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