Off to New Zealand Next Year

Just leaving a small blurb here on what has been happening right now.

I have been doing heaps of mountain biking lately, trying to find my groove back from being off the bike for a long time. Definitely been finding my flow out on the trails.

Unfortunately my road bike has given up on me and it’s derailleur just dropped off while climbing up a short easy climb, so hopefully that can get repaired ASAP, but it might cost a lot if it doesn’t get covered by warranty. So if you have a large road bike frame you want to pass on to me I would much appreciate that.

Christmas holidays are coming around and so is the New Year. I head over to New Zealand on the second of January. It’s a multi-day event starting in the North of New Zealand and finishing up at Rotorua. Should be awesome.


Czech Republic

Czech Republic. I don’t know where to start. I am fortunate to know some of the best, most talented and driven cyclist from Czech. The cyclists in Czech, to me, are the most pure and show that rare love for cycling. Having spent almost a week in Czech I don’t think I could ever forget the good time I had there.

I think this week was the stand out week out of all the time I spent in Europe. My friend Vojtěch went above and beyond as a friend. Not only did he come out late at night to collect me from the airport (after some confusion of what day I was arriving), he also let me stay at his place in Prague that he only just moved into.

He also showed me around his home town and organise for me to race in a local race. Vojtěch really made me feel at home, he also organised a bike for me to ride through another one of our friends, Kryštof who is the best Mountain Biker Orienteer-er in the world and is climbing up the ladder on the World XCO (Coming 3rd in the WMTOC Sprint and 1st in the Long and recently racing in the Noway World Cup round for XCO getting 12th and racing the XCE) . I got to ride his winter bike for my time in Czech. This kid, lives and breaths bicycles and mountain bike. It’s refreshing just to be riding with a guy with so much passion and talent.

Czech’s know how to ride. The first ride I did in Czech was just a 100km ride with Kryštof, riding back to Prague from collecting his bike from his place. I faded pretty fast in the last 20km. I hadn’t touched a bike since my ride in Helsinki and I was suffering. Luckily the last 20km we were zig-zaging our way in to Prague.

One of the funniest things I remember from my ride with Kryštof to Prague is when we briefly stopped half way through our ride because, Kryštof didn’t know where we were. Couldn’t help chuckle and smile hearing that come from the best Mountain Bike Orienteer-er in the world. Although to be fair, I was completely lost and we didn’t have to wait more than a minute or so to work out where we had to go.

Not only did I get to ride with some great friends, I got to race and attend a cool uni-party/concert sort of part in Prague and roam the street with Kryštof. Again, this was so amazing and was a real high light of my trip. Thank you Vojtěch and Kryštof, I will definitely come back next year and ride some more with you guys.

Windy Valleys

This Thursday Alex drove us to another valley that looked nice to ride along and up. The plan for this ride was to ride up the valley at pace that was just under tempo. So we weren’t on the limit but we are not just cruising.

Alex lead off for the start at a nice and steady pace. After a kilometre or two, I took the front, at the moment, seems as if I climbing a touch easier than Alex. I sat on a easy to medium pace and he seemed comfortable with it.

I lead us right to the top. Briefly passing a road cyclist but as soon as we past Alex dropped his glasses and the roadie went past us. No worries, we caught him again.

This road just went on and on like Sestriere but not as steep in the earlier stages of the climb. We climbed up this valley to this gorgeous mountain that was baron but sugar coated with snow.

The gradient picked up and we faced a couple of switch backs but nothing too severe. Getting close to 30km mark of our ride we pushed on a little further up this steep section and we stopped at this lone building on the side of the road and turned around and made our descent.

On the way down we were faced with another powerful headwind. Although on the way up it felt as if we were riding into a light head wind. So it was going to be another slog down the valley.

I tried to keep the pace up by putting in hard efforts and tried to cycle the turns frequently. We were absolutely pinning it, as hard as the MTB tyres would let us that is.

When we had about 3km to go our legs were fairly tired and it was a false flat for the last kilometre. It looked as if it was going down but it was hard to stay above 30kmph. So we just plodded along the road back to the car.

I can surely say we earnt our pizza and coke well and truly that day. We didn’t have much time to sit and enjoy it because we had to be back at the accommodation that we were staying at to go down to the train station and pick up Liz and her sister at Chivasso.

Friday will be another personal trip for myself to head into Turin to pick up my damaged camera. That was going to cost me 200 euro to get fixed and it was going to get sent to Milano so I wouldn’t know when I would see it next.

Finally Mountain Biking!

