Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Throw Back Thursday

This shoot is from the 11th Stage of the 2007 Tour of Murray River in Victoria, Australia.  Wind back to the previous day which was an out and back 80km stage of fast undulating roads, I was keen and determined not to get shelled in the early cross wind so I took flight down the inside of the bunch on the gravel..big risk but I was willing to take it and it backfired on me.  Boom, front tubular went smack into a rock.  The next 75km were long and annoying after I couldn't claw back on the bunch but I was fired up by the end of the day for the following days criterium.
Stage 11, 42km on a perfect criterium course which had a small hill heading up to the finish line.  After warming up on the course I got my team manager Stu Sanders to put a radio on me so he talk to me during the stage and let me know of any attacks that were brewing on the hill climb.  This plan worked perfect.  I was in the action from the get go and slipped away in a few moves which eventually led to the winning move of the stage.  In the photo above Peter MacDonald (eventual winner of the tour), Jack Bobridge (2007 Junior Team Pursuit World Champion) and Sean Finning (2006 Commonwealth Games Points Races Champion) and myself led the charge for line honours.  Looking back on this day I should've sat on more because I was well down on GC and with Peter and Jack wanting more time from the higher GC riders in the peleton it was going to be their lose.  To the finish, I ended up 4th on the line but was awarded the "Most Aggressive Rider Jersey" for my efforts and was well pleased with the stage ride, earlier in the tour I picked up a 7th and a 3rd place on stage 7 in a similar situation to stage 11.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

2013 Cyclocross Photo Gallery


Time has flown!

Time has flown! Far out it’s been over a year and a half since my last blog, so long in fact I had a few attempts to get into my blog as I’d forgotten my password haha.

Since my last blog back in March 2012 we’ve sorted a house which we are caretaking for the bank, so home is in the mighty Wainuiomata (where the girls are smarter)….just 5 minutes pedal from some of the best tracks in Wellington. We have been enjoying our first year with our beaut little girl Casey in our lives and we are trying to maintain as many of our passions in life that we can around spending loads of time together.

Casey is a cool little girl. Luckily she enjoys the wee adventures Bex and I get up to, she loves being outside with her bare feet hooning round splashing in the water, we love the days when she tuckers out with mud under her fingernails.

We always said we wanted both of us to have some time with Casey at home, about 3 months ago we made it happen and did the big switch up. So I’m a full time at home Dad and Bex is the sugar mumma! Best thing ever….lads, if you get a chance (read: If your wife lets you!) DO IT!! I love it, I’ve said to a few people that you can have as many jobs in your life as you want but having the opportunity to really get to know your little one is a very special time. Bex misses the days with Casey but someone has to work and I’m lucky she is happy to enable the time for me with Casey.

So busy days for all round here! My riding is all about bang for buck … get out, go hard, be back home quick so I can hang with my two lovelies. Been a big aim to just make sure we both have the chance to get out and do something each day even if it’s not as much as was done before Casey arrived. Normally winter is my most disliked season, its cold, wet and miserable. I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to being cold and wet, not normally my preference at all. This winter though, cyclocross came into my life and it was the best cold, wet and miserable day fun that I’ve ever had.

The Bike Hutt bike crew put on a brilliant eight race series which went through to the New Zealand Champs which was perfect. My first plan was to learn how to race cyclocross then be competitive with moustache man Alex Revell who spent our NZ summer ripping through foot deep Belgian mud and fighting angry locals into rutted corners. The first race of the season was an eye opener, I wasn’t fit, my tires were near 60psi in slippery mud and off camber corners, my lungs were burning a long with my legs swelling with lactic acid and I was nearly lapped by Alex but managed a 3rd. This race set my match, I learnt heaps, I knew what I needed to be fast, I read internet articles and trained smart. What was to come over the next month was motivating and I turned to tables round to be able to match Alex and then went on to beat him in a few few years nearer Nationals time, then I booked my tickets to the deep south. I think I had him worried, but, being on form for a one off hit out is a fine art and for me I wasn’t on top of my health on race day where he was.

Wanaka was the setting for the New Zealand Champs, not the usual wet, mud, cold day you’d expect for a cyclocross race in winter but not all races in Europe are loaded with mud and rain either. There were 5 of us who could win on the day, it was all guns blazing from the gun and any small mistake would cost you a few seconds that couldn’t be pulled back. A long with my poor health I was fighting the whole time with cramps I hadn’t experienced all season plus a few panic moments where seconds were getting gained by the 2 guys in front, with about 15mins to go I was set on holding on to 3rd place, perfect result for the day and a brilliant race by Alex to win a well deserved NZ Cyclocross title, 2nd place went to the 2012 NZ Champion Gary Hall.

