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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Racer Bikes Cup Chur.

This was a new venue for me and the course in Chur turned out to be perfect for racing. A short section of tarmac to start the lap off was fast but also ideal for drinking and feeding. The rest of the track included a large amount of climbing with plenty of passing but there was one tight and steep switch back section to mix it up a bit. The descending wasn’t very technical but was fast and it did have a couple of trickier parts which when ridden at speed became a bit dodgy. There were also some nice bermed corners and then a final switch back section down to the start finish area.
After Engelberg I had completed two weeks of good training and was determined to ride a much stronger race in Chur. The field was big with over 60 starters and included plenty of top riders.
The start went alright and I came through in 28th after the first lap before losing a few places due to the speed of the early part of the race dropping down to 31st. I was feeling a lot stronger but was a bit unsure as to what I could do. We had 9 laps so it was going to be long day and I wanted to be able to finish the race off well this time round.

For several laps I rode in small groups. Our pace was up and down and at times I was really hurting just to stay on their tail and then just a couple of minutes later they would all be sitting on my wheel. I didn’t really like to change my speed so much and fit in with their tactics and tried to ride my own race at a consistent speed. It was a super hot day and I think the conditions started to take their toll on a lot of riders and as they started to slip back I steadily made up ground.
I really started to enjoy myself and it was great to be able to actually race rather than struggle through at the back of the field like the previous week. With three laps to go I really went for it pushing hard for those final laps picking up a few more positions in the process. It was a relief to cross the finish line and my final result of 18th place was a solid result. I know that I finished 19th last week and was disappointed with that but this race was a much higher standard and I was pleased with how I had turned things around and felt that I had ridden a much better race.

Photos thanks to Samuel Kummrow.

Monday, June 13, 2011

First race - Racer Bikes Cup Engelberg.

Engelberg last year was a mud bath and after Saturdays practice session up at the track it looked like it was going to be the same this year. However Sunday ended up being a beautiful day and the course dried out nicely.

Our race was 10 laps of the 3.2km track with 136m of climbing per lap. One big hill dominated the course and with the laps being so short there was very little respite from the long climb to the top.

I had a good start but by the end of the first lap I had dropped off the pace a bit. I started to pick up places as the laps wore on but it was very frustrating as for the majority of the race a big group of maybe 10 riders were within my sights but I just couldn’t bridge the gap. Through the middle of the race I made a big effort to get in contact with this group and as it contained riders from about 7th to 14th position it would have been good if I had of been able to achieve that. I got very close but wasn’t able to finish off the final meters. The big effort I made took its toll with the final 3 three laps being a bit of a letdown as far as my speed went and my final result of 19th wasn’t what I was after.

Still I did show a bit of pace especially through the middle of the race and this was always going to be a tough day at the office being the first one of the season. Now I know where I am at and have a more definite idea of what I need to work on and look forward to improving at the next race in Chur in a couple of weeks.

Photos thanks to Joanie Huguenin.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

First week.

Well we have been in Switzerland for a week now and it has been a pretty action packed few days. Jet lag hit me pretty hard and I have only just started to get back to a normal sleep pattern. The heat has also been a bit of a shock to the system although it is very welcome and I am certainly not complaining about that.
What I have written here I originally wanted to put up on Sunday but I have been having a few issues with my computer so it’s a bit late but gives an idea on whats been happening so far.
Up early. The plan for today was to have a bit of a look around Zurich and then get a ride in later on in the day followed by some hunting Swiss style in the evening.

Dani gave us a lift into Zurich on his way to work. We then checked out a few of the shops and went for a walk down Banhnofstrasse which is one of the most expensive streets in the world. The average monthly lease price is about €327 per m2. After window shopping for a while we jumped on a tram to Zurich Zoo. This was pretty cool as I haven’t been to a Zoo in a long time. Most of the usual suspects were present although with it being a super hot day a lot of the animals were hidden away attempting to get a bit of relief from the heat.

