Editor's note:  Fantastic to see our first Club Challenge report come in! Starts off with a bang with a 300k in a Day achievement.  Well done Iain!

There should be a bit of a flurry of Club Challenge reports coming in now - as 4 people (Amanda Ashcroft, Sheryl Morris, Tony Levaggi and Adrian McKenzie) completed the Aoraki/Mt Cook Challenge yesterday.  And I was talking with Wayne Oliver and he's completed one of the State Highway One Challenges (He rode the equivalent of Cape Reinga to Wellington in a 4 week period)  

If you want to have a crack at one of these challenges - check out whats on offer by clicking HERE.

I saw Iain towards the end of this ride and he looked fresh and happy!

Over to Iain...

 

Iain Clarke: Ride Report Tararua Circuit 300ks

Date: Saturday 31st January 

I left home early in near perfect conditions heading east over the Haywards hill, then up State Highway 2 along River Road. My plan as always when embarking on a long ride is to ease into it gently, especially for the first hour while the body loosens up and I get my sea legs so to speak.

It was drizzly and cold over the Rimutuka hill, making for a slow descent on the other side due to the slippery conditions.

A quick stop at the bottom of the Rimutuka hill and I was feeling pleased that the rain had stopped. Now that it was getting light, I could see there was good cloud cover, which hopefully would help keep the temperature down, until I cleared the Wairarapa leg of my journey. 

Feeling confidant now that the riskiest section was over, I headed off into a very light northeasterly. I passed through Featherston, Greytown and Carterton at a good clip, before deciding to call in at the service station in Masterton for a comfort stop and to reapply the chamois cream which had washed off in the earlier rain. 

The traffic had been relatively light and considerate so far, in spite of my initial reservations about going over the Rimutaka hill in the rain and dark with a number of heavy trucks coming up at my back.

From my previous trip during the Christmas period with Mark Donald and Mike Proudfoot, I knew that I needed to manage my speed through the Wairarapa. That meant limiting my speed on the flat to around 30kph, and to watch out for any signs of overheating if the temperature got up. I also intended to stop briefly at Masterton, Eketahuna, Pahiatua, Shannon and Otaki. This hopefully would keep the legs fresh enough to get me over Paekakariki Hill later in the day.

I was particularly mindful that once I left Masterton it was a false flat until just after Eketahuna, a fact that eluded me the first time until reviewing my ride on the Garmin Connect web site the following week.

Having left just before four in the morning, I was at the top of the Pahiatua Track by late morning and had encountered relatively light but increasing volumes of traffic up to this point.

At the base of the Pahaitua Track the cloud cover had lifted, so it was full sun and sunscreen from then on. Unlike the previous occasion when we had been battling a strong northwesterly that never gave us any assistance, the wind this time consistently stayed from the northeast, picking up after Massey through to Shannon and to a lesser extent between Shannon and the State highway junction just south of Levin. My speed between Massey and Shannon over the rollers tended to range between 30 and 40kph which is very heartening, especially along this stretch of the ride where the road surface is quite rough.

Just before the turn off onto state highway one south of Levin I bumped into Gill Donald with George and Millie. They were driving up to Palmerston North to meet Mark, who had been managing a road race team that I think were training for an event the next day.

Once I was on state highway one heading south, the tailwind, which had been fading,   switched to the northwest and picked up again, giving me a blustery headwind for my ride home. I have always found the section of road between Levin and Waikanae particularly rough and hard on the legs, so my strategy having done the research is just to cruise along which can be a little disappointing when you see quite a respectable average start slipping away. I was mindful that the Paekakariki hill was still to come, so I stuck with my plan.

While at the BP in Otaki, I had the good fortune of bumping into Adrian and his wife while they were refueling. I have heard Andrew Morrison comment several times that when he is out cycling long distances he gets a real lift from positive contact. I tend to agree with his thinking and left Otaki feeling refreshed. 

From Waikanae and now back on familiar roads, it was a pretty comfortable trip home having for the most part stuck to my original ride plan.

It was not my quickest time up Paekakariki Hill, but the legs felt strong and I was still able to push it on the down hill all the way through to the Pauatahanui Village and from there home.