Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Last weekend brought with it an eagerly awaited opportunity to get stuck into the mountainbike orienteering (MTBO) season.  It turned out to be one of those great weekends, spent mostly with an ear-to-ear grin...


After skipping organisers' duties in 2010, Simon and I have this year put our hands up to organise one of the Wellington MTBO Series rounds.  We were hoping to set a course out at QE2 Park south of Paekakariki, but instead we were asked to stay a bit closer to home - namely, Meridian's West Wind facility at Makara.

I was Chairman of Makara Peak Supporters back in the day when we made a submission in favour of the development, and have since been a little miffed that the promises of recreational opportunities on the land have been far from realised.  Looks like that's about to change though, and about time!

We've had a fair few hoops to jump through, and Simon was tied up with family stuff on Saturday morning, but despite that, just after half-nine, I was keying the code into the security gate at Opau Road.  My chaperone for the day was Ranger Steve (all 7ft of him!), necessary in case I came a cropper and needed first aid treatment.

We signed in at the security office (rescued by the post-it on the monitor "John Randal, Orienteering, Sat am") and set off shortly after with our radio on Channel 1, just in case.

Order of the day was to explore - my onboard GPS unit would record where we'd travelled - and I'd also packed a couple of cameras in case further record was necessary.

Within a few minutes climb we were beneath our first giant turbine, and fark me it was huge!  (It looks like it's on a bit of a lean?!)

Ranger Steve scurries out of my viewfinder!  

Lying on my back, looking up!

For the first hour, we rolled down the access roads to the various turbines - the map we had showed all these roads, so our travel down them was not essential.  But, I think we were both relishing the opportunity to be among these huge feats of engineering.  The expansive landscape made it very simple to forget how large the turbines are. 

Looking south towards the Kaikoura Ranges

We eventually started lifting our bikes over the plentiful gates rather than open and close them.

The day was clear, with a fairly gentle wind blowing by West Wind standards.  Nonetheless, a rough back-of-the-envelope calculation had the blade tips at close to 300km/h - a full revolution of the roughly 40m radius blades was taking just under 3 seconds (2*pi*r/3*3.6).

We only had access to the northern part of the complex - Terawhiti Station would have to wait for another day - so Steve and I soon headed down a ridge which had us overlooking Opau Bay.  A maintenance crew had one of the massive hubs, with its three blades still attached, on the ground.  Despite giving the work site a wide berth, I still had to run 20m down the hill to get the whole thing in my viewfinder.

No thoroughfare!
Sneaking around the outside!  Did I mention huge?

At the end of the ridge, the track petered out, but we could see fairly sparse shrub down to the coast.  We hunted around but found no distinct track, so simply followed our front wheels down the spur.  Before long, we were both safely down in Opau Bay, having ridden a fair chunk of the descent (perhaps a clue to prospective competitors?!). 

We then headed up-valley, alongside an idyllic wetland, nattering away about this and that.  No shortage of great conversation material in either of our lives! 

Eventually, it looked like time to turn around, but the exploration continued.  We temporarily gave up on any attempt at conversation - the limit of our exchange was something like "Simon loves this steep shit" - but eventually we were out of the valley.

We finished up by heading out to the northern-most turbine, sneaking unchallenged through a work-site where foundations for a car-park were being laid out - Meridian look to be opening up access shortly to this single turbine.

Looking north to Mana and Kapiti Islands
We soon picked up a short but sweet section of singletrack, designed by my good friends the Kennett Brothers, before returning the same way, and heading back to Steve's wagon. 

Two happy blokes, neither too rooted, and some sweet riding done and recorded, data soon to make its way into Michael Wood's mapping software.


As if exploring the previous day was not enough for one weekend, Sunday morning saw me checking in at the Hataitai Velodrome for an Intermediate MTBO event, the last before the series starts in June.

Organisers Liam and Rachel Drew had planned a short course (controls 1-9) and a medium course (10-23), with the option of tacking both together.  My dear Mum was in charge of the daughters while the dads and a mum hit the trails.  As soon as Mum, Kaitlyn and Miro headed off, I shot onto the velodrome, and did a dozen or so laps to get the blood flowing a bit, and by the time I went to the start, both Simon and Sarah were out on course.

I'm always a bit nervous in the moments before that start of these events, but I was pleased to be finally back in my venerable Roadworks strip - something not lost on many of my fellow competitors who'd witnessed my Singlespeed Nationals or Wainui costumes online or in person! 

