Sunday, August 31, 2008

World Champs Finale

Firstly my apologies for not posting sooner, but I have been a little under the weather for the final few days of the races. It all started turning pear shaped on the morning of the rest day (Thursday) when I started violently throwing up. Luckily it was only food poisoning and lasted only a few hours, but the rest of that day I had to pretty much lie down and try and eat and drink little bits when I felt I could.

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


For the second time in my life I have made it onto the top step at the World MTBO Champs, this time it was again the middle distance discipline. My race was very good for the first 1/3, and then steady from then on with a few small wobbles in a desperate attempt to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. In the end I stopped the clock in 54:13, 26 sec ahead of Soren Strunge of Denmark and my old foe from the 2004 relay sprint finish Lubomir Tomecek of Czech Republic.

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

World MTBO Champs - Podium in the Sprint

The World MTBO Champs got off to a fast start yesterday evening with the Sprint distance event held in the technical terrain around the university in Olsztyn, Poland. I had a race where I never felt entirely comfortable with the map, but got the flow going on the 2nd of two loops and managed to scrape onto the podium with a 6th place.

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!

Moments before the start...

Finishing the first loop

Podium time. Lasse Brun Pedersen was a very worthy winner today.

The team and our karate dude at the opening ceremony.

This belonged to one of the competitors in the public races held alongside the champs. At least the townie was suited to todays terrain, not so sure about the sandy tracks we'll be on soon though.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Overdue Update

Question: Who was the first Australian to win a Tour de France?
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 ;)

Hex Pics

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Things to do before you die:

Yes the camera is back in action!

1. Visit Alpe d'Huez

2. Ride above 3000m

3. Ride on snow

4. Ride on a glacier

5. Ride the Megavalanche (32km, 3330m to 700m vertical)

Back to France

After sucessfully holding onto my lead for the rest of the Polish 7-Day MTBO competition, it was time to pack the bags again and hit the skies. Destination was France again, via Milano where I met up with Andy Blair and Rosie Barnes who will be also going onto the l´Hexagonal VTT stage race in the 2nd week in August.

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!