Friday, October 11, 2013

2013 World Champs - This Goes Out To The Ones I Love

It’s been quite some time since I updated my blog… And not for lack of things to write about, either… In fact, quite the opposite. I have a pile of adventures and witty commentaries half-written and waiting for the excitement of world champs to blow over so I may concentrate on adding the appropriate finishing touches that would do each of them justice. My journey to this year’s 24 hour solo world champs has been far different from any other… In fact, to be fair, no two lead-ins have ever been the same. This year has been speckled with fragments of joy, disappointment, hardship, excitement and adventure… There have been times that I called it the worst year of my life… But if you asked me right now, I would call it the best.

I suppose looking in from the outside, there has been little of the bravado I have enveloped around world championship races in previous years. For some reason that I cannot explain, I haven’t talked about it as much as I used to. It doesn’t mean I’m not excited… But maybe my priorities have shifted slightly as I have matured into my racing. The lead-in to a 24 hour race is always an emotional time for me and maybe on this occasion, I have spent more time sharing that with those closest to me. My friends, my partner, my family, my sponsors and my colleagues. There are times of sheer joy, frustration, excitement, anger and stress… Sometimes I cry thinking about that moment I cross the finish line. With that emotional investment comes a degree of pressure that I put on myself. I have been doing this a long time. For want of a better expression, I suppose I am a 24 hour racing veteran of sorts, and that’s something I am incredibly proud of. I think in the last year, my approach to racing has become far more pragmatic. More about the mental fitness than the physical, and in the process, I have, maybe unsurprisingly, ended up in the best shape I have ever been.

Through all those years of racing, there have been people and organisations who have shared that journey with me (and still do!). People who have shared moments of hilarity, moments of pain and who have no doubt seen me develop and grow as a rider and as a human being. I thought it was fitting, the day before my next 24 hour solo world championships, that I paid due homage to those people… The ones who make every single day that I exist on this planet all the richer for their presence.

First and foremost, my support crew. My awesome buddy Sarah, who has elegantly borne the brunt of my mood swings and irrational rants over the last few months, as well as being my adventure buddy and sharing some of the coolest moments I have had on this Earth in my 32 years of existence. My bro-in-law, Dan, for flying all the way to Canberra just to help as my support crew for the weekend, and my sister, Emily for volunteering him for the job! My Mum and Dad, who are currently on a 7 hour drive to Canberra to come and watch me race, yell out rude fart jokes and flash me from the sidelines (my apologies in advance to anyone in the vicinity who suffers collateral damage from their antics). My girlfriend, who, despite the excitement of a new relationship, has not only being understanding enough to step aside for the bike whilst I’ve been in my last month of training, but has actually willingly joined me on a number of my crazy adventures and training rides and has indicated she would be interested in continuing to do so moving forward (might be a keeper huh?!). My beautiful little puppy dogs, Paddi and Spud, who have barely seen their mum for the last two months and are always disproportionately stoked to see me every time I walk in the door… I won’t say you have been good fur children (the escape antics have been rather stressful, to be honest), but your wagging tails and little doggy cuddles always make me smile. Similarly, massive thanks to my neighbours, Sharyn and Deryk, my flatmate Jess, and my best bud Rich for keeping them fed, watered and safe while I am away conquering the world.

Kashi Leuchs from Yeti NZ, who has not only helped me out with awesome bikes to ride, but has been a wealth of experience to draw from. Andrew from Ayup Lights who has supported me for the entire time I have been racing these things. For the record, I still have my very first set of Ayup lights and they still work!!! Mark and the team from Adidas Eyewear who have supported me for the last five years (I reckon that even if they didn’t sponsor me, I would still be wearing their glasses!). Bryce from Cycletech who has answered countless questions and provided invaluable advice, then always has my new gear to me the next day (and Sock Guy socks are totally the coolest!).

My coach, Mark Fenner, an exceptionally good-looking geyser who has provided that “next level” experience for me when I thought that maybe I was as fast as I was ever going to get… And also my previous coach Sadie P, whose ongoing friendship, wisdom and support has meant the world to me. Toni from Touch Massage, who has enjoyed inflicting copious amounts of pain on my poor little body every fortnight. My boss, workmates, Rotorua Search and Rescue Squad and the entire mountain biking community in our sleepy little town of Rotorua for the love, support, and good vibes. All my buddies at home and abroad who have wished me well. Every single one of you has had a positive impact on my preparation for this race.

When I look at what I wrote above, it brings a tear to my eye to think of how important each of you are to me and the joy every one of you has brought to my life. It’s humbling to realise I have so many awesome people surrounding me. So now, all that is left to do is to go out there and ride a bike race this weekend… I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to win, or that I didn’t want to place well, but in the end, the most important thing is that I ride the best race that I can, and that’s all I can ask of myself… If that gets me a good result, that’s awesome. I feel ready, excited, stoked and full of positive energy. It’s time to rip this thing up!

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