Saturday, 22 June 2013


As the rain comes down, torrentially of course, I find myself at the beginning of yet another cyclocross season. Tomorrow is the first round of the Bike Hutt series, which is going to accomplish two things for us. It will answer the question we are always seeking an answer to, namely how long is a piece of string? because the series will be in a string 8 weeks long. I think it's been tricky to answer that questions in the past because I've always thought of length as a measurement of distance, rather than one of time. Perhaps some of the Iyenga yoga I've been doing lately at Wellington Yoga has increased the flexibility of my thinking as well as that of my hamstrings. The other thing it will accomplish is to satisfy a city that has waited almost a year since its last cyclocross race, desperately champing at the bit to get going again. The addition of two rounds to compensate for the unfortunate demise of the Hot CX series (due to land use restraints) has gone a long way to keep chipper everyone who was so looking forward to getting muddy and exhausted from slightly earlier in the season.

It seems quite some time since my early races in Belgium last year, riding under sunny skies and with wide-eyed wonder. I wonder how different the races here at home will feel now, after such a contrast of cultures.

Neerpelt, my second race against the pro's
But in terms of the season and the time of year relative to the northern hemisphere, now would be right at the peak of it - December, with the kerstperiode or Christmas period. It's a pretty different climate, and while I didn't see any snow in Belgium until January it's pretty far off being icy right now. Although saying that these past few days have seen an amazingly powerful storm ravage the country, in particular the South coast of Wellington, moving the footpath from one side of the road to the other:

Formerly quite an ordinary-looking street
In the lead-up to this season I have been for some lovely rides in relatively unfamiliar places:

Making the most of my time and the opportunities presented by a generally kind onset of winter.

I have a mixture of new and old bicycle riding necessities to take me through the next while, from my trusty Yeti ARC-X, to Mavic shoes

And a supply of Vittoria clincher tyres for general riding and in races where I'm not using my pair of Dugast tubulars

Lately I've been doing a bit of work at the Makara Peak MTB park gravelling and tidying up some of the tracks with my friend and entrepreneur Thomas. Here he is making the tank engine work.

My plan for the season has roughly taken shape, based mainly around the Bike Hutt series and a few of the NZ national series rounds. In and around Queenstown in late August there is a week of racing which includes the Winter Games NZ Cyclocross Series, so that will be the busiest part of the year. At least in New Zealand - I am hoping to arrange a period of racing in America later in the year as their season builds up, and if possible a return to Belgium for December and another taste (hopefully somewhat more acquired) of things over there. But these international plans depend an awful lot on things like money, so at the moment are looking rather limited.

On another note, it looks like we may not have a UCI-endorsed national championships this year, which is a great shame after the success of last year and the momentum that has been generated around the country. I'm looking at a way of facilitating the growth of the sport from all fronts - riders, race organisers, industry representatives and the national federation - to come up with a plan that suits everyone, in order to keep it going. There is huge potential in the sport, and already a lot of interest in New Zealand so it can't be let fizzle out. If the international success recently of some of our cross country mountain bikers is any indication, we may not be far off in 'cross if we steer it in the right direction.

Creamy mud
Conglomerated mud
Languishing brakes
Oh my
Riding on a rim
Oh well


  1. Best of luck for the season, bro!

  2. Good luck tomorrow Alex.
    Love, Ma andPa

  3. Come back to Belgium!

  4. yep come back and take some more kiwi s and ausie s with you