Thursday, August 16, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

Oceania Championships 2012: Rotorua

The final and biggest race of the season approached quickly, the Oceania Championships, where New Zealand and Australia’s best mountain bikers compete for victory.  I unfortunately spent the lead up in Auckland with long hours at University and the bonus of classic Auckland traffic. I was very happy to return to Rotorua on the Wednesday where I had the comforts of my new home, even better I was chuffed that my parents came all the way up from Wellington for the weekend to watch the races.

 Super D: Friday

The super D or endurance downhill was held on the Friday down the tracks ‘Hot x Buns’ and ‘Be rude not too’.  With a full suspension demo bike kindly lent to me from Cycle Obsession for the weekend, I was set. Unluckily the number of competitors was slim, I think due to the confusion of race time and lack of signs or maps to the race made it impossible to find unless you were familiar with the forest. Although once it was found, the event ran efficiently and smoothly. Again I had tough competition from my fellow talented XC racer Sasha Smith, both of us eager for the win. After practicing the course for most of the day, at 5.30pm we were shuttled up for the final time to begin our race runs.
My run was clean, pedalling pretty much down the whole course and going as fast as I could safely go without risking a crash. I finished the run exhausted and out of breath but listening intently to hear whether my time was fast enough for the win. It took only a few moments for the numbers to come through…7.54min. Sub 8 minutes was better than I had hoped for taking the win and also placing 14th overall making me the 2012 Women’s Oceania Super D Champion. Congratulations to Sam Shaw who took the men’s title with a time of 7.08 minutes.

2012 Woman's Oceania Champ

Cross Country: Saturday

Start crash in the Women's elite race

Saturday rolled around, and after a full day at the Super D on the previous day I was feeling quite tired and un-psyched about the race. I registered last minute then went for a warm up lap to adjust back to my bike and free up my legs. Once on the start line I was in a better mind-set and focussed on the race ahead. It didn’t take long for everyone to be called up to the line, next moment the whistle blasted and we were off. I’m still unsure of what exactly happened as it all occurred so fast, but next thing I see is Bridget on the ground in front of me and suddenly I’m down as well. We both crashed onto concrete within the first 10 meters, not the ideal start. I took a moment to re-orientate myself and get over being winded after I was hit in the guts by possibly a handle bar? By the time I was back on my bike the rest of the field was out of sight, already up the first hill. I continued on full of adrenalin and managed to make up ground on the first lap, plus further save time by doing the rock garden each lap. The rock garden was a bit sketchy since my rear brake lever had been knocked under the handle bar and was difficult to engage, it saw me come off on my third lap but luckily no further injury. After 3 laps my asthma was present, my back was aching and referring pain down my leg into my foot, and I was exhausted from pushing through the resistance of my dragging brake, caused by the crash. At the end of the third lap that was it for me, and I pulled out of the race feeling shattered and extremely disappointed. Thanks to all the people who came and talked to be after the race, it was really helpful and cheered me up a lot J I am very lucky with all my friends and family. Well done to Karen who continues to dominate!

Photo by Simon Blanchett

Cross Country Eliminator: Sunday

Saturday after the race I received some TLC including ice, bandages and strapping on my wounds which meant when I woke up on Sunday morning I felt way better- especially after some pain relief in my system. Ash and I headed over to watch the downhill and I was also contemplating whether to compete in the XC eliminator. The eliminator is a new race consisting of a 500m knock out format where four competitors race at the same time in heats, and the winners of those heats go to compete in the final (similar to BMX). I was very hesitant to race at first but was kindly convinced by my fellow team mates Harriet and Amber. It turned out to be a very fun and social event with many non-competitive girls giving it a go, as well as hung over XC racers, and ex world downhill champ, Vanessa Quin. It was so great to see an event where you could just have fun and not get lost in the seriousness and competiveness of racing. My legs were roasted after already two days of racing, but luckily the course required more skill rather than fitness with ruts and logs to jump over. I started off well winning my heat and making it into the finals with Vanessa Quin, Katherine O'Shea (Aussie) and Melissa Newell.  I had a great start and got in the lead around the first corner which was continually getting cut up and loose. I took the corner too sharp, beginning to drift…and then proceeded to wash out, crashing for the second time in two days. In a panic I scrambled back onto the bike, but was too late as all three riders passed me. Bugger. I struggled to catch up in the remaining 400 metres and managed to move into second place over the logs. Unfortunately the course was too short to be able to catch back up to Vanessa who had a good lead. So second in the first ever held Oceania Champs eliminator, not bad considering I wasn’t even going to race- I’m chuffed J 

Women's final: Race for second

Women's podium: Raewyn 2nd, Vanessa Quin 1st, Katherine O'Shae 3rd

It’s been a good weekend despite Saturday’s mishap. Thanks to all those that supported me- it’s all VERY appreciated, special thanks to John Lee who has been an incredible coach, my parents, Ash, Nigel from Endura for the team support, and Andy from GoFast for the support and product.  

