10 years ago at the age of 24 (me) and 21 (Braden) we had our son Tarn. We were both avid adventurers and had spent much of our late teens and early 20’s travelling the world, skiing, biking, climbing, hiking and taking whatever other opportunities sprung up at the time. Parenthood hit us pretty hard. Braden took a job on a farm and was suddenly working 6 days a week just to pay the bills, and I felt like a lion in a cage as a new mum. It felt to me during that time that life had literally ended and I truly could not see the light. It took me several months to figure out that life does go on and that I would again have the opportunity to do the things I love and make them part of my life again. A lot of that came from figuring out ways to do it. On Braden’s lunch break he would attach the chariot to his road bike and we would both go out for an hour around the block. I was as unfit as I have ever been so would draft off the back of the chariot on the flat roads around the Canterbury plains. We bought a Macpac child carrier when Tarn was 4 months old. This was far too early in the scheme of things as it defiNITELY couldn’t hold his head up, but Braden and I were determined to make it back into the hills.
We believed that having a family, meant being a family so rather than constantly tag teaming, we tried instead to make it work some how.
The many photos of us when Tarn was young illustrate the perplexed facial expression that my son constantly held, when endlessly faced with new and strange activities.
It shined on us pretty early on that life was indeed not over, infact it had only just begun. Our son seemed fully on board with the plan to drag him around on whatever adventures we were doing at the time.
When Tarn was 10months old, we bought a mountain biking business in Byron Bay. I won’t go into how we ended up in Byron Bay or how we bought a business, as that’s another story. The main thing was that we had a means to make some money doing something that we hoped we would both enjoy. On the day we bought the business I had not yet ridden a mountain bike but was very excited about the prospect of learning. From memory I believe the first tour I guided was infact my first time on the mountain bike. Our new moto quickly engrained itself into our everyday life of owning our first business “fakeittillyoumakeit.”
After what felt like a decade, we managed to build, develop and crack the tourism business in Byron Bay, and sold that business after only 18months of owning it for double what we bought it for. We thought we were pretty clever. After that we decided that biking was a good industry to be in, so we moved onto cycle touring and created another business called Cycling Tours Australia. It took us a few months to create 9 multiday luxury cycle touring holidays around Australia. We had at least one in every state. I became very good at googling, as we didn’t want to spend the money doing the trips before someone booked them. That business turned out to be gold. Although I had to laugh every time I sent Braden to on a trip to a new state, where he would have to fake his way through an itinerary that I designed following a GPS route I made up to accommodation that I found on the internet. He did a marvellous job though and our customers seemed to thoroughly enjoy the adventure. Braden often slept in the back of the hire car to save on costs, and would often get to cycle himself on most days. With so much downtime he thought he might as well become a professional athlete. So we bought him a bike. In fact I think we even managed to convince our first ever sponsor “Cannondale” to give him one. I am not sure what they were thinking but another realisation I had through this process was that I was pretty good at writing proposals.
Braden’s first race
The Goldcoast half ironman. A few months before the race I bought Braden a new pair of lycra shorts from Orca and a 2nd hand wetsuit from a garage sale. He was ready to race. We weren’t sure exactly how it worked, so we thought it best to start off as an age-grouper, although once the gun went off Braden quickly decided he was a pro! We had a group of supporters who came out of no where to cheer from the sidelines and on the final run Braden was smashing through the field. It was quite surreal. I had no idea he had this much talent. Infact I used to be able to beat him in the swimming pool during my entire pregnancy. He had really come a long way. Running a 1:15 on the final run, he smoked his age group and had the 3rd fastest time even against the pros. I was a very proud wife and Tarn also thought it was quite cool.
As mentioned above, Braden had already decided he was a pro, so he thought he would start racing against Richard Ussher as Richard was the best multisport athlete in Australasia at the time and as a result was the person that Braden wanted to beat.
Richard was racing the Anaconda series every year in Aussie that year, and so that became the focus. The Anaconda series was a 4 races series which included kayaking, swimming, mountain biking and trail running. The first race Braden won, but Rich never turned up to that one. It was a good practise run though. The next one was in Perth! There was quite the crew there to watch him race, as Perth had become the new best place to live for kiwis and most of our good friends lived there. It was quite the race and Braden actually was challenging the big Rich in many of the disciplines. On the final run we watched Rich run by with his big gluts of steel, followed sharply by Braden with his skinny little bum. My best friend Gemma said “well if Braden wants to beat that guy, he better get an ass.”
Everyone had there two cents to throw at Braden as he came bloody close to beating the big guy, ending up 3rd by not too many minutes.
Braden was of course his own human and went by his own rules. He discounted all of those two cents and continued on his own path of glory. Although there was one man named Richard Greer, who ended up offering to coach Braden for free for several years, that Braden quite liked learning from. Richard played a big role in mentoring Braden win his first Coast to Coast against Richard Ussher and Dougal Allan in his 2nd attempt at the event. I am not sure how much of Richard’s training program Braden actually followed, as his next two coaches would agree that Braden isn’t the best at following a plan, but the life coaching was second to none and Braden was quickly transitioning towards an actual pro athlete.
I got onto writing proposals as I was so good at them, and we started to pave our life back in NZ as a pro athlete and his wife living the dream. We were still pumping out cycling tours like there was no tomorrow, so we were surviving quite well. I would still send Braden on a plane every now and then to guide these tours, but before long I realised I was wasting his talent, so instead replaced him with guides in every state so that he could focus on being awesome!
