The season proper has arrived, like an Ebay delivery that you knew would be here eventually, but had kind of forgotten about, so much so to be somewhat surprised when it finally arrives. The first bike-bag-pack and subsequent plane flight of the year signifies mentally (and hopefully physically) that racing season has started, and it's time to toe a start line with significant purpose. This weekend was my inceptive race of the ITU season, the Australian Champs in Elwood. Despite every local we bumped into grabbing us by the arm and pontificating with some desperation that there had been nary a day of precipitation in the last 15 days/months/years (depending on the local), race day presented conditions that seemed out of a chapter of Genesis. Wild wind and rain meant the swim had more chop than a Bruce Lee film, and guaranteed the bike would be tough.
I tend to relish the way these conditions turn the race in to a dogfight, and managed the swim chop decently to lead out of the swim, with youngster Matt Baker and Ryan Fisher in tow, with around 20 seconds to the main bunch. Fish is a merchant of this sort of trench warfare, and if I could pick anyone to be racing with in terrible conditions, it'd be Fish, and along with Baker, we squinted into the winds and set about chewing some stem, grafting out a 1:20 advantage by the end of the bike. Onto the run, and myself and Fish ran together for all bar 200m of the run, including a rather 'tactical' last 2.5 km into a block headwind, which neither of us were particularly enthusiastic about leading into. With 200m to go, Fish politely excused himself by dropping a bomb of a sprint, and I was left with his dust in my eyes crossing for second. Satisfied, yet a little disconsolate at finishing 2nd and an Australian Champs for the 3rd time, in a sprint finish every time. However, it was a good blow out of the cobwebs, and confirms my training is going well for my more important race, New Plymouth World Cup, and Auckland World Series, where I hope to earn a guernsey for the Commonwealth Games team.
Take care friends,