Qwik-View: Naomi & Ash Whitehead (Team SwordFox)

Adventuring

AdventuringQK: Congratulations to you both and the rest of team Swordfox, for your inspirational performance in the GODZone.

Ash, I know you have come from a strong cycling back ground.  Have you always been involved with the outdoors or is that something that has come along as you moved on from top level cycling?

Ash: I actually started out as a multi-sporter, but even prior to that I was into hunting, tramping, mountaineering, white water paddling and mountain biking.  My family is super outdoorsy.  Cycling came about as part of multi-sport and ended up being how I spent my early 20s.  It was a great opportunity to travel the world on a shoestring.  I always aspired to do expedition racing from watching the Southern Traverse on the 6 o’clock news as a teenager.  It was always something that appealed, but I knew there wasn’t much point getting into it until I was over 30 (partly cos it’s too bloody expensive!).


QK: Naomi, what background has lead you into Adventure Racing?

Naomi: I grew up on a farm in Southland and spent my childhood trying to keep up with my siblings at various sports and helping out on the farm which taught me many good life lessons. I constantly begged Mum and Dad to let me play every sport I could, but fortunately they had the sense to only let me play one at a time. At high school netball became my sport of choice with athletics and cross country running complementing this too. We always had bikes growing up.  This was a necessary means to get ourselves to the school bus stop a few kilometres down the road.

My competitive nature meant I was often racing my older brother to get there first. Meeting Ash at uni lead me into a bit of mountain biking (I was terrible at first!). I did try triathlons for a couple of summers, but didn’t really enjoy the swimming.

Fast forward a few years and a ruptured knee ACL playing netball in Nelson had me under the surgeon’s knife to fix it. It was then I decided to give kayaking a go to preserve my knees and the cycling for rehab was fun. I’ve always done plenty of running and tramping. A couple of years later I did my first big adventure race (Godzone Chapter 2 – Mount Cook) and loved it.


Spring Challenge Coaching
Team SwordFox just after the start of GODZone Chapter 5

QK: You have both had an amazing GODZone Chapter 5. It was very addictive watching your progress and your tussle with Yealand’s. What was the highlight of Chapter 5 for you each respectively?

Ash: The Matakitaki river.  It is one of the best rivers around. Every year I spend time teaching WW kayaking on the Matakitaki and it has some of my favorite grade 2 -3 runs.  Paddling the length of it in a day was something I have wanted to do for a while.   We got SMASHED in horse terrace rapid, which was pretty fun.  It was great to see mates from the NZ kayak school there to pick up the pieces for us.

Naomi: 8 weeks before Godzone I stepped aside from my previous team after a fight with a sharp rock while tramping.  This ended with a deep slice to the front of my leg through which I could see my tibia bone. I was a bit stressed from work too so thought the best thing would be for me to give it a miss this year.

A couple of weeks later my leg healed amazingly well and a few changes at work had taken the pressure off dramatically.  I was itching to get back into a Godzone team. Another girl had already committed to my previous team so when Swordfox needed an extra teammate 6 weeks out from the start I jumped at the chance. So for me just being able to race was amazing. Sharing the experience first hand with Ash was pretty special too.


QK: Naomi, a number of readers of my blog are preparing for their first Spring Challenge. What tips do you have for the first timers? What about some tips for those stepping up to the 9 hour?

Naomi: Spring Challenge is an ideal way to get into Adventure Racing. The rafting is low stress with super experienced raft guides taking you down the river then some fun times biking and hiking.

One of the cool things about adventure racing is that you get to hang out with a bunch of mates doing fun adventures both before and during the event.

Get out with teammates so you can get to know them well and practise some navigation are key elements. Most places in New Zealand have orienteering clubs that run various low key events both orienteering and rogaine style.  These are ideal preparation for adventure race navigation. I try not to think of weekend trips as training but just as fun adventures with friends. Being able to have fun and laugh and help each other out when anyone in the team is tired or struggling is ideal too.