Thanks to everyone who has been checking out my blog over the last wee while. I will be keeping it much more updated from now on about life, racing and general yarns about the sport, it’s a massive passion of mine and hopefully I can inspire you to make it your passion aswell.

Enjoy the riding/racing you choose to do and I may bump into on the trails or road one day.

Roll on winter! Yeah right :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

You Never Know Whats Round The Corner..Literally!

On Wednesday I knew what was round the corner, it was traffic lights that I had to stop for or allowing me me to roll though on the green. But that soon changed and as I went flying through the air and came crashing down on my butt! Yep I got hit from behind by a car and I’m pleased I came out with not too much damage to me or the bike, a small mistake from a driver generally is a big mess for a person on a bike. I was a little annoyed but as a cyclist I do expect an accident at some point whether commuting or while I’m racing. Theres going to be a quite a few corners coming up this year and I’m certain there will be a couple of beauties! And the a grater scraped off everything, it’s going to be one big scab!

My racing has been a little patchy since late last year, the 2nd half of 2011 was pretty big for me and by November I was feeling a little bit tired mentally and physically, I needed a rest and time to have a holiday with Bex in Nelson which was really enjoyable and definitely cleared out the head. Best of all we rode a few trails on the mountain bikes which were amazing and we’ll be back there for sure, I couldn’t get enough of them!

I’m known for needing bit of a kick up the butt! I’m generally really keen to rip into a race but sometimes I will completely get out of focus until the gun goes off then a little switch will flick in my brain..then its all on! That’s the feeling I have right now. The switch can be flicked quite easily just by having a small chat to the right person or having a look at past results or old photos I have stashed away. Bex is pretty good at telling me when to pull my head in and to get out there and get on with it, Bex wisely passed on her knowledge to my team manager and good bugger James Canny to give me a razz up every now and then and it pretty much works straight away.

My race calander is looking pretty busy up till the Club Nationals in May then will calm down over dirty winter. As a team we have some pretty big goals this year and I reckon we have some grunt to do some good things and build on what we did last year, the 2nd half of 2011 was really strong and people started watching what we were doing. We have really supportive sponsors and young Canny is super motivated to get the guys ripping some races to pieces.

A few races we will be racing through to Winter area:

Tour of Canterbury 10-11th March
Oceania Games Road & Time Trial Champs 16-18th March
Grape Ride 24th March
Le race 31st March
Vital Signs Tour De Lakes 6-9th April
Manawatu Cycle Classic 21st April
NZ Club Road Nationals 4th-6th May

A few weeks ago I turned up and raced the 3rd round of the NZ Cup MTB Series here in Wellington at the great venue of Mt Vic, I last did the National series 2 years ago and was fortunate enough to come away with the series win. This year though was more to compete in my “home” town and against the best mountain riders in NZ. The sport right now is probably the best as its ever been and with the Olympics not far away, we have some brilliant talent fighting to be on the line. I was pretty happy with my 5th placing behind the top 4 guys in NZ and my race day prep certainly wasn’t textboo. I turned up 50mins before the race after having spent the morning up in Te Horo, doing a road race I thought I would hammer. After pulling out after lap one as my legs were real slow I had pulled the pin on the afternoons racing at Mt Vic. I had a bit of a sleep in the car on the way home from Te Horo, a good feast of bakery food and was happy to roll up and watch the mtb race in the arvo. After a few ‘gentle nudges’ from Bex (read....get yourself here and on your bike pussy!)....Nek Minnut I’m sprinting up the road racing on my mountain bike. I really enjoyed being back on the line and I did get thoughts of maybe returning next year….in Masters!

I like the mountain bike scene theres no big egos and everyone is super friendly and wants to have a good ol yarn before and after the race, sometimes too much of a yarn then before you know it you are called up for the start!

With young superman Anton Cooper becoming a pro this year I think we will see our sport slowly progress and hopefully see more young talented riders reach their goal of also being a pro rider, Anton is great for our sport not just on the bike but also off the bike. I’m looking to forward to following his overseas results this year and I’m waiting for a big poster to come with him on it so I can get him to sign it for me!

See you out there!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Benchmark Series

The Benchmark Series has become the next best thing behind Southland in terms of exposure for our NZ riders…go through the list of winners and see how many have become pro or thereabouts. This series started the teams racing in NZ and the level road cycling has grown massively. I think it’s awesome and hope it continues for years to come.

