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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2011 Race Bike

Here it is, my machine for the New Year.
Santacruz Blur XC Matte Black Carbon frame
2011 Shimano XTR
Fox Fork

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

Mid North Island Cup Final, Napier.

I really enjoy getting across to Napier. It’s always good riding in the Esk forest. The trails are a bit steeper and tighter than at home and the race organisers always put together a great course. Conditions on the day were super dry and a lot of the corners had big dusty washouts so it got pretty loose at times. There was a fair bit of climbing in the 9km course and 4 laps in the Hawkes Bay sunshine made for a fairly tough day. I managed to finish off the series with another win and as this will be my final race for the year it was good to go out with a bang.
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

Rotorua Mid North Island Cup

Round 3 of the MNIC was held here at home in Rotorua. It was a good race and I enjoyed the chance to have a thrash around a few of my old favourite trails. The legs are going well at the moment and I managed to get another win under the belt. Using these local races is great prep for the upcoming National season and I am having a lot of fun getting out there and supporting the series.
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

Huka XL

The Huka Xl is one of the many races that make up the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge. It is a huge event and its great that Mountain biking is now an integral part of the big day. Although I have raced on the road around the lake several times over the years it was my first time competing in the ‘Huka’ and I was keen to have a good race. The large amount of prize money up for grabs ensures that it is always very competitive with every one chasing the cash that comes with the win. At just over 80km it makes for a long race but it’s a great course packed full of Taupo’s finest single track. There isn’t a lot of long climbing but the twisty trails really wear you down and by the time you start heading back along the river to Taupo several small but pinchy climbs ensure that you make it to the finish well and truly buggered.

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.
Unfortunately the distance was a bit much for me and with only about 15km left I ran out of gas losing contact with the leaders. As I neared the finish my legs were pretty much shot and going up a cruel little climb I slipped from 3rd to 4th. I was a bit gutted to drop off the podium but I was very glad when I finally made it to the finish and relieved to hang onto 4th place.

It is amazing how smoothly the event runs. With so many riders to keep under control the organisers and many volunteers did a great job and the Taupo weather came to the party as well, it was maybe even too hot. And despite not winning the major spot prize of a new car I had a great day and am already planning for next year.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mid North Island Cup Round #2 Taupo.

It was a wet start to the day at home but 20 minutes down the road it was dry and by the time we got to Taupo things had taken a turn for the better and the weather was not too bad at all.
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

Rotorua To Ohope.

It’s been a couple of months now since my last race back at the world champs in September. So today was a good chance to get the legs turning in anger and back into the swing of things with a busy race calendar over the next few months.

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.

Next week is the second round of the Mid North Island MTB Series in Taupo which I am really looking forward to. It’s not until you have a good break from racing that you realise how much fun it is. It will also be a good chance to have a practice on some of the tracks to be used in the Huka XL the following week.
Until next time.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

16 Inch Dual Slalom World Champs

With the World Single Speed Championships in town this week it was a good excuse to come up with a few hard case events in the lead up to the big one on Saturday. And so the 16 inch dual Slalom World Championships were born.

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

Cycle Speedway

How good would some of this be this summer?

Thursday, October 7, 2010


What better way to spend a nice afternoon than floating around on a lake? And even better I caught a Trout a well.
The good ship


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Home Again.

After almost four months away from home it's good to be back. Unfortunately the weather hasn't been too flash but I've been having a break off the bike anyway so it hasn't been all bad. The last couple of days however have been great and hopefully a preview of the summer to come, can't wait.

We went and watched the mighty BOP take on Otago last Friday in the ITM Cup and I really enjoyed it, the first rugby game I have been to in a couple of years so it was nice to get back into it and despite the weather it was an action packed game especially the first half with plenty of tries and the Bay came through to take a comfortable win with a try in the final minutes.

I am already rearing to go and now that day light saving has kicked in I will start riding again in the Whaka forest. I will probably take things nice and easy for the next week or so but I am looking forward to the NZ summer race season and will get back into the training in October.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

World Championships Mont Sainte Anne, Canada.

Mont Sainte Anne is probably one of the most famous venues for Mountain Bike racing in the World and this year the World Championships coincided with 20 years of world class events held at Mont Sainte Anne which is quite an achievement given Mountain Bike racings short history.

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

Mont Sainte Anne

I have been in Canada for just over a week now. The travelling wasn't too bad, a busy night of packing following our last race in Switzerland and then an 8 hour flight to Montreal airport before finally arriving in Mont Sainte Anne after a 6 hour drive. I have found slotting in to the time zone over here easy enough and certainly a lot better than if I had come direct from New Zealand.

The Worlds course is very good. It has a bit of everything on it but probably the best feature is its technical nature. A couple of good climbs will split the riders up nicely and then you really have to be able to keep the speed up through the rooty and rocky sections if you want to do well. It has been very hot and dry here lately and the track is super dusty and it is a lot of fun to ride. I have been able to get plenty of time in on the course and know it very well now.

A bit of rain is forecasted for later on in the week but if anything that will be good as it would help pack down the dust and would make things slippery enhancing the difficulty of the track.

Race day for me is Friday so I still have a few more days left but I am feeling good on the bike and especially on the track and can't wait to get into it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Racer Bikes Cup Final, Muttenz.

With World Champs fast approaching the final round in the Racer Bikes Cup series would serve as a great last hit out before the big one on the third of September. It was also my last weekend in Switzerland after almost three months of training and racing.
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

Mountain Bike World Cup #5 Val di Sole, Italy.

I have really enjoyed the last couple of weeks, the atmosphere and hype that surrounds the Mountain Bike World Cup Series is very special I have had a great time. Getting the chance to go up against the world’s best is awesome.

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

Are you ready....

Val di Sole World Cup tomorrow, can't wait.

The weapon, ready for action.
We have been back at the Sport Hotel Rosatti in Dimaro this week and have had another enjoyable stay.
Plenty of time has been spent up on the Val di Sole track getting some good training in.
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

World Cup #4 Champery, Switzerland.

My first World Cup in the Elite men turned out to be a race of mixed emotions. In the lead up to the race I was very excited. World Cup races are the pinnacle of Mountain Bike racing and finally getting the chance to have a crack at one had been a goal of mine for some time.
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

France and le Tour

A break from racing over the last week gave us the opportunity to head to France and see a bit of the Tour. We also caught up with good mate Keiran Hambrook who is over road racing in Morteau.

We left our base at Schaffhausen on the Thursday and spent the next couple of days in Morteau at Keirans flat. It was good to catch up with Keiran and meet Sam and Matt his team mates and we arrived at a perfect time with a carnival starting up next door to their flat. We even got the chance to see them race at a Friday night Crit race.

The Boys Before there Crit race.
The Carnival.

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 decided that we would try a bit of camping to mix things up a bit. Luckily we managed to borrow a tent as it would have been a bit tight with two of us sleeping in the back of the VW. Our first campsite was on the other side of the Mountain from Morzine.

Campsite #1

Dinner, Check out the instant BBQ.

Sunday dawned and it was Tour time. First up we went for a spin up the mountain to suss out a good posse to view the race from. The atmosphere was building, the spectators were out painting riders names on the road and things were starting to get exciting. We rode the last 4km of the tour climb then ducked home to have a feed. From where we were camped we could take a gondola up to the finish line and we made sure we got there nice and early to get a good spot. We managed to squeeze in right against the barriers just before the 100m to go mark. It was perfect we could see all of the finish as well as the big screen so we saw all the attacks getting laid down before the summit.We took advantage off all the handouts from the race sponsors in the Tour caravan and settled in for the finish. It was a super exciting race with Andy Schleck attacking near the top and dropping every one bar Samuel Sanchez, but he was to strong at the finish starting his sprint right in front of where we were watching to claim the stage win.

Freebies at the Tour.

Andy Schleck about to out sprint Samuel Sanchez to take the stage win at Morzine Avoriaz.
The next day was the Tour rest day, a great chance to get up close to the riders as they went out training. I snapped a few photos of Cadel Evans as he posed for the press in his yellow jersey and I even saw TV commentators Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen stuck in traffic in the middle of town.

Cadel Evans in Yellow on the Tour rest day.

Legends, Phill Ligget and Paul Sherwin.

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.
I attempted to get back into town to see the riders warming up before the stage start but there were to many people and I couldn't get near the center of town. Instead I settled for the beginning of the stage proper at the end of the neutralised start section. Again the size of the event blew us away. The race caravan leaves several hours before the race start and right up until the riders come past the roads are packed with sponsors, media and team cars. Once the riders have gone by the team buses come along followed by any stragglers from the media. It takes several hours for the tour to pass by a point on the road. It really is an amazing event and it was great to get the chance to experience it first hand.

Campsite #2

The start of stage 9.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Racer Bikes Cup Flims

We made it to Flims on the Friday before the event to check out the course. It was very good, short but with a little bit of everything. The main feature was a very steep climb but the down hills were really good and nothing like the carefully groomed single track we get back home. It was full on roots and rocks and lower down a few wooden features including a big wall ride and a couple of drops. I decided after one lap that it was my favourite race track of the trip so far. It really was a good track with a perfect mix of climbing and technical as well as good passing and feeding sections.

Flims is World Champion Nino Schurters training ground and he was the local hero. A massive crowd came out in support of the World Champ. A very strong line up of riders turned up on the day and although this was my fifth race over here in Europe the excitement of racing against the big stars of World Mountain Biking hasn’t diminished.
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

Swiss Bike Trophy

The Swiss Bike Trophy is one of the biggest races on the international calendar and always attracts the top riders in the world. The race is high on a hill overlooking the city of Bern and is a magnificent setting for an event. The public come out in huge numbers to support the race and the atmosphere is amazing. The main access to the race venue is via a cable car and every spectator that entered the car received a rattle, the combined noise of several thousand rattles and the usual Swiss bells certainly created a lot of hype. Commentators report back to the start finish are from several positions on the race track and organised bell ringers drum up support every time a rider comes past. It would have to be one of the most exciting races I have competed in. Even though I was racing flat out I really soaked up the support and enjoyed the experience, it was great being a part of such a high quality event.

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.

Next weekend I race another Racer bikes cup in Flims and then it’s a good couple of weeks off until the World Cup races at the end of July.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Racer Bikes Cup Engelberg.
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.

I had a much better start position for this race lining up on the third row. I had my lucky number 13 on the bike so I was feeling pretty good and was keen to have a stronger result. Right away I felt a lot more comfortable. I lost places at the start of the climb but got most of them back by the top. The single track had been gravelled before the race so although it was wet it wasn’t too slippery, but the fun really started when we entered the grass section of the track below the famous Titlis Ski Jump. The thick mud made it pretty much a hold on and hope for the best situation. 3 chutes and if you made it to the bottom safely you were doing pretty well. It was absolute chaos the first lap with riders crashing all over the place. I got down alright breathed a sigh of relief and attempted to slog my way through the mud along the flat to the safety of the tarmac start finish area. After the first lap I decided it was faster just to get off and run along the flat. I flew up the climb on the second lap and by the end I was up into 16th position. The bike was starting to suffer by now. The thick casing of mud was clogging the drive train and chain suck was becoming a problem. The climb was fine, I dropped it into the small ring and spun my way up but I had a lot of trouble riding everywhere else after a fresh coating of mud and grass each lap. The only thing to do was man up and slog on for the rest of the race. The attrition rate was very high with a number riders pulling out after they or their bikes couldn’t hack it. Disappointingly I lost places through the middle of the race and got lapped by the race winner with meters left off my 7th lap. But 19th place wasn’t too bad and a big improvement from the previous Racer Bikes Cup result. I was very pleased with how strong I felt and perhaps if I had done a better job of clearing some of the muck from my drive train each lap I would have been able to spend more time going forwards and finished a little higher but I can’t really complain.

Looking forward to a bit of sunshine and a dry track next week at the Swiss Bike Trophy in Bern.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Tour of Switzerland

We made it back to Switzerland after our short Italian trip just in time to see a few stages of the last week of the Tour of Switzerland. Heres a few photos from the roadside.

Stage 5 Photos.

Showing our true colours.


The break away, eventual stage winner in red Marcus Burghardt.

Stage 6

Into the real mountains today.

The break.

The peleton.

It was really good getting the chance to see a race like this up close. Most of the big names were here, Lance Armstrong, the Schleck brothers and even New Zealand rider Hayden Roulston. We got a good look at Hayden as he set the pace at the front of the main peleton for his team leader Tony Martin on stage 6.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Internazionali D'Italia Adamello Bike XC Vermiglio

Race two of our internationl campaign. I had actually ridden this race before back in 2008 when I raced it as a junior in the lead up to the World Champs that year so it was pretty cool to be returning two years later. Single track is scarce but the unique part of this track is the section through the streets of Vermiglio, a few stairs, cobbles, alley ways and the vocal support form spectators cheering from there balconies and windows definitely makes Vermiglio different from the usual race track.

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.

I am reasonably happy with my result. The step up in performance that comes with racing in the Elite level in Europe is really tough but thats why I am here, to race and learn from the best. I will look to improve next week back in Switzerland at the next round of the Swiss Racer Bikes Cup in Engelberg.