So I'm back in paradise (Aniseed Valley, NZ) for a brief few days...sorting everything out before I'm back off to the trenches in Europe for a new season. The last few months have been as hectic as any I can remember but bloody good at the same time! On the bike life has gone well, off the bike it has been great and it was exactly what I needed to get my ducks in a row for a big year.
The last time you heard from me on this I was reflecting on a mixed year from a beach in Thailand! The off season was big and much needed. More or less 6 weeks off the bike and I crammed a lot into that time. Even when it was time to start riding again, I felt like I'd managed to get my fill of New Zealand life, family and friends...and for a very brief moment I felt like a normal human!
The new team let me stay home during December camp so I could start my build up without cutting laps of the globe in an aeroplane...and before I knew it I was lining up at nationals. I kept my build up slow until the last minute, doing all sorts of new things training, diet and gym wise. Not many hours on the bike and nothing too fast. I hit the first intensity at a small race in Nelson (Tour de Vinyards) where I got my arse handed to me by some strong guys on the domestic scene. A few days easy, a few fast sessions and I was a new man at nationals. Although not strong enough to get myself out of a situation trying to cover 4 Avanti riders in the final but I felt like I could at least control what I needed on the hills. It's always a hard pill to swallow when a chance to wear the silver fern for a year passes by. However there wasn’t much time to dwell, it was straight into another few hard sessions and an even bigger step up in form that brought me to the Tour Down Under and into the new team for the first time.
TDU continued with the trend of my summer and was bloody intense! I can take a lot of good things from it though, I guess the biggest thing I'm happy with was my new team. It's always strange walking into a new team for the first time but something I'm getting used to! I guess it's kind of like being the new kid at school but within 30seconds I felt like one of the boys and I was just really impressed with the setup that we run and the family atmosphere of the team. It really feels like an environment I'm going to enjoy. It’s a big week for me being a kiwi, first race of the year and everyone is itching to go...plus there's a stack of kiwi and aussie supporters, friends and people to meet and as for the racing it's fast and nasty. We set a goal of getting me into the top ten and I just scraped home in 10th. It's not the strongest I've ever ridden but with a massive helping hand from the team I think it's one of my better races I've ridden. TDU is all about being at the front because the climbs are so short and explosive, there’s wind, crashes and a lot of nerves with some hairy roads along the way. It was really good to fly home to NZ after the race and have some time to unwind with good people in good places. That said it's back to scrambling now as I get things ready before I leave for a very long year ahead. I'm seeing a lot of pictures of snow appearing on my instagram feed from teammates...not the most inviting thing to get me on that plane come Tuesday! Nevertheless I'm looking forward to getting stuck in with a team camp just a few days after touching down. I won't be pinning numbers on again for a month so I'm currently knocking out a endurance block and will take a rest week over the plane trip and build back up.
First up it's back to my roots with some French cups...I used to thrive on the crazy uncontrolled amateur versions so I'm hoping the pro ones are the same. First big goal is Paris-Nice so see you all then...