Wednesday, 4 June 2014

World Cup Four: Albstadt, Germany

The week between Nove Mesto and Albstadt was a blur. One moment I was on the line getting the 15-second warning in Czech and the next I was crossing the finish line in Albstadt.

The courses were polar opposites, with technical ups and downs in Nove Mesto and steep open climbs with fast flowing descents in Albstadt. I raced in Albstadt in 2012 with the Australian team as one of our lead in races to World Championships that year and it was a completely different course to the weekend’s track. Back then it was a mud fest and every climb and descent I walked. This time the track was dry but slippery on the descents making the course extremely quick.

I started 33rd on the grid, which was about the 4th row and crossing the line in around 34th after the start loop, I managed to stay in the 30s all day. A Canadian rider that I was close to last weekend in Nove Mesto was either the rider in front or behind me, switching around throughout the race. With the bell sounding to signal one lap to go, I knew I had to keep looking forward and try and catch anyone that was in front of me and not lose any positions at the same time. I crossed the line in 38th place and was really happy with how my race went and looking forward to the challenges ahead.
A huge thanks to all my sponsors and family who support me and motivate me to do my best with no regrets. Now headed to Belgium to spend some quality training time with my coach. Stay tuned for updates!


Tuesday, 27 May 2014

World Cup Round Three - Nove Mesto, Czech Republic

The past week was all leading up to 9am Sunday morning, when the gun would go and the U23 race was underway. I was determined to get a solid result that I could build on for Albstadt next weekend and I had three weeks to prepare for it with two smaller races and plenty of time to get over the jetlag. Having raced this course in 2012 I knew it was not going to be a walk in the park, with 152 riders all wanting a top 50.

I started 15th on the grid and the start loop was longer than normal with plenty of places to move or lose position at the front of the field. I came through after the start loop in the top 25 but was fighting for every inch. As the race went on the field began to spread out and I was left trying to keep my laps fast but consistent. Watching Dan McConnell later that afternoon go faster and faster each lap is something I aspire to do.

The bell sounded with a lap to go and I was hovering somewhere around 50th position. I was using every climb to the max, going as hard as I could while trying to remain as smooth and in control as I could on the descents and technical features. I crossed the line in 50th position and was the first of the four Aussies home.

A huge thanks to all my sponsors, family and friends. Looking forward to the next round of the World Cup series next weekend in Albstadt, Germany.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

World Cup Round Two – Cairns

The birthplace of Australian mountain biking was back in the world spotlight again after a long 18-year gap and everyone was keen to “rumble in the jungle.”

After South Africa I was eager to improve on my 17th placing and really wanted a top ten finish. My lead into the race was good although the course changed so much due to the weather. As there was only limited time to practice on the course, it was paramount that any time spent out there was used to its full potential.

The Smithfield trails held up so well with the amount of traffic they had on them and all down to the great work of Glen Jacobs and his team at World Trail in designing and building the course.

On race day, the course was dry and fast in most sections. But with the last part of the course still holding water it was important to make the right tyre choose. I decided on the Specialized Ground Controls for the front and rear. Those, with my Sworks Epic made the course a lot more rideable.

The start loop was fast and I went through the start/finish in 20th position. I worked the climb and by the third lap I was up into 11th at the halfway point of the lap.

Unfortunately I came off at the bottom of "Croc Slide" and lost two positions, falling back to 13th. With only a lap and a half to go I chased hard but was unable to make the time back on the two riders. I ended up crossing the line in 13th, still my best result to date in a World Cup.

I'm looking forward to heading to Europe at the end of this week and getting ready for the next two World Cups in Czech Republic and Germany. A huge thanks to everyone has helped me get here and to all my races.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

2014 World Cup 1 - South Africa

The first World Cup of the season has come and gone. After a great Australian season I was excited to get back out on the world circuit. The first stop for this season was the venue for World Championships last year, South Africa.

The course had changed quite a lot since Worlds, with the course much more central to the event village, which made it much better for spectators.

As my last year as an U/23 I wanted to have the best possible year and leave nothing unturned. The week leading in was good and it only took a few days to get over the flight and to be happy with the course.

They had changed the way the event ran this year, putting downhill on the

The course had changed quite a lot since Worlds, with the course much more central to the event village, which made it much better for spectators.
As my last year as an U/23 I wanted to have the best possible year and leave nothing unturned. The week leading in was good and it only took a few days to get over the flight and to be happy with the course.

They had changed the way the event ran this year, putting downhill on the Saturday and XC on Sunday. Warming up on Saturday, for me, felt weird and a little wrong but it gave us an extra day of practice out on course.
I woke up early on Sunday keen to get breakfast over and done with and a quick pre-roll to get everything moving. 11am came around really quickly and before I knew it my warm up was done, transponder was on, and I was on the start grid getting the 15-second warning. 

The race was on from the first lap and my start was probably one of my worst. I'm not the greatest starter but starting on the 3rd row and finding myself at the back on the first climb was definitely not ideal. I worked my way back through the field, picking riders off one by one, conscious I needed to keep as much in the bank as possible for the last few laps. I moved up into the top 20 with 2 laps to go. The race was fast and I was really focusing on hitting the lines I had practiced in training. The last lap bell sounded and I was in 15th position with 16th on my wheel, we had been together for a few laps and with 17th only just behind I knew I had to lay everything down on that lap. I almost did it but had a bad line through “playhouse” and had to put a foot down, giving the other riders the perfect time to get a gap. The last few hundred metres of the course were all down hill, making it hard to get back on terms with 15th place. I had 17th on my wheel coming into the last corner and it was going to be a sprint.

