Thursday, April 29, 2010

World Cup XC Yorkshire...

Apologies for the late update from Sundáy's race, I have been on the move negotiating my way down through England & then from Frankfurt (GER) to Belgium adjusting to the right hand side of the road & that 130kmph is actually quite slow! As most of you are aware, we had planned for Cabin to be accompanying me for these initial stages but Iceland erupted & I am relfing it big time over here...yes Cabin I sure do appreciate you! With Cabin were my race wheels & tyres, so you could say that last week was a little hectic leading into my first race up at Dalby Forest, Yorkshire. It was World Cup XCO #1 and after an encouraging domestic season in NZ I really wanted to hit the ground running & pull off a stellar result.

What would have been a stellar result? To be honest I did not know but thought that the least I would be satisfied would be top-40, and I was 40th. I was aware that coming to race in Europe the field would be deeper than in Quebec last year, but I underestimated the congestion that occurred in the start-loop and that cost me. I had a dismal start as myself & the girl in front failed to clip in and then proceeded to get tangled up in a couple of off-the bike moments in the start-loop. Consequently early on I was fighting just to get back to the start position I had had. The first lap was agitatingly slow as I tried to gain some track position, laps 4& 5 were my best but the finish came too soon. This weekend I need to start on time! Rosara smoked up from the back of the grid to pass me in the first 50m to finish a credible 25th place in her first race back. Nice!
So I will be looking for an improvement when I line up at Houffalize this Sunday. I might be being unreasonable, but I know that Dalby wasn't my best work. It was good to blow out the cobwebs following travel, disruptions & the bit of extra stress that presented, but I will be looking for a more complete performance come Sunday.
For the record Yorkshire was a great place to visit. The quaint wee town of Pickering was the gateway to Dalby Forest, and where I was warmly accomodated by Amanda & Mike Hawtin of Eleven Westgate B&B. They also own the local Big Bear Active Bike shop & operate guided MTB tours of Dalby & the surrounding Moors range - you'd almost think Cabin planned to leave me with the perfect hosts?! They were fantastic to say the least, and I certainly hope that the World Cup round remains in Dalby so I can return! The course was especially spectator friendly with several drops, A/B lines & fast bermed sections. It was great to have plenty of enthusiastic support course side on Sunday - Amanda & the children (Ethan & Emily) + fellow guests Tim & Sue & Ian - truly awesome, thank-you!
Tomorrow I will spend a bit of time on the Houffalize course ahead of Sunday. Hopefully there is a big hill 10m wide at the start! Will keep you posted, it is certainly great to be here... Ciao! nic :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

XTERRA Championship repeat (updated)

Back to back.... MTB form equals good XTERRA form
Crap swim, Great ride, strong run = 2nd = happy
Credit to Monique Avery who put up a real fight to eventually finish 2nd.
Excellent choice of shirt by Super spectator Mike (in background)

Nic's report
I added another wee feather in my cap for the summer successfully defending my XTERRA NZ title at Blue Lake on Saturday. It was a hugely satisfying to have the #1 plate and race to the win off very limited triathlon preparation. It goes to show that as an individual sport mountain biking requires a high level of general body fitness, which, according to Jack Lovelock is key. He reckoned that ‘for any part of the body to function efficiently the whole body must be mentally and physically fit’. Sure, I didn’t have the specialized event fitness, but the foundation was good.

I had been agonizing over whether I race or not for several weeks. I reckoned that as the current champ I was obliged to line up and defend it. However I had made it clear that my focus is purely on XCO mountain biking, and as I leave for a race block in Europe so soon after XTERRA I did not want to detract from my MTB form at such an important time.

Turns out I couldn’t resist. After a brick session and a set of run intervals the weekend prior I knew that I could be competitive. Cabin was awesome, as he manipulated only the last week of training and managed to maintain the physiological objectives of each session for the MTB.

I was quietly excited about the race and the challenge I would have on my hands. I had a simple strategy - survive the swim, smash the MTB (get to the front of the race) and run smart. The swim was it’s usual carnage, and then some. I swallowed a heap of water and kidded to myself that hydration is good. I was pleased to touch the sand and arrive in transition to where my Avanti Competitor was waiting patiently for me. I felt a bit rubbish as I belched and burped my way up the tar-seal and I hoped the swim hadn’t knocked too much wind out of my sails. Soon after hitting the forest my legs came right and I was moving well through the traffic.

