Friday, 19 December 2008

Battle Hill prize winners photos on Flickr

Well, it's been a bit of a marathon, but finally, we have a wrap. I've placed a low resolution photo of each of the five class winners on the Photos page, but if you click on any one of them, it will take you to the full set on Flickr and you can find the original photo in the set.

The set includes everyone who turned up for the post prize-giving shoot, so even if you don't see your photo on the WATRC photos page, check the set - you'll be there.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Battle Hill Results and Newsletter 116 published

The last newsletter before Xmas was emailed today, and with it the results from the Battle Hill ride.

Battle Hill is always a challenging venue, and the hot mid-day and firm tracks have been reflected in higher than usual vet-outs. Well done to the survivors, and commiserations to those who didn't qualify - better luck next time.

From the ride base, the hill itself looks quite tame, and indeed the clockwise direction of the Puketiro loop takes the worst of the steepness out of the up-hill section.

But the steepness is not really the issue - it's the height and the length that take their toll. The climb is close to 400 vertical metres over an unrelenting 3 kms, and it has to be approached with respect. Add to that your descent from Water Point 1 into a valley and a climb back out of it (mercifully not the whole 400 metres) and you begin to get the picture. Of course the Open and Intermediate 1 classes do yet another descent and climb on their extended section of the ride. Although it's a little out of date, the 2006 trail profile gives you a rough idea of what you tackled.

Nor is the homeward section of the Puketiro Loop to be underestimated. It is at least downhill, but downhill throws enormous strain on the horses' forelegs, and combined with the additional weight of a rider on their backs leaves them less ability to pick their way through stones, which is one reason many riders get off and lead their horses on this section (and it's easier on the rider if they have to trot the horse to make up time)

Bright's Farm is a similarly challenging venue. The trails are not as firm as they have not been constructed to carry logging trucks, but they can sometimes have long grass which can be slippery, especially if wet. High steep hills are a feature of this ride also, making it one of the toughest in the WATRC calendar. Again, an out-of-date trail profile is available, but do not rely on this as a guide on the day - the course may cover different ground or go in different directions.

Think about a ride strategy. Doing your speed work and covering distance up-front lets you take the end of the ride more slowly, allowing the horse's heart rate to come down, but remember that course layout and conditions can force you to re-think on the fly. If the underfoot conditions are good, that's an opportunity to make up time and distance at any point in the ride. If the underfoot is bad, slow down regardless - you're better to vet through late than to arrive lame on time.

Never forget your horse - most CTR competitors only have one mount - look after them and they'll look after you. Plan to finish this ride and be back for the next - don't blow it all on one day.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Photos from Battle Hill uploading

It's taken a bit longer than usual to get the Battle Hill photos organised, and it's still a work in progress - I'm trying to wrap up all sorts of work stuff before the Xmas break, and meeting the usual seasonal social obligations has been diverting my attention. However, we are getting there.

The Battle Hill set is partially uploaded, and the balance of the set can be found in the photostream as it uploads over night, if you just can't wait. Once the upload is complete I'll put the finishing touches to the set and it will be done.

Sash and ribbon winners - I'm still working on your photos and hope to have them ready by the weekend. I'll put them into a separate set with their own link from the photos page.

Unfortunately, I missed a number of the later starters due to my timetable (I had strapping and final vetting duties back at base) and the route I followed on the trail (cutting across from Water Point 1 to the Puketiro Loop homeward section) put me well ahead of any who hadn't passed me on the hill climb. Maybe next time.

Merry Xmas and a safe holiday to everyone, and we hope to see you all in the new year.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Newsletter 115 Published - Battle Hill details confirmed

The latest newsletter is now on-line and has been posted to subscribers. Included are further details of the Battle Hill ride. Due to pressure on the venue from other users, times allowed will not be available until a final course measurement can be taken, probably the day before.

Overnight camping and grazing is available. Anyone needing this should contact the ranger in advance. Contact details are in the newsletter and on the calendar page.

Battle Hill hosts the club's "Rhona Frazer Challenge" event, a club premiere points ride (double placing points to count towards club end of season honours) and is the pre-Xmas wrap-up ride for 2008.

Hope to see you all there.


