This time last year I was relaxing with Bex (now my lovely wife) on the side of small lake known as Lake Orta up in the north of Italy. This was the end of our 3 month holiday and Orta was the one of most amazing places I have visited. The main goal for the trip was to do some European racing to prepare for the World Mountain Bike Champs in Canberra. A winter in New Zealand has been completely different and I’ve been enjoying a more relaxed approach, deciding I won’t put my all my focus on bike racing. That’s not to say I haven’t been out riding, my daily commute is keeping the legs turning although my body fires up in the warmth!
It is great to see so many young riders heading away to try achieve their dreams, there is certainly a lot of depth in New Zealand in all codes of bike racing. Exciting to see the dominance from NZ riders in the BMX World Champs this week, how cool is little Lachie going to be at school when he tells his class at news time that he is the Under 7’s World Champion! I often wonder how long I can go as one of the top NZ mountain bike riders – I don’t think I can measure my own success by ‘how long’ but more determine it on the enjoyment I get from the sport. There will be a long time when I am not at the peak of the sport in New Zealand and I know for a fact it will be the enjoyment of the sport which keeps me in it for years to come. To make that move though, I have to be happy with my achievements over 15 years of racing. I have to decide if I want to have another crack at becoming the New Zealand Champion. I have to decide if 2nd place two years running is satisfying enough for me.
My whole life has been bike racing, when I was a young lad doing a paper-run on my Raleigh 20 before and after school it was always a race. I never felt comfortable riding slow and still don’t. I see myself now as one of the ‘older guys’ in the sport, when I was young I was racing against legends Gary Anderson and Lee Vertogen who I wanted to beat. What motivated them? Maybe it was to try beat the ‘youngies’ and prove they still had the goods, maybe because they just enjoyed it so much and couldn’t imagine life without the rush of racing.
I’m pretty sure that this coming season is going to be one of the fastest New Zealand has experienced. Those riders coming up through the ranks are not peaking, they are building their own campaigns which hopefully they can reflect on in 7-10 years when they are closer to my age and still put enjoyment up there as one of the main reasons why they ride and race.
So while I might have been lying low this winter I’m slowly coming out of hibernation, the fingers have been moving quickly on our keyboard hunting out racing calendars, the light is lasting longer at the end of each day and I’m being inspired by the results of others…..