Saturday, February 1, 2014

Wildside 2014 - Dirt Kitten's day 3 & 4

Day 3:  The morning stage was this cool 6.5k individual time trial that had a bit of single track and a 200m pitch black spray tunnel that was lit up by glow sticks.  This was a pretty fun stage - short, fast and sweet.

The cruise stage after the time trial was probably the best of the 4 days.  We rode from Zeehan down to the shores of Trial Harbour on a dirt rode where you could see the west coast ocean in front and the forest mountains behind.  The sun was out, it was nice and warm and finally you had the chance to enjoy the scenery.

The afternoon Trial Harbour stage was another TD3 course - 22k's along the cliffs that follow the ocean.  We had a 4k climb out of Trial Harbour back along the dirt road, it was a mass start for the benefit of the helicopter that had come to take footage for SBS etc - that was pretty cool except for the amount of dust the helicopter stirred up when it came close to the road!

After the dirt road section, it got real interesting, real quick.  The track was about fire trail distance wide and was a mix of sandstone boulders, soft sand, hard sand and tennis ball size rocks.  Usually there were only sections of the stage that are technical - but this stage was 18k's of it!  For me, plenty of it was unrideable - both up hill and down hill.  Even the guys sitting in the top 100 couldn't make it up all the climbs.  I was out on course for 2hrs 47mins and the end just never seemed to be coming!  Plenty of crashes in this stage for obvious reasons, including my second fall.

Somewhere along here I remember thinking that our "preparation" training camp in Rotorua was a complete waste of time!  At Wildside you don't ride on nicely groomed tracks with sweeping birms as you do at Rotorua!  What were we thinking!!!

Day 4:  By now my heels were red raw and I debated wearing two pairs of socks to get through the last stage.  Like Thunder, I was looking forward to today's stage as well for a number of reasons - it was flat, we had a beach section, it was the final stage and I'd almost survived!

It was blowing a gail when we started and the marshals were kind enough to allow us to have the tailwind down the 7k beach section - that was cool as!!  A time where you could kind of take a step back and go - wow, this is a pretty awesome moment in time.

After the beach, there was a short gravel road section that led into the sand dune forest.  This was 5k of agony.  Riding in soft sand is pretty tricky and I'm sure I looked like I was doing the Harlem Shake quite often trying to keep upright.  When it wasn't rideable - which was often - it was run time.  Yeah right - with feet covered in blisters and shoes full of sand this was hell!  In the end, the shoes got the flick and I ran in my socks to make it to the end.

There was now only 6k to go.  6k of blockhead gail force wind.  I didn't care - I was able to ride and give my feet a rest plus I was nearly home.  Nearly finished.  To see the finish banner and Thunder waiting for me at the end was pure relief.  For me, to finish Wildside was a huge accomplishment - both physically and mentally.  I am by no means a Rowena Fry or a Jenni King, but I finished and I was pretty damn proud!

The question remains though.  Will I go back to Wildside????