Sunday, 30 November 2008

Battle Hill preliminary details released

Due to a delay in posting the newsletter, a quick update to the calendar has been released for the Battle Hill ride. More complete details are expected when the newsletter is released.

Also, photos from the second Maymorn ride are available via links form the photos page.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Wainuiomata - Results and Photos published

The Wainuiomata ride is probably one of the most beautiful venues on the WATRC calendar, with spectacular views to the south and west of hidden valleys, the city and harbour entrance as a backdrop, and the Kaikouras (on a fine day) a distant couterpoint. To the north and east, the Orongorongo's overlook the picturesque Wainuiomata River valley with the southern end of the Rimutakas behind, and the plateau above Baring Head falls in steep cliffs to the stoney beach.

This year the trail included an inspired detour around the eastern edge of Lake Kohangatera and the Gollans Stream wetlands. This area has been longingly admired from the top of Valley View Hill on previous rides, and it was a pleasure and priviledge to descend into the valley. For horses and riders this new section of trail added some welcome softer going on the flat and the opportunity to blow out some cobwebs - most riders took advantage of it.

By getting out a little ahead of the first riders, I was able to catch the first few in a warming morning light ahead of the full sun of the day. My trail followed the planned Novice route, but with the loop past the lodge and along the lakeside in reverse so that I could meet the riders rather than be overtaken. A trot downhill allowed me to meet a pair exiting the lake reserve who I had snapped as they entered the downhill part of the loop. The only downside of this plan was the very steep climb I had back to the main trail, but it paid dividends as I met every novice rider at some point on that loop.

Congratulations and thanks to Sharon and the numerous helpers on the day. A highly successful event and a magnificent venue with new gems revealed.

With results and the latest newsletter published, the photo set completed (at last) we now have a second chance at Maymorn to look forward to.

See you there.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Bulls photos uploading

As I write, photos from the Bulls ride held on 26 October are uploading to the Flickr website. I've posted a link to the set on the photos page, but the photos will only be added to the set when the batch is completed. If you want to get an early preview of the photos, go to the photo stream instead. If you refresh the page every 5 minutes or so, another image or two should be available.

Although there was a small field of riders due to the dire weather predictions that never really came to pass, I've taken a lot of shots, and the layout of the trail meant that I had several opportunities to take shots of most people. Being a new venue, I've also left more than the usual number of landscape and environment shots in the set.

It certainly is a beautiful venue, and the recent rains had left the free draining sandy soil of the farm quite soft underfoot, but not muddy. The day was overcast but not at all cold, and if there was any wind (and there certainly was plenty as we headed home through the Manawatu), the venue was well sheltered from it and we never really noticed.

This is a great venue that I'm sure riders will look forward to next year.

Tomorrow (Saturday) we head off to Wairarapa and the Whareama CTR day and Endurance ride. It'll be an early start and we'll come back on Sunday - again, the weather predictions are not good, and this time we think they just might come true ;-)

I'll leave the upload running overnight, but in the past these have been prone to failures, so bear with me if the complete set of photos doesn't get completed and finalised until Sunday evening.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Newsletter 112 and Maymorn results published

Check the website for the newsletter and the Maymorn results if you haven't already received them by email.

Please note also a small change in the directions to the Bulls venue this weekend. The entrance has been shifted and is now just after the 65 kmph bend. This will mimimise any inconvenience to the land owner who has so generously allowed us access to this new trail.

Also note that as you enter you will be on part of the course for a short distance and you may encounter riders. Please keep well to the left, go slowly, and stay alert for horses that may become alarmed.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Maymorn photos now available to view on Flickr

I've not long completed the selection and upload of shots from Maymorn, and you can now link to the set from the Photos page as usual.

It was great weather for the ride, and with the day heating up as time passed, the early starters were glad of their "red-eye" choice.

Coming up we have the Bulls ride - a new venue for the club and one we hope to see you all at. See the Calendar for details

Monday, 13 October 2008

Ride flyer for Bulls (26 October) and calendar updates posted

Details of the Bulls ride to be held on Sunday 26 October have been emailed to newsletter subscribers and now posted to the website. This is a new venue for the club with terrain reputably similar to Waitarere - mostly flat going with farm and forestry trails.

