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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.