Home About Me Pictures Contact

Team Photo

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Giant Bicycles

I am pleased to write that I will be riding Giant Bikes for the 2014 season. We will be well equipped with Giant XTC Mountain bikes for Racing and training as well as the Giant Propel Road Bike.

It is an exciting change moving from a 29r wheel size to the smaller 27.5. First impressions are very promising. The bike handles amazingly well and feels fast especially when cornering and accelerating. I can’t wait to get the XTC 0 into action, and really test it out in the first race for the 2014 season at the Wellington NZ Cup round on the 19th of January.  

I took the chance to really recuperate and freshen up after a long race season this year with a good long break from training after World Champs. 2014 will be a bit of a step up moving from the U23 age grade to Elite Men at World Cup and World Championship level so I wanted to make sure I was ready to handle the increase in training and preparation needed to make this jump. It will be a bit of a learning curve for a while but I have been working hard since getting back into action in November including trying a few new things with the training. Progress has been good with positive signs already for the races to come over the NZ summer.

National Champs here in Rotorua in February will be a big target as well as the Oceania Championships down in Mt Hutt in March. The 2nd World Cup round of the year in Cairns, Australia at the end of April is also a huge goal and I am very excited about the prospect of racing the Worlds best so close to home.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

World Championships, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

After a month or so at home and a short break from training I was feeling good and motivated to carry on my form from earlier in the year into my World Championships campaign. In order to be as fully prepared as possible for Worlds I planned a short trip to North America taking in two races. A USA Pro XCT in Vermont, USA and then the 6th World Cup round in Mont Sainte Anne, Canada.

The first race in the USA started off promisingly enough, making it up to 2nd around the first lap and seemingly in a great position in the front group of three heading out into the 2nd lap. It all unravelled from there though as my legs deserted me, causing a slow fade back into the large chase group and from there it only got worse. Dropping out of the top 10, eventually ending up way back in 21st by the finish. Definitely not the way I had planned to kick things off.

Still traditionally I haven’t done amazingly well first race back after a break and a week later I was lining up again at the Monte Sainte Anne World Cup itching to get stuck in and get things back on track. It’d been a while since I was last there for the 2010 World Champs and it was exciting to get reacquainted with one of the best race courses in the World. While not as strong as a European World Cup there was still a good line up and I was aiming for at least a top 10 result. Again I started decently enough, in 9th place after lap 1. From there hovering in a group around 10th position for the next two of six laps. Early on I had felt fairly decent, climbing well and generally riding pretty strong. But again my speed and energy declined as time went on. By the middle of the race I was struggling to stick with the bunch with the main climb in particular taking its toll and really grinding me down. I was eventually dropped and completely ran out of steam as I had at the US race with an especially poor last lap falling to 19th in the end.
Far from what I had been aiming for so far at least I knew I had the pace to be mixing it up come Worlds if I could regain the ability to sustain my speed for the entire race duration. I arrived in South Africa with 10 days up my sleeve for fine tuning the prep before the racing kicked off with the team relay on the Wednesday followed by the main race on Friday. Training went really and the days ticked by quickly and before I knew it we were into it.

The relay was good, New Zealand hadn’t put in a team for a few years and we had a strong line up with Anton, Sam Gaze, Karen and myself. For me personally it was a great opportunity to get in a full on race pace lap of the track and a dummy run of warm up etc before the main event. I put out a decent lap and we rode pretty well as a team with an 8th place finish.
Team Relay action. Photo: Michal Cerveny.
After the relay performance I was happy with how things were going and felt like I had set myself up well for a good result in the Cross Country. With it being my final year in the U23 category I was very keen for a high finish and was confident I would be able to pull it off.
The Pietermaritzburg course is a really good one with some challenging rock features and although on first appearance it doesn’t appear too hard climbing wise it is actually quite tough with a long climb in the 2nd half of the lap that undulates with varying grades of steepness that I found pretty hard especially later on in the race. At the start of Worlds week the course as a whole wasn’t overly challenging and fairly simple between the main technical sections. But as the week wore on the trail surface deteriorated with so much riding traffic in the dry conditions and it became loose and dusty with drifty sandy corners that were easy to make mistakes and slide out on.

Race day came with the first sign of potential rain after a week of perfect hot sunny days that made a joke of winter with the temperature regularly hitting the 30’s. At the start it was still dry but the sky was pretty dark and it was only a matter of time before the rain started. It made for an exciting race with the sky darkening and the temperature dropping right down over the first laps and then the rain coming on properly from the middle laps.

