Monday, 26 December 2011

Battle Hill photos uploading

Another big set so the upload to Flickr will be running overnight and may still be going on Tuesday morning. The link to the set is already on the Photos page but as usual the set will require some finishing touches once the upload is complete. Until then the slide show gadget will report no photos found but otherwise the photos are available as soon as they're uploaded. Enjoy.

I hope everyone has had a pleasant Xmas - the weather has certainly been at its best, although the outlook for new year is looking a bit shakey. Dove is having a day or two of rest after celebrating Xmas day with a hike up a hill and a picnic with a view across Cook Straight into Cloudy Bay. She doesn't much care for the view, but she enjoyed the Xmas cake.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Battle Hill Results, Pikarere Ride Poster

Well it's a Ho! Ho! Ho! and the night before Xmas and your tireless committee slaves on. We have the ride poster for Pikarere in the Calendar and the checked results from Battle Hill on the Results page. Nicky is preparing a newsletter as well and that will no doubt be posted to you soon.

With regret, the Battle Hill photos still are not ready, but now that the day job has wrapped up for the break and the pre-Xmas rounds of socialising are done there is some hope for getting them done
(if I can just avoid the gardening chores ;-)

So, what a great first half of the season we've had. We've been lucky with the weather and fortunate to have only one ride cancelled (sometimes the spring weather can play havoc with our schedule).

First up in January is Turakina. This is a gorgeous venue tucked into the Turakina Valley off the road to Wanganui - well located for our northern riders, but well worth the trip for our southern riders too. Take a tent and camp at the ride base - the sunrise alone will make it worth your while.

WATRC wishes you a safe and enjoyable festive season and hopes you'll be back in the new year, refreshed and ready to ride.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Waikawa Beach photos uploading

There's a link from the WATRC photos page now, while the photos are still uploading over-night. When the upload is complete I'll put the finishing touches to the set and the photos page. The slide show gadget won't find the photos until they've been tagged.

Battle Hill photos probably won't be posted until Christmas, sorry, but I'll get them out as quickly as I'm able.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Results for Waikawa Beach posted to the club website

What a great day - the weather held off and the rains and winds predicted some days before never happened. A very well attended event with the venue almost at capacity.

Thanks to the support of the community the new start/finish line reduced the amount of road work througth the settlement. A minor variation in the northern half of the course reduced the scope for getting lost or straying into soft sands at the Kuku estuary. Altogether a greatly improved course and a wonderful day for a ride.

Results are now on the website. Photos are still some time away, and are unlikely to be available before Battle Hill, sorry.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Pukemarama Photos on Flickr

The over-night upload finally completed this morning, and I've put a link into the Photos page before heading off to work. I'll complete the cover photo and slide show set up when I get home tonight.

Another big set - Pukemarama turned out to be a photographer's course with a very busy junction about 3 km into the ride at the intersection of the two sub-loops that formed the main loop. Combine with the big field, many of the early and 2 loop rides feature several times as a result.

The freshly metalled farm tracks turned out not too bad, probably because of the recent wet weather - the stones and grit had not compacted so were still relatively soft underfoot. A great venue and the weather, while not perfect for photography, was good for CTR - overcast and cool.

Results were released a few days ago, and a newsletter is due any day. Waikawa Beach a little over a week away now so we're into our season full swing.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Pukemarama Course Update

Just through from our course markers (yes, a lot of time and effort goes on before you get to ride a course) is advice that many of the main farm races on Pukemarama have been freshly re-metalled and so will have more loose stones on the surface than previously.

This doesn't make the course un-usable by any means, but we are advising barefoot competitors to fit boots to their mounts, and all riders will need to exercise judgement and ride to the conditions they find on the day.

Also we now have updated distances - 33 km for the long classes and 19 km for the shorter.

So, just a few more days away now and fingers crossed for fine riding weather.

See you there.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Foxton Ride Cancelled

We're very disappointed, but sometimes these things happen despite our best efforts. Our course marker was advised today as they were finalising the course that there were access problems at the venue, and it simply hasn't left us time to make alternative arrangements. Consequently we're forced to cancel.

This is such a great venue, and we'd love to say we could postpone, but the reality is our calendar is already pretty full and the chances of finding an alternate date for the venue this season are not high.

However, we have Pukemarama coming up next on 13 November. Similar terrain (flat) and only a little further north (directions are in the calendar) and maybe by then the weather will be a little better.

Our sincere apologies for any disruption to your weekend plans - rest assured if there'd been another viable option  we'd have taken it.

