Last Sunday off I travelled down to Westport to do a weeks work with Agriquality in regards to the didymo outbreak. I wasnt to sure if I wanted to go, long way to venture for a weeks work, but hey its not like I had anything better to do with my time. Got to Nelson in one piece and meet up with Matt ... eventually - its hard to find a person, even in a small airport, if you have no idea what they look like. So we hopped into the rental and I talked his ear off with my typical blah blah blah rubbish for the next 3 hours, until we arrived in Westport. We then hooked up with Cheryl and waited for Alison, Mike and Ryan to show up for a wee team briefing. I got asked if I wanted to help with the showering of the adventure race athletes (obviously they didn't know me particularly well at this stage), so I said 'yeah thats fine' - (Im such a cool customer) - then they said 'great, we need to be out there at 5.30am on Tuesday so be up by 4am. Im sure when I left MAF I muttered something about no more ridiculously early starts. But it was cool, they needed Alison and I to do it as we were older, female, and more mature (well 2 outa 3 aint bad, right?). Meeting over we went out for dinner, then back to the motel, and Cheryl went home the next day.
Monday we went out on river patrol. Basically we drove up to Murchison and back stopping along the way to inform any punters out there about didymo and how to clean stuff. Halfway back down on the riverbed in a large campervan were a couple of german tourists. We hung around and the boys played stoneball, skipped a few stones, and we chatted to a trio of adventure race helpers who were going to camp down there. German tourists leave, well try to leave as they promptly got stuck, and stuck pretty bad. We tried pushing (and yelling 'get your foot off the accelerator' as the guy proceeded to really dig the rear wheels in bad). So Alison headed up to where the AR transition area was to get a tow rope off of one of the support crews. Finally found one, hooked up to Mark's hilux and began to tow the van out ... and this involved going up a steepish, river rocky, potholey bank. Ummmm, German tourist gunned it again and really dug it in at the bottom of the hill, at which point he leaned out of his window, looked back and shouted 'F*CK!!!!!'. So Alison and I head off to find a 'farmer with a tractor perhaps'. None in that area but we found a limestone works guy with a Safarri who was knocking off work and came down. With a tandem tow, guys pushing, and us girls shoving rocks into the dugout holes we finally managed to get the damn thing out. The best thing was the German girl (who was quite upset by the end of it) telling us in a quiet voice 'I told him not to go down there'. Well, yes, men are the same the world over Im afraid.We then headed back to the transition area and helped the guys finish off cleaning the mountain bikes, back to motel, shower, and dinner and a bit of pool playing.
Tuesday, up at 4am, down to the river by 5.30am, set up and waited for the first raftload of competitors to arrive. If they were on the water by 6am they would be with us by 7am. Finally, at 9.30am Balance Vector arrived 'hooray!!!!'. Got them all showered, all their gear cleaned, and on their way (too busy cleaning gear to actually see anything, and being Kiwis, tended to keep undergear on while showering anyway). Then a 5 hour wait for team 2. We were then kept pretty busy for the rest of the day, had a small break in the middle, and made it back to the motel at around 11.30pm. This was actually the best day. It was a total buzz, chatting with the competitors, working flat out. Some of the support crews were not the best so I had to run up the road at one point to get one teams bike shoes (technically a no-no but the checkpoint dude said it was ok and he wouldn't report it ... dont think the team came anywhere anyway). A lot of the teams didnt have towels either so my poor wee kathmandu towel was used over and over and over again and now its lost *sob*. I loved that towel.
Wednesday Mike, Matt and I did river patrol. This was a pretty fun day. Checked out some rapids, played stoneball, skimmed stones, and pissed myself stupid as the boys tried to throw with their left arms. Of course they could still throw better left handed than I can right, but they just looked so stupid, especially Mike who is a cricketer and softballer that can throw further than I have ever seen with his right arm, his left just sucked!! A nice quiet day where I purchased myself a painting in Merchison, had an early finish, a nice dinner and a bit of pool playing.
