Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Santacruz Blur XC Matte Black Carbon frame
2011 Shimano XTR
I have had the chance to put it through its paces in training and am very pleased with how it is going. In particular I have found the new XTR to be brilliant. It is a very classy group set. Light weight but you know you can rely on it to stand up to the abuse that comes with racing. Shifting is amazingly smooth, the triggers have a nice soft release and gear changes are very quiet. The brakes are also a highlight. The levers have a very nice feel to them and are good and powerful.
Another feature that I really like about the new bike is the remote control lockout on my Fox forks. Rather than stuffing around reaching down to manually turn a lever on the crown of the fork I now have a simple thumb button on the bars. Locking the suspension out is now much more accessible and can be activated to make anything from a long seated climb to a short burst out of the saddle more efficient. Because it is so easy to apply it becomes much like an extra gear change.
Weight wise the bike is about 1lb lighter than my previous one and it is noticeable the difference in climbing and also moving back up to speed out of corners etc. It definitely feels a lot zippier and more responsive to any acceleration.
I have been really enjoying riding the new bike. It is so nice to have new gear again it really helps freshen the mind and adds a bit more excitement back into the training. Thank you to Stylie at Santacruz New Zealand, As well as Sheppard Industries for helping me out with the Shimano components and Blue Shark Ltd for doing the same with the Fox fork. And to Rob and Mike at Bike Culture thanks again for your incredible support and the bike build.
My first race for 2011 is the 1st round of the Nduro Summer series on the 9th of January which will kick off a busy schedule where I will be racing most weekends building up to the National Championships in Dunedin on the 27 February and finishing at the Oceania Championships in Australia in mid March.
Monday, December 13, 2010
I have a bit of a rest week coming up and then it’s into the N Duro Summer Series and the Nationals starting early in the New Year. Can’t wait.
Monday, December 6, 2010
The Rotorua round marked the end of an era as it was long time Rotorua MTB Club XC event organiser Mati Tomasevic’s last race in charge. Thanks Mati. I would also like to acknowledge Rotorua Hyundai for their great support of the race and the Rotorua MTB Club.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
The 7.00am start time meant that it was going to be a very early Saturday morning. Just after 4:00 I was up and getting in some breakfast and then into the Ute for the drive down to Taupo. After sorting out rego etc there wasn’t much time for a warm up but the start was taken at a nice pace and I sorted myself out slotting in at around 5th wheel for the first few minutes and then moved up into 3rd once we got into the main Craters of the Moon trails. And thats where I stayed for the majority of the race. A small crash had me chasing to get back to the front for a wee while but I was riding well and as the kms ticked over things were looking good.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
As usual the Taupo MTB Club put on a great event and there was a good turnout of riders of all ages. It was especially good to see so many youngsters getting stuck into it. Unfortunately though the number of competitors in the open grade was somewhat lacking. Still it turned out to be a good training mission and it was nice to be getting in some action on the MTB again and I had a lot of fun riding what turned out to be an awesome course. And even better to top the day off I was pleased to receive a $30 Hells Pizza voucher as the prize for the win so I’m eagerly waiting for next weekend where I will make good use of it after the Contact Huka XL Race.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
I don’t often give the roadie a run but the annual Cycling Rotorua Inc club race to Ohope beach is a lot of fun and I thought I’d better dust the cobwebs off and get into it. Mind you it’s a great route for a bike race so it wasn’t a hard decision. A couple of small climbs to test the legs and nice views as you pass by several lakes, a fast drop down the Rotomas, through Texas (Te Teko), a bit of side wind to keep things interesting near Awakeri and into Whakatane and finally the climb up over the hill and down to the finish on the beach at Ohope.
I had a good day in the saddle although my arse wouldn’t agree, I am definitely not in great condition for several hours riding in the seat on the road bike and would much prefer the constant changing of positions that comes with mountain biking. My second place finish wasn’t too bad. And in the end this was what the rest of us were left to fight for after Clinton decided he wanted to be a motor bike and soloed to the win dropping us on the twisty descent down the Rotomas. I love the last climb to Ohope from Whakatane it makes for an interesting finish as it is long enough to launch an attack and split the race up preventing the normally inevitable bunch sprint.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Each rider had one run. With the winner from each heat advancing to the next round.
