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March 7th, 2023

2023 New Zealand Mountain Bike National Championship

L Cooper

My first race in over 5 months and what a tough build up it had been. After returning home from team camp in the USA at the start of December I had dealt with a knee niggle, food poisoning, a big crash, 10 day fever and tonsillitis. With a resulting glandular fever diagnosis I hadn’t done any intensity in training at all in the month prior so was expecting very little results wise from the racing, and that’s exactly what I got.

In the XCO I had a great start and felt very comfortable on the first 2 laps, riding what I felt was well within my limits and opening up a small gap on the chasers.

As we hit laps 3 and 4 I felt myself start to struggle a bit more and the chasers closing in. I was unable to continue riding the pace I was on the first 2 laps and over the last 2 laps of the race I really started to struggle big time.

I pushed hard to stay in the hunt but faded to 4th place in what was a close race and respectable performance all things considered but not the 7th win in a row I had been hoping for!

L Cooper
L. Cooper

Next up on Sunday morning was the XCC (Short Track). I decided to give this one a crack and was in the mix the whole race. Ben Oliver had opened up a slight lead heading into the last lap. I found myself in second place and had opened up a slight lead over Craig Oliver in 3rd and the winner of the XCO on Sunday, Matt Wilson in 4th.

Unfortunately near the top of the climb on the final lap I felt something go bang from the rear of my bike. I kept riding but all of a sudden my gears locked up completely and I could no longer pedal. I dismounted and saw the culprit which was a broken spoke tangled up in my derailleur and cassette. I pulled it out and wound it around another spoke but by that stage I had been passed by Craig and Matt so was forced to settle for another 4th place.

Some positive signs to take from the weekend and things can only improve from here!

L. Cooper

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Cycling has always been a huge part of my life as I have been riding ever since I could walk. I see mountain biking as an adventure and a challenge.
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There are many things I love about mountain biking – the people you meet, the skills you need, the concentration it requires, race strategy, the opportunities to explore new places and countries.
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