Friday, March 30, 2007

Anja McDonald talks about the Nationals


I’ve developed a few new skills over the last couple of months – I know precisely what 20kg of gear in a bike box and 7kg in a backpack feel like. I’ve mastered the art of Monday Morning Positivity when I really feel I’d rather be at home catching more zzz’s or sorting the last weekends washing. And I’ve learnt the efficiency of moving said washing directly from bike box to washing machine, straight back to bike box, completely bypassing any lay-time in the wardrobe.

Some other things I’ve learned are 1) All the local knowledge in the world won’t help when you’ve torn off your derailleur. 2) There’s nothing like a noisy crowd to help you find that extra gear! And 3) it may be tiring, expensive and time consuming, but there’s still nothing I’d rather be doing with my weekends.

Some personal Highlights of the season for me were the Coronet Peak course – A track so fun I couldn’t wipe the stupid grin off my face for the whole race… or for a long time afterwards!

The humbling feeling I got in Dunedin when I realised there was nothing left to do but laugh as slipped and slid down the mud with my ruined rear mech stuffed in my back pocket.

And then there were the National Champs – I attribute my performance to Stu Thorpe and his rowdy mates at the top of that hill – their infectious enthusiasm was such great motivation, I looked forwards to that uphill as much as the downhill that followed it!

Finding my rhythm on my home trails in Rotorua with my mum, dad, uncle and a bunch of mates to cheer me on.

And finally Wellington, where Robyn Wong was actually cheering me on – How crazy is that?!

It’s 9 months of preparation and anticipation, 10 hours of pain and exhaustion (spread over about 2 months of convenient 2 hour blocks), and about a months worth of recovery… Put like that, it almost sounds like childbirth. Especially when you consider your trusty steed, that no doubt now needs love and attention lavished on it to nurse it back to slick working order.

It’s been a challenge, a pretty massive learning curve and it’s certainly been rewarding. And, I know I’ve still got a few more things to learn. But there’s always next season!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Out of the Office

Ok, so I'll be out of the office, YES, again.

I'll be supporting the XC team, who are travelling to Ozzie for the Oceania Champs. The NZ Santa Cruz team will be well represented with Anja McDonald, George Bennett, Jenna MakGill and Peter Cooper all racing.

So if you need something new to read because I won't have a chance to update my blog, I recommend the following;

2007 Heckler review in Mountain Bike Action, or you can view it here.

For those of you who are multi-lingual, the Ibis website has Mojo reviews from the German and Italian press, you can view those here.
I'm tempted to make stereo typical German and Italian jokes, but I'm sure all you out there would do a better job.

Also those of you with broadband to burn, RipTV.com have How To Win by Steve Peat Part 1

http://www.rip.tv/video/watch/1388/

Tim Wilding reports on Colville

Hey everybody

Well I've had a great couple of weeks culminating in a second at the NZ National Mtb Marathon Championships last Saturday!

The Champs were held in conjunction with the very popular Colville Connection; a 72km race around the tip of the Coromandel Peninsula. Its mostly gravel road but with a lot of climbing and is very scenic. With a national title up for grabs it was pretty easy to enter, especially when you throw in camping and good mates. Of course any title hopes went out the window when Clinton Avery entered. He has been the dominant force this season and the only realistic chance I had of beating him was if he suffered a mechanical.

The 9am race start presented a bit of a challenge as I tried to get breakfast both in and out of me before joining the front row. I then proceeded to make a fool of myself, forgetting that the start was neutralised for the first km. When the gun went I started screaming at the van ahead to get a move on. I was halfway around it when I remembered – urghh! At least it kept everyone smiling.

This was my first time racing the Colville Connection so I wasn't sure about what to expect and what tactics to employ. The first half is very hilly while the second half is relatively flat and open. I wanted to break away in the hills, and build up a big enough gap so that I remained out of sight of any chasing bunches on the way home. That was when packs would have the advantage as it's members took advantage of each other's shelter along the flat and fast roads.

