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Thursday, September 13, 2012

2012 Mountain Bike World Championships, Saalfelden Austria.

World Champs are now over for another year. The “Worlds” are the pinnacle event of the season with everybody in top shape and hunting for a result to satisfy their personal goals. Myself and team mate Tom Bradshaw had the misfortune to pick up the flu in the lead up so I wasn’t in top shape but was looking to get through as well as possible. The track wasn’t overly difficult physically or technically but would be good for racing with heaps of passing opportunities. The week’s weather had generally been fine so the majority of the course was dry except for the forest sections at the top end which were still damp. It was a bit sketchy here and made it more interesting but wasn’t a large enough part of the track to make a major difference.

I hadn’t felt great the day before and during the warm up could tell it would be a difficult race. But I had a surprisingly strong start, out performing my often poor beginnings coming through in 23rd after the start lap. I was really forcing it though and after the first full lap had dropped back to 26th. I wasn’t feeling too flash on the long strength climb at the beginning of the lap losing big ground to the riders around me. Through the forest sections at the top end of the course I could hold my own by taking risks on the descents but would again lose ground on the second major uphill on the tarseal back up into the forest in the second half of the lap. I yo yoed around in the mid 20s the whole race holding my own in the slippery stuff but out in the open on the fast drag climbs the pace was too much. I was unable to hold off several riders over the last two laps but wasn’t too displeased in the end to take 28th as it could easily have been a lot worse.

It is frustrating when you fall below your personal expectations but it is also hugely motivating. I am determined to improve next year and already have a lot of ideas on how it’s going to happen. The World Champs are always an awesome experience and this year was no different. Living with the NZ team and catching up and making new friends with people from all round the world. The race may not have gone the way I wanted it to but I still had a great time and will make sure I am back next year in South Africa.

Photos courtesy of Marius Maasewerd.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Switzerland, BMC Cup Basel/Muttenz

Well I have been back in Switzerland for just over a week. The weather has so far been awesome with plenty of days over 30 degrees and only two days with rain and one of them was on the drive across from Munich Airport.  
Morning training ride.

Training has been pretty good and I have enjoyed reacquainting myself with the technical Swiss single trails. I spent the first few days in Brot Plamboz near Nuchatel at Jeromes house. It was good to catch up with him and Patrick and I had a good time there riding on the quiet roads and dry forest trails. I also spent quite a lot of time escaping the heat by cooling off down at the lake.

Via Ferrata with Jerome.

On Friday I travelled to Pascal's house in Basel for the final round of the BMC CUP nearby in Muttenz. A strong field turned up so it was raced at a fast pace. The Muttenz race is unique, held on a very flat course with only 50m of climbing per lap. With so much flat terrain it plays out in a similar way to a road race with groups forming early on and it is very hard to make up ground to the next bunch with so little decisive climbing to split things up. Also it is deceptively physical because with the lack of altitude gain there is also not much descending so there is not a lot of chance to recover. My result wasn’t amazing, ending up in 36th position. But the time spent suffering at race pace should wake up the legs and help build the form for worlds.

Start loop.

I will spend two more days here in Switzerland staying in Thal before driving across to Austria to stay near the Worlds Champs course on Wednesday.

Friday, July 20, 2012

July Update.

I have not long been back from my two month racing foray in Europe. There were plenty of highlights and I was generally pleased with my performances and happy with the progress made from the previous season. The best part for me was my race at the Czech Republic World Cup where I made it into 14th place and proved to myself that if all goes right, I have the speed to finish inside the top 10 at under 23 level.

A few photos from my trip:

Up in the snow above Glarus.
Glarus the Swiss town where I spent the majority of my time.

Czech countryside around Bystre where we stayed for the Nove Mesto Na Morave World Cup round.

Snow in La Bresse two days before the French World Cup race.

Rudy feeding the Fox up at the Mountain house.

Shuttling Swiss style.

Trail ride near Chur on the Nomad Carbon.


Training on Klausen Pass.

Perch fishing.

I wasn’t totally looking forward to heading back to NZ in mid winter (being the first winter spent in NZ for 2 years) but have been surprised with how good the weather has been since being home. Fingers crossed it stays that way as so far it has been perfect for training. The focus is on stepping up and working hard to improve on weaknesses identified over the last trip in order to come into World Champs in the best possible shape.

