March 14th, 2017

2017 Oceania Mountainbike Championships, Toowoomba, Australia

Well where do I start!? Probably the craziest race of my life! I successfully managed to defend my Oceania Elite title in scorching hot conditions in Australia. After missing/dropping my bottle in the first feed station, I suffered for a while in the 33 degree heat and humidity. Things then took a further turn for the worse when I had come back from 6th place and over a minute back with 3 laps to go after almost throwing the race away with a stupid crash on lap 2 while out in front. Somehow I managed to rip my chain away from my chain guide in the process and got it all tangled up around my crank and cassette. After a relatively short run/roll to the tech zone my mechanic Matt got me back on track quickly and into the race again.

For the next lap I tried to focus on re-hydrating and finding my rhythm again before winding it up in pursuit of the leaders over the remaining three laps. I caught the leader of the race, Cam Ivory with 1 lap to go but discovered the race hadn’t been won yet, as he still had plenty of gas left in the tank.

I picked my spot near the top of the final climb and dropped the clutch, breaking the string between us and opening up an immediate gap. I then had to ride one final downhill to the finish line without incident, crossing the line pretty relieved to have made the comeback of my life to take the win.

All things considered, after a shaky start, I am stoked with how I rode to come back to the head of the race. I’m looking forward to hopefully returning sometime to Toowoomba to race again. Now I will spend 3 weeks at home in Christchurch training before heading overseas to California for a couple of HC races, before traveling onwards to Europe. 2017 has started in a pretty exciting way, hopefully it can continue to snowball from here!  Thanks to Element Photo & Video Productions for the photos. 

February 27th, 2017

2017 National Mountainbike Championships, Cardrona, New Zealand

National Champs were to be my first UCI race since the World Cup in Albstadt last year. Suffice to say I wanted to make sure it was a successful comeback to racing! I felt like I had prepared well and that the body was in good enough shape to get the job done. The course was set at Cardrona Skifield, near Wanaka around 1700-1800m above sea level so I focused on not setting out too hard off the start and trying to settle into a steady rhythm from the get go. On the first lap of six I managed to open up some daylight between myself and the chasers and continued to pull away as the race wore on. Once I had established a comfortable lead my focused turned to not puncturing on any of the savage rocks littered around the course.
 
Although I definitely felt the effects of the thin air on the lungs, nothing untoward happened and I crossed the line well ahead of second place to take the title along with the National Champions Jersey. To top off the weekend I also won the Eliminator title on Sunday, the perfect way to start the year! My focus now turns to the Oceania Champs in Toowoomba, Australia on the 12th of March where I hope to continue my winning ways.

February 19th, 2017

South Island MTB Championships, Hawea Flat

With not many XCO lap races in New Zealand the event served well as a pre Nationals hit out. The course at the Wrights farm in Hawea Flat was great to race on, with plenty of rocks, twists and turns to keep you on your toes. The sun baked down and made for a brutal 5 laps. I made sure to keep a lid on things with Nationals less than a week away. After a fast start I backed off into a comfortable rhythm, made easier in the latter half of the race by a bit of cloud cover and cooler temps. As a full dummy run for Nationals things couldn't have gone any better; riding well to take a strong win and boost the confidence levels before the big one.

January 22nd, 2017

The St James Epic, Canterbury, New Zealand

I didn’t race the Epic last year so I felt it was time to return again as it is a race that I really enjoy. The Epic course is 103 km long and takes a bit under 5 hours at a solid tempo. The race starts at Lake Tennyson around 1,100m above sea level at 8.00 a.m. before climbing up over Maling Pass, down the other side before heading down the Valley and following the Waiau River with 3 extensions up some of the other valleys to some quite beautiful spots!

