Monday, October 18, 2010

MTB Madness at Lake Mahinerangi and great news from Bergamont

Farr.... last week has been absolute madness for me!

October means exams for Scarfies = plenty of study and no socialising = busy. In addition, both the KiwiFutsal (Primary Schools) and Secondary Schools Futsal leagues have begun, which entails logistical coordination on a mammoth scale - sometimes not always going to plan.

Fortunately, I have managed to fit training and racing in, which balances out all the stress with a bit of high speed madness and definite fun! A spot of Commonwealth Games coverage managed to find its way onto the flat's TV. I am very proud of the effort the Kiwi cyclists and athletes put in - Shanksy bringing back another gold and Nikki Hamblin bringing back two silvers in Athletics. These girls came from behind to clinch their medals, which just goes to show what can be achieved if you keep a level head and focus on doing your thing.

First and foremost, I have some news which I am pleased about. Bergamont have announced their 2011 Bergamont-Endura racing team, putting me on the team as an U23 XC rider. I am excited about representing Bergamont and Endura at events around the country, and look forward to learning from my very experienced and sucessful team-mates. More about the team and the brands can be found on the Bergamont-Endura page.

Yesterday proved to be a typical spring day - totally unpredictable! Myself and Tanya Louw embarked on our journey out to Waipori Falls at 8am - a quality hour for a Sunday! Sometimes I forget how fortunate we are to be New Zealanders. On a great day, NZ scenery can not be beaten, which made the 60km drive to Lake Mahinerangi incredibly enjoyable, albeit difficult to navigate.
We arrived at the site of Mahinernagi Madness MTB slightly late, just like everyone else, and went quickly to work setting up our bikes and registering. Navigation proved to be a major issue for most competitors, resulting in the start time shifting 45minutes late. Things change quickly in racing, so I went from being short of time to being in excess. Nothing wrong with extra time to check your bikes and warm-up again though! Unfortunately with the later start, I had to race the short course due to other committments in Dunedin in the afternoon, so this halved the distance. Next year I will be taking on the full course without a doubt.

This impromptu change ultimately proved to be a blessing, as within an hour the temperature dropped 5 degrees and a gusty front arrived from the south.
I made my way to the front of the start and on the gun sprinted down the hill. We were greeted with a long steep climb which quickly put my heart into it's maximum pain zone. I was in the lead bunch after the first few climbs but was really feeling the burn. After the course tapered out a little, I got into the groove and really put it into the dog, averaging 35kph for the undulating final 10km. Coming into the final kilometer, I was cheered on by a group of walkers. This kicked me into a crazy gear -there is nothing like being extremely focussed and knowing that your performance has been consistently beyond max throughout the race. I arrived at the finish line in 59.3 minutes, with the next racer arriving a shade over 10 minutes later. The course was mainly loose gravel roads and 4wd track, but was still fun.

Looking back on the race, I feel great about my performance. I got the mixture of pre-race nutrition right for once, and did not feel tired during the race - after a week of hard training and no taper. All I could feel was pain and burning - a timely reminder that I am alive. After the race and for the remainder of the day I was feeling very strange, easily irritated and detached from reality. I'm not sure quite what this is - perhaps a post-race fuelling issue, perhaps a sign that I pushed way beyond, or maybe just nervousness about exams. Either way - it's all part of the journey and every race presents me with a new challenge - sometimes it really, really hurts!

I will leave you with this. It is a reminder to focus on your own race and trust your instincts.
Just like Shanksy and Hamblin!

Monday, October 4, 2010

New sponsor - and first season win on the Bergamonster!

Last Sunday was the end of an era - nope, I am not all of a sudden ditching bikes! The Invercargill Winter Series for 2010 finished on a typical beautiful Invercargill day. I think Dunedin's weather could learn a thing or two from that place.

A good roadie friend of mine, Ruby Grant aka Mark Cavendish's future wife, joined me on the epic 6am mission to Invers, which made things fun. We were pretty hyper about the race (and seriously sleep deprived). Suffice to say she's now converted to dark side and hooked on racing. Stoked Rubes, well done on your 2nd place, and welcome to the dark side!

For me, Sunday's race was all about just getting back into the swing of things, and focusing on specifc skills, trying to get them honed for the big races later in the season. My specific aim for the race was to get ahead from the outset by making a strong sprint off the start, then maintain a consistent pace and dial each technical section. The sprint was awesome and going into the singletrack I was ahead of all of the girls and a few guys.

The remainder of the race was all about putting time between me and the girls behind, and I acheived this by being consistent and trying to ignore how non-responsive my legs were for the most part. For some reason I felt tired the whole race (probably fuelling issues), but
managed to hold off and win by 4 minutes. Quite appropriate this was my first race on the Bergamont - still unbelievably responsive, reliable and quick!

Progress for me is about feeling stronger, racing faster and resisting fatigue for as long as possible. I have just compared Round 1's time to Rounds 6's time. I was trailing the series winner by 7 minutes in the first round, but lead her by 4 minutes in the final round. I am quietly please about this, as it shows I am becoming stronger and faster - a direct result of structured training.

With a new season comes a bunch of new opportunities, so I'd like to thank my sponsor, Bike Otago for their awesome support so far. You guys are so much fun to hang out with, and know your bikes backwards - I look forward to representing the team at this season's races and joining the staff for Summer - guaranteed to be a good laugh!

All the best to Charlotte Ireland, Jude Young, Erin Greene, Coaches and Support Crews for this weekend's 24 Hour World Solo Championships on Mt Stromlo, Canberra. Put it in the dog for the Kiwis!