I was climbing well and like Clinton ghosted off the front on the first real climb. He very quickly disappeared into the distance and I was facing 68km of solo riding. Oh goody. Actually, I really enjoyed it. I was focused on getting a result and was constantly appraising my strategy as the race progressed. Before I knew it I was at the base of 'the climb' – a 500vertical metre monster that took riders from one side of the peninsula to the other. At this point my Polar HRM's altimeter function came into its own. I was in a world of hurt climbing up that hill and it was comforting to know just how much higher I had to. I find knowledge like that helps to keep me mentally strong, which is very important.

The final 30km of the race were hard. Clinton was just in the distance – I was pushing him – but more importantly, there was no one was behind me chasing. It was probably slightly irrational but throughout I was sure that a big bunch was about to catch and pass me. That fear kept me going and I sure needed it. At 2hr 30 I was starting to really suffer. It was a hot day and I'd been racing at a very high intensity. What Colville lacks in technical riding it makes up for in its physicality. I had been diligent in my nutrition but went through a brief lull as one squeezy ran out before another came on line. At that point, and for the first time ever in my career, I actually thought that I was not going to finish because I could no longer propel myself. With 15km and 35min remaining it wasn't a nice feeling. All that I could do was to keep turning the cranks and edge myself ever closer to the finish.

In the final 9km I started to suffer bad cramp in my legs which is unprecedented for me. While I had consumed a lot of liquid it was evidently not enough and made reaching the finish line a rather bittersweet experience. I was completely drained and thoroughly sick of pedalling through the corrugations of the road, but as soon as I stopped pedalling my legs completely locked up with cramp. Pain!

All in all it was a memorable race. I finished 3minutes down on Clinton and over 6 minutes up on Matt Trainor in third. To place second was pleasing and the UCI points should help later in the year. The Coromandel is a really special part of the country and I'm looking forward to competing again next year.

I was going to race the final round of the National Triathlon Series in Whangamata tomorrow but have been feeling very tired after Colville. I started my professionals course for law last week and haven't really slowed down for the past month. I've had an easy week in response and am starting to feel better. My next race is the National Triathlon Championships in Wellington at the end of the month. I'm really looking forward to racing in the city again and catching up with everybody.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Santa Cruz Bikes - March 2007 Newsletter

Ok, I just got the latest Santa Cruz Bikes newsletter, click on the link below to see all the nice pictures, but the main info is here.

New Bikes!
Info has been trickling out about the new Heckler and Bullit bikes since the end of last year. Now, with the bikes scheduled to start shipping this month, the SCB website and bike builder have been updated with all the new sizing, spec, color option and pricing info for them. There are still a couple small holes to fill, but they’ll be taken care of soon. All the important stuff – pricing, sizing, kit and color options – is good to go.
We Just Work Here
Brian Vernor is a filmmaker. He made a moody and artistic film about cyclocross a couple years ago titled “Pure Sweet Hell” that is a must for anyone into the whole skinny-tire masochism of ‘cross. Brian also works as a builder here at SCB, along with some other over-talented freaks, artistes and bike riding martyrs. He’s now in the final phases of making a moody and artistic film titled “We Just Work Here,” about, not surprisingly, those aforementioned freaks, artistes and martyrs. We have no idea whether this will be good or bad publicity for SCB, but at least it won’t show anyone pretending to be someone they’re not. Fingers crossed, it’ll be done by Sea Otter.

Speaking Of The Sea Otter...
The entire Santa Cruz Syndicate team will be on deck at The Sea Otter Classic, April 12-15, at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California. That is, if the Australian can get his passport sorted, and the Englishman doesn’t get punched by a drunk Spaniard on a ferryboat somewhere, and the guy in Oregon doesn’t have to siphon any biodiesel, and the endurance racer isn’t off getting new tattoos. IF none of that goes wrong, they’ll all be here, riding, racing, signing autographs, showing off their new paint jobs. Swing by the Santa Cruz Syndicate encampment and say hi.from left: Nathan Rennie, Steve Peat, Jamie Goldman, Johnny Waddell. (Kirt Voreis and Mark Hendershot will be there too).

