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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

2014 Oceania Championships

The Oceania Championships are always a big event. As well as offering up the classic NZ VS Aussie rivalry, its status as a Continental Championships provides valuable UCI ranking points. Alternating venues with Australia every year this year’s Champs where held inland from Christchurch at Mt Hutt.
Having never raced there before I was eager to get to grips with the new course which proved to be a good one. The first half of the track in particular was very popular with the riders, featuring a long switch back climb with some awkward off camber sections that were quite a handful when ridden at race pace. On reaching the top of the climb the track then plunged back downhill with several steep chutes into tight corners, it was technical and a lot of fun to ride but because of its steepness always seemed to finish way too soon. The second half of the track began with a steep climb made harder with an awkward rock garden section halfway up followed by a long swooping flowy downhill. From there it was a big false flat grinding climb all the way back to the start.
In practice leading into the race the course had been quite greasy and slippery. In the first half of the track in particular several sections were almost unrideable and with Cyclone Lusi set to hit sometime around race day we were getting prepared for a mud fest.
Thankfully the weather held off with Lusi proving to be a no show and we had perfect conditions on race day.
Anton kicked off the race at a fast pace with the rest of the field chasing hard. I was able to stay in touch in second position for most of the first climb. But he was flying and a combination of his speed and a couple of mistakes saw me dropped but still pushing to stay in touch. By the end of the lap however he was well gone and Dan McConnell had bridged back to me bringing Carl with him. Dan showed his class riding away from Carl and I, eventually running Anton down and then carrying on to a comfortable win. For most of the first race I held a very slim lead over Carl and had to battle very hard to hold him off. I was able to ride good consistent laps and with the race being a bit longer than normal I was pleased with the way I held up over the duration. This proved to be the difference between Carl and myself with the small advantage I held over him blowing out over the final two laps and I was able to finish strong in third place.


Not too much racing scheduled for the next few weeks but with the Cairns World Cup round coming up fast I will be training hard looking to build on my form and earn a good result there at the end of April.

2014 Speights Summit Mountain Bike Race

Heres a few pictures from the Motatapu Race. After winning last year I was lucky enough to make it back to attempt to defend my title. Unfortunately Sam Gaze got the better of me this time round but I still had a solid race finishing in second place and getting in a good final hit out before the Oceania Championships the following weekend. We were treated to amazing weather again and I had a great time, hopefully I can make it back next year!

Pre race river crossing reconnaissance.

Race start in Wanaka.

Event village in Arrow Town post race.

Happy with the prizes from this one.

View of Queenstown from the flight home.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Karapoti Classic

The word on the street leading into this year’s Karapoti was of the course being in the best condition in several years if not the best ever. The race records were there for the taking and with a very competitive field lining up it was going to be a fast year for sure.

After the usual mad dash across the river to kick things off, the lead group settled in nicely setting a decent pace up the gorge and working together right up to the foot of the warm up climb. Once there things quickly split to pieces, with Anton flying off the front dragging Matt with him while I struggled to begin with, making hard work of the climb and disappearing off the back of the top four. Thankfully I came right pretty quickly but had to really go for it passing Eden and Carl first and then settling in for the longer chase to reel in Matt. I eventually made the catch along the undulating Dead Wood ridge and with Anton well gone Matt and I began working together to keep up our overall speed.
Into the Rock Garden and some over cautious riding on my part cost me with Matt getting away again and once more I was forced to chase. I was suffering a bit up the Devils Stair Case particularly on the hike a bike sections with legs protesting to the running/trudging/walking required on the steep ascent. Still I would have to say Devil’s seemed a lot easier this year and I can only recall one or two major bogs which didn’t provide much of a challenge at all compared to the mud fest in years past. As usual however I was glad to reach the top and it was great to be able to get back on the bike and riding again. Matt had managed to put more time into me and he too was now out of sight. I soon got going again once onto Big Ring Boulevard proper and before long I had him back in view and was just starting to close when disaster struck. F@#k!!! A rear puncture. I waited in vain coasting for a hundred meters or so and hoping it would seal but it was a decent side wall tear and I was forced to chuck in a tube. While making the repair Carl and Eden speed past and although I managed a decent change I was left with a fair bit of work to do if I was going to catch back up.

Although I rode hard up Dopers Hill hoping to catch a view of the guys ahead around every corner I probably didn’t really make any inroads to the margin and on reaching the top and having confirmation from the Marshalls that no one was in reach I probably lost a bit of drive despite myself and ended up just bringing it home making sure 5th at least was in the bag.
It wasn’t till I had finished that a realised how lucky I had been not to suffer a second puncture with the tube bulging out of the hole in the sidewall. A few minutes after finishing, the tube blew up with a huge bang and I was very relieved it hadn’t happened any earlier which would have left me with a long walk back home.

Anton managed to smash Clinton Averys old course record by some six minutes and Matt too got in under the old mark with time to spare. Despite the flat I still set my best time and I am keen for another crack, hopefully I can make it back next year!