I got passed a metre before the line, finishing in 17th position. This was my best finish in a World Cup to date so was happy to come away with yet another personal best. A huge thank you to all my sponsors, your support is what gets me there. Looking forward to Cairns in 2 weeks time for round 2 of the World Cup Series.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

2013 Highland Fling

This was my first time at the Highland Fling and I had no idea what it was going to be like or how the race would play out. I went into it with an open mind not expecting too much, just looking for a good result. The course was made up of mainly fire road and double track, with only about 10-15kms of single track.

All the main contenders from the Australian marathon ranks were sitting on the start line. My plan was to stay up front and keep an eye on what was going on but not to do too much work until the second part of the race.

As soon as the gun went it was on and the weather was really not on our side, with it raining from start to finish. In the events long history it's the first time it has ever been run in the rain, so lucky me.

The race was strung out down the first fire road and stayed this way through the first two river crossings. The gaps in the field began to appear within the first 15kms. A small group of riders got away with the main riders in the group and I was left chasing with about eight other riders. The gap never got closed as no one was working as a team and by the end of the first stage they had about two minutes up on the field.

In stage 2, which was about 53kms, I found myself in a working group of three with Jason English and Shaun Lewis. We worked well and rode as a three, putting time into the chase group and into the leaders as well.
I ran out of steam at the 95km mark, with only 15kms to go. I rode across the finish line in 7th position. I was really happy with my race, as it's only 3 weeks back training and a whole season in front of me. Looking forward to Hell Fire Cup next week in a mixed doubles team.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Belgium - Weeks 5 and 6

My fifth week in Belgium saw me have 5 days off the bike to recover from a few issues from the week before. It happened to be a great time to be off the bike, with it being the last week of the Tour De France I could watch the tour at a reasonable time, unlike at home where you have to go three weeks with very little sleep!

Leading back into racing I had a few light days on the bike but there was no easing back into racing with the first one back being 148kms on a pancake flat course. I rode a strong race finishing in the second and main bunch on the road.

I decided to race again the next day, just to get the racing back in my legs. Again it was another hard course with over 3kms of cobbles in a 5km lap. There were about 80 starters which is considered a smaller field. But the pace was on from lap 1 of 22. The peloton became smaller each lap and with about 20km left to race there were only 40 riders left. I finished in the bunch, still not totally recovered from the race the day before but it was good to get in the 2 days of racing in a row.

The next few days were spent on tour with a team that Yvo is involved with and doing some endurance training before the next week of racing. I was lucky enough to get to ride in the car following the race for a few days and it was great to see the other side of racing.

Sunday I was asked to join a local bunch of riders for an endurance ride into Holland like I did a few weeks ago, but doing a different loop. Six hours and 185 km later I arrived home, it was a solid ride with the wind blowing a gale the whole way.

I’m looking forward to my return back home next week but sad to say goodbye to what has been an amazing but tough experience.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Belgium - Weeks 3 and 4

A lot has happened in the last two weeks and I've learnt so much about my self, racing and training.

The third week in Belgium started like the two weeks before with two days of hard training then a kermesse on Wednesday night. The race was 124kms long with 14 laps of the town and surrounding farms with the roads being small and tight. The race started with rain falling making the loop that little bit more challenging. I stayed in the front twenty wheels looking to make it into the break and hopefully get a result and stay out of trouble. This was all going to plan until I came down on a muddy corner smashing into a fence post. Unfortunately that was the end of my race with 50kms still to race.

Thursday was straight back into training with my next race being on Sunday. There was hard training to be done and we turned it into a five day block including the race on Sunday. This was my best race to date, everything went to plan apart from missing the early break which went on the first lap. This was not a huge problem as a group of twenty riders rode across the gap catching the second half of the early break only leaving a few riders out front. I crossed the line in 32nd position in the second bunch.

Monday was a recovery day with a light spin and a chance to get into town and drink coffee and taste some of the fine Belgium Chocolate that was on offer. Tuesday and Wednesday were both big training days doing a five hour ride in to Holland on Wednesday. Thursday was warming up into the weekend of racing. I raced Friday night and got to use my new wheelset that were built for better handling of the roads in Belgium and the style of racing. They performed well but I had a mechanical with five laps to go and again that was my race over. But being Belgium there is always another race and I was back racing the next afternoon. The circuit was so much fun to ride, in an 8km lap there was about 4kms of cobbles and not all smooth ones either. With a thin cement gutter down
one side and a small bike path on the other in sections it made the racing interesting and became all about position and placement into the corners.

I rode an aggressive race from lap one following the moves and making a few but never getting a break away to form. It took twelve laps for the break to finally ride away and I missed the break again. I hate that this may be becoming a trend! With only four laps to go I tried to ride across but got reeled back in by the charging peloton and finished in the main peloton.

Sunday was a slow endurance with a few riders from the local villages. We rode up into Holland taking in some amazing architecture and a stunning landscape. The ride was six hours long and we covered about 190kms. This was a great way to end my first month in Belgium.

With only a few more weeks before I travel back home Melbourne I really want to get a result on the board. So I can build on them next year.