Saturday, November 24, 2012

Radio Sport interview

Bit of a radio interview on Radiosport on Friday. Was quite fun really. Pretty cool to do a live national radio show, hoefully didn't waffle too much! If you want a listen click on the links below. Its kinda long, and the links are generic to 15min blocks on the station, so in three parts

Part one... starts about a minute in.

Part two... maybe fast forward the section fom 8min - 12:30 (theres some golf news at that point).

Thursday, November 22, 2012

On the telly....

Current TV spot. Prime and Sky Sport apparently

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lake Waikaremoana Challenge

Just back from a very cool weekend camped out on the rugby fields of Tuai, inland from Wairoa. Gateway to Lake Waikaremoana and some spectacular examples of the wild NZ back country landscapes that make our little corner of the world so special.
As nice of a getaway as it was, there was a purpose to the trip, as we towed the line at the reformed Lake Waikaremoana Challenge. A spectacular, and very testing 2 day multisport race attracting some of NZ's best talent. We were there to take on the teams category, full of assorted legends and Olympions; and partnered up with Nick Hirschfeld, and Andrew Newick. We enjoyed some fierce competition balanced with the great camraderie and spirit that these events generate.
In the final washup we finished second to "Busch roofing." A team comprising argueably NZ's best open water paddler Dan Busch,  and the amazing pig hunting/beard growing/dairy farming/mtn running phenomenon that is Sjors Corporaal. Unfortunately for us their "weak" link was anything but, as Karen Hanlen proceeded to outride the majority of male competitors on the MTB legs. Cycle Obsession was a close 3rd (Raewyn Morrison, Mike Walker, and Phil Costley). Highlights of the weekend? Too many to list, but they included...
  • Managing to smash Stage 1, breaking away from the start, and evidently getting Dougal worried that I might be racing individually (best compliment of the weekend).
  • An epic and very loose pursuit of Karen on the stage 4 MTB leg - 6km of gravel and steep rutted 4WD with 370m of elevation loss. High adrenaline knocked it out in a white knuckle 10min.
  • Seeing Nick H pull out some fantastic run legs. Can't wait to see what he does at Kepler.
  • Nic smashing the first MTB for us on day 2 and continuing on to easily win the one-day multisport race.
  • Semi-sleepless nights waiting for our tents to collapse in the wind
  • Sam Clarks spectacularly entusiastic support crewing. Including beating his athletes out of transition, and full frontal bear hugs of incoming paddlers. Quite the spectacle.
  • The evening entertainment featuring great kai, an Opera Singing MC, local kapa haka group, and a rather fearsome Haka on the final night. Certainly memorable.

Click here for results and the events facebook page for plenty of cool pics

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Garage Sale - need some bling wheels?

Due to Nic changing wheel sizes, we have some bling wheelsets that need new homes. If keen flick Nic an e-mail to discuss

The ultimate 26" XC wheelset. ENVE Carbon XC rims, laced to DT240 centrelock hubs, with DT bladed spokes. Super stiff, uber light, super strong. Were new in February this year. Minimal use. Excellent condition

There's a CRF150F moto too come to think of it. Make Nic an offer on that as well. Doesn't get ridden since the SX85 turned up

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Running out the frustration

 Just home from another great from Ra and his team at N-Duro - the 2012 Tikitapu Trail Runs. A variety of running events on some of the awesome trails we are priviliged to have on our doorstep. The feature race being the rather aptly named "adventure run". According to my Magellan ~19km and around 700m vert. But the kicker? 3 long sections of completely off trail scrambling through the undergrowth. Hugely fun and not something you'd normally do. So while it might have been just 6 days after Maui, but I had a bit of frustration to work out of the system!

Pleasingly I discovered my race legs that had been missing in action a few days again came back. Turns out they were waiting at home all the time! Was pushed pretty solidly early on by Dennis, and it was only here (around 3.5km - mainly uphill - in) that the elastic started to stretch. I attacked the next downhill and was soon solo.

