adventure

New Zealand Trip Recap

Well New Zealand was amazing as it is always. I only wish I had performed as well as I would had of liked to, but the riding was awesome and the competition was fierce.

This is the link for  the information on the event, click here. At the top of the page you will find the results tab for each day. If you want to find a detailed report of the week click here for another wordpress blog from NZ, just click this link.

I haven’t done any Mountain Bike Orienteering events or practiced my Nav training since World Champs, and at the moment I am a bike down and my road bike has been cracked

(oh yeah, I didn’t end up writing about how my rear derailleur on my road bike popped off into my spokes as I was cruising up hill and got spun around and cracked the top stay. Plus the hanger is built into the frame so I have to get the top and bottom rear stay carbon fixed with the hanger build into it.) 

so I am using my fathers mountain bike and the single speed we own. I think I did ok, but nothing special. The second day that I won, I had a fairly smooth ride. I was hoping to repeat that effort but I never did.

Some of the problems through out the carnival I struggled with, especially in the sprint was the huge light changes coming out of a dark forest into blistering bright sunlight which would reflect off my map board cover and blind me, then you would head back into the dark forest. I rode past a few controls in the sprint because of this. Also I was looking for controls on stands like I have been all competition until now, where they were strapped to the trees.

I looked at the split times for the sprint and I was in the lead until I rode past the control that was only a few meters from me.

In the bulletins for the Australian versus New Zealand they had mentioned that there would be green dotted tracks that were able to be ridden, also white on the map which is generally forest and you’re not allowed to ride through it was the reverse in New Zealand, which is cool. Also since one of the days was on Rotorua they marked directional arrows on the map so we didn’t ride down tracks the wrong way, since most of the tracks are one way only.

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Most of these rules were fine, but I didn’t like the fact that they were only used in some parts of the map to open up route choice. I missed a crucial route choice in the middle because there some specks of white to allow people to cross onto a track and there was a huge part that didn’t register in my eyes for me and I lost a heap of time, but I can’t complain since I seemed to be the only person to be tricked up by this.

There was a big  down side to this competition which was the long distance. The organisers were very unlucky, it was on and off rain and sunshine. Usually this isn’t so bad, Only that the ground soil was clay base. Meaning that getting to the start up the hill was extremely hard for 80%+ of the competitors. Not only was the track up to the start almost impossible to ride, the whole course was practically impossible to ride. The first track you road along was bogged down and would seize up your wheel. Turning someones 10kg light weight bike into a 20kg+ bike.

Again, you can’t criticize the coniditions since everyone else had to ride in them. So I tried to be fairly persistent. Until I chose one route choice which was bad considering the conditions. After banging out my wheel 4 times and clearing the mudd off my bike I had enough, so I decided this wasn’t a race, this was a course to survive not show who was fastest.

When I got back I realised that I would have been disqualified anyways, since right at the start there were two tracks paralleling each other. One being a smooth, wide fire road. An off road high way almost, and running beside it was a shitty undulating fire road that was bogged so badly that when I was riding past I saw dozens of people walking their bikes.

On the map there was small tiny arrows showing you could only go up the shitty fire road and back along the high way like fire road, and I had gone up the wrong way. Also there was no other route choice unless you wanted to add another 3-4km of shitty clay track riding. Competitors found out later that the course setter had only done this for a dog leg for lower courses, and didn’t want them riding on the high way fire road.(!?) I think many were a bit bitter about this course setting.

The best and worst thing was decided on that day. The Long Distance wouldn’t count in the Aus/NZ challenge and instead they would use the last race, which was on Rotorua, as the long distance event. “Great!”, everyone thought, but the poor choice to follow, I think was allowing people to be given awards for winning their course when a lot had taken the illegal route choice.

Also I had forgotten to mention that NONE of the bitumen roads were marked as no ride/out of bounds on the map, yet they had put tiny text around the out side of the map saying it was out of bounds (because in MTBO everyone stops to read the super tiny text during a high intense race…). Many people took bitumen roads, I don’t blame them and I don’t think anyone should get disqualified but I don’t think you could call any of the race fair or legitimate, especially with no marshals watching the key areas where people could get disqualified. Oh, and yes, they did have a sign at the start of the race saying that roads were out of bounds, although I think everyone was too stuffed and concerned about the sticky clay like mud building up on the soles of their feet and bikes.

In the end, I think the long distance could of been avoided by seeking a map that had far better tracks that would provide more route choice and avoid using arbitrary direction arrows just so people don’t ride on the same track in different directions.

Besides buggering up a route choice heavily on the Rotorua race there wasn’t much else to comment on.

All of the days, besides the long distance, had superb courses, lovely tracks and maps as well as fantastic competition. The event areas were well set up for the numbers that showed up. The people were amazing and the vibe of the whole carnival was excellent. I think the New Zealand folk did a top job and I can’t wait to get back and ride some more trails.

I know there was a lot of talk about the bad things, but it is what stuck and to me at least, was interesting to think over and see what could be avoided next time or how to minimize damage to the competitive side of the carnival.

