Thursday, 11 April 2013

Back on the Horse

While in a Brussels department store looking for a Dutch language book to assist in my Flemish assimilation last year, I stumbled upon something that struck me at the time as being quite unique to that part of the world. I'd been aware of computer games in which you manage a football team, but they'd always seemed like they were missing the best part - ie. you never actually got to kick the ball or make the players sprint to exhaustion and do radical slide tackles causing them to get sent off, which was definitely the best part. Instead you just did whatever else there is to do in running a team, and I never really thought that sounded like much fun.

You could be the next Patrick Lefevre
As curious as I was to see what exactly was involved with the management of a pro cycling team, there was plenty of evidence coming out in the media at the time of what some key components were in the last dozen or so years. I suspect that institutionalised doping wasn't a feature in this game, as crucial as it seems to have been in riding the road to success.

I had a few offers of management while I was in Belgium, all of which were from strangers over Facebook or email. I never actually met any of them throughout the length of my stay, but apparently one was a teenager, while another was rather disinclined to reveal anything much about himself. The closest I ended up coming to any actual management was seeing myself available as part of the Fantasy Cross online game where you have a budget to pick riders for your hypothetical team and get points based on their results. Unsurprisingly I was the cheapest rider, and while my results were never sufficient to earn anyone anything it did have the upside of meaning I was quite affordable as a final rider, filling the empty space left when people's budgets had been virtually exhausted by purchasing all the big names of the sport.
Welcome back
One thing I thought about a lot between the hedonistic cyclocross races and the enchanting whispers of heavy snowfall was mountain biking in New Zealand, or more specifically riding the native bush singletrack. By all accounts there is plenty in the Luxembourg region of Belgium and the Ardennes, but apart from a few exceptions in Flanders the closest thing to this was narrow trenches and small slabs of concrete between corn fields. As my impending return to Wellington approached, the anticipation of warm weather and great riding gripped me ever tighter. Despite only having a fully rigid bike to come back to initially, the first rides up big hills and down narrow rocky descents in the sun were a bumpy breath of dusty but fresh air.

You can't beat Wellington... etc
Despite making the decision to ride Karapoti on my cross bike (which you can read about on my Spoke blog post) I was looking forward to having the use of a Yeti SB-95 for some of the upcoming Super-D and Enduro races courtesy of Kashi Leuchs at Black Seal in Dunedin. The numbers in the name correspond to the following: 9 for 29" wheels, 5 for 5" of rear wheel suspension travel. Smooth and grippy up hills while incredibly confidence inspiring back down, it has been inordinately helpful in bringing me back up to speed on tricky trails and forgiving me for what I had lost in finesse by riding through more or less flat stretches of mud for 6 months.

This is a size large demo bike, and is available to be taken for a test ride by contacting Kashi and the Black Seal team here - - but be warned that it will most definitely cause spontaneous good times and a renewed enjoyment of all things mountainous.

Between now and the resumption of cyclocross in late May I have the Mt Crawford Enduro and Mt Vic Super D events lined up, at which I shall be astride the majestic SB-95 looking to profit from its abundant suspensive and fat-tyred qualities before returning to the skinny and rigid in the field.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoy Wellington and mountainbiking! Hope you'll be making a kickass return to cyclocross later in the year!