Monday, February 28, 2011

Nationals done. Whats next?

Am home from Dunedin after what can only be described as a successful mission to the 2011 NZ MTB Championships. After a 4 year absence from the Elite startline, I returned with a strong 4th across the line behind Carl Jones, Dirk Peters (U23), and constant constant nemisis... Mike Northcott.

In reflection its an odd feeling. I'm neither really excited, nor dissapointed. Just content. Sure I had a disrupted build up, sure I messed up the start and had to come from a long way back, sure a slightly higher result might have been possible. But I'm not dissapointed.

Someone asked soon after the finish if it had re-ignited the fire to compete in Elite XCO. I just smiled, and said no. I was satisfied. I looked at the elation clear in Carl, and the dissapoinment in Dirk. It had been a changing of the guard, and the up and comers had dominated. They had been willing to put everything on the line. I realised that that absolute burning desire was missing. Unlike Carl, I was more than happy to eat ice cream in my build up.

Don't get me wrong. This is not a retirement notice. I am proud of my race. There are more goals and events to conquer. And I love proving to myself what I am capable of. It's just that there are now many other things I find equally motivating and exciting. The fact that on the way to the airport I purchased a KTM SX 125 should probably have hinted at that!

The race itself was awesome. Over the years Dunedin has always been a favourite track. I actually first raced here for the first time in a National way back in 1999.Pretty sure Anton Cooper (16yr old freak and NZ's fastest rider right now) had't started school then. Man I've been around a while. It's steadily improved over the years and even the wet/mud that greated us just adds to the challenges and technical aspects.

After a poor start I hit the first climb in about 15th and 20 sec down. By the top I was 6th, and by the end of the lap 5th, that would soon become 4th. With Mikey in my sights we commenced a tense "stand off" with him just 20sec or so out in front dangling there all race. It made for an intriging battle as our differing strengths saw the gap see-saw constantly throughout the lap, but hardly change at the end of each lap all race long. Unfortunately for us whilst we pushed each other; Carl and Dirk were long gone.

One lap to call and Hisky's vocal support urged me to lock myself in the pain cave. Funnily enough it didn't seem that exciting. At my age I've got a decent income finally, and to be honest I'd rather stay at the Comfort Inn. Famed Kiwi commentator Mark Watson would suggest this is a time one should visit a "very dark place". Again, that matured voice in my head suggests I can afford electricity, so stay in the light....

I did manage another 20min visit to the Pain Cave throughout that last lap. However I found Carl, Dirk, and Mikey were all checked in also, so positions remained the same. Carl a dominant 2min win. The other 3 of us crossed within 40 odd seconds of one another. That'll do, I'm happy. 4th on a training diet averaging 9hrs a week for last 3 months (split between swim, bike , run), and a build up of triathlons, road, and even BMX... and it seems I'm as fast as ever. That'll do me fine. Bring on Karapoti.

Weekend highlights...

* Witnessing the young riders "take over" from the old guard, and still be fast enough to be on track and close enough to watch it happen
* My traditional Dunedin Pre-Race Chocolate Crossiant & Coffee (from Crusty Corner)
* Post race feed, beers, and general crap talking at the Ra Bar
* Sunday morning run up signal hill, then down the DH course
* Busting out my digging skills with a big stick to help shape up the Short Track
* Catching up with so many friends both old and new
* Going home. With both Nic, and a KTM 125 awaiting

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Nationals.... already?

Am just about to head off to the airport to hop a plane to Dunedin. National MTB Champs on Saturday. Am I ready? Don't know! After Napier 6 weeks seemed ages away. But the time has flown by.

To be honest, it feels a bit strange. The tragic events in Christchurch kind of put things in perspective, and heading off to race my MTB seems a bit frivolous and unimportant really. Thoughts are with those in and around CHCH. Kia Kaha.

Do I have any form? Maybe. I was sick after Kinloch and had a whole week off. A trip to Hamilton for Nitro Circus show was pretty awesome, and helped get me amped up for the week that followed. Got some key sessions in, raced my BMX (even won a moto), and then having missed a scheduled MTB race with illness(Black Stump), made a last minute decision to jump in the Elite Race of the Rev 120 Road race to get a long hard session in. Good to be back on the road, and it was actually over 2 1/2 years since I'd last done a road race (a few 20min club crits aside).

Pace was pretty hot with many of the hitters in attendance. 2 x Pure Black boys off the front for 70km, and 4 x Subway trying to chase meant to pace was high on the relentess Rev 120 course on which only the last 15km is flat. My positioning was average at times and the road boys really put the hurt on me. I stayed cosy in the front group till about 105km when the lights went out... sadly the Rev is 120km.