The size of the bikes made for some very entertaining racing. It was action aplenty and a good time was had by all.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
I arrived in Canada good and early to acclimatise and get comfortable on the course. Getting to know the track was a lot of fun and I enjoyed the very dry conditions which were so extreme that some sections were very similar to trying to ride in the sand dunes at the beach. Mont Sainte Anne is known for its technical nature and it lived up to its reputation this year with plenty of challenging terrain and the now well known rock garden. A couple of tough climbs, combined with the bumpy rough single track were quite hard on the body making it a tough track to race on.
Starting in 32 place I was forced to line up in the middle of the grid which is often the worst place to be as usually any crashes that are going to occur happen in that area. But fortunately I got off the line well and dived round the outside of the first couple of corners gaining places as everyone tried to take the shorter inside line. From there it was flat stick to the first hill. I lost a few positions for a while but made it back up to 34th over the line after completing the start loop, which was pretty good by my usual standards and with six full laps left things were going well.
Things were pretty frantic for the next couple of laps as a very quick pace was set by the leaders. It was a case of hold on as long as possible. I struggled for a while dropping back into the 40’s but once things settled down a bit after the first part of the race I was able to get into my own rhythm and I started to ride a lot stronger and made good progress moving back into the mid 30s.
However despite nothing actually going wrong, I felt I wasn’t ever really able to get to maximum spark and as the laps ticked by I couldn’t make any further progression up the field. My end result of 36th was not what I had been looking for at the World Championships. Still despite being a bit disappointed with the way this race went I still have three more years left in the U23 age category. So I have time to progress up towards the pointy end of the field and all things going well a podium finish in the next few years.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Luckily for us the wet and cold weather that we had experienced in our last couple of weeks was put on hold, as summer made one last effort and treated us to brilliant weather for our final days in the Country. Arriving in Basel we were surprised to find the track was quite close to the main City and it seemed to be a very unlikely venue for a Mountain Bike race. There wasn’t really much to the track either. It was predominantly flat with very little in the way of single track. The main highlight was a small but fairly steep climb followed by a fast descent and apart from a small section in the main start finish area the rest was open & flat. Despite this it was a good race venue as it allowed a lot of people to come and watch. The start finish area was in a horse race track with a grandstand and there was a good atmosphere with the main start loop and finish line on the horse track and a few twists and turns with a couple of jumps to keep the spectators happy in the middle. The start list was very strong with the race being the last in Europe before all the top riders headed to North America for the final World Cup in New York and then Worlds in Mont Sainte Anne, Canada.
The race itself was very frustrating as it turned out to be a bit like a road race with big groups forming and a lot of mucking around with no one wanting to drive the pace. I perhaps made the mistake of pushing a bit too hard early on and through the middle of the race. I was strong up the climb and would attack there every lap, trying to get further up in the race but would get run down by the big bunch of riders that had formed mid field and then the speed would slow right down again as no one wanted to set the pace, with a group of riders sitting on their wheel. Eventually I did manage to get a bit of a gap but by then I had run out of gas and was slowly reeled in over the last couple of laps dropping down to 27th.
I wasn’t very pleased with my result as I would have liked to have finished higher but it was very good training and perfect preparation for Worlds.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
I was confident that with the better start position I had earned for this race I was in with a good chance of getting a stronger result than my last outing in Champery. Lining up in 102 position meant that I moved up several rows on the grid from the 129 place I started in the previous weekend. The track was also better suited to cope with the huge amount of riders competing. A lot of time would be spent climbing and all the descents were short and fast. Even better the majority of the track was wide enough to allow passing reducing the bottle necks that are sure to occur as riders fought to get to the front.
