Jubilent July…

July is good month – a crazy month, perhaps my favorite month of the year. The last two years I’ve been lucky enough to have been in countries like Switzerland, Italy, Austria (for about 3 hours) and France. That’s right, France in July. Back in 2009, my family and I went over to follow the Tour de France around the French Alps for a week and half, finishing it off with a week in Paris. This was the first real life exposure I had to pro-racing, other than through the television and where many of my dreams were born.

Last year, in the first week of July, I jetted off to Italy, Switzerland and France for 6 weeks of mountain bike racing and training – Racer Bikes Cup’s in Switzerland, World Cups in Italy and Switzerland, and many hours of pleasure and pain in some of the most beautiful places I could ever imagine existing.

This year, I’m off to Canberra!! Not quite as exciting, beautiful or mountainous. Or warm (expected temperatures of around 5C each day where we are racing). The trip is going to be just as important as previous mid-year adventures, as it is the final opportunity to impress selectors before the announcement of the final U19 National MTB Team late next week. I’ve had some solid hit outs over the past 2 weeks and I know my form is where it needs to be, so it’s time to rest up, get the legs up, and prepare for some pain on the weekend.

In other news, I’d like to publicly state I may have wet may pants when I saw Phillippe Gilbert’s Belgian National Champions kit – pity he had to go and absolutely smash everyone on the first day and swap it for a boring old yellow one. Seriously – the most kick-ass kit for the most kick-ass big-ringer in the bunch.

Vive le Tour!! (but mainly, vive le Gilbert’s world domination)

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Winter…

Tucked up in bed, the puppy asleep next to me, the duvet and blanket trapping in my own bodies heat. There is something about a winter afternoon that I love. The laziness. The casualness. The lack of direction and sense of freedom engulfs me and after hours, I seem to have done things that would otherwise have taken minutes. The stereotypical patter of raindrops on the rooftop calms me.

Today is a fine winter’s day.

I spent the afternoon on the couch mostly, only getting up to brew some more tea or switch the heater up… even more. I found myself searching through photos. Photos from my phone, my computer, the internet, anywhere I could find them. Everywhere.

I stumbled upon this photo (using an iPhone, hence a slight blur) which I took in Hahndorf, SA a couple of weeks ago.

It shows everything I love about winter. The last gasp of the bright autumn leaves. A carpet of rain clouds, the sun trying to peep through but never quite succeeding. For me, it is bliss.

I found this picture on the Rapha Cycling website. It’s by no means a winter shot, but still, I love it.

The focus. The angles. The colours.

It almost,

almost,

makes me wishes it was summer.


 

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U19 National Championships – Race Report

This past weekend was the National Junior Road Championships in Murwillumbah, NSW. Travelling with the MTB Long Team again, I knew I was in for a fun few days with some great people and a lot of laughs, despite the outcome of the races. Thursday saw the ITT of 22.4km on a pretty unrelenting course. Many riders said it was the hardest ITT course they’ve ever ridden and it went up and down more times than this kids yo-yo – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvG3IK-hzRs. Crossing the line absolutely hammered, I wasn’t 100% happy with the result, but felt some good form ahead of the weekends tough road races.

No racing on Friday meant an easy pedal, a nice brew shop for lunch and just general lazing about in our luxurious -3 star accomadation, with a stove and hot water not included!!

Cloudy skies and mild temperatures greeted us for the actual National Championships Road Race. 114 pretty damn hilly k’s on the agenda. I was feeling super motivated to pull out a good ride and ready to deep dig. I was joking with Billy and Blakey, two fine chaps from Port Macquarie, that we were going to dig a hole big enough to get to China. Well, I certainly dug a hole. Hanging on for the first 111k’s, there were a number of times that small gaps of 5-10 bike lengths appeared but I managed to grovel my way back on… just. On the last lap, 3k out from the finish over the final berg of the day, I blew a little bit and lost about 20secs on the main bunch. Descending isn’t my strongest point and, weighing only 56kg’s and only having the draft of 2 other wheels on the way down, I lost a little bit of time, ending up 40 seconds off the main bunch. I crossed the lunch completely spent, and utterly surprised. In an even more epic result, MTB teammate Billy Sewell finished a pretty remarkable 15th. Thumbs up!

