Sunday, 22 July 2012

National CX Series Rounds 1 and 2

It was all a bit of a mad rush getting myself sorted for the opening round of the National CX Series. Luckily super mechanic Ben (with some help from D-man) from St Kilda Cycles had my back up bike dialed to perfection! I have also been lucky enough to have my own custom skinsuit with sponsor logos on it made for me by Champ-Sys custom clothing. Look at any custom clothing out on the road or trail and chances are it's made by these guys, they make some awesome kit, so to be on board with them is very flattering. It came up an absolute treat too!
Ozriders Australia

The National Series is sponsored by two of my own sponsors, which is fantastic, in Champion System and SRAM, and it will be getting some coverage by SBS program Cycling Central! I ended up doing an interview for them, and surprised myself by how well I answered the questions. Just my luck, the loudspeaker was on at the same time and I had to re-do it on Sunday, where I made a complete mess of it. Hopefully they can use something!
The first race was in Port Melbourne, held by Full Gas, on a Go-Kart track. Very cool set up, with tarmac, grass, mud, puddles and a few gravelly sandy sections. It was tough! We also had a full hours racing. With 70 odd starters in A grade, I was very lucky to be called up first. The start list included about 10 of Australia's best XC mountain bikers, a couple of NRS level roadies, and a couple of stoempers from a few years ago. I was asked to pick who I thought would win prior to the start - it could quite literally be any one of 20 odd people.
Creux Velowear

I got a decent start and slipped into 4th or 5th, before moving up into the top 3. Myself, Adrian Jackson and Paul Redenbach and Mitch Codner got a gap on the field, and were working together well and we were soon joined by Luke Fetch, who had stormed through everyone from a poor grid position. The gravel sections started taking their toll, as a wrong line choice would mean you work excessively hard and go painfully slow, and dismounting to run would result in gravel stuck around your cleat and not being able to clip back in! About 30 mins in, I began cramping, and my race got a whole lot worse. I dropped off the back of the group into no mans land. Fighting the cramps and trying to hold my position took its toll and I starting losing concentration, eventually going over the bars in the gravel! I was reeled in by Marc Williams and Andy Blair, with Alan Iacuone closing in on me, Mitch was unlucky, breaking his derailleur and having to run the last lap! The race seemed to go on forever, and I seized up over the finish line, unable to stand up properly! Considering the field, I couldnt be dissapointed with 6th, but given my experience I was expecting a little more! And I was pissed off about the cramps. I've tried everything! Magnesium, Potassium, Quinine, Sprays, Tablets, sports drinks, plenty of water, and still I get cramps! Any ideas anyone?
Creux Velowear

First timer Luke Fetch ended up taking the win, from Adrian Jackson and Paul Redenbach. Luke's hardly a newbie to racing though, he's raced MTB Worlds and is consistently in the mix at National Road Series.
Creux Velowear

Round 2:
I pulled up very stiff and sore on Sunday morning, thinking I would have a rubbish day on the bike. Luckily the bike was running as good as its ever been, as I am exceptionally lucky to have a mate in Ben, who works at St Kilda Cycles and occaisionally for his own business, Velo Lab. Ben grabbed my bike on Saturday and prepped it for Sunday! Superstar!
The Dirty Deeds crew always put on a good show and Sunday was prime time. I have a soft spot for Darebin as it's where I had a big win last year, and was also my first race on a CX bike the year before. Mud, grass, ups, downs, bike paths, it's got it all.
Ross Wilkinson - I-Ride Bikes

From the gun I was in about 8th or so, and dug deep to get out the front with AJ. I like Darebin because a bit of a break goes a long way, you cant see round all the corners. For the first 30mins or so we were riding well, before that familiar pinch arrived and I started cramping again! AJ started pulling away, and I wasn't able to keep with him, I had to stretch out my cramps and try to keep hold of second place. Lachie Norris had a much better day and ended up reeling me in with a lap to go. Malachi snapped a pic of the moment he caught me, and it pretty much sums cyclocross up. Cramping, getting caught by 3rd place, and we both look like pigs in sh*t. Heaps of fun.
Northside Wheelers