The pace was superfast right from the beginning with the leaders stretching the field early on. I began in 22nd position and started solidly, 18th after the first lap which while not stunning was still decent enough. Working hard over the next laps I climbed up to 14th. Despite feeling pretty good I was never able to get up into the top 10 where I really wanted to be. Peaking out at 11th place in the middle of the race and around the mid teens for the majority. It took a while for the rain to have an effect on the race, it wasn’t really till the last couple of laps that we noticed it. But it caused a lot of problems making the open trail sections greasy and slippery, and the rockgardens in particular became very slick making for plenty of crashes which shuffled the field quite a lot.

Treehouse Rockgarden. Photo: Rob Jones.
The last lap was hotly contested, I began it in 14th and was still there at the midway split fighting it out with about five other riders. Struggled a bit on the last climb losing time and places but managed to just stay in contact coming into the last downhill. The last run through the Treehouse rockgarden was full on with a big group of us coming down in quick succession. A rider crashed in front and I stalled out but managed to avoid running into them and crashing myself and kept going. It was all super close as we all popped out onto the finish straight and sprinted madly for the line. I’ve never been much of a sprinter and unfortunately this time was no different and I lost out a bit, getting rolled by two of the riders but at least held off one to claim 17th.

Afterwards. Photo: Jeremy Christmas.
 I was expecting more from myself coming into the race but afterwards couldn’t really complain with how it went. I actually felt good and was generally quite strong. I was found lacking a bit right at the end, particularly on the last climb and a good sprint would have given me 15th but at the end of the day I just wasn’t fast enough to get up for a higher finish this time round. Still it’s my best World Champs result since racing in the juniors and a big improvement from my results over the last few years so I am happy enough with how things went and reasonably satisfied with my performance. I’m looking forward to a good break from racing and training now. First up a couple of weeks in Canada before heading back home to the real world in NZ near the end of September.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

World Cup #3 Val di Sole, Italy.

The Val di Sole World Cup was the 4th and final event of my six week racing trip to Europe and the 3rd round of this years World Cup series. The Italian course has a reputation for being tough. With a large amount of climbing, the majority of which is very steep. It is quite relentless with brutal climbs followed by short fast descents that don’t give you a lot of time to recover. It is generally very hot as well with the temperature taking its toll on many riders. I have always tended to ride well in hot conditions and was excited to race after what had been a great couple of weeks training in the Valley of the Sun. I could tell I was in good form and felt confident about the prospect of a good result.

I was fortunate enough to be starting from the 2nd row this time in 16th position. I have been having good starts lately anyway but the further up you are the easier it is to get away cleanly without running into trouble. Although as it turned out I was actually a little sluggish off the line from the gun and got a bit swamped by other riders coming from behind. This meant I was a bit boxed in around the start loop and couldn’t really open up and get going. Once onto the first climb though I immediately began to move up making it into the top 10 halfway through the first lap. Having never been in this position before I was pretty excited. My climbing in particular was really strong and I felt good.

After the first lap I was more or less with the same riders the whole race hovering between 6th and 9th swapping around a lot as we fought to get ahead and put time into each other. Generally I found it better to set my own pace as much as possible and felt much better doing this rather than having my speed dictated to me by others. It was super hot. Easily over 35 degrees and I was mindful of the fact that it was going to be easy to blow up in these conditions especially on such a hard course. So I tried to be smart about when I really put in the effort focusing on staying calm and smooth. I was up as high as 6th several times during the race and at one stage was close to catching 4th and 5th who were dangling tantalisingly close in front. On the second to last lap I put in a big effort to break away and make my bid to finish as high as I could. It was a really good lap putting a good 15sec or so advantage into the riders I had been with and making up a lot of time on 5th place. However my efforts caught up with me and I crumbled over the last lap. Starting to really suffer up the first climb having to dig really deep to hold off the chasing riders. Fell to pieces a bit from there making several mistakes and crashing in an awkward off camber dip dropping from 6th back to 9th in a short space of time which was pretty gutting. I chased hard but the damage had been done and I wasn’t really in very good shape by then anyway with the fast pace taking its toll and in the end it was a relief to make it to the finish. Ending up in 9th position which I was pretty satisfied with.

 It’s a really good feeling to finally make it up into the Top 10 at a European World Cup. I’ve been racing overseas for a few seasons now and have always fallen slightly short of getting the sort of results I desire. So I feel like I have broken through a bit with this race. My motivation and confidence have certainly had a massive boost and I have a lot more belief in my ability to step up and get the results I am after now. Currently I’m back home in NZ having a short break and planning my build up to the World Championships. Not 100% sure on the details just yet but at this stage it is looking like a short trip to North America to get in the World Cup at Mount Saint Anne, Canada and flying from there to South Africa for Worlds after that.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

An Italian Update

View off the deck of our apartment.
Since leaving the Czech Republic we have been based in Val di Sole, Italy staying in an apartment in the small town of Male. The valley has so far lived up to its sunny reputation with amazing weather most days and regularly getting up close to 30 degrees. Perfect for training and with numerous road climbs in the surrounding Mountains and stunning views it is tempting to ride all day. Living in the “Yellow House” has been great with all the comforts of home, which even includes a dishwashing machine. With the World Cup track within easy riding distance it has worked out really well. It hasn’t been hard to find a good Pizza restaurant either and we are almost on best mate terms with the owner of the local Cafe where we have been known to sample the occasional Apple Strudel or Gelato with our coffees.