Usually, a fixed-order course such as this starts with riders on hands and knees transposing the control sequence carefully onto their map.  While the map for this event was pre-marked...

Try studying this while blasting a descent!

...I'd avoided looking at it before now.  I know Mt Vic pretty well, and working out exactly where the controls were pre-start would do me no favours for when the series kicks around.

Nonetheless, when 10:52 came around, I at least knew where the first control was - Hataitai Zig-Zag, here I come.

The course took a fairly gentle route down towards the Wellington Harriers clubrooms, though control 5 wasn't behind it as I'd thought.  A minute or so lost as I headed back to the table-tennis club with my tail temporarily between my legs. 

Control 9 was back at the velodrome, and soon after that I was exploring the sometimes confusing network of trails above the city.

I saw Sarah just before I hit control 14, and again at control 15 - we'd taken completely different routes at completely different speeds.  I indecisively blundered my way down to 16, despite having passed it earlier and being fully aware of where it was!

I saw many others while collecting the final controls, and as I pulled into the finish line at the velodrome, Simon commented "this will be close".  It was - "7 seconds" announced Jo, initially withholding the vital information of in whose favour!  When prodded, Simon was declared the winner!

Of course we'd taken virtually completely different routes, especially on the medium course.  I'd overlooked the "off track travel allowed" clause, rare in MTBO but pretty much essential from a mapping point of view on Mt Vic (otherwise it would be near impossible to get all the tracks onto the map).  We laughed to think about how much slower we'd have been if we'd been a team - riding to each other's weaknesses rather than strengths!

Top stuff!  What a thrilling sport!

That afternoon, Kaitlyn and I went riding out at Belmont with a crew Ash and Marjolein had organised.  We drove to the end of Sweetacres, but were soon riding with the bunch along the Old Coach Road.  Despite a bitterly cold Nor'wester which had come up that afternoon, Kaitlyn soldiered along, putting Montana Judy through her paces for the first time in a while.

At the highpoint of the ride, we decided we'd turn around, and were soon rugged up in the car, and shortly after that, we were being treated to a great pot-luck dinner at Caroline's place.

The MTBO event I'd ridden in earlier eventually came up in conversation. It was cool to describe a sport I love so much, to those who seemed genuinely interested.  I realised I had a map in the car, and was soon talking through the mechanics and some of the strategy of the event with the map in front of us all.  Hopefully I tempted some to give it a go!


If you want a better sense of what MTBO is about, check out some of my old posts:  Akatarawa Attacks are in January each year, and I've also described the Great Forest Rogaine, and the 2010 MTBO Series.  There are bound to be other write-ups lurking around too (e.g. foot events, including the City Safari in May).  Hopefully you get a hint of how much I enjoy the sport, and with luck I'll have given enough of the "why", "what" and "how" to let you make an informed decision about whether or not its for you!

The Wellington MTBO Series is organised by Hutt Valley Orienteering Club, and kicks off with an event on Saturday 18 June.  (Thanks to OHV and Michael Wood for the map above.)  The start is at the Brooklyn wind turbine, so expect plenty of climbing!  Also, expect some sublime riding, a perfect map of the area, the odd bit of second-guessing, maybe some panic or confusion, and an exciting wee ride which gets divided up into manageable chunks by the regular stops to clip your control card.  Round 2 is at West Wind, and while we'll have a rider-limit, maps will be guaranteed to those who ride Round 1.

Hope to see some of you there!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Robin Hood and Little John do laps in Wainui

Last year Simon and I headed out to Wainuiomata to spectate for a bit at the inaugural Wainuiomata Winter Weekender.  With at least one of our daughters in tow (I think we just had wee Miro with us), we didn't spend much time out there.  Despite a fair bit of mud being hauled around on bikes and butts, we looked to be missing out on some great fun!

The call for entries at the 2011 edition coincided nicely with the annual "what on earth do we do now?!" question that follows  Karapoti.  I emailed Simon suggested we enter as a duo, and soon after was doing the paper work.  That done, any discussions we had of the event invariably focussed on our attire.

One of the things I've enjoyed about the last 6 months is being pulled out of my comfort zone, and I figured why do it alone.  With that in mind, Simon and I had agreed to compete in costume - his first time since dressing as Mary Poppins during a wharf-jumping comp in 1996 - but it was less simple to find an appropriate angle.