A few days before the first round in August I got a call up to from Master James Canny to see if I wanted to join the L&M Group Cycling Team, I agreed and this race was my 2nd race back after my 6 month retirement. In Nelson I got my beans! I was 19th and going backwards, I headed home knowing by the time Round 2 rolled around I would need to be firing.

I felt better coming into the second round, the goods were in the legs to pull of a much better ride. The course in Timaru suited me and with 30km to go the hammer went down and a group formed with Paul Odlin, Tom Hubbard, James Early and myself, the last 5km was pretty brutal and we just managed to hold off a fast chasing bunch. Tom Hubbard slipped away to win by 10secs from Early and myself in 3rd, a hard day and happy with a podium. After that race I had my eyes on an overall podium spot and with 2 rounds to go and my race form definitely more coming than going the team knew it could be done.

Round 3 in Cust, cold, wet and a day I’d rather be eating a warm steak and cheese pie but there was a race to do……don’t worry, the pie came later! An early break went with quite a few hitters which wasn’t the perfect start but our team captain Joe Chapman kept calm and said on the way home through the Gorge that the muck would go down and a small group will slip away with about 40km to go and sure enough it did. Joe launched me across part of the way and I finished it off to join a strong group that slowly picked off the riders that were dropped from the lead group. I got 2nd in our bunch sprint and got 9th on the line and gained a few valuable points on a few of the top overall contenders who missed the move. This result moved into 4th on the table and only 10 points off Tom Hubbard.

Round 4 had the making for a hard race and quite tactical. A group including Joe and Tom Francis got away heading into Cust not long after the start, there were no real overall contenders in there but I really wanted to be in there so kept near the action just incase another slipped away. Greg Taylor who joined us for the last 2 rounds was quite active going through Rangiora so I started sifting near the front for action to start, a few k’s later it was on! Myself along with Greg and one other rode off the front in chase of the lead groups, it was a mammoth effort but we got there just before Ashley Gorge. Greg couldn’t quite make it on but he did an awesome effort in helping me get across (good early brownie points with the team Greg!). When we joined there was another group up the road containing Paul Odlin, Jason Christie, Robin Reid and Chris Nicholson. Joe and Tom made sure we caught them and set me up to ride across to them up Summer Hill then from there it was all action till the top of German road where the same 4 slipped away with myself. We were away and fighting it out for the win but Odlin was too strong and took out the win solo and I rolled in 5th, happy and quite exhausted!

This weekend it was the final days work for the series, I got 2nd thanks to my brilliant L&M Group team mates. The first round of this series was our first ride together, after 4 Benchmark rounds and Southland we are starting to get a good sense of how each other operates as a rider and who’s capable of what. Some can get results and some are willing to put themselves on the line to help get a result. It can only get stronger!

Congrats to Sam on his series win, he’s a deserving winner and a rider with a lot of potential to go a long way in the sport. Thanks to everyone who helped out during the series, races don’t happen without the support from people who are willing to put up their own time to help our sport grow.

The last few months have flown by, no idea why anyone would want to ‘hang up their wheels’ when there’s so much out there to nudge at…. then again, maybe the break has proven to be a good thing. I’ll be planning an early get away from work on Friday to join the bumper to bumper convoy up to Taupo….hoping for a day like last year to burn out the last of the ice left in me from Southland. Big thanks to Tom’s parents for having us at their ‘caravan park’.

This will round off the first part of my season with a good break until the next set of races. December will be all about consolidating, focusing on some of the aspects of my race and enjoying the lead up to Christmas.

For those of you heading up to Taupo next weekend go hard and drive safe!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tour of Southland

Southland. An absolute legend of a race in NZ cycling, and one which I needed to complete to shed away some demons which have haunted me since my first attempt where I failed to finish the first stage. Having come straight from the Melbourne heat that year into piercing sideways hail I didn’t have the fondest of memories to work on!

My goals for the tour were simple – finish. Well maybe that goal in itself can’t really be labelled as simple when it’s Southland we are talking about!

The next goal was to create some action and achieve a podium, to let other riders know I’m someone to watch and someone they don’t want to give too much freedom to.

Happy to report that I achieved all three, I finished, despite a few moments where really I could think of nothing worse than continuing, I got the podium spot, not for a stage but instead as number three in the King of the Mountain points where our team featured also on the top step with Joe Chapman taking the honours, and I created some action, leading out solo at the bottom of the crown range...while it didn’t result in a stage win it did reflect the way I like to race, pinning it and taking opportunities.

