A full on few months

Since the Tour de Femme in Nelson I’ve done a small stint on the National Mountain Bike circuit, a block of international road racing and have even managed to fit in some national track racing. All this, while trying to build strength at the gym, and during a time which is meant to be my off season. Phew, here’s a brief update…

Grand Prix TTOur local PNP club ran it’s inaugural Meridian Energy Grand Prix on Saturday January 15, a one day three stage tour that will hopefully, in the future, grow to two days. The stages were a 70km road race, a 12km time trial and a 12km hill road race. The gusty northerly wind made for an interesting first stage and on lap two about 10km from the finish I broke away into the head wind. I got a good gap going solo for about 5km but in due course the 3 chasers worked together and pulled me back in. The highlight of the day was winning the climb to the wind turbine. It was an absolutely fantastic day topped off with prizegiving and everyone hanging out in the sun eating bagels and chewing the fat. Report

I headed to Dunedin for the second round of the NZ National MTB series held on Sunday January 23. It was an ideal opportunity to hang out in the small but growing village of Naseby – well known for it’s awesome mountain bike trails. Rodney and I hooked up with the legendary Kila, who showed us heaps of single track, and his very sharp skills! The Dunedin XC race just rocked. The course was very much the same as last year, the only difference was the dry weather. There was a fair amount of climbing, but then we were fully rewarded with a wicked single track decent. It was fantastic fun. I had a blast. The young Rosara Joseph rode very strongly to win the race, with myself in second and Sonia Foote in third. Results

The series consisted of 6 races in 6 consecutive weekends. As I was not contesting the overall title or the national championships, I only competed in 3 races for training. I made this decision because the final of the series and the national champs clashed with the international road racing in Australia and NZ. I want to compete internationally on the road as well as the mountain bike and the opportunity to race with the NZ road team in two World Cups was too good an opportunity to pass up, not to mention the huge training benefits this will give to my mountain biking.

So the next national series race I competed in was in Tokoroa on Saturday February 5. Again, another great race – lots of power climbs (oh and one steep sucker at the end of each lap) and long at 2 hours 20 minutes. It had similar terrain as the previous year’s Big Rock course but this time at the newly created Cougar Park. The Tokoroa Mountain Bike club have done an excellent job with the trails and ran a very well organized race. I won this race with Annika Smail chasing hard for second and Sonia Foote coming in third. Results

Palmerston North (Sunday February 13) was my last national mountain bike race for 2005. I had had a big overload week with gym intensity in preparation for the upcoming road tours so I was feeling flat in the Kahuterawa Loop which consisted of one long hill climb. After an hour and a half I listened to my body and withdrew from the race.

Wgtn CriteriumThere were quite a few 12-15 hour work days during the next week to meet a project deadline before one last blow out at the Wellington Criterium Champs on Saturday February 19. It was a pretty negative race with only 5 women and despite my attacks I was unable to get away. The race ended up in a bunch sprint and I led out with 500m to go. I was pipped on the line by Keren Van der Boom. But for training I joined the Open Men’s race straight after our women’s race. My aim was to race with the Men for the first ten minutes for the training benefits of a bigger bunch and a faster pace, but I also didn’t want to overdo things since we were flying out to Aussie the next day.

Michelle Hyland U23 WinnerOnce in Aussie, we had a day before the tour of Geelong which took place from Tuesday February 22 to Thursday February 24. There were two NZ teams consisting of 12 women, supported with 2 team managers, a mechanic and a physio. Our aim was to be aggressive… and that we were. We were all working as a team with the goal of a podium finish. It was a great result for the team with Susie Wood finishing 5th overall, Melissa Holt 9th and Michelle Hyland taking the Under 23 Jersey . I finished 34th. I was stoked to be in amongst it, putting in the attacks, controlling the peloton and working for the team in the leadouts.
Here are the stages and results . For more reports see www.geelongworldcup.com
Day 1: 8km ITT and 30km Criterium
Day 2: 5 lap Circuit Race of 80km
Day 3: Road Race of 115km

After the tour we had two days R&R before the very first World Cup of the season. It was 119km - 8 laps of a 14.9km circuit. Again, it was an aggressive race for the kiwis though the breaks were reeled back in to finally end in a bunch sprint. I punctured on lap 3, though after a slow wheel change I was motor paced back to the bunch and I was happy to be in amongst it at the end, again finishing 34th. Results and report

