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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.

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