Conditions on `D Day’ were perfect, dry and very fast and I was feeling good on the track. I was more nervous for this one. I knew that I could do well here and didn’t want to blow my chance. It was also the first time racing in my new - New Zealand U23 National Champions jersey so I was excited about that.
Unfortunately my start let me down. Just after the start a crash occurred immediately in front of me, with no room to manoeuvre my progress was halted and I lost valuable race position. At this level you can’t afford to lose places from the gun and by dropping back to 133rd after the first lap I was in for a hard battle for the remainder of the race. Still I was riding well. My legs felt great and I steadily made progress throughout the race. The Santacruz Blur XC was running beautifully and my speed on the climbs in particular was good. The 2nd and 3rd laps I hauled in a lot of riders but by the fifth lap I had hit the wall and had to really tough it out to hold on to the finish. In the end I had to settle for 96th place out of 196 starters, 1 lap down on winner World Champion Nino Schurter. It wasn’t quite what I was aiming for but on a positive note it was an improvement from last week and I did make up plenty of places from the poor first lap. Against the U23 riders today, I finished 27th. Only five weeks left to go till World Championships in Canada so the next few weeks will be packed with plenty of quality training and I will be sure to place particular emphasis on my starts. Looking forward to an easy recovery day tomorrow.
Saturday, July 31, 2010
The course is very different from 08 World Championships, with very little flat and a lot of very steep climbing followed by fast but not very technical descents.
Brilliant weather all week had the track in a very dry and dusty state but a bit of rain yesterday has hardened things and the track is in perfect condition.
Starting in 102nd position tomorrow, a big improvement from last week. 6 laps so it will be a very fast race.
Should be good.
Monday, July 26, 2010
The weather in the days before had been wet and the track had become very muddy making several sections unrideable. Practice was good I enjoyed the technical nature of the track and felt at home in the greasy conditions. The mud only increased its difficulty as it already had plenty of slippery roots and rocks but it was good because it required good all round bike skills to do well. Race day dawned clear and fine and a 2:30pm start time gave things a chance to dry out a bit. Starting in 129th position, I had plenty of work to do to get up towards the pointy end of the field but I was very determined to have a good race.
But ..... I hadn’t been aware that I had entered a running event as that’s how things panned out for the first few laps at least. A field of 175 riders all fighting to get to the front made for a large amount of congestion and a lot of time was spent off the bike. It was very frustrating, the only real chance to get on and ride each lap was up the main climb and it was taken at a furious pace as riders sought to gain positions. Most of the moisture had dried up turning the mud into a thick sticky mess and it was very slow going. Many places were quicker just to jump off and run remounting Cyclocross style in the rideable sections. Racing against such a large amount of riders made for some very chaotic moments. Riders crashed and bikes became tangled up all over the place. A lot of very expensive equipment was destroyed very quickly and swear words in different languages filled the air. In order to make head way risks had to be taken and every little gap no matter how small was an opportunity to move up. As a result of the all or nothing attitude that had to be adopted I had several crashes but somehow my trusty Santa Cruz Blur XC Carbon made it through unscathed, thanks Bike Culture and Hyperformance Hardwear.
Although I gave it everything I was unable to finish getting lapped after four laps finishing in 102nd place. I was left feeling a bit disappointed getting lapped is never a good thing but this is the top level of the sport and due to the extremely fast pace and high attrition rate only 58 riders completed the race. You can only give your best and at the end of the day I couldn’t really complain. It had been an awesome day and it was great to finally get an Elite World Cup under the belt. I will be after a better result next week at Round #5 of the World Cup series in Val di Sole Italy, Bring it on.
Friday, July 16, 2010
The Boys Before there Crit race.
On the Saturday we made the drive down to Morzine to catch the Tour de France mountain top finish at Morzine Avoraiz on the Sunday, as well as the rest day and then stage start in the following days.
