Sunday, October 26, 2008

Back into Amokura

Two weeks in a row we have ridden classic SOBs rides. Last week's post told you about the beautiful Blue Mountains and Mangakirikiri Stream ride.

This week we took on the mighty Amokura Rd/Challenge Road loop which is quite a daunting ride. Added to that I've been suffering from a head cold, gutsache and nausea most of the week!

However, I set off with the Boss from his place and down the road we me up with long lost Kerr and Brian and at Woodlands School we collected the two Teddys. The first climb had become quite technical with larger channels carved into it but we all managed OK. Aaron was struggling though with his asthma.

From there the fun start. When Brian fell in front of me trying to skirt a large puddle which I just biked through my day was made. Of course the loud laughter came back to haunt me as I flew over my handlebars when my front wheel came to a sudden halt in a bog a few hundred metres later. Things got better when we hit the tank trap and as Brian came to a halt couldn't get his feet out! Jarod was the only one to successfully navigate the second part of the trap though none of us managed the first part.

We hurtled down to the ford with Jarod being the only one to keep his feet dry though, to be fair, Aaron got in my way and I had to put a foot down in the river.

The following climb was as bad if not worse than I remembered and it was an uncommon feeling to experience arriving at the top in last place. I did, however, get attacked by a toe toe bush which grabbed me to a halt and threw me into it, bashing the inside of my knee on the frame and ending up in that uncomfortable position of having your head lower than your feet while they are still locked into the pedals. Aaron, suffering from his asthma, cycled past at that point and I followed him up.

The Upper Paerata Road looks opened up by a bulldozer and could be quite good fun, but we chose to hurtle down Challenge Road at breakneck speed and crawled back to Boss' for cake and coffee.

It's great to be stiff and sore and wasted on a Sunday again as a result of SOBS adventures.

Where were you Destry (in trouble I hear) and Hedley and Teleri?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

National's Education Policy

Those of you who followed my blog during my sabbatical will realise the opposition I have developed to the US system of annual testing of students throught primary and intermediate years. Schools, Principals and teachers were entirely focused on preparing their kids for the tests each year (from age 7 up!) as they were judged on how their kids did.

USA was ranked 42nd in the International PISA tests while NZ was ranked in the top 5 so why are we planning to copy such a programme?

We have to oppose this at all costs. Weighing the pig does not make it any fatter!

NZ schools already regularly assess student progress to inform further strategies. There is no need to have a centrally imposed and driven programme which has the intention (according to their policy) of comparing students in one school with another.

This crock of shit is a populist strategy for which there is no credible research to support it.

You will have different important policy positions which determine your vote. For me, education is one of the most important issues and National's position on regular testing makes it impossible for me not to let as many people as possible know what they are up to.

The NZ education system is in good health. Young people are more literate and numerate as a group than any before. We do have a longish tail of under achievement which is largely ethnically centred and with programmes such as Te Kotahitanga and Ka Hikitia we are making inroads in this area.

If National are elected and push this policy through I will struggle to remain involved in education to my current level in New Zealand.

Tuesday Cycling

It's hard to believe that 93 people turned up for the first cycle night of this series. It's well-organised, free, relaxed and fun. Check out the website for news and results. If you're a local ask about how to get involved as all abilities are catered for in the simple format.

SOBs Are Back

We had a great ride this morning and it was like the good old days. The Boss, Hedley, Teleri, Destry and Jared biked from town and picked me up at Tirohanga. I thought we were going to do the Mangakirikiri Stream to Pakihi but of course we turned up the hill towards Valley Station Road. The climb was worth it as we had a good ride along the top and then charged down to the stream. The creek was quite high so the crossings were interesting.

When I heard Jared and Destry laughing in front of me at the last crossing I should have been suspicious, but on their urgings I ploughed into the water to find myself up to my seatpost in water. I attempted to keep peddling only to have my wheels float off the bottom. Cool!

Of course we then encouraged the boss and Hedley to have an unsuspecting shot much to our amusement. Don't tell Lea, but we're going to try to get her to have an unsuspecting try!

The ride back to town with a strong southerly at our back was very fast. Thankfully we had a coffee at Hedley's before I had a final solo 8k home in the wind.

Leigh, Shirley, Marg and Sarah were out tackling the Meremere again and they returned pleased with how they conquered it.

The SOBs are back in business and are talking about Amokura Rd next weekend. Must take the camera as there is potential for mayhem.

Monday, October 13, 2008

First Day Back at School

I arrived to hear Robyn was sick and would be away! Never mind we coped. It is certainly great to be back at work. The Diary was full with a couple of new enrolments, a meeting with two whanau about behavioural issues, the drug testing of a couple of students to keep them on their toes, an assembly, dozens of emails to process, questions to answer from my Executive Officer, a 3 hour meeting at the Council to discuss event centre options, a Senior Leadership Team meeting at 5.00, followed by a quick jog to recover from the Motu and a sprint home with a satchel of work to cook tea because Leigh goes to Pump on Mondays. What a great day. Bring on tomorrow.