Adventure Racing Training
Swordfox coming down from the Mt Owen trek. Andrew (the sleep monster) didn’t hassle them too much last night
Brent had a wee ops on the rocky terrain and now has a big sticky plaster on the back of his thigh thanks to Dr. Naomi

QK: Adventure Racing is truly a team event. The designated navigator often gets a lot of coverage in the media. What are the key roles you both fulfil in the team?

Ash: We are lucky in Swordfox as while Brent is the best on the maps all of us can navigate so we all spent some time on the maps. To be honest though we don’t really have defined roles.  All of us are experienced and know what needs to be done.  If someone is struggling we help them.  If there is a job to do we do it. The name of the game is efficiency.  Work together well and you will be fast.

Naomi: Pretty much what Ash said. My day job is being a General Practitioner so I usually sort out the team first aid kit.  During the race if anyone has any major medical issues or injuries on course I help them out. Luckily it has only ever been relatively small cuts or bruised toenails that need sorting.


QK: During the GODZone, how much sleep did you take as a team? How did you determine when you will sleep?

Ash: We had 5 hours sleep during the race.  For a 3-4 day race we work on a rough formula of no sleep on the first night then 2 hours per night after that as a minimum. The real challenge though is finding places to sleep.  It is only worth trying to sleep if it is going to be quality.  We had a great 2 hours on the deck of a bach at Rotoroa and then an OK, but not brilliant sleep at the Transition Area (TA) before the Mt Owen trek.

Generally we try not to sleep in TAs as they are noisy and you are often a bit wound up / excited.  Huts are ideal, but are often not there when you want them.  It is ideal to sleep from 2-4 am ish, but this rarely works out.  We also try not to use our tent as it can mean a lot of faff.  Ideally a 2 hour sleep will mean stopping for 2 hrs and 10 minutes. 5 minutes to faff either side of the sleep.


QK: During the GODZone you obviously need to fuel your body. How did you keep the energy levels nice and high through out the race? How often did you eat a hot meal? Did you know about the Absolute Wilderness (AW) catering on course prior to arriving there? Do you have any special treats you like to treat yourself with during the event?

Ash: Food is pretty important.  Constant input = constant output (energy not other outputs).  We roughly work on one thing an hour to stay topped up.  Variety is the key.  Not too many bars.  Lots of savoury items and lots of fat.

We managed to get a few hot pies on route and the AW hot meals were the only hot meals.  In the scheme of things this was quite a few. Normally we would go the whole race with cold food.  Yes we knew there was going to be hot food on the course somewhere.  The only real treat is anything fresh we can buy en-route.  Eating becomes a massive challenge after about day 2 when your mouth starts to break down.  The ulcers set in and the tongue swells, so it is hard to enjoy much at all.  Pork crackling is a personal favorite.

Naomi: Before GODZone this year it had been 2 years since I had done a long race so I had forgotten a little bit exactly what it’s like keeping up energy levels during a race. I aim to eat something decent every hour. Sometimes I will set an hourly alarm on my watch to remind myself to keep eating. During the first night I got to a point where physically I felt good, but was a bit sleepy and had a slight feeling of nausea. So I found it hard to keep eating regularly. When this happens you do just have to force yourself to keep eating otherwise 3-4 hours later your energy levels take a huge dive.

A variety is key and sometimes your preferred food changes even during a race. While it does become a bit of a chore to keep eating it can also be fun to look forward to the next snack especially if you have a good range to choose from.

The Absolute Wilderness hot meal and coffee was gold and warmed us up well after getting a bit damp kayaking down the lake. Another favourite of mine in GODZone this year was beef jerky.  Unfortunately one of my packets of this went floating down the Matakitaki River when we flipped!


QK: Rule No. 1 of Adventure Racing is don’t team up with your significant other for an Adventure Race. What did you do to make this successful? Would you recommend it?