In the meantime, keep your rides fit, and we'll look forward to seeing you at Pukemarama

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Great start to our new season of rides

Maymorn was a wonderful ride and very well attended - great to see many of our regular riders, especially those who we mostly see at our southern venues, as well as a lot of new faces. Welcome all, and we hope you can make it to more of our events.

The latest newsletter and results from Maymorn have been published - and the photos are in the process of uploading as I write. If you just can't wait you can access the partially uploaded set and periodically refresh the page to see more images as they arrive. The slide show on the photos page won't work until I tag the images once everything has been uploaded, probably on Friday morning.

Foxton on Sunday - a very flat venue and we hear the ground conditions are good so  it should be a good ride if the weather is kind.

See you there.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Maymorn details published

A refreshed ride poster for Maymorn is now available (and will likely be included in your next emailed newsletter, due soon). 

Some of you may notice that we've reviewed and revised the distances for this event. This followed from preparation of a trail profile, based on GPS data of the Novice course which has consistently shown the course shorter than advertised over several years.

The extended Open course options have yet to be measured by GPS (we hope to do that this year) and have been created within Google Earth and checked against other mapping products. Again, we've concluded that the longer courses have been consistently shorter than previously advertised, and this has been born out by some of our more experienced riders who've found they had to travel much more slowly than expected in the latter stages of the return journey.

Also just available today is the poster for the Foxton ride at the end of October. If reviewing the trail profile for this venue, keep in mind that the course on our farm venues may vary from year to year, so the trail used this year may not be the same as last year's, although we expect it will use some of the same sections. At venues such as Foxton, variations from year to year depend on where stock and crops are situated, whereas trails in public parks (such as Maymorn) have limited options and tend to follow the same course each year. In other words, the trail profiles should be used as a guide to the venue and terrain, not a map of the course.

Anyway, we hope everyone's preparations for the competition season are well underway and going to plan, and we look forward to seeing al our regulars and a bunch of new faces at Maymorn on the 16th, just 3 weeks from now.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

New season's Ride Calendar released

It seems we've no sooner finished the last season than we start planning the next one. Your committee has worked out a provisional ride calendar for 2011/12. We think we have the dates and venues pretty well sorted, but we do need to get a few more confirmations from land owners and organisers.

Of course, the calendar is subject to change through the season, but we think we have enough there now that you can start planning your campaign. While each of our events is a challenge in it's own right, the larger challenge is to complete a season with your horse still fit and sound.
During the off-season, other things have been happenning.

As time has allowed, we've added some new trail profiles to the website, but there are more to come.

We've made some experimental layout changes on the photos page. With some of our members living in rural areas having only dial-up internet, we thought it might be worth trying a slide show gadget that presents a small low resolution show from the event set on Flickr. The gadget also includes navigation features. Broadband users can also put the show into fullscreen mode and take advantage of their higher speed service.

So with the amazingly mild winter we've had so far no doubt most of your horses have remained in light work at least, and you'll be able to get busy on your pre-season training. And while you're doing that, we'll get the organisation humming again.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Newsletter 146 wraps up the riding season

In the latest news letter we have a wrap-up report for the riding season, a summary of member success at the Endurance National Championships, and our usual features.

Plus an appeal for anyone who has not yet returned trophies from last year to get them back as soon as possible - details are in the news letter.

AGM and Prize-giving is pencilled in for Sunday 26 June at Waikanae but has still to be confirmed. Make a note of the date and try to keep it free.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Waitarere Photos uploaded to Flickr

Two weeks to the day, finally the photos are linked from our photos page. Sorry about the delay. To be honest if it wasn't for the Easter break I wouldn't have made it as I lost a couple of nights editing while out of town on business.

What a great finish to our CTR season. Waitarere is always an excellent venue and has a nice variety of trails over fairly forgiving terrain. A fast course greatly facilitated by our hosts who go to some trouble and effort to ensure that stock is moved off the trail and riders have a minimum of gates to open - we're very grateful.

Definitely a walking photographer's course this year, with the trail bending back on itself to create some common ground (two-way traffic) and busy junctions, giving the opportunity to catch riders several times. I particularly liked being able to work parts of the trail forward and backwards, knowing that my "shortcuts" would still have riders on them. I had 4 hours trail time available and covered about 12 km, and was busy the whole time.

Of course, all that means a lot of pictures taken and a lot of selection to do, but I hope you enjoy the results. The selection phase is very important, and it's by far the bigger piece of work. When I'm taking the pictures, I'm not really seeing the detail. It's more about framing horse and rider, finding a reliable focus point, and tracking the moving subject.