Initially I was keen for Batman and Robin - I thought Simon would make a stunning Batman, with me as Robin.  I'm sure that would have been a bit of a hoot, and challenged usual stereotypes somewhat.  My mate wasn't keen...  We considered Thomson and Thompson, of Tintin fame, but worried about how we'd be able to make the outfits distinctive, and soon but the kibosh on that idea too.

Little did we know, but all the while, at least part of my costume was merrily growing on my chin. 

One of my favourite TV shows as a boy had been Robin of Sherwood...

... and I'd even watched it recently with Kaitlyn (at least until Jason Connery replaced Michael Praed as Robin).  Whichever of us suggested we dress as Robin Hood and Little John is lost to me, but I do recall instant agreement.  Robin Hood and Little John would ride at the 2011 Wainuiomata 6 Hour Wurldz! 

The month or so leading up to the event gave us a bit of time to sort our gear.  Simon's mother-in-law Shona generously offered to sew up some outlaw booties for us, and did a stunning job at that.  She borrowed a pair of shoes from each of us, and we ended up with covers that would sit tightly around our shoes yet leave our cleats exposed!  Wicked!

Simon's wife Sarah sewed our hooded shirts one evening during the ad breaks on Survivor. Simon had a jersey from the 80s which wouldn't need any alteration at all, and was perfect for our purposes.  While super convenient, it was alarming that he would have worn it while not impersonating Robin Hood!

Accessories were obtained from all over the place.  I emailed my good friend Ranger Steve, asking him to keep an eye out for a staff for me.  I figured he might spot something while out and about in Wellington City's awesome Parks and Gardens. Within minutes though he'd responded saying he already had the perfect thing in his garage!  Sweet!  A few days from the event, Simon was busy at Revolution Bicycles making arrows while the rest of us ate chips and dip and talked shit.  He'd made his bow earlier in the week and had a bunch of costume feathers from a $2 shop.  On Saturday I'd headed to a costume place on Thorndon Quay to hire a bit of leather stuff from the Xena box, and we were soon sorted.

Race day came, and before collecting Jonty and Alex, Simon and I got suited up to make sure Sarah had a chance to admire (hopefully) her handiwork.

Off to the races!
Before long we had four bikes on the back of my car, and were heading up Wainui Hill.  Soon after that, "Robin Hood and Little John" and "Team Alex Revell" were registered, and setting up camp at the far extreme of the transition area. 

I was delegated to ride the start lap, and thought I'd better try get my legs a bit warm.  I was joined for a lap around the Wetland Loop by Danny Boy, looking resplendent in a pair of very short shorts seen a few months earlier, hauling around the Wild Wellington course.  Dan was one of many whose company I enjoyed briefly on the day, and someone whose wisdom and kind words I've been privileged to receive recently.  At the end of our short loop, we wished each other well, and made our final preparations for the onslaught that would soon come.

I'd barely any experience riding at Wainui, so the briefing had made little sense to me.  Mostly the message was simple though - follow the leader!

I was standing next to Dave Aldred, one of the highlights of any event he graces with his presence, nervously awaiting the gun.  Dave was just finishing adding a bit of air to his rear tyre when all of a sudden a whooshing sound was heard.  In fact, I'd done exactly the same thing prior to a ride on Mt Vic with Simon a week earlier. It seems the flexy hoses between valve and pump are back in fashion, but they suck when it comes to valves with removable cores.  When you unscrew the hose, the valve core tends to unscrew with it, and unless you're very lucky, the tyre will come off the bead, and it'll be tube-time.  In my leather pouch was a brand new pump, of the direct-mount variety.  Luckily Davo managed to get his tyre reinflated before the gun went off.  Tense stuff though!

Davo retrieves his valve core, photo:  Pete Marshall

The start (half) loop was my best ride of the day.  Despite not being particularly ready to roll, the open, fast terrain suited me.  I was suffering like a dog though by the time we passed through the transition area.  Simon called "do you want to do a second lap?" to which I responded "Fuck no!"  As a result, he was standing waiting to go when I'd looped around to pass him a minute later - I thought he'd meant a second full lap after my first full lap, but clearly he was offering to take over immediately!