The "Yellow House"

I had a solid two week training block after the Czech World Cup, which went really well and I felt like good progress was made with the form coming along nicely. Got back into the racing last weekend with the final round of the Internazionali D’Italia Series just up the road in Vermiglio.

I have done this race a couple of times before so had a fair idea on what to expect although the course had been altered slightly since I was last here in 2011. We basically started off on the flat with a gravel road bash before hitting a super steep climb. Probably the toughest I’ve had to race up. This was followed by the only real single trail section, a rough rocky descent plunging almost straight down the hill.  The rest of the track contained a lot of mown paddock sections with natural jumps and flowing corners. Another two steep climbs were also thrown in to sting the legs making it a pretty tough overall course.
The race went pretty well. I went into it hoping to make a top 15 finish and so pick up a few UCI points but wasn’t quite able to make it. Ended up finishing in 16th which was a little disappointing. More positively my deficit to the winner wasn’t too bad and compared to the other U23s I did pretty well coming in 3rd. My start was again good, as it has been lately which definitely makes the rest of the race a lot easier. It’s a bit of a relief to be able to do this consistently after struggling in this area for so long. I didn’t go amazingly well but it was a solid ride with no mistakes and I even managed to avoid crashing this time. I was mindful of not overdoing this race with the World Cup coming in six days. But think I worked it quite well and this hit out should set me up nicely for this weekend.
 The next few days will be all about tuning the speed with some short sharp training and plenty of recovery. Course is another climbing fest so will be an exciting race where anything could happen on the day depending on how the legs are going.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

World Cup #2 Nove Mesto na Morave, Czech Republic.

Our stay in the Czech Republic was pretty good. Was nice to catch up with Milky again at Penzion Bystre and the week went by quite fast. Most days were taken up with training on the course and the odd excursion to look at some of the local sights. The weather was quite average again and very cold but at least it was a bit drier and we didn’t have to spend so much time cleaning our bikes.

Our accom for the week in Czech Republic, Pezion Bystre.
The local church
Our room, pretty cosy.
The Nove Mesto na Morave World Cup course is my favourite by far. The majority is natural with loamy soil and plenty of roots and although quite wide in a lot of places it still retains narrow technical single trail characteristics. There is a lot of climbing but it is broken up well with good descents and as a bonus there are plenty of opportunities for passing as well. It seems to suit my racing style, I’d done well here before and was excited about racing again this year.

On the start line

Like the first round I started from 19th but mindful of blowing up like last week I perhaps sub consciously held back a bit around the start lap and came through in 20th but still well in contact with the front of the race. Unlike last week I was able to immediately move up and I quickly passed a group of riders up the first climb and was feeling really strong. Maybe a little too strong and in my eagerness to get going I made a couple of mistakes. Losing traction on some slippery roots up a climb and having to dismount and run while attempting an unnecessary passing manoeuvre and then crashing on a simple piece of track and twisting my bars. This made the first lap the slowest of my race and I dropped back to 24th. Luckily it didn’t take long to get into a good rhythm and I was soon back riding pretty well and moving up through the field. I felt so much stronger particularly on the climbs compared to Albstadt and made it up inside the top 20 reasonably easily.
Moving up the field
After the slight drama in the beginning, the race seemed to pass super quickly. I lost track of what lap I was on through the middle so was a bit surprised to come through the start finish area to see 1 lap remaining and upped my urgency making sure to leave everything I had left out on the track. The last lap was a good one for me and I had a great battle with a couple of other riders constantly changing position around the course. One of them got the better of me in the end but I was able to hold onto 13th position beating my previous best World Cup finish of 14th last year at the same venue.

Pretty pleased with my ride in the end. Great to improve on my result from the first World Cup in Albstadt and good for the confidence moving on from here. I have one more World Cup remaining on this trip in Val di Sole, Italy with an Italian Cup round as preparation the weekend before.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

World Cup #1 Albstadt, Germany.

After settling into the Euro lifestyle again and getting in some good training the first race for our campaign kicked off over the weekend in Albstadt, Germany. Unfortunately spring has been a little slow arriving here in Europe with winter seemingly pretty keen on sticking around for a bit longer. Was hoping it would be a bit more pleasant with summer not far off but oh well I think It’s been fairly similar to what homes been getting and we’ve done pretty well to dodge the rain even though it’s been wet most days.