I managed to keep running strong and stretched out a comfortable winning margin. The most pleasing aspect? I won this race back in 2010 in approx 1hr24 and that day ran the infamous Tuhoto Singletrack segment in just shy of 24min. Today, on a course with significantly more bush bashing, I clocked in at 1hr19, and ran Tuhoto in just a shade under 21min. Pretty happy with that.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

XTERRA Worlds 2012 - Dealing with the unexpected

As I type this 3 days after XTERRA worlds, and a 29th place finish in a very deep and high quality field of pros; I continue to feel the one emotion I didn't want to be reflecting on.... The frustrating feeling of "what if." It is the only thing I didn't want.
 I didn't race terribly. But unfortuantely on race day, the power just wasn't there. No excuses. It just didn't happen. After feeling awesome in preparation and having to hold myself back in course reccie, on race day I just felt empty. On the flip side I am proud I was able to keep my head in the game and continue to push to the end. Giving the best I had on the day, and continuing to move forward throughout the run.
 As an athlete it is not really the result that matters, but the performance. The world championships is a brutal test, and an amazing opportunity to test one self against some of the finest athletes on the planet. I didn't happen, and if anything it probably just fires the motivation to do more. Specifically I want to give a huge thanks to Magellan, VO2max, RATS, and Iconic Adventures for their generous assistance in making it possible. And I look forward to many more adventures to come.

When XTERRA say they have a rough water swim, they weren't joking. This is Saturday pre-race and the waves are breaking on the beach. I successfully body surfed a few in.... but after being unceremoniously dumped onto the beach and filling my suit with sand, I figured I'd try to avoid the wave come race day!
Some pre-ride action and you can see it was some very dry and dusty conditions we had to deal with. While not overly technical, the new bike course certainly has enough to catch up those less skilled, and enough physical demands to break you.
Magellan tells you a lot of very useful information. Some you perhaps don't want to know. Such as an average temperature on morning pre-ride of 32 degrees....
Saturday night, 11pm, and we are sitting in a carpark. Not the plan. But after an earthquake in Canada, Hawaii went on Tsunami alert and we were evacuated from our accomodation at 9pm. We loading up the rental car with gear and bikes and headed for higher ground. A bizzare and surreal experience and not the ideal race prep as we finally got to bed at 2am ahead of our 9am start. Olly still managed to win an age-group world title and beat me home so won't be using this as an excuse!
Race morning and the swim was pretty rough. I was prepared for a duathlon, so post tsunami it was almost a surprise we swam. Some unsettled water movements made for a very testing swim which really showed the strongest swimmers. Case in point Javier Gomez who made the other pro's look like rookies coming out in 19min while no one else broke 20 (including numerous ITU pro's). Phenomenal.

 Midpoint of the swim and I emerge amongst a few pro women and some faster age-groupers having already caught us. Not quite going to plan, but then again it wasn't a normal day!

Early in the bike, digging deep, and hoping that my "race legs" will re-appear any moment soon!

Last 500m and in typical XTERRA style they throw a deep sand beach at you. Kahuna, Janet and the rest of Team Unlimited could be accused of many things..... but making it easy isn't one of them. Theres a reason the medal you are given at the finish line reads "survivor"

Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 4 & dodging champagne...

Another 'choice as' day in WA!

We all made it to Cape Naturaliste today - dusty, tired and the legs well and truly toasted. I had a good ride crossing the line in 5th and securing 3rd place overall. Congratulations to Jenny Fay & Jodie Willet on their fine performances - taking out 1-2 on the stage and overall.

Today's stage was always going to be a tough one for me as it is a fast and furious 67km of mostly fireroad, rail trail and bitumen. I am no roadie, so the plan was to ride smart and strong. Right from the start the pace was on as the boys at the front had a real race on their hands. Lachie Norris was holding a 34 second lead over Andy Blair, and the others were fighting it out for pride and place on GC.

The front of the race.

