Where is Robyn?

Well, I am alive and kicking so apologies for my lack of updates. I have no excuses, through I have been busy enjoying life - training, racing, traveling and meeting heaps of new people.

The biggest and best news over the past three months was the announcement of the New Zealand Commonwealth Games Cycling team. Wahoo – I’m in the team! I’ll be competing in the Women’s Cross Country Mountain Bike race on March 23 in Lysterfield Park in Melbourne (Australia). Here’s the team. Since returning from France in September and competing in the road nationals in October my sole focus has been the Commonwealth Games. But confirmation that I was in the team was not announced until January 25, a mere 2 months out from the Games. During these past 4 months I had to build up as if I was going to the games.

Selection for the Commonwealth Games has been my goal since competing in the Athens Olympics. It's very special to represent New Zealand and to be part of the 'one team, one spirit' environment which is uniquely created to help us compete at our very best. And with the Games so close to home in Melbourne it will be amazing to have so much support from family and friends. It is fantastic that BikeNZ and the NZOC have filled both the men's and women's quota's of 6 riders showing the depth that exists in NZ mountain biking and our ability to perform on the world stage. The Games will be the culmination of a lot of hard work and discipline and I'm looking forward to having the performance of my life on that one day.

November 2005

Stepping back a few months to November, I was full fledge into some solid training so the 160km jaunt around Lake Taupo fitted in the program nicely. The Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge is always a fantastic event, the largest cycle event in NZ and in 2005 attracted a record 11,400 riders. I was a little apprehensive about entering the Classic race for elite riders since if the men decided to light it up early on it could end up to be a rather lonely journey. Needless to say this is what happened as after only 4km the peloton had split and a group of girls with a couple of token males were left to lap out the remaining 154km, finishing in a bunch of 13 in a time of 4h36m. Though very cold conditions it was a fun day out and a great catch up with all the girls.

Also in November I spent a bit of time playing on my mountain bike and supporting the local PNP mountain bike race series. This is now the second year that the series has been held and it has grown tremendously thanks to the efforts of Marco Renall and club president Hans van der Voorn. With my finger still in a splint I had to miss the race on Mt Vic which I was really looking forward to, but still it was good to marshall and fun to be amongst it to cheer the local riders along. I raced at Harcourt Park on October 30 though and with an extra long loop for the enthusiasts I was happy to finish 12th in the Pro Elite Men with a field of 22 in close onto 3 hours. The last race of the series was on Makara Peak on November 13 in which I took a pretty heavy crash onto my right knee.

Besides the racing I was back at the gym training with Strength and Conditioner Dave Liow at Bodyworks. Since I have SRM cranks kitted on my road bike I used my windtrainer in the gym to monitor bike intervals which were followed by some full on strength exercises.

I was involved with Push Play Day on November 4 whereby some actors and other famous athletes (silver ferns, black sox, mountain runners & paralympians to name just a few) joined in some fun to encourage kiwis to get up, get active and “keep it up.” Push Play is a nationwide SPARC campaign to get more New Zealanders more active more often with their slogan: All it takes is 30 minutes a day. We jumped on board the Push Play walking bus and chanted “We are on the Push Play Bus, Come on won’t you walk with us. Sound off – Push Play, Sound off – Keep it up, Sound off – Push Play, Keep it up.” Yes, sounds silly but it was a hilarious amount of fun.

Then one day in November, out of the blue, I was totally surprised to be asked if I would be a poster girl for the nationwide SPARC campaign “Where do Gold Medals come from.” On November 28 I had a photo shoot in a studio in Wellington. The campaign is about how SPARC is committed to developing world champions but that vision comes about through providing programmes and support to thousands of top athletes. It’s about the hard work, thus the gold bead of sweat. Most people have commented that the photo doesn’t look like me! It’s very scary seeing myself 3m x 2m high on the side of the XBase backpackers downtown in Courtney Place, and plastered over the Auckland and Wellington airports! Check out the SPARC website for the pic.

December 2005

On December 4th I raced in Wellington colours at the Oceania Road Championships in Wanganui. It was a decent women’s field with a handful of Australian riders and two competitive NZ teams as it was a selection race for the Commonwealth Games Road team. It was a pretty mediocre result for me finishing in the main bunch of ten, though I was pleased to take our bunch sprint. It was a NZ white wash with Sarah Ulmer, Susie Wood and Toni Bradshaw taking out the medals.

From December 9th to 11th BikeNZ supported five mountain bikers for a reconnaissance trip to Melbourne to race on the Commonwealth Games cross country course. Unfortunately we weren’t able to race against the top Aussie’s and had to race in the Sport class but nevertheless it was an invaluable experience. Here’s a synopsis of the course: The event at Lysterfield Park is 10km from Dandenong which is 31km from the city of Melbourne. The course is fairly flat but very, very fast with the lap times for women around 19 minutes per lap for the 6.38km circuit. The majority of the course is singletrack which makes passing difficult. The climbs are mainly power climbs and non technical while the flat sections flow well with lots of corners and some switchbacks. Descending is again non technical but very fast and the only technical section is the rock garden with two switchback turns in amongst some large fixed rocks. Besides the rock garden the surface is very loose, silty and gravely. In the second part of the lap there is a section of about 10 berms - the first few flow into one another nicely however there are a few nearer the end that don't flow very well. After the berms there is a sweeping boardwalk section with 2 logs at the entrance and exit which need to be maneuvered between ensuring that one doesn't knock their derailleur. The first part of the course is mostly in amongst trees but the second half is very open and exposed. This pic of the friendly Lysterfield locals is from kiwi Dean in Melbourne, taken on the start/finish line on Feb 16!!

Just for a bit of fun I raced the Wellington Vets 16km Time Trial just before Xmas. I finished 5th overall out of a field of 14 and 1st Woman in a time of 27 minutes even.

Next up was the 3 day Women’s Tour de Femme in Nelson.

…to be continued…