Within seconds of disappearing into the trees, I started to struggle as the course tightened up and began to climb.  Soon I was cursing my fast start, and slowly but surely slid back through the field.  Things got no better when the course tipped down, and I struggled to find, let alone maintain, any decent flow.    I did really enjoy being back down on the Wetland Loop, but that was soon over and it was into more tight singletrack.  After a series of switchbacks which pushed me well into the red, it was onto Beeline, and I faltered at the first drop, running down alongside my bike, in one piece at least.  A few minutes later, I was relieved to hand over to Simon.

We soon established some rhythm, each doing a couple of laps, and slowing only for a quick drink and a bit of encouragement as we passed through the transition area.  For a couple of laps I chased young Eden Cruise, who I'd last seen during his debut ride at Karapoti - the youngest ever finisher at age nine!  I could almost match him on the long climb, but he'd scoot away on the descent.  Sadly, I eventually did pass him - he'd punctured on the way down Snail Trail.  Good to yarn to his old man (and head mechanic) too!

Many of the issues I'd had on my first lap were resolved by the end of my second double - I was managing to keep my bootie out of my chainrings, and I'd worked out not to follow the track right at the point it connected across to Beeline, and instead make the unintuitive left turn.

On the flip side, I hadn't sorted the double-pronged tree on a left-hand bend some way up the climb, and constantly rode into it.  Nor was I really feeling overly competent and continued to struggle on the tight-stuff.  It was looking like a tough day at the office.

While my own riding wasn't going well, Simon was hauling, and while he was out, the atmosphere around the transition area was awesome.  We were visited by Sarah, Miro and Shona, and my Mum and Kaitlyn popped in too.  I busted them sifting with the "Ladies who Lunch" and had to head over there to make sure I got some quality time of my own!  While there, I made myself useful by not only sampling some of the delicious lunch on offer (Amanda's Lemon Cake Oh YES!) but also snapping a photo of the team mid-transition.

Ladies who Lunch, as Ma and Katy look on
While in that neck of the woods, I also took the opportunity to visit the lovely weather-goddess, Paula Acethorp, and bribe her with a few chocolate coins.  Little did she know but I'd spent about 2 hours on the Saturday trying to find them, in the end grabbing a few dozen from Kirby's Candies for a small ransom. Nonetheless, it was fun pulling them out of the leather pouch on my belt, temporarily housing them in addition to my pump and tube.

As the race progressed, my riding didn't improve much, but at least I wasn't getting any slower - my endurance wasn't being tested nearly as much as my skill level.  We'd done a good job with the costume design though, and riding in this non-traditional gear was pretty good.  I was missing gloves a little, but apart from a couple of tender spots - some caused by clipping trees - coped fine.   Occasionally I'd catch one sleeve or other on a tree, and once had a bee buzzing around in my hood for a bit.   My copper-lined leather gauntlets were well sodden for the duration, but were comfortable enough - I just had to remember not to wipe my nose with them - the left had a raw copper edge protruding, and the right a busted rivet!

Photo credit: Jono Baddiley
Photo credit: Pete Marshall

Photo credit: Agnes Arnold
Photo credit: Jono Baddiley
Finally in the last hour or so, the solo riders, and many others started to wane a bit.  I'd caught myself yawning, but a can of coke from Mum seemed to perk me up a bit.  Jonty, a fellow coffee addict, found his had exactly the same effect!  When Simon handed over to me for a single lap we were looking good to sneak another couple in afterwards.

Simon scorched around for his seventh lap, and was clearly having a great day!

Photo credit:  Jono Baddiley
Photo credit:  Pete Marshall
When he returned, I was left with about half an hour to knock out our 14th full lap.  We hadn't timed any of our laps, but we assumed that would be enough, and so I had no qualms about setting out.
I finally rustled up the nerve to ride the first drop on the Beeline section, encouraged slightly by Ashley's threat not to be my friend any more if I didn't!  Incidentally, by this stage the Ladies who Lunch had become the Ladies of Raunch - if you weren't there to witness it, you have only yourselves to blame.

Soon after, Alex Revell, from Team Alex Revell, came blasting by, thereby lapping Robin Hood and Little John.  It was nice to see such a lovely young man in smashing form, though I didn't get to admire it for long.  A second or so was all it took to get the point though.

I inadvertently excused myself from packing up our site, and instead took the opportunity to catch up with some friends.  It was nice to see Ben Wilde with his son Sasha, to congratulate Dan and Mat Wright for another ding-dong battle, and to finally get a chance to natter to Mike Anderson of Bike Hutt.  Our paths seem to have crossed at terribly inopportune times of late - typically in the middle of single-speed races!

