Monday, August 31, 2009

The Foggy Wet Hoppet

The start of the 09 Kangaroo Hoppet!

After a week of stormy weather the day of the race came. I awoke to rain at our house in Bright. I packed my gear organised the crew and drove up through the fog and the rain to Windy Corner at Falls Creek. After little debate and silent looks at each other in the car that this was going to be a nasty day on the skis we headed into the day shelter to get organised. Everyone else had the same idea as there was not an inch of available space to get ready.
I spoke to a few people who all has the same view that it was going to be a interesting race because of the weather. The race jury decided to shorten the event due to the weather and the risk to competitors. The marathon had been shortened to 25km which in the end suited me. Some competitors were disappointed as they had flown half way around the world for this but hey the thought of freezing to death out there in extreme weather was not a inspiring thought.
I headed out for the warm up and to test the skis waxed by Paul Murray (Winter Olympian and nice bloke) for me. They would do the job nicely. The issue was that nothing much was going to get the skis going fast in these conditions as the snow was extra slow due to the rain damage.
So it was time to line up and get going. I lined up in the third group on the start grid!

Game face on and ready to go!

Crack that whip and slide them skis! GO GO GO!

After sorting myself out on the start line the count down started and the GO. The start of a event like this is a little wild as everyone tries to get a good start but as the trail narrows all hell brakes loose. Saw some great falls in the first 1.5km's but I managed to keep clear. The fog had rolled in and you could only see 40 - 50 ms in front and at times it was like being in a bathroom after a hot shower - in Sun Valley it was complete white everywhere you looked.
After getting some clear snow I got into a rhythm and worked with a couple of guys and was feeling good. At the turn around point at Washbed Creek we headed in to the Two Pauls trail which was sloppy and churned up, I lost the game plan here with a massive fall on a descent, just missing some rocks. Once on the snow surface I got so wet, not great in driving winds. I found out I was in the impact area as a fellow racer just missed me, time to bail and quickly.
After negotiating the nice 40 + degree slope of the Lower Dam wall trail it was though the start finish for the second lap. This lap went by without issue apart from the hail and rain in the last kms, I managed to dump the couple of guys I was with and came down the finish chute alone.
I rolled in 148th out of 300 odd racers.... not to bad but clearly I need to work harder and earlier for next year. I am hoping that this result will keep me in the top 20 of the Aussie Ski Chase series as prior to the Hoppet I was 11th overall.
Time to hang up the skis for the year and get the bikes back out. I hear the gym calling me and also the roller skis to improve on my technique. So plans are a foot for the race next year already!
Congrats to Ben Sim for his win in the mens as this boy makes it look so easy on skis... hopefully he makes the 2010 Vancouver Olympics team as he is on fire at the moment. He edged out some very good overseas skiers. KT Calder from NZ won the womens (former Aussie!) so congrats to her as well.
On other news the Big Mak/ Felt Epix plans are coming together and the route will be sorted this week over a few beers.... looking forward to this little adventure as it finishes somewhere sweet!
I did get another ride in at Bright and found some more sweet trail above the town that kept me interested. I was having having a ball riding in the pine forest on tacky clay and pine needles.... bloody unreal fun!
Anyway stuff to do peoples so..... get out there and enjoy it
Happy trails!

Oh and I found this with the start of the race which shows how bad fog was but hey its XC skiing at its best!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

bright single track

After some impressive rain and wind overnight and with the weather forecasts expecting blizzards I decided that the better option was to explore with the 29er. We are staying on the outskirts of bright and I new of some trail the headed out of town following the river. I also am near where the Bright enduro is held so I felt that there would be plenty of trails available.

I hit the trail early and headed out towards Wandiligong via the river and was riding tight rooted and rocky single track. I was in my element and quickly came across little sections of trail that brought a smile to my dial. The occasional bridge was to be found along the trail had the swollen river flowing under it at a fast rate from the recent rains.