In fact, Bulls is the first of a number of new venues this season, and updates to the calendar have now been posted outlining some of these. February will be a very busy month for the club with an event each weekend.

The Maymorn ride was a great success, with riders enjoying wonderful weather to complete a well loved course in generous time.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Photos from Waitarere trickling onto Flickr

With a backlog of photos to edit from the Wairarapa 2 day Tinui event, it's taken me a while to get started on Waitarere, but I hope to have caught up before the next WATRC ride at Maymorn.

Rather than keep folk waiting, I decided to upload the photos I've selected so far, and I'll carry on with the edit task and upload the rest as I'm able, finalising the set sometime next week.

In some ways, the hardest part is done, with most of the forest photo selection done. Photographing riders in the Waitarere forest quickly exposes the limitations of one's gear and talents. At low resolution , some of you may notice that the forest pictures have greater contrast than the farm shots. At high resolution, you'll notice a lot of "noise" in the darker parts of the images. This is from pushing the sensitivity of the camera so as to shoot in low light.

If you also notice some bluriness, this is more to do with the limitations of the photographer. Using telephotos at slower shutter speeds (again because of the low light) a steadier hand is required ;-)

Anyway, as the caption on the photos page says, editing and uploading is still in progress, so if you saw me on the trail but there isn't a photo of you yet, look again when the set is final, and with any luck there'll be a shot of you.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Waitarere - first ride of the WATRC season - 28 September

A flier for the ride was posted to the mailing list a week or so ago, and I've been very remiss in not getting it onto the website sooner, so this quick note by way of notification in case any of you are users of the blog or the RSS feed (that works automatically off the blog). Check the details in the Calendar

In fact, Leslie and I have an early start in the morning, travelling over the hill to Tinui and the Wairarapa club's 2 day Endurance ride. They're putting on a 2 day pre-novice 40 km event (40 kms each day) but we'll only be competing on the Saturday, staying overnight to help out for a part of Sunday before coming back. Mainly a matter of seeing a new venue and getting a good training ride in before Waitarere.

Hope to see some of you there, but if not, no doubt we'll catch up at Waitarere.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Wairarapa's Clareville Ride - Photos on Flickr now

Well, we're back. While the WATRC season doesn't start for another couple of weeks, some of our members made the trek to Clareville last weekend and got a head start on the season.

The day could not have been better weather-wise. The rain abated for a day that started with a frost that caught a few of us by surprise. Although the sun shone, there was a cooling breeze throughout the day - good for the heart rates.

Perhaps most surprising was the size and strength of the Open field - 13 competitors took advantage of the flat Clareville course, an ideal test of the horses' start of season fitness.

Some very muddy sections of the trail tended to slow the pace, but despite this riders mostly managed their time very well - a few even managing to rush the course and come in too early.

The photographer, having to work to an Open class timetable to assist with strapping, took an "out-and-back" route, getting as far as the river crossing before returning to meet riders on their return to base. Consequently most riders completing two loops passed him twice, and some three times, affording ample opportunity for shots.

You can access the photos from the link on the WATRC Photos page


Sunday, 18 May 2008

Newsletter 109 published - Prizegiving and AGM date set

With the riding season over, things do go a little quiet on the club front, and so there hasn't been much to report for some weeks. Now however we have a confirmed date for the Prizegiving and AGM, combined with the celebration of WATRC's 21st birthday - a milestone in the life of any entity.

It's clear that our committee have been busy on our behalf in the times between. The issues that the club confronted in the latter half of the season have still to be addresed, but it's encouraging to learn that relations with ESNZ remain cordial, and discussions continue. Even more encouraging is the desire reported on behalf of ESNZ to see CTR grow, along with the willingness of our own members to continue to put forward remits aimed at the betterment of the sport under the ESNZ umbrella.

Details of the Prizegiving and AGM can be found in the latest Newsletter or in the Calendar. We hope that as many of you as are able will be there - it will be fun to catch up.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Network problems at WCN

Along with other sites hosted by the Wellington Community Network, WATRC was unavailable last weekend due to problems outside the WCN's control. If you were trying to access the website and couldn't, that's why.