Ash: Mmmm never heard that rule. The crux of it is that an expedition  race is just a massive adventure and you only want to do massive adventures with certain people – good mates who share the same values and objectives.  Nomes and I definitely fit that category.  We have been on a number of really challenging adventures together in different environments.  We work well together and know how to handle each other when one of us is struggling.  Saying that this year was the first time we have raced together in an expedition race so we were a little unsure of how it would go, but it was exactly as we expected and not too different from being on any other mission together.

Would I recommend it? Only if you would go on a really hard mountaineering, tramping, kayaking, or riding expedition together with two other mates.  Try that first.  If it doesn’t work, doing it in a race isn’t going to be any easier!

Naomi: It is usually me who gets grumpy first when we are tired. I was pretty excited to have the chance to race with Ash this year, but was mindful that it could be a challenge to our relationship! In saying that we have faced plenty of even harder challenges together. I made it a bit of a goal of mine to make it work and it was great.

Brent and Stu were awesome teammates too.  I found out afterwards Ash had sneakily told them if I was going through a low patch at any time during the race he was keen for someone else to be the one to help motivate me. Luckily the only time this was needed was biking up Takaka Hill when I was just about falling asleep on my bike. The boys were all awesome.  I laughed when Ash told me their tactics afterwards!!!


Multisport Training
Ash (rear of far kayak) & Naomi (rear of near kayak) paddle Cook Strait last weekend

QK: What is the next adventure for you both individually, as a couple and with the rest of Team Swordfox.

Ash: Well the list is long.  We just paddled Cook Strait to Wellington on Saturday which was an epic 100km of paddling over 12 hours, 7 of which were in complete darkness.  Highlights were the phosphorescence, dolphins in Tory Channel at 11 pm and almost being taken out by an albatross in the middle of the Cook Strait at 5 am.

The winter is likely to involve plenty of ski touring, winter mountaineering and mountain-biking.   I always have one eye on the weather and an ear open for opportunities.  It is great having mates who are keen to go on adventures no matter what they are.  Often the weather and conditions will determine exactly what the adventures are.

I am spoilt working as an outdoor education instructor in Nelson. My job keeps me fit and current in skills.  My students inspire me to get out and enjoy the bounty of outdoor opportunities the back country offers.

Naomi: I was planning to put the feet up and not do anything massive in the few weeks after GODzone, then the opportunity came up to paddle from Picton across Cook Strait into Wellington Harbour in the weekend.  It was too good to refuse. I loved it. Once again I found myself as the only female in a group of 7 of us.   I compensated by talking lots to stick up for myself and at one stage was told jokingly ‘man you can talk girl’.

Aside from that I’m pretty keen to get back out onto some technical mountain bike trails and I am coaching a group of Nayland College kids in adventure racing. The kids are super keen and it’s great to see them having fun and working well as a team.

The Adventure Racing World Champs are in Australia in November.  I’m pretty keen to race in a world champs event so who knows. Brent is a fellow Nelsonian so no doubt we’ll be doing a few trips with him and his girlfriend Megan over the winter months. We haven’t made any plans regarding Team Swordfox as yet.


QK: What have you learned in the last 12 months that you believe more people should know?

Ash: Not sure if I learnt it in the last 12 months, but lifestyle including all aspects from work, recreation and mental and physical health is far more important than having a big mortgage and nice car.

Naomi: Having good physical and mental health is pertinent to having a happy life. This usually means having a good support network of friends and family who can help you through any of life’s challenges (and there will always be challenges). I like to remember that there is always time for friends and family, sometimes it is much more important to spend an afternoon with friends or family than it is to go out training. There will always be time to go for a run but people aren’t around forever so make the most of their company while you can. You never know when you might need a favour from a friend and they will remember your kindness.


