High & Dry But Firmly In The Deep End

Oh dear….what the HELL did I just let myself in for?

Did I really think about the consequences of saying ‘yes’ without giving full thought as to the repercussions of what just rolled off my tongue less than a month out from an event like this?

I think I may have firmly thrown myself in the deep in on this one, the exception being that for most of it I’ll be high and dry and I really should have dedicated a minimum of six months to a proper preparation.

It was never officially in the plan to do Red Bull Defiance, the gruelling two day, two person teams multi sport race around Lake Wanaka, but when you drop a couple of loose words into conversation that you’d ‘be up for it’ you have to be careful what you wish for.

Sure enough the phone started ringing to see if I’d fill in for an injured half of a team.

‘Yes’ seemed to roll off the tongue before a deluge of a few ‘oh shit’ moments started running through my mind as the reality of what I was committing to began to sink in.

 

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Don’t get me wrong, I spend a fair bit of time running and riding around the hills of Lake Wanaka, the Southern Lakes and Central Otago when I’m at home, often with some of the best in the adventure racing and multisport business, but it’s a very different proposition going from some fun in the hills with your mates to lining up on a start line of a multi discipline, multi day event.

Call it respect for the craft of others and respect for how others ply their trade –  but multisport is no joke and these are some of the baddest hard-asses you’ll ever come across.

Racing back to back over two days and with one of the harshest run courses you’ll come across, there’s a reason they called this one ‘Defiance’. It’s more than likely that one half of your team will be suffering at some point and teams racing is vastly different to making it from the start to the finish under your own steam.

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But when the opportunity arises to step out of your comfort zone and get down and dirty in the hurt locker, it’s hard to say no. I’m stepping into the unknown and it will be as much about doing and experiencing as it will be finishing.

Managing the highs and lows of a team dynamic, avoiding costly and frustrating mechanicals and operating in a state of physical deterioration is just the challenge that has been needed to spice up the month of January.

To think two years ago that I’d be even contemplating doing something like this on a knee that has had 9x surgeries and countless injuries is testimony to the benefits of regenerative medicine and rehab.

Stay tuned for some of the logistics and preparation that go into preparing for an event like this, i’ll be putting the best of my planning experience to work on this one to ensure we hit the start line in the best possible shape to make it from the start to the finish on January 21 & 22.

 

Thank You

To all who made and helped make 2016 the success that it was – THANK YOU

‘We’ finished on top – where ‘we’ have been since 2012.

There’s a reason I use ‘we’ as even though this has been a fairly solo journey the past year, there’s a lot of people who have helped in small and not-so-small ways to make this happen.

If you’ve been a part of this – thank you. You’re a freaking insane tribe of mates and every time there’s a taste of success, I hope you’ve all savoured a bit of it as well.

 

Winning is hard, winning and performing consistently year in/year out over time is far harder.

Rising to the occasion when you’re far from at your best which had to happen on multiple occasions in 2016 takes a solid dose of grit, but it’s also known as getting-the-job-done one way or another.

To everyone who had my back, believed and helped THANK YOU.

 

 

 

Back on the wagon –  back in the game….14591819_1821127518127963_6860241764202959869_n

Slap me across the face with a wet fish right about now…. I started trying to write this back in August, have tried to finish it on numerous occasions but for lack of a better reason you’re getting it lock stock and barrel now.

In fact, there may just be some keyboard diarrhoea ready to explode onto the inter web in the near future.

I’ve finally made it home, FINALLY managed to unpack and feel like at least part of my life has some kind of order and structure.  It’s the small things like being able to open up your draws and find what you’re looking for at a glance rather than having to explode a bag and sift through the destruction on the floor that means you’ve actually made it home.

When I started writing this back in August, the second half of my season was on the verge of not happening. A lot was up in the air and I was on the verge of heading south in search of white gold and the lure of my own bed. The reports coming out of the Southern Alps were that the snow was all-time.

And when it’s on – it’s on….

With not much going on in the first half of the summer, it felt like it had been a good long while since I’d had some hard and fast racing on the water.
From the middle of the Pacific I made the call to fly east rather than west.
The next two and a half months were full to the brim, full-noise action and working out how many cans of nitrous had in the reserve tail at the ready to unleash (thankfully there were plenty!).
When I say I was close to not coming back, I’m not joking.
Every time you make a decision to do one thing, there is always the opportunity cost of what you’re not doing. But for some reason, I had a sense of unfinished business; that I needed to go and finish out the season and see where things were at.
 
It was a bit of a gamble, but knew that I was carrying some serious form from the first half of the year. If you’re not going to back yourself, why should you expect anyone else too?
It’s the ability to continually evaluate a situation and remain objective that allows decisions to be made on fact rather than emotion.
With a view to taking each weekend and each event as it came, I landed back on the West Coast at the ready to let the high speed roller coaster of racing, travel, more racing and more travel unleash.

From LA to Huntington, to Hood River, Oregon to LA, California to Japan back to LA, up to San Francisco, down to LA, back into the depths of the Orange Curtain and San Diego it was a roller coaster of planes, airports, some toxic chemical burns, never ending logistics, fun, games and plenty of banter for good measure….I’m finally coming up for air after the marathon of the past three months.