With the weather forecast looking very marginal, the Orongorongo fun ride was called off. Apparently the Terawhiti ride on the Saturday did proceed, despite the cold conditions.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Orongorongo Trek - wrap up the season with a fun ride

Just when you thought it was all over for another year, the club has a fun ride planned for Sunday 20 April. Check the flyer for details. From the road end at Orongorongo Station to Barney's Whare via the coast is about 6 kilometers, so with a relaxed pace and a stop for lunch this should not be too taxing a ride. Barney's Whare is on the western coast of Palliser Bay, about halfway between Turakirae Head and Fisherman's Rock.

We understand that there will also be another fund raiser ride over Terawhiti on Saturday 19 April, possibly following a trail to the Terawhiti homestead, but we have no other details, sorry.

Upload of the Rewanui photos is now complete and there is a link from the Photos page

Wairarapa's Rewanui CTR photos uploading

As I write, a set of photos from the Wairarapa Endurance and CTR Club ride held at Rewanui on 30 April (originally billed as Tinui on the Wairarapa ride calendar) is uploading to Flickr. This was the last ride of the Wairarapa club's season.

As I understand, this was the first time the Rewanui Forest Park has been used as a CTR venue, and competitors are grateful to the Trimble Foundation, the farm leasee, and the farm manager, Paul, and his family. And of course, to the stalwarts of the Wairarapa club who organised the day.

As noted previously, we found a window of opportunity in the weather, and most of the day was fine, if a little overcast. Because of the lower than usual light levels, the photos have been shot at 1600 ASA, with the result that they are a lot "noisier" than usual. This manifests in a somewhat "grainy" appearance and the colours are a little "flat" and the focus a little "soft". At screen resolution, it probably won't show too badly, but if you want to blow up an image to a larger size, for printing, then you should check before you spend.

Our personal thanks to Paul and Noelle who kindly allowed us to camp overnight at the venue - we would otherwise have had a prohibitively early start to our day ;-)

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Photos from the Makara Fund Raiser Trek uploaded to Flickr

At last, I finally have a set of photos from the Makara fund raiser trek uploaded. It's been a long two weeks trying to fit in a number of obligations, and I've generally failed to meet them !

Of course, the whole thing has been compounded by the failure of my main PC - not a disaster, but certainly a major inconvenience. I'm limping along on a laptop that only has a small subset of my usual tools, and is missing some vital pieces of information.

Consequently, it will be a few days before I can update the photos page with a link to the set above, so if any of you recognise some of the riders who are not club members, could you please let them know the photos are online and perhaps send them a link. I'm sure they'll appreciate it.

In the next week I'll be busy editing the next and last set for this season, the Wairarapa club's Rewanui (Tainui) ride. It turned out we were very lucky with the weather on the day, the ride starting soon after some showers ended, and finishing before the next ones began. Happily the overnight rain had softened the ground a little, and the overcast conditions meant the horses didn't overheat on the challenging terrain.

It was a nice laid back event and good to see familiar faces from both the Wellington and Wairarapa clubs.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Wairarapa Rewanui ride now includes short Open and Intermediate

For those of you looking to ease down your season, the Rewanui ride, last CTR event of the national calendar now offers a 1 loop 17 km Open and Intermediate class, in addition to the regular 2 loop rides in those classes.

Given the current very dry conditions and what we're told of the terrain, this may be an appealing option for those looking for a last competitive ride that's not too hard on their mount. The Wairarapa rides typically start later in the morning than the WATRC rides and the heat of this wonderful late summer is also a factor to be considered.

As I write, photos from the Waitohu ride are uploading to the Flickr website. I hope to have a link posted either later tonight or early tomorrow morning. I'll update the blog as usual.

The Makara fund raising trek was a great success with about 30 riders taking the opportunity to ride from Makara Farm on Quartz Hill over Terawhiti Station to Te Ikaamaru and Ohau bays, parts familiar to WATRC riders from past events. A longer option carried on to the Cable station at Oteranga Bay. On return to the Makara Farm woolshed, riders were treated to a sausage sizzle and refresements. It was a stunning day.