I came across a gate that had a sigh asking for it to be shut and for no motorbikes, nothing said no mtb so I opened it and followed the trail through the paddock. It is nice to see local landowners allowing access so that the trail can continue on, as long as you shut the gates!

After around 30 odd minutes of chasing the trails it ended up in the town of Wandiligong so I chose to double back to where I had started. I found some more trail and gave that a nudge and rode it each way to get the feel of it. I popped back out close to where we are staying and then found more trail this time taking me back on the other side of the river and into the local pine forest. Some of this trail was fast, tight and sweet.

In the end a fun cold muddy 2hr ride but enough to keep my interest…. Will have to check it out a bit more before I leave!

Happy trails!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Wombat

Headed to Falls Creek Saturday for the warm up race for the Hoppet. Covered 20 1200km's in the car in 24 hrs, a lot of driving. The reaso being that we are expecting a baby and today we have a doctors appointment so I had to come back for that and then take the boss back up to Bright. Anyway weather was windy and grey with soft rain damaged snow. The race course was changed 3 times so we could still get in the 15km race. Me, it was struggle town, the first lap I was seriously wondering what the fuck I was doing out there. I just buried my head and got on with it cause there ain't no point in whining about it! In the end I got it done in around 55 mins and should get some points towards the Australian Ski Chase.
Snow is thinning out and I am wondering if its going to hold for the Hoppet next Saturday. Blizzard starting tonight fingers crossed for some love from the snow gods..... but I have taken the 29er for a bit of a look around Bright.... sweet trails I am told, just have to find em!
Happy trails

Gerro wins GP de Plouay

If you want to see determination and what guts are made of in cycling then watch Simon's win from yesterday..... Bloody awesome ride, showing his bosses exactly what he can do on 2 wheels!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Perfect trails during the morning today. We have been blessed with some fantastic weather on this trip to Snowfarm. Once the ice had eased off it was great skiing. Great way to end the skiing part of the trip. Back to Christchurch tomorrow for the vomit comet home!

Catch yo on the flip side

Happy trails!

Monday, August 17, 2009

NZ road trip pt 2

Ok it has been a busy couple of days and we have had ourselves totally running mad around Wanaka. I will start the story with the heli adventure today. We have been trying to get on a heli all the time we have been here. 3rd time lucky today with a 1.5hr flight around the back of Mt Aspiring to check out the glacier with a couple of snow landings. As you can see the glacier was massive and great to see up close. The only other way up here is to hump a pack and do a 5 day climb (not for the faint hearted).

The glacier with massive crevasses

Up on one of the landing sites near Mt Aspiring with the chopper in the back ground

Looking towards Mt Aspiring

We have had 3 days on the snow at Snowfarm. It is a nasty drive up with the road being full of serious mud and ruts. We are glad to have a hire car and it having 4WD is a bonus, trust me it is earning its keep driving up that road each day.

Me out trying to get it together!

The set up at Snowfarm is amazing and a lot of international teams train here in the winter. The Canadians, Koreans, Japanese teams are all here training. The skills of these guys is amazing and it is great to see XC skiing at its best.
The building is massive and houses guests, has a cafe/ restaurant, gym, ski hire. The trails are groomed perfectly and as you can see terrace there way down the escarpment. I did a loop out yesterday that wound its way out through the Pisa range/ plateau. The snow was a bit soft but still fun. I am getting my ski legs back and hopefully it will all pull together for the Hoppet.
We were blessed today with sunshine, fast snow and no wind.... it was fantastic!
Tomorrow sees us do our last day of skiing so fingers crossed for some good weather.

The Lodge sitting over the trails at Snowfarm

The Canadians out training..... fast, way fast!

I am outta here for now.... happy trails!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

NZ road trip pt 1

Its been a busy couple of days with long hours of driving….. but it has been worth it. I have driven many roads in many countries but few with such spectacular scenery.

The brief run down of the NZ trip so far is we flew into Christchurch on Monday PM after a brief plane delay out of Melburn. Picked up our hire car and gear (at least it all made it here!) and headed for the hotel. Easy place to navigate and had no dramas.