Sunday was an actual MTB ride. 
We headed into Pinerolo to meet up with some friends of Liz’. Liz is who I am staying with in Mazze’ in Italy. We had to drive up and over Sestriere and down into a valley where we pulled up to a huge mountain glaring down upon us. 
The people who we were riding with said it was about a 3hr ride. Roughly 2hrs up and 1hr down the other side. So we set off cruising with the group for about, 30 seconds when Alex and I rode off at our own pace which was about… four times their pace. 
This was a solid climb with sections reaching 18% with a 8% minimum on the whole climb. We hit the top at 54min and waited… and waited. Not realising I was getting toasted by the sun because it was really really cool up onto of this ridge. 
Whilst Alex and I were waiting we were sitting down, looking down into the valley where we rode from when this huge March fly landed on my leg and bit me. Semi-shocked, I whirled my hand down onto of it. Missing it. But what I had forgotten was my point and shoot camera was attached to my wrist and it followed my hand and swung straight into a rock, Now the lens won’t retract and I can’t take pictures. Now I have to venture into Turin to see if it is fixable. Bugger.
When everyone arrived we hung around at the top with the other riders taking pictures. I tucked my camera back into it’s case and they showed us the track heading down the hill that we were taking. It was steep narrow and looked like a hell of a lot of fun. 
I jumped onto my bike and stormed down. Flicking my back wheel around corners and expecting the unexpected. About a third of the way down I couldn’t pedal so I stopped. My chain had over lapped it self. So I unkinked it. But it had already damaged it self with bent links. I have only done about 100km on this chain. Brand spanking new chain pretty much and now it is trashed. Luckily I have a spare chain but it is a bit a bummer having to use it so early in the trip. Things are going up and down at a serious speed on this trip.
Oh well, could be worse. I am still feeling 100% besides a little bit of sunburn and a little back pain. Nothing like a bit of sunscreen and stretching can’t fix.
I would be uploading more photos to the blog but I am using a friend pocket wifi internet and I don’t want to use it all up. So only text posts for now. But here is a link to one of the guys facebook group that we rode with. https://www.facebook.com/bicibikers/photos

How many Dingos?

I had too much fun doing repeats of a track at Gap Creek today. Going up and down a technical section of a trial on Mt. Cootha, Gap Creek.

One repetition was going down then back up. And I was to do 20. Twenty of these I did. Loved every second of it getting fast through the rocky sections and going fast over wet roots and rocks then hooking into berms before spinning the bike back around and climbing back up again.


Blessed with Nature

The rides I enjoy most are the rides with great company. It’s even better we you get to ride in beautiful places.

This morning I went on a ride with my friend Karl. We road up a washed out, badly eroded fire trail that leads you to the top of Mt. Neebo.

Riding this trail is fairly easy from my point of view and sort of technical as well.

We did a bit of tarmac riding but it was worth it and it was on top of a beautiful mountain. There were plenty of picturesque views.

Whilst riding around Ironbark which is the forest near Samford Karl and I found out selves clearing off a lot of sticks that walked placed over the track. To ‘slow’ us down apparently. A quick boot every now am then and the sticks were gone.

There was one section that we rehabilitated and turned it into a safe drop off or roll over.

I like these obstacles because they can be made challenging yet safe and extremely fun at the same time.

It was a fantastic ride with good company and it started my day of well. Especially finding out that I had made the Australian Team which goes to Estonia this year for the World Mountain Biking Orienteering Championships!

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Where art thou confidence?

March 28th was the date of freedom.

Cheekily I rode to the doctors appointment on the Thursday morning to get the O.K. to cycle again. The doc said, first week light road riding, then the next week I can do more and try light mountain biking. The following week after that I can do the amount of road cycling that I was previously doing as well as a bit more intensive mountain biking, finally third week I should be able to ride the mountain biking normally.

Riding road I slipped straight back into the groove of things and feel like I did before the crash. The collar bone feels a little odd but nothing that bothers me. I can pull and lift through the shoulder so bumps and sprinting are fine.

I have ridden the mountain bike on the trails but I am not all there. It doesn’t help that there hasn’t been dry dirt out on the trails since I crashed but through corners and even down some simple descents, I feel shaky. Shaky isn’t good when you’re on the mountain bike. You need confidence to hit something to control what is happening.

Even today I was out on the trails with a friend and we were just rolling down a trail I have done a heap of times. Admittedly it wasn’t an easy trail since it’s aimed for downhillers. Never the less I could usually ride it all but today I felt as if I was going to hit the ground hard.

Prior to riding this track I went and had a look at where I crash or at least where I thought I had crashed. The way I remembered the crash didn’t fit the area where I crashed. This has me a little worried. Seeing where I crashed wasn’t anything spooky but riding down to it was weird and I felt vulnerable.

The plan for now is to ride more and more on the single tracks and build up my shoulder strength and confidence, not much strength was lost, but enough to make me feel weaker.  The confidence has taken a big hit though. The way I have learnt to get faster and improve is to do a lot of small steps to get to bigger steps, not giving it my all and then crash and spend another week… or month sitting on the sidelines.

There is no point in trying something ‘big’ in order to improve. I have seen too many crashes of inexperienced even experienced riders trying jumps or drop offs and eating so much dirt. Sure there is some crashes that are unavoidable by random variables but in reality if there is something you want to do, work up to it.

For a small tip I will use an example. If there is a jump, small gap or lip you want to get air off or jump over and you know there is a good chance that your skill level really isn’t appropriate then this is what you should do.

If you can’t roll it don’t do it. By ‘rolling it’ I mean if you can’t ride over the obstacle then don’t attempt it at high speed. Try smaller jumps or similar obstacles that will help you practice the skills you’d need to tackle your goal. Once you can do those smaller things and you feel as if you know what will happen when you hit your desired challenge then grab a couple of mates and go try it.

I would advise body armour and obviously a helmet. It’s really important to have friends because if you do hurt your self you don’t want to be dragging your self to the road alone.