The overall result was never going to be flash, read back on my blogs for the ‘hanging the wheels up’ one where last December I decided there were other things I wanted to do, that continued for a good 6 months before the wheels in the spare room started calling me again. I had a good 12 week build up coming into Southland...but 12 weeks of training around work hours doesn’t really cut it with the big fellas who ride all day every day!

After the first two days I was pretty annoyed with myself, I was a bit nervous and getting pushed round, I just couldn’t fight hard enough to hold my position, this isn’t my idea of being ‘in’ the race. I was completely wondering why I had bothered with turning up at the start line and when I spoke with Bex on Tuesday night she was pretty insistent that I needed to man-up, chuck back a can or two of concrete and start racing like I know how to race, instead of getting rammed by others.

Wednesday was a different day, I started to feel my riding style coming out and by the end of the day I was excited to be racing, because on Monday and Tuesday I didn’t consider myself part of the Tour..I was a pack filler and I don’t like that.

Thursday will be remembered for a long time in my little book of good rides. We had a team plan, I even told Bex what the plan was the night before and as the stage progresses she was blown away by how it worked out exactly how I said it would! Joe, Aaron and myself rode aggressive from the gun and we all got in the break that stayed out pretty much all day.

Our breakaway group had some big hitters, guys who win big races overseas and guys I read about each week on the internet, so my reaction was to watch them and wait for them to attack. 15km from the finish and with a fast chasing main bunch I wasn’t sure what to do but I got away in another break with Macauley, Avery, Tivers and Lovegrove, over the next few k’s I started to think the stage win was possible.

We hit the last climb with 5k to go before the Crown Range, my legs felt pretty awesome so I didn’t bother changing to an easier gear I accelerated through for my turn to realise about 30 seconds later I was on my own and charging up that hill solo towards Crown Range. I couldn’t really believe it was me fanging along solo in the biggest stage of the tour. I was eventually caught by young Josh with 2km to go but all I had to focus on was doing my own ride and not losing too much time, I ended up finishing 8th, a 1 minute down from Josh.

I gained a lot of confidence out of this stage, I’ve never backed myself over a big distance and I’ve always looked at the pro’s as unbeatable riders and almost too scared to attack them but I guess they could by just as tired as me?

Friday was painful, my legs were like bricks with no chance of warming up in the cutting southland cold. It was a stage I probably want to wipe from my memory....survival!

By Saturday for the last two stages I felt great again and could walk without too much pain. With the TT cancelled due to snow it left just one last chance to hammer the legs. Joe had an impressive stage and sprinted home to 2nd, I was happy to finish....rolling over that line felt great! If you had told me then that I would be heading out for a big night and not home until 3.30am there is no way I would have believed it...turns out there’s always more in the tank!

I was proud to be part of the L&M Creation Signs Team – a great bunch of guys lead by Joe Chapman who is an impressive and respected cyclist. Legend to come away with the KOM Classification jersey along with a stage podium. Young track superstar Aaron Gate pulled a podium spot too on the very fast stage 3. Sam and “Rookie” Tom had solid Tours as well and Lee had a tough few days in the race and I know he will turn up next year ready to rumble. A few of us had days where we too happy with themselves but I think in a tour like Southland so many things can happen, the best riders have bad days as well and to finish is a good result down there. Finishing last is better than pulling the pin..something I’ve learnt a lot about over the last few years!

Now that race is over it’s time to think about what’s coming up, my next race is the final round of the Benchmark Series down in Oxford near Christchurch. Over the series I’ve slowly crept up the rankings and now sit 4th overall just one point off 3rd so I’m going into that firing!

So for now it’s all about the road, good times while I test myself in a new domain after a couple of years of solid mountain biking. With a mountain bike arriving this week though I hope to have some time to get out and pull a few skids and rail some berms..I do miss it!

A huge thankyou to the team sponsors and everyone else who chipped in during the week to make the tour successful and especially James parents for their lovely hospitality during the tour, the dinners each night were pretty awesome and I'm sure the rest of the team will agree! The chocolate sauce pudding goes down as my favourite, I'll be back next year for that.

See you out there, remember to use that little bit extra in the tank when you most need it!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Road Ahead

The blogs are back! I'll be keeping you updated from now on till my next retirement.

Over the last 4 weeks I've landed 3 podiums, a 2nd and a 3rd at the Fielding Cycling Carnival and a 3rd at the latest round of the Benchmark Homes Series in Timaru. Really enjoying being back on the bike and its great to be part of a brilliant NZ racing team under the name L&M Group racing.

My next race is the Taupo to Napier Classic on the 24 September followed by Round 3 of the Benchmark Series in Christchurch on October 8th.

Will have a proper article over the weekend.