Thursday, 10 July 2014

BCBR blow by blow

World Exclusive: Day by Day account of BCBR from the one and only Tony "McEnroe" Innes. He coined this particular nickname through the temper-tantrums directed at the poor roots frequenting the forests of British Columbia (anyone riding in group 2 will agree with me). The series includes a day by day account of the goings on in the 2014 BCBR. Buckle up and enjoy the ride:

Day 0: North Shore, Pub

Day zero was supposed to be rego only but sparty convinced me a course recon was a good idea.......nearly 3hrs 1200m of climbing I have concluded

1.Scenery is awesome
2.Going over the handle bars onto rocks really really no really hurts
3.My blood seems to flow quicker in canada
4.An easier trail in BC is like the national downhill in Vegas
5. Whilst I might groan my teeth at least I don't give out random moans.....quite disturbing and we aren't even tenting yet!

Cutting to chase, event goals have changed considerably I now hope to finish day 1 and go from there!

Rock on!

Day 1: North Shore

Well what can you say, the shortest and most technical day, survived the technical but bonked with full body cramps like never before! Bodes well for the rest of the stages which are twice the length! Hard has a new meaning

Seeing sparty having to succumb to being chicked was not pleasant, I just hope he talks to me tomorrow!

On the plus side it should be noted that the gianti wasn't first to have a significant mechanical.

P.S it's ok to shed a tear when you have full body cramps with 3km to go

Day 2: Cumberland

Our first night alone in a tent, highlight was sparty with no thermarest, the look on his face when he saw the foam he had to sleep, closely followed but him considering 'leasing my thermarest for 10 mins, oh to be older and wiser. Lowlight being the Norwegian vikings next door who seemed to not need any sleep.

What did we learn today.....
1: going over the bars still hurts and continues to happy
2: swearing fuck off is understood by all nationalities
3: red bull Galway through a stage is a SUPERFOOD 
4: you will try anything to stop cramping including drinking three times the recommended dosage of some cramp stop magnesium thing the course naturopath was peddling
5: today was much more manageable but still horrendously technical
6: a beer in the sun afterwards with you lily white guns out next to some Norwegian bold building can be humiliating, at least there was a Mexican smaller than me!
7: who would buy a specialised? Another trip to the really cheap bike mechanic anyone?
8: watching sparty get used to my place in the field, and therefore his is arguably one of the meanest and cruel things I've seen a grown man go through...he is a legend ( towed me up 20 spots on one short section of for brake today)
9: there needs to be an international sprint trophy..... And the in inaugural winner is the Lilly white guy in point 6 above!

Till tomorrow

Day 3: Powell River

Well after a horrendous transfer I'm realizing rest is key, many lessons today from Powell River, awesome location:

1. Trails here rock! 
2. The beast was unleashed for the first 30km, enduro challenge here he comes!
3. Learnt a valuable rule sparty seems to live by, so whilst it's 35 degrees and canada also lacks an ozone layer, just because sparty has sunscreen doesn't mean it can be used as sparty rule nimber 2 kicks in - no other male is allowed to touch his skin, so with mild heat stroke today was fast but tough.
4. Highlight of day was last 3km TT to finish where sparty blew everyone away, passed three of out competition so epic effort, obviously took it out of him as yours truly claimed the glory on the line, oh yeah
4a. Trash talking is epic with American teams around us in particular, Spanish hate it when you yell libar libar ondelay ondelay as you pass them, priceless, sparty hangs his head in a combination of shame and disbelief
5. 7th on stage 2, 17th on stage 1, obviously not right, so another sparty life lesson learnt, he will not approach the stewards and have 17th place changed to  a rightful 10th, apparently it's not real competition if you aren't winning....please, good thing I will, game on!
6. 2nd tent night and dispite stealing my side of the tent we survived, even with the most annoying French gimps next to us, the language of love it is not if you are tired
7. Kiwi boys mowed down the walk from the ferry to campsite passing all in their pAth to claim best camping spot ever!

Bring on tomorrow.