QK: What are the two biggest training mistakes you have made and how did you come back from them?Tri Coaching NZ

Ash: That’s a tough one.  This probably isn’t what you want to hear as a coach, but I am not big into training programmes.  I guess I have done enough over the years that I have a high base level of fitness and I know what my body responds well to. I exercise for fun and love going on big hard missions and listen to what my body is telling me, so I can’t really think of any big training errors I have made.
Naomi: Overtraining….I now have a few years experience and some good advice from friends/previous coaches to draw on. If I’m doing a shorter multisport race (which is not that often), I get a training programme for the 6-12 weeks leading up to it mainly so I don’t do too much long stuff & remember to do a few shorter hard sessions. Apart from that I don’t tend to follow a specific programme but just try to have fun going on adventures with friends!

QK: Thanks for your time taken to answer these questions. Good luck with the future adventuring and for ARWC later in the year.
Ash & Naomi are proud to be sponsored by:

Transforming Tash: Wisdom Teeth Removal Gives Me Time to Think

Training for IronMaori

There is nothing like being confined to a bed to make you re evaluate life’s goals and mission.

There is a certain clarity that comes with being high on pain medication and having no food as well. It’s like those two are not quite meant to go together haha. But my gosh a combination of Tramadol and Codeine makes me sleep well!! Haha Continue reading “Transforming Tash: Wisdom Teeth Removal Gives Me Time to Think”

Repeat Client – Marcus Hull

Cycle Training NZ
Cycle Training NZI first started training with Ray in 2004. The previous year I had done the Round Taupo Cycle Challenge in 5.10. I decided I needed to train smarter with the limited time I had due to work commitments- with the aim to break 5 hours.
What I have found with Ray if you tell him exactly how much time you have to train and what tools you can use (in my case an indoor trainer and a Concept 2 Rowing machine) he is able to set a program to get the maximum benefit for your time.

I duly rode a 4.52 round Taupo that year.  Over the years since, I have come and gone as a client with Ray. Each time I set my sights on an event I get in contact with Ray and he asks what my goals are and what I am prepared to do in training. He sets the training and I have always found that by the time race day comes around I know he has me in the condition to complete the event in an adequate fashion.

 Being a remote relationship has never been a worry. I find if I have the schedule in front of me each day and I am paying for it, that’s enough motivation to get the training done.
If I ever have any questions or doubts about my training, Ray is more than happy to explain the pros and cons of various things.

I am happy to recommend Ray as a coach to anyone .

Marcus Hull

UltraHumps: Blog #16 Poppy Day

Tri Training NZ
Tri Training NZ
New Zealand Defence Force personnel out collecting on the streets of Wellington for Poppy Day. MAJ John Humphries collecting for Poppy Day.

Hi Blog followers

Well the countdown is definitely here now.  With the weekend just gone it is 4 weeks until start time of the 515 kms of the Ultraman Australia event.

This week I have had my partner on location with her work commitments, so training has been a bit of a swap around, but an enjoyable opportunity to share it around commitments with her.  One thing I did get wrong in training is letting the intensity slip of what Coach Ray Boardman from Qwik Kiwi Endurance Sports Consultants had planned.  Whilst I completed all activities, Ray reminded me to focus on the intensity, an excellent reminder to keep me on track.

Most of my training during the week was on the Kapiti Coast which was a refreshing change of scenery.  Saturday I had a 4.5 hour cycle, so being back in Trentham I hit the hills of Whitemans Valley from the Blue Mountains hill road, through to Maymorn then over the Aokautere Summit to Waikanae then along the coast and up the Paekakiriki Hill, then up and over the Haywards.  I would have finished at the 4.5 hour mark but I couldn’t get into the turning lane for Silverstream due to heavy traffic on the motorway.  The next turn off took me to Upper Hutt then back down through the city.  One can certainly tell that autumn has kicked and winter is closing, as until I hit Kapiti Coast I was like a frozen ice block on the road after starting at 7am.

Sunday I had a 2 hour run, so I followed my normal route of running through Trentham Park to the Upper Hutt River and following that until I reached the 1 hour mark then turned around and retraced my steps.  Nice and brisk but nothing a running jacket and beanie with runners gloves doesn’t take care of.  I noticed there were plenty of other brave (or crazy) people out there during the weekend braving the cold either training or walking dogs.