We moved down from our mountain campsite on Monday night to a spot between Morzine and Les Gets so that we could be in a better position to view the start of stage 9 the following day.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
For this race I was aiming to really push myself early on rather than pacing myself and perhaps having a bit more left for the last couple of laps. I really wanted to be mixing it up near the front of the field and I was after a strong result in my last race before the World Cups.
Right from the gun I went well, I really pushed the pace and kept attacking whenever I had the chance and had my best start of the trip so far coming through in 13th position. It was pleasing to be so far up the field as traditionally I have been very poor in the first lap. I was hurting but I just put the hammer down and kept driving the pace. I was determined to leave everything out on the race track today. The technical nature of the course favoured the full suspension and the Santa Cruz was in its element. I was able to charge on the downhill sections and gain time on my rivals.
I rode in 12th position for the majority of the race but 8 laps turned out to be a bit too much and coming into the last couple of laps I began to run out of steam. Grovelling through the 7th and 8th laps I unfortunately dropped several positions and ended up in 16th place. Still it was my best placing of the trip and a solid result to finish off the first block of racing.
Five races in consecutive weekends has been very full on but also an amazing experience. Racing such high quality events can only be a good thing and I have learnt so much. It will be good to have a bit of a break. We plan to head to France to see a couple of Tour de France stages and then build up to the World Cup races in Champery and Val di Sole at the end of July.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Summer has really kicked in over here and the temperature on race day was very hot. The heat and a very hilly course made the racing conditions very tough. Despite some steep climbing it was a very fast race track and there wasn’t really anything too technical. But it was great for the spectators with the track looping around the hill with the start finish area on top. It meant they could easily get around to several vantage points without travelling to far. Race start was 1:45 right at the hottest part of the day and I certainly felt it. But this didn’t slow anyone down, the race was super fast for the first few laps. At one stage on the 3rd lap I ended up getting tangled with several riders after someone crashed on a tight switch back corner and blocked the track. With nowhere to go I piled straight into him and then got jammed up as several more riders came crashing in from behind. Luckily the bike and I escaped relatively unscathed. The feed zone was a highlight of each lap but the fresh bottle I received each time didn’t last very long and unfortunately didn’t do much to quench my thirst. I rode well through the 2nd half of the race and gained a lot of positions. I have learnt now that the racing over here is all about those first few laps only the really top riders appear to hold the same pace throughout, everyone else goes nuts at the start and then fades away by the end. I really have to work on my speed through the first half of the race if I can gain a few positions higher after each of the first few laps I would really start to get some very good results. At the finish I was 29th which I am reasonably happy with.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Two wet muddy races in a row, anyone would think we were still back in the New Zealand winter and not summer here in Switzerland. Today’s race was one of the muddiest I have been in. Rain all week and freezing cold temperatures (it was snowing not far above the track) made for some extreme conditions on race day.
Engelberg is another very unique course, mainly because of its length. It’s only a bit over 3km and lap times were between 10 and 15 minutes and that was with plenty of mud to slow things down. The track is basically one big climb and then a descent back down to the bottom of the hill with a small section of flat before and after the start finish area. Because of the conditions we ended up racing 8 laps but we were scheduled to do 10.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
The main descent is so steep that you really have to control your speed, there is a big gully off to the side near the top that you don’t want to go riding into and rocks and stairs lower down make it quite tricky. The other down hills twist through paddocks and were good fun with a few natural jumps and nice slalom corners. Climbing wise the track was tough, the longest climb started out extremely steep and it was a struggle to even ride it especially in the latter part of the race. The grade did ease near the summit before a hike a bike section took you right to the top below a water fall. The other main climb is rough and rocky and came after a tight corner which hooked straight back up the hill from a descent.
The race was another character building session, for the first part of the race I found the pace really tough. The hardest part was the flat sections, the speed would really get cranked up and I lost a lot of time to the stronger riders. A lap into the race and it suddenly started pouring with rain. The track got greasy really quickly and it got very cold. We even got pelted with hail at one stage. I had a couple of loose moments in the slippery conditions but managed to stay upright and finished relatively strongly passing several riders in the last couple of laps to finish in 29th position.