For those of us familiar with the territory, the roading infrastructure put in for the installation of the West Wind project came as quite a shock. Made for large heavy tansport, the roads cut through hillocks and bridge steep gulleys - better roads in fact than the Makara and South Makara roads themselves! Many of the windmill foundations are progressing apace. The site has been closed to public access since November last year, so this was a rare opportunity and priviledge to ride again over country many of us love.

There will be photos in another week or so as I try to catch up on my backlog ;-)

Friday, 21 March 2008

Photos from Pikarere (at last)

Photos from Pikarere are now on the Flickr website. Access them from the club photos page as usual.

I've just noticed that the Flickr page layout has changed slightly, and there is no longer a "See diferent sizes" link. Instead, there is now an "All sizes" link that sits just above the top left corner of the selected image. Click on this to go to the all sizes page, from which you can download the original size image as before.

The lighting conditions at Pikarare on the day were a little more challenging than usual, and as a consequence the photos were shot using a higher sensitivity, and this results in more "noise" in some of the images. The effect is that some images may appear "grainier", an effect rather similar to "push processing" a film.

My next challenge will be to try and get the Waitohu photos edited in a shorter time ;-)

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Pikarere and Waitohu results published

The results were downloaded from ESNZ - the files are a little larger than usual as these have been scanned from hard copy, rather than the PDFs being produced directly from Excel.

Also, flyers for the Makara fundraiser, and the late breaking Wairarapa CTR Points ride. If you really can't believe the season is over, there are still a couple of rides your can do before daylight saving ends.

Still no photos, sorry. With all the rides on back-to-back weekends, I haven't had a chance to catch up with editing, and the last two rides I took a lot of photos. I will get there, promise, but it may take a while. My Easter is already looking pretty full.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Waitohu - last ride of the WATRC season

The Calendar has just been updated with directions to the Waitohu venue and details of the ride distances. Waitohu is a lovely venue, but challenging for Open and Intermediate competitors who ride the course twice, passing through the start / finish line at their halfway mark. Most mounts have quite firm ideas about when enough is enough!

I have to confess that I'm way behind with the photos from Pikarere. I doubt that I'll have them done by the weekend, sorry, but they will come eventually - it's been one of those weeks at work.

See you all at Waitohu.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Newsletter 107 published

The latest newsletter includes an inspired "Days of our Rides" from Jo Lake, a report of the recent Special General Meeting, and directions to Pikarere, our next ride.

Friday, 29 February 2008

Manakau ride photos uploaded to Flickr

It was great to be at the beach for a WATRC ride. Those long, flat soft straights unleashed the speed freaks amomgst our members, and what a lot of you there are !

Of course, riding on sand, one has to be careful. Sudden changes in the firmness of the going can lead to tendon injury, so it was good to see riders taking the firmer going as they stretched their horses out for a canter.

For the photographer, being able to see my subjects coming from hundreds of meters away, and having a wide choice of position and angle was a bonus I rarely get on some of our more confined trails, and I took advantage. Great fun, and I hope you enjoy the images.

It will be wonderful to go back to Manakau next season, and I'm sure we all hope this venue will be included in the calendar. That said, there are a few lessons to be taken out of the event this year that will improve what is already a magnificent ride.

If we have another beach ride that will involve river crossings, we're going to need a few small things:
1. Accurate information about the tides, their timing, and their impact on the course;
2. A technical delegate monitoring each crossing and empowered to make a call in respect of the safety of the crossing
3. An alternative safe route to cross, or an alternative route that allows competitors to complete the course, or a shortened course.

The most frustrating thing for all members was the ultimate cancallation of the ride. One cannot dispute the wisdom of the call - safety was a very real issue.

The timing of high tide, which was published as 12:05 pm in the NZ Almanac and on the MetService website, neant that riders in the Intermediate class, would have been making their final crossing of the Waikawa stream as the tide was starting to ebb, and the flow from the estuary would have been seawards - not a safe option.

As it happened, there was an alternative route (bridge crossing at Waikawa Beach) and potentially alternative options (turn south and do the leg to the Otaki River mouth again) that were not explored on the day. There may well have been others.

Absolutely, this is not an issue of looking for scapegoats - quite simply it's a matter of learning from experience and improving our performance in future.

