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Grape Ride 500km

Colin AndersonDedicated to the memory of regular Manawatu Masters Club member the late Eric Kells—CANTEEN fundraise

Well it all started in a hiss & a roar, a new age in Endurance cycling—the Young bucks have arrived & are keen to boogie. Got to be good for the Sport with this new interest, but heh !!—not so good for the almost OAP cyclist.

Once the group of 8 starters (from 11 entrants) reached the Grove road bridge, attack after attack seemed to be the *order* of the day. I joined in the *games* with caution, hell we’d only ridden about 15k, and still had 485k to go.

As we approached the first hill into Picton, Robin Read (ex Atlanta games Olympian) and Stu (Ironman) Downes, flew off the front, I took a glance behind to see there was a good gap back & of course it was now instant decision time-sit up or attempt to get across to the 2 leaders- I clambered across the gap then we had the fast descent into the Picton turn-off for the Queen charlotte climbs, rather surprisingly Downes dropped off on the first uphill, leaving me & Read to carry on.

Again I had the luxury of 2 years ago-following Read on the twisty descents, only difference in 2009 Read did 3 laps at full pace then withdrew, so I guess I thought-well gotta stick with this young turk for as long as possible-lapping across Kenepuru at well in excess 45km gave us a *smoking* first lap each of just over 3hrs.

After a hasty change into warmer gear it was off Solo into the night, now in 4th place as two others had passed thru with their support vans as I farted about ensuring I had all my Hammer fuel & topped up Hi- Viz 2 ltr Camelbak.

The 2011 Grape RideLaps 2,3 & 4, were all Solo and pretty uneventful apart from the ever present large!! Possums and heaps of rabbits wishing to *Share or Snare* the road with me, took a bit of heavy braking on one corner-could’ve been *Vaughan’s* corner from 2009 to avoid having fresh Possum stew in my fuel. The evening laps were extremely cold , with the occasional misty rain dropping down.

By the end of lap 4 I was frozen, and at the restart sat in my car with engine & heater on full blast trying to get some feeling back & lose the *shakes* that were unpleasant to say the least. Heading off at 6.30am for my last lap it was still dark so lights and reflective safety gear was still a must.

As I left, another rider just pulled in so I knew my lead on him was still consistent with the other splits, so I was fairly confident 4th was going to be my lot–barring accident—Oh Darn, I’ve never had a puncture in all my past *long* rides but as I went to change gears along the flat at the 426km mark by the Koromiko airport-nothing happened- the rear derailleur cable had snapped off by the hand control-Just one of those once in a lifetime breakdowns that cant be foreseen — Well I thought what would Eric do?? Common-sense ole fella, so I turned back and rode along in my bottom hardest cluster gear, the 30km to Renwick so I could sign in a dnf, 456 km now showing on the speedo.

Oh well a couple of bottles of Hammer Recoverite, quick pack up of gear drive to the early ferry-book a room/shower and a 3 hour kip before berthing @ Wellington for the drive home-interspersed of course for some Coffee & fish/chips.

Guess I was fortunate day-light saving ended that Saturday evening so I got a wee lay in before heading out with the regular BikeManawatu Sunday group – just for the 60+ km steady group.

Finally my weekend target of 500km was complete, Pedal Pushers trial bike was in the workshop for quite minor repairs in preparation for – Oh damn the Apiti Country Classic-and more hills.

Thanks to everyone who supported the CANTEEN fundraiser on Eric’s behalf, I know with ChCh its not been an easy time for many, but Cancer also does need ongoing support for research, rehabilitation etc etc.

Cheers WAL