Leading into the 2017 World Champs, we were deep in winter in NZ and riding was relatively inconsistent. So I decided 4 weeks out I would head out to USA to begin training and riding again for what most likely was going to be my last trip of the year, so with the support financially from my parents and my credit card I set off to Denver to stay with my friends out there and have fun for 10 days on the bike. The scene out there is awesome, with a bunch of public bike parks and BMX tracks and is a city I really love being in. I was able to survive here fairly low cost thanks some great friends (Boo Huff, Anna Sibley, James Sheely, Kenny G – Lance and Jill McGuire) and let me stay for free and drive me around. After getting comfy on the bike I headed out to ride to some SX in Rock Hill.
At the start of July I headed out to Rock Hill for 7 days to get some big hill time, and some good training on the Rock Hill track. For this trip, I was travelling on my own. So to travel on a budget and on my own I needed to get fairly creative with planning this. To survive within budget, I booked an Airbnb that was a 36 minute bike ride from the track. Yes – there were hotels close to track, but the costs add up when you account for laundry, eating out and your sanity when alone for long periods. Fortunately the house I stayed at on Airbnb was perfect, and she was able to drive me to the grocery store and to the track occasionally. Apart from that, I had to bike 36 minutes in 90% humidity in 35 degree weather with all my race gear. I did the trip about 7 times and thanks to friends (Sarah Walker, Mika and Anthony, Pierre, Peel family) for some rides saving me big time!
I wanted to stay in the humid weather and same time zone, but Rock Hill closed 2 weeks prior, so I decided to book a flight to Tampa and continue my training on the Sarasota SX track. Again on a budget I had to look at Airbnb for the stay in Tampa and Sarasota until I met up with the Martin family from Hawkes Bay. The cheapest house I found in Sarasota was 10km away (38min) bike ride and I had to brave the nuts humidity and heat. Randomly enough, without knowing, the owners of the Airbnb were Australian and an American who had actually been to Auckland a whole bunch of time. Travelling on your own is hard but they were awesome and helped me out and is always cool to meet people outside of BMX when overseas.
After arriving completely wet with sweat biking 40 minutes in 34 degrees – 90% humidity and with all my gear, the sessions were great. Thankfully the Peels and Japanese team were there also and was able to get a ride back with them some of the days, otherwise I may of passed out haha. Johan Lindstrome at the Sarasota BMX academy was awesome in letting us ride the track an opening it during the day for the whole week I was there.
Worlds week we drove to Charlotte from Sarasota (about 9 hours) with Amy and Jodie Martin from Hawkes Bay, and stopping half way. I met up with Matt Cameron and the Petch family at the hotel in Charlotte and begun my worlds countdown. Other than a few mishaps with the elevator breaking and 7 of them being stuck in the elevator for 15-20 mins and fire department having to come, it was an awesome stay. Big thanks to the Petch's for helping out with a lot of the planning for the worlds trip! I had prepared as well with consistent SX sessions and with some good riders around me to train with.
Worlds practice went awesome, and I was excited for the next day of racing. Race day came around and a quick practice went great and set me up for the race day ahead. I had to qualify for the 1/8th finals by going through 3 qualifying motos first. We had 5 man motos, with my lanes being 7-6-1. I got out great on my first moto and high lowed the first turn to almost take lead into the 2nd turn ending up 2nd. I went 2-4-2 in my motos and easily qualified.
Once the qualifying went through, it came down to business time with single elimination from 1/8ths. I came into it feeling great, I had my normal gate and first straight and put myself in good position on first straight to slot in to a qualifying position. It got tight and a made some little mistake into first turn and that’s about all it took for 3 others to get past.
It was a bummer to end it like that but I was happy with how the whole weekend went. It had been a massive recovery process for me, when 12 months ago I had only been just getting my nerve back riding pro sections again, with no idea at all if I would ever be able to get back to speed, let a alone faster.
After Worlds, I headed back to Denver, Colorado to do a bunch of riding and race the Grand Junction USABMX SX race. The track was huge, with a massive triple as a first jump, and one you really couldn’t push through as hard as a normal one. It was an awesome weekend of racing, finally getting to the point where I genuinely was enjoying racing. I finished 5th in the semi on Saturday and 7th in the semi on the Sunday.
After that it was back to ride some trails in Denver and then head back to NZ. 6 weeks on the road basically couch surfing in and out of friends’ houses I’m well ready to be back in NZ. Thanks to my girlfriend, Aimee for being supportive of me on these trips when I’m away for so long. Mum and Dad for helping out big time and coming over to support me at the Worlds, The DeVries for helping me in Auckland so much, that I can actually get out there and gain the experience I need. East City BMX for helping me with an opportunity to give me the track and tools needed to survive as Pro where my only income is coaching. Matt Cameron - @nine4ninebmxcoaching for helping me out in realising how much I can still do and the help at the Worlds, excited for the future ahead.
I’m not exactly sure what’s next for me, I sure know what I would like to be doing but in the real world I have just simply got to get back to work and plan for next year. I’ve come away from this trip motivated and even hungrier to do everything I possibly can.