Last weekend we jumped on the Blue Bridge Ferry and headed south for the Grape Ride. A 101 km fun-ride that starts in Marlborough in the middle of a vineyard. It has a romantic sound to it, but the realities of 2,500 fun riders taking off in a driveway narrower than the one at your house means that its a bit of a mission.
Accomodation was courtesy of the "Voodoo Lounge" (see pix below) at my parents place in Blenheim. We also got picked up from the ferry terminal in Picton by my mum.
A quick shop and we had stocked up on some local produce to get us through the weekend.
The team was Dave, Neil, Ran, Kathleen, and my wife Kay. Everyone was keen to give it a crack, and Kay had even been riding to work (2okms each way) in a bid to get fit. Dave catches some Zeds in the Voodoo lounge!
The day dawned very crisp and we got stuck in these massive lines of people "walking" to the race start. A sign of the kind of people that do this race. They were not in any kind of a hurry!
Some 15 mins after our "punters" race had started I managed to leave the vineyard in about the 5th wave I guess. We had a big bunch that seemed to have a high percentage of Onslow Tar Babies in it. They were reasonably keen to work though so we made pretty good time til Picton, where 4 of us rode off the front on the hill just out of town. One of them was Alan Williams, a team WARM-UP rider from Christchurch who was doing the two lapper, he had just caught our bunch as we left the start and was very keen to lap it out. We just kept catching people all the way through the beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound, and all the way home. We were still catching people at Okaramio. Somewhere long the way Alan's acclerations had despatched two of the guys, and we picked another up momentarily. One more surge on the last climb before the Wairau and Jurgen got spat as well. True to his word Alan offered to buy me a beer! He had just won the two-lapper by about 11 mins I think.
Neil was going good and came in well under 3 hours. Ran and Dave were about 15 mins past the hour and while Kathleen had to pull the plug, due to not having done any training (she lasted for 60kms!) Kay finished looking very fresh, having had time to stop and gorge herself on road-side Banana Passionfruit and Walnuts and she also stopped to buy a pie!
That night we went to local Restaurant "Roccos" for a very nice meal, and the next morning we checked out the local Farmers market for more local produce. Hmmmmm. Roast chestnuts, local cheeses, etc etc.