Working big hours over the first couple of weeks at home I was able to top up the funds a bit and with support from the Rotorua MTB Club and part time work over the next 5 weeks I will be able to head over to this years World Championships being held in Saafelden, Austria. All up this will be a shorter trip of three and a half weeks and will include the final round of the Swiss BMC Cup series in Muttenz to hone the form before the big one less than two weeks later.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


My final race was also a big one with probably the best field I have raced against this trip with most of the top twenty Elite riders in the world turning up to get in a final hit out before the American World Cup rounds.

I travelled early to Granichen on Wednesday so that I could get in some good practice on the course and was able to get to know it pretty well by race day. We had an average week with lots of rain but the good weather turned up with super hot sunny days for the weekend.Thankfully most of the track was under tree cover which offered a bit of respite but with 8 laps of a 4.5km course it was going to be a testing day.

The race started off with an approx 2min climb and then hit the first section of single trail very early so it was a bit hectic with lots of dodgy suicide passing on the insides of corners and close quarter racing as everyone tried to ride several rides abreast down the narrow trail. I wasn’t supper happy with my position after this but it wasn’t too bad and after gaining a couple more places round the first two laps I was sitting just inside the top 30. I ended up in a small group which stayed pretty much together for the majority of the race.

I rode quite consistently enjoying the course which was quite a good one and not too dissimilar to what we race on in NZ. I did find the pace tough through the mid section and had to dig deep to hold the wheels and stay with the group on the climbs. I was able to recover a bit and when I saw that the two riders I was with were starting to suffer a bit more than me midway through the 2nd to last lap I made a big effort to  drop them and try and gain a few more positions. I was able to catch another rider from up ahead but was also overtaken by someone else and coming into the finish I was fighting with one of the guys from my bunch right to the line. I was able to hold him off in the sprint and so finished up with 27th place overall and was close to the U23 podium with a 4th place finish. So a solid end to my trip. Big thanks to the Gemperle family for their hospitality this week and help at the race.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Swiss Bike Trophy

The race in Bern is a really cool event, the Gurten park overlooking the city is a pretty unique venue and it always draws a top field of Internationals and of course the best Swiss riders. The course was fast without much technical difficulty but it did have a really nice downhill with heaps of berms and a few jumps that reminded me a lot of home.

We had some rain in the morning but it stopped several hours before our race and the course dried out a fair bit so pretty much everyone showed up at the start with their dry tyres on. However before we had even finished the first lap the rain turned up again and the course deteriorated quickly and got worse as the race went on. The dry tyres caused plenty of loose moments and I was lucky to get away with just a crash into a padded tree avoiding any serious damage but also went through the tape twice on the same off camber grass corner. We also had to do some running with a new section of track purpose built for the event becoming super greasy and although I tried there was no way I was getting up it with the tyres I had on. Even running up it was hard enough. Normally I enjoy riding in challenging conditions like this but this time it was a tough day and I never really got going. I just didn’t have the legs and struggled not feeling my usual self particularly on the climbs where I was unable to get into any decent rhythm. I ended up 29th which wasn’t a disaster considering how I felt but definitely not what I was after coming into it.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

World Cup La Bresse, France

After last weeks good performance at the Czech World Cup I was very motivated to go better and break into the top 10 at this weekend’s fourth round in France.

We were treated to a tough course which was almost one main climb and descent. The climb was steep with a lot of elevation gained in a short time. A short descent offered a bit of respite before a final push to the top of the hill and then a nice long almost continuous downhill back to the bottom. A few rocky sections spiced things up and with rain forecasted for the weekend it had the potential to be a bit of a mud bath. Fortunately the weather turned it on for us for a change with sunshine and the track conditions were almost perfect.

A good start was crucial with limited passing around the course and everyone knew it, so it was pretty frantic early on with a couple of bad crashes around the start loop. I came through back a little bit further behind then I wanted but was able to move up well as we headed out onto the first full lap making it up into the top 25 fairly easily. I was feeling great and with the leaders still in sight I was in a good position to kick on. Into the first downhill and one corner in I heard an ominous hissing sound. Trying to kid myself that it was someone else’s tyre losing air I carried on for a bit but was soon forced to admit my problem.

