Rotorua, NZ, August 30, 2006
It has been a long race season but after a return trip to Rotorua, NZ for the World Championships the season it is all but done - the serious stuff anyway.
Since my last report way back in July, I have spent a couple weeks up in Victoria which is pretty sweet in the summer. I did a couple of Canada Cups for the first time in years, which was fun. I even got to do one in my hometown at Mt. Washington. Got to go swimming in the river with the dogs and even had a nice BBQ with all my friends I never get to see because I am such a transient.
After that it was back to hyperventilation country for the last couple of NORBAs: Brian Head at 10000-11000ft and Snowmass at 9000-10000ft. I knew it was going to be an uphill battle to try to catch Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski in the NORBA XC overall and I wasn't quite up to the challenge as he rode away in Brian Head. I battled it out for second and suffered like a dog to finish third in Snowmass at the Finals, which was good enough for second overall in the XC series.
Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski has definitely been at the top of his game this year and took the overall for the Yankees, the first time in quite a few years. The press make a big deal about an American winning it but I think it is about time, as they have ten times as many people as us up in Canada. In a couple of tactical Short Tracks I ended up with a couple of seconds, which was enough to lock up my three-peat for another NORBA Overall STXC Championship.
Altitude has a way of making you feel pretty pathetic and I was hurting after Snowmass. I tried to recover for a few days before heading off to Rotorua and the World Championships. I left on Friday and got nailed going both ways. I got caught with terrorist materials that got confiscated - my Echinacea throat spray on the way over and a bottle of wine on the way back. I kind of forgot about the rules for no liquids or even chap stick for that matter. I mean come on . I am crazy and I have some lip gloss, watch out.
Anyway I made it to Rotorua fairly easily and it was winter this time so it was a little cooler than back in March. We had a good time, although it was sometimes boring hanging out and waiting for our race. There was a lot of hours to kill with just four TV channels, no internet, and one good book. The racing ended up being pretty average for me. I got caught in a fifteen minute hailstorm during the relay and all Canada could manage was ninth, which wasn't what we were hoping for. Max Plaxton rebounded for a great bronze medal ride for Canada in the U23 but all I could muster up was 36th in the big show on Sunday.
The Kiwis tried to cheer me up the steep hills but I was doing all I could. There were a bunch of hecklers in red capes that I was afraid to look at for the first five laps for fear that they were naked. It ended up that they did have Speedos on with big "merkins" hanging out. This word was added to my vocabulary this week: "Merkin" - a hairpiece for down under or you could call it a stunt bush. Anyway Mathieu Toulouse made it in for 48th place and local hero John Kirckaldie finished 21st in the DH in his big retirement race. He was the big TV celebrity all week.
After the race we all went out to the Wooly Bugger for Kirkcaldie's last free meal. Toulouse and I were pretty hurting and could barely get the food down. Next morning before I started the journey home we went to race some short track Dune Buggies where you could really get bent. Kirkcaldie beat me by a tenth of a second for fastest lap but we all left with big grins on our faces.
The results weren't always what we were hoping for this year but everyone supporting Team Maxxis did a great job and we had fun anyway. We have to go back and do some more homework this winter and then try to stay healthier next year. I still have a busy fall and will try to stay as fit as I can for PanAm Championships and a bunch of cyclocross that I will try to milk my fitness through. That all starts after wedding season - I have three to go to in four weeks with the big finale in Victoria on October 7 when Keri and I tie the knot. Should be some good times.
Over and out,