Sunday, November 16, 2008
The start was typically fast as the teams guys went for the hole-shot into the first bit of steep singletrack, but I threw a spanner in the works and smashed it out to lead for most of the 1st lap. Not wanting to look like an idiot, I had to then keep up a solid pace, and rode amongst the leading teams for the first few hours. After that I began fading, but was still increasing my lead in Solo. I ended up lapping the solo field, which meant I could stop a bit before the 6 hour mark and still win. 2nd and 3rd got out for a final lap which meant they ended up back on the same no of laps, but who wants to have the presentations waiting for you ;) Craig Peacock also was out flying the Merida Flight Centre colours, and came home with a trohpy in the Solo 40+ class.
Big props to FTF dudes for putting on a tough little circuit. The Merida FLX was the perfect weapon for the tight singletrack; the geometry is dialled down for fast twisty XC racing, and being a scant 9kg doesn't make it bad either ;) Schwalbe Racing Ralphs once again proved why they are my favorite tire by hooking in all day in the sometimes loose, otherwise tacky circuit, leaning over further each lap as I got to know the course better. Pics by Stephen Rowe will be up later here, and best of luck to Stephen who will be under the surgeons knife soon to beat the dreaded C, we will all be looking forward to seeing him back soon snapping away at our races.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
For those not familiar with the Crocodile Trophy let me fill you in: 1200km in 10 stages, all on corrugated sandy roads, temperatures 40+ deg and hoards of ex and current pro Euros ready to smash you into the dust. What have I got myself into?!
The Merida - Flight Centre team will be Tim Bennett, Nick Both and myself. The other 2 guys rode it last year, with Tim picking up 3rd overall, and the plan is to again get Tim onto the steps by the end of the race (preferably the highest one!). Also joining us is Tim's wife Jo, who will be looking to take home a top spot in the women's category (and yes they do ride the full distance).
It is time to get this Blog happening again, so I will be re-launching during the Croc, sending in updates whenever the reception allows. I've heard there is a guy with a 4WD who travels with the race with a huge aerial; reckon it adds value? (Castle, circa 1997)
So if you heard from me again, please be grateful, you'll never know when it might be my last post before i'm taken by a croc at one of the river crossings or simply melt onto my top tube.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Having eaten a decent amount by Friday morning I decided to start the Long Final, but the signs my body was giving when warming up were less than positive! I started a pretty conservative pace in case I had misjudged how much food I had been able to put away and I hit the wall half way round. I had a quite clean ride, losing only a little time on a dodgy Polish track which is where the eventual winner Ruslan Gritslan (Russia) caught me and I followed him home. Amazingly despite how crap I was feeling I finished the day in 6th place, my 3rd podium from the 3 individual races! I was very disappointed to have caught whatever bug I got, but I can't be too unhappy with how I went in the circumstances.
Saturday (today) was the relay race, and our team of Alex, Paul and myself were looking to move up quite a few places from our unlucky start number of 13. Things didn't get off to a good start with Alex making a big error and losing quite a few minutes to the front teams. Paul rode pretty steady and I was able to pick up a few more places, but I wasn't really feeling much better than the day before and made a single 3 minute error, so finished many minutes off the pace myself. In the end it looks like we were 11th nation across the line.
So I am signing off for now, the banquet and party are soon so it is time to finally kick back. Another point of interest is that I am avoiding my Houdini packing routine for the flight home, as I have sold my Spark to Greg, one of the NZ'ers who lives in Moscow. I fly out of Warsaw Sunday evening and land back in Melbourne Tue morning, so I will be able to catch up with some of you again pretty soon.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
It is another race tomorrow, a qualification for the Long distance final. So unfortunately it is bed time now, and i'll update again after the race tomorrow.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Initially I was quite disappointed with my race, but looking back it was not too bad a result considering that I’ve never ridden a Sprint distance event at this level before, and never done one in such technical urban terrain.
The other Aussies finished mid pack, with Alex having a crash with another competitor and never really felt good after that. The girls also rode well considering for 3 out of 4 of them it was their first world champs race ever.
Middle distance race is today, and once again I am starting in the last few in the field thanks to my high world ranking. Stay tuned for more updates soon!
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Answer: Dellys Starr
The organisers of the l'Hexagonal VTT stage race in France bill their tour as the MTB Tour de France, and even though it is only 5 stages over 6 days it was still an awsome effort from our olympic gal Del to get on the top step with the pink jersey after the final stage.
For me the racing was not so satisfying, I struggled a little against the euros on the fast non-technical courses, and like most of the other aussies had some bad luck with the weather in the TT's. The pic of the hail storm in the post below was actually when Dan and I had our runs in the very first TT - more than half the field had a dry fast course! The rain didn't let up for the 2nd stage either, and the 4 lap XC race turned into a full blown euro mud bath, at least I had the Schwalbe Black Shark Muds at my disposal. It is almost impossible to ride badly in the mud with these tyres, I was losing time on the paved sections of each lap, but making up minutes in the muddy forest where almost everyone was walking.
The highlight of the race was the time trial around Monmartre district in Paris. The course was only 4.7km, but it was all on cobbled streets and stairs, both up and down. Once again I had shit luck with the weather as it started drizzling just before my run. The cobbles and flagstone instantly turned to ice, and even though I was being super careful I still had one small spill. The final two days were XC races again, and I resumed my usual place of around 20th place each day. Overall Nick was the best aussie guy in 15th place, and I was next in 20th, not too bad considering the field which included new world champ Christof Sauser.