Think of this as an opportunity, and make something of it.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Newsletter 106 and Special General Meeting

By now, most members should have received the latest Newsletter 106 by email. It's also available for viewing or download on the website. In this newsletter, and on several pages of our site, you will find a call to attend a Special General Meeting of the club.

In the newsletter on page 5 under the banner "The Future of WATRC: Part of Endurance NZ or Going it Alone???" are reproduced a number of emails documenting the to and fro debate that has been on-going between our Committee and Endurance New Zealand.

It's clear from the emails that WATRC is in dispute with EnNZ over the matter of outstanding levies on ride entries. EnNZ believes that WATRC has failed to pay levies that are due and that WATRC is obliged to pay under the terms of its affiliation to EnNZ.

WATRC has for some time deducted a ground fee from its entries, and this deduction has been excluded from the amount on which the EnNZ levy was calculated. WATRC has done this in good faith, believing they had a dispensation (if only in precedent) to do so. EnNZ has no record of such dispensation under the rules that could allow it, but points out that in any case they would not and do not normally grant such dispensation.

Consequently, WATRC is considered in arrears on its levies and has been asked to pay the outstanding amounts.

Although EnNZ has acknowledged the widespread disatisfaction with the basis of levy calculation, their position is that it would be unfair for WATRC to be exempted their arrears when other clubs have paid the correct levies. They maintain that despite disatisfaction with the present regime, the proper way to address the problem is through the EnNZ AGM, which was the member's forum that set the present unpopular levies, and at which WATRC was represented.

In my opinion, it's unfortunate that our newsletter frames this is issue in terms of whether or not to remain affiliated with EnNZ. In my opinion, this is a reaction to the situation, not a solution to the issues, and as such it has the unintended potential to mis-direct member's thinking.

The fact is that EnNZ considers themselves in financial dispute with WATRC. What this means is that regardless of whether or not WATRC remains affiliated, EnNZ are likely to seek to recover outstanding levies.

While it's easy to criticise EnNZ and NZEF (the over-arching body for equestrian sport in New Zealand) for taking levies and giving little in return, the fact is that there are benefits to being a part of a national sporting body, and while those benefits may seem a little intangible at times, be assured that WATRC does benefit.

EnNZ believes that our ride fees are too low, and that we could and should raise them. WATRC has suggested that raising the fees will reduce ride attendance. Regardless of the merits of either argument, if WATRC is to consume the services and resources of EnNZ, it ought morally to pay its fair share to support EnNZ. In particular, it is bound to meet the obligations it accepted when it affiliated to EnNZ.

While I think the whole question is premature, if members are going to make this an issue of whether to stay in EnNZ or go it alone, then they need to be better informed about what leavng would mean.

It would mean WATRC would become in effect a private riding club. It's events would have no standing with respect to national awards. Riders would have to go to other club events to qualify for national events. No resources from EnNZ would be available to the club. We would no longer benefit from buying power and economies of scale that a national body can secure. We would probably lose credibility with sponsors and supporters of equestrian sport. It would, in my opinion, probably spell the end of the club.

Likewise, if members prefer to remain affiliated to EnNZ they need to consider what is the value to them of WATRC, and what they're prepared to pay to be part of the national sport and to have a viable club that runs rides at such magnificent venues. If you look at the costs of other entertainments, do you think our ride fees fairly reflect their value to us?

Equestrian sport is not cheap. Shoeing a horse is not cheap. Running a vehicle powerful enough to tow a horse float is not cheap. We won't even talk about the costs of feed, grazing, veterinary care, worming, saddlery, covers, ... the list goes on. Just owning a horse is not cheap.

We pay a lot for our big pets. Do we value our rides enough to pay a little more for those too?

Here's something to think about.

WATRC has been paying the EnNZ levy (25% +GST) on half the ride fee. That is, it pays $2.81 for each $20 ride entry. It retains $17.19

EnNZ requires a levy on the full $20. That would make the levy $5.63 (rounded up) and WATRC would keep $14.37.

If WATRC raised it's ride entry to $25, the EnNZ levy would rise to $7.03, and WATRC would keep $17.97.

$5 more per ride entry is all it takes to meet our obligations to EnNZ and maintain our present level of club funding.

