Michael Brown is going through a mid-life crisis so thought it would be a good idea to tackle the Pioneer, a seven-day mountain bike race from Christchurch to Queenstown. This is his first training blog.

I'm told endurance athletes wake up tired and go to bed even more tired.

That's me, except the "athlete" bit. I'm tired all the time. And sore. And, as The Wife continually points out, grumpier than normal.

I have always been relatively fit and active but rarely trained as hard as I am right now. The thing is, it's not remotely close to the work Herald photographer Greg Bowker and I will need to put in before hitting the start line for the Pioneer mountain bike race starting on February 5.

Our coach, Richard Greer of Team CP who specialises in trying to get people like me ready for big events, chuckles when I ask him if he thinks we're mad.


"The madness is good," he says. "And a bit of fear in there helps.

"I really like these big goals. You throw yourself out there and it's my job to try to figure it out, to make sure you are strong and don't get injured before the race."

The Pioneer isn't just any race. It's a seven-day behemoth that takes in 549km of riding from Christchurch to Queenstown and 15,864m of climbing around and over the Southern Alps. At times, we'll apparently be climbing for three hours without respite.

It seemed like the perfect thing to do for someone going through a mid-life crisis (see my story here). Greg's just coming along for the ride, literally.

He's slowly appreciating how daunting this thing is and how much time we will need to commit to training just to make sure we can get to the end of the Pioneer in one piece. Richard has mapped out the next couple of weeks for us - when we'll need to ride, how long for, how hard we go in each session and, importantly, when we rest. But he's also mindful of the fact we're not professional athletes.

"It's important to acknowledge and remember that when we really want to do well and are motivated, is this training session going to set me back or be a step forward," he says. "Sometimes training can make things worse."

I'm going to tackle the 60km mountain bike race at this weekend's Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge. If nothing else, it will be a good training ride.

Greg and I went for our first ride together last week.

We covered 85.4km, climbed 1335m, averaged a tick over 26kmh and my heartbeat, which has a resting rate of 49, was 176 at one point.

It's amazing how much information is available at the touch of a button - unfortunately they don't have an auto pilot to get you over hills - but it also means you can't hide. Richard can see what we do each day and can tell if we're trying to cut corners.

Most of the time, though, it's life that's getting in the way. And family can suffer because of the time we need to put into training.

"Hopefully you guys are still married and have jobs at the end of this," Richard says.

That would be good.

For more information on the Pioneer, see the pioneer.co.nz
For more on Richard Greer and endurance coaching outfit Team CP, visit teamcp.co.nz