I tried to hang tough with the main group early on but didn't have the power to hold on. Pretty quickly my legs were protesting. Keeping in mind I had 2.5hrs of this ahead of me I reluctantly slid off the back of a couple of trains and found a happier pace. Working hard all the way I ticked off the km's and beamed a smile when I got to the last 5km called Brown Street. This is a sweet little network of trails in Dunsborough.
The 'pea gravel' surface is sketchy as and definately sent a few weary riders down in a heap. I was enjoying the A lines and turns that much I didn't really want to finish the race!

However all good things must come to an end and, it was a great way to finish a great race.

Just as enjoyable as the race is the post-race debrief hanging out chatting to the many riders from all places, particularly the ones you spent time with throughout the race grovelling on their back wheel or chasing down a single track. One special mention has to be for fellow kiwi Basil who at 70years old finished the race in great time and was looking fresh as a daisy after the race when I caught up with him - legend!

Then we had presentations with champagne! Check out the sequence from event photographer Travis Deane...

Jenny blasts Jodie


And I even stayed pretty dry! Will post some riding photos soon too.

I think everyone who rode will agree this years race has been an absolute blast. An enormous thank-you and full credit to all event staff, volunteers and organisers. It has been a wonderful 4-days, cheers everyone! See you next year. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Margaret River 'Special Stage' 3...

Todays stage is suitably named the special stage as it offers up everything great about the Margaret River township... not just beer & wine but in particular the 20km of single track the local club MRORCA have crafted in 'The Pines' - it was sweet!

I was stoked to get off the pea gravel and hit some dirt berms... so happy that I pedaled to 2nd place on todays stage! Jodie Willet & I had a good ride with one another, she was determined not to give up any time but I managed to claim 2nd to remain in 3rd place overall.  Jenny Fay was off the front in a league of her own as she claimed her third stage win in a row.

Everyone was content to finish the stage at the Colonial Brewery - the lawn was full of  dusty bikes and tired bodies.

We are off to a function at the Brewery this evening and I think a wee sampling wouldn't go amiss. After all, on the toilet door I learned that Benjamin Franklin reckoned: "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy". I think I laughed out loud!

Today my top speed was 62.3km/hr - no lies, my fancy Magellan Switch told me so!
It also said the max temperature was 27degrees and that I burned 1200 calories... I definately think I need a beer.

Will put up some photos and video link as soon as I have it. Final 67km stage to Cape Naturaliste tomorrow. Looking forward to it!

The Placebo effect...Day 2

Another mint day here in WA - tan lines are coming along great - or is it dust? Either way today was another tough but enjoyable stage. 64km all up and again everyone was suitably buggered but beaming a smile at the stage finish at Xanadu Winery this afternoon.

I had a good day moving into 3rd place - stoked! I started out conservatively, but found my legs and enjoyed rocketing along the fire road and smooth meandering descents on my big (for me) wheels. 650B might be 'pretend 29er' but I reckon it combines the best of both. The bike remains stiff & nimble in the single trail/tight stuff, and I can still accelerate when I need to. But, it also has the benefits of the bigger wheel with regard to rolling resistance and momentum. Placebo or is the goods for me! There are a heck of alot of 29ers here too. I reckon if you got a puncture and needed a 26" tube you could almost be out of luck! 

I have got back from the Redbull Sundown Shootout. This is a smashfest in 'The Pines'  where the top 10 women and top 20 men race a 2-3minute race track...for $500 cash and time credits. I got 2nd by 1-second! Bec Henderson won, good on her. It was a great course with some neat doubles, table tops, fast berms amongst a hard out 1min climb in the middle of it just to burn up the legs and lungs some more. I think I might have earned all helps.

