Wednesday, 4 December 2013


A fortnight ago we finished the second leg Deep South - Southern Alps Tour. A five day 783 kilometre stage race, organised by two very passionate friends Daniel and Kay. Their goal for this event is to give weekend warrior the opportunity to experience what it is to be on a fully supported Five Star stage race.

Everything is provided great accommodation, food, all the race nuitrition, sag wagons, massages, traffic management, there is daily awards for GC (General Classification) KOM (King or Queen of the Mountain) Sprint jerseys. They are pretty cool events challenging and fun!

My role in this is the Traffic Manager a position which carries a fair degree of responsibility! But I am going to jump back to 2001 ... back then I worked as a full time outdoor instructor my  specialty was kayaking ... sea, whitewater and multisport ... I had been "living the dream" for the twelve years previously. As a guide or Instructor you take on that responsibilty of sharing your knowledge, experience and making sure everyone got home safely at the end of the day! Well, one day I couldn't fufill the last part of that equation and a family lost a dearly loved son ... my worst nightmare came true.

I was devastated, depressed, lost my passion for sharing my knowledge and experience about kayaking, eventually stopping paddling altogether, I left working in the outdoor industry and went back to my trade as a Carpenter to pay the bills. During my apprenticeship I had hated building, one evening I had left the site and was heading home when I remembered I had left something on site, so turned around and headed back, when I got there the client was sitting on the deck of their half built house was the sun set over Christchurch with the Southern Alps in the back ground ... it dawned on me that by building this home, that I was helping this couple acheive their dream of a new home ... a similar experience of helping someone to learn to kayak or guide someone into a wilderness area. A wee first step of recovery ... I started to enjoy my building ... there was a purpose behind it!

A few years later my path crossed Daniels, we were both helping out on a Triathlon training camp known as HTFU camp, I was being camp mother and Daniel was sharing his vast Ironman experience. A few years later Daniel and Kay took over the running of the 5 Passes cycle tour and asked if I could help out. It is their passion to help out the small triathlon and cycling industry which really impresses me, they GIVE in a big way and from individuals to events, sure it helps their own business, but the time and the advice they share is huge.

During the next twelve months Daniel and Kay put together their own tour the first leg of the Southern Alps Tour - 800 kms West Coast tour. Somehow traffic management was an issue, not only was it expensive it caused a few headaches, well over a few ales we discussed some options and I volunteered to help out on that side ... this I admit certainly was scary, it put me back into that position of responsibility for people in an environment that is not fully controllable. There was several times I wanted to pull the pin on it!

Finally, the first tour came around and we set off, 22 riders eight staff, six vehicles, 800 kilometres, five days ... what the f#*k was I doing!  I had already lost so much of what I had loved and worked for and I had rebuilt that and was doing it again!

It was pretty intense for me and I am sure that came out at times when riders crossed the centre line or were riding more than two abreast!

We got to the end of the event just outside Wanaka and everyone had packed up and was heading to the Resort, I sat in the car by myself and sobbed ... finally some of the demons haunting me I had faced ... I hadn't beaten them and I don't think I ever will.

Twelve months later, we start the second Tour ... we left Dunedin heading to Queenstown (the long way) with 24 riders,6 staff, 5 vehicles 783 kilometres and a few challenges for them along the way ... for me the challenge was still there, along with those demons, but they were a lot quieter this year. I felt more comfortable in the role and technically we had a few bigger challenges on the management side.

We had got permission to allow the riders to cycle through the Homer Tunnel on the road from Milford Sound to Te Anau. With the help of Downer the tunnel was shut while they rode up the 1 in 10 gradient, through the 1.2 kms basically hand hewn granite route, I stood at the exit with the stopped traffic watching the riders burst into the daylight with the biggest grins on their faces!

I got the same buzz from that, as I used when I was guiding and instructing, it was something I had not felt for nearly thirteen years!

I know that the riders grow their boundries of what is possible on these tours, for me I have felt there has been a lot of healing gone one. I can't reverse what happened to Tim on the river that day, but I also can't stop being passionate about helping people acheive their goals or dreams. I have a skill set which can do that and my confidence has grown again to do that ... time!

Christine, Daniel and Kay thanks!

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