It was pretty gut wrenching having the whole field stream by as I ran to the first tech zone and with the puncture coming so soon after the start with the field still quite close together I was soon back in last position. My spare wheels were at the bottom of the hill in the second tech zone but thankfully I was able to get going again with a Shimano neutral service wheel.

So I set off with a very big task to get back up for a decent result with 90 riders ahead of me. It took a lap to get going again with my legs seizing up a bit after the run and stop but I soon started to move up and it was good to see my position improve each lap as I crossed the line. It wasn’t easy to pass a lot of the time especially on the main climb, so I had a few hold ups along the way. I eventually made it back into the top 40 on the penultimate lap and headed out for the final effort with plenty of riders in sight to chase down. I climbed well picking people off and managed to sneak past a couple more early on down the last descent. With the finish almost in sight I couldn’t believe it when the Shimano wheel went flat as well!  I tried nursing it in but it wasn’t going to work and I didn’t want to wreck it especially as it wasn’t my wheel. So I had to run again watching my hard earned work unravel with the riders I had just passed sprinting round and heading for the finish line. I made it to the last straight and with another rider coming I jumped back on in attempt to hold him off. It was super close but he just got it and I had to settle for 38th place.

Not really how I wanted this one to pan out but that’s racing. I have another four weeks left before I head home with two more races remaining. I do get a break next week which will be nice after the five consecutive races weekends but I am very motivated to finish off strong and am looking forward to the next one at the Swiss Bike Trophy in Bern.

Thanks to Aroha and Allan for the feed/tech zone duties and Mils for the photos.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

World Cup Nove Mesto Na Morave, Czech Republic

I didn’t make it here last year so I was excited about heading to the Czech Republic to get back into World Cup action and experience the track that I had heard was probably the best on the Circuit. A big days drive took us through Switzerland, Austria, and Germany before finally arriving in Czech after 9 hours. The track didn’t disappoint and I found it hard to keep off it as it was so nice to ride. It was almost perfect for me with the 4.5km lap broken up into four climbs and descents. The organisers had kept it mostly natural utilising the terrain with plenty of bumps and dips and although technical it was still quite wide with plenty of alternate passing lines.

The race town of Nove Mesto Na Morave is in a pretty nice area with small rolling hills and a very green landscape. We stayed about 20mins away from the course in a town called Bystre and enjoyed the hospitality of Milky who would have to be the friendliest and most helpful accommodation owner I have ever stayed with anywhere. The weather was great all week and it finally started to feel like Europe could be heading into summer. Unfortunately it didn’t stay that way with the cold returning in time for the weekend and we woke up to rain and chilly temperatures on race day yet again. This time the rain didn’t hang around for too long and if anything the moisture made the track better with the roots becoming slick and causing  problems for a lot of riders but the dirt was still fairly dry.

The start is an area I have struggled with at World Cup or World Championship races so I was a bit nervous coming into this one. It was a good start loop however with two climbs to help spread everyone out a bit before the first single track section and because it was quite wide starting back in 34th position wasn’t too much of a disadvantage with plenty of passing room available.

I’m not sure what happened. I think one of the riders in front had a bit off trouble clipping in or something but I came to stop before I had even really started. It didn’t take long to get going again but at this level you lose positions so fast and having riders flying past doesn’t do much for your self confidence. I lost my composure for a little bit making some dumb passing decisions scrambling to save the situation. I tried shooting up the left on the first climb but ended up getting boxed in with slower riders in front and on the right. After taking a moment to regain a bit of breath on the short downhill I hit the next climb hard and realised I had pretty good legs finding it fairly easy to weave through the pack and doing enough to make it into the single track ahead of the worst of the traffic jam as 104 riders tried to get down a narrow trail at the same time.