The following day didn’t go quite as well with atrocious weather conditions and copious amounts of rainfall leaving only 23 of the original 87 riders finishing. Unfortunately, it wasn’t my day. I didn’t pull up well at all after the previous days efforts, despite the trying my best to do so, and lasted only 2 laps. Again, Billy pulled out everything he had to finished 15th again – the same position but an even better result considering the circumstances. Fellow South Australian Jessica Mundy rode to a brilliant win in the U19 Women’s field, despite and early crash. Well done to both.

The last day saw the criteriums held in Nerang, QLD. Thankfully, the rain hadn’t made it as far out as Nerang so the racing was held in near perfect conditions on a pretty mint course. No really technical parts, a steep pinchy climb and a downhill finish made for some exciting racing. I felt pretty wicked throughout the 25minute heat, but as happens in bike racing, I was pushed out onto grass in the 2nd to last corner, the sharpest on the course, and lost a number of places, resulting in me not qualifying for the finals later that morning. However fun it is to race crits, it’s always just as fun to watch them so being able to spectate the finals was a good opportunity to see how the fast boys did it, and cheer on Jacob, Jack and Dan who made it through. Congrats to Caleb for a classy win, and also another South Aussie winner of the women’s race, Tish Custance.

Overral, National Champs for me this year was a great weekend, but I came away not being 100% satisfied with my performance. It’s only 4 weeks now until the Canberra Tour and our final selection camp for the MTB World Championships so it’s going to be a solid month on and off the bike.

Bed time now… zzzzzz

 

 

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Activities and Discoveries

Well… (it’s funny how many blog posts start off with the word ‘well’), it’s been way too long since I last updated my blog. Normally, right about now I’d go on a rant about how I’ve been busy with things like school work, training, racing, drinking coffee, and hence I haven’t had time to update my blog…. but instead, I’ve just been lazy. Simple really. Since my last post, I’ve done thousands of things – some so insignificant I can’t remember them, let alone tell the world. Some however, are significant. Like these ones:

  • I went to Alice Springs intending to say for around 128 hours. Instead, my journey ended up back in Adelaide after a mere 40 hours due to a crash on the first stage and an at the time, suspected broken scaphoid. (It wasn’t.)
  • I’ve ridden my bike. A lot. And subsequently been cold. A lot.  (It’s significant to me anyway)
  • I’ve raced my bike. Actually, let me rephrase that. I raced my bikes. Cyclo-cross. Local road races and even Road National Champs in NSW/QLD (please, read on)
  • And of course, I’ve lived my daily life continuing to jam training, school, study, coffee and whatever else seems to be the go into 15 hours. (It’s hard to train, go to school, study, drink coffee and do pretty much everything when you’re asleep.(Sleep accounts for the other 9 hours you were most probably wondering why I forgot about)….)
  • Most importantly though….. I BOUGHT A SUNBEAM CAFE SERIES ESPRESSO MACHINE, CONICAL-BURR GRINDER AND BANG-BANG!!! (Resulting in me waking up, running to the kitchen, making coffee, and singing this every morning – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_Jio9lUWZw)

Throughout the course of these significant activities, I’ve made a few major discoveries:

  • Damaged scaphoids, whether broken or swollen so much that it makes the Michelon Man looks anorexic, hurts. A lot.
  • It’s cold.
  • Cyclo-cross is WICKED FUN!!!! (Note the excessive use of bold, italics, underline and exclamation marks to emphasise how fun cyclo-cross is)
  • I love sleep. Especially when it’s cold. And when dreaming of cyclo-cross…. but not with an injured scaphoid.
  • I freakin’ LOVE coffee… (you may have guessed that already)

 

I originally intended to start writing about National Champs now, but that made for an epically long, and equally tiring post so that’s in a seperate one. Ciao!

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Three Days After Tomorrow

Three days after tomorrow see’s the start of the Ingerreke Commerical MTB Enduro run by the wicked folks at Rapid Ascent up at Alice Springs  After a number of days off the bike last week due to sickness, I’m back into the swing of things again now and still feeling the strength, power and extra kick that I developed over in New Zealand. Being back at school (NB: I’ve actually been there THREE DAYS IN ROW…astonishing), means some early mornings after a nice 3 weeks without any dawn rides.

