Because the Hodder River was really high we decided to put the tent out and camp for a few hrs sleep, knowing that over night as the snow re-froze the river was drop.
As we were putting up our tent i successfully (out of concern for my fellow racer, or sleep deprivation) convinced 3 other team not to cross and go into the gorge. I have been in that upper gorge many times in the past year and once you are in it, there is no escape. With steep walls, and with the river running high, it would be a nightmare in there. So we rest albeit for a few hours and restless as you could imagine. Its raining, and…
After a few hours we rose with several other teams to see the river had dropped and so packed up and went for it. We had to make our way down the Hodder looking for a side stream to exit out of the Hodder, find a CP in a near by creek and then carry on over the saddle and down into the Awatere Valley to the next TA to transition onto our bikes.
I say this will little detail because i knew EXACTLY where that side stream was. I was navigating at that point and didn’t even use the map for the next few hours. We made good time over this ground even though we were in the river which was essentially the stream. It was fun because we caught a lot of teams in this section who found themselves stopping at every stream and creek coming into the Hodder River to check to see if this was the one to go up. Of course i knew, and so flew past as if we knew where we were going… we did.
We found the side stream, found the side creek and got the CP and carried on in the early morning sunshine. We were with an Irish Team at this point as we trekked up over the saddle. As we struck up conversation Pete and I realized that one guy on the team we knew from racing in Abu Dhabi a few years back and hanging out with him after the race in a restaurant, and all 4 of them knowing an Irish girl i raced with in France at World AR Champs in 2012…small world.
We made our way over the saddle and down the valley following quite well defined sheep trails and a compass heading. At this point we were really close to me home in Blenheim, really only over the other side of the Awatere Valley, but some of the most rugged country you could imagine. We got to the TA knowing we were about to put our bike together for our 2nd bike leg and all 160+Km of Molesworth Station (Largest Farm/Ranch in NZ).
The TA was at a local farm and race volunteers greeted us with lasagna, bread and soup. Which was delicious. This is where things took a turn for the worse as we found out the one member of the Irish Team were just with slipped and broke his ankle. WOW, we only saw them about 2hrs ago, but quickly dropping them as we moved down the valley. This was about to be the least of our worries.
As we assembled our bikes, Pete discovered a critical part of his back wheel hub had somehow come off and was lost. This was a small but critical part of any back wheel set and without it, he couldn’t ride, we couldn’t ride…race over!!! This part was so obscure that one wouldn’t carry a replacement like a tube, or pedal, cables, derailleur etc.
One thing you quickly learn in AR is how to respond to adversity and how to be resourceful. What looks like a game changer, or game ender, doesn’t aways have to be. And how you respond says a lot about who you are and who your team are. And if we had quit every race something had gone wrong we wouldn’t finish many races.
One of the race co-directors was there and he came and enquired as to what was our problem. He was very sympathetic. We were also talking to a media person while assembling bikes. She overheard what had happened and said. “I have my bike here, you wanna use my bike wheel?’ After checking dimensions and getting clearance from the RD (who could have time penalized us, but didn’t as he called it an act of God like occurrence) we got out of there.
And off in the Molesworth. Now its hard to explain the Molesworth in words, its very remote, the weather is only 1 of 2 extremes. Really hot or really cold and snowy. In fact the road is closed for 7months of the year due to snow and can still snow in the middle of summer.
We got a HOT day!!!
And it was hot. Biking on a gravel road, lots of climbing. But amazing scenery. I had run a race through here several month earlier and so was familiar with the route again. So off we went, with the map tucked into the pack, knowing that i could get us to Hanmer Springs a small mountain village no worries.
Generally this was a straight forward ride, just hot, but with plenty of water options. Pete felt a little under the weather at times, mostly from not eating enough but other wise we were good. The race started on Saturday and we were biking Monday afternoon into early Tuesday morning.
We started about lunchtime and rode until about 2am past Hanmer Springs to Glen Wye Station many km’s away. The few hours our Molesworth were spent with 2 other teams that we joined up with to create quite a pelaton and take turns and riding at the front. A group of 12 riders in a bunch can cover more ground than 4.
We rode over the Clarence River again, of course further upstream from where we had crossed in a raft earlier. We rode over a small pass and enjoyed a great downhill into Hanmer Springs hoping to catch the last of the stores before they closed for the night. We managed to get to a bar where several other teams were stopped and so did we for a big feed of fries.
Unfortunately here were encountered more bike problems.
To be Continued…