One of my highlights this week, which I enjoy doing each year, is selling Poppies.  I was located in the Wellington CBD.  The donations go the RSA who use the funds received for a variety of reasons, but importantly to assist ex-serviceman who are in need.  In the weekend I read a Facebook blog of an ex-serviceman who served on Operations in Bosnia in the ’90’s and the RSA provided assistance as he battled cancer.  After he passed they are still in touch with the family.  It is moments like this that make me appreciate the country we live in and make me proud for the contribution I am making by raising funds through my Ultraman Australia event for KIWI (Killed, Injured, Wounded and Ill) of the New Zealand Defence Force.

Next weeks blog will be slightly late due to a heavy training weekend that Coach Ray has planned for me during ANZAC weekend, where I will do my training in Taupo, hit parts of the Ironman Course and attend ANZAC Day service in that location.

Be safe everyone and thank you for your support. Please attend an ANZAC Day service in whatever location you find yourself in.

Regards John Humphries (UltraHumps)!

Old Ghost Road Mountain Bike Adventure Day Two

Spring Challenge Coaching

Read about Day One of our Old Ghost Road adventure here.

Adventure Race CoachingAfter a big sleep we woke up naturally and then had a lie in as we had no rush to get up. Eventually we joined everyone in the main hut and enjoyed a hot breakfast with conversation before getting on the trail before 8:30am.

The trail continued from yesterday meandering downstream before climbing up past some unnamed lakes. There was some fog that made the scenery totally stunning. But we couldn’t stay there enjoying the view for too long and continued our climb. This was the only significant climb of the day but it lead to a nice flowing descent down to the historic Goat Creek Hut.

MtB Adventures
Through the mist and fog past the unnamed lakes

This was an interesting wee hut with some interesting history. The trail continued down river and got to a decent bridge. This bridge has an interesting ecological feature and that is a secure door in the middle of it to stop possums moving from one side of the river to the other. The Powelliphanta snail is a native carnivorous snail.  The possums on one side of the river have learned to eat them, but on the other side they have not. So by keeping the two possum populations separate DOC want to avoid one group teaching the other to eat snails.

It was not long after this point, that I broke my chain again. As I had used my joiner link the previous day I had to use a chain tool to remove a couple of links and then rejoin the chain which always weakens the chain, but was the only option for me out here.

MTB Training
Internals of the new huts

We continued on to Mokihinui Forks Hut and met some kayakers who had been heli dropped upstream and paddled down to here to overnight in the hut. We had also joined a couple (on and off) who were riding the track over a number of days.

We made our way down stream after the confluence of the Mokihinui rivers (south and north branch). It looked like an amazing paddling adventure ahead for the guys we met at the hut. Unfortunately, not too far along here I ended up snapping my chain again. My chain got two links shorter and Rachel and I took things very gently after this, even walking some uphills to make sure that there isn’t too much torque on my chain which could snap it again.

Adventure Race Coaching
View from the deck at Specimen Point Hut

There is only a short distance between the Mokihinui Forks Hut and Specimen Point Hut, but WOW what a view. The deck in this hut opens out and gives a great view of the river below.

Spring Challenge Coaching
Rach & I on the deck at Specimen Point Hut

As we made our way west, we gently climbed and come along to some amazing bluffs. On these sections it is recommended to get off and walk. We caught up to the couple from earlier again who had overtaken us whilst I fixed my chain. They had a spare joining link and offered it for us in the middle of one of these dismounted sections. After talking and putting the link in my pocket, we didn’t think and jumped back on our bikes, whoops. We didn’t realise our error until we got to the gate at the other end of this section.

Along this section are the remains of an old bridge that was on the old road to Karamea.

Mountain Bike Coaching
Remains of the old bridge on the road to Karamea

This bridge was knocked down by the 1929 Murchison earthquake.