It's now 8.30pm, I have a glass of wine and I'm about to open the satchel. Already thinking about getting up 30 mins earlier to get to work to do the stuff I didn't fit in tonight so that I am free to make it to the opening night of Summer Series Cycling tomorrow!

The Mighty Motu Challenge!

What a great event and what great performances by the various members of the Possums and SOBs. The Very Principalled Possums did about 9.17 with ringin Christopher leading the way with a 3 05 mtb. I followed up with a 1.26 run (10 min faster than expected) then the mighty Boss flew home carrying a kidney stone on his road bike in 1.41. I finished off with a 3.04 on the water/cycle run/leg. I guarantee no one paddled a plastic boat faster than me down the river that day!

But what about Trev/Terry's 9.15 solo effort and Hedley's 9.36 solo effort which has me considering early retirement! Lea put in a gutsy 10.51 in her solo effort with a gentle reminder about how tough the event is.

Lucy was in a team with boss' daughters and rode a wonderful 1.58 in a solo road cycle. Amber succumbed to injury on the run and Nicole had a strong final leg paddling powerfully through the field.

There were some great MTB efforts led by Barry in 2.41, Destry in about 2.56, glen in 2.58, Karl in a fraction over 3 hrs, and Brett in 3.05. Aaron had a strong run and kayak section and Dad George paddled very well.

The best news was that Captain Aquanaut only had one swim!

And what about 72 year old Dennis who did the whole thing in just over 11 hours? Kurt and Steve (who both worked hard with their star road cyclist Teleri who rode in 1.47) were overheard skiting how they finished in front of the old fellow --- by 3 minutes!

Check out the full results on

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Late Preparation For The Motu

The Motu is only one week away and I have now completed two weeks of my training schedule. The team is still a bit up in the air. The plan was to be in a 2 man team with the Boss, Team Very Principled, but he's been a bit crook and even now the selector is giving him until the last possible moment to become available for selection.

Last Saturday Nicole, Lea and I paddled the top two thirds of the river and all went well. On the Sunday Lea MTBed to Motu then she ran from the bridge while I ran from 2k in. I was disappointed with 1.28 which equates to 1.38 for the full distance.

In the meantime Leigh and Lucy headed off on the cycle leg. Lucy is cycling in the Boss' daughters' team and this is the first time she has cycled the course. Leigh was doing it because I suggested she would enjoy it. Lucy did 2hrs 05 while Leigh did about 2 15. Right then she became first reserve for the cycle leg for Very Principled. Lea was biking from Matawai where I had bought the compulsory fried sausage.

Nicole, kurt and I started paddling and Lea joined us at the Gravel Pit. The river was low (1.48m) and the paddle was hard especially after the day before.

On Friday Leigh, Lucy and Shirley did an awesome ride up the Meremere and back, another first for Lucy and Leigh. On Saturday Kurt and I paddled the river (very, very low 1.39) which was a real struggle - 3 hours and 5 mins!

On Saturday night the Boss was still an uncertain starter.

This morning (Sunday) Lea MTB through with Glen B while Leigh, Lucy and I drove through to Motu behind the Boss and daughter Amber. Lea and Amber and I did the full run. I did a disappointing 1 39 in quite cold and windy conditions with Lea and Amber doing about 1.55.

In the meantime Leigh, Lucy and the Boss headed off cycling in wet conditions with a strong headwind from Traffords. By the time we (I) bought a sausage from Matawai we only caught them right at the end. In very tough conditions the Boss did 2 hours, Lucy did 2 05 and Leigh did 2.20. All good times. We then heard that young Gareth had biked it in 1.39. Outstanding!

The Boss felt good so Plan A is me and him. Plan B is he MTB, I run and kayak and Leigh road bikes. Plan C is Roger MTBs, I run and kayak and Boss road cycles. Plan D is Roger MTBs, I run and kayak and Leigh cycles. And there are still 22 letters of the alphabet left!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Back Into The Swing: Troubles with NZQA

The holidays are here! Apparently, I've already had mine so I'm at work and well and truly back into it. While attempting to keep my eye on the big stuff which has recently had my attention I've been dealing with a carpet layer putting his foot through a rotten floor, an argument over who should pay for toilets and cleaning at the farm block and other stuff.

I'm also trying to buy another car as the Mitsi is about to die. I'm sick of being in debt!

Robyn has tied up all loose ends so I reckon I might be out of here by the end of the week. It will be good to have a break to spend time with Lucy and Leigh before the Motu the following weekend and before the final term gets under way.

I think I have bought into a fight with NZQA and am hoping that my BOPPA colleagues are doing the same that I am. I am refusing to report the non-achievement of internal NCEA standards because there is no sound educational reason to do so and it does not warrant the extra workload. I have been told by Bali Haque that we will face remedial action if we fail to follow guidelines. The reply I got to my email has done nothing to make me want to change my mind. Rage against the machine!