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Stormy Weather

Since the Pinorolo ride it has been a fairly relaxed few days of training. It has also been difficult to train due to some circumstances restricting me to train.

Sunday I paid Mont Blanc a visit. Very beautiful and stunning mountains. It was unreal how high they went and the sheer cliffs that loomed over the valley road. You get a sore neck just from looking up all the time to soak in the beauty. But my visit was short lived and we had to drive back to collect people from the train station and sit in the humid town of Mazze’.

I am still staying with Liz Randall who is competing in the World Masters events for road cycling. (She is doing very well, winning her age group in the Crit and the TT) She needs the car to get into the events to race, understandably. So that means all of my rides have to be from where we are staying. Meaning a lot of road riding. Flat road riding. Boring road riding. I brought my MTB over to ride trails, but I have done one ride in two weeks on dirt and it was just a fire road climb. A very nice ride and I enjoyed it immensely. I just feel like I am not getting the most out of my mountain bike.

The days are hot and the weather forecast has been for rain and thunder storms. Which has only been increasing the humidity and making the sky very hazy. It has only been storming a little bit at nights. Nothing that local to us.

Getting to sleep has been extremely difficult. The town has a loud bell which is right next to us and bongs every hour and half hour. When its 12.30am you can hear constant bell ringing after it has stopped. The house has loud wooden floors that makes it sound like an elephant is walking through the upstairs living room. I am lucky to get to sleep before 11pm.

On Wednesday Alex and I put in a solid ride because it was forecasted that there was definitely going to be rain the following day. So we went out and did a solid 80km ride out to Biella and back. My legs felt fairly tired after some solid riding into the wind and then another solid return effort.

Each day I find out something that I enjoy about Europe, and that day I found some more things I like about Europe. The amount of lovely little villages you pass through whilst out on a ride. The villages break up the some of the boring country view and also provide you with shops and water springs if you need food or water. Back in Australia you need to almost have a small bike trailer if you want to do any serious long rides or know where all the “secret” water spots are hope you ride past a petrol station.

On Saturday we head up to Feltre which will be nice. Surrounded by mountains and hopefully surrounded by MTB trails.

Realising the Passion

Crash, boom, slap, cut, replace, sew, heal, sit, pedal, wince, envy, fight, thrive and soon now, freedom!

That was just a brief splurge of all my thoughts when I think about my crash up until this point. I haven’t felt the cool early morning air rushing past my fast. Flowing into my ears and whirling out the noises of everything that doesn’t matter when you’re on two wheels.

My trainer sent me a training program which was odd since I am still in the wind training days of recovery. Opening it up and I found out that I was going to be getting the engine ready for some speed and interval work. Legs can still work, but you need to keep them tuned if you want the most out of them.

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So yeah, I have been sweating,wincing and pedalling hard and fast. Cadence thrashing and stomping of bursts of speed into the pedals. Every interval brings me closer to each day, and each day brings me closer to my meeting with the surgeon to get the O.K. to get back to it. To push my bike out and go riding. Mind you I will only be able to road ride but it’s better then watching TV and biting the bars.

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Taking away my bike and my ability to get around to places has be devastating. Everything that makes me happy has been stripped away. The car drive to the dirt trails gone, I don’t get to tune out and listen to some music at four or five AM in the morning as I head towards the trail. Not being able to bunny hop and fly down single track. I am even missing road cycling with my friends, and being able to stand up and climb a mountain or race my friend to the next road sign. All gone.

And now, hopefully I will get most of it back. It has been tough emotionally for me personally. The crash hasn’t created many practical problems that I couldn’t handle or sort out mentally. I had a plan within the first ten minutes of the crash of how I was going to work things out. It was just a matter of getting up and sitting on the bike for training. Where it hurt most was my emotions.

I never quite realised how much I loved cycling. All the tired early mornings, long exhausting rides were hard. Hard to start and sometimes, worse during. If I hadn’t eaten well or my body wasn’t responding well to the day I was going to suffer. It’s only now I can respect and notice how cycling moulds me. I may be more exhausted in the day and sleepier, even silly. Jumping on the bike and riding can bring more out of me than most things. Cycling brings out the happiness in me.

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Walking to a train, standing on a train and walking amongst thousands of people isn’t me. Having to wait for a train or traffic lights and dodge pedestrians is so boring on foot. I am use to flying past pedestrians J-walking and squeezing through un-squeezable gaps. Jumping curves and drafting off cars. Being able to come and go when I please. The surface of the earth was mine to ride.

I haven’t been the happiest since the injury, and it’s not fun waking up and knowing nothing exciting is going to happen in your life that day. Training less and at lower intensity has been making me feel bummed. Doing this interval sessions has perked me up and knowing I will be able to cycle soon is fantastic.

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I am not sure what message or point I wanted to give to people through this post. I just wanted to give my readers my view and take on how I have dealt with this. I guess one thing to take from this post is that make the most of what you enjoy. Sit down and write out what you love about what you do and why that is. Then take that all away for at least six weeks or if even that, twelve weeks, like they told me from the start.