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

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