Once the pictures are on the computer, that's when I'm looking at the detail - checking the sharpness of focus, eliminating shots where horses or riders have their eyes closed, tongues sticking out (a lot more lip licking happens than you might suspect ;-) or where one or other looks uncomfortable, unbalanced, etc.

In doing this it's not about looking for the "perfect" shot. I'm just looking for a range of shots of each combination that (I hope) they will feel good about, and from which they can select their own favourites.

One of our members commented recently as they rode by that they loved how good I made their horse look. Actually, it's not me - it's you - but I hope, maybe, I can capture and share with you how great you all look.

Have fun, take care, and come back next season.


Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Club Champs Results are on the website

Well, that's a wrap for another season. Twelve rides from October through April - it might have been more but for inclement weather in the early season forcing some postponements.

While the rides are finished, the work isn't quite done. Your committee will be reviewing the year. looking at what went well and what can be improved, getting the AGM and Prizegiving organised, and giving some thought to the next season's calendar.

We had wonderful conditions for the champs with an overcast day, recently softened ground, and a brilliantly well marked course. The results have been posted to the website. Photos are still some way off but will be linked as soon as they're available.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Club Championships Ride Time Draw available

Start times for all Championship riders were drawn at random and have now been released - please check the draw for your start time. Non-Championships entries are still being accepted and can be entered on the day, but we ask that you pre-enter if possible to reduce pressure on the entries desk. See you at Champs

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Pikarere photos uploaded and linked from the photos page

A smaller set this time - result of a combination of the weather conditions and a relatively short time on the trail for me. Unfortunately I didn't catch everyone on the trail, missing a few of the late starters who were hidden in fog on the first hill while I had to cut back to base (I could hear you, guys, but I sure couldn't see you ;-) Of course, even some riders I did see were under less than ideal conditions.

What weather it was. The trail had been marked earlier in the week under brilliant sun I'm told, and even on Saturday when I went around with Nicky for an informal TD and to put in some extra markers (and drive in those the stock had pushed out) the day gave no clue of what was to come on Sunday. Pikarere will be developing a reputation for pea-soupers.

By the time the thunderstorm hit, we'd had enough - fortunately we were already packed for a quick get-away so as the rain-drops got fatter and wetter, we dragged the horse onto the float and made a run for it. So, let's hope for better weather for the Champs

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Waitohu photos on Flickr

Upload of the Waitohu set completed through the night and the set is now linked from the photos page.

Just a few days to go now until Pikarere, and only a few weeks until Champs at Waitarere.

Champs entries close on 31 March and entries will be taken at Pikarere, but please place champs entries in a separate envelope. Check the calendar page for entrie forms.

See you there.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Turakina photos uploading to Flickr

I've just finished the edits and the upload of Turakina is now underway. Usual deal - it will run through the night while we sleep, with luck it will run to completion, but if not, I'll revive it in the morning and try to get it through before work, and failing that on Friday evening.

Just a few more days until Waitohu now, and we're racing towards the end of another season with just Pikarere and the Champs at Waitarere to go. If you haven't yet qualified in your preferred champs class, Waitohu and Pikarere are your last opportunities, so make the most of them. Both are good solid workouts.

See you on the trail.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Newsletter 145 and Turakina results published

Our latest newsletter is just out, along with results from the Turakina ride.

Photos are still a few days away.

Turakina had an excellent day with enough overcast and a light breeze to keep it from becoming hot. An ecellent turn out for one of our more distant rides for many. Also great to see a number of local riders joining us for the day, and we hope to see them back again.

Waitohu is shaping up weather wise (fingers crossed) and we hope to see you there.

Monday, 21 February 2011

New trail profiles released

Buried in our website we have a number of trail profiles that aim to give a bit more information about some of our competition venues and the courses. The maps are generally based on a combination of GPS data, topographical mapping, and satellite imagery, and the commentary is fairly described as "subjective".

Historically, we used images (screenshots) taken from a mapping product. These days, there is a wealth of choice in geographical systems, and many are based either on Google Earth or Google Maps. Because these tools are freely accessible to anyone with a PC or laptop and Internet access, it makes sense for our current approach to utilise these tools.

Therefore, we're beginning to develop map and commentary packages using both the GPX and KML/KMZ formats.

GPX is an open standard format for geographical information, particularly well suited to sports, and very portable between different mapping products. Most GPS devices will support an export function to GPX, and most mapping products will import GPX files.

KML is a proprietary format developed for Google Earth that performs essentially the same functions as GPX but with extensions and enhancements suited to the needs of 3 dimensional map viewers. KMZ is a "zipped" format of KML and is useful for distributing additional material to accompany the KML files.