If the ride entry were raised to $30, the EnNZ levy would be $8.44 and the club would keep $21.56.

Now ask yourself - what can I get for $30 ? Here's some ideas:
2 movie tickets
A 2 course meal for one in Wellington (cheap and no drinks)
A 2 course meal for 2 at a country pub (maybe, and still no drinks)
One bottle of wine to go with the meal
4 glasses of wine to go with the meal (buy the bottle)
3 horse wormers (cheap ones heavily discounted)
1 shoe for your horse (fitted)
A month of halfway decent internet access (if you can get broadband in your area)
A Lotto Combo with PowerBall
15 minutes with a therapist

Hell, after getting home knackered and starving from a ride, we order in a pizza and garlic bread (from Hell) and that costs more than our current ride entry.

So it all boils down to this. Are our rides worth $5 more to help WATRC remain viable and meet it's obligations ? Or looked at another way, are our rides worth as little as a takeaway meal for 2 ?

There is of course a second question, and that is, do we perceive value from the levies on our ride entries paid to EnNZ, and the other levies paid to NZEF as club affiliation fees, and by registered riders and horses to NZEF for eligibility for national awards (this last bit raises a question for individuals - is it worth paying your NZEF registration if the club is not affiliated)?

But I emphasise that this is the second question, not the first, and it should only be asked once the first has been answered.

I remain painfully aware that club members don't have equal access to the club's publishing outlets. We have no forum where club members can debate these issues, other than at a meeting. I don't normally wade into a political debate on the club's website, and I feel I must apologise for doing so now.

Be assured that while I do have an opinion, my purpose is to support the club, its members, and its officers in reaching an informed and balanced assessment of the current issues we face, the potential consequences of our actions, and to find a beneficial resolution for all parties. If I can assist any member with makng their voice heard on this matter, I will certainly do so.

I will be at Thursday's meeting, and I urge all members who can to attend it also.

David Fitzgerald-Irons

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Photos and Results from Bright's Farm

Bright's Farm is always a challenging venue, with long climbs and descents on steep trails. Happily the weather was fine, and this year we didn't have to contend with rain sodden trails.

With the two loops having common portions at both the beginning and end, it was feasible to snap the entire field as they were going out, and then again as they were coming home or on their second loop. Despite a relatively small field, I actually got to take quite a lot of photos.

Results were published a day or two ago on the ESNZ website - one of the few times they get them out before we do..

Regretably, the club has some serious issues to resolve with Endurance New Zealand, and I urge you to read Newsletter 106 in full. More on that later no doubt.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Photos migrated from Yahoo to Flickr

I discovered a few days ago that photos that were previously hosted on the Yahoo photo site are no longer available. Yahoo photos has been closed down, and they are now putting all their energies into Flickr.

I probably missed the announcement of this change - it's been a while since I logged into my Yahoo email account, and I think I had to re-activate it recently - so, my own fault really.

Anyway, fortunately I've kept back-up DVDs with the published photos from the 2006/2007 and 2005/2006 seasons (all shot at 8 megapixels), so uploading these to new sets on Flickr wasn't a problem.

For the 2004/2005 season when I was still using film and having my film processor scan the negatives and produce a CD, there was a litle more work as I had to re-edit the sets. Consequently there may be some different shots in the set, or some that were present on Yahoo may be missing from Flickr. Those shots were scanned at about 1.5 megapixels - good enough for standard sized photo prints, but a bit of a stretch for anything larger.

However, I doubt that anyone will be concerned, and uploading the photos again was mainly about keeping the historical record intact.

It's been a salutary lesson about the value of keeping back-ups in a digital world, and an example of how some of these "free" internet services can be here today and gone tomorrow. Let's hope that Flickr (now owned by Yahoo, and for which I pay a "pro" account fee) is a little more pro-active about letting me know if things are going to change ;-)

Tomorrow we'll be up early and on the road to Bright's Farm. Fingers crossed for some good riding for you and photo opportunities for me. Hope to see you there.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

North Island CTR Championships results published

Congratulations to all place getters and qualifiers in the CTR. While the number of competitors in the discipline was small, the quality of the competition was strong and all can feel proud of their achievements.

