Since I left last year, Karine and Patrick have two new dogs, an Irish setter and a Spaniel of some sort, so together with the little troublemaker Peppa the house will always provide entertainment.
Marathon MTB team and will be racing enduro MTB races and a few road races back in Australia.
Koksijde is the location of last years World Championships where 60,000 people rocked up. Its an insanely technical course where something like 40% of the lap is on sand dunes. On my practice lap, I crossed paths with a few friendly and familiar faces such as Alex "Mo Man" Revell, who I met in NZ in July, and who has now got a huge following in Belgium, having raced here since November.
I made some last minute adjustments to the new bike, and figured out which sand sections I would attempt to ride and which ones were quicker to simply run. I had a few bungles on my practice lap, and stepped on my new Zipp wheels when my front wheel sunk into the sand, sending me A over T infront of a few spectators, a broken wheel would have been a terrible start to the trip, but it held up fine. Riding in the sand is all about timing your remounts, speed and positioning your body weight, and whilst I managed to link up a few tricky sections, it was still slightly terrifying riding down steep hills in 40cm of sand.
I've got to say, after riding a practice lap in the mud at Zolder last year on a set of carbon wheels, I swore I would only ride alloy wheels in CX from then onwards, the braking power was just awful. I have been lucky enough to be looked after by Sram Australia this year, and they were kind enough to hook me up with a set of Zipp 303s to take overseas. I was a little apprehensive at first, however after inspecting a few pro bike set ups, I figured if it works for them it can surely work for me. Aside from the fact that they look incredible and weigh 1250g, the wheels provided heaps of stopping power, even in the wet and mud I had control down the steeper descents. I'd partnered the wheels with some yellow swiss stop pads, which are what most of the pros use, and they work exceptionally well.
Giant have been my biggest supporter since 2011, and I have recently been given a 2013 TCX Advanced to take with me along with my 2011 version. I now have two carbon cross bikes, with very similar components (2012 and 2013 Sram Red), which will be a massive advantage in the pits. The new TCX Advanced is similar in design to the previous models, but comes in a different colour scheme and at a lower price of $4299; an absolute bargain for a top level, Red equipped CX bike.
Race day came around and we all loaded into Jeroen's new Volvo. Its been kitted out with a sweet rack for the bikes, and some blown up decal magnets for the passenger doors. No pics yet, but I'll upload them in the next post.
The weather was awful, 6 degrees and constant rain. Classic Belgium. I rode another few laps of the course and tried to stay warm. After a good warmup on the trainer, I rode to the start and we were all called up. The gun went off, and I got an alright start, with myself, Alex and Angus all riding together, just in touch with the main bunch. I was riding between the two kiwi's, with Alex infront, and Alex came down around a slippery corner, I managed to avoid him and the bike, and rode off in pursuit of the few riders still in sight. Sand is so energy sapping, whether you ride or run, to the point where your throat is on fire from trying to gulp enough oxygen.
Time to rest up, clean up, cut my hair, shave my face, recover, train, buy stuff, and work out what races I want to do over the next few months. Roubaix World Cup is next Sunday.
PS: Apologies for a distinct lack of updates over the past few months. Having paid minimal attention to uni for most of the semester it was time to step up and focus on studying to ensure I can pass all my subjects and wrap up the course ASAP.