Other stage musings...
  • One dude got cleaned out by a kangaroo! It got spooked and jumped out totally taking out his front wheel and sending him into the dirt. Unlucky but also could have been much worse. (Remember the footage of the caribou/deer that cleaned out that rider in South Africa?)
  • Meanwhile the guys up front were unsure what to do when an emu jumped out and proceeded to run down the single track in front of them. Fun times.
  • I overshot 3-corners because my 650B wheels were rolling so quick I ran out of time to I got tangled in some barbed wire which opened up my shoe pretty good (stopped me in my tracks) and cut my big toe - oops!
  • OK so perhaps bike handling on the 650 might need some work.
Tomorrow we go from Xanadu Winery to the Colonial Brewery (54km)...with over 25km of single track on the menu...does it get much better? Only if legs were fresh - they are definately feeling a wee bit tired climbing up the stairs this evening.

I will post a link to a video created by Chris and Mick from Flow MTB (Australia) that captures Day 2 nicely and I feature in an interview. Check back soon...thanks for reading! 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Cape to Cape MTB Day 1

Quick update from Nic in Western Australia...

Made it to Perth Tues & then south to Margaret River Wed...stage one kicked off the race today! It is awesome to be back here, the  region really is an amazing place. Today we raced from Cape Leeuwin - the south-west corner of WA north to picturesque Hamelin Bay. It was a neat sight to see 1100 riders lined up at the Lighthouse ready to tackle the first 41km of the 225km ahead of us.

The stage sounds quite short at 41km but heck, everyone's first comment was 'that was hard!'. There is a bit  of elevation (1000m) but it is the energy sapping sand that makes riding the undulating sections tough. Riding downhill is bloody good fun as the sand makes traction and steering a little unpredictable. Braking is not desirable as you do not want to scrub the speed you worked so hard to achieve!

I finished 5th elite women. I am 3min off 3rd so will be working hard to try and pull that back in the next 3-days. I am happy enough with today's outing -I felt good throughout, and finished off strong. Will see what the legs wake up like tomorrow!

Postcard stuff, stage finish at Hamelin Bay today.

Day 1 done..& dusted

Pretty nice huh?!

A stingray joined a few of us for a swim!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Long time between updates, but we've been pretty hectic. Nic somehow manages to juggle seemingly endless work days with swim/bike/run/paddle sessions. I meanwhile have had head down bum up and managed to piece together the most complete 7-8 weeks training in a LONG time. Injury free even!

It can be pretty draining with the end goals such big ones, but with our respective international trips just a week away (me - XTERRA Worlds, and Nic - Cape2Cape + Anaconda Adventure Race) things are tracking along ok.

Last big hit out was last weeks Motu Challenge. We raced as a mixed team, but there was no competitive strategy behind our day. I simply wanted the long MTB +Run hitout under my belt, and that left the final legs (Road Cycle and Paddle/Bike/Run) for Nic. Which wouldn't have been so bad, except for the fact that some epic weather hit and Nic was left with by far the most brutal stages (and consequently 3/5 of the race time wise). While it wasn't that plesant for my legs, by the time we sent Nic away it was torrential rain and massive gusting winds that had people getting off their bikes in places and holding them down. Some even walking descents.

Pretty gnarly day, but Nic coped pretty bloody well, and bought us home 7th overall after I put together a bike/run combo that left me pretty positive ahead of Maui. Big congrats to the bushman Sam Clark on a rather memorable breakthrough win in the individual. Well deserved that man. He teams up with me tommorrow as we split the MAgellan Whaka 100 MTB as a team in my last hitout before I fly to Maui. Should be good.

Early on in the MTB was a relatively relaxed affair. Guys on CX bikes smashing it off the front, whilst I sat in the comfort of the bunch and watched the "Jones watching Jones" show, and waited to follow their inevitable attacks
Insert appropriate Mark Watson comment about "going to a dark place..." 1400m+ climbing will do that to you.
Finishing off a run I was pretty happy with. Flying first 12km, struggled with the last 5. Not so bad as XTERRA is only 10. The end of the run highlighted how bad thewind had got as I narrowly avoided running straight into the side of the bridge behind me, such was the force of the gusts.
Feeling a bit guilty as we send Nic off into the unknown! Well, not totally unknown. We knew there was torential rain, a rapidly rising river, gale force headwinds, and 27km to paddle... hence the guilt.
And the unknown was somewhat as expected... brutal. Wave trains heading back up river, demonstrated here as Nic tests the submarine properties of her sprinter.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Today we lost a legend. You were, and will always remain, an inspiration to so many us. A constant reminder to make the most of lifes opportunities. The living definition of "Braaap". Ride on brother.