Sunday night treat with home made pizza

Wellington NZ Cup Round 3

Another impressive race held and organised by the PNP club at Mount Victoria in Wellington. The course was a typical Wellington combination of steep technical sections and sharp brutal climbs. For an idea of the track here is a video I made with footage from Ash’s helmet camera and my Dad filming some of the race

photo taken by Shane Wetzel
I had a great race and was encouraged on by the fantastic atmosphere and spectator support. By the end of the first lap I had made my way into 3rd place in the elite women with a comfortable gap between me and the chasing group.  Half way through the second lap the leading boys started to the lap the women’s field. Dirk Peters (NZ’s National Champ) was coming up behind in a narrow bit of single track, I didn’t want to hold him up and got out of the way as quickly as I could. Unfortunately I wasn’t looking where I was going after he passed me and I lost my front wheel down a bank. I did a superman over the handle bars and crashed down the bank with my bike. I scrambled back up to the track and untangled my bike from the sticks and vines that were caught in the spokes, by the time I was back in the race I had lost about one minute and 3 positions.
I caught up by the start of the third lap and it became a battle between Bridget, Sasha and I until Bridget had an impressive crash which left Sasha and I battling it out for third. I was narrowly ahead for the remaining laps but managed to pull away on the 5th and final lap to finish in 3rd place – and my first Elite medal.  

Sasha and I at the finish after a good battle

Elite Women's podium

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Monday, February 6, 2012

New Zealand National Championships: Nelson

What a weekend! Friends, Briony and Brad, kindly let us stay in their house for the first half of the week. It was a great holiday, we were very lucky riding every day, enjoying the nice weather and loving the wonderful hospitably shown to us. On the Thursday we moved to join the PNP Club members at the Brook Holiday Park, which happened to be invaded by the mountain bike community.  It was a great atmosphere, bikes everywhere and everyone was super friendly, chatty and hyped up for the weekend.
A great set up for the new Endura race team also had it's perks. Thanks to Nigel, we were spoilt with a gazebo, bike stands, chairs, water and our own photographer catching all the moments - It has been such a great and supportive team environment, I have been very lucky to a part of it all. You can follow Endura and view race photos via facebook just like the page :)

Super D

The first ever Super D National Championship was held in Nelson on the Friday. A super D race is a mix between Cross country and Downhill. It is predominantly downhill course that is between 10-40min long and requires good technical ability on the bike as well as fitness. I made do with what I had, which happened to be my Cross Country race bike, a 29er carbon hard tail. Not the ideal bike for Nelson’s steep and rough tracks but I decided to make the most of the Cross country image and rocked up with my lycra, hardtail and seat up high in amongst all the downhillers with full suspension and baggy shorts.

The course was great fun. It consisted of fast, narrow single track, rocky steep corners with a few pinchy uphills thrown into the mix. The shuttle runs (a luxury us XC riders seldom come across) took us up to the top of the hill and then riders were released at 1 min intervals to negotiate their way down the course as fast as they could. The women were  the first to start, I was impressed with the number of women that entered with riders from both cross country and downhill backgrounds racing. The course itself suited the downhillers more with the steepness and roughness of the track. I felt pretty disadvantaged with a hardtail and found it limiting in many parts of the track, although the course did include a short 4WD climb where I was able to make up a bit of time. 
The race run started out with a near crash at the first corner where a big rock had fallen, my front wheel collided with it and almost got thrown off my bike down the bank. Lucky I grasp my balance in time and after coming to a stop I shuffled my way around the corner, repositioned my bike in the right direction and took off.
The rest of the course I loved, I was carrying speed as best as I could and even caught up and passed two of the girls who had started ahead. The last bit was steep and loose heading to the finish line. I went as fast as I could feel I could go without compromising my bike or risking a fall.
In the end I won the senior woman National Champ title over Sasha Smith who was only 11 seconds behind me. I was second woman overall behind Nelson local Harriet Harper who was only 25sec ahead, which is very exciting as I know I can make much more time if I was on a bike with rear suspension. My sights are now for the Oceania Championships in Rotorua, where hopefully I can borrow a bike and really have a strong chance of a win.  