Our accommodation for our thirteen day stay in Germany was the ALZ Triathlon Club in Sigmaringen. A unique and slightly strange place located on the second floor in a local high school. Worked out perfect for us though with plenty of room including a large kitchen and spacious lounge and it was only just over 20mins drive to the World Cup course which allowed us to get out on the track before most riders had even arrived.
Sigmaringen Castle

All the Kiwi's outside our accommodation in Sigmaringen

The rumours circulating had been talking up the difficulty of the downhills and there was also reported to be a scary amount of steep climbing. Our first ride was completed in perfect conditions which we would probably have appreciated more if we’d know about the wet stuff to follow. The climbing was as expected. A very steep pinch to get you warmed up at the start of the lap followed by a longer but not quite as steep drag to the top of the course and then finally another slightly longer ascent to finish things off. The down hills we not as testing but enjoyable, highlighted with a couple of rock gardens some slippery roots and a step down drop.

I actually stayed off the course more than I’d expected because of the muddy conditions completing solid training on the roads around our accommodation. Still got plenty of track riding done and was feeling good and amping to race. Was prepared for a muddy day with the mud tyres on the wheels and ready to go, but race day actually dawned fine and we had great conditions so I probably could have done with the dry tires on.

The first World Cup of the season, a super exciting race as everyone starts with a clean slate. Most riders haven’t done a lot of racing in the lead up so it is a bit of an unknown when it comes to predicting how things will go. I’ve never actually managed to make it to the opening round before which makes it harder to get a good result so was eager to make the most of it.
A good start is a pretty crucial part of World Cup racing and so my 19th place start position was good and the plan was to hold around 20th for the first lap and then move up from there.
Fortunately I managed a great start, clipping in perfectly and shooting up from 3rd row up to the front of the race sitting well in the top 10 for the early part of the first lap. Riding up at the front of the race was an awesome feeling although it did back fire slightly as I probably dug a little too deep and struggled to recover losing a lot of positions to be 19th after the first lap. This was about what I had aimed to be, but a tad disappointing considering how far up I had been. Having so many people ride past me wasn’t the best for the moral either and I lost my composure crashing during the 2nd lap which although luckily caused no damage to me or the bike set me back a bit more and I lost another 6 places riding through in 25th.

Still not too bad though and from there the race took a turn for the better, I started to move up and felt back in control of my race. Everyone seemed to be pretty even and I found I would pass riders on parts of the tack only to have them come by a few minutes later. I did make it back to 20th at the end of the penultimate lap only to have a couple of riders come back at me dropping to 22nd despite a pretty decent last lap time. Almost did enough to catch 21st pulling him back on the last downhill but not quite having enough in the tank to get up for the sprint.

I had been aiming for a better finish then 22nd but the race had gone pretty well really and I just hadn’t been fast enough, particularly on the climbs. First race since Oceania’s back in March so probably can expect to improve as the trip progress and perhaps the climbing nature of the track didn’t suit my riding style so much. Anyway I am happy enough and good to get the first World Cup under the belt with a decent finish to build from for the next two rounds.
Making the big drive across to Czech for the next World Cup round now, can’t wait get onto the Nove Mesto track. Definitely my favourite course and with my best World Cup result coming here last year I’m looking forward to getting some practice in on the course for this weekend’s race. Staying with “Milky” the most hospitable accommodation owner I ever come across again this year so should be a good week.
Driving across the border into Czech Republic.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Europe 2013

Just settling into European time again, day two into our 6 week race trip to Germany, Czech Republic and Italy for the first three World Cup rounds of the 2013 series.

Flight went well, good movies and decent food and managed a few hours of solid sleep. Being Silver member with Emirates allowed access to the Business Class lounge in Dubai which was pretty sweet with free food and plenty of space to relax.

Landed in Munich to meet up with the rest of the team who had arrived a few hours earlier and picked up our ride for the trip, a massive Mercedes Sprinter.

We’re spending the first two weeks in Sigmaringen Germany, building up to the first World Cup round of the year 20mins drive down the road in the town of Albstadt. Haven’t got up to a whole lot just yet with the Jetlag still having a pretty strong hold on us all. Just managed a couple of easy spins and a first look at the World Cup track. First impressions were pretty good, it wasn’t as steep as rumours had indicated but there is a lot of tough climbing. Some pretty cool descents, nothing overly technical but good fun and still tricky at times.

And the weather so far has been decent to, always nice when you can extend the NZ summer for a bit longer. Hopefully the rain forecasted for later this week doesn’t turn up.

2013 UCI Mountain Bike Calendar

18 - 19.5
25 - 26.5
Nove Mesto na Morave
8 - 9.6
Fort William
15 - 16.6
Val Di Sole
28 - 29.6
27 - 28.7
10 - 11.8
26.8 - 1.9
14 - 15.9
21 - 22.9