Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Xterra Czech 4th

I was not feeling that great in the few days leading up to Xterra Czech. All week I had been very tired from Mountain Mayhem the week before (where Julie Dibens and I finished in the 2nd Elite team), which speaking to the other guys on our team was the general feeling.

The weather had been awfull with storms so torrential that 12 people in the Czech republic were killed.

As the gun went for the swim I got badly swum over and ended up missing the front pack and getting stuck behind loads of age groupers swimming loads slower than me.

Onto the bike and again I felt sluggish initially, not really reeling in people for the first 5km. Then we hit the serious off road and I began to feel better. It was super wet and muddy and very slippery, making the bike leg into 1 hr 45 minutes long for us leaders. I had no idea which position I was in until I returned to transition 2 and saw only 4 bikes there. Maybe it wasn't such a bad day after all?

Heading out on the run I just felt better and better. Soon I was up into 4th place with Michael Wiess (Xterra Austria champion and 2nd at the world champs in Maui) one place ahead of me. Unfortunately I couldn't quite catch him and I finished in 4th, equalling my best European tour finsh ever and improving my series ranking into the top 6.

I am back in the UK now for 10 days, before I head over to the US for Vermont and Colorado rounds of the US series.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Mountain Mayhem 24 hr team MTB race 2nd

Mountain Mayhem is the biggest prize purse on the UK Mountain bike calendar and is the biggest Mountain bike event in the world.

In various teams we have tried to pocket the cash in the 12 years it has been running. Eventually managing 1st place in 2006 with the Elite Mixed team of Julie Dibens, Jody Crawforth, Jamie Newall and myself.

This year we had a near identical team but with Dave Collins stepping in for Jamie Newall and we were riding under the USE Exposure lights banner with great help from them. Our main opposition was always going to be the Scott team, also on Exposure lights.

The first lap starts with a 1km run, followed by the bike lap, with my triathlon background it was me that started off the race. Finishing the run in 5th I was pleased to be back on the bike. I got into the lead fairly comfortably and had a 45 second lead finishing the lap.

However this was as good as it got, Scott got back to us on the next lap and we traded the lead for the next 4 hours, eventually they drew slightly ahead and never let up. They rode a stong race and deserved to win. Eventually completing 34 laps to our 33.

It was another 2nd place to add to the list, but a great team effort by the riders, mechanics and support crew. Especially Susan, giving out time gaps and getting us out on our bikes at 2am.

Maximuscle energy and recovery drinks kept us going which was invaluble. Obviously USE lights, seatposts and other equipment was used. Used both my Cannondale bikes and they were great as ever.

Next race Xterra Czech on Sat, watch this space.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Xterra Malaysia

Malaysia race report.

It’s been a busy week. I had 7 hours at home from returning from Xterra Italy, before going to Xterra Malaysia. All the travelling, stress and time difference left me pretty tired on arrival. However I was looking forward to racing at this new destination on the Global tour, and getting behind the event.

The local media were very excited about the arrival of the foreign athletes for this first edition of the event, and had hyped it up into a big rematch between Mike Vine (the current US champion) and myself, after our recent battle in Saipan where I edged him out for the win. The dark horse was Scott Thorne from New Zealand, who had the advantage of less jet lag and an extra 3 day actimatising to the extreme heat and humidity. Scott narrowly missed out on winning Xterra New Zealand this year so was always going to be one to watch out for along with the other Japanese, Malaysian and Philipino’s making up the pro field.

Still heavily jet lagged and relying heavily on some super strong local hotel coffee I got to the start line for the 8am start. The day was pretty overcast, compared to the searing heat of the previous week. Warming up 10 minutes before the start Mike Vine was stung by a Jellyfish (which we’d not seen in previous few days), he was in obvious pain, but we decided (hoped) it wasn’t a fatal portugese man of war sting. Maybe I shouldn’t have laughed at his expense because 20 minutes later I felt my hand touch something soft and jelly like and sure enough half a second later I felt a shooting pain go up my leg, wow those things hurt. Despite this I had a reasonable swim, exiting the water in 4th, 2 minutes behind Mike, and a minute behind Scott and the Japanese pro Taro.

