I arrived into LAX on Tuesday afternoon and settled into our accommodation in San Dimas. With just a few days to recover until the race on Saturday I knew I had to try and adjust to the local time and conditions ASAP. After some good days out practicing the course race day was upon us.
I felt reasonably fresh on race day although I had a poor nights before. I also knew that my form was good enough to put me somewhere up the front of the race even though I was having to contend with a bit of jet-lag. I took charge of the race early on and for the first 3 laps of 7 held the front of the race and set a strong tempo.
Lap by lap the field whittled down until it was just myself and Howard Grotts left. We traded blows over the remaining four laps and I nearly threw away the chance of victory with less than a kilometre remaining when I slid out on a tight hairpin approaching the second to last climb. I managed to regather and attacked up the final pinch climb to open up a small gap which I held to the line. Stoked to take the win and bag some vital points!
I will stay in the USA with my team for training/team camp until the Sea Otter in a fortnight. From there I will head to Germany where I will be based for the World Cup/ international season.
The Kaiwara Classic has always been one of my favourite events on the local NZ race calendar. I first raced there when I was just 11 or 12 years old and have returned most years since. This year the race date had to be pushed back a couple of months to April due to earthquakes that struck the region in November. Luckily the new race date was 2 days before I was due to fly out to the USA so I was still able to do it.
It was a perfect autumn day with temperatures around 30 degrees. I decided to ride my Top Fuel instead of my Procaliber for a change and enjoyed the comfy ride with the added rear suspension. With the combination of the bike and some good legs I was able to chop some time off the course record on my way to the win. Overall it was a great days training before I left to the USA, and it was good to see so many people out enjoying riding bikes!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.