Day 4: Earls Cove

I write this hoping to still be able to function in the next few hours, lessons from today:

1: hey I know it's 40 degrees so let's delay the start till midday
2: bonking on day one turns out to be tame compared to bonking with 8km to go on a 15degree 4km long pinch climb! First time I started to think if I was going to finish an event........oh yeah and only the longest steepest enduro of the entire race afterwards!
3: it turns out red bull and two bananas consumed on 20 secs isn't that helpful
4: the beast smoke enduro again, currently second kiwi, can he take the top spot
5: after staying up and studying the course last night on of us knew the sprint would be determined by having the hole shot! Well after Moving to the front with 1.4km to go boom game over! 2-1 to the bonkster
6: apparently as we get to know our completion a bit better they consider me to be the heckling kiwi.....nothing wrong with some smack talk on the climbs
7: some Norwegian addonas is simply asking for an arm wrestle, game on tonight, I'm going to tire him out for sparty! If his shame allows him to turn up
8: sparty life lesson number 4, he hates being asked in company if he's getting any grinder hits here! 

Day 5: Sechelt

Day 5 done and dust learning a from today include:

1: 1380m of climbing was supposed to be a quiet day, when 1000m is rooted single track that makes frontal labotomy look flat quiet day my arse
2: Norwegians very strong, too strong so have up the mental mind games, even sparty is getting in on the action and trying break them verbally and physically on the climbs
3: epic battle with Americans, oh how they love to talk smack on the trails, even as they pass or get passed
4: sparty life lesson number 5, alcohol swaps Heal everything, well seeing him cry as he applied to his saddle sore might suggest otherwise!
5: sparty offered to changed break pad 30mins before start, 10 mins before start with job done I have no rare break, nice!
6: sparty is a hit with the older Inuit ladies on the crew, as per the attached. Must be his sparkling personality
7: we have challenged the Norwegians to a roman Greco wrestling challenge in our bibs, Aussie also keen, so might be better than the Olympics, strategy is for me to tire them out whilst sparty does the damage in the later rounds
8: quote of the day.......I'll have the biggest sausage you have..
9: sprint score 3-1 after sparty judged there to not be enough room left on the line, but oh yeah there was, sit up at your peril my friend!

In Squamish tonight, sparty excited as beer tent?

Day 6: Squamish

Longest day today with massive 1800+m of climbing on single track, tiredness setting in, attached photo is BEFORE Start, man it was a tough day, lessons include:

1: best trails by far, enduro top 10 for sparty looking good
2: smoked sparty at Table Tennis, when will he learn!
3: Norwegians too strong today we might have dropped a spot on GC, attrition rate immense
4: beer garden a welcome relief, sparty is such a practical joker as per attached
5; spot prize day today but you have to win an event, after 28 unsuccessful attempts team NZ step up and deliver the goods, Innes hammered the left hand and walks him into a fence whilst sparty takes the victory......all with 100 people cheering as we thumbs wars, hilarious
6: you know u have a beard when it gets itchy, sparty's is an embarassment
7: sprint today was epic photo finish, yours truly boxed in nicely by sparty but came around but 2mm short! 3-2, game on for the decider
8: that's all folks as too tired

Day 7: Whistler

Well we made it, very short stage, still some epically steep climbing through the whistler ski resort, soooo tired, found today hard, lost some confidence riding past a guy who crashed who couldn't feel his legs!

Sparty went with group one to prove he could have survived without bring chicked, and duly smashed the UCI event winning women's leader and was in top 25....nice

Almost too tired to sleep last night, bring on park later today

BC Bike Race 2014

Wow what a week. I've just finished the BC bike race, a seven day mountain bike stage race. Tony and I were entered in the open team category. Rules for a team  require the riders to finish within a couple minutes of each other and time of the second rider counts.

British Columbia riding is a lot different from conditions in New Zealand.  The trails were definitely a step up in technicality.  We ended coming in inside the top ten for open duo's. I was keen to have a cracked at the enduro segments within the race. I was riding my Specialised Enduro 29er which is horribly oversized for an XC race with over 6” of travel. The bike surprised me with its all-round pedalling capability. Its Enduro Specific Blue© paint details gave me extra Enduro swag and gave me a mental edge over the other colour blind enduro competitors.