About that Downhill Bike
Speaking of the Syndicate, there have been rumors floating around about a new Downhill bike.Well, they are all false. Nothing to see here. Move along.Okay, we fibbed. There IS a new downhill bike in the works, but don’t go expecting to order one anytime soon. Really. Like, seriously, not a snowball’s chance in hell of even trying to order one before the end of this year.This is a prototype race bike, and it’s going to be raced this season by Syndicate riders Steve Peat and Nathan Rennie, as well as the MBUK squad consisting of Marc Beaumont and Will Longden. As for the bike, it’s an evolution of the current V-10 platform, with a major emphasis placed on shaving weight. Between a new carbon fiber upper link, some super-svelte new dropouts and completely revised frame tubing (everything has been gone over, and the only parts shared with the existing V-10 are the seat and chainstay yokes), the new chassis sheds more than a pound over the old one. It also features some revised linkage rates and sits higher in its sag point for a livelier feel.So, now you know. But remember, this bike is a LONG way from being ready for production.

Dealer of The Month
Carolina Fatz, in Asheville, North Carolina, has been a SCB dealer since 2004. Stocking all Santa Cruz models, Jason and his crew offer the best selection and service on the East Coast. They possess a vast knowledge of information on our bikes including fit, maintenance and set up. Single speed freak Jason, and the other Fatz, are also notorious east coast one-speed Chameleon racers. That doesn’t mean they can’t adjust derrailleurs or set up suspension, though. They just like to punish themselves. If you’re in the neighborhood, give ‘em a whirl:Carolina Fatz, 1240 Brevard Road, #13Asheville, NC 28806. 828-665-7744

Meet Your Santa Cruz Employee
SO, whenever you send an email to the general SCB emailbox, do you wonder who reads it? Wonder no more. This guy does. Scott Turner. He’s also the guy who very patiently and politely fields almost every question - from the obscure to the inane to the sometimes threatening - that comes down the electronic pipe. Now you know what he looks like. Cheerful enough, right? Well be warned. He bites the heads off live bats and works as a sideshow carney for traveling circuses on the side. We don’t pay very well...

Joe Graney Explains The World
Joe’s the lead engineer here at Santa Cruz. We thought it would be a good idea if he explained some of the “why” behind the design process here at SCB. Last newsletter, he got a little bit wiggy talking about bearings and guarantees. Now, he’s gonna lay down the law about fork length, geometry, and why your bike will work better with some length forks than others. It might get bumpy, and we’re still not entirely convinced that letting Joe rant is such a good idea, but here ya go anyway...

And Now a Sally Field Moment
Hmmm, that was probably a little too obscure. Anyway, the first magazine reviews of the revamped Heckler are starting to come in, hot on the heels of a raft of reviews about the new Superlight. And people are digging ‘em! We’re posting as many of them as we can get our hands on up on the website. You can find them by clicking on specific model pages, then clicking “reviews” at the top of that page.Or if you are one of the lucky ones reading this, just click here for the Superlight review(s). And click here for the Heckler review(s).

Monday, March 12, 2007

Santa Cruz Riders Cover Colville Connection Podium

With over 700 entrants in this years 72km Colville Connect marathon race, you'd have to be doing a good job to get on the podium.
Well how about 3 Santa Cruz riders in the top five of the open men's field?
Tim Wilding finished 2nd, Tim and his new Superlight seem to be working out well.
Josh Barley finished 4th, in the open men's class, on his new Blur XC.
Justin Price, one of the R&R riders now on Blur XC's, finished just behind Josh to take the 5th place spot.

Now that's a good day in the office.

National Wrap Up.


Another National Series over and wasn't it a lot of fun? This season was a little nostalgic for me with the inclusion of Riverhead, Rotorua and Vic. All courses that I was racing about a decade ago, I remember saying that one of my goals was to race a National series race in Riverhead in the dry. Well that goal finally came true and what a fantastic day it was in Auckland. For me, the Riverhead course was my favourite; this could be because it was my best result for the series, a podium finish.