I doddled the last 15km solo at about 25km/hr and cruised in around 30 something'th. Even if the result didn't come off the objective of a hard session was certainly acheived. I then proceeded to smash myself on Sunday on MTB to finish myself off. Both physiologically, and physically when I decided to introduce my head to the ground at high speed. So been a bit sore this week. Hopefully it comes to fuition on Saturday... and again the following week at Karapoti.

Spot the MTB'er. Hanging out to the far right at about the 75km mark while the subway boys and GMC chase the Pure Black boys up the road. Felt pretty good at that didn't last.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

.... the alternative MTB Nats build-up continued.....

My noble stead for the days "training" effort. Wasn't too shabby. Carried me to the fastest bike split of the event.... (although thats unofficial as the bloody transponder ankle fitting was too loose for my pinner wee ankles and keep sliding off. They are lucky its not on the bottom of Lake Taupo. I had to stuff it in my shorts leg.... consequently it didn't read)

And that bike split helped me to winning this.... the new NZ 30+ Sprint Triathlon National Champion.

So clearly I didn't line up at today's N-Duro. In my alternative MTB Nationals buildup I figured 1hr on the rivet at the 2011 National Sprint Tri champs at Kinloch was a better workout. It was actually going to be harder... I was going to race with the elite boys. Somewhat idiotic as I would've been over 2mins down after the swim, but I had thought the embarrassment of being so far back would make it an even harder/better trainiing day. TriNZ bent over backwards to bend the rules to let me in... 2XU was awesome trying to organise me an ITU compliant race suit at last minute... but courier post wasn't so awesome. No suit meant no race.

So age group it was. I was feeling pretty average with a head cold and a hard weeks intervals in the legs, so it was probably a good thing I was in agegroup. An average swim saw me 2min15 down starting the bike in about 65th or so. I felt below par on the bike, but smacked it as hard as I could. I very hilly 20km knocked out in 32min (fastest split), and I got off the bike 5th overall. Couldn't get really humming on the run but still did about 3rd quickest run. Was catching front but ran out of real estate. 4th overall, just 5sec off 2nd.

So a good solid hitout. Can't wait to get onto the MTB for some quality intervals tommorrow. Nic.... continuing to seek answers and vent frustration for her stalled training headed back to the farm and went deer stalking. Got two apparently so successful weekend allround. Can't wait for the venison. We are gonna need a bigger freezer!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The alternative Nationals build up....

So as January has passed us by my preparations for the years big races continues in earnest. I'm trying a few different things than in previous attempts at elite MTB XC nationals (way back in 2007 being the last for me)trying to really develop that high intensity race fitness. Sunday's Blue Lake Tri was a good option.

Always on the radar for me, and despite Lance obviously getting wind of my attendance and subsequently pulling out.... a very large and strong field fronted up. Lance's intended presence saw a large number of Junior hotshots (who can actually swim) on the line to make it a really tough day. However it's a good hilly course so always a great challenge and test of my training.

My only distraction was the arrival of the toy pictured below which neccesitated 3hr of testing (along with Mikey and Nic) to all the highest points of the forest in search of the best trails. It was a successful mission. Anyway...the tri...

Actually swam pretty decent and only gave up a tad over 2min to the front of the race, in 47th out of the water. Onto the bike after a pretty lame transition, and I smashed out a half decent bike ride. Hammering the hills, but struggling a bit on the flatter sections with no one to work with (it was draft legal). Caught Cam Durno late on the ride so had company for the run. We hammered out a pretty fast lap of Blue Lake and ended in a sprint. I got the nod for 4th in open men, but only because he dipped for the line, while I kicked my leg out (the transponder was on my ankle). Cunning.

Unfortunately there were 7 U20 Junior whippets ahead of us. So it was only good enough for 11th overall. Bugger. Positive news is we ran at the same speed Rich Ussher did when he won XTERRA. Bad news is he did 2 laps, we did one. Ah well. I know what it feels like now and I still have 9 weeks. Until I can swim like the triathlete fish I'll never have a hope in draft legal triathlon. Which is what makes this training plan all the more interesting. Stay posted....

And an update on Nic. Many of you may have noticed the absence of news from Nic in the last month. Never fear. She is ok. However she has been struggling with some mystery health issues that have limited her ability to train to the level she knows she has capable. Which is exceptionally frustrating, as she super motivated, and is better than ever technically at the moment. Simply loving the MTB. But such is the nature of high performance sport we are having to take a big picture view and ease our way through things. So thanks for the support and concern everyone. She will be back!