December has been a mixed bag weather-wise. The distances in the pool are building up and I am now doing sessions of over 3km in the 50m outdoor pool at Jellie Park. The outdoor pool is great, although it does become a real test of your patience at times when you have to share it with screaming kids. (What is it about kids that compels them to scream all the time?)
One particular session occurred during what must have been the last week of school. I got to the pool at lunchtime to find that every school in Christchurch seemed to have chosen that day to have their end of year pool party at Jellie Park. The place was absolutely heaving with kids and I'm sure the noise could have been heard from the outer city limits. It was absolute bedlam and it was all I could do not to turn around and walk straight back out again.
But no, a workout was required and I knew I'd be glad I stuck it out once it was done. Usually there are 3 or 4 lanes in the outdoor pool roped off for lane swimming. On this pool party day, however, the lane swimmers were given 1 lane and as it was such a nice day, there were half a dozen swimmers sharing that space, determined to make the most of the weather and not be intimidated into using the indoor pools.
So I jumped in and duly finished the swim. The lifeguards had their work cut out for them as the kids weren't satisfied with having only 7/8 of the pool and frequently decided they should be able to play in the lane as well. We adult swimmers got our revenge this week, however, when the skies opened and the rain came pouring down. The kids showed their true colours and retreated inside while we lane swimmers had the outdoor pool all to ourselves, and it was bliss!
Bike sessions have also moved up a notch and 3-4 hour rides are now the norm with 5-6 hour rides coming up next month. The weather has played its part in this (most frequently the wind) with several days of strong, gale force nor westers. These winds are notorious, coming straight off the southern alps and gaining temperature and losing moisture across the Canterbury plains until they hit Christchurch as a hot, dry wind that induces migraines and leaves people feeling generally cranky.
One of the real gains I've noticed, however, is that the winds are affecting me less on the bike than they used to. Earlier in the year a headwind would knock the stuffing out of me and turn the ride into a complete misery. Now I hit a headwind and just change into a lower gear and keep spinning away. Yes, I go a little slower into the wind (as does everyone), but my attitude is completely different and it makes the ride much less torturous. Plus there's always the tailwind to look forward to as well!
The winds, then, didn't hugely affect my training apart from one day when they were strong enough for me to cancel the ride and do a run instead. Flexibility is a great thing.
The Christmas weather hasn't stopped there. We've also had a deluge of rain across the country and that's meant flooded rivers all over the place. Today I had direct experience of that during my regular bike ride out to Sefton. It requires me to bypass the motorway and head over the Old Waimakariri Bridge. However the bridge was closed due to high river levels, a fact I wasn't aware of until I got out there and found the detour signs and cones out across the road. There was a security guard there as well and so I thought I'd check to see if it was OK for pedestrians/cyclists to go across.
"No, you can't ride over, but we can give you a lift across to the other side", he said.
It turns out that Environment Canterbury had a staff member on duty with a ute whose primary responsibility today was to provide a shuttle service for cyclists. He put the bike on the back of the ute and then drove me and the bike up the motorway to the other side of the river where I could resume my ride.
|The Old Waimak Bridge - the high river level meant nothing was getting across this old dame.|
Apparently he had done several trips already this morning and had also found out that cyclists' sense of humour usually showed an inverse correlation to the value of the bike when he told one lycra-clad bloke to "just throw the bike on the back of the ute, mate". The polite response, I believe, was something like "ah, this bike's worth $20,000, mate - it won't be thrown anywhere".
Seriously, though, it was a great service being provided by Environment Canterbury and much appreciated by this irongirl - who still had her sense of humour.