Words: Sam Shaw Pictures: Sam & Mates on the iPhone; Harry Talbot on the SLR
Following his Central Otago summer, Sam reports in from his northern hemisphere season of XC, Enduro and general mayhem...
A quick recap on the campaign so far before we get started with this week's edition of ba-logging.
Managed to catch covid so was house-bound and missed Oceania XCO Champs in Awestralia.
Caught the first available flight to Canada where Johnny Richardson smuggled me south across the border to Bellingham WA for some 'all time' riding. Also to catch up with the Transition crew and a bush dog.
Then further south for the Sea Otter Classic - racing XC, Enduro and DH all on my trusty Transition Spur. Mixed results but happy with a single digit place in the short course XC.
A good time had with Tom Bradshaw and the Lezyne crew. Eventually hooked up with travelling amigo Caleb Bottcher for a week of riding and beers around Santa Cruz. Then off to Arkansas, Clinton country.
Demolished my right shoulder during XC practice. Grade 4 AC separation according to the paperwork and X-rays. Managed to race on Saturday with it taped up and drugged. Pretty sore though.
Now back to present day, kinda.
26 April 2022 Flyday
Landed in Manchester. Ups to Leo and Kellie for an airport pickup of two smelly Kiwis. They took Caleb and me back to the family home in Oswestry. We were fed and washed (win-win on that count) and met up with our van and bike tools.
Ended the day with a ride around one of the local lakes followed by 14 hours of sleeeep, my fave.
27 April 2022 Fix Day
Had a physio session. Was schooled on how to tape the arm/shoulder in place so I could race until fixed up proper with an operation down the track. Then off to the hardware store for van-repair supplies and home to drill it all in place before a quick pedal around the neighbourhood.
28 April 2022 Riiiide Day
Massive ride with Caleb, Leo, and Kellie. Finished off the van fittings. Ayooo.
29 April 2022 Driiive Day
Up early for some yogis and a spin before coffee and a big thank you to the Housmans for putting us up and putting up with us (sorry for inadvertently stealing the drill - on its way back to you). Then on the road to Belgium via some van yogis, Ikea and 1 x late night ferry. Found a nice carpark at two in the morning. A good sleep had in our boujee Ikea beds.
30 April 2022 Scavenger Day
On the road to Wjister (a pile of garbage that claims to be a large hill and is often used for cyclo cross racing). Entered the Cat 1 XCO and sorted a camp spot. Poached some showers, cooked dinner and hit the Ikea bedroom suite.
01 May 2022 Race Day
Massive sleep-in. Haha must’ve been tired from something. Breakfast at 11 and into prep for the 2 PM start. Managed a great warm up and all that. Taped my shoulder into its spot, and we were into it. Caleb (Boosher) and I were last on the grid (because of the late entry) and both managed a good start. I snuck into the top forty (from seventy) by the end of lap one and worked my way up through the race to twenty seventh. Very happy with that for now! Caleb hissed his way into seventeenth (big Huss).
I headed out for an hour cool down spin. Passed the usual house, with the usual dog outside (quite a large one actually). The dog barked. I looked. The dog kinda jogged. I kept biking. The dog started sprinting and barking angrily. I started sprinting. The dogs eyes went bloodshot, its mouth was foaming. We hit 40kph (faster than Usain Bolt). The mutt got within striking distance. I was at my max. He nipped my tyre and then gave up after the several hundred metre chase. Shit the bed.
We managed to meet some locals (Marita, Dick and Jen). They invited us back for dins and puds, yummy yum yum. Then offered for us to cruise by their holiday house the next day in Lemiers, Netherlands - on the way to the next race in Albstadt, Germany.
02 May 2022 Eat Day
Drove to Lemiers. Ate a stooopid amount of food. Slept, biked, ate again. Slept again. Showered and ploughed through the backload of clothes' washing at the holiday house. Then made like The Cure and headed into a forest where we found a great camp spot.
03 May 2022
Massive ride around Lemiers and off in the direction of Albstadt for my first (of hopefully many) XCO World Cups for the season. Rolled across the border into Deutschland and found a secluded spot to camp.
04 May 2022 Wednesday
Up for some yoga and coffee, into the van - now christened the Marae - and onwards to Albstadt.
Arrived nice and early and registered our team spot (naughty). Met Martin the security guard who was onto us, but friendly. He let us park while we sorted a few things out. We were not really allowed in the teams' area, but managed to sweet talk a spot for the rest of the week. Martin was in disbelief that two cross country riders would race with our basic setup. He brought shnacks for the smelly kiwis three times a day. Winner. Then an evening ride around the town, very beautiful.
05 May 2022 Thursday
Yoga with Adriene, coffee with Caleb, breakfast, lunch and dinner sponsored by Martin... and a ride on the course with everyone. Not bahhd.
06 May 2022 Friday
The usual morning routine and some ukulele and shoulder maintenance. A skate around the pits to get my bike running nice and squeaky, so I can only blame the body come Sunday. Some beers with the KTM/Austrian Team next door and sleeeep.
07 May 2022 Mr Booster race
Fitted in the morning routine - I've been a good boi looking after myself these past few months. A short ride before getting Caleb's bottles and spares sorted for his first World Cup outing. He went well and stayed in the race, so a gooood start in such a crazy-hyped atmosphere. Nice big yoga sesh (keeping the shoulder alive) and an early night to bank some beans for my turn the next day.
08 May 2022 XCO World Cup Round Two Albstadt
Up at 10 (sleepie boi) and into some coffee and then down the road to watch the women’s elite race (sick to see Aussie Bec smoking the field). Then back to the Marae to prep my Ryno bottles and spares. Mr Booster (Caleb) taped my shoulder and I got into a warm up. Then the call up. Then the race started.