Although not technical in nature the trail got to a point were we were advised by a sign that it was a steep uphill for the next 400m. Where was the sign in Lyell that advised us of the steep uphill for the next 20km?

What goes up must come down. And we got a good wee downhill to the road end.  Then we were on a four wheel drive track for a little bit and then a nice wee bit of single track that took us through to the Rough and Tumble Lodge. This is a nice wee place that serves local craft beers and great homemade pizzas. After a quick dip in the river and putting on clean clothes we ordered pizza and a coke to lift the blood sugar levels as we waited for the rest of the crew to arrive. The coke barely touched the side, and a nice West Coast beer helped the pizza go down.

Trail end at Seddonville
Trail end at Seddonville

Old Ghost Road map.

Read my Day One post here:

http://www.coachray.nz/2016/04/16/old-ghost-road-mountain-bike-adventure-day-one/

Strava File until my Garmin’s battery died.

Best of the Internet for Endurance Athletes: 17 April 2016

Each Sunday I’ll post my ‘best of’ list in a number of categories from the inter-webs. Other weeks can be found here.

Technology/Equipment Blogs

http://velonews.competitor.com/2014/04/news/gallery-technology-paris-roubaix_324082

What the pro’s are riding at Paris-Roubaix

Training/Racing Blogs

http://home.trainingpeaks.com/blog/article/power-analysis-mathew-hayman-s-victory-at-paris-roubaix

Here is Mathew Hayman’s power file from his victory at the Paris-Roubaix. WOW. Check out how many Watts he hit in the final segments covering attacks and launching his own.

Nutrition Blogs

http://home.trainingpeaks.com/blog/article/how-to-properly-fuel-your-morning-workout

Fuelling for a morning workout.

YouTube

Get a back stage pass to Orcia Green Edge and their victor at the Paris-Roubaix.

 

Old Ghost Road Mountain Bike Adventure Day One

Seddonville

SeddonvilleThis trip started with a somber moment (not that I realised it at the time). On arrival at Lyell I noticed a group of despondent trampers sitting over by themselves looking rather glum. I thought their pick up ride was late in arriving and was probably the reason for looking like they did. As I wanted to get my gear sorted prior to the arrival of our riding colleagues, I left them to it.

Bike Touring NZ
Bush Robin

The other riders on our trip soon joined us. The plan was about half of us ride from Lyell and the other half ride in from Seddonville. We would all stay overnight at Stern Hut, swap keys and then continue in the direction of travel the next morning. As the guys driving through to Seddonville prepared to depart one of the tramping group approached them about getting a lift to cell phone coverage. It turned out that one of their party had died of a heart attack 200m into the track and they had just carried him back to the start point, but couldn’t call anyone as their was no coverage. I only found this out the next morning, but he was 93 years old and in the hills doing what he loved with his family. As terrifying and traumatic as it was no doubt for his family, I would love to live to that age and still be walking daily and heading into the hills tramping. Far better than lying in a rest home. My thoughts go out to this man’s family.

Spring Challenge CoachingAnyway back to the adventure, the ride from Lyell up to the Lyell saddle is a relentless climb and I was loaded down with most of our gear. I climbed for the good part of an hour before I needed to take a wee break. Lyell Saddle hut was 18km onto the ride, with Ghost Lake Hut further along at the 30km mark. I was wanting to get there for a late lunch, having started just prior to 10am we were climbing steadily at 6km/hr. It was a long slow climb up to Lyell Saddle but once there there wasn’t too much climbing and a few undulations and downhill prior to Ghost Lake.Cycle Training NZ

MtB Training NZ
Big Slips

The effort required to create this trail, is amazing with it built metre by metre through the hills. A lot of volunteer hours and dollars was invested into creating this track. Due to the natural terrain some parts of the track have guidance and advice to dismount and walk through areas that are narrow and/or dangerous for various reasons. The first major area like this is known as Big Slips and it is the first time that you get any view of the surrounding hills as up until this point has all been in the bush.