I made an overly aggressive passing manoeuvre which backfired and lost me a few places round a tight corner near the end of the start loop but coming across the line and heading out onto the first proper lap I was relieved to see that I had wasn’t too far back sitting in 40th place. I relaxed and settled into my work after that. I was riding strong and seemed to have a bit of an edge over most riders on the descents so I was able to really attack the climbs passing several riders at once before recovering a bit on the downhill sections and repeating the effort on the next climb.

It’s always a bit of a shock to the system racing at World Cup level with the whole race being a constant battle with other riders to either gain or consolidate you position and any sign of weakness or loss of concentration can lose a couple of place before you even know it’s happened. I was right on my limit but as the race progressed seemed to ride even faster moving up into the thirties and then into the top twenty. I was really keen for a top 15 finish though and kept on the gas finally breaking into 14th place with two laps two go. I couldn’t afford to relax with a big group of us all very close and I knew I would have to put down a really quick final lap to ensure my place.

The last lap was hard. The first climb wasn’t too good for me and my legs were starting to tire up. A couple of people came round but I could hold their wheels. The next climb was better. I found my speed again and attacked back opening up a small gap. I had one guy nipping at my heels the whole way and we flew around the lap producing my fastest lap time of the race and almost catching another group who had previously been out of sight. Coming out of the forest to the finish area they were almost within reach and I pushed right to the line but couldn’t quite catch them finishing in 14th place.

It was a pretty good feeling to finally get a solid result in a European World Cup after several years of disappointment where I felt like I wasn’t making any progress. After this breakthrough in Czech I have a lot of confidence and will be out to back it up this weekend at the next round of the World Cup in France.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


A new one for me and quite a major event with the BMC Cup being held in conjunction with Solothurn Bike days which is a massive bike show held over two days. It brings in a big crowd as well as the top riders so it was an exciting race.

The course however was very average with over half on sealed roads and only a basic off road section that included a small climb and descent. Like the first BMC cup the rain bucketed down the night before and then race day turned out fine. It wasn’t super muddy but still enough to be a nuisance but because there was so much road everyone kept their fast dry tyres on. The main climb started off steep and this part was slippery making it unrideable and adding a short uphill run every lap.

It was quite tactical at times during the race and it was much faster sticking in a group mainly for the road section. I started reasonably well but would have liked to be a bit further up the field. Stuck a little too far back I couldn’t quite make it into the bunch I wanted for the road. I then had a slightly frustrating few laps as I was strong on the forest section but couldn’t do enough to bridge up to the next group. It wasn’t until the 4th lap that I was finally able to drop my companions on the climb and by riding the downhill as fast as I could close the gap and latch onto the faster group moving up to around the top 20. I worked hard for the next few laps trying to maintain my position and drop a few more riders. Coming into the last lap a group of five of us were battling to fit inside the top 20 and it was a super tough last climb. The pack disintegrated quickly with myself and another rider falling off the back. My legs were pretty much shot by then so I was happy to make it to the finish in 24th place.                                                                         

Monday, April 30, 2012

La Zeta Bike, Jura Alp Cup #1

After last weeks disappointment at the BMC Cup in Tesserete I was aiming to ride strong for the full duration for this one. The race was the first round of the Jura Alp Cup near Neuchatel and was not the same level as a BMC Swiss Cup but still a tough race with some strong riders.

The course was nice with the majority on forest roads but there was also some good single trail. A start loop and then a big loop with the longest climb and then two laps of a shorter finishing circuit were the format with a total distance of 28km.

Round the start loop I stayed out of trouble near the front and then surged a bit to take the lead as we headed out onto the big first lap. For a while I held a small lead over a group of about five riders and was considering easing off and letting them catch up as I was just dangling off the front and not really making much progress. However the race favourite Martin Fanger made a move and although I was unable to hold his wheel  no one else came up with him so I was confident that I was stronger as they would almost certainly be up there if they were fast enough. Martin slowly eased away and with so much road riding on the course I wasn’t too disappointed when I was joined by local Road/MTB racer Nicolas Luthi. We worked well together although I did most of the pace setting as I was keen to keep away from the chasing pack and was also using the day as a hard training session.

Over the last quarter of the race I attacked several times but found it hard to hold any decent gap and each time Nicolas was able to come back. Realising I wasn’t going to be able to get away and it was most likely going to end in a sprint I slowed up a bit and he had a go at attacking me. I now had his wheel and was fairly confident I would be able to match him in the finish. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, he kicked harder and I had to settle for third.