I am now back in Poland preparing for the MTBO worlds which starts on Monday. All the team is now together, and we have been doing some good training and even better resting up ;)
Saturday, August 2, 2008
After a stinking hot drive across the border into the Alps we finally arrived at Alpe d´Huez ski village of Tour de France fame. Alpe d´Huez is not only famous for the 21 hairpin bends which make up the road climb to the ski station, as there is hundreds of kilometers of awsome MTB trails (and the 32km downhill ¨Megavalanche¨ course).
First full day here was spent exploring some of the DH trails and then smashing back up the road, full pro roadie style with jersey flapping open as it was pushing 35 deg. The climb is pretty solid, a steeper than it looks on TV but a fairly constant gradient. The next couple of days were long but not too hard, one day was spent at Les Deux Alpes, another ski village about 30km away and the next Andy and I went the soft option and got lift tickets and did many 1000s of vertical metres in downhill runs. Not that there is anything soft about the Megavalanche or the other DH runs, i´ll be the first to admit to walking quite a few sections. We did get some funny looks though as we went bombing down the runs on our cross-country bikes, no damage done thankfully to body or bike!
Friday, July 25, 2008
On the mad dash back to the hotel to try and retrieve Greg's stuff the gearbox started playing up. Eventually it simply would not go into any gear, and we were left to drive back entirely in 2nd gear. Interestingly though, we discovered that a Opel Zafira does 85km/h redlining in 2nd gear. We did find Greg's stuff and the car did make it just back, and after a while the guy who organised the car arrived to sort out the mess. Amazingly, after a couple of hours of fiddling under the bonnet he drove it away without a hint of trouble. We have actually ended up with the same car again, and I don't know what he got done to it but it is now working a treat.
The next hiccup came when we arrived at the accomodation for the 7-Day MTBO event in Nowa Kaletka. We had been told we were getting a 'house', but upon arrival we discovered all we had was a tiny glorified shack in the middle of the forest with unbelievably bad beds. After 2 painful nights there we shifted out into a hotel in the big nearby town of Olzstyn, which is a really nice town actually.
The 7-Day event got off to a mixed start, with the sprint event held in pouring rain which turned the sandy tracks into bike destroying death traps. I had a fairly good ride and won, but I know a few of the other good guys were resting up for the world ranking races on the next two days. With the rain gone, but the tracks still very wet, the Middle and Long distance races were hard work. I had good races in both, losing only a little time here and there to win both. That means with my wins in France a few weeks ago and some other races in Australia that my world ranking will jump up to around 2 or 3 in the world!
Rest day was today, and all that was in store was a spin on the roadie and settling in to watch the tour as I write this. No staying up to 2am to see the stages for me, ahh this is the life!
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Days 1 and 2 I used to try and settle back down and try and go as smoothly as possible in preparation for days 3 and 4 which were doubling as World Ranking Events. After a solid 2nd and 5th places for the first 2 days, I slipped it into 5th gear and despite a couple of mistakes managed to win both the important WRE days. Day 5 was a bit of a come down, with tired legs and motivation on the way down I did just the minimum to hang on to win the overall title for the 5 days, for which I got a very spiffy maillot jeune and a not so spiffy maillot verte (more fluro verte really!) for the fastest sprint betweent the last control and the finish line!
The race finished on Bastille Day which was good planning on the organisers behalf, as we could join in the festivities on the french national day. The following day was designated rest day for the Tour and us, so a trip to the nearby Disneyland was done. Was a bit of a rip off, but now I can say i've been to one. After all the saddle time on the MTB in the past week, it was good to get back on the roadie for some solid miles. The town of the stage start for the final stage of the tour is about 50km from here, so I pedalled across there to take a few pics. Now when Cadel leads them out of Etampe on the 27th still in yellow I can say that i'd ridden across the same ground ;)
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Go Tim go! Winning Stage 2
The next couple of days were more of the same, with two 2nd place finishes and more singletrack each day. By the end of day 4 we had moved up to 3rd overall after our bad day 1, but doubted we could improve much more. Day 5 was another bad one for us, with a couple of flats we dropped back to 4th on GC and were getting pretty shagged after driving ourselves into the ground each day.
The final two days at Squamish and Whistler took us through some of the best singletrack on the planet, but it is all very technical and tough work to get through fast, and each day we were counting down the km to the finish which couldn't come quick enough. In the end we bumped our way back to 3rd overall, which was a fantastic result given the level of the guys we were racing against. Thanks to Flight Centre, Scott and Schwalbe tires for giving us support for this race, it was the toughest race I have ever done and every little bit of help makes the difference when we are trying to mix it up with the big guns.
Life in the box on day 7 at Whistler
One of the many log rides which are typical on BC trails
Friday, June 27, 2008
Hello San Francisco ...
Crater lake en route to Vancouver,
Finally landing in Vancouver, Canada (check out the mountains in the background),
After a overnight in Vancouver it was across the ferry to Victoria to meet up with the rest of the Flight Centre crew.
Monday, June 23, 2008
So it was then back home to pack ...
... two bikes, one box - they said it couldn't be done
In Canada and Europe i'll be rolling on the fantastic Schwalbe Racing Ralphs 2.1, with Black Shark Muds taken along for any serious mud encounters. Racing Ralphs are one of the best racing tyres I have ever experienced; they corner harder than anything else on everything from rocky Alice Springs singletrack to Wildside mud, and zip along without any fuss on the fast stuff.