Monday, January 25, 2010

Summer N-Duro #2

It was a funny old day for us yesterday at race two of the N-Duro series. Could write a pretty lengthy report, but perhaps easiest is to steel the summary from

"another perfect day, warm but not too hot. After a week of rain, clearing to light showers on Saturday, the trails were the right side of tacky and the times reflected that on a course that started on a fast forest road section, then quickly got into tough singletrack in the core network and a climb up Tokorangi Pa Road. Excellent course and an amazing finish in 45KM Men with Mike Northcott and Team Nduro's Mark "Cabin" Leishman duking it out. Mike took the photo finish on the line after an epic sprint. Annika Smail backed up to win her second round with Nic Leary (also from Team Nduro), 2nd. Nic stopped to help an injured rider on Billy T or it would have been very close."

Mikey leading out with one of the most significant gaps between us all race. I made a good break early, was climbing well, and held a 30-40sec climbing frontal labotomy. But then I made a bad gear shift and tangled up my chain. My fault. Gap gone. Was great to race Mikey head to head as we have quite different strengths and tested each other accordingly. In the end I executed my tactics perfectly.... but Mikey simply had a stronger kick and took it by half a wheel.
Nic and Annika were also having a great battle. Again forcing them well clear of the chasing field. Both forcing each other into worlds of hurt, and the odd mistake. Annika missing corners. Nic riding into Punga trees. Their battle was effectively over when Nic stopped to administer first aid. But thats racing. Things happen. No point in what ifs and maybes. Thats simply how it panned out. Roll on Summer N-Duro #3 and yet another epic showdown.

Cabin sporting the ironman bling with the white arm warmers. WTF? Bit gay isn't it? Trying to prove his worth to Bushlove Racing? No.....Utilising inside knowledge of the course (having spent most of saturday course marking) he realised there was a bit of undergrowth to bash through and not fancying cut up arms opted for the 2XU armshades (lightweight sunburn protecors basically). Smart

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

nix news...!

A fair few things have happened in recent times, all positive and exciting. I thought I was well overdue for a wee update of my here it is!

I have a new ride!! So I thought my last Team Competitor (the one I raced at worlds & what will now be my training bike) was the best bike yet, turns out my 2010 Avanti Team Competitor is right up there & then some. Check this out!

2010 Avanti Team Competitor
This is my new XC race bike. Complete with the Carbon DT wheel-set, the new SRAM XX group-set and SID world cup fork, this is a true sensation. It has had its maiden ride in the Redwoods & I am stoked! I will be busting it out at the n-Duro this Sunday 24th so if you want a closer look, I will happily show you & talk about it a lot no doubt :)

A very BIG thank-you to Avanti, my bike sponsor, I am very fortunate to be riding such an exceptional bike. Thanks also to Avanti-Plus Mt Maunganui, A+ Cyclezone Rotorua, Cabin and Ryan Hollows for the final set up & masterful touches (aka pimping) of this bike.

My first road race - a road tour! Yes as Cabin mentioned, & it was a blast! I really enjoyed the Tour de Femme held in Nelson between Christmas & the New Year. It was an entirely new challenge for me, but b/c I had been doing a fair bit of training on the road in my 'build phase' we decided to include it in my race schedule. Mostly to see if I was getting the consistent strength/endurance I had been working on. Turns out I did OK, placing 10th on GC after a big learning curve on stage three that saw me lose the lead group I should have stayed within. It was a great few days of riding, and I feel it was very beneficial as I continue to develop as a cyclist. I look forward to next year where I aim to be competitive in the Queen of the Mountains category...

A special mention has to be made about my Avanti Questa Road Bike. Sure, it is not about the bike, but this is a true gem of a roadie. Below are a few shots of me racing in Nelson onboard my Questa. Once again, I would like to say a BIG thank-you to Amanda Till & the team at Avanti. My road bike & I will be spending some good time together yet, I am sure.

The 19km TT - Do I look like I know what I am doing?!

Takaka Hill Climb - Just go hard & fast...

Avanti Questa Roadie - nice!

In general...
Exercise Induced Vasospastic Amaurosis the phenomenon that (after various appointments/imaging & tests) is the working diagnosis for my vision loss problem. It is early days, and quite honestly we do not know for sure but I am trialing a medication prescribed to prevent the vaso-spasm of the retinal arteries that is thought to be responsible for the amaurosis fugax (or thick white cloud/fog that decends across my eyes) with exertion.