Originally we had planned on riding our bikes back home to Schaffhausen but it looked like it was a going to be a bit of a mission getting out of Zurich and as we were going to be doing our main travelling by train we thought it could be a good opportunity to try out the famed Swiss rail system. All we had heard was how simple and easy the trains were to use so how hard could it be? Unfortunately we ran into trouble early on when the train that we thought we needed to be on didn’t turn up. After chewing through a fair bit of time we eventually gave up and took the next train to arrive and ended up at Zurich airport. From here we managed to sort ourselves out and eventually made it back to Schaffhausen a couple of hours late.

We had arranged to go hunting with Dani at 6:00. Hunting Swiss style is a unique experience and is a lot of fun. You start the evening off with good food and sit around talking until it starts to get dark. Then it’s time to move to the hunting hides which are small huts over looking an area where game is likely to wander. The idea is to sit quietly until you see something you want. After wards you sit around and talk a bit more and then its home to bed.

Up early again. Today we were leaving Schaffhausen and moving on to our accommodation for the next few weeks in central Switzerland at the foot of the Alps. After the previous days mix up we had debriefed and taken on some advice from our hosts and so armed with new found knowledge and experience we were all set for the days train trip. I had a fair bit of gear with me and knew that it was going to be a tough day lugging it around.

Once you know what you are doing train travel is actually quite easy and works well but it would definitely be a lot easier if you could avoid travelling with a couple of 20+kg bags and for me changing trains was always going to be the hard part. We made the first of our two connections with out to much hassle. The 2nd one however had me straining to lift my heavy bike box the small but seemingly forever distance to the train and in the end we only made it with seconds to spare before it left. Of course if we had of missed that one we would have probably only have had to wait for 10mins for the next one but you don’t think about that at the time. Eventually after a couple of hours we made it to our final stop and it was here that the fun really began. From the station we had maybe 2km to get to our accommodation. I got stuck into the task at hand but after a several minutes I had only moved a pitiful 100ms or so. A local passing by gave me a lift but we didn’t make it far and he moved on pretty quickly once he realised how heavy my gear was. It was time to reassess as I obviously wasn’t going to get anywhere in a hurry the way things were going. In the end I decided the best thing would be to build my bike up and then use it as a trolley to support my box still packed with gear and wheel it along. Thankfully this worked and eventually we made it to our destination tired but happy to have finally made it.

After all that action it was still only 2pm so we went down to the lake front for an hour or so and had a bit to eat in the sun. Re-energised it was time for a couple of hours on the bike. The weather was amazing and my ride that afternoon is going to be pretty hard to beat. The views from up high were post card worthy and I had a great time out on the bike. I ended the ride with my favourite Swiss drink, strawberry buttermilk and then went for a swim in the lake which finished the day off nicely.
This week has started off well and now that we are properly settled in I have been able to focus on the training and getting fully prepared for the race at Engelberg this weekend.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Update & Switzerland.

After Oceanias things were pretty quiet. I had three weeks where I kept off the bike as much as possible and had a good break. I then came back to training nice and fresh with my focus firmly set on my overseas campaign and my big objective the World Champs in Champery, Switzerland in September.

Over the last couple of months I have been lucky enough to get the chance to ride a Santacruz Nickel thanks to Stylie at Santacruz NZ. It has been great for training on and I have enjoyed the benefits of the extra travel and beefier frame which has allowed me to open it up a bit more on the downhills and experience a slightly different style of riding to what I am used to.

After my experience last year in Europe I have been looking forward to getting back over so it is good to finally be here. From Auckland we had a 12 hour flight to Shanghai, a 30min stopover to switch planes and then after another 12 hours we touched down in Zurich at 3pm on Tuesday the 31st. Despite getting stung with a pretty hefty fee for excess baggage it was another wise hassel free trip and my bike made it through unscathed. I haven't been as lucky with jet lag and am feeling a bit sleep deprived after a couple of interrupted nights.

So far I have been taking it pretty easy and just getting the body acclimatised before I start any real intensity in training. It has been quite cold especially yesterday which only made it to a chilly 13 degrees but its going to be back up to 26 degrees by the weekend.

My first race is just over a week away on the 12th at the Racer Bikes Cup in Engelberg. Its going to be really interesting to see how it goes and I am getting pretty excited about getting back into the racing.