Monique Avery was charging at the front and I finally caught her heading up Moerangi Rd. As I went by she hung tough and rode with me for the remainder of the MTB and into transition. 10-metres was the difference leaving transition but I quickly got into my work, got past and made a small gap along the sand. I settled in and concentrated on running efficiently at a pace that I would be able to maintain throughout. I actually enjoyed the run, particularly once I had it under control. Running the last side of the lake and up to finish platform was especially rewarding with a heap of support from spectators. I crossed < 2mins up on Monique and 5mins ahead of 2nd Elite woman Rebecca Rae & Suz Wood of Nelson was 3rd. It was great to have Monique right up there putting the pressure on, she had a good strong race and will no doubt be a strong contender to defend her age-group title at Maui.

Thank-you all for the amazing support; AVANTI, BALANCE NUTRITION, 2XU, NATURE VALLEY, NEW BALANCE, SMITH OPTICS, N-DURO EVENTS. I have enjoyed a busy but successful summer bagging the National & Oceania MTB titles and XTERRA too. Your input has certainly been instrumental, thank-you. I am looking forward to Europe where the challenges only get bigger, but so do the rewards. Will keep you posted. Cheers, nic!
... And Cabin's account
2nd again, and my 4th straight XTERRA NZ podium. I'd be frustrated, except that I put together a strong race, used everything I had on the day, did all I could, and was only beaten by a complete performance by Scott Thorne.
My swim was a little dissapointing. I've been struggling for speed, and felt I was coming right. However I dealt with the carnage of what was a rough swim poorly. Shuffling back through the pack after a great start to eventually emerge 2min45 down on front, and crucially 1min30 behind Scott. I should probably be happy I emerged at all, as the IRB made 3 rescues for a broken arm, concussion, and broken collarbone respectively!
Onto the bike and I really was charging. Despite a few slight delays in trying to pass slower riders who refused to give room (why? I never understand. Why wouldn't you let the faster rider go and follow? You might learn something.), I got through the field pretty quick. Legs were great and I pushed hard. So much so that I decided to have a wee lie down on the road at the top of chesnut link for a rest. Not too much damage down and I emerged off the bike just 30sec down on Scott.
We later realised how hard we'd gone when we saw splits. I had the fastest split at 1:14. Other than Scott (@ 1:14:55) and 1:16 something from Junior MTB star Sam Shaw, the next fastest split barely broke 1:20!
With Scott in my sights I set off hard on the run, cutting the lead to 15sec after 1km. I then realised it was a bit too hard and immediately started to crumble as cramp set in. Scott was strong and increased his lead to 1min with one 5.5km lap to run. Focussing on efficient technique I pushed as hard as I could throughout the closing kilometres, but it was all I could do to hold the gap. Crossing the line 2nd, and just 59sec down.
Scott deserved it. He worked hard, and the only downer was Richard Usshers absence. Scott put such a complete race together I suspect he could have beaten pretty much anyone on Saturday. Between us I think we proved this really is an event that requires special skills, strength and determination. No longer can a strong road triathlete expect to turn up and lead the way. If anything, it proves just how good Hamish Carter was as an athlete.
Next up for me? rest, ice cream, and I'd better go looking for a Dirtbike.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The 29er's keep getting faster

Some eye candy for 29er fans out there. May I present the latest edition to the Cabin Racing stable. I've been through a few iterations of 29ers now, and quite honestly they keep getting better. Pictured ready to go for XTERRA this weekend its weighing in (as pictured with pedals and tube taped to the seatpost) at a massive.... 9.1kg!

No its not skittery and sketchy to ride. Its actually one of the best descending XC bikes I've had the pleasure of riding. Might be the lefty? Might be the geometry? Either way it rides sweet. Even kept pace ok with his royal radness Ross Schnell on his remedy (maybe he was just being nice?).

For standard spec you can have a look here But I have made a few mods. Threw on an FSA carbon crankset (27/40) and a XX fr derailleur (modified with an angle grinder to accomodate the rings). Switched to grip shift. Put my Stans Race 29er rear wheel in. 12-26 road cassette (closer ratios), and istalled some favourite Bontrager tyres. Good to go. Its quick.... I just hope my legs/lungs can do it justice.