Sunday, September 21, 2008

Homeward Bound

Well, I’m sitting in Los Angles airport, half way home, another season done. It’s a bit of a weird one really. I’m well and truly ready to be heading home but at the same time I don’t want to go. It’s even a bit sad to be leaving France, which has become my second home, as I don’t know if I’ll be back again next year. At this very moment though, I’m a bit pissed off because my flight has been delayed by an hour and a half. Apparently my boarding pass is worth ten buck’s though, so I might go visit Burger King or Starbucks which is just across the terminal from me.

This year has been an interesting and testing year. To be honest it hasn’t been as good as I had hoped. It hasn’t been bad but its kind of a case of how much better could it have been? The team quite simply hasn’t been good enough and I have struggled with form in the last couple of months. The biggest problem this year has been that we have had to live with our team director. It’s a long story but quite simply it has been far from ideal. Would you want to live with your boss? If it wasn’t for Marky and James I could well have been back in NZ a lot earlier, put it like that. However, when I look back this has definitely been my best year yet on the bike. When on form I was at a whole new level, it all seemed too easy. The win I had at Buxerolles in the Coupe de France was massive and then to back it up with other big results was brilliant. In the first half of this year I honestly felt that I was one of the very best in France. Despite a lack-luster last couple of months I still ended up 7th in the Coupe de France standings this year. Not bad for a kid from the Wairarapa I feel.

The thing that has been so good in the last couple of weeks, but perhaps not the best thing for the bike, has been the overwhelming hospitality that we’ve received. In the last 12 days that I was in France, I ate out at home only once. We dined like kings. It’s no secret either that I love a vin rouge and most of the people in the club know that, which was great. Each time we were invited out to diner a good bottle was pulled out to impress us. Top local drops as well as some of Bordeauxs best like Paulliac and Chateaux Margaux were upon the table, which by the way are the dogs bollocks, magnifique! We came to the conclusion that they loved us which was extremely touching. There were plenty of handshakes, kisses and merci beaucoup’s. We found out that the French really love the word bon as well, which means good. Bon chance, bon continuation, bon voyage, bon courage, bon appetite etc etc were flung around repetedly. So French, so great. I have parted with some great memories.

I really don’t know what I’ll be doing next year, which is worrying. It is a tough time in cycling at the moment and finding a professional or continental team isn’t easy. I have done four years in France now and it feels as if I’ve done my apprenticeship, so to speak. It’s time to move on. I have had a great couple of seasons and I feel I’ve merited a spot on a good team and after this year I know I’m at the required level. The most important thing for me in the next couple of weeks is going to be securing a ride somewhere for next year.

To finish I must say thanks. Thanks to all of you who have helped me out and been behind me. I have had a good year and come a long way, something that I definitely couldn’t have done by myself. I really do appreciate the support, cheers.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Bee Sting

Out riding on Thursday with my team mate James when a bee hit me on the chin. Somehow the little prick, excuse the pun, managed to land upon me which was quite amazing considering we were rolling along at 30 odd km/h. Before I could do anything the little chap stuck his rear end into me. The result was this...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Testing Times

Well, where do I start? Once again there hasn't been too much exciting going on here. Nothing special, enthralling or out of the ordinary. Time has flown by yet again though so I guess that things can't have been too bad either.

At this time of year there are a lot of criteriums or circuit races on. It is the middle of summer here and people are out and about. They usually put these races on in centre ville along with beer tents, music, food and a bit of a fair. The public comes out to watch skinny guys in lycra going round in circles and enjoy they atmosphere that builds up. There is something for young and old, it's all a bit of a spectacle. These races are a lot of fun and good to do but frankly, they just ain't my cup of tea. It's as if half the field is there to try and impress their Mum and Dad, partners or friends while the other half is there to win all the money in the intermediate sprints. It is almost as if the final result isn't quite as important. Also the majority of these are held at night, in the dark! Still, they are a lot of fun and people really do love these races.

Personally, things have been a little bit more challenging than usual. I've been struggling for form in the last month or so. It's not that I have been going too bad, it is just that I havn't been flying like I was earlier on in the season. I went and saw a sports doctor and some simple blood tests showed that I had run my reserves a little thin, hence the fatigue. Quite simple to do, especially racing and training in the heat of the middle of summer but luckily it's quite simple to remedy… Take some time off. I had a week off the rig and it seems to have helped. I had a big race on the weekend and it felt easy, the form was back, hooray. I have only got a month of racing left before heading home but hopefully I'll be able to write a few more results into the back of my diary in that time.

The other important thing for me in the upcoming month or so is to try and secure something good for next year. I have had a rather good year results wise and normally that would warrant a place on a big team. Cycling is going through a tough time at the moment though and finding places on teams is tough. I'm confident in finding something but it's not going to be easy. Fingers crossed though. 

Dinner time now. It's a good night out so we are having a barby. Steak, salad and a baguette from the local boulangerie, washed down with a fresh Hoegaarden (One of my favourite beers, a good Belgian drop!).

Catch you soon


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Classement Individuel de la Coupe de France

The latest standing of the Coupe de France after five rounds.

Next round is in four weeks time, Circuit des Deux Provences, should be interesting. Looking forward to it.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Blue skies, fêtes, tourists and sunflowers

The suns out and the skies are blue. Farmer Jean Pierre is out harvesting his golden paddocks while farmer Alexandre is irrigating his luscious green fields. Places are bustling and people are out and about with fêtes (or festivals) on all the time. There’s an influx of Dutch, British, German and Belgian tourists. It’s hot! There are bright yellow sunflowers all around and the Tour de France is on. Yes, it’s July here in France. Summer has finally arrived.