 

Mountain Bike Coaching
View from Lyell Saddle Hut

We finally got up to Lyell Saddle, left our bikes on the main track and headed up the track to the hut a short distance away. The main huts are all new and were built first and provided accommodation for the track builders. WOW, Lyell Saddle Hut certainly has some amazing views and the ‘sleepouts’ are nice and cozy.Spring Challenge Coaching

Adventure Race Coaching
Lunch Time

After a banana and some scroggin it was time to hit the road and head further up and along to Ghost Lake Hut. We paused for an Em’s Power Bar on a corner with a nice log seat and bike rack. Not long after this point I had a bad gear change and snapped my chain. I wasn’t happy (as this was a new chain after my issues at Easter: read my report here on our Wakamarina ride). I was hungry and the lunch location was still 7km away. As I quickly set to work fixing my chain, Rachel got the cooker going and boiled some water for our dehydrated meal we had planned for lunch. The chain was repaired quickly and then we ate before we continued riding.

 

Ghost Road
What a location

As we climbed, Rachel had been riding away from me as she had a lot less weight to carry up hill (to start with I’m 30kg heavier than her and had a heavier backpack, a heavier bike and also had a rack on the bike with our sleeping bags). She was sick of me being slowed down by my weight so once we had eaten she grabbed my pack and I continued riding with hers. There was no reason I was carrying more than her other than for the simple reason I had a larger backpack and was unintentionally being chivalrous.

Mountain Bike Adventures NZ
Alpine section between Lyell Saddle and Ghost Lake Huts

We continued riding onwards and upwards out of the bush. Up in the alpine section the views were great and we paused and took some photos but my backpack was frustrating and uncomfortable for Rachel and we swapped back. The section across the tops was a great ride and the descent down into Ghost Lake Hut was a bumpy wee ride, but rolling into the hut was a bit of relief. We topped up with water and enjoyed the view……up until we realised that in the distance we could see the track climbing up and to get to that point it had to descend a long way.

Mountain Biking Coaching New Zealand
View of Ghost Lake from the Ghost Lake Hut. Note the track on the skyline by the right shoulder and above the gentlemen’s head.

WOW, what a technical descent that required a lot of concentration. Rachel zipped ahead getting ahead by three or four switch backs, as she is a more talented and technical rider than me. We then began the climb up to the Skyline Ridge which was nowhere near as long as the 20km climb up from Lyell and after the gnarly descent from Ghost Lake Hut it was a welcome relief to be pedalling again. The view from the ridge was amazing, especially looking back on Murchison.

What goes up must go down and then it was time to descend. Hitting the Skyline Steps the only option was to get off and walk, but the challenge was how to manage your bike on the step narrow steps. There was no easy way, you just had to keep moving forward and downward.

Once at the bottom, it was a sweet downhill on a nice flowing track pretty much all the way to Stern Valley Hut. Along the way we had a couple of small stream fords (including one that appears to come straight out of a tunnel in the side of the hill) and a couple of bridges.

Off Road Adventures NZ
Park Workshop at Stern Valley Hut

On arrival at the hut we joined other riders and trampers who had already arrived and coincidentally the riders coming from Seddonville in our party. All of the new huts have a range of Park tools (including chain breakers) set up in a workshop area (see picture). A quick dip in the river to wash the mud off and getting into some warm clothes. As it was nearly dusk, it was time to prepare some dinner. Dehydrated Thai green curry was on the menu with a Nuun electrolyte drink to wash it down with.

ATri Coaching NZs a long day of seven and half hours riding had left us both tired we retired early with no alarm set. We were staying one of the sleepouts and making the most of the double bunks with a mozzie net.

Old Ghost Road map.

 

 

Read my Day Two post here:

http://www.coachray.nz/2016/04/17/old-ghost-road-mountain-bike-adventure-day-two/