The Ngaroma course was set in beautiful rolling country and managed to incorporate some challenging and strategically placed hill climbs. Aside from the extra distance, the terrain was really no more challenging than many of our local venues, and the early start meant that riders could for the most part complete the ride in the cooler hours of the morning. By 10:00 am however, the sun was well up and the heat was building rapidly.

The longer distance endurance riders had an even earlier start, riding in the night with head-lamps and following a fairy-lit trail, but judging by the small number that completed the distance, those hills must have taken a toll.

Photographically speaking, my challenge was to get to a place where I was likely to see riders. With an inner loop of 20 km and a 20km extension hooked in at 13 km, my best strategy was to walk the 7 km reverse course of the inner loop in the hope of catching the CTR riders before they reached the junction. This meant I met the "gut-buster" hill going out (and had to live with the realisation that it would still be there, but higher coming back ;-)

I never made it to the junction in time - partly that hill, and partly dallying over the sunrise as I crested it, and partly because the riders would have been doing their first 13 km of flat easy going in about one hour - but I did meet some endurance riders and so all was not lost. When I did get to the junction, I carried on into the extension and waited for riders to return. It was fun, and I hope people enjoy the pics.

It was with some disappointment that I've since read the CTR report. We had not waited for the prize giving, having a five hour drive to get to our over-night stop in Marton (thanks Amy and Anthony) and we'd left feeling that some of the unfortunate issues of last year had been put behind us. And yet, similar isues have arisen again. I really don't want to say more than that, once is unfortunate happenstance, twice is coincidental but begins to look like a pattern of behaviour. Let us hope that we don't get to three times.

However, let it be said that despite some glitches, the trail was brilliantly marked, the facilities were very good, and we had a wonderful time. Despite the distance, it was well worth the trip.

Thank you to all those who made it happen, and to all those who stepped into the breach when things looked a little pear-shaped.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Brights Farm ride confirmed for 10 February

The Bright's Farm ride has now been confirmed for 10 February and the ride co-ordinator Judy Edginton is looking for people to assist. If you can help out on the day or before, please contact Judy on 04 902 4166.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Photos from Waitarere Endurance available now

Finally finished the edits of the Endurance day last night, and upload was completed this morning.

Photographing the Endurance day was a bit different for me as I had to stay fairly close to the ride base and couldn't walk the trail as I usually do with CTR. However, it worked out well as the logistics of a multi-class Endurance competition over the same track on the same day meant that there was an almost continuous procession of people finishing a loop as others were starting theirs. I was racing around on the top of the hill over-looking the start / finish like a fly in a bottle!

Now we're just a week away from starting the trek up to Ngaroma for the North Island Championships. For those of you who are going, good luck, and I hope to catch a few of you on the trail on the CTR day.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Newsletter 105 and Waitarere results posted

While many riders are focussing on the North Island Championships, those of you who are looking towards the next club ride should note that the Bright's Farm dates are under review. Tentatively, the event will now be held either on 10 or 17 of February. We suggest you pencil in these dates for now, and we'll publish finalised dates as soon as they are known.

Also note that the Manakau ride has been deferred for one week and will now be held on 24 February.

I'm still chipping away editing the Waitarere Endurance photos, and hope to have them published before the weekend is over.

Results for CTR and Endurance are now on the website.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Photos from Waitarere CTR available soon

In fact, as I write, photos are up-loading to the Flickr website. Because the upload will take some time, I'll create the set and put a link on the WATRC site now, but be aware that the set may not be fully populated until Monday evening.

So far I've only had time to edit the CTR photos, but I'll start editing the Endurance day shortly.

Waitarere having longer rides and attracting more entrants, always means more photos to edit. The trail layouts also allow multiple opportunities to photograph competitors in the longer events. In the 4 hours available to me between strapping duties, I managed to get around the 13 km inner trail and caught many riders several times, and took an embarassingly large number of pics.

The one set of people I missed was the Open riders. With their early start and faster pace I simply never caught up with them, despite my shortcuts - sorry guys - that's how it goes some days.

It was great to see a lot of new faces on the ride, as well as many familiar one. Also the new combinations of horse and rider. Most of all it was great to see everyone having fun.

The Endurance photos will come, but it may be another week, sorry.