This year they had to make some changes to the course, as due to heavy rain in the days leading in the Waiau River was flooded and we couldn’t cross it at the points originally planned. In the end the race was shortened down to around 80 km, and followed the St James Cycle Trail for most of the way before climbing up over Charlies Saddle and making our way to the finish at the St James Homestead. In previous years it had been clear but cold at the start but once the day wore on it really started to heat up in the big open valleys. However, this time it stayed overcast the whole day and never really heated up, which made more almost perfect riding conditions. The first 10 km were on a flattish gravel road which made for a nice cruisy warm-up with the bunch before we hit the first climb of the day up Maling Pass. I pushed a solid tempo up the first climb to get away and extended my lead on the following descent. From there I settled into a good training rhythm, taking in all the views and great trails, taking a comfortable win. First race and first win aboard the new bike! I chose the Procaliber and was really impressed with how it rode, with the big wheels floating over the rough stuff and the Isospeed decoupler making it very smooth whilst seated. I’m sure I’ll be back again soon!

November 5th, 2016

Alpine Energy 10 Hour Mountainbike Race, Timaru

I was roped into a team with a bunch of roadies a few days before this event. And yes, they weren’t happy that they were generalised by that term! Can’t hide from the truth though can we?... haha. We expected a tough battle from a couple of other teams, which always makes a relay race more exciting.  After I started with a double lap, and the other top team suffering a mechanical, we opened up a quick early lead. They soon pegged this back a few laps later as each rider took their turn.

My team mates had plenty of pedigree on the road but, after a torrential downpour the night before, the other team of young mountain bikers used their MTB skills to establish a strong lead. As each hour ticked by the track dried out and the time losses to the other team weren’t as significant but still we weren’t gaining any ground. Eventually, we finished on the same amount of laps and about 15 minutes behind after the full 10 hours. All in all, it was a great day out with a great bunch of people on a really enjoyable course! I’ll be back again.

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October 23rd, 2016

Cheviot Hills Ride

Cheviot Hills Ride was one of my first ever races and was part of the reason I got so hooked on mountain biking. Therefore, when I heard it was on again this year I had no option but to return! Set in the picturesque Cheviot Hills reserve the race has a very British vibe to it. There are remnants of an old homestead and the trees are predominantly oak and poplar, with excellent single-track throughout. This year the course was held entirely within the reserve and was a great mix of single-track, four wheel drive roads and open grass climbs. I was very unsure of what to expect as this was my first race back from illness and surgery. After 4 months of doing not much at all it was damn good to be back on a start line again! With some stiff competition there I decided to try and play things cool for the first few laps (of 4). The lead group of 3 was whittled down to 2 by the second lap and on the third lap I was feeling good enough to have a crack at the win. I managed to get away and opened up a gap to the line, coming home with plenty of breathing space. It was a great feeling to be back racing again, feeling fresh and healthy and with a more responsive heart rate which was a great sign! Positive signs heading forward! cid_833816aa8ce44bd3bf4e938f1ee1eb6b2300a

May 31st, 2016

2016 World Cup #2 Albstadt, Germany

I felt reasonably good on Tuesday and Wednesday’s training sessions but as has been the case the last few months I’ve been unable to recover properly from hard sessions. However, I still had to stay positive for a good result on the day. Early on in the race I realised things hadn’t gotten any better and I was still feeling flat and as though I had no spark. Racing like this is hugely demoralising - riding around in the 50’s for an hour and a half in front of 15,000 spectators when you know that you belong up the pointy end of the field. I rode together with some other riders who were having a bad day which made life a little easier, eventually crossing the line in 51st position. Obviously very upsetting for a rider who always gives it 100% but that’s just the way things have panned out this season. Some things I would love to go back and change but I can’t. I decided to have a few days off before heading to France for the final Olympic selection the following Sunday in the hope that a weeks rest/easy riding would give me back my legs of old.

Crowds at Albstadt

Update: We arrived in La Bresse on Wednesday night. I woke up around 3:30 am with a very sore throat and made the decision along with my team that the best option was to head back to Germany to meet with the Doctor to get checked over. My problem is most likely a fatigue/over-training, under-recovery issue but I will still try to rule out all other possibilities. I will take 2 weeks complete rest with the aim of returning to race at the Under 23 World Champs in Nove Mesto. I won’t be anywhere near peak form in Nove Mesto but I will do my best to defend my title. The earliest I can expect to be back to proper race speed is the World Cup round in Mont Saint Anne, Canada on August the 7th. I’ll be back.

