It’s only in writing this that I realise that our weekend trips away look a bit like a bloopers reel. Great fun to be involved in but laced with catastrophe. Worse, I realise that I’m at the centre of all of them!
For those who read our blog post about last years event, you’ll be pleased to know everyone made it to the finish line without falling off this time. Last year it was lucky we made it to the finish line, this year it was lucky we made it to the start.
Our story begins many moons ago, in the wintery month of June. We booked a six person dorm room, perfect for a small group of data experts to rest up before and after the big Taupo bike race (or in our case the 31km mountain bike race, also known as the soft option). To make absolutely sure the booking was secure, we even phoned to confirm our booking three weeks in advance. I had a great chat with the guy at the backpackers who was planning on doing the 160km lap around the lake but wasn’t planning on doing any training (clearly I should have been questioning his sanity from the beginning!).
Fast forward to the day before the race, we drive down to Taupo. We don’t hit traffic, we have a great time driving down, Nick got his crayons out (something usually reserved for Jimmy from Marketing [the one on the left]), everything was going so well. (can you tell who the people in the drawing are?)
And these words turned everything upside down; ‘There’s six of you? We only have the booking down as a single person. Sorry guys, we don’t have the space’. The guy behind the counter at the backpackers feigned to care and made one very weak attempt to phone another hostel looking for space for us – but it was very clear this was not going to help find us somewhere to stay. So there we were, standing outside the backpackers, contemplating the difficult choice of sleeping rough, or all of us trying to sleep in Nick’s van.
WhereScape to the rescue! Steve Dickens rang one of WhereScape’s founders who is now happily retired in Taupo. Wayne Richmond, you sir, are a lifesaver! Steve’s SOS call to Wayne meant a mere half an hour after catastrophe struck, we were arriving at Wayne’s thanking him for convincing his 18 year old son to stay at his girlfriends over the weekend so that we could have a proper roof over our heads (not a car roof as was the likely alternative!). This is a photo of the view from Wayne's son's room:
Before I go any further, I should mention that this is only half the story, more than one group went to Taupo. The second group, made up of two hard core road bikers, is a tale which, at least on the surface, would have been the more likely to be….eventful. Dave Mason and Ron Wakenshaw had opted to stay at Bob’s hostel. For those of you who don’t know the Taupo backpackers scene, and let's assume that's everyone, Bob’s is above Finn MacCuhal's Irish bar, the loudest and busiest bar in town. The hostel advertises that they provide ear plugs for guests, free of charge. How kind.
Their trip, with the exception of not being able to sleep until the band stop playing at 3am on Sunday, was breezy and uneventful. To be fair, this was only a problem for Ron as Dave was still in the bar at 3am Sunday keeping Ron awake.
And back to the race itself. We didn't have any falls this year but we did have a man down. Chris Wyllie's entire family has been taken down with a nasty bug. Chris however would not be deterred and came down to Taupo to ride the race regardless. In true Chris grit, he gave it all he had to give. Sadly, nasty viruses have a way of taking down even the best of us, and Chris was forced to retire mid way through the mountain bike race. Well done for giving it a go Chris. The shot below is of Steve and Nick supporting Chris in his recovery on Saturday afternoon after the race.
And well done to Dave and Harpreet for taking down the half lap, Ron who conquered the quarter and Nick, Steve and Jimmy for taking the soft option.
Bring on 2019!