RIP James Dodds

September already?

Man, where does time go? September already. The positive about that (aside from the warmer weather) is that it brings us inside the magic "8-weeks-till-D-day" that I seem to require to train effectively and with suitable motivation.

For me, XTERRA Worlds on OCt 28th looms large. And for Nic, the Cape to Cape MTB + Anaconda Adventure race finale double in Western Australia. August... I was struggling. Self inflicted ijuries (crashes) + sickness, work, and winter weather meant motivation was low. XTERRA seemed a long long way away and enthusiasm waned. But we've hit the 8 week window which brings a sense of urgency and realism about the whole deal, and mentally it is almost as if I am able to flip a switch. So it's on. Plenty of quality sessions to come.

Whats been happening since the last update?

We lined up for the final race of the RATS off-road winter duathlon series. A great hit out, and when your club boasts the Single Speed MTB World Champ, age-group triathlon medalists (at worlds), and national elite MTB reps you can always be assured a solid hit out. Here Garth pushes the pace on the first run whilst Oli Shaw has already put 30sec into us. Ended up having a great tussle with Oli before he slipped away in the last 500m to win by 3 sec. Nic crushed the womens race and beat most of the men aswell.

One week later and it was the final of the N-Duro winter series. Both Nic and I led our respective series. Nic the feature 45km length. Me in the 30km. However my bluff was called with my new shadow Oli Shaw lining up with me in the 30km. Wasn't going to be easy, so I called in Lee for a startline lead out... Nice kit Lee!

Nic meanwhile was hammering off the front of the 45km. Enjoying one of her better rides in a while, putting a dominant 10min into 2nd place. The 30km starting 30min later and sharing chunks of the course I was amused at the scene when we passed Nic. Long gradual uphill slog into the wind. Group of 5 guys sitting on drafting the strongest at the front which when we got there... was Nic. All seemed happy for her to do the work. Not much chivalry in MTB racing it would seem?! :)

Oli meanwhile stuck to me like glue. We both rode harder than we can remember in a while on the long climbs. I had him on the ropes a few times but his determination bought him back. Ended up in a sprint which I wasn't going to give up after last weeks run battle! Got it by a metre. We then called a truce and headed off for a very hilly 11km trail run to add to the suffering... um, I mean XTERRA training.

Nic and I cemented our respective King and Queen of the series titles. As did Janine Kavanagh in the 30km who enjoyed the added advantage of Avanti speed from race one (having used my 29er). Carl Jones (on the right of Pic) wrapped up the 45km and fulfilled evil course designer role to perfection.

It is a Rotorua based series afterall, so check out these mean series prizes. Hoodies all the way. Huge thanks and congrats to Ra Bana on his first series as N-Duro's new owner. Spectacular success, and plenty of great touches to keep the participants happy. They'll all be back I am sure. Thanks also to the guys at Magellan for hooking us up with some fanastic GPS training watches (the switch-up). Check the link at right of blog.

Will provides hours of fascination and fun. Mum didn't call me "the Count" as a child for nothing!

And a final note. Rotorua Hospital just dropped me off a CD of my X-Rays from last November's mishap. The hardware in there is fascinating to me. Plenty of Ti in there to satisfy the most discerning bike bling fans.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Back on the horse - Winter N-Duro #1

High time we got back into some MTB racing, so having the first round of the winter N-Duro series on our doorstep was as good of an excuse as any. We are both pretty early in our attempts to re-build the training bases, having had a good break since 3D. However we have found over the years that races are a great way to give you a kick in the pants and often re-invigorate the motivation.