May 20th, 2016

2016 British Cycling MTB XC Series Round 3, Dalby Forest

The team made the decision to head to Dalby Forest a few days out as a final preparation race before the World Cup in Albstadt. After getting sick in Cairns a few weeks prior and after the long journey to Europe I wasn’t sure how I would fare in the race. We arrived in Dalby Forest the evening before the race and I found the time to do 2 laps on the course. The next day the race didn’t start until 3:20 pm so we had a bit of time to chill out and get ready in the morning.

All the top British riders were there racing alongside with Marco and myself. I felt reasonably good on the first lap matching it with Grant Ferguson and Marco for a lap and a half before I had to back off the pace a bit. Looking over my shoulder there were a few others not too far behind and I knew it would be inevitable with 4 laps left that they would catch me. I sat up for a quick breather before jumping on the wheel of the first chaser, ex Commonwealth Games winner Liam Killeen for a few laps. He was definitely stronger than me but I rode smart and played to my strengths. I had to dig very deep to stay in the contest and the last lap was a good battle. In the end I managed to out sprint him to take 3rd place. I was satisfied with my position and knew that I rode the perfect race with what my body gave me on the day. However, I knew I had to improve a lot more before the World Cup the following Sunday if I wanted a chance at a good result. I had a great time in Dalby Forest on a really fun track and met some great people. Hopefully I get the chance to go back again one day!

May 6th, 2016

2016 World Cup # 1 Cairns, Australia

Unfortunately my bad luck at Cairns continued on from the last time the World Cup stopped over here in 2014. My memories of severe food poisoning which side-lined me last time in Cairns weren’t good, but early on things were looking up and training was going well. However 3 nights out from the race I came down with a killer sore throat and a slight fever. I did the only things I could do which was to stay positive, rest and hydrate well but unfortunately the bug I had caught hung around until race day. I went to the medical tent before my race to get a final check over before the race and they advised me that I could start but if I felt bad to ease right off. My start number of 30 meant I was on the 4th row which was good enough for me. I had a great start and within 300m I was in the top 5 before the rider in front of me clipped a marker pole and went down in a cloud of dust. I jacked on my brakes and skidded right over top of him only to be passed by about 10 riders in the process. 

After the start loop I was in 16th position which wasn’t too bad but I was starting to feel the effects of my illness which were being amplified by the extremely hot and humid conditions. After the first lap I decided to back it right off before I caused any serious damage to my health, and just cruised around to finish back in around 60th position. Summed up it was another disappointing race in Cairns but I can take some positives out of it as I know I will bounce back soon. Tests at the Doctor showed nothing too serious and just that I picked up a viral infection at a bad time! Hopefully that’s my bad luck over for the rest of the season and the next races go to plan! I’m now back in Germany where I will be based until mid September.

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March 27th, 2016

2016 Oceania Mountainbike Championships, Queenstown, New Zealand

After speaking with my Coach and Doctor about my symptoms we decided the best thing to do during the week between the National and the Oceania Championships was to rest. I hadn’t been able to get my heart rate above 170 bpm for a while and my power was down across all sectors which is a sign of fatigue, as 180bpm is usually my max HR. I only rode my bike twice during the week for a total of 1.5hrs and 4 laps of the course.

Without any hard efforts during the week I was really unsure of what to expect but early on in the race I could tell it was going to be a much better day then the week before! My legs had showed up to the party this time along with the rest of my body. I played a smart race, trying not to expend too much energy early on and after 2 laps it was myself, Dan McConnell and Sam Gaze out in front. On lap 3 it was just Dan and myself left to fight it out for the win. On the 6th and final lap I launched an attack up the last major hill before the final downhill opening up a gap to cross the line in 1st place!

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A massive turn around after the week prior and great to be feeling fit, fresh and fast again. I am now back home and taking things easy for another week to make sure I am properly recovered before I head off to Cairns for World Cup #1 in a few weeks time. Can’t wait!