The crowd got right into it, especially around the mud puddle, and it was great having plenty of support from friends and family.
Rik Blazevic
Fame and spear photography

A much better result for me and hopefully I can improve on it at the next double round in Adelaide in a few weeks!
Check out the custom bread loaf AJ won! - Cam Wells
Pain - Fame and Spear Photography

I also have to thank a few other individuals for their help over the weekend. Rob (SRAM), who had all sorts of spares ready, with mechanics, and had my pit bike ready in the case of a mishap. Aaron (Giant Australia), who brought the Giant tent and chairs down, providing a perfect place to warm up on the trainer and get ready. Aaron brought down Jake, who was exceptionally helpful before the start, and made sure I kept warm!

Of course I would also like to thank my fantastic sponsors: Giant, Sram, Adidas Eyewear, Champ-Sys, Schwalbe, 4Shaw, Creux.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

NZ CX Champs

I've had a week in NZ to race the first UCI Cyclocross race in the southern hemisphere. My old man and I were originally going to fly into and out of Napier (near the race location), but decided to fly into Auckland and out of Wellington, stopping at Rotorua (MTB heaven on earth) and Napier/Hawkes Bay on the way.
Poor dad got a bit ahead of himself in Rotorua and nearly burnt out on the first ride of the day. 

It's easy to do in Rotorua, Dad managed 4 hours and I ended up with about 6 hours. Not ideal tapering for a race but this place is insane. So much fun.

After a quick stop in Taupo we drove to Taradale just outside of Hawkes Bay, where the race was to be held.

We had a couple of nights there, and met Katie Compton (world #2) and her husband Mark who were over to race and teach a few skills clinics. There was also Andrew Barlow and Dan Warren (reigning CX champ from the year before), who were exceptionally helpful in making sure I was well looked after and had everything I needed for a good race.

The course was brutal. A tarmac section led into some punchy grass hills, before winding around and down a minature vineyard and up another grassy hill to a muddy run up. From there you descend for all of about 5 seconds, before climbing again up to a staircase that was absolutely exhausting. You keep climbing afterwards and ride through more punchy inclines and through some mud. From here you have a fast off camber descent into an off camber bumpy climb before winding through a paddock, over some barriers, up a small pinch and down back to the pavement to start again. Reminded me alot of the courses in europe, though perhaps even tougher! Maybe not more technical than Koksijde and Zolder, but close.

Race day was shaping up to be a real challenge, the field only had about 13 riders, but they were all bloody fast! I had a good warm up on the trainer and was called to the start line first. Off the gun I got the holeshot and held a slim lead for most of the first lap, before BAM Gary Hall came flying past me up the off camber climb, and ended up putting about 30 seconds into me after 3 laps. I had about the same back to 3rd, the winner of the previous National Round Alex Revell. From here the race remained unchanged, with 4th and 5th (Logan Horn U23 and Dan Warren) another 30 odd seconds back, riding together. I was secretly hoping Gary would fade but he gradually put more time on me and I started losing ground to Alex. On the second last lap I slipped out on the off camber climb and slammed my leg into my bar end. After that I faded even further and Alex caught me half way round the last lap.

This was my first hour long CX race, and it took its toll. I was destroyed both mentally and physically, Alex put in a great race to reel me in, and Gary absolutely demolished the field, I was lucky not to be caught by Logan and Dan. For such a small field the quality was a great credit not only to the calibre of cyclists in NZ, but the growth of CX too, the top 7 were all within 5mins of the winner after an hour, with the others not far behind. The crowd really got into it and I pretty much had a grin on my face the entire time.

I'd like to thank the CXHB team, everyone involved in making the event such a success and for making me feel so welcome. I had an awesome time and am looking forward to heading back soon.

On the way out we had a ride round Makara Peak in Wellington, again Dad nearly killed himself slipping down the hill. He's already snapped his leg in half on the bike! Better get him on an Anthem.

As always a big thanks to Giant Australia, Sram, Adidas Eyewear, 4Shaw, Schwalbe, Creux and Champ-Sys.

Worrells, the SRAM distributor helped out with bits and pieces at the race, which made life alot easier. Thanks guys!