I am a bit of a case study as there are few reported cases in the literature especially as unique as my scenario (with the onset only when racing MTB mod-hard exertion 2hrs+). I am happy to report this progress however, and so far so good :) I suspect Karapoti will be a good test.

I am absolutely loving training & all aspects of biking practice at the moment. Cabin's been dishing out some good hard stuff which I love and feel we have improved a few key areas of my riding. I have just come back from a week at the farm - mustering, drafting, dagging, fencing and docking it. It's always good to go back to the hills & do some good physical work. Returning to Rotorua with a good few tins of baking and meat for the freezer will always be a bonus!
And…club night & BMX training has resumed for the New Year so Wednesday night I look forward to racing a good few moto’s & working on improving my bicycle skills more and more. I have definitely missed it over the past few weeks. With our whare (house), a garage full of bikes, warm weather, good training & good health... things couldn't really be better!

Thats is for now, thanks for your interest - see you at the events, in the forest or thereabouts...nic J

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hard Yards in Heaven

Ok, so I blatently ripped off that title from Hamish Carters old training camps.... but that essentially describes my epic weekend. Back home and enjoying our house in vegas, rather than relax I had a big weekend of racing lined up. Firstly, the Port of Tauranga half ironman (NZ Champs), followed with the first race of the N-Duro Summer MTB series on Sunday.
Crazy? Maybe. But I reckoned I would be at my most tired two days later from the half, so racing the next day would be ok. Twisted logic but it seemed to pay off. end result? 12th at the NZ half ironman champs, and 2nd in the N-Duro a mere 40sec behind Dirk Peters. Right now I'm on about my 4th coffee of the day to stay awake.
Saturday: Tauranga Half-Ironman
This was always going to be a big challenge. My logic in entering was that it would force me to commit to a steady period of base training in swim/bike/and run over November and December. Training had gone well, but having never TT'd more than 40km and not run a half marathon since 2001 it was a big unknown. With Nic along to support along with Mum and Dad it was pretty good motivation.
First suprise was to turn up and discover I'd inherited Cam Brown's #1 spot in transition. My Clip on aero bar equipped standard road bike (a mint Malvern Star Oppy C7) looked a little out of place in a rack full of TT bikes but it certainly gauranteed great product placement for my faithful sponsors.
Second suprise was the difficulty of the swim. I hadn't realised how much the chop and currents effected the swim here in Tauranga. And I also quickly discovered I am very poor at picking the currents and swimmingly accordingly. As such I proceeded to almost overshoot turning bouhys, swim extra distance, and fight to stop myself being swept into various boats. I survived the 2km though, but was dissapointed to see myself around 5min further down on where I wanted to be. Exiting in 100 something'th. Not a good start.
The bike? How hard is a flat 90km? Mentally really hard. I spent the whole ride catching and passing people, trying to make up time. I would be constantly out of the saddle every 5min as TT position just didn't seem comfortable. One guy following me even tried to abuse me with.... "can't you hold an aero position? You ride like a Mountainbiker...." Thanks I replied. Compliment I thought. Still, I averaged 39 point something Kph in difficult conditions and passed most of the womens field.
Onto the run and I had two goals. First to catch Robin Reid who'd just smashed me on the bike. And two... to win the womens race. I succeeded. Turns out I run ok for a mountainbiker. Plenty of "go cabin" and "go the mountainbiker" spurred me on to a solid 40min for the first lap. However my feet were really starting to hurt and with 10.5km still to go I was struggling. In my hurry to get through transition I'd gone sockless and I was paying for it with heinous blisters. Pushing on I finally overtook the womens race leader with about 7km to go, but got a fright to see Sam Wariner had closed to about a minute from me. That prompted me to up my game and I finished strongly.
A 1hr21 half marathon the days 8th fastest run, and good enough to move me up to 12th. Not a bad debut....and happily I "won" the womens race by a comfortable 3min :)
Sunday: N-Duro Summer Cup
Backing up the next day was always going to be a tough ask. However I'd done the recovery thing well. Got all the food in thanks to Balance, and had used the 2XU compression as recommended. It wasn't all serious though as a healthy dose of ice-cream was also diligently put away.
Turning up on Sunday morning it soon became clear this would be no easy day. Rotorua turned on the weather and around 240 keen beans turned up to enjoy the trails and racing. The men's field was only missing 2 or 3 riders that would have made it a NZ Champs worthy field, and it wasn't too different in the womens.
From the gun the womens race turned into a Nic v Annika battle. It was great for both of them as they pushed each other hard. Probing for weaknesses with various attacks. The decisive moment came about 2/3 of the way through when Nic crashed heavily on No-Brains whilst chasing a flying Annika. She got up and got going but had lost contact. She pushed hard to the finish but fell 90sec short of Annika. They were flying however and their battle had pushed them 8min clear of 3rd. Encouraging signs for upcoming races.
And me?
Was pretty determined to stay as near as I could to the front for as long as I could. Suprisingly I felt pretty strong. Turns out the pace was pretty hot and whilst I felt comfortable we'd soon whittled down the field to a select group of 5 (Mike Northcott, Ed Crossling, Dirk Peters, Ash Hough, and myself). The race went to pieces up Lookout Rd. Mr Ed attacked hard and only Mikey and Dirk could respond.
I just held a rythym and by the top passed a now blown looking Ed. Mikey and Dirk were long gone. By the bottom of No-Brains I past a stricken Mikey repairing some damage, and inherited 2nd. Getting a time check of 40sec to Dirk I pushed as hard as I could all the way home but really struggled on the steep punchy climbs. Maybe half ironmans aren't good prep?! In the end it was a very satisifed 2nd.... still 40sec down. Carl Jones was 3rd a few minutes later, trailed in by Mikey. But where was Mr Ed?
Turns out he'd decided to use No-Brains for Human Cannonball practice and after a successful and lengthy flight had decided to use his face to stop himself. It was nasty crash and thankfully Ash was quick on the scene to stop and render assistance. So big thanks from everyone to Ash. And recover fast Ed.
All in all a very successful, and very tiring weekend for me. Looking for a few days of nothing, and probably a few pies I imagine!
Swim start as age-groupers watch the pro's to see how its done. For their sake I hope they weren't watching me
Swim survived. Time to go to work
Holding Aero position... must've seen the camera
A bit over 3km to go and stoked its mostly gravel!
My poor feet. FYI. Wear socks when running 1/2 marathon