The bike started with 7km of road, where I desperately gave chase after Taro and Scott who were working together to catch Mike. I made contact with them after 3km and we soon dropped Taro and I worked with Scott on our chase. It was a very interesting and eventful bike leg. I dropped Scott on each climb, but first missed a corner on a descent and he got back to me, then the heavens opened and he got back to me a second time on another descent. Finally I could see Mike 200m ahead and had got rid of Scott for good (or so I thought), but a police marshal sent all 3 of us the wrong way and when we found out and turned round, we were all 3 together again! We worked together on the subsequent road section and were still neck and neck with 10km to go. This did not leave me with much time to build a lead against 2 guys that were known for being top runners. When I did manage to get away on my own it was only 2km from transition and I only managed to get a 20 seconds lead on Mike and maybe a minute over Scott.

It must have had for great television for ESPN (the channel covering the event in Asia). I kept my dwindling lead for about 4km, then Mike caught me and coming onto the 2nd and final run lap we were again separated by only 5 meters with Scott chasing hard and closing. Mike eventually pushed home his advantage on lap 2 and I had to think about holding Scott off for 2nd place. It all ended in a sprint down the finishing funnel on the beach in front of the Malaysian crowds with Scott taking 2nd leaving me in 3rd with all 3 of us separated by less than 1 minute in one of the most exciting races I’ve ever been in. How so many things could have sent the result a different way and any of us could have won.

I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight (the first time in 12 days!), and having a weekend off racing and being spectator next weekend at Windsor triathlon. My next races are Mountain Mayhem 24 hour mountain bike race in 2 weeks time (the UK’s biggest and highest paying race) where I am racing for the USE all stars team. Then the following week I have round 2 of the European tour, Xterra Czech.

Thanks as usual to all sponsors, writing this on my Panasonic laptop now! Thoroughly recommend Squirt chain lube for not collecting the sand this weekend like most lubes do. Despite all this travelling, jetlag and racing Maximuscle products have been essential with my recovery and keeping my immune system strong. Thanks obviously to Snow and Rock and Cycle surgery for their support also and to Bikeboxalan for a case that has kept my bike undamaged in over 12 flights so far in 2009.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Xterra Italy 11th

Xterra Italy 2009 saw the biggest field ever in a European race, with 500 competitors in total and about 50 pros including the guys that got 1st and 2nd in the recent world champs. It was going to be damn hard. The race was also combined with the ETU (European Triathlon Union) Cross Champs, which is off road title they promote. This in turn attracted some more ITU road triathletes. Great Britain fielded a large contingent of nearly 30 athletes, making us one of the biggest teams.

The hot weather of Thursday, Friday and Sat, had made the water temperature 21 degrees, which according to ETU rules means it was wetsuits for the age groupers and no wetsuits for the pros. Race morning however was a lot colder, raining and over cast as the pros shivered in the ocean with a 20 metre headstart waiting for the age group athletes to swim over us in their much faster wetsuits. Sure enough this happened, but I still made it out of the water in about 80th place.

Onto the bike I was on a mission and immediately set about making up the lost ground. At the end of lap 1 I was in the top 10 and on the 2nd and final lap I passed Michael Wiess who got 2nd at the world champs, which put me into 5th position approaching the transition area to change for the run. It was here I made a very costly mistake, I hadn’t checked out the exact entrance to transition (which turned out to be on a high speed blind corner), as I came to it I was caught up in a battle overtaking back lappers and we were waved onto another lap, continuing on the course. Around the next corner, and the next I expected to be waved into transition, but after 400m I realised I was embarking on another 16km lap. I quickly turned round and headed back to transition, but this costly mistake lead to a big argument in transition with an official for riding in too fast, left me in about 8th place, and more importantly I lost my focus and had a bad run.

In the end I finished 11th, whereas I’m sure I deserved to be about 6th or 7th. I was and still am annoyed with the amateur errors which I can’t afford to make now this is my job, and it cost me several hundred euro’s. Well done to the British age group winners in which we had considerable success.

Oh well, time to put it behind me. I am sitting in Kuala Lumpur airport currently, on route to Xterra Malaysia. Several top pro’s are making the trip including the current US Champ Mike Vine, South African Champ Leiwe Boonstra and other New Zealand, Japanese and Australian pro’s. One thing is for sure, I’ll be double checking out the entry and exits to transition this weekend!