Sasha Smith (2nd), Me (1st), Sarah Atkin (3rd)

Cross Country

My cross country race was a bit messy and I was disappointed with my performance and result. The course was fun, fast, loose and pinchy with the heat of the day getting hotter and hotter. By 2pm it was time for race start, I was feeling good, excited for the track as I really loved the course. 
The start didn't go so well, my legs weren't firing on the climb and I got passed by some of the Under 19 girls who slowed significantly on the single track where passing opportunities were scarce. It was frustrating as I watched the leaders disappear. Finally at the bottom I was able to pass and endeavoured to play catch up. The rest of the lap went well I had passed a few people and made up time on some of the riders in front. Then second lap came and at the bottom of the first descent, I took a corner too sharply and clipped the side of the bridge with my handlebars which sent me over the bars into a large ditch under the bridge. Unhurt I scramble up the bank with my bike back onto the track and went to play catch up once again. The next few laps went by uneventful, I felt awesome on the entire single track, loving all the spectator support and cheers. I was able to pass two girls and started to look ahead to the next one who wasn’t too far in front. Before I could reel her in, the heat started to get to me. I was kindly been given bottles by Ash Sparks and obtained my last water bottle half way through my second to last lap. This nice full bottle filled with refreshing water tragically bounced out of my bottle cage before I could get a chance to take a drink. I thought I would be fine but my performance suffered and my climbs became embarrassingly slow. I was able to maintain my position to the finish and ended up 8th in the elite woman (7th New Zealander). Huge congratulations to Dirk Peters and Karen Hanlen who took out the Elite race, couldn't think of any two more friendly and deserving athletes. 

Photo by Jerome Luthi

Photo by the Retief's

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tour de Whaka Video

A sifty pre-ride of the Super-D course of the Tour the Whaka in Rotorua.
Love Rotovegas trails :)

Video filmed and edited by Ash

Monday, January 9, 2012


To start the week and the New Year, Ash cashed in his Ohakune Holiday house voucher (that he won from the Karioi Classic)  and organised a group of us to do the Tongariro Crossing. After the rain and thunder storms on New years day, the weather did a 180 and put on it's Sunday best for the day of the walk. We were very spoilt with lovely accommodation, good company and one of NZ's best day walks. A few of us decided that we might as well climb Mount Ngauruhoe (2,291 meters) and spent the next hour scrambling up the mountain face to the top. The whole tramp took us 7.30hours, well worth it!

Mount Ngauruhoe

Ash and I at the top

For the next couple of days after the Tongariro Crossing my legs were wasted and hurt from DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) having not done much prior walking or running. Luckily it all cleared up just in time for the Tour de Whaka, and with some better tires that Kris Snow (Cycle Obsession) kindly lent me I was all set for the race..

Hill Climb
The hill climb was a short and sharp 265 ish meter climb over 3.25km. I reached the top in 18min which put me in 3rd place overall (women). Seems my hill climbing has come a long way over the winter thanks to Auckland hills and John's training program. From the hill climb we headed on over to the start of the Super D

Photo by Simon Blanchett

Super D
The course made it's way down Split ends, Pondy DH, Pondy New and finishing at the bottom of Roller coaster. The course itself was very pedally with some good pinches of climbing in. I wanted the win and knowing a was up against locals that could ride the course with their eyes shut, I knew I had to pull something special out of the box. I started out good, loving my 29er and trying to carry as much speed as I could. Things were going great until I mistook a water run-off for the track. I made the wrong turn and crashed through the bush for several meters, coming to an abrupt stop just in front of a particularly large log. Cursing myself I jumped off my bike and carried it back to the track, well aware I was loosing precious time I took off again. I spent the rest of the race stressed out that I had blown it and utilized the adrenaline to pedal harder and corner faster. In the end I still managed to win the Super D by a VERY narrow margin of 1sec with Nic Leary as runner up.

Photo from Simon Blanchett

Time Trial
The time trial was the final race on Saturday, like the Hill climb and Super D we were released at 1min intervals in a random order. The TT was raced on Old Chevy- a twisty pinchy track with little time to rest. I felt great, standing up and powering up the climbs and riding well on the bike. The only thing that let me down was my lack of local knowledge, missing all the 'hot lines', running off the track a couple of times, and over braking on corners. Still it was a blast! I finished 2nd women Overall for the time trial, putting me in 2nd place for day one.

Cross Country
The big finale, with Katie O'Neill leading the women's field by 1min and Nic Leary 1min behind me in total time, it was going to be close. The rain had held off on Saturday, but by Sunday the weather had turned for the worst. It had rained heavily throughout the night which formed numerous puddles of all shapes and sizes.
I had good start along the road but once I hit the single track everybody was held up in a long train of people. Unable to pass I sat in conserving energy until an opportunity to pass came. Finally at the bottom of Dragons tail I got through and was off again feeling good. The rest of the tracks were slippery and fast which I rode very loosely and loving every bit of it. Again I struggled by not knowing Rotorua tracks and ended up riding off the track and taking not so ideal lines which began to exhaust me. Despite this it was still heaps of fun, I was particularly enjoying splashing through the puddles, at first unsure of the deepness until it was too late. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, and I enjoyed seeing Ash around the XC course giving me time splits and encouragement. I came 2nd Women in the XC race which meant 2nd in the tour, with Katie O'Neill winning the race and overall tour.

1st: Carl Jones
2nd: Dirk Peters
3rd: Mikey Northcott

1st: Katie O'Neill
2nd: Raewyn Morrison
3rd: Nic Leary