual challenges just getting to the Auckland city edge sometimes. Though I'm familiar with a many of the roads from earlier visits, riding in the Auckland area is more like orienteering. Except no compass. And to make it harder, they gave me a map. I think the roads up and down and around these hills follow 200-year-old sheep paths. And the street names change every couple hundred meters, whether they need to or not. It's all pedaling and it's a real kick.

Road surfaces? Rough. New Zealand is the Daddy of chip seal. U.S. states are studying New Zealand technical data to try to improve chip seal stateside. The roads deliver a beating but my Specialized Armadillo tires are riding great, no flats in months now and still hugging the descents.

Since those first few days, I've had a 3 week block of 47 hours. The 27T cog is not the auto-selection anymore and the 24T and 21T and 19T cogs see a lot more action. I've been on a Neal Plan, with some sub- and supra-LT work. I had my best 5 minute power recorded, even compared to other sea level efforts several years ago. Good enough for this cowboy. After all, I'm not trying to get fast. I'm trying to get Less Slow.

Earlier this week I finally rode out to Clevedon and Kawakawa Bay and got to the big hills, wide open roads and spectacular views. I avoided the hill landslide (see Kawakawa Bay photos of "slip") and had a terrific ride and good climbs. And chip seal.

Then I hit a spot of bother a few of days ago. I got blindsided by a bunch of life's stressors (involving family, doctors, hospitals, pets, work, all within 12 hours). I had been sleeping 8 hours every night like clockwork, which enabled me to handled the huge workload. Just one night of very little sleep and absolutely no recovery has slowed me a bit, and now I'm waiting it out before I get back on the bike. All stressors came out fine.

Autumn is sneaking in. Mornings are chilly, the rain a bit cooler.

Now, so far, so good. The salt air and rain have been rusting my chain and cogset and stem bolts since Day 2, but no worries. Oxygen at sea level is a marvelous thing.