Downhill
Jenna Makgill; finished 2nd in the series overall and winning the Rotorua and Auckland rounds.
Peter Cooper; finished 3rd in the series overall
Eddie Masters; Eddie has some very fast seeding times all season, but his race’s didn’t quite come together. His consistency saw him finish 5th overall in the series.
Dale Cragg; Dale has been recovering from injury all this season, but still managed to pull in 4th at the national champs and a 2nd in Auckland.


Cross Country
Anja McDonald; National Champ, a win at Rotorua and finishing 4th in the series.
George Bennett; 2nd in the U19 Nationals champs and 3rd in Wellington, George showed some excellent form this season.
Tim Wilding; Tim, due to other commitment has only decided to contest the final three rounds of the series and he quickly showed that he was up there with the fast guys. With his new 2007 Superlight being built up a couple of days before the Rotorua round, Tim produced some great results with 4th in Rotorua, 6th in Riverhead and 3rd in Wellington.
Josh Barley; Mechanicals slowed Josh down in 2 races but with a 6th place finishes in Coronet and Wellington, we can see Josh being ‘the one to watch’, next season.
Me, well I managed to finish 2nd overall in the series. Not bad for a guy racing a 5.5inch travel trail bike.
Congrat’s to the team and everyone else who raced the nationals. It was fun.

Not the Nationals
The big events that are worth a mention are obviously, Crater Rim and Karapoti.
The team did bloody well at both of these races.
Carter Rim saw Anikka Smail win, with Anja McDonald finish 4th. Andy Reid finished 2nd and less than a minute behind the winner. Jason Blair finished 10th overall 2nd the Vet class.
Karapoti; a dry and fast course saw very fast times this year. Josh Barley finished 12th in the Pro men’s field and George Bennett finished 20th overall and 2nd in the U17 class.
Well done!
Thanks for the Floor Space
Not a race goes by without having to rely on friends giving up some floor space and taking in over focused, usually tired mountain bike racers. So a BIG thanks to Trish & Cullum, in Wanaka, Kila in Nasbey, Rob & Annika (and for the beer and chips too) in Roto-Vegas, Mum and Dad, in Auckland AND Nick & Amanda for an awesome dry Riverhead race. Thanks a bunch.
New Heckler and Bullit
If you head to www.santacruzbicycles.com you can see that the NEW Heckler and Bullit are up there now. Now all I have to decide is whether to get an anodised bronze or lime green with polished swing-arm Bullit. But wait, there’s more, Van36’s or Totem’s. It’s just so hard to decide.

Superlight
I know there are some anxious customers out there waiting on Superlights, they are coming soon. ALSO complete Superlights will be available to the NZ market. This will be an anodised frame, float R rear shock, DXC groupset and Tora fork. More info to come.

Pictures from the Nationals





















More to come, when I get more time.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Santa Cruz News

Some news from the Santa Cruz front;

2007 Bullit News
Anodised colour options will be black or bronze. Bronze will only be available for Bullit's, just like the lime green is only available for Bullits.
Pricing, expect the price for a Bullit frame ($NZ RRP) to start from $2600.00. That's will be a powder coated frame, with a DHX3 coil and with the 135mm, QR drop outs.

2007 Heckler News
The April issue of Mountain Bike Action has a review of the all new Heckler, so rush out a get it or check it out on-line.
Basically, they love it as much as the current model, if not more. Stiffer, more stand over height, new bearing design and looks so sexy. What more could you ask for?

2007 Superlight News
While we wait for the first customers bikes to leave sunny Santa Cruz and hit NZ, I can give you a brief update on the bikes performance.

With Tim Wilding piloting the only 2007 Superlight in NZ, I would say he got the hang of the bike pretty quickly. Building the bike and then basically throwing himself at the final three rounds of the NZ national mtb series, he place 4th in Rotorua, 6th in Auckland and 3rd in Wellington.


So we can come to the conclusion that Tim is pretty fast and the Superlight is not slowing him down. Look out for his update on the Nationals soon. Fantastic Result Tim!

2007 Blur LT News
Blur LT's will now be made in two factories, to help increase availability. Frames will be either made in Portland, USA or in Taiwan.