Feeling my ribs following a moto crash last week, I was a wee bit soft and took the mid course option. Only 30 something km but with over 1000m climbing it wasn't the easiest ride. I took the win (as I probably should have), but importantly it allowed me to just ride a solid tempo on my own and not smash myself too much.

Nic on the other hand "manned up" and raced the long course. Was riding pretty strongly, but unfortunately was hampered a bit by a recurrance of some vision "challenges". Rolled through the 2nd half of the ride for a strong finish while Olympian bound Karen Hanlen dissapeared to threaten the top 10 boys. Great to see a good turnout, and huge congrats to new event owner Ra who put on all sorts of cool touches. Lollies, Cupcakes, and hot soup provided at the finish. Mean Maori Mean. Can't wait for the next one.

On a sidenote I was really disappointed when I heard of enquiries directed towards the winner of one of the event. Long story short, but some felt the winning rider must have cheated, and the allegations were based on complainants having never heard of them (the winner). To me that was really disappointing news. Purely because it showed a real lack of respect, and even a hint of arrogance to follow that line of thinking. What happened to sportsmanship?

As athletes at any level we don’t have to be friends with everyone we line up against. Hell, we don’t even need to like everyone. But our sport (and any sport) is based on a mutual respect and appreciation of others efforts. The success of our sport depends on this. As a sponsor I would demand no less from my athletes. So no matter whom you are – athlete, friend, parent, sponsor, or random sideline supporter.... think long and hard about anything you may say. Trust the efforts you put in yourself, and above all respect those of others.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Change of season

With XTERRA and 3D now successfully completed, its time for a bit of downtime. As much of a mental break as a physical one; which means its playtime. The moto's are back in action and great fun was had yesterday at the Rotorua MX club fun day. Awesome group of current and ex national level MTB'ers pretty much filled up the novice class. Was good times. Nic is getting better and better (which obviously means faster). Nemo (her SX85) is now the "flying fish" as she started jumping one of the bigger tabletops most of the boys are yet to clear. Can't wait to see how that form transfers to the MTB.

The video below from Jeff McDowells point of view shows a wee bit of the race action from Novice (or translated... full of XC mountaibikers....) class. My bike is currently out of action, but big thanks to Paul Bishop for letting me jump on his bike for the last race of the day. I am not a very good spectator. Take note at about 1:20 on the vid (and slow mo's at the end), where I proceed to demonstrate why jumping straight into a race situation on an unfamiliar bike without practice laps and immediately trying to pin it is perhaps not the smartest move. I did save it. Just. Roll on next weekend.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Nic 2nd at Australasian Multisport Champs!

Awesome race over the weekend as Nic pushed the legend that is Elina Ussher to dig incredibly deep to defend her title at the Australasian Multisport Champs (the awesome "Expand-a-sign 3D Rotorua" event). 2nd place for Nic in what was fiercely contested battle.

The mixture of relief/pleasure/exhaustion showing on Nic's face as she crossed the line kind of says it all. She'd taken the race to Elina, dug very deep, and forced her to break her own race record by 8min to secure a narrow win. Nic's race stragety was developed around a solid kayak, smashing the MTB, and trying to hold strong on the run. She executed well, overcoming a 5min deficeit out of the boat to lead onto the run. Her MTB leg wasn't without incident, but she still managed to build a 1min lead onto the run.

The only nagging doubt was how the run endurance would be. Struggling to overcome her torn calf from XTERRA there was only a handful of short easy runs in "training"in the last 6 weeks. Pushing hard, she still held 40sec 1/2 way through what is a brutal trail run. However Elina's class and endurance showed through, sneaking the win with a strong finish. Supurb efforts from both (and Austalalian Deanna Blegg in 3rd) to put on such an exciting race.