5 years later Braden has managed to win over 50% of every race he has competed in. He won the Coast to Coast 3 times before trying out a new challenge within XTERRA (off road triathlon). We decided in 2014, after racing XTERRA Worlds once, that if he wanted to be an XTERRA athlete that he better actually get some practise at racing this style of event and of course racing the best in the World. The target became the Ruben Ruzafa, or the Spaniard as we used to call him. This guy was a little ball of muscle also with some sizeable gluts.
When Bella was 13 months old and we had just sold Cycling Tours, built a house and spent every cent of our savings, we decided to go to Europe so Braden could race the illusive Ruzafa.
First race XTERRA Switzerland. When Braden came off the swim in 2nd, and then off the bike in 1st, I knew I needed to ditch our daughter somewhere so Tarn and I could focus on the last stage run. I put the pop tent up in a park and tried to get Bella to go to sleep, while Tarn and I did our best to follow the race. Braden was leading until the last hill when the Spaniards gluts kicked in and he motored up the hill to the finish line, beating Braden by a 15 second margin.
The French commentator didn’t have a clue who this skinny guy from NZ was so didn’t give him much time, but I knew that we had made a great decision maxing out the credit card to be where we were. This was indeed exactly the path we needed to take for the greater good of Braden becoming a champion.
We travelled to 12 different countries over an 11 week period, somehow finding enough cheap places to live, mixed in with some free accommodation given to us by the races. It was a hell of an adventure and in spite of its various challenges we all thought it was awesome. From deep fried in Spain, croissants France, gooey cheese in Switzerland, pizza in Italy, something weird in Portugal, blueberries in Sweden, ice-cream Sundays in Poland and pasta in Czech republic, we really felt like we had nailed all the key components of a trip to Europe.
As Braden had quite managed to beat the Spaniard we then had to go back to drawing board and decided that the USA might offer more opportunity. In the USA we found another target by the name of Josiah Middaugh. Josiah was often 2nd to the Spaniard so we figured same same but different.
Starting off in California Braden smashed out a couple of weeks training before making his way to the first of the USA off road XTERRA events. Always starting off with a bang, like my husband likes to do best, he beat Josiah straight up and stole the 10 time title of USA Off road triathlon champ off him simultaneously. A good start, again supporting my theory that a negative bank balance was worthy of the bigger goal of becoming even more awesome at this racing thing.
We then went to Colorado so Braden could train at altitude as this was apparently the way you get really fast. Didn’t quite work out so well as the whole family struggled to even walk up the street for at least a week without near passing out. We were well in the box at 2600m and Braden more so then us. He had injured his Achilles, was sick as a dog and couldn’t train at more than 50% max HR. We hope some sort of amazing adaptation was taking place despite the lack of training but when he flew to race the 2nd race of the USA series, he realised that he had taken a step backwards.
Optimisim has always been our strong point, so we soldiered on and decided that maybe Canada would be better. We had friends in Canmore, so we packed up our new car “dora the explorer” with our 6 bike carrier care of Rhino Rack and made our way North. 24 hours later we arrived in Canmore 1400m. Ahh…we could all breath. The mountain biking in Canmore was highly tech but Braden was happy as larry having some mates to ride with and some fresh oxygenated air to breath.
Bella had a vomiting bug and some ringworm so I held the fort in our new home until she came out of her box, but it turned out Canmore was also going to be a great place for the kids. We climbed a few mountains together, spent many hours at the playground, biked to and from the pool everyday and had a myriad of other adventures.
After a few good weeks of training we headed down to UTAH for the last race of the series where Braden cracked out a 2nd place against Josiah. We were getting sick of second, but knew that it couldn’t be that hard to get one up on that (surely).
World XTERRA Champs were next up. And again 2nd place he came in, maybe it was going to be hard to get that one place up.
2 years later he is still trying to crack it. But we have decided on a new technique to achieving this one, which is to not focus on it. Braden’s theory with racing is that its all in the head, so this year he will race Kona World Ironman Champs 2 weeks before XTERRA Worlds. He thinks this will likely be his ticket to glory, as he won’t have any time to train for XTERRA and therefore won’t have any expectations for himself. This is Braden’s recipe for success as he proved only a month ago when he turned up to Ironman NZ to give it a crack and managed to win against 10 time champ Cameron Brown.
Our story “kidscanpack” will follow the journey forward as Braden takes on the next goal, whatever it might be and we follow and support him along the way.
Although I have also decided that we also need to have our own adventures, and not just be Braden Currie groupies, so I am going to use my refined planning skills to create some fun family adventures within NZ and wherever else life takes us.
I hope that I can provide an entertaining account of our planned and not planned adventures and give you and your family the inspiration to do what it is you always wanted to do, and make the kids part of the adventure. It’s taken me 9 years, but I honestly believe that every wall I had built in my head, has been well and truly decimated. And travelling with kids has been the main catalyst for this process. my lack of concern for what might go wrong, whether it won’t work, whether my kids will enjoy it, whether we are making the right decision, whether i’m enjoying myself…..are questions i very rarely ask myself anymore. I’m happy just to be a part of the process and i have developed the unwavering faith that it will be what it will be and retrospectively it will be awesome! And because I am only human I will have my moments of “why do we do this to ourselves?” but I will quickly remember that I am doing this because its situations like these that ultimately make me a happier person in life! As if you can be happy when it all turns to rubbish, then imagine how happy you are going to be when it actually works out good!