Trail traffic made things difficult on the first few days, with queues on the trails. The following few days I got into some space and had a better run at it. Riding enduro trails blind is difficult and mistakes were the order of the day. I learnt a bit about pacing from the experience including:

·         Don’t sprint like like a maniac for the first 30 seconds then crash on the first corner

·         Don’t huck rock sections leading into tight corners

·         Get the foot out, moto style for loose corners with camera men

·         One redbull before the stage is good, two and a banana is bad

·         Making barppp sounds actually makes you faster
Beer with the Norwegians after day 2

I ended up 23rd in overall enduro competition about a minute forty down on the leader. Tony cracked the top 100.
The whole experience taught me some valuable life lessons:
  • Riding in a team is a lot different. Tactics between the various pairs was interesting and added a new dimension to the classic sprint finish. We had some epic battles for our mid pack finish, elbows out and coming round on the inside!
  • The trails take no prisoners.  We witnessed several major injuries and bike breakages. Conan the Norwegian broke his hand but kept riding. He makes Arnie look like a pussy.
  • North Americans like to queue. We stood in 15 queues on day 1. We made it our goal to start our own queue and later successfully started one in front of a random bus. We got 30 slightly pissed off people to join!
  • Smack talk is an internationally recognized language.  Tony is the master and had some Norwegians in tears
  • When thumb wrestling a red bull fuelled maniac,  it's best to double team him. Tippie won 30 consecutive thumb wrestles against competitors before Team NZ took him down better than they dropped their pants in San Fran.  
Victorious in Thumb Wrestling. Tippie is one loose man!
  • While Chris Seddon won the race, but Conan was the hardest competitor. 
  • Getting chick’d was just a reality in the BC bike race. On the last day I had a crack at maintaining my dignity and raced the whippets.  I almost threw up trying to beat Catherine Pendral up a climb. I hung on buy the skin of my teeth then layed the smack down in the Whistler bike park. My dignity could not, however, be salvaged.
  • Rupert (Squamish) was my favourite and Tonys least favourite trail of the trip
 Rupert magestic woody
  • Beer is, by far the best recovery drink
  • The jumps in whistler are still “shit your pants” big.
  • Tony only rides park now

Monday, 12 November 2012

It’s all about the battles

The Auckland MTB club have been running the XC series for a while now in various forms. I’ve participated in various rounds through the year but never managed string together the full series.  This year the stars aligned and the schedule was free of clashes. Round 3 took place at the Slater Road Farm. Slater Road is a hidden gem. The opportunity to ride these trails again made me doubly excited for the race.

What makes sport entertaining to me is definitely the battles. Think back to your most memorable moment in any sport and there will undoubtedly be a fellow competitor/team pushing you, paying you out with a photo finish or a last minute goal. Going into the race I was sitting tied for first place with Nicholas Reeves in the overall series. It was all on the line in the series finale. Game on.

The race went well for me, getting put on the ropes for the first lap by Adrian, but managing to get away during the second lap. A bit of a downer to see Nicolas on the side of the track with food poisoning, so looking forward to another battle in the future. The win meant I took out the overall series but with a bit of a hollow feeling.

Thanks to Echelon Cyclery for showing my bike some love after the recent trashing it’s been receiving.  The epic performed amazingly as I’ve become accustomed too. It really is an amazingly dialled xc machine, making up for my lack of skills. Thanks to the Auckland MTB club volunteers for running an awesome event.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Xterra World Championship

My flight over to the island paradise of Hawaii was scheduled the day after the Auckland ITU worlds. This meant the after party of the Auckland Race had to be a bit restrained, not that many people feel like partying the night after a 5:00am wake up and a triathlon. The Air NZ flight to Honolulu was packed with other athletes, some returning after the Auckland race, but most heading to Maui for Xterra.

After the short 8 hour flight I arrived in Honolulu at 10:00. I had cheaped out on my plane tickets so didn’t get feed, so I was pretty keen to find some. The motel I booked was in the middle of an industrial area in Honolulu. There was nothing. The one petrol station was shut. I was roaming the streets around 11pm when I ran into another guy who I could only assume was on a similar quest. it , nothing open for food. Turns out he too was a kiwi on route to NY city. We did a little research on his iphone and bingo, Wendys restaurant 1.5miles away. After the hike and salivating over what to get from the menu, we tried ordering from the drive through, since the restaurant part was shut. The manager gave us a big palm, “no service unless you are in a vehicle”. You have got to be kidding me! I found a vending machine and ate some nuts for dinner.