I was on the startline too, but my severe lack of paddling experience/skill/strength meant I was never a contender. Huge thanks to Bevan Spratt for the lend of his boat, goiving me confidence I could at least stay upright. Pre-race my goal was at least top 10, and if I had a stellar Bike/Run day top 5. Out of the boat I had given up 13min to the front, but between 10-12 to those that were top 5 contenders. I was having a great MTB leg, but had to back off a touch in the last 20min as I was very close to cracking myself (think the paddling has a much more serious effect on bike/run than swimming does!). Onto the run I was 8th and 7min out of the top 5. I dug deep, and slashed lots of time, but couldn't get there. 4th fastest run, good enough for 8th overall, 2min off the podium. Pretty happy with that.

Huge thanks to everyone supporting us out there on the course and throughout the forest. Great to have our parents there (and my sister) and heaps of local support. Really appreciated so thank you to all. Fun evening afterwards, then yesterday spent at the motorcross track to finish the weekend. Not sure that counts as physical recovery (feeling very 2nd hand today), but certainly great fun!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Black Dirt Racing Kit available

Special offer for all our friends and supporters. When we had our Black Dirt clothing designed, we made sure there was a bit of extra gear ordered and produced so that we could make it available to those that wanted some. Therefore its about time we offered it to everyone?!

All the gear is 2XU custom, and is the "Elite" level stuff. So very high quality and comfort. Limited stock in everything, so if keen flick us an e-mail to check what we have. Both the cycling tops, and bib shorts are in both mens and womens specific fit. The Tri gear is Men's cut, and the Vest's Unisex.

$100 for tri items, vests, or shirts. The Bibs are $170. e-mail

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Nugget

Feeling like my form was just building leading into XTERRA I thought it would be a shame to waste it. Which is why I found myself here on the beautiful northern end of Waihi Beach at 8am on Saturday morning for the start of the Half Nugget; a challenging off-road duathlon. It was in fact the "soft" option, as the little brother of the Nugget Multisport event that headlines the day. We would skip the Road Cycle, and Paddle, and instead join the course at the beginning of the stunning (yet exceedingly testing) 10km coastal run. I'd enjoyed a very relaxing week of just 1 x 25min run and a solid catch-up on my junkfood intake. Primed for the day with a great friday night enjoying Super-X on ESPN whilst eating some beautiful fresh fish'n'chips. Consequently I was very relaxed and raring to go (Although not quite as excited as one gentlemen who decided to start 30min early with the half marathoners!)
Was pretty stoked to find myself taking the lead fairly early on the run, feeling strong, and able to dictate the pace. Translation: not smash it! Enjoy the views, run steady, and surge if anyone got too close. As such I enjoyed almost a 2min lead onto the bike. All under control. Blisfully unaware that the guy chasing had actually been 11th overall at XTERRA last week and was actually quite fast. Luckily I have in my possession argueably one of the sweetest bike set-ups in the country for this sort of event, so despite my cruisy attitude I continued to roll away. Highlight of the varied MTB course was a few sections of singletrack constructed by the mining companies for the event. I love that. When an event mobilises a community and creates a lasting legacy for that community rather than just pop in and use the existing resources. Towards the end of the bike I realised that I could probably break the 2hr mark (which was a quiet goal prior) so I got my arse into gear. Uniquely the event ends with a rather spectacular 2.5km run around the top of Martha Mine, a huge open cast Gold mine. Pretty special place to finish and I think I took the organisers by surprise when I emerged amongst the fun runners to cross the line in 1hr56 something. Pretty happy with that. I cycle back out to the beach (where I'd left the car at the start), a swim and body surf in the waves, plus a well derseved ice-cream proved to be a very cool way to end the morning. Unfortunately I couldn't stick around for prizegiving as a stand up comedy show back home in Rotorua awaited... and then a loooooooooooooong awaited return to playing on the KTM on Sunday. I'm back!

Monday, April 16, 2012

XTERRA 2012 Video

And for those of you who couldn't be there, here's what you missed. Tri coverage starts about 1/2 way through, and some good coverage of the great trails we get to race on. All you international friends of ours.... get here next year. April 13th 2013. Gotta be better than the moonscape of XTERRA Las Vegas?