The last time that I wrote I was just about to take a week off the bike, which is exactly what I did. I did that by spending a bit of time with my parents, who were here on holiday at the time. My olds and I, along with my team mate Marky, had an action packed week driving around various parts of France. We went to some fantastic places and did some cool things. We soaked up the sun on the Mediterranean and even played in the snow in the French Alps. The olds even rode some of the famous French mountains like Alped’Huez and the Col du Telegraphe while Mark and I followed them up in the car, slowly. Payback for all the years they’ve done it for me I guess. It was a thoroughly enjoyable break and just what we needed mid season. What I probably didn’t need that week though, was all those pizza’s, nor the French patisseries, nor the copious amounts of red wine. But… it would have been a bit rude leaving my Dad to eat and drink by himself though, wouldn’t it?

Since their departure it has been back to business as usually. I have been turning the pedal for hours on end trying to build up for this second half of the year. It’s amazing how much you can loose in just a week but thankfully things are starting to come back together again. Things start to get serious again in the next couple of weeks so hopefully I’ll be on top of my game come then. The biggest obstacle at the moment though, is recovering properly in this heat. Just can’t cool down or sleep well. Awful problem to have isn’t it. How is the weather back in NZ by the way?

That’s about it really. It has been a fair while since I last wrote but that’s because there isn’t too much news to tell you, sorry. Hopefully next time I’ll be able to fill you in with something a bit more eventful. For the meantime, be good and play nice (that’s what my Mum used to tell me).



Monday, June 2, 2008

A weekend off !

I’m lying on my bed with my feet up in a hotel room somewhere in Bordeaux. I’m currently doing a race called the Tour de Gironde. I’m rather knackered as well, so this should hopefully be a short one for you and me both.

Since the last time I wrote things have been pretty good. I’ve hardly been in the house it seems, always racing or on the road travelling. I don’t know what’s happened to the calendar either? It‘s as if it’s skipped a few days here and there. Can somebody please explain to me how it’s already June?

It’s kind of a weird time of year actually because next week the French hold their regional champs, which I can’t do. It’s fantastic because it means that I can take a bit of a break but weird at the same time because the last time that I had a free weekend was the 5th and 6th of January. What am I going to do?! I’ve got it sorted actually. A week off the bike is on the cards, just what the Dr ordered for a bit of a mid season freshen up. Me and my two English speaking team mates, Mark and James, are going to spend some time with my parents who are over here on holiday at the moment. It’ll be great to get out of our house and do something a bit different. We’re looking forward to it.

Marky and James are both brilliant lads, it really is great living with them. They are both twenty years old, not that you’d guess though. Marky can grow a moe in less than a week and James can tell stories and pull out facts and figures like a wise old head of 64 years. The thing that I like most though with the lads is humour. We laugh a lot in our household and have plenty of fun. James is a pom and his sense of humour is very British. So dry and witty and sarcasm is flung round recklessly, I love it. Marky is also a very funny boy, very! I can’t quite explain in what way though so I’ll give you an example to give you an idea…

Mark went and had a chat with another kiwi at dinner tonight, Pete. They were talking about the race and Pete asked him how he ended up today, to which he replied “Yeah, yeah, yeah not bad aye.” Pete then asked, “And how about Scotty, where’s he sitting?” Marky turned round and pointed in my direction and says “Just over there by the window.” Pete, rather bemused, then says, “Yeah that’s nice mate but where abouts overall?” Classic.

Anyway, I’d love to write more but I can’t. My eyelids are struggling to stay open so had best go to sleep. Last day of the tour tomorrow. It’s gone pretty well so far and I’m in amongst it on the overall. Hopefully tomorrow goes well. Then it’s holiday time!

Cheers heaps and catch you soon,


Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mauvais temps and muffins

So, what's been happening here? Well, not much really. The last month has been rather uneventful. Sure, there has been plenty of riding going on but other than that, there isn't too much to tell.

The weather has been the main feature. Id love to tell you that the South of France has been bathed in beautiful warm sunshine but it has in fact been dull and dismal! In the last seven weeks I have only had one dry weekend of racing, the rest has been in la flot, rain. This is my fourth season in France and this year has been the worst weather by miles. Being wet and cold, having numb fingers and blue lips and making regular trips to the bike shop to get new gear cables and brake pads have become common occurrences here in Castel. It hasn't been the most pleasant patch of weather. Trying to train hard and race well without getting ill hasn't been easy either.

All this bad weather has resulted in plenty of house time, which is not a good thing. My team mate James has become really good at juggling. He can even juggle while standing on a swiss ball, which is very impressive! He could make the circus. Marky and I aren't quite so talented or coordinated so we have been engaging in Freecell battles on the computer. Nerds I know but we put it down to cabin fever. We have started baking muffins as well which is a sign we have too much spare time. Normal boys wouldn't do that I'm sure. With the exception of one batch that I made that turned out to be bricks, they have been absolutely sensational. We've nailed muffin making so we are moving on to bigger and better things now, cakes.

There reason that I'm here is to ride my bike and despite the mauvais temps(bad weather), there has been a fair bit of that done. The racing has been tough but it's gone alright. The results have been a bit slow coming it seems but in saying that the results I have had have been fantastic. We had the second Coupe de France of the year at Nogent, just north of Paris. 30 teams again, 180 riders and I got eighth. A result I was very happy with, especially considering it rained and snowed for most of the 185km. I don't think I have ever been so cold! I've had a couple of other good rides since as well. It's good when things finally come together.

I have plenty coming up in the next few weeks, the calendar is packed. I have my folks and some family friends coming over for a holiday later this week also, which will be wicked. It's going to be a busy and hopefully more exciting period. I'm looking forward to it.