I booked a flight to Maui at 8am. The following morning. Why on earth did I do that. Honestly. Check in to the place I was staying was 3pm leaving an awkward 5 hours of wandering with my bags. Luckily I managed to get the hotel to keep my bike bag.
I was Wednesday and time for registration / opening of the courses. The place I was staying (Lahaina) was about 15km south of the resort where Xterra was happening. Sounded fine to me, 15km wazrm up and down each day. Riding out to the course was super hot. At 9am in the morning the sun was beating down hard and it was already 28+ degrees. Bit of a change coming from the NZ winter. I registered and set out for a bike course reccie. The Xterra bike course is long hot and has a lot of elevation change. While the trails are not overly technical riding some of the off camber corners and the loose soil conditions takes a bit of getting used to. The riding reminded me most of dry queensland type condition. Semi Dessert like land. The ride around the course took around 2 hours. I was not pushing hard but battling to settle my heart rate under my threshold level. I felt like I was soft pedalling but my heart was racing. I came out of the ride dehydrated and a little demoralised to be honest.
After my 15km warm down in the afternoon sun, I got back to the hotel and I was smashed. I lay down for a few hours feet up and AC blasting. Maybe this isn’t going to be so easy!

Triathletes and most athletes I suppose are a commonly plagued by self doubt. Doubts about your training, form, performances play havoc with ones mind. That ride hit me mentally more than anything. Maybe the Triathlon in Auckland was not such a good idea. The recovery time was short and I would not be ready for Xterra. Then I remembered why I do triathlons. Who gives a crap im just here to have some fun.
After a good sleep, some macdonalds for breakfast I was off to Kapalua for a run of the race course. On the way out I couldn’t help by antagonise some roadies by drafting them for about 10km. I even rolled through doing some turns with my backpack on and running atire. They were getting agitated and tried some legitimate attacks, with out of the saddle sprinting on liitle rising. Each time I pulled them in to receive a dirty look.
The run course is knarly. 3 miles of uphill, hellishinsly steep in parts followed by a slalom downhill smashfest with off camber corners tree truck hurdles, the works. The run was good, I really enjoyed the course running the uphills at tempo and taking downhills easy. In hindsight I think I did this wrong. The swim was topped off by a swim in the ocean.
That arvo, I rolled on over to the Lahaina Aquatic centre for a few laps of the pool. Got to say, swimming in a outdoor pool in 30 degree heat is awesome. A far cry from crowded, ,dark, over chlorinated pools in Auckland. Overall a good day of training.

I was still keen to have another go at the bike course and since I didn’t have much else on the cards, I decided to give it a crack early the next morning trying to escape the worst of the heat. I rode out, stopping in for oatmeal and coffee (breakfast of champions) on route. Being 2 days from the event, I really needed to take it easy so was spinning hard on the uphills trying to keep the heart rate low. Immediately I could feel the body working a bit more normally, with a usual range of hr for the perceived effort. I. don’t know if I was acclimatising to the heat, if it was just cooler or if I had recovered a bit better. The ride went a lot better and I started to feel a bit more confident about the course. Anyways a step in the right direction.
Struggling for things to do and being ADD, I found a scooter hire place and got one for the afternoon. I missioning over to the other side of the island in search of a famous kite surfing beach I had read about. Just following my nose I found the beach. Holy shit!

It dawned on me I had committed a crime. Bringing a mountain bike over to Maui to ride stinking hot, dusty, average trails when a kiting spot like this was just sitting there. 20knots of consistent on shore breeze, not a cloud in the sky, beautiful beach with flat water and the occasional 3 foot wave / ramp. Not a mistake I will repeat.

The rest of day involved a litre of coffee, about $4 of gas (2 tanks) and some quality exploration. It would be fair to say the scooter was tiny but I did manage to get her up to 45 Mph drafting a truck on the aero position. People must have laughed seeing me. Tucked up in the aero position in stubbies on a scooter.

The Saturday was the day before the race and I didn’t want to do anything to strenuous. I hired another scooter and embarked on a mission around the northern volcano. I stopped off at the event site for a quick swim at DT Flemmings beach. There was some quality shore break rolling in, hitting 5 -6 foot during the sets. Perfect. I went for a short 700m swim and then watched apprehensive athletes trying to time their entry into the water. Quite funny at time.

Further up the coast, the surf was amazing. Hundreds of surfers were out ripping. The roads up around the north of Maui become fun. Less like an American highway, more like a coriander road, twisty and steep, which coincidentally become a whole lot more fun on a scooter. Some of the up hills were a bit of a struggle, with speed dropping down around the 10mph mark, the point where I was considering jumping off and pushing. The roads got down to a single lane a some points. A particularly funny moment happened when about 5 cars in each direction met each other on a narrow bit. No one was taking charge of the situation and it ended up in this odd, retarded stalemate where everyone just decided the road was blocked and there was nothing to be done. I couldn’t believe it, and couldn’t help wander how different the outcome would be if the same situation happened in NZ. Luckily I was on a scooter, wished them well and burned off into the sunset chuckling.

