Hey everyone, I thought it was time for a bit of a wrap up of the season now my feet have touched the ground again, focussing mainly on the big events for me, the Australian Championships and Trial des Nations.
Now another trials season is more or less wrapped up I think it's been probably my best yet, I wasn't entirely happy with my training this year and I felt a bit like I was banging my head against a brick wall at times but it all seemed to come together a couple of weeks before leaving for Spain, just in time! A fifth Australian title (outdoors) puts me with the longest running win streak in history. I didn't have a perfect weekend because I think running a little high on emotion and low on sleep from arriving back in Oz days before the weekend but I think as the years go on I get better at dealing with situations I'm not 100% happy with.
I didn’t travel interstate as much as I wanted to this year, I had plans of doing Tassie, QLD titles, VIC titles and maybe even SA but things just never seemed to line up between work, uni and everything else that goes on in life but I won back my home state championship in yet another great battle with Col Zar so I’m very happy about that. Losing that one last year was a great reminder that nothing can be taken for granted, especially when Colin is involved.
The highlight of the year and something I'm sure I'll cherish for the rest of my life was this year’s Trial des Nations. I was lucky to be on the team for my ninth time. We were aiming for a goal that has been not only a goal of the teams for a long time but one of the few goals I've yet to accomplish in my personal career. That list is getting shorter and most of them I've come to accept I might not ever achieve, the TdN win was one of them. The team, but more than anyone, Phil Whittle (our Manager) has been working hard on how to achieve this goal. We decided to spend an entire week in Baiona preparing and training and I think we all formed a bond, we had a great time together and set ourselves up for the weekend. People often ask me how do I adjust to a new bike so quickly when overseas but the truth is, each year the Gas Gas seems to get easier to just jump on a brand new one and feel completely at home within an hour or less.
The weekend came and the girls all had a great ride and came eighth, this might not seem like anything special but in the context of the girls all being young and possessing only two years combined TdN experience between the three of them it was a wonderful effort from the girls and let’s hope some good experience and development for them for future years, the key for our girls going up towards the front of the class is going to be consistency, we need to get a few girls committed to doing well in the event for a number of years, we need at least two girls with 5 years or so experience before we can expect anything beyond top 7.
The sections suited us well but the most important thing was that the team was clicking and I've only ever felt this once before on the team, that year we were on the podium, so I knew and I think the whole team knew we were in for a good chance. Don’t get me wrong, all of the TdN’s I’ve been on have been awesome with a great bunch of people but there’s been a different feeling for me the times we’ve been near the top. Chris and I have always had a great bond, some call it a man crush ( mainly my girlfriend Em), we really enjoy spending time together on bikes so we understand each other and know we will always work well together. He brings not only a great rider to the team but an even better attitude, we can overcome everything and we will take a positive view on anything that comes our way in Chris’s eyes, he makes sure the whole team takes those views too. Connor only joined the team last year so we all knew last year would be a learning curve, we (Chris and I) had to learn what makes him tick and he had to learn how to perform in the Trial des nations, because it’s different from everything else, especially because you’re working with the guys you desperately want to beat the rest of the year. This year he was a vastly improved member, he knew those things, he has come a long way as a person in the past year and his riding has also come a long way in that time. He was easily keeping up with Chris and I in practice, not a hint of him being a weak link at all.
So fast forward to part way through the day of the men’s and the day of competition was going well, we all knew it. We finished lap one in a podium position, Phil informed us of that. Lap two was going better but just as we approached the few key sections which would become difficult when wet, the rain started coming in. Honestly, I was terrified that this was the end of our day, I thought there was a good chance we would make some mistakes and I also thought the other teams who are more used to wet slippery sections wouldn’t. We had some fantastic rides, didn’t make mistakes and the other teams did! It seemed like we really got going and the others started to falter. We arrived at the last couple of sections and we sealed the deal with only the last section to go which we all cleaned the first lap. We held it together and that was it, we had done it, we had won the TdN.
Winning 5 straight Aussie titles is amazing and don’t get me wrong I’m over the moon about that but winning the TdN for me is something more special. It takes creating relationships, it takes team work, it takes years of preparation, it even takes a bit of luck and it’s something that we can do, not just for ourselves, not even just for each other but for the whole Australian Trial community. We can make everyone proud and we can give something back to all of our supporters, MA for the years and years of financial commitment but also for the multitude of trials supporters and trials riders who put their hands in their own pockets to get this team into Europe and competing without sending ourselves broke. I’m sure I can speak on behalf of all of the team and thank every one of you who have helped the team over the last few years, our success is as much yours as it is ours.
In summary, this year gave another successful season to me but as usual I want more and I’m not satisfied. I’ve got a few things in my personal life coming next year but I feel determined to push harder and do a few new things, I’ve got a couple in the pipeline already so let’s see what 2018 brings. ‘til next time Rock Hoppers.