I was seeded around last so spent the start loop waiting for the first lap to come around before I could start picking riders off. Unfortunately not long into this approach I found out the body was not too keen on this idea. Haha, but too bad. I pushed through a bit of pain to get as far through the race as possible, managing to make a lot friends on the sideline along the way. This fuelled the motivation and I rode four and a half laps (of the six and a half (not tooo good, but not awful - but my arm was still attached so that was a bonus).
Photos: Harry Talbot
Big cool downs and big yarns and then a tidy up thanks to Team USA and their shower (danke). Some post race pizza, and beers with the neighbours.
09 May 2022 Sunnyday (Monday)
Nice weee ride around the area and a coffeee with German Mom plus a couple cafe stops - running some admin with Mr Booster before we leave for Czech Republic later in the day.
After a bit of soul searching and solid medical advice decided to get myself and my shoulder back to kiwi land for an operation, some rehab and then back to Europe to catch the tail end of the race season with a bit more zip in the tank.
A bit of admin and sorted a flight home for after the next World Cup in Nove Mesto. Headed out of Germany feeling good, then the wheel started squealing about 30min into the trip. We tried to find a mechanic (at 19:30) but no luck (we did find a motorbike mechanic though - who was stoked to meet some kiwis, but still no help). We squeaked on.
Parked up in a random town that I didn't catch the name of. Food stores were all closed apart from Kaufman (a mega super market). Bought some nacho ingredients and cooked a Tex-Mex feast under the carpark lights. At some stage the lights switched off. Caleb smashed a pot lid in the darkness. Still had a yummy dinner before bed.
10 May 2022 Cruiseday
Drive drive drive, coffee coffee coffee. Made it to Nove Mesto na Morave in the Czech Republic. Cruised straight back into the team parking for another week of camping. Went for a ride and a very humbling wash in the tiny nearby creeeek before bed.
11 May 2022 Wednesday
Up for some good morning routine things - yoga, ukulele, twalks n coffee. The rest of last week's crew turned up and we managed to find access to water and showers :) Had a rest day from biking due to feeling rekt after the travel and lil recovery. Massive amount of sleep starts here.
12 May 2022 Chursday
Le morning things :) Then onto the course. I belted out 9 laps before a wee ride into town for a grocery run with Caleb, and to purchase duct tape for sign writing the van.
13 May 2022 Friday
Into course practice as soon as I was up for another 5 laps or so (fun trail this one). And then into breakie and coffees with all the usuals in the pits. Spent the rest of the day chillin' and grillin' in the sun (and pollen). Some sauv and dins and sleep.
14 May 2022 U23 Wace Day
Up first thing to go see the juniors race. Top course to run around on. After watching the bois and gurlz it was back to the Marae for breakfast. Then an easy spin on the Spur interspersed with a few sprints - which did a good job of pulling my shoulder outta place (it has sadly maintained its floatie status).
Back to make moka coffees for the Americans and co (channelling Good Spot Wanaka in Euroland). Picked up Caleb's bottles and spare bits and headed to the U23 feed zone. Great yarns and battles to get out and hand Caleb his aquas. Caleb finished aboot twenty positions higher up the field than at Albstadt (great sign).
Finished up with dinner, a beer with the Austrians and a panna cotta chaser - yum yum. The battle for sleep was lost to the massive after-party not far from the van that lasted until 4 am (one of the Austrians had a good race).
15 May 2022 Father’s Day
Big sleeep in and then up for some blogging and coffee before skating over to watch the Women’s Elite start.
Back to woof oats, then back to watch the rest of the race. Back at the Marae I prepped the last bits and bobs. The Austrians and Caleb signed up as my feeders.
Into the start box. As they called up the riders a ‘not happy’ UCI offical came over and told me I could not race in my rust brown Ground Effect Tee. It was "too baggy". Unfortunately I did not actually bring any lycra tops with me to Europe. Hahaha, shit.
Luckily a family Caleb and I had stayed with in the Netherlands had given me an old race top (I asked for it - fan guy that I am (the top still hadn’t been washed from a race 2 weeks prior)). Frantic Sam engaged, I sprinted to the van, changed tops and got back to a happy UCI. Straight into line up. Happily, but weirdly, my baggies met the dress code.
Photo: Piper Albrecht
Race start wayoo and I felt good. Unfortunately (like most riders) I got caught up in a series of three crashes on the start loop. Once clear of the mayhem I put in a quick lap and then a bonked lap. This pattern repeated until my final lap when I started to feel amazing. All a lil bit tooo late though. Nutrition was on point (coffees, carrots, mushroom, potatoes). I finished 92nd and just needed a spare minute to finish the race without being lapped and pulled - all the more cruel that I lost 3 minutes in the start loop.
Photos: Piper Albrecht
Caught up for the post race yarns as per usual and then into the creek for a humbling last wash (until I land in New Zealand in three days time). Chucked our kit and caboodle in the Marae, said our goodbyes and pinned for Munich.
Gassed up in Czech and got the classic fuel contamination resulting in no turbo. Called Adrien Retief and Dad for a mechanical consult. On their advice, loaded the tank with diesel valve cleaner stuff nd cruised the motorway for two hours at 60-90 kph max until - with a belch of nasty black smoke - it magically purged itself.
Stopped 20 minutes out from Munich airport at 3 am and crawled into the sack.
16 May 2022 Flyday
Up at seven thirty. Packed the bike and gear up with a moka brewing on the side. Quick lesson for Caleb on how to drive the Marae. Lurched our way to the airport. Haha.
Secured my negative covid test (very nerve racking these days), checked in and jumped on the plane for twenty hours of sleep and inflight entertainment peppered with tin foil meals. Love it, but can't wait to get home ayo ayo.
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