Nine weeks until one of my favourite races in the whole wide world. Yep, Karapoti.

For the 2014 edition, I've got a few tricks up my sleeve. So, if you're setting a New Year's Resolution for K-Day (or you are looking for a race to target early in 2014 to help burn off some of those mince pies) check it out. 
Firstly, there's a must-do training camp over the weekend of 25th/26th January. This is open to everyone! Chicks, fellas, newbies, seasoned hardcore racers...anyone who wants to get round Karapoti faster than they have before, or survive it for the first time! Spaces are limited. Check out the itinerary below and click here to sign up.

Saturday 25th January - Jam packed with heaps of cool stuff:

We've got downhill maestro, mechanic extraordinaire and awesome bike shop owner, Ricky Pincott, to take you through a skills clinic so you'll carve those gravel corners like a boss. He'll also run you through bike set-up, tyre choice and the essential tools to carry for race day to make sure you make it to the finish line.

We've got a nutrition seminar sponsored by Em's Power Cookies to make sure you don't hit the wall on the last climb up Doper's and still have some fire power left to blast down the Gorge.

We've got Greg Lynch, awesome sports physio and director at Wellington Sports Medicine & Inform Physio (out in the mighty Hutt), to chat to you about stretching routines, injury prevention and all sorts of physio black magic.

We've got Cowbell Coach, Lisa Morgan, to talk about training for the event as well as a guide on how to race your best Karapoti.

And, there's me...chatting about how I've ridden every Karapoti faster than the year before for the last 4 years - to help you do the same!

The best bit is that Ricky, Greg and Lisa have all raced Karapoti themselves (in fact, Lisa is the chick in the Bicycle race kit negotiating Cedarholm Creek in style in the video at the start of this blog)! So, they know exactly what you're signing yourself up for and can help you get round faster.

We're spoilt with brilliant venues for the training camp too! The seminars will be held at the fantastic facilities of Wellington Sports Medicine and skills clinic will be held at the awesome Makara Peak MTB Park. And there's wicked coffee available at Mud Cycles now! Then we'll head in to town for dinner (included in the price - bonus!).

Sunday 26th January - Hit the trails:

You'll get a guided ride around the course you are planning to race (both Classic and Challenge options available) with heaps of tips out on the trails about how to negotiate the tricky up and down bits the best.

Not only is the training camp set at a bargain price ($100 for the whole weekend including grub on Saturday night, or an even better bargain of $75 if you are on a Cowbell Coaching programme) but your dollars will also go towards getting a kiwi mechanic to Scotland for the World 24 Hour Solo Champs in 2014.

And...I'm also sponsoring a prize draw for 5 womens entries for Karapoti Challenge and Classic events! Get your entry in before 1st February to be in it to win it. 
Photo credit: Craig Madsen

All part of sharing the Karapoti love. And pain. And glory. And mud. And quad burning climbs. And river crossings. And all the other stuff that goes along with the first weekend of March in the Akatawaras! Get ready to get your feet wet!

Done & Dusted

That's a wrap, folks. Racing for 2013 is done and dusted. Eleven months, one stage race, two 24 hour solos, one 200 mile road race, several road races, heaps of cross country and marathon events, one new 40 kilometre time trial PB, many training sessions in the rain and wind, one very special Karapoti, some new course records, many friends, loads of Power Cookies and a whole heap of fun. This year has been awesome. Here's my list of the best bits.

#1 Racing My Own Bike

Summer '13 was all about getting over myself and getting my ass back on an elite startline. Scared? You bet. Sam Sheppard needed a bike last minute. I gave her my spare. My bikes had an epic battle and when it came down to the line that day, my other bike beat my bike. It's not every day you get to race your own bike.

#2 Performance Enhancing Doughnuts

I can't tell you how much I love the Coppermine Epic. Fantastic course, Nelson sunshine, cool race vibe, and a waffle cart at the finish line. This year, after some Performance Enhancing Doughnuts the night before, I set a new course record. And proceeded to refuel with waffles. Racing pre-fuelling and re-fuelling goodness. (Note: Performance Enhancing Doughnuts should be consumed in moderation)

#3 K-Day

If I could only have one day on the bike, Karapoti 2013 would be it. Smashed my PB, posted a solidly sub-3 hour time, became the first Upper Hutt resident to win, fourth fastest female ever, and snuck ahead of the legendary Karen Hanlen. It still makes me smile thinking about it now.

#4 Race of Truth PB

There is something special about time trialling. Yep, a special burning discomfort in your legs. This year, while fighting the feeling, I inched closer to a sub hour 40 kilometre time trial. While emigrating added a good 5 minutes to my time (crazy kiwi chip seal), the magic sub-60 minute number now only eludes me by 24 seconds.

#5 Day In Day Out

Wanna ride your bike day in day out? Go stage racing! This winter, I snuck in a trip to the Northern Hemisphere for my first time on North American soil and first stage race. Fuelled by lots of maple syrup, I survived encounters with bears, Fat Albert Racing Team, and a week long battle with Wendy Simms on the most insanely good technical cross country trails I have ever ridden. Best racing experience ever. Love you BC!

#6 Big Ass Medal

Size matters, especially when it comes to medals. It took 384 kilometres and 8,500 metres of climbing in a smidgen over 24 hours on my hardtail to earn the best bling I have won to date - gleaming silver with World 24 Hour Solo Championships 2013 etched on it. You beauty.

#7 Double Century

My propensity to seek out activities that tighten butt muscles and burn calories must be the reason I get the variety of Facebook diet adverts that I do (sadly, none of the ads feature Power Cookies or doughnuts). I can confirm ten hours of pedalling averaging 31 kilometres an hour leaves one with tight feeling cheeks. And smashes through 10,000 calories. That's a lot of Power Cookies. And one cronut.

Phew! What a year! Time for some down time so these guys can get some much needed rest...



Finally, as it's the season for setting new goals, resolutions or aspirations, here's a reminder from last year. This is me at Rice Mountain Classic - two years apart. Decide. Commit. Succeed. And don't forget to ask Santa for a carbon wheelset and Italian shoes (these photos are proof that a carbon wheelset makes you look faster and Sidis last forever).