We poked around town and found a place for a brew, a much needed caffeine fix and somewhere to chill for a while. We decided on a place for dinner, which was aptly named the Bicycle Thief. Great little place that served great pizza, beer and local NZ wine! It all went down a treat and all a short walk from the hotel.

Next morning I headed out for a run around the streets of Christchurch, as I am heading back to the hotel I run into Rob Eva (Mr SRAM Australia!), it appears that every time I am away we cross paths as I ran into him in Brisbane a few months back for the Noosa ride.

We made tracks after breakfast the next morning heading towards Greymouth cross country. The views blew me away as we headed towards the Albert pass. Eventually we hit the mountains and the one lane bridges (bloody everywhere on the Westcoast… makes for interesting driving) and narrow wet roads.

Greymouth was a place I wanted to visit for Monteiths. This brewery makes some fantastic beer of which we sampled after a tour of the place. Monteiths has been around awhile and is about to make a cider which I didn’t get to try. Bloody good little tour, and I had a lot of samples of the brew.

Next day saw the rain greet us for the trip to Haast and maybe a glacier trip via chopper. As we drove further into the wilds of the West Coast the rain got worse. By the time we made it to Franz Joseph we knew that we had lucked out with the weather as the cloud was low and the rain smacking the windshield… therefore no chopper ride. We did drive up to an observation point at Fox Glacier and briefly jumped out of the car for a look. Pity no flight in a chopper up on to the glaciers, maybe next time.

Haast was a basic place but surrounded by the Southern Alps on one side and the ocean on the other and carved up by all forms of rivers and streams and waterfalls. The lush rainforest was everywhere and spectacular as were the lakes. Everywhere you looked was a photo moment.

Today we drove the Haast Pass (big rivers and waterfalls) and out of the West Coast into the middle of the Southern Alps and into Wanaka and Queenstown. It feels a lot like parts of Canada we have travelled through with the same vibe. We are spending the next couple of days in Queenstown before heading up to Snowfarm and Wanaka for most of next week. Training a plenty on skis next week will be fun as long as the weather clears a little. It is dry this side of the mountains but the cloud is low and we have yet to be greeted by clear skies and mountains galore.

Had a run around parts of the lake next to Queenstown tonight. The run had awesome views and I felt great pounding the pavement.

Anyway until next time

Happy Trails

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

giant 29er

It seems that big wheels are catching on everywhere! Gav dropped this baby in my inbox for me to check out. Giant is the latest to get on board as the big companies realise there is a market for them especially with some companies being 29er specific like Niner bikes. This bike by giant looks sweet and I will be interested to see if it makes the Aussie shores anytime soon.
The 29er market here is growing and I am seeing more and more 29ers at the races and out on the trails.... I say bring it on.
Keep them big wheels rolling!

Monday, August 3, 2009

random shots from Falls Creek

The trail descending Heathy Spur before it becomes Bladerunner..... bloody fun descent when you are cranking it out as fast as you can dropping through the trees further down

Looking over the Rocky Valley Dam on the way back down from Heathy Spur

Snapped this one of the moon rising over the snow crusted trees at the top of the Paralyzer....little bit spooky when combined with Jeff Mills banging away on the iPod

Sunday, August 2, 2009

hotham - dinner plain race

A day I would rather forget. Binned it big time on the descent not long in to the race and I was moving at warp speed when I came down. The weather was bad on the drive up (hotham is a spooky drive in bad weather, the resort just appears out of the cloud) but cleared a little before the start. Finished 62nd overall and 17th in my age group. Not bad I guess but after binning it I lost my rhythm. Good turn out with some 150 plus racers!
Had 2 other ski sessions over the weekend and they could not have been more different. One was in the sun and after 3hrs of classic and a few photo stops it was done, bloody perfect. The other was in the wind and rain.... it eventually cracked me after 1hr 45mins and I called it a day.
I will post some photos from the classic session when I down load them.

This video has me pumped for the NZ trip! I cant wait to get on the snow over there.

Happy trails!