Wairoa Gorge MtB Park

Coach Ray’s Sufferings: Wairoa Gorge…..OUCH

I just want to have fun and enjoy running fast and achieving goals, but what goal to set myself? I’m still no closer to locking in what I want do race wise other than the Wairua Warrior which is now in doubt.

This week was busy with work so I didn’t get much training done but I was excited as we were booked in the Wairoa Gorge Mountain Biking Park for Saturday.  This has only recently been opened up for (limited) public access (if you are a member of the Nelson Mountain Biking Club). It is full of a diverse range of world class trails.

Monday kicked off with a road ride. Something I haven’t done much of lately, so a qwik 20km spin was a great way to start the week and finish the day.

Getting out for an afternoon #cycle #coachray #qwikkiwi #tricoach #tricoachnz #tritraining #tritrainingnz

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Then on Tuesday I got out for a good wee run up in the Wither Hills. Although the weather wasn’t great it never got really bad either so it was a good mental break in the hills for an hour.

After spending the rest of the week busy I got wind of a team doing the 6 Hour Absolute Wilderness Adventure Race that needed a replacement team mate at short notice due to a family emergency of one of their team members. I put my hand up and packed my bag in case they wanted me. I was slightly torn as I was really looking forward to riding the Wairua Gorge and didn’t want to miss out.  Luckily they had a mutual friend of the remaining team mates that was able to join them, so I didn’t need to fill in. It would have been a great event to be involved in as I haven’t been involved in it since the inaugural event in Murchison.

So Saturday morning Rachel and I headed up the hill and joined a couple of other friends and a few other people for the shuttle runs to the top of the hill.

We met the shuttle crew nice and early and received a qwik brief before being given our tags. I was quite honoured to be riding the same trails as top pro Cedric Gracia had been riding earlier in the week and even more honoured to be given tag #8 same as he was. Check out the wee video of his ride here last week:

Our first ride was from Irvine Hut down Benched As onto Chase the Orange before riding along the road a short distance to get onto Kurtology and then Quattro. We popped out right on time to get the shuttle ride back to the top. Missing the shuttle is like missing the bus except you’ve got an hour or so to wait for the next one.  Not long into the ride I was loving it and wondering when we could get booked in for another day at the Gorge.

The shuttle took us higher into the park up the Top Skid Road and we rode Creamed Rice (which was my favourite track of the day) onto MPD then we used Road to Nowhere to pop out on the road. As another rider had had a wee accident and was heading home early the shuttle crew took them down and unlocked the gate to release them so they weren’t stuck at the park the whole day.  Consequently we had a bit more time.

We had planned to continue down Kurtology and Quattro again, however with time up our sleeve we dropped off Quattro onto Rainbow Surfer and then the bottom end of Kidnapper to meet the shuttle truck as it came back from the gate. We were lucky as this isn’t a normal pick up point and as one of our riders had got a puncture a few hundred metres from the end, we had to wait for him to push his bike to join us.  Once we got to the top he repaired the puncture.

From the very top again we rode Cheesy Mort back to Irvine Hut before Bermed As. The plan was to ride this all the way and then cross the road and onto Florence and finish with the bottom end of Quattro, however we had picked up another rider in our group and he didn’t understand the plan. As he was our first rider he went off on Free Range instead of following Bermed … all the way through. This caused us to split our group briefly as some riders missed seeing the other riders descend on another trail.  We all ended up on the same trail again and riding in the same direction.

As Rach and Karlos tried to close the gap they rode away from me.  I struggle to keep up with them on the best of days. I was happy to make my way down the track as qwikly as I could, knowing that the other guys who were now ahead would get the shuttle to wait until we turned up. I wanted to have some fun anyway. I had enjoyed riding the lines with the single ‘X’ to indicate that they are more challenging and requiring greater care. So when I saw a line with a double ‘X’ I didn’t think and just went to ride.

Last on my mind was that everyone was well ahead of me and if I crashed they wouldn’t know when or where to look for me. Half way down that is what happened.  My wheel slid out on a steeper section and I nicely lined up the gap between two boulders to land between. With my momentum and still being clipped in I slid thigh first into it with speed……..ooooouuuuuu.

Instant pain, I unclipped and shook myself off.   I could see my partner in the distance wwwwwwaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy down the trail riding off. I could have called out to her however I didn’t think it was too bad and that I’d just jump back on and keep riding. I went to remount my bike and realised that wasn’t happening soon, and pushed, stumbled and walked my way to the bottom of the ‘XX’ section, where i was able to remount my bike on a less technical section and start heading down.

Each time I turned my pedals the pain got worse. I was feeling ill, but all I could think of was continuing onto catch the shuttle and getting something to eat. Food will make me feel better.  It always does.

A few minutes down the track, Rach had pulled over and waited for me. Seeing me arrive she asked if I had had a crash.  I told her it was a wee spill and nothing serious. After all I was still riding and it wasn’t too bad.

We cruised down to the end of Free Range and met up with Karlos on the road. I thought we could stay there and get picked up as the shuttle came past on it’s way up the hill. That would mean I wouldn’t have to ride any further. A qwik check on the radio confirmed that the shuttle was at the bottom.  It would wait there for us to descend down Quattro.

I decided to get going whilst Karlos sorted the radio as I needed that head start, however it wasn’t long until Karlos and Rach came past and were gone. I didn’t see them again until I arrived at the bottom. The further I tried to ride, the greater the pain increased and more frustrated I got. I literally coasted down the hill. Pulling in I put my bike on the shuttle and everyone else was already waiting. Rach took one look at me and said “Are you all right? You are very pale.” She knew I wasn’t and needed to hear it from me, but in my head I thought if I ate lunch I’ll be fine to go again for the afternoon. I struggled to get in the back of the truck but once in, every bump the truck went over caused more pain and the desire to vomit. I could barely have my bum on the seat, using my arms on the side of the truck to hold myself up and act as suspension to minimise the pain.

The ride to the top seemed to take forever.  Lunch didn’t make me feel any better.  I reluctantly pulled the pin on riding that afternoon, opting to stay in the hut in front of the fire. The shuttle guys kindly gave me the wifi password, but with the weather the internet connection hardly worked. I swept the floor and tried to find something to read, but spent most of the afternoon staring at the various maps.  I got to see and hear excited stories each time the riders got dropped up about the various trails they had just ridden.

So that was the end of a short day riding. The others all had a blast, enjoying a wider range of trails and challenging themselves on trails that I would have struggled on.

Over the next day or so, my leg got worse and my suspected haematoma has now been confirmed. Although I’m not yet moving freely and stairs are a massive challenge for me, my range of movement is coming back. I’m hoping to be back in the pool then on the bike soon and running not long afterwards.


Here is a link to last weeks Coach Ray’s Suffering:


Previous weeks of Coach Ray’s Suffering can be found here.


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