bikes, hockey, squash ….

What have we been up to?  Autumn is well and truly here but we are still blessed with some fantastic weather!  The farmers are tearing their hair out because they want more rain but we are happy that we can still get out and about without getting too wet and cold!

A couple of weekends ago saw us heading in different directions as Nigel and Aonghas went to Opal Springs on Cub camp and Lachlan and I went down to Rotorua and the Redwoods for a practice for the Moonride.  It was a damp old day but luckily the heavy rain held off and we didn’t get too wet. Well Nigel and Aonghas got a bit of a drenching at hockey on Saturday morning , but had the chance to get a change of clothes before heading over to camp.  First part of camp was a walk up Wairere Falls – quite a steep climb up the waterfall and lots of steps but they managed to catch the rest of the cub pack up and even overtook a fair few of them, to get to the top of the track and the stunning view across the Waikato.  It was quite breezy so the spray from the waterfall blew back into their faces but Aonghas was quite taken with the fact that they caught everyone up and thought the walk was pretty cool!

Meanwhile Lachlan and I were at the Redwoods checking out the track for the Moonride with Russ, Jane, Jo and Rob.  We had a good day exploring – lots of uphill to get the benefit of the good tracks, and I was quite pleased that I coped okay with the pace as this was the first time I had been out with anyone other than the families and little kids!  We then had a bite to eat before heading back in the dark to practise our night riding.  A completely different experience – it is a bit like riding in a tunnel because you can’t see anything around you.  The lights we used were pretty bright, but that focussed beam tends to blind you to anything outside it.  Judging where the bumps and hollows are is a bit like skiing in a whiteout and you start to feel a little nauseous!  It is definitely bone rattling as you can’t really prepare your body for the shock of riding over the tree roots or dipping down into a hollow!  Still, once I got used to it, I found that I quite enjoyed myself!

The following week we were back for the real thing!  Lachlan was racing with the Hammers Young Guns – something he was a little nervous about as these are the guys that have been identified as having potential, and they have been having specific training all year.  Two of them are NZ champions for their age group and all have done very well in National races over the last year.  They were short of  team member though, and had invited Lachlan to join them.  A great opportunity for him but also quite daunting.  He was 4th to ride the 8km track and as they were all starting off with a double run he had a couple of hours to wait, which didn’t help his nerves.  Russ  had a chat with him and reminded him just to ride his own race and not to worry about trying to prove himself – he was good enough as he was, so just have confidence in himself.  Great advice and once he was underway, the nerves disappeared and he was sweet.  He rode consistently and although he was a couple of minutes off the pace of the others in the early stages, he came into his own during the night stage and continued to ride consistent times, whereas the others slowed down a bit.  They were impressed with his riding and have invited him to join the development group, so he came home very happy, and with a gold medal round his neck too as they came first in their age category and 9th overall.  Great effort!  Mum was quite pleased with her effort too – I had been persuaded to enter a team in the 6 hour race with a couple of Glen’s friends who were keen on having a go. We were just doing it for the experience and to have a bit of fun, and that’s exactly what we did!  The whole event is amazing – tents, gazebos, barbecues, braziers, gas stoves, fridges, televisions, windtrainers to get warmed up before you ride, every technology and gadget and gizmo you can think of, and a lot of people having a lot of fun!  Something like 400 teams and solo riders – yes some mad individuals ride for 24 hours solo!!  I think at some point there was an announcement over the PA system that the cumulative number of kilometres ridden was the equivalent to once around the world!!  It is huge!  I drew the short straw and had to ride the first lap – all the 12 hour and 6 hour teams start together and merge with the 24 hour teams who have already been riding for 12 hours so the track is quite congested.  I decided to hang back and stay out of the way of the guys who wanted a fast getaway which meant that the first km or so we were more or less stationary!  After that though I rode some quite respectable lap times (3 minutes slower than Lachlan and 7 minutes slower than the fastest lap time but I was happy!). I was actually quite disappointed when our 6 hours was up but my legs were pretty tired and I think I would have struggled to do many more, especially in the dark.  So I had something to eat and settled down to look after Lachlan and support the rest of the teams from Hamilton.

Winter sports have started – Lachlan has decided to give rugby a miss this season after a total lack of commitment from fellow team mates last year and a frustrating time struggling to get a full team to turn out for matches and training.  He is concentrating on his cycling – mountain and road, and squash.  Before his success in the Moonride he rode in the Blackstump 18km Mountain Bike Race and came first in his age group so we now have an impressive trophy gracing our living room.  After taking up squash last year he has made it into the Waikato Development squad and is improving fast.  He is still struggling in matches despite having good skills and fitness.  He has entered a few tournaments but has yet to post a win which is frustrating for him, but not surprising as he is playing against youngsters who have been playing for several years and have learned how to play matches.

Aonghas is also playing squash and is enjoying it.  We have Friday night Juniors Coaching down at our squash club which Lachlan has been helping out at.   We are hoping to get a few of the younger ones playin in some of the Junior tournaments soon and Aonghas is very keen to play some matches! After struggling with the switch from tag rugby in the UK to full contact here in NZ, Aonghas decided that he would try a different sport in 2009.  He really wanted to do soccer, and we thought he would be able to do school soccer after school and club hockey on Saturday mornings.  However, after signing up to hockey, he missed out on the school soccer team because he didn’t hear the messages in school about it!  Never mind, he really took to hockey and despite never having picked up a stick before he quickly learnt some basic skills.  After a couple of matches not really knowing what to do and just hanging around on the wing he gained some confidence and was soon scoring goals.  This year he is one of the “experienced” ones and knows a bout more about where he should be on the pitch and what his role is.  This week was his 2nd match of the season and he came home pleased as punch with the Player of the Day trophy and 2 goals under his belt!  Well done, Gus!

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