Thursday Ryan and I did River Patrol. Hes a bit of a quiet one so we just turned up the sounds and sung away (both off key). Called in to see Mike and Matt on the way back, who were up at the start of the kayak leg and had to hose down the support crews legs after they had pushed the teams off. It was a long day for them as they had been there since about 5.30am and Balance Vector didn't reach them until about 4.30pm. We hung around for a bit. Ron took me for a quick drive up the road to see if we could see any sign of the team, then called in on a coal miner dude who had 3 pet wekas and a one eyed dog. The wekas were so cool!! So was the dog. Alison and I went and had a quick bite to eat and then got out to the end point of the kayak at 7.30pm and waited for Balance Vector. The kayak leg was supposed to take 6-9 hours but the crew were sure they could do it quicker and sure enough, 8.30pm Balance Vector arrived. They took their showers with flashbulbs popping off all over the place, and we cleaned their gear. They then took a sleep and left again at just after midnight. Their setup is totally awesome, huge covered trailer,the works. Once their gear was done we headed back to the motels and slept.
Friday we were back at the end of the kayak leg to clean gear whilst the teams showered. Got to see a bit more at this shower than the other one. We were not quite as rushed and the tent was a wee bit more open ... not intentionally looking but the Swedes and Americans weren't particularly bashful and chatted away completely starkers (well the coherent ones, some were just a bit more zombie like). The pace this day was a bit more relaxed so a few of the Swede support crew girls asked for a shower and of course all the guys went 'sure'. The girls were quite happy to chat away starkers as well, much to the delight of the menfolk. Some of the competitors were pretty stuffed by this stage. One of the Swedish teams had about half an inch of white skin around the bottom of their feet, you could have just dug your fingernails in and scraped it off. They were so sore!!! I think they had about a 2 hour rest before their support crew sent them on their way. Unfortunately they arrived back about 2 hours later as the girl in the team had stuffed her knee and could not bush bash with it. They were pretty disappointed, couldn't track down their support crew, and proceeded to sleep in the officials tent in camp chairs.
Saturday Mike and I were on River Patrol and had a bit of a blast. Alison had cleaned her car the night before and by the time we had returned it looked like we had been out rallying *ooops* I learnt a few things that I had not encountered in my sheltered life, things I shant divulge here. Needless to say I now have a new hand sign and other mental images that shall crack me up for a few years to come. Both Mike and Ryan are Lincoln boys so I really dont need to say much more.
Saturday night was prizegiving for the AR so we popped down for a wee lookie. The boys headed off early as it was a bit boring, but I stayed with the older men to watch it to the finish. Lots of awards etc. Competitors falling asleep in their chairs, others on the floor taking a snooze, most of them were so stuffed. And getting up on stage and back down again was a bit of a trial for a lot of them. Balance Vector were, of course, fresh as daisys. They actually had the best time for every stage bar one so no wonder they kicked ass. I didnt feel like hanging around for the actual party bit so Tony and I headed back to 'the dog' to catch up with the boys. There was a bogan party happening so we played (and won) a few games of pool against Mike and Ryan, then Tony left so I teamed up with some guy named Luke, and continued to win games against Mike and Ryan 'hehehe'. By now I was beginning to realise that I was 34 and not 18, the music was too loud and there were too many heads and bodies 'banging' around so I headed back to the motel at around 12.30am. Apparently it didnt get much better and the boys left at 1am, so I didnt miss anything. I had visions of accidental heads clashing, fight ensuing, and Im so over that!!!!
Yesterday I got driven to Murchison, then swapped drivers and up to Nelson. Caught my flight to Wellington - windy, turbulent, total fun!!!! Had to rush to new gate as they had changed it and caught flight to Napier, picked up by ma n pa, KFC for tea, and sleep. My total hours for the week, around 95!!!!! Sweeeeet!!!!!!