The prize-giving had a lovely vibe, and we also saw some action!  Simon and I had managed a third place in the Duo class, taken out by Big Gav and Stephen Butler, with Jonty and Alex (Team Alex Revell) in second!  Simon and I also were highly commended in the costume category, along with the Ladies of Raunch who Lunch, bested only by Mr T himself, complete with bike done up as the A-team's panel van.  Nice work Paul!

Paul Smith, aka Mr T
Highly commended!  Photo:  Pete Marshall
 Before heading home, I managed very many short conversations with some of Wellington's finest, and even managed a bit of crafty product placement while talking to single-speed Solo victor Dave Sharpe! 

Photo credit:  Jordan Moss
Despite feeling like I hadn't ridden well, I was absolutely shattered on Monday morning - my body certainly felt like it had worked hard!  I'd felt big on a tight course, not that local legend and fellow Roadworks rider Tim Wilding had any trouble taking out the mixed duo with his partner Tamsin. 

While I'd been Mr Consistent at Wild Welly, this time it was Simon's turn - he knocked out an awesome seven laps within a 25 second time range!  My fastest had been half a minute slower than his worst, and my second lap of the pairs I did tended to be about a minute slower than the first.  Yuck!

While I felt like I'd struggled on the bike, my overall memories of the event are entirely positive. Riding as a duo almost completely eliminates spending any time with your partner - during our time together I was either elated (as I watched him ride away) or full of dread (as I watched him come in).  While he was away though, I had been able to catch up with other friends, and though never for long, the quality was there in spades!

The organisers put on a slick show, from the entry process and marketing, through to check in and setup, course marking and marshalling, and results and prizegiving.  Top notch stuff, belying the quality such a modest entry fee might imply.  It was also great to see some fantastic photos spring up in Facebook albums on Monday; thanks to Agnes, Jono, Jordan and Pete for spending part or all of their day recording the event for us.  The Wainui Trail Project also had the tracks in tip-top condition.  I thought they held up very well despite a fair bit of rain leading up to the event. 

I gathered from the man on the mike, Geoff, that Paula and Shane Wetzel were the main organisers, and so special thanks to them.  Sometimes organising events can be a thankless task, but I'm sure after the show they put on, they'll be being thanked for some time to come.   I'm certainly among the very many happy customers.

Paula asked after one aspect of my costume via email this morning, and I was bloody pleased to report it had been lying on my hall floor the night before! 

Once again, another top-notch experience with a bit of riding thrown in.  Thanks to my good buddy Simon for teaming up with me once again, and helping make a whole experience a huge amount of fun!  The sun really was shining last Sunday.

PS: we're hanging onto our costumes, and will be taking applications from budding Friars Tuck, Maids Marion and Merry Men at some point in the future!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

City Safari - no bikes, but plenty of fun!

I'd contemplated signing up for a 12-hour solo at the Moonride, until I discovered it was on the same weekend as Wellington's annual City Safari.  Like the Akatarawa Attack and the Great Forest Rogaine, this event is a treasure hunt of sorts, a choose-your-own-adventure with, in this case, a six-hour time limit. The fun twist of the City Safari is that public transport use is a legitimate and essential part of the event.

Back in 2008, "Family Randal" was born, out of necessity, on account of me taking a heavy spill off my bike the day before.  My bro, Dave, joined Kaitlyn and I as a late addition to our team.  We were awarded first in the six-hour family class that year, but a more careful analysis found another family team with the same points but who were home slightlier earlier, dropping us to second.  We'd had a fantastic time though, and in both 2009 and 2010 we took top honours.

This year, we planned to participate in costume, something we'd not done before.  But, the long range forecast was for pretty foul weather, and we held off.  A few days out, we pulled the pin on that notion.

I spent Saturday pulling down a couple of walls at my usual rogaine partner, Simon's place, and even snuck a short ride in at dusk.  But, well before my alarm going off on Sunday morning, I was woken by the sound of very heavy rain on my roof and against my windows...  Eeek!

Eventually the time came to get up, and I talked to Dave on the phone about contingency plans.  The forecast was for the front to move through and the weather to improve by mid-morning, so we discussed switching into the 3-hour event which wasn't due to start until just before midday.  Nonetheless, we'd continue as planned, and make a final decision at 8:30am down on the waterfront.