XTERRA 2012 - "wooden" medals ain't that bad

At international sports meets they often talk of the loathed "wooden" medal. 4th place. The dreaded position where the athlete is close, but not close enough and misses the silverwear. That was us on Saturday, as the our efforts at the 10th edition of XTERRA NZ resulted in a pair of 4th places. Dissapointed? In some repects we are; but in the context of the events we are really pretty stoked.

The swim start is always chaos. Hidden amongst that washing machine deep inside the mess, both of us struggled a little this year. Nic has worked hard on the swim and her time showed that improvement. Mine is back to where it has been, but on Saturday I struggled with the "violence" of the swim. Normally calm and composed I'll admit I got a little flustered. Struggled to get into any rythym, and was a tad dissapointed to give up 3 1/2min to eventual winner Ben Allen (and more than 2 to arch rival and good mate Scott Thorne). We left ourselves some work to do.

Giving up those sort of margins to an athlete like Ben Allen, or Jacqui Slack in the womens; you had better have a phenomenal Bike/Run up your sleeve. Ours turned out pretty good, but not quite enough. Going to work early on Hill Rd I was delighted at the forward progress I was making. While I may have missed the summers racing, key workouts in the last 3 weeks have brought us to speed at the right time. By the turn it to Billy T I was up to 7th and thus gave me a relatively clear run at the single track. The arm held up ok and with only one crash forcing me to pull my head in I rode through the field and off the bike in 3rd.

I have to praise the courtesy of the guys I caught who made no fuss of giving me room to pass and get on with the job. Quite the contrast of what happens back in the field. From all reports it was quite frustrating at times for Nic. What is it about middle aged men that makes them refuse to pull over for women... when clearly if they caught you, you must be going slower? Pull over, let them pass, then try to follow. You might learn something. It just makes the bike splits of both Nic and Annika Smail all that more impressive.

The run is never easy. Nic had ridden up to 2nd, just 40sec off the lead and the bit between her teeth. She ran strong, and was looking great until 2.5km from the end an ever tightening calf gave way. She struggled to the finish but couldn't hold out a charging Annika, and Lizzie Orchard. Gutted at what might've been. But philosophical that she is back to being competitive at the highest level.

3rd off the bike with Graeme O'Grady for company. 2min+ down on Scott, and 1min30 behind Ben Allen. I went out hard, figuring an all or nothing mentality. Having torn a calf muscle 3 weeks earlier and therefore not training (the run) in the build up I had no idea what to expect. While Graeme dissapeared into the distance I just foccussed on turnover and technique. I didn't feel I was moving that quick, but my gasps for oxygen indicated otherwise. 2.5km to go and I glimpsed Scott. Gaining steadily I just hoped he woudn't see me coming, I got to about 30m of him before he glimsed me and surged with 500m to go. I tried to respond but started stumbling... forced to regroup and hang on for 4th. The fastest Bike/Run combo of the race. 11sec back from 3rd, and approx 2:30 down on the win. It wasn't such a bad day.

On paper, my worst result in 6 years. The reality? Given the depth of the field and the injuries of the last few months, it was probably one of best performances yet in my 8yrs of XTERRA NZ. Looking at splits Nic's result (even with the injury) would have won her the race in 2009 (last time we raced this version of the course). Great to see the improvement in the quality of the athletes taking on the challenge.

Of course one of the highlights for us of this 10th anniversay XTERRA NZ, was the launch of Black Dirt Racing as a wider team. It was awesome all the support we got and the compliments on the concept and the brand. We were certainly noticed. Great to be able to help our mates, and a huge congrats to our team mates on their results. And we certainly enjoyed more than a few well earned Crouchers that evening

The full list being... Cabin 4th, John Gray 8th (7th Pro), Matt Randall 15th (2nd in 30-34), Tony the Tiger Keith 22nd (2nd in 35-39), and of course Nic in 4th. Not sure whats next for the team. But rest assured it'll stay true to our values of enjoying what we do. Until next time....