Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hanging up the wheels

New year….new missions….new goals. And for the first time in 15 years those goals aren’t revolved around racing.

2010 was another super season. My goal was to win every major mountain bike race that I entered and to be noticed as one of the best riders in New Zealand. I came close to that, finishing 2nd in two of the major races and winning lots of other events along the way. Being noticed as one of the best riders in New Zealand is a fairly subjective goal, I’ve loved being able to turn up to a variety of mountain bike, road, criterium and multisport races knowing that I can be competitive and transfer my training, strength and power from other areas. A write up before the Festival of Cycling had me as NZ’s best all round cyclist….perhaps it’s that I added cycle commuting into the bundle also?!

Defending my title from 2009 in the Festival of Cycling in Christchurch ended in victory, a massive end to the year and a feeling of accomplishment for both me and my sponsors. The 2009 Festival of Cycling was my first victory under my new sponsors, Bergamont, who were so excited to see me out there on the local tracks so it’s fitting that the journey was completed with another win in 2010. Bergamont have been a fantastic sponsor, they’ve been in the country well under two years but have already established themselves as a brand/company that are serious about supporting riders in a range of cycling disciplines and experience levels. By teaming up with Endura clothing they offer a great package to their sponsored riders and are constantly looking for new ways to support their riders and get Bergamont bikes out there being ridden and enjoyed.

Since I announced my decision to forgo my sponsorship and take a step back from elite level racing a lot of people have already asked the question…“why am I stopping?”…..good question….it’s a question that I’ve been potentially struggling with for a number of months now. I still have the physical ability to race and win races. I still enjoy going fast. I still have a lot of friendships within the racing scene and circuit which I enjoy. I am still at a level which many aspire to. I still have potential to be better. The list goes on. But the reality is that I just don’t have the spark for racing that I always have. Whether it is the travel, the cost, the time, or that at times I haven’t been pushed with close competition or whether it is a mix of a whole lot of factors, the simple reason is that I just don’t get the pleasure I used to get from it. That’s how I feel now….that’s not to say that in the future I won’t be hitting up the scene again. What I do know is I have a complete enjoyment for the sport of cycling and I’m making a decision now that will only strengthen that enjoyment rather than sticking with something I’m not completely enjoying.

My journey in the sport will continue, the need to be competitive and strong doesn’t stop when racing stops, that’s something that I believe is inbuilt. My journey outside of the sport can now also continue, those things which have had to be put aside to focus on racing are now achievable and the goals I’m choosing to pursue are not all in sport. As far as riding goes I have a huge amount of exploring to do, I’m looking forward to some good adventures and hitting up some new tracks. Over the years I have been racing I have always suppressed the desire to be motox riding to avoid injury or just simply because I haven’t had the time or money to do both. I’m enjoying learning my way through some local tracks at the moment, I’m no superstar but being fit and strong definitely is helping. I’m currently taking on a few riders as a coach, while I haven’t completed formal training in this area I believe my experiences as a rider put me in a position where I can make a difference to the goals of others, I have a huge amount of passion for helping others to reach their goals and understand themselves as a cyclist. My day to day profession has become a far more motivating environment, potentially as I feel I now have the energy to invest into it and using this energy to complete additional study throughout the year in Graphic Design. After a huge amount of interest from the article in the NZ Mountainbike magazine late last year I’m also painting bike frames in my ‘spare time’. That ‘spare time’ is suddenly not looking so ‘spare’ anymore!

There is a lot about elite racing that I will miss…but I think the biggest of them is the people and the conversations, I have a heap of mates in the sport who I hope I will continue to have adventures with and I will be excited to follow their progress. While I’m giving up elite racing I’m not giving away the sport in general, so always keen for a ride or a smash session! Gotta keep the legs turning and you never know when I might just pop out for a race or two for fun.

Thanks to everyone who has been part of my goals and dreams to this point, there have been a number of teams, sponsors, supporters and races which have been such a blast to have been part of – it’s been a cool ride!

Happy New Year to all … I hope that you’ve set your goals for this year based on what is most important to you – you’ve got to follow your heart.