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Year catch up

How slack of us. We haven't posted anything up here in a month. Oops. Well, things have been pretty busy. Plenty of training, moved into our new house, family xmas, then down to Nelson for the Tour De Femme.
We had a great Xmas, which was only enhanced with our extra special Xmas goodies packages for our various supporters. Exciting deliveries from 2XU, Nature Valley, Balance, and Smith all ensuring we are well stocked up on food and looking flash for summer. Also there was the small matter of a shiney new Avanti Questa Team roadie for Nic, and some nice Zero Carbon wheels to use also. Pretty damn cool.
Off to Nelson and Nic lined up at the annual Tour de Femme. A great way to build some form and learn some new skills. Not only was it Nic's first roadie tour, but first road race full stop! So it was in the deep end and she quitted herself bloody well. A good climb up Takaka Hill, and plenty of strength shown getting into the front group and doing more than her fair share of work mixing it up. Seemed to improve each day and by the end of 5 stages had grabbed a strong 12th on GC. Ruing a couple of small mistakes that cost her any shot at the top 6 or 7. Next time eh?
Warming up for stage 1 and still smiling
Takaka Hill.... this is actually after the finish. Nic decided she liked it so much she'd warm down by climbing another couple of k's.
Flat TT. Not exactly an MTB'er fortay, but at least we put aero bars on?!
Final stage, lead group sprint. In amongst it.....
....Meanwhile Cabin works on his xmas cake intake
Meanwhile we are back home in Rotorua. Fantastic to be in our own place and amazing how much motivation it gives to actually look after something when you own it eh? I've even mowed the lawns a couple of times already! Taking it easy this week as on Saturday its my turn to leap into the unknown as I give the Tauranga 1/2 ironman a crack (backed up with N-Duro #1 on Sunday). Fitness is good, and with Malvern Star providing me a mint dura-ace equipped carbon roadie and some fast Zero wheels I don't have too many excuses.
Like all good triathletes I relaxed last night with a blast on the MTB and hitting up the step down gap jump on Old Chevy (as did Nic). Life is good.