Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Tour de Vineyards

Happy New year everyone

2012 has been a big milestone for me with moving to Nelson and the completion of my physiotherapy degree. Now entering into the real world with a job and finally starting to move away from just scraping through financially. The last 4 years of my degree has seen me move between Auckland, Kapiti, Tauranga, Rotorua and now Nelson, spend over 1000 hours clinical placements, clock up over $40k on student loan but also maintain an A average and the passion I have for my career and helping people recover from injury to achieve their goals. I have also managed to maintain a reasonable competitive level in mountain biking with minimal training thanks to the amazing and clever coaching from John Lee. Although 2013 it is all going to change, finally with a good 9-5 job I will have more time on my hands and be able to fit training in. Watch this space over the next few years

Tour de Vineyards

I have only really started races road this year outside of club races and have secretly being enjoying it, especially after injury to my back which saw me off the mountain bike for period of time.  So to end the year with a bang, I competed in my first road tour within the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Tour de Vineyards, a solid 5 days on the bike racing against a quality competitive elite women’s field including two 2012 Olympians, multiple national champions and international level athletes.  

Day 1: Prologue:

The 4.5km flat individual time trial was a nice short and sharp way to start the tour. I went out too slow initially and took a while to get into a good rhythm. At the half way mark I realised my pace was off and I had to speed things up before it was too late. Despite the bad start I was happy to find out I was sitting in 14th (out of a staked field of 29 fast girls), losing 32 seconds behind Lauren Ellis in first place.

Day 2: Stage one:

The hilly 40km criterium was an average day for me. I felt really good, lots of energy and speed in the legs but I couldn't get my timing right or a good position for the sprints. Near the beginning of the final lap I was blocked behind a slower riding going around a sharp corner which made me play catch up for the remainder of the lap. I luckily did manage to catch the end of the bunch on the final hill so the GC time was ok.

Photo by Wheelworks 

Day 3: Stage Two:

Day three was the brutal 130km stage finishing with the infamous Takaka Hill. It was not my day today and unluckily it was a long and difficult stage to have a bad day on. I started out by dropping my chain on a climb 30km from the start which I had to stop and wrestle with for a bit as it was jammed in the frame. As a result I lost the bunch and had to chase until I managed to catch back on 10-15min later. Soon after I joined back on there was an attack going up the hill.  I was still tired from my solo expenditure and ended up getting dropped. Luckily for me there were a few other girls that had fallen off the bunch so I was able to suck wheel and catch up once again. The next couple of hours were a blurred, it was scorching hot with no shelter from the sun and by the time Takaka hill came along I was already exhausted and fried by the heat. The bunch split immediately right at the start of the climb, I failed to get into a group and rode by myself.  790m climbing over 15km and it was a grovel up. I was shattered and overheated beginning to shiver and feel faint. To make things worse there was a headwind 5km from the finish which almost brought me to tears.  I was lucky to have Ash supporting me and constantly driving up ahead to shout encouragement and blast pumping music to keep me going. I honestly don’t think I would have made it without him. After over 50minutes of climbing I breached the top and unfortunately lost about 7minutes to the leader as well as several places, putting me in 18th.  

Photo by Wheelworks 

Day 4: Stage 3:

I felt pretty tired and sore in the morning but in hind sight I had recovered extremely well after my disappointing ride the day before. Day four was another hot 130km stage. Rain was forecasted again but never came which was disappointing as it would have been nice too cool off. The race was long but pretty uneventful until the finish where it was a bunch sprint. I finished comfortably in about 10th and luckily narrowly avoided a 3-person crash just in front of me. All the girls involved in the crashed raced the next day and finished the tour- what legends. Due to the crash everyone was awarded the same time.

Photo by Wheelworks 

Day 5: Stage 4:

The final stage was my favourite and best race of the tour. It was 46km of an undulating 5 lap circuit with a beautiful cold wind that made all the difference. The pace was nice and fast throughout and the bunch all stayed together until the final lap where there were several break aways. Just before the finish the all the break-away groups were caught except one and it came together in another bunch sprint. I was finally in a good position for the sprint and was feeling strong. During the sprint, just ahead of me to my right one of the girls chains dropped and her foot unclipped from her pedal which threw her out of control. I rode off the road onto the gravel to avoid the anticipated crash but she somehow managed to save it. Truly the best bike handling skills I have ever seen! I got back on the road and continued with the sprint finishing in 8th which meant I got 1 sprint point- yus!

Photo by Wheelworks 

This season I will compete in the mountain bike National Champs for cross country and the Enduro/ Super D. I will also do selective races of the NZ Cup that are accessible and affordable to me. 2013 will also see me get involved in the road cycling and dabble in track racing to mix things up! So bring on 2013!
All the best for the people competing in the first round of the NZ Cup this weekend Bluff.


  1. Nice write up Rae Rae and great work playing Roadie :) Get back to the MTB NOW!!! :)

  2. Cheers Tigs. I had a good blast on the mtb today you'll be pleased to hear :)