With pace in my favour and fitness on my side, a re-found willingness to gamble the odd risk that I haven’t had for a while, the confidence to change up equipment and roll with the consequences, and ‘that’ moment in surf race final of the Pacific Paddle Games when I decided I loved being back in the depths of the pain cave so much that I went for another lap giving away the win….the overall win ……and a decent amount of lunch money in the process, it’s fair to say – I was definitely ‘back in the game’.

Them’s the breaks.

With the willingness to take risks, the heart to charge and a re-found love to compete that has come back stronger than ever, these are the highs and lows that make you fall in love with sport all over again.

Heck I even busted out a couple of cross-country races in San Diego for shits and giggles and seriously surprised myself in the process (not to mention an off-the-couch 110+ miles on the roadie in Oregon on whim…).

Now the bags have been packed, unpacked, packed, unpacked, packed, repacked and finally Unpacked for the year, with only the ‘weekender’ version in the proximity of easy access.

There’s the familiarity of the landscape of home and the security and peacefulness of the mountains that I crave at this time of year.

The bikes have been dusted off and the puffer jacket is in full effect.Even though it is spring, there’s at least a weekly dusting of show half way down the hills and a climate where the changeability of the weather is ever-present in the decisions you make daily on what you are doing and how you are going to do it.

The yoga mat has been unrolled and my annual pilgrimage back to the warmth of the yoga studio has been embraced as much as the awkward positions that my body loves to hate at this time of year have become the norm.

The reconnection with old mates to fix the problems of the world over coffee, wine or a long ride through nature’s playground.

The cry of the mind and the body to simply go and play rings true and louder than ever – for these are the months that are the ‘jackpot’ for the hard yards and investment of energy and time away when you ply your trade from afar.

Following every period of expansion there is the need of the balancing period of contraction.

For me, that is home and it’s the contrasting environment of the mountains.

It’s a world away from the madness of the year. It’s a chance to reflect, recharge, refocus and rebuild the energy required to rise to the challenges of the months ahead.

Thanks for the support, it’s been a roller coaster of a few months – the extent of which most will never know.

I know I’m here for the right reasons and I’m stronger, faster, fitter and hungrier for more than ever before.

Here’s to the next chapter.

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Zero swell – but the Huntington shorey will always claim a few victims

The back half of summer is upon us which means one thing – surf racing!

Love it or hate it, it’s a mix of surf skills, athleticism and who has the fitness to pull off the sprint for the cans and the crazy wave manoeuvres when you’re legs at are their most fried.

It’s been a while since I got to bust it out around the cans but I love it.

There’s always something about the leveller of the ocean to keep it interesting and the importance of maintaining a ‘never-say-die’ attitude that is required no matter if you’re in front or trying to come from behind  (not to mention entertaining).

I’d heard a whisper that something might be going down this month.

Sure enough, the leaks turned into a three week notice that Quiksilver and Jamie Mitchell were resurrecting his ‘Survivor’ race format, this time at Huntington Beach.

Having had my year somewhat turned upside down in May and June and all planning thrown out the window , I was sitting on the fence as to what I would do after Molokai 2 Oahu.

With a 50:50 decision hanging over me – it was either head home to make the most of the all time snow conditions or do a 180 and go back to the mainland US for the back half of the summer (and before you sarcastically mutter under your breath “shit life” – yep, it’s #firstworldproblems but you create your own path and it’s these times that I like to have a few skill and tricks up my sleeve in the athletic department to deploy regardless of the situation, season, country or environment).

So less than a week ago (most probably while sitting in the water waiting for a wave while watching another tropical sunset over the Pacific) I flipped the proverbial coin and bet on the shorter flight back to the West Coast and the golden sands of California.

Coming off a month of riding the downwind sleds in Hawaii to jumping back on a 12’6 race board has been just what the Dr ordered this week, but realistically I’m probably well under gunned in comparison to the Orange County crew who almost exclusively only hit beach sessions in training.

But as they say a change is as good as a holiday and man it’s been fun to jump back on a shorter board that accelerates, turns, surfs. I have a whole new level of appreciation to be back riding something that is nimble and quick (if only a downwind board had the attributes of what I have spent 6 years putting into my 12’6 boards!).

It’s been a good refresh to get back into the groove of the surf zone while getting the mind and body tuned back into the much sharper sessions that are on the menu for the next couple of months as we head into the business end of the season.

Tomorrow will be a great chance to see where everything is at regardless of the outcome (queue Huntington Shorey below for reference).

With a format that rewards those that finish at the front of each heat (multiple 1x mile heats in and out of the surf zone held over 45 minutes) there’s an incentive to get after it right from the gun.

Holding maximum efforts repeatedly for 45 mins with minimal recoveries will no doubt start to wear people down after the first couple of rounds and I am sure that endurance will play a critical factor at some point (likely sooner rather than later!).

And for those of you that are unawares, Huntington shore pound likes to eat boards and people for breakfast lunch and dinner. With a pretty much flat swell forecast for Huntington tomorrow, navigating the shore pound will be critical.

After Huntington it’s goodbye to Ca for a couple of weeks as I do a nippy turn around to fly out to Portland on Monday morning to hit Hood River for the Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge the following week with some other exciting adventures on the radar for the following week.

My bike kit and trail shoes are packed so regardless of if the wind turns up or not, you’ll find me making the most of the what the Gorge is famous for – REAL coffee, CRAFT beer, JUICY peaches, EPIC trails and Post Canyon!

Bring it on.