I am much more satisfied with this result. I still have a bit of work to do but I am on the right track. I am racing again next weekend at the BMC Racing Cup in Solothurn which will be a final hit out before my main target for this trip, the two World Cup rounds in May.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

BMC Racing Cup - Tesserete

A completely new venue for me and one of the few times I have visited the lower Italian part of Switzerland. The course was very good and a lot of fun to ride. It didn’t seem too hard in practice with no real sustained climbing bit it did have several very steep short pinches. There were a lot of nice root and rock features with plenty of alternate lines for passing.
On Saturday the course was pretty dry with only the odd mud bog but the rain came down heavily all night soaking the track and making for some very tricky riding conditions for the morning races. By two when our race started it had mostly dried but the rain did leave some wet areas which as the race went on covered our bikes in thick heavy mud and made for pretty slow going. A couple of sections in particular where very bad and they killed the legs having to slog through each lap.

I had a great start sitting in or around the top 10 for the first three laps. The pace was very fast but I wasn’t feeling like it was impossible to hold it and was confident I could ride to a top 10 finish. The course was very demanding when ridden at race pace with little chance to recover. Because of the rain a couple of the steep climbs became virtually impossible to ride and we were forced to dismount and scramble cyclocross style to the top.
Unfortunately after a great first half of the race things unravelled badly on the 4th lap with 2 laps remaining.  I crashed hard on a descent and this threw my rhythm completely. I blew up pretty badly and lost all my speed creeping round the track for the next lap and very close to pulling the pin. I forced myself to carry on to the end and did improve slightly on the last lap finishing in 30th place.

So not the best start, however there a lot of positives I can take from this one and I have already moved on and am focusing on the upcoming races. I will be back in action again this weekend and will be looking to put together a more complete race.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Switzerland, Take 3.

I am now 3 days into my Swiss trip, currently based in Glarus enjoying the hospitality of Rudy Hauser. This year I am going to be here for just over two months and will pack in as much racing as I can including two World Cup rounds. One in the Czech Republic and the other in France. This will be my third year coming over to Europe for the European racing experience and I am hoping that after a couple of years learning the ropes I can get down and start getting some good results. Glarus looks like it will be an ideal location to stay with great training terrain. There is no shortage of climbing with mountains on either side of the flat valley floor and good single track coming back down, (going uphill is mostly done on road because the hills are so steep making the single trail almost impossible to climb).

Arriving in Zurich to be greeted by a freezing 6 degrees and rain had me wondering what I was in for but I have been assured that this isn’t usual for this time of year and things should warm up again soon. Fingers crossed!

So my first ride was pretty chilly, luckily there are so many climbs around to warm up on although going down is a different story. It was gently snowing near the top of the climb we did which was pretty cool and heading back down over the damp rocks and roots was tricky with some loose moments. The trails are definitely not like Rotorua around here and it takes awhile to adjust to the skills required to make it down in one piece. By the finish my face had begun to go numb and even though I enjoyed the ride I was glad to have a shower and warm up again.

My first race is this Sunday at the second round of the BMC Swiss Cup in Tesserete. I have come off the NZ season in good condition and after having a short rest I am feeling nice and refreshed and am certainly not lacking motivation. It will be a good test of my current form, can’t wait.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Oceania Champs

Having a big race like the Oceanias on home tracks doesn’t happen too often so I was pretty excited about this one and had been looking forward to it for a long time. In preparation I had ridden countless laps of the course so knew it very well. It was a deceptively hard track to race on because although it didn’t have a lot of sustained climbing, it was packed with small rises and pinches that wore the legs down and offered little respite. Technically it was very easy with the exception of the specially built rock garden descent which claimed a few victims both in the lead up to the race and during. With the home advantage I was looking to perform well and keen to add the U23 Oceania title to the NZ Champs win earlier in the summer.

