Cool Snaps For the Cover



Even managed to teach myself a bit of coding!

Beware of Juniors

We came. We saw. We conquered. We also nearly got a sun tan and I didn't have to spend ages cleaning my bike afterwards!

After watching the spectacle that is kiwis building snowmen on the bonnets of their cars at the summit of the Rimutaka Hill Road then driving them back home (true story), I was somewhat surprised to be welcomed by stunning sunshine in the Hawkes' Bay.

Winning the NZ National Cyclocross title yesterday was super cool. This time two years ago, I was experiencing a breakthrough in form. I was finally able to race at the level I'd always imagined I could (but never managed to quite put together). It was nice to have some evidence that I wasn't completely delusional. Achieving it with 'cross racing was probably no accident. I'd never raced cyclocross before and, to be quite honest, didn't particularly expect to kick ass at it. The beauty of 'cross is that it doesn't matter if you screw up - you actually expect to! You learn pretty fast that at some stage of the race you are guaranteed to end up losing traction at an inconvenient moment, stumble your way over some obstacle, wrap course tape around your bars, roll around in the mud and generally just feel like you're making what appeared to be a very straightforward course during your casual pre-ride seem like really, really hard work. It will rarely look graceful and it taught me to let go of trying to race perfectly and embrace the inner mongrel.

It's fair to say that the transition between stage racing and the World 24 Hour Solo Championships wasn't forecasted to include too much cyclocross racing. But, a change is as good as a rest. Spending the last 3 weeks remembering how to race a 'cross bike and reminding myself how much a 40 minute race really can hurt has been a lot of (ouchy) fun. This time of year, there isn't much that makes me smile more than going out for a shred and deliberately riding through as much mud as possible. And I even get to call it training.

Moral of the story? Try not to overthink your racing - be more bad ass than perfectionist (relax and just do your thang). Set goals and smash them - but also don't be afraid to mix it up (it might not improve your love life but it will make you a better racer). And finally, beware of juniors. Team Barnes joined us for the trip to Napier last weekend. After cruising round the course, I innocently advised 15 year old youngster, Martine Barnes, not to be scared about trying to beat as many of the racers in the Open Women's category as possible. She replied, "Yep, I will try to. I will try to beat you Kim!". Thankfully, I escaped this year. I'm going to make the most of it while it lasts.

PS This cool chick got some awesome action footage from the this space for a rad video! Big ups to all the Wellington riders shredding it and taking home five of the eight white and black jerseys that were up for grabs, with a special mention to fellow road trip buddies Team Barnes (Martine taking the Under 19 Champion title and Jonny grabbing the Under 19 bronze medal) and Rob Kilvington (Master 3 Men's Champion). Good stuff!


Return to Mt Climie

The beauty of reminiscing. It's the mid 1990s. Purple anodising is in. Alongside way bigger chainrings, way smaller cassettes, way narrower handlebars and bull horn bar ends. Not to mention the bedazzling colours adorning lycra everywhere. Back then, my fully rigid bike weighed more than my full suspension rig does now and I'm proud to say I cut my bars down extra narrow to go even faster and raced in purple, yellow and red lycra. Oh yes. It was a beautiful thing.

Mount Climie was home to some classic kiwi mid 1990s mountain biking. And 21 years since the last race was held, we figured it was time to go back. Plus, that piece of gravel track holds a special place in my heart. Many a happy (and even the odd unhappy-please-when-will-this-end) hill rep has been had on that track in the last couple of years. And there's a beautiful view from the summit (on a clear day).

So here's the deal...

On 17th August, we'll be holding Return to Mt Climie. It's a "back to the nineties" type of race and fundraiser to help us get our wrench monkey to World 24 Hour Solo Championships.
You've gotta get yourself and your fine steed from the gate (at the upper car park of Tunnel Gully) to the trig. Pedalling is recommended. Pushing is a valid alternative (especially on the steep bits). It's a 4.4 kilometre almost relentless grind up 610m of altitude gain with an average gradient of 14% and some pitches up to 20%. Mr Dave Sharpe's PB up there is 29:41. My best effort is 33:40. I guarantee it will keep you honest (trust me, I'm a doctor).
If the uphilly stuff is not so much your thing then sign up for some old school drifty gravel corner downhill action. Or, even better, do both!

Race Categories:
Mountain Goat (Hillclimb)- Billies (M) & Nannies (F)
Gravel Ninja (Old Skool DH) – Shinobis (M) & Kunoichis (F)...
Mountain Ninja (fastest combined time) - King & Queen of the Mountain
Best Nineties Racing Outfit

Hillclimb will be a mass start in two waves:
Pinners (9:30am) - you think you can keep up with Eden Cruise
Winners (9:15am) - everyone else!

