Wednesday, January 27, 2010

One goal down – 2 more to go!

It’s great to take the South Island Cup for the 2nd year, finishing with the same results as last year - two 1st places and a 3rd.

The final round of the South Island Cup was in Nelson, a similar course to last years nationals with almost the same conditions to keep us all honest…..MUD, and lots of it! Approaching this race I was aware it was going to be a challenge with more competition than the last 2 rounds. New Zealand Champ Stu Houltham was racing, plus on form rider George Bennett along with a handful of North Island riders.

The race started fast on the main climb which split the field straight away, the pace was a little fierce for me so I backed off and found my own rhythm. At the end of the 1st lap I was in 4th but soon went to 5th when flying Junior Richard Anderson came past and left me wondering if I was having a good day. My descending was appalling and I was loosing time. I was starting to panic but soon got my mind into the race and got the flow going by the start of the 3rd lap where I put in a surge in the big ring up the main climb and pulled back some time. From there I knew I’d grovelled back into the podium positions.
The last 2 laps were good and finally passing Stu Houltham moved me into 3rd spot, fast closing down on my team mate Carl Jones who was riding really well. To get 2nd I had to climb like a demon and catch Carl by the top of the climb before we got into the descents but just couldn’t quite do it had to settle for 3rd. George Bennett was 2 and a half minutes ahead of Carl. I was 15 seconds behind Carl.

I was happy with 3rd. I raced hard and was pleased with my last half of the race, I know
where I messed up and will work on that over the next month.

I’m now looking forward to some weekends off racing and staying put in Wellington with Bex for the next three weeks. One of the goals is to do a recky of the Karapoti course plus some good ride time on the Nationals course at Mt Vic.

Monday, January 18, 2010

2 rounds, 2 wins!

I came back from the 1st round of the South Island Cup like an old person, legs were smashed at the start of the week and it was first up, first dibs on the car in the morning instead of riding the famous wainui hill to work.

These couple of days off the bike, along with some serious eating and muscle recovery set me up for the next hit at the South Island Cup Series - Dunedin.

The good weather hung about making for a fast course, the same one will be used for the upcoming Oceania Games in March. It was about 6.5ks a lap, 6 laps for Elite.

Having just flown in the morning of the race I was a bit stressed to discover my front rotor was bent. Time ticked away as I attempted to sort it out, in the end borrowing one (thanks heaps to Steve from Invercargill!).

The race started fast with the juniors fighting for the lead heading into the first single track section. I held back and wound up the pace leading into the first climb, establishing a gap by the second lap on Brad Hudson which I was able to extend to about 40 seconds and then hold for the remainder of the race.

The climbs were great, was able to give them a bit of a drilling, taking it easy down the descents and having a bit of fun with the course. The main descent was a bit tacky with steep off camber sections and tree roots, I enjoyed the little ramp drop offs and jumps.

Again it was a long race by cross country standards, total race time for me was 2hrs 15, after a similar length race in Christchurch. It will be interesting to see what finishing times the remaining South Island Cup race and the North Island Cups will be. If NZ mountainbiking organizers want to draw the crowds, riders and make the racing faster perhaps they should be aiming for a winners time of 2 hours or less…World Cups are sometimes under 2 hours, Swiss Cups were sometimes down to 1 hour 45mins with laps as short as 3.5k. Just something to consider to bring the speed back into our cross country racing.

It was a bit disappointing to see only a few elite riders riding in Dunedin, but awesome to see the standard of junior riders coming through. I’m looking forward to Nelson round with a few more guns lining up – will be a more challenging race and the end of a 3 good racing weekends for me. I’m ready to battle it out and wanting to take the hat-trick!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Living it up at Living Springs

It’s all started, the much talked about national cross country circuit, south island cup, north island cup, one off nationals….opinions are varied but at the end of the day it’s great to have a racing circuit to pick and choose from and to test out the legs on.

Christchurch was host to another big weekend of cycling, not too unlike the recent Festival of Cycling with a range of disciplines hitting the road and tracks hard. While the crowds would have been obviously drawn to Sunday mornings Elite Road Nationals it was awesome to have a Cross Country circuit with heaps of supporters out there lining the track. Thanks to all those people who were calling out my name….it’s great motivation!

I enjoyed being back in the scene and catching up with other riders, while it was a smaller field than I would have expected it was still dotted with riders wanting to check out their own and others form at this early stage of the season. The 6k circuit which we ended up doing 7 laps of was filled with demanding climbs and rewarding flowing descents. Hot weather made for a great dry track. Living Springs is definitely a good spot for Christchurch locals to make use of, awesome views and well formed tracks.

I started fast, which worked well, I had a few followers in the first 100m who I was able to work a gap on as the first lap progressed, then it was all about lengthening the gap each lap. The biggest challenge was from Anton Cooper racing in the Under 19’s who ramped it up in his 5th and last lap to pull the gap closer and take out the win in his category. Unfortunately Richard Anderson who was racing Anton had a nasty crash, good to hear today that he hasn’t broken any bones.

I’m loving the X-link rear suspension on my Bergamont when hitting rough grounds at full pace, a sweet race. Hopefully there is some pace in the field at Dunedin next week to give the spectators something to get excited about. I’ll be hitting it hard and enjoy the Dunedin circuit.

With three weekends in a row of travel and racing it’s going to be a month for managing food, sleep and training effort … with Bex still on school holidays it should be easy to manage between the two of us.

Ride hard not long :)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Seeing in the New Year

My last week of holidays has been relaxing and enjoyable. Bex and I took off up to the ‘naki for a few days. We hit up Lake Mangamahoe, on the way into New Plymouth from the south. I had some good days of training on tracks that are very different to those here in Wellington, there were some really cool steep damp descents with lots of tight single track and plenty of tree roots. I’ve been testing out my stealth new riding kit, Fifty3eleven, designed and produced in Christchurch and supplied to me by Andrew Widdup. Stoked that he’s started to manufacture mens gear after the success of his Athena range for the ladies. The Fifty3eleven kit is well constructed, uses quality fabrics and chamois and has a great fit.

Back in Wellington it’s been a windy couple of days – making for some dicey moments up on the Skyline track behind our place….literally blown off my bike and bracing myself against the hill! Bex keeps telling me it makes me stronger….a Wellington girl at heart! Also have had a chance to explore some of the Belmont Regional Park by mountain bike and knock off my first timed climb of Paekakariki hill on my road bike (10mins 24 seconds….about 3.8kms of solid climbing)

Whether it’s the wind or not, I feel I’m ready to tackle the first round of the NZ MTB Cup Series in Christchurch on Sunday. I have great memories of the Living Springs tracks after a successful (and hilarious) South Island Single Speed champs there last year. Unfortunately for the spectators this weekend there will be no pink pajamas, gorillas, near nudity or beer sculling on course….but here’s hoping there will be fast and furious racing instead.

Work first though – it will be good to be back into the routine – hope everyone enjoyed their new years break wherever it was and that you got some good k’s in.