At 8:08 I sent Dave the txt:  "Stopped raining in Karori!  Just leaving now..."  followed by "Haha!  Lightning!  I should stick to my day job!" exactly two minutes later.  The thunder storm was still in progress when Kaitlyn and I drove together through Karori.  The rain was insane, and as we passed the Botanical Gardens, we couldn't help but stop to admire the water against the lamp posts adjacent to the road.  A couple of times even!


And more water!
We parked the car by the Lambton Bus exchange, and then walked to Queen's Wharf.  En route I gave Kaitlyn a piggy back so she wouldn't get wet feet on account of the flooding in the subway!

Dave was waiting for us at the registration desk.  For a few minutes we hummed and hahed about whether or not to start the six-hour.  In the end, we decided that we should at least grab the maps, and if we spent the first couple of hours sitting in a cafe hiding from the storm, so be it.

Metlink is a sponsor of the event, and as in previous years, there was a bus parked up in which we could sit and do our planning.  The map included the Miramar Peninsula in the east, Karori in the West, and north through to Johnsonville and Newlands.

For the first time, Petone had been included as well, and we decided to head out there to start with.  We didn't bother tallying up the points available in each of the suburban clusters, but instead looked for areas we were keen to explore.  Dave had his iPhone, and we discovered we'd have only a short amount of time to get to the station before the Upper Hutt train departed.  Awesome!  We pencilled in Khandallah, and before too long, it was time to get ready for the prologue.

Prior to the main event, a short sprint event is held.  The map area typically goes as far north as the Post Office HQ, and south to Te Papa.  We'd gone north in the past, so were keen to go south this time.  We'd have only 10 minutes, and no time at all to plan.  When we were told "Go!", we could turn our map over but not before.  Nervewracking stuff...

Soon though, we were running down the covered veranda of the Events Centre.  We counted the stairs off the end for a few points, and then bollards half way down Frank Kitts Park.  We made our way across the first overbridge, and around the WCC buildings before crossing back over the City to Sea bridge, back through Frank Kitts Park, and past Ferg's Kayaks.

A couple of minutes into all this I realised I'd forgotten to start my stopwatch, so had no idea when time would be up.  The lateness penalties are steep - in all we collected 80 points, but would lose 10 of these for each minute we were late.  With luck, I'd synched this watch with the organiser's at the Akatarawa Attack, and they were still in synch!  We dared grab one final control on the wharf before running to the finish.  I could hear Mick Finn counting down and sprinted with our answer card towards the table.  I managed to not slip over on the wet tiles AND sneak our card under the 1-minute-late bin that was being placed on top of the "on-time" bin.  YES!

With the toughest part of the day done, it was time to shovel a bit of creamed rice into Kaitlyn, and compose ourselves for the start of the main event.  We reorganised our gear, and were ready to go when 9:45 came around.

First up, we headed north to a 20-point control in the industrial park opposite the stadium concourse.  As with all other controls, we'd prove we'd been there by answering a simple question - in this case "Shed #35 (large brick building).  How many large blue doors facing the city?"

09:51, 2M:  2!  And here's Kaitlyn in front of the small blue door!
With 20 points duly collected, we set off for the Law School in search of lions heads.

09:55, 1K:  5 heads, 2 on each gate, one up above
We got to the Hutt Valley train with a few minutes to spare, and grabbed a couple of seats in a carriage packed with City Safari teams.   We watched as a couple of women ran down the platform towards the train.  They made it just in time!

10:06:  Time for a breather!
We got off the train at Petone station, along with everyone else!  While most headed across the motorway, we disappeared into Petone.  First off was a small cemetery plonked in the middle of a bunch of warehouses.  One of the cool things about this event is the way you get to see places you never knew existed!

10:23, 23:  1870 was the year!
We realised at around this instant, that our pencil hadn't made it off the train with us. At the Kiwi Brevet I'd typed notes into my cellphone and again used this strategy to keep track of our answers.  Our next stop was Pak'n'Save, and while Kaitlyn and I counted windows, Dave ran in and bought some pencils!

10:29, 11:  2 windows!  Kaitlyn looking a bit sheepish...
Answer and pencils intact, next stop was Petone Wharf.  

10:37, 32:  Abus padlock

We saw another few teams as we made our way off the wharf, and more still en route to the Settlers' Museum.  While it wasn't raining heavily, there were still some big puddles to dodge.