The race went perfectly. I managed to take the lead pretty much from the gun and was able to set the pace up the first climb, Nursery hill. Tom Bradshaw took the lead briefly on the next little climb but I made sure I was back in front going into the first single trail descent. It took a while to shake the chasers but by about halfway through the first lap I had forced open a slight gap. It took a couple of laps to get a safer margin with Australian Cameron Ivory chasing hard. But by gaining a handful of seconds here and there and then pushing out a strong final lap I eventually finished with a winning margin of just under 2mins.

The crowd out supporting the race was huge by NZ standards and the atmosphere in the hotspots up Nursery hill and down the rock garden was awesome. This will definitely go down as one of my favourite races and it was great to be able to deliver the win at home in Rotorua.

So it was a pretty good weekend and helped cap what has probably been my most successful summer of racing in NZ. Thanks to everyone who has helped me out this year and all the support along the way. It is now time for a short break and then I will set my sights on my next overseas campaign.

Monday, February 27, 2012

NZ CUP # 4 Napier

The final NZ Nationals show down for the year.

Napiers track was a bit different to the others, mainly because it wasn’t as naturally selective. The main climb was very steep but apart from that it was a fast course without any real technical elements. This meant it was going to be a tough race as everyone would be a lot closer and the time differences at the finish were likely to be pretty small. We normally expect dry and dusty conditions in Napier but with a fair bit of rain in the week prior, conditions were almost perfect with plenty of grip.

For the first few laps it was a very tight race, with Mikey, Carl and myself riding off the front. I don’t think any of us had enough of an edge to go for the long haul and so it became quite a tactical battle with yo-yoing of the pace for nearly half of the race. At times we were strung out as someone put in an attack and then the next minute back to a steady cruise waiting for the next move to come. We haven’t had such a close race all year so it was very exciting and testing in different ways to previous encounters.

With three laps completed and another three to come I decided I had to back myself and go for the win. We hit the climb and I was second wheel behind Mikey. The steepest part came at the beginning and it eased off after about halfway. I waited until the gradient lessened a bit and then banged the chain into the big ring and went for it. It proved to be the decisive move and I was able to open up a gap & lead over the top. I really went for it and by the end of the lap had about 30secs, which I knew would be enough on this course. Keeping the gas on for the penultimate lap increased the lead a bit more and from there I only had to make it over the climb to take the win.

With the first place in Napier I also took out the overall title for the NZ Cup, with two Firsts and a Second proving to be the most consistent for the series.

Monday, February 20, 2012

NZ CUP # 3 Wellington.

It’s been couple of years since I last raced at Mount Vic so it was good to be back. It is always a tough venue with a lot of climbing and some good single trail sections that keep riders on the edge due to their often rooty and narrow nature. Because the weather had been so dry in the preceding days it was also quite dusty in places. The course was put together really well. A couple of long several minute climbs early on in the lap tested the legs and there was also a super steep Mount Vic trade mark pinch climb thrown in as well. I enjoyed it and felt I could do well and with the added incentive of my first outing in the National Champs jersey I was looking to have a good

The pace wasn’t very fast early on and everyone was still pretty much together for the most of the first lap. Near the top of the second climb I moved to the front to drive the pace a bit and managed to get a gap going into the next downhill section. I hadn’t intended on going so early but decided to make the most of the opportunity and keep up the momentum. After the first lap I had a small 10sec advantage. It is always good when you can disappear and stay out of site of the chasing riders and I worked hard to increase my lead. I wasn’t able to clear out big time but by the middle of the race things had settled down and I had a decent buffer. Six laps out in front was hard going though and I was starting to tire as we moved into the last stages of the race. I lost a bit of time to Mikey who was chasing hard in second place near the end but was reasonably safe and held him off by just over 20seconds.This was a pretty satisfying result and I will be working hard to have a good one at the final round of the NZ Cup this weekend in Napier.

Monday, January 30, 2012

2012 National Championships

The previous years National Champs in Dunedin hadn’t gone the way I wanted them to, but I had made sure I learnt from my mistakes for this one. Nelson has always been a good track for me and I was feeling very confident that I would be able to put together a good race. It is one of the rougher courses we race on and it seems to suit my style of riding pretty well. Conditions were extremely dry and the trail surface was very loose, with a lot of small rocks and plenty of dust. And it was hot!