Downhill will be started individually with 30 second intervals from 10:30am onwards. We will NOT be able to transport you to the summit. If you are a grand mountain ninja who does not like going uphill so much, you are more than welcome to set off early for the long walk and heckle the mountain goats as they go by.

We will have super rad photography by Running Quail Productions (check out more of Ricoh's fantastic shots here), cool prizes, a raffle, some homebaking as well as smiles, banter and COWBELLS!!! And a handy vehicle to transport warm kit to the top or the bottom for you while you race. And maybe a beautiful view at the summit.

Do it. You know you want to.


Broken Record

Karapoti 2014. We did it! New women's course record. 2:45:29. Proper post race blog soon, in the meantime here's some cool shots from a special day of racing.


Old Fart

I seem to have fallen into a habit of starting my blogs with some sort of commentary about the ever rapidly passing of time. I have to admit that I imagined a reduction in training hours following my 24 hour racing escapades leading to some free time. Evenings spent lounging around outdoors drinking wine in the sunshine, perhaps? It's not just the somewhat variable Wellingtonian summer weather that put an end to that plan. Festive celebrations (ok, so some of that did involve vino al fresco), birthdays (some of those did too), training, work, racing and a training camp resulted in the last few weeks flying by. You know you're an old fart when you talk about time passing like that. You definitely know you're an old fart when you tell everyone on your 35th birthday that you officially did your first mountain bike race 20 years prior. And have a ding dong battle with someone who wasn't even born then. Did I mention I'd noticed a few grey hairs lately? Don't get me started.

Birthday Racing!
Rad shot of velodrome stadium steps by Jordan Moss - Vortex Photography

I love it that I'm still (well, back) racing. While twenty years has provided me with a good deal of life experience to cultivate plenty of perspective, there is still some enduring youthful desire to do something faster or bigger or longer*. In fact, my bucket list seems to be growing rather than shrinking with items getting added to it more quickly than I can tick them off.

The latest addition to that list has been born out of a mesmerising experience following a series of little blue dots moving around the South Island, some of whom I call friends. Don't worry, I called them friends long before they were little blue dots. If you have no idea what I am talking about go and have a look for yourselves here (click on the live GPS tracking link on the right to see the little blue dots). A 1,100 kilometre mainly off road journey in one of the most beautiful countries in the world sounds like a bloody good way to spend four to eight days, if you ask me (make that closer to three days if you're Dave Sharpe, who is chomping his way through 360 kilometres a day!). And they haven't even had rain! Not to mention the Facebook photos of the food that is fuelling such endeavours (with rose tinted glasses on, I'm deliberately overlooking associated tales of bicycle mechanical woe).
Photo stolen shamelessly from one of the little blue dot's (Craig Madsen's) Facebook page

The other list that seems to be growing is the one of the number of people I get to share this whole racing thing with. I keep discovering more and more people who are still lining up on start lines in various corners of the world as well as those who are just starting out with their own goals and aspirations. In fact, one of my most fun weekends of late was being involved with the Karapoti Training Camp. The "sharing the journey" bit sounds all very pink and fluffy, but it was fantastic to have a captive audience of seventeen people subjected to my enthusiasm. It's difficult to describe just how much one race can mean, particularly when it's on your doorstep, but I remember saying last year that if there was just one race I wanted to win one day then that was it. Part of what makes Karapoti iconic is that it's been held on the same crazy hard course for 29 years. That in itself seems to spur people on to get a bit more out of themselves, which was a cool thing to vibe off over the training camp weekend. See all of you for celebrations at the finish line on March 1st!

Karapoti Training Camp '14
The last thing I've reflected on recently is a certain monkey on my back from junior racing days. Some dumb ass anxiety stuff related to an ever escalating self-prescribed idea of what I should be achieving on two wheels, which tends to fall short of a dose of patience. It's a great thing when it's under control but gets a bit messy when it's out of hand. Why mention this on a blog full of slick action shots and a long list of results? Mainly because it's a lesser talked about part of racing. Not for everyone, but for a good number. And as someone who formerly subscribed to a predominantly physical fitness and bling equipment path to success, I'm acutely aware there's a bit more to it than that. Yep, more pink and fluffy me and a nod that the headspace stuff is equally important for performance. And critical for enjoyment and longevity. Lesson learned - about time. Back to the slick action shots...

Good luck to everyone heading to Vegas for the National MTB Champs. My money is on a particularly closely fought battle in the women's race for the white jersey accolade, which is just the way it should be. For everyone heading to sunny Nelson for Coppermine, see y'all there!


*Youthful desire doesn't always necessarily equate to an ability to pull off something a jump, as I discovered on Xmas Day. Should be old enough to know better, but clearly not.