That night was the opening ceremony at the Ritz. Finally we got to see what the high entry fee goes towards. The Xterra folks do a really good job at branding their outfit and giving it that family club sort of feel. Noticing that sort of marketing more and more with sporting companies. Before the night was up there was one further curveball to be thrown into the mix. An Earthquake just off the Canadian coast had raised a Tsunami Warning for the Hawaiian islands.

TSUNAMI!!!, everyone drive some where. Traffic on the way home was crazy. The place I was staying in Lahaina was inside the evacuation zone. I could hear people getting evacuated from my hotel, I switched off the light and didn’t answer the door. Ill take my chances thanks guys. Could use the swim training anyways.

I woke up to everything as per usual. Tsunami warning had been lifted. Excellent, meaning they wont cancel the swim. I jumped on the bike stopping at macdonalds for the customery oatmeal and coffee combo. What is it with lines and this country. The body marking line was several hundred metres long and took over 30minutes before I could rack the bike. I don’t understand body marking. What is the purpose of numbering the arms and legs with irritating ink/permanent marking when we have number on both the bike and run race belt. Seems like a hangover from pre race number days where men wore only speedos and drawing pins where deemed to dangerous.

I love the swim start and with a little surf even better. A few duck dives and we were away. All the pre race nerves converted into an intense burst. The first bouy rounding got interesting. Think it was about 6 wide and was in the middle. A bit of a scrum but I got round fine. Apparently there were dophines swimming a couple of metres under the bouy, I missed them because I was too busy avoiding getting kicked in the face.

Onto the bike and the first hill on the course is steep. I found myself immediately reeling some people in. The first bit of single track had a lot of traffic and I knew I had to not fall into the trap of becoming complacent behind someone. Going into the first technical downhill section I caught up to a pro who was struggling. He was really nursing the bike down the section, any slower and you would be sliding on your arse…Dude did a front flip in front of me landing with his $10,000 bike parking slap bang across the trail. I thought this is bull, so bunny hopped over his front wheel and I was free. Moving onto the extended climbs is were I made the most progress, reeling in some of the competition.

The Downhills although not particularly challenging were still fun - hitting around 65 km/h. Doesn’t seem to fast when you compare to road, but on a water rutted dirt road with water bars and patches of loose sand that shit is getting pretty real. Full Aero tuck as id practised on the scooter. I might include scooter riding on my training montage when I make it.

Towards the end of the ride, a group of 4 age groupers formed. Olly Shaw, myself and a couple other young guys. Going into the last section of single track, I wanted to put some pressure on one of the riders so started to push the pace a bit surging and so on. Going through one of the tighter sections I clipped a handle bar on a tree and went down. The others all past. Ended up coming into transition a couple seconds after the others sporting some fast becoming ‘customery’ blood down the leg. it’s an intimidation tactic I use, nothing to do with my gumbiness.

Running off the bike at first appeared all good, but as the trail started climbing, my legs were fried. The run is incredibly difficult after the 30km of climbing you’ve just done on the bike. The first 3 miles of the course are essentially up hill, with some steep sections which make you cringe just looking at them. Once at the 3 mile mark, its back down the hill, except for a nasty pinch right near the end. I was getting past all over the shop, notably by A flying Leslie Patterson, Cabin cranking some extreme downhill speed and Barbara Riveros came powering past me on the pinch, I tried to follow here at the top and try and match her downhill speed but she immediately put 20m on me within a few seconds.

I battled through to the end. The beach was pretty much torture and the last uphill section to the finish line I was on my last legs. I felt a huge sense of relief crossing the finish line. The Hula girls stuck a Lay around my neck, and the weight of the flowers knocked me to the ground. The ice cold water and wet towels were like heaven. I could not stand up straight. That was one of the hardest races ive done.
Although I would have liked to win my age group I am happy with a 3rd place. I came in as the 8th amateur and 40th overall including the Pro field. Got a sweet medal to add to the trophy cabinet. 2nd fastest bike split in the amateur race. (everyone knows thats what really matters :p) Results are here: As a side note, i ended up achiveing my goal of beating Barbara Riveros because of the 2 min head start the pro field got on us. Pride is in tack.