We started at a steady pace and I slotted in behind Mikey and Carl for the first downhill. Mikey was off to a flyer and quickly opened up a little lead. I was behind Carl so couldn’t do much about it but wasn’t too worried, as I was expecting it to be quite close for the early part of the race at least. Coming down the second main downhill, Carl washed out in front of me and suddenly the race was wide open. I quickly closed the gap to Mikey and then as I was feeling pretty good took the opportunity and moved into the lead. My legs had that extra bit of speed that I have been lacking for a while and it felt so good to be riding out in front of a race again. Knowing that I had the advantage in the single trail sections which made up the majority of the course, I smashed it up the main road climb to open up a decent gap. There were several parts around the track where I could monitor the others’ progress and it was pleasing to first see that I was increasing my advantage, and then after several more laps move into a comfortable lead.

From there I was able to settle in and enjoy the rest of the race, focussing on keeping things smooth and controlled so I didn’t throw the win away with a careless mistake. The heat did start to get to me a bit on the last lap with a bit of cramp kicking in but nothing too bad. Coming into the finish to take the win in the Elite Mens race was such a great feeling and this will definitely go down as one of my most enjoyable days out on the bike.

Thanks everyone for your support. I am looking forward to getting out and racing in the National Champs Jersey this year and will definitely be making the most of it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Although we race in Dunedin almost every year it was a new venue for us this time moving across town to Signal hill. The course was a tough one consisting of a brutal climb, steep and very long. Then a descent that was fairly technical but became muddy and slippery with the rain we had in the lead up.

I had a decent race riding to 2nd place. I didn’t have the speed on the climb to match it with Carl the winner but was able to finish best of the rest with a good margin. The big ascent of the hill each lap took its toll as the race went on and I would say I will be unlikely to find a harder climb in any XCO Olympic format races this year. The descent also had its challenges and I had a few wild moments sliding around in the mud. The bottom section in particular didn’t dry out as much as the rest of the track and forward progress was hard at times with the bike moving around all over the place. The other problem was the fresh layer of mud we picked up each lap adding kilos to the weight of our bikes and making the uphill even harder. The legs definitely felt it and I was quite glad to cross the line at the finish.

I have spent the last few days in Queenstown soaking up the sun and getting in some good riding preparing for the next round in Christchurch this Sunday. I have never raced there before so it will be good to have a hit out in some new territory.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Pig & Whistle Tour De Whaka.

This weekend just gone I competed in the new Tour de Whaka event in Rotorua. As a way of spicing up their Summer races N Duro events came up with a new race concept which replaced the traditional three round cup series. The Tour consisted of a Hill Climb, Super D and Time Trial with an hour long cross country stage to decide the final result. As part of the weekend, but not counting towards the final results a XC eliminator race was held down at the Government gardens in town. It was a small turn out but we still had some exciting racing in a pretty cool setting.

Day 1 of the tour was a three way race of truth against the cloak kicking off with the Hill Climb taking us to the top of the forest. It wasn’t really a pleasant experience but was a great way to separate everyone out and gave a good indication of what the final results were going to look like. As we started the 2nd stage it started drizzling but thankfully the rain never really got going and we enjoyed a relatively dry first day of racing. There were some interesting times set on the mostly downhill Super D and then again in the short Time Trail stage.

After Day 1, I was sitting in 2nd place not too far behind Carl the leader. But it was always going to be tough to take back any time on a fast mainly flat Cross Country course with little climbing to test the legs and perhaps gain back time. The weather wasn’t playing ball for the second day and after an extremely wet night the forest was soaked. The XC ended up being a bit of an anticlimax as I was unable to make up my deficit and so finished the tour in 2nd place. However it was a good weekend of racing and it will be good to see this race grow and develop as it has a lot of potential and I am pretty sure every that took part had a good time.

I have now begun the annual road trip round the country to take part in the National Series and National Champs. The first round is this weekend down in Dunedin and it's a new venue for us this year with the race moving across town to Signal hill. We are in store for a tough day with a long and steep climb that is harder than anything we have raced for a long time, before a good long descent back down to the bottom and the start finish area. The weather hasn’t been the best over the last few days so it is looking likely to be another wet one.