Now I’m bored, so instead of finishing by writing, I’ll post all my iPhone photos from the last week, developing a picture of life in Shorty-land.

Gracias!!                                                            Learning up on my flags….

Eating

Practising my barista skills

Playing with the Terrorist

More coffee…. @ The Big Table

Dreaming…..

More coffee…

Keeping calm and whipping my hair back and forth…??

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A Week of R & R….. and B, and B B’s and B’s

I’ve been back in Australia for a little over a week now after a truly wicked trip to New Zealand with the National U19 Long Team. Some super hard racing, great mates, insane ‘luging’ and better than expected weather made the trip fly by, sans problems. Arriving home tired but full of motivation, I had a couple of easy days before getting stuck back into the hard work. I managed 3 or four good days of training, and the AMTBC Mt Torrens Twilight 6hr Race in a team of 3 before catching a bug last weekend.

Figuratively speaking, of course.

I didn’t actually go outside with a bug catcher wait until a small, living insect flew in my vicinity and then proceeded to catch it. I’m sick. Taking some 4 days off the bike hasn’t been ideal, and I really hate not being able to ride especially with this weather we’re having in Radelaide at the moment. I’m taking the chance though to catch up on missed school work, sleeping (R & R), building bikes (B B’s) (woohoo), baking (B) and of course, having copious amounts of coffee (aka brews – B’s). Tip: bean of the week – Harrar, from Espresso Royale on Magil Rd….Seriously. Awesome.

In better and slightly more exciting news, my Merida O.Nine Team hardtail arrived mid-week and is all built and raring to go (when I finally am). Thanks of course to Merida Bikes Australia for all their support.

Contrasting to this 2011 carbon racing machine, on the same day this arrived, I spotted a beautiful olde treadly perched up outside a brew shop. Avia. Mint condition. Euro. Stunning.

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Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to New Zealand!

Hay bru! (attempted Kiwi accent)

Finally, I’m in Rotorua, a town famous for sweet singletrack on the North Island of New Zealand, with the U19 National Long Squad consisting of myself, Billy Sewell, Blake Polverino, Alex Meyland, Chris Aitken, Dan McDonald, Jacob Langham, Jack Haig and Amy Austin. We’re all pretty stoked to be here and, for me at least, the trip encounters 5 of my 6 favorite things in life; training, traveling, racing, coffee and of course, hanging out with good mates. The 6th? Nano’s banana bread. Somehow I don’t think they would’ve let me carry 2 weeks worth through customs…

The last few days in Adelaide before jetting off to Sydney first, and then to Auckland were pretty full on – organising bikes, packing, training, finishing off some school work and recovering from the Mont 24hr. And watching Paris-Roubaix (pronounced Perry-Rooobay) , a highlight of the week of course. But at last, after 6 hours of flying and 3 hours of driving, we’re here in Rotorua. The first thing that struck me stepping out of the van was the smell. And then the temperature. And then the price of bananas. Seriously? Oh yea. After being majorly deprived of them for about 2 months now thanks to Queensland forgetting to switch the taps off over summer, I’m in heaven.

We were greeted this morning by a 7am start and bitingly cold temperatures. Feeling like it was 5 in the morning, we set off to the local park for  a dynamic warm-up and stretch, a good way to activate the body and kick-start the day. It definately helped to wake me up and also warmed us up from freezing, the very very cold. After some much-needed breaky, we built up the bikes, I made a wicked brew, (see my little set-up below) kitted up, and set off for our ride at about 10am. We had a great start to the day with mechanicals after 628m. Back in the car and Bryan, our roped-in mechanic from NSW came to rescue. With a slightly belated start, we were properly off.

70k’s of Silly Billy sitting on the back and Blakey and I driving on the front, and some (almost) wrong turns from yours truly through some awesome Kiwi scenery was a perfect way to spin the legs out and start this camp off for real. Lunch, a bit of shopping and a short nap. Awesome.

The first of the 2 road tours starts tomorrow with a road stage in the morning and a TT in the afternoon. The following day see’s another road stage in the morning and a crit to wrap it up on Sunday afternoon.

Time to go and get some dinner happening.

My traveling brew shop. <1kg, fits easily in a bike bag. Alicia Delonghi Moka Pot. Autumn Blend from Espresso Royale. Bliss.

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