Sorry about the length, that’s what happens when you have 6 hours hanging at the airport with a bike bag stopping you from going anywhere.
 Sporting a sweet pink bandage to draw attention to the fact i am a rookie!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Triathlon World Champs in Auckland

Yesterday i competed in my first Triathlon World champs. Auckland was really buzzing with an influx of lycra clad, carbon wheeled, sperm hat looking athletes. An awesome thing to be a part of.
The day started early accompanying the boss down to her race. Sam was having a crack at the sprint distance as her 3rd ever tri.
Watching the sprint distance athletes go off sparked a bit of excitement. The goal of the day was to have a good bike split, not swim too far off course and survive the run. The swim started off with a long wait on the pontoon. Butterflies were abuzing in anticipation for the chaos to follow. 93 mid 20's males full of adrenaline is just asking for a bit of biff-o in the water. The hooter sounded and the chaos began. I've always been good at the 50m sprint, unfortunately for me the swim was a bit longer and inevitably the field swallowed me up. Time to settle into a rhythm. The first bouy rounding was fun. I was 2nd inside on a 6 wide funnel. one side of my goggles got taken out of commission. All good, there's always the other eye. The rest of the swim went well. Another competitor even gave me a foot massage all the way along the back straight. I needed it after the barefoot warmup run on the tarmac before the race. I let him know i had had enough with a polite kick in the face. He understood, must be a universal language.

The transitions were tough. Long carpet and tarmac runs. i was relieved to get too my bike. Time to lay down some smack. Shoes on and i was away. There was an endless line of athletes from my age group to reel back thanks to my average swimming ability. Hitting Gladstone i decided to get this campaign underway. I stood up to power around the first corner. Ewwwww, better rethink this as the legs were filling with acid like the sinking Rena. Triathlon riding is a little different to trying to burgle stravas during the lunch hour.

I really enjoyed the bike course. Its not often you get to really lay it into corners when the roads are open. Thanks to Rich (!/RtkPhotographer) from Mt Eden Cycles, i had a camera on board filming the entire ride. Theres a few good passing manoeuvres, trying to negotiate around slower riders. Keep tuned for some footage. It was mounted just in front of my stem between the aero bars so catches a bit of each hand for most of the filming. Unfortunately at times the hands combine to look like someones arse crack so the video ends up looking like its film from inside someones bottom.

All too soon and the ride was over and time for a gallop. By the time i got to rack my bike, i was already asking myself "are we there yet". It always feels really slow transitioning to running after cycling but i kept myself restrained and checked the GPS for pacing. Pretty soon into the work i was joined by Rob whom i battled throughout the race in the Auckland ITU event the year prior. We race together for the entire first lap. I managed to put about 10m into him early on the second lap but couldn't seem to pull  away any further. You could definitely tell the calibre of the field with the speed some guys were running past me. With about 2km to go i really started to feel it. My running form was out the window and i was in survival. I could here Rob behind me from shouting spectators. I knew he was coming, i knew i had nothing. I tried to pick it up with 1km to go but that was a joke. He past me heading into the finishing shoot and gap the shit out of me. I looked back and in relief there was no one else. I spotted Sam and here family so busted a short exhausted attempt at an "aeroplane". Fun race all in all. Plenty of support and atmosphere.

I ended up 15 th overall out of a field of around 90 starters. 2nd fastest bike split.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Building up

Over the past month I’ve raced in the first two rounds of the Auckland Cross Country champs, rode the day night thriller in a mixed team, and done some quality Strava racing.

The Day night thriller was awesome fun as usual. We put together a mixed 5 person team consisting of workmates, and my partner Sam.  After a restrained Friday night (considerable less beers than the previous year) I attempted to challenge for the much converted first lap honours. I started ok for my standards, but a couple of the u19 boys were off the blocks like rocket ships. The best I could manage was 3rd. That was my effort for the day. Overall a very enjoyable day with everyone in the team digging deep to pull out a 3rd in the mixed category in the filthy weather. Sam maintained her amazing mountain bike podium record as a result. Shes come on the podium in all the 3 pervious mountain bike races she had entered, a record most riders would be proud of.

The following weekend it was the first round of the Auckland XC champs at Woodhill. After half a dozen beers at the pub the night prior, I rode my bike home from the pub to get psyched for the race.  I’ve always like racing at Woodhill, as I know the trails and conditions relatively well. I started well covering all the surges and entering the first single track in second place. I was keen to get into the front so I could limit the amount of surging (hadn’t done any speed work yet). I made a slightly questionable passing manoeuvre to get by Sheldon. There was so shoulder rubbing but all in good fun.
 Once clear I opened up a gap and managed to keep it going for the rest of the race. I had targeted this race as a key training session so tried to keep my heart rate cranking to the end. I felt myself slipping off several times but kept the speed up to roll in for the win.