10:47, 22:  Aurora poking out the north side of the building
We were now heading back towards the railway station, but not before grabbing some more controls.  I didn't notice at the time, but I failed to record the dark green slide (control 21) at the playground between the Playing fields and Weltec.  I blame the rain! 

10:56, 12: 1927!

11:01, 10: white, green and maroon window frames!  And damn, it is a big house!
We had company at our final control before crossing over the motorway!  

11:07, 20:  dark green fence
We peeled off the overbridge into a small reserve.  It took us 30 seconds to find the overgrown track that lead us up to another tiny cemetery.  

11:16, 31:  1918 was when William Bolton the younger died
We dropped down the way we came, managing to avoid slipping onto our butts as we did so.  We'd anticipated going up the road above the motorway to the next control, but luckily there was a path, barely distinguishable on the map, and we avoided doing any climbing at all.  Percy's Reserve was our next destination.  Before we got there, Dave and I kicked ourselves for not asking our brother Ed to join us.  He'd lived overseas until recently, and would have been a perfectly qualified addition to the team!

11:27, 50:  2 horizontal rails
Our rather circuitous route now took us north over the new interchange bridge before we dropped down a staircase, along the Hutt rail line, headed for the northern extreme of the Petone Rec grounds - a mere few hundred metres from the dark green slide.  We scrambled up onto the overbridge - I was first over the handrail at the top, and failed miserably to lift Kaitlyn over - my girl's growing up!

11:46, 30:  Tennis club since 1893! 
We were now only a few minutes from Ava station - the reason for our weird cork-screw route.  The seats there were all wet, but we didn't have long to wait for the train.  During the ride, Kaitlyn transribed all my cell-phone notes onto our answer card, and we took the opportunity to eat a bit, and generally rest up for the next onslaught.

We toyed with jumping off the train at Ngauranga - a plump 60-pointer near the station was tempting, but we were nervous about getting stuck out there.  So instead, we stayed on until Kaiwharawhara, where we knew from Dave's iPhone and Metlink's Live Departure information that a 44 bus was 25 minutes away.

We had a walk up the bottom of the steep bridle path, during which Dave chatted to Mum and Dad, learning that their property had sustained another small slip in the wild weather.  We were about done with our raincoats by this stage.

12:19, 61: "Bridle 065"
We knew the #44 was only a few minutes away when we arrived at the stop, and true enough, before long it was coming towards us.  This bus would take us into Khandallah, and our second cluster of controls.  We actually passed one of these on the bus, and it involved counting the number of rows of blocks behind a substation...  10 or 11 was the consensus...!

A few minutes later, we were off the bus, looking for a walkway to control 41.  It wasn't this way, so must be that way.  Sure enough, and it was a busy wee control!

12:45, 41: white fence
We almost pulled off a classy move en route to the next control, but I screwed it up.  Just as we were passing a bus stop, the bus we'd been on earlier pulled in.  Dave moved to jump on it, knowing at the next stop we'd be only 30 seconds from the control.  Kaitlyn was a few paces behind me, and the bus was looking to leave.  A couple of teams were just behind Kaitlyn, and I made the embarrassing call to let the bus go...  A few minutes later, we were at the next control, but I'm sure our feet were slightly sorer on account of my decision.

12:54, 2A:  purple letterbox
We were just about due a toilet stop, and running water alongside the next control didn't help matters much!

12:59, 29:  seven slats on the gate!
 A few minutes later, we were in Khandallah Village, and already thinking about coffee and food!

13:03, 17: PO Box 22419
We had a look at one place, but the lack of any counter food saw us join some fellow competitors in a cafe across from the post office boxes.  We grabbed an assortment of food and drink, and all paid visits to the loo.  Across the road was a portaloo, reminding us all of the Safari a couple of years ago where we made use of one in this very suburb on someone's building site!

13:10, Lunch!  No points!
It turned out there were 11 blocks behind the transformer!

13:21, 2B: eleven
Next up was Khandallah pool, via Khandallah School.

13:29, 16: five timber posts
Though the school was a bit of a maze, we managed to find the connecting path we needed, and soon were hacking up a slippery sloppery path to the hilltop above the pool.

13:39, 28:  5 "Es".  No time for resting, y'all!
We went down the way we'd come up, again managing not to lose our footing.  We decided to forgo the direct route to the next control, instead walking up the stream a bit and cutting out some of our climb on a decent track.