In the last few days, we've added updated profiles for the Foxton and Bright's Farm venues to our pages and the KMZ and GPX files that accompany these can be downloaded from the profile pages. More detailed commentary is included in the KMZ and can be reviewed in Google Earth.

Increasingly we're able to obtain raw GPS data from the the course marking, the technical delegate inspections ("Tee-Dee-ing"), or from the ride itself (a competitor may be asked to carry a sealed GPS unit in a saddle bag). Putting it all together we get a fairly good view of the trail.

The raw data then has to be corrected and smoothed, and we tend to adjust the trail to fit with satellite imagery, which sometimes can be a little off (especially where the satellite was off to one side of a slope). There's a bit of work involved, but we think it's worthwhile, and very much in the interests of our sport to ensure that competitors have a reasonable indication of what conditions and trail features the venue offers.

At the moment we've yet to settle on a standardised presentation style, and the first attempt with Belmont looks quite different to the more recent work. And perhaps the KMZ and GPX formats aren't that convenient for you. For example, would screen shots still be useful, or would you like us to produce PDF files that you can print from?

So, take a look at what we've got, and give your feedback to a committee member. We want to make sure we're giving you useful information in a useful format.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Manakau Results online - Photos uploading

The Manakau Farm photo set is a little smaller than recent sets - a few reasons for this:

First, I was out on the trail only for a short time due to obligations back at the ride base, but that said, I was out long enough to get shots of nearly everyone, with the last riders leaving shortly before my return time - so it all worked out pretty well in the end.

Second, I had to drop back to my older camera and a shorter lens - after a minor accident at Maymorn my usual gear is off at the local agent for some repairs and my back-up has a slower frame rate, so less photos in the same time - fortunately we have accidental damage cover to take away the pain, but the inconvenience is unavoidable.

However, that worked in nicely with the last issue - the rain. A shorter lens meant I had to wait for people to get closer, which also meant that there was less time to take photos, but also meant less exposure of sensitive electronics to the damp - not such a bad compromise in the circumstances.

So, as is common with some other marginal weather sets, the images are a little grainier (if you look at some at full size you'll see the rain drops ;-) and a little darker and flatter.

But everyone seemed to be having fun despite the weather, and in truth it wasn't cold and it wasn't that bad.

Let's hope for better conditions at Turakina.

Oh - and the results are in the usual place.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Maymorn photos uploading

My apologies for the delay in getting this set prepared - spare time has been at a premium in the last two weeks and a few other tasks had to take priority. But the upload is underway now, and as usual will probably finish sometime in the small hours. It's quite a big set because I was out on the trail until the last riders got home, and snapped most riders twice.

Next comes Manakau - a smaller field and less shots to sort through, so with luck I'll have it done before Turakina.

Speaking of which, Turakina is a great venue and well worth the trip.

Hope to see you there.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Bright's Farm photos uploading

The upload is under way but is likely to take some hours, and may have to be interupted. It should certainly be complete by Tuesday morning, but between now and then I expect I'll have to deal with a glitch or two ;-)

It will be quite a large set. I got out just ahead of the first riders but had to be back at base for strapping duties after two hours, so I stayed in the front part of the trail, walking out and back to ensure I got photos of all competitors. Apart from a few riders who made a course error and never passed me (I saw their disappearing backs in the distance ;-) I got pretty much everyone.

After final vetting for my connections I got out on the trail again, but with most riders leading their horses down the long final hill it didn't seem worth leaving the Control Area (well, that's my excuse) where all riders should at least be mounted.

As it worked out, I saw quite a few of the earlier starters several times on the course when they were coming back through for their second loop as I was returning to the base, and then again the Intermediates and Opens were finishing their rides while I was on my second sortie. Consequently, a large set.

And, in all other respects a very successful event - we were a little lucky with the weather, but a cool day is usually very good for the heart rates and is always welcome at Brights by the horses - the hill climbs are long and strenuous, but the extra time allowed ensured that the ride was feasible.

We're now looking forward to Maymorn, and keeping fingers crossed for fine weather.

Hope to see you all there.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Sunday 16 January - Change of venue

Regretfully we've had to change the venue for this event - we were going to be at Pikarere, but now we will be holding the event at Bright's Farm instead. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Pikarere will not be available to us on the scheduled date. Fortunately, trail conditions at Bright's Farm have improved over the last few months and the venue is available, so that's where we'll be.

Brights is a challenging course, and in response to past feedback the course designers will be ensuring that additional time is allowed. Of course, you have the option to enter a slower / shorter class if you're concerned your mount will not be ready for a harder course. We definitely advise against chooosing this venue for your first step up to a higher class.

Once course marking is completed later this week, we expect to have a ride flyer out with full details.