Saturday, February 20, 2010

Show Down in Vegas!!

Series win on the line, 2 riders eligible and ready to win…showdown in vegas!

I won the 2010 NZ MTB Cup Series. This was one of my goals for the season, added to the South Island Cup win - two titles which I’m stoked to have grabbed.

No time to dwell on it though, it’s all just a warm up with the real goal next weekend…Nationals…something I have wanted since my second placing in Nelson last year. And by being part of the racing this weekend in Rotorua the stage is set for an exciting and fast day on the slopes of Mt Vic!

I rocked the Maxxis Aspen tyres this weekend which had literally just turned up at my doorstep – mint for the rotovegas track which was bone dry and fast. It took every advantage to stick with the locals in their turf! The field was cranking with all the strong Elite riders in the country showing up.

I rode the start like a bit of donkey, it was an uphill tarseal climb and by the top I was sitting about 14th. My thoughts headed towards “no way my legs can’t be this bad”. A couple of years ago a bad first lap would have seen me pull out as if I wasn’t at the front I thought I wasn’t in it. I’ve had a huge head change in racing since then and know that there is plenty of time to work the crowd if I can keep my head positive. So I kept calm and started to feel to fire burning by the end of the lap. Lap 2, my legs hit overdrive mode and I had a stormer up the tarseal climb, moving from 12th to 4th in the space of 300m and going uphill like a rocket. I managed to get within 10secs of the 3 leaders..perfect. I was back in the race!

From here I had a real battle with Carl Jones (Bergamont) and Stu Houltham for 3rd spot. I got a gap on Stu and was tussling with Carl for the last few laps. At the end of the 5th lap he attacked my in the singletrack and I just couldn’t follow his wheel. I pulled a small amount of time out of him up the main climb but his local knowledge of the singletrack tested me and I had to settle for 4th.

This round was about the racing, not necessarily the result – it’s put the legs and head in the right space to attack it next weekend in Wellington.

Wicked to be part of the Bergamont crew – we’ve had a huge start to the season results-wise along with being part of an exciting brand introduction to NZ. In every cup race, North and South Bergamont has hit the podium, in most we’ve rounds we’ve hit the podium steps twice or three times.

Bergamont riders have claimed the South Island and North Island Cup Series. Bergamont has taken the 1-2 in the Elite Men NZ Cup Series, myself and Carl taking prime positions. And Katie O’Neil is representing for the girls and doing it well with the NZ Cup Elite Women title as well as 2nd in the North Island Cup…..Bergamont is dominating!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Rocky Road!

Bikes are washed, washings done, another good weekend on my pedallies!

I hit up the local road scene on Saturday, howling winds didn’t stop the Wellington roadies. The interclub race took us all over the Miramar Penisula… minute we were heading round the coast at 40k an hour, next minute it was an almost stand still coming round into one of the bays, 16k and slowing quickly. A mad race, with a hill finish. I started on scratch with 4 others, that soon whittled down to two. Myself and Andy Hagan battled it out, I knew he would be a tough fighter on the climb. He proved that he was ready to pounce, but I had the head tuned in and was ready and waiting. Despite not knowing exactly where the finish was I was able to put the power down at the right time to finish just ahead of him taking fastest time and second overall.

Great to be able to get some time in my calendar to race local road races, nothing like getting the Bergamont Dolce 4.9 out there in full force. Pretty sure some of the race goers are still laughing at my Compact Tiagra but it’s been said before and I will say it again…’s not just about the bike. Sure I would love to be racing some light fast wheels and carbon but for local racing the Bergamonts got it covered.

Sunday was an early start out on the Karapoti track for a reccy. It’s never been a good race for me. My plan was to go out, ride it hard and give myself a confidence boost knowing that I’ve ridden the course at near race pace after a good dose of rain. The Maxxis Monorail front and Larsen TT rear was a good combo…..for a dryer track! I’ll be looking to run the Maxxis Advantage if the track gets any more rain otherwise will be sticking with this combo. It was pretty slippery out there, but the first and last climbs have been smoothed out which is likely to make for a record breaking Karapoti time on the day if anyone has got the goods.

So it’s full steam ahead for the weekend up in Rotorua now, race day Saturday. Looking forward to hitting the forest again, love the vegas tracks!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

From backyard beginnings….

Somehow I managed to get myself roped into riding back to the Picton ferry with Bex at the beginning of the week, she had ridden out to Nelson on Friday through all the thunderstorms! The return trip was far less eventful weather wise although the legs were a bit had it after the weekends racing.

This should have set me up for a quiet week of spinning but I couldn’t resist hitting it hard a couple of times, adding extra hills to my normal commute. It hasn’t really benefited me as I spent the weekend feeling rather lazy and not going near my bike. It’s a bit of a reflection of the effort that’s been put in over the last month, the body was ready to have a weekend off racing, the travel and the need to be somewhere at a certain time.

A crazy Wellington weekend, hugely hot and deadly still on Saturday followed by an early winter on Sunday left me time to have a think about the times that got me started in cycling.

I grew up on a small block of land in Wanganui behind Virginia Lake where me and my brothers (Craig and Nathon) spent endless hours building jumps, challenging each other to ride up the steepest hill, making jumps at the tops of the hills and jumping down them, building cyclocross hurdles and doing time trials on the motorbike. It wasn’t all fun and games with the yearly planting of pine trees to sell as Xmas trees which funding our racing.

Our paddock became a bit of a hang out for the local club riders, we had skills days, cyclocross races and eventually Mum and Dad organised a kids series for under 12 year olds called “Kiwi Kids Mountain Biking”. These started out to be 10 kids having fun to about 80 kids wanting to win over a near 10yr period! Not many people know but this series was the start of many champions, Sam Blenkinsop, one of the best Downhill riders in the world, Jono Hamlin (multiple NZ Track Cycling Champion and now Motocross rider) and Glen Haden (multiple NZ Downhill Champ and now Motocross rider) to start with a few names!

I was super excited when I found out I could ‘race’ a bike. It all started in 1986 when Craig and I rode BMX in Wanganui at the local BMX races in Castlecliff, at the time I was getting laughed at because I was always last on my little blue chopper! I turned up to my first road race when I was 12 on my Mtb bike and raced well but knew I could go faster on a road bike. Brent Anderson who looked after the younger riders said to he wanted me to use a club road bike to see how I went which at the time was a weapon! A white and blue Tarini with tubular tires and old shimano 600. I raced that for 3 years and treated it like my own bike. It got a good clean each Saturday morning so it was sparkling for the afternoon race. Not quite as fancy as the younger riders these days are getting, but damn it looked clean! The following year I got into Track Cycling on the old 500m Cooks Gardens Track before it got pulled down.

I really enjoy going back to the Wanganui Club and racing every now and again, the club was very supportive over the years and there are a lot of nice people still involved. Bex laughs whenever we drive through Wanganui and we see a cyclist as I can just about always name them! Small town!

So that was how it all started for me, backyard beginnings.

And how it finishes for me in cycling? ….. I’ll be cycling until the stars stop shining! Racing will have it’s day, but the sweet feeling of two tyres and a bit of speed will never die!