13:48, 36:  green chair and netting
We took the steep route down, and hollered and hooted, and managed yet again not to get muddy bums.  We cut through a track towards Simla Crescent, picking out the correct bit of singletrack to take us to the next control.  We'd checked on the train timetable, and decided we were in a bit of a rush.  We jogged some of the track to the control, and I obviously didn't take enough care with the photo!

13:58, 37: middle letter "R for Randal"
We had one more control before the station, but luckily we didn't have to go out of our way.

14:02, 18:  grey-blue letter box
We made the station four minutes before the scheduled arrival of the train back to town.  Little did we know, there'd been a slip on the line, and the train we were waiting for had been replaced by a bus.  Confirmation of this came about 10 minutes later, when a train came from the wrong direction.  We'd have to wait for it to return for us, and there were no decent bus alternatives.  Plan B was necessary.

Much to Kaitlyn's dismay, this involved a jog to Crofton Downs, 2 kilometres away, according to  http://www.journeyplanner.org.nz/.  We figured we "probably" have enough time to get there before the train did, and we'd pick up 50 points for our trouble.

It was on this run that I carried Kaitlyn for the only time during this year's event.  The first year, I carried her up most of the hills, but as the years ticked by, Kaitlyn became heavier and had to rely on her own two legs increasingly more.  I really couldn't do much more than a brisk walk with her up on my shoulders, and her weight was killing my core, but we were nearing the five-hour mark, and she deserved a rest!

Before the station, we had a quick excursion down into Trellisick Park.  Luckily we didn't have to go too far.

14:35, 54: two holes in the brickwork
Soon after we arrived at the station, so too did the train, and we were soon heading through the subway to the bus exchange.  We had our eye on a control behind Wellington East Girls' College, but the bus we were on made very slow progress across town, partly due to the City Safari teams that kept leaping on board.  These included Mr and Mrs Drew, nearing the end of their 3-hour event, which they'd win by a huge margin (in fact collecting 10 points more than we managed in twice the time).
14:57: Come on bus!

By the time we reached Courtenay Place, we knew the far control was out of our reach. There was no way we'd get back to Queen's Wharf on time. Instead, we jumped off and picked up our next control behind the Embassy, just within coo-ee of my good friend Steve's place - he'd been up in Vegas riding and supporting more friends at the very muddy Moonride! 

15:14, 2N: blue tiles
The next stretch was action-packed.  Dave's lady Siobhan met us, and became our official team-photographer for a while.  We also passed Dominos Pizza, where a young woman was loading about 50 pizzas into the back of a wagon.  "You'll see these soon" she said, recognising our vests!  We pondered squeezing Kaitlyn into the boot, but decided against it, and continued off towards Vivian Street and our next points!

15:20, 1R:  three flags and three Randals, one looking particularly buggered!
The next control was at the Hannah's Warehouse tucked in behind Ghuznee St and Cuba Mall.

15:24, 1Q: three steps and three Randals, again!

15:30, 1P:  red fence, which we couldn't quite make out from back down the path...
We had about 15 minutes to get back to Queen's Wharf from Rosemere Backpackers.  There was one control off Boulcott St that I was pretty keen to grab.  But, my smallest team mate, dubbed "Midget Member" by her uncle Dave a few years ago, and still referred to by that name from time to time, said "over my dead body" or something similar.

So, instead we cruised back along Willis St, and before too long were back at base!

We enjoyed devouring pizza, and the other tasty morsels on offer, while the final teams came in and the organisers got results ready for us.  I was lucky to pick up a bivvy-bag as a spot prize which will surely make its way into my cycle-touring kit.

In previous years we'd probably pushed it all a bit too hard, but this year, apart from a couple of efforts to get to stations on time, had been much more sedate.  The photos at the controls had helped slow us down a bit, and made sure that the little'un would be involved every step of the way.

So, when it came to find out who'd won the family division, we were shocked and thrilled to hear "Family Randal" over Mick's mike!  Whoop whoop!

Nice one team!

Soon after receiving our Bivouac vouchers, Kaitlyn and I farewelled Dave. On the drive home, we stopped in on Simon and Sarah, both keen orienteers, and told them of our adventure. Before I dropped Kaitlyn at her Mum's, we talked about how sometimes you have to be brave and push yourself uncomfortably hard, not really knowing how well you'd recover from the efforts. I told her how proud I was of her, and how amazed I was at what she'd achieved during the day. She said she was proud of herself too.

And well you should be daughter, well you should be!

Fun times!