Then it was straight back to Wellington and one day recovery before the tour of NZ. How exciting it was to have the best women road riders in the world racing here in my home region. Stage 2 was a very interesting stage with gusty 100kmph winds howling off the Rimutuka’s down over Lake Wairarapa. This was a huge shock to our overseas visitors, many of whom were picked up and thrown in the ditch. For this reason the race was then neutralized for 22km until we got closer to Martinborough and away from the winds. The tour result was made in this stage with a break of 5 getting a 3 minute 43 second lead over the main peloton. This included team mate and NZ National road champion Catherine Sell. I wasn’t feeling quite as fresh this week and struggled in stage 3, the second criterium but I managed to hang in there and position myself well when it counted, finishing with the bunch. Suz was in a break of 5 for half the race that managed to just hold on to the end with the bunch only four seconds behind. Again, my time trialling let me down in the final stage and overall I finished the tour in 38th place. Here are the stages and results . For more reports see www.cycletournz.com
Day 1: 45km criterium
Day 2: 120km road race and 30km criterium
Day 3: 12km TT

Wellington World Cup
One day of rest after the tour before the second World Cup of the series. And what a race this one was. It was just wicked. To have such a major race with the best women in the world (102 women from 17 countries) racing around my home city was unreal. The start / finish line in the grounds of Parliament, the unbelievably challenging circuit, the fact that we had to do that hard short 6.2km circuit 20 times, the gusty Wellington wind, the closed streets, the huge number of spectators, the raucous support from the locals, the number of photographers lining Boulcott Street… it was just an awesome atmosphere. All I can say is roll on 2006!

Wellington World CupA break of 7 including 2 kiwis got away near the end of lap 1 and managed to increase the gap to close onto 4 minutes. We were sitting in the bunch controlling the pace, chasing down breaks and waiting for the fireworks as there were only two teams not represented in the break. With four laps to go the fireworks began with current world champion Judith Arnt attacking which splintered the field to pieces. Boy, did that hurt. I, along with 2 other kiwis went on Boulcott Street. In the last lap Suzanne DeGoede and Linda Serup got away winning by 10 seconds from the main group of 15 riders. I finished 39th.

I spent two days at home before heading south to Dunedin on Wednesday March 9th to race the National Track Champs in Mosgiel. Yes, track racing is very new to me but I was keen to give it a go. My main aim was to see what time I could do for the 500m TT, but I padded out my schedule with the 8km scratch and 20km points race. I was really pushing myself outside my comfort zone. I had only ever raced on one track outside of Wellington and that was in Christchurch, but I’d never raced with this many girls before, or this caliber. I’m happy to say that I did not embarrass myself in the Scratch race finishing around 10th place, and I loved it. The super smooth track (which is in stark contrast to the Wellington Velodrome) and fast racing was a real adrenalin rush. I was really gutted when my other two events were post-poned from the Friday to the Saturday due to rain, as I had already committed myself to a Mountain Bike race on the Saturday.

Motatapu Icebreaker RaceYep, talk about a full on schedule. We left Mosgiel at 9:30pm on Friday evening for a 3 hour drive to Cromwell. We had too short a sleep at only five hours before heading to Glendhu Bay near Wanaka for the Motatapu Icebreaker Race. To earn my late “special” entry I became a volunteer at registration and bike checking which started at 7:30am. The ride exceeded the organisers expectations, so much that they had to close entries 2 weeks earlier capping the numbers at 1,200 riders and turning a further 200 entrants away. There were also 200 runners competing in the marathon (on a slightly shorter course). Pretty impressive numbers! The 51km course followed the Motatapu valley from Glendhu bay to Arrowtown. Though not technically demanding, it had a good amount of climbing and adulations through the valley and has to be the most picturesque race in NZ. This ride was a “have fun, no pressure” affair – and that’s exactly what I did. I was still thrilled to take the win in 2 hours and 42 minutes and take away a valuable bag of goodies, supplied by Pearl Izumi, Icebreaker and Mt Difficulty wines. Thanks go to Jeff Matthews for my entry and for organizing such a superb event. Also a big thanks to Chris and Louise and the Sinclair’s in Cromwell for their hospitality. For results and info see the race website and for pics, my race number was 1382.

Since I was in central Otago I had to return for a second visit to Naseby and the Naseby Institute of Sport for a stint of playing around on my MTB. It was great to catch up with Kila again and to spend some time with the Southland school kids.

So there ends my week comprising racing in three disciplines – the road, track and mountain bike. Next on the agenda is the Oceania Mountain Bike Champs, in Mt Buller, outside of Melbourne, Australia on April 3. The large NZ team of 45 leaves on March 29.

Upon returning from Aussie I will have two days to unpack and repack before 6 months in Europe. I head to France on April 7 to join the NZ road team in the kiwi base in Limoux. I’m so excited. And I promise to keep my website more up to date! Stay tuned.