Sam came out for the Woodhill race but unfortunately slipped to a mid pack finish. The golden run is broken. I told her I was disappointed.

Two weeks on and it was the turn of the Hunua Ranges to host the 2nd round of the Enduro series. I always love riding in the Hunuas. It is a fantastic area and the race course is always good fun. I’ve always battled a bit racing at Hunua. The tight nature of the race course with technical sections requires quite a bit of concentration.
This was not helped by confusing my bike handling senses by riding a 6inch freeride bike the evening before. Suddenly my fasttrak tires felt sketchy when compared to the tractor tires I had been riding. The start was good, moving into the single-track 3rd. Sam Gaze had a plane to catch so way in a hurry and sight gapped the field within the first couple minutes. That guy is quick.

Pretty soon it was Nicholas Reeves and I riding in 2nd and 3rd. We swopped around a bit before i made an un-co mistake on a steep section and a gap opened up. I hung there for a bit before he slipped away. I felt strong and my heart was rev’ing nicely. Good signs for the training as I was able to maintain threshold for most of the race, by my skills and concentration let me down. I suppose I have to invest a bit more time in riding a mountain bike if  want to be able to compete. I followed the race up with a short run and felt good off the bike. Bring on Xterra.

So its 6 days to the Tri Worlds and the atmosphere is building on the waterfront. This will be my last hit out before flying to Hawaii. More importantly its 7 days until I fly to Hawaii for Xterra, Maui. The field is shaping up to be a cracker with two of the Olympic medallists competing.

I’ve been relatively restrained when it comes to Strava racing recently. Once Xterra is over, it’s on like Donkey Kong.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

N-Duro Winter Series Race 1

6 O’clock on Sunday morning I’m sitting in the dark watching my idols do battle in France. Rogers and Porte tapping a ferocious tempo and destroying the peloton. Stage 7 of the tour did not disappoint. Sensational viewing and certainly lit the fire for the serious climbing ahead.

Shortly after the coverage of the tour ended I realised I was running a bit late for getting to the race. The car windows were completely iced over and my feeble attempt to spray the windscreen with the garden hose ended up creating a thin layer of new ice. I rolled into Long mile road with 20minutes to race start. Still having to enter I enjoyed a short jog from the car to the rego to try and make it before it closed. Thankfully i was allowed to enter. Race briefing was 5 minutes away and i still needed to eat get changed and build my bike. Weekends are not supposed to be this stressful.

I got to the start with 5 minutes to go sans warm-up. It was not a warm morning so I was a bit worried about the start. The race starts with a road climb followed by some single track. An easy start to blow yourself up. I knew i wasn’t going to be able to start with the big boys without a warm-up so tried to curb my enthusiasm on the first climb. I held back but my cold legs still started to build up some acid. Not ideal. A pack of riders formed a front group, through the first single track and traffic I lost eye contact. I could vaguely see them on the forest road through my watering eyes. Time to settle in, there’s plenty of hills to come.

Coming back to real mountain bike racing came as a shock to the system. The course was hard. The climbs were long and plentiful. Eventually I got into a bit of a rhythm. Must have been 30-40min into the race. Started to tap out some decent tempo. The course was epic. Riding down some walking tracks, across ice fields. Frozen mud is super tacky so traction was good. I never saw a sole from my event for almost the entire race, which was a little disappointing. Would have liked to ride with some locals and learn some of their lines.

With about 5km to go the penny dropped. I was empty. The infamous bonk. I looked at my watch 2:25 minutes. I had taken 2 gels and a single bottle. Absolute rookie error. There was nothing left in my legs. I switched into survival mode. Spinning  the 36 tooth up climbs and trying to be as smooth as possible. Every time I had to accelerate a piece of my soul died. I was pretty damn thankful for the big wheels and suspension on the epic round about now. Think Specialised should explore some marketing around that: Get a Epic and you can save on nutrition!

Exit trail was still super fun even in my delirious state.

Rolled in 6th in the 42 km race. I wanted to be in top 5. As my parents frequently said to me in my childhood, “Im not angry, just disappointed”

Some photos from Helen Brumby: