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Monday, March 21, 2011

Oceania Continental Championships Shepparton, Australia.

Photo credit © Shane Goss

2nd place U23 Men, 51 seconds behind winner Paul van der Ploeg of Australia. Apart from the first minute I thought I had a pretty good race. But my poor start virtually cost me any chance of winning. Paul’s a super fast power house and it would have been a tough ask to challenge him, but losing some 40secs on the first lap wasn’t the way to go about it.

Mt Major was the venue for the race. There really wasn’t anything major about the ‘Mountain’ and you would struggle to even call it a hill in most places but the dead flat landscape surrounding the town of Shepparton meant that any sizable lump of dirt stood out. Probably around 90% of the course was single track with a lot of slower technical rocky sections but also some super fast downhill as well. Unfortunately there was almost no climbing at all and with the majority of the track being narrow, passing was very limited with only about a km of grass at the finish of each lap providing any opportunity to overtake.

Apparently last year during the Aussie national series the temperature got to 40 degrees here. We were lucky this year and it wasn’t too bad which was a good thing as we would have been baked in the sun on the exposed hill.

From the start line we had about 100m to sort ourselves out before the course got narrow and then entered the first section of single track. A good start was going to be very important. I knew this and so when the gun went I planned to smash it to the first corner and all going well be at the front. The gun went and before I knew it I was sitting in a long line back in 7th place. Not at all what I had wanted.

I squeezed my way round a couple of riders in the first couple of k’s but I was stuck back in 5th until the grass at the end of the first lap, where I was finally able to move up into second and begin the chase. I then had 4 laps left to try and catch up to Paul but despite pushing the whole race I lost time on all except the final lap finishing slightly frustrated but reasonably happy in second place.

Thanks to Nigel and his family for putting up with me for the trip. Pam for the great meals and Paul for the driving & feeding during the race.

It is now time for a bit of a break. I think I need one. I am starting to feel the effects of what has been a pretty big New Zealand season and with another overseas trip coming in the next few months this is a good chance to freshen up again. I’m going to see if I can keep off the bike for a least a week and plan to then get back into structured training in three weeks time.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

N-Duro Summer Cup, Final Round.

It was nice to get back on the top step of the podium today and even better to round off the series with the overall title. I reckon today’s course was probably the best of the three this summer. A lot of climbing but the reward was some of my favourite downhill trails in the forest. It is always good fun having a race on the same tracks that I spend so many hours training on and I have really enjoyed racing in the series this year.

On Tuesday I am off to Aussie for the Oceania Continental Championships. It’s always a great contest racing against the Australians so I am getting pretty excited. There may be the odd rider from French Polynesia to spice things up as well. Race day is Friday. I don’t know a lot about the course but I have heard it will be fairly open and there may be a few rocks. It should be a good trip.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Karapoti Classic.

Karapoti is tough enough already but this year the weather conditions spiced things up and made it that little bit more extreme. Barrelling along the gorge in the first part of the race I couldn’t even tell if it was raining or not from the water getting splashed up as we smashed through puddles strung out in a big line of riders.

Fairly early on a group of three of us split off the front of the race going up the Deadwood climb. Tim set the pace followed by Anton and then myself. The plan for me was to wait and see how things panned out. In other words I was going to be playing follow the leader unless I absolutely couldn’t keep up. Once into the final climb I would attack and all going well ride away to the win. And thats almost how things turned out. Stu managed to join us and for the majority of the course all four of us rode together. The rock garden and the tough hike a bike up Devils Stair Case didn’t do much to split us up and it was clear that it was going to come to a show down up the last climb, Dopers hill to decide the race.
We hit Dopers Creek and the loose gravel coming out the other side forced Stu, Tim and I off our bikes. Anton however was able to stay riding and seizing his opportunity made his bid for victory. I scrambled back onto the bike as soon as I could and set off in pursuit. Reeling him in was easy enough but try as I might I couldn’t drop him and by the top we were both still together, well clear of Stu and Tim.
Despite a crash for me and a few attempts by both of us to get away from each other before the finish, we were still locked together coming into the final river crossing. I was confident that my superior height would give me the advantage in the dash across but although holding the lead coming out of the water, my sprint let me down and I missed out on the win. I was obviously disappointed with second but for the first time ever I got through Karapoti without getting a flat tyre, busting my bike or blowing. So to be honest I was actually quite satisfied with how I rode and pleased to have made it onto the podium for the first time.