The National Bonk aka NZ XCO Champs

The National Bonk aka NZ XCO Champs

Words - Sam Shaw 
Photos - Dominic Blisset and Martin Anderson. 

, this is a lengthy ramble. I'l keep the entries mostly short and sweet, but with the occasional savoury bits to even it out. Grab a cuppa the good stuff and maybe a scone or four to make it to the finish.

Fresh Race Face.

SATURDAY 20/02/21

Up nice and early for a one-hour cross country race against myself then home and straight into the car for John and Alei Calthorpe’s wedding over at the beach. A swim, some good speeches, some boogie time, another swim and back home by 3am ready for shleep.


SUNDAY 21/02/21

Up at seven for a coffee and a big ride with the bois and gurls (Sunday endurrrooos in the forest every week, all welcome). Boosted home, chucked my life in some bags, chucked the bike in a box and caught a plane to Christchurch. Arrived nice and late for a trip straight to bed.

MONDAY 22/02/21

Up at six to get some stuff from the Christchurch office including the work vehicle. Chucked my life in there, and boosted to Reefton on the West Coast for some ecology work. Sixteen hours later work was done, I had a quick walk around Reefton (one street town) and rugged-up into bed.

TUESDAY 23/02/21

Tidied up some work bizz, and on the road back to Christchurch. Straight out to Crocodile Park to make mates with strangers and piece my way around the national champs course (coming up hot this weekend). Off to the supermarket for shnacks and spent the remaining 10 mins of the day getting prepped for bed. Hah.

Talkin Tactics

WEDNESDAY 24/02/21

Dropped the vehicle back at the office, stopped by at Dan Self's for a ketchup over tea, then headed to my favourite Ground Effect coffee spot for some of the good stuff and a batch of amazing scones (which I didn’t actually eat while trying to lay off the gluten hah). Several yarns with the team and a visit from Charles Murray (who ate my share of the scones). Got a ride in the Ground Effect Kombi to pick up my awesome new race kit for the year, holla holla. Then off home for pilates and shleeeps, and some 'Fast and the Furious' viewings. Hah.

THURSDAY 25/02/21

Croc Park laps. Mumsie turned up for ice-cream missions.

Compulsory Christchurch visit to Rollicking Gelato

FRIDAY 26/02/21

Bweakfast with Guy and Nikki at Barefoot Eatery (new spot, goes great) for some buckwheat waffles, some yarns, then off to Croc Park for a few more laps. Out to Charles Murray's for his 25th. Back home to make my Transition Spur all sparkly for tomorrow's racing. Some friends came over for more socialising and more yarns.

"The Spur"


As per usual, cross country Olympic format racing always starts in the afternoon which is pwerfect. Unfortunately I missed the sleep-in memo, so was up at seven and onto the ukulele to learn a few more tunes and annoy a few more neighbours. Drew some pictures, watched some cyclo cross world cupos, ate some Harraways oaty pancakes and it was finally go time. Got to Croc Park, found a bottle feeder (massive thanks Harry's Dad) then got in a 20 min warm up before lining up on the start line.

Whistle goes, and we go, I didn’t have much of a plan apart from to go hard from start to finish. Which I did. For some reason the legs didn’t agree with my plan for the first 30 odd minutes which lost me a bit of time.

Sitting in 4th I was happy to finally receive the good word from my legs that they had agreed to get with the program. We went ham for the final four laps. Grafting past Cam Jones into 3rd, hoping I could bridge the gap to Ben Oliver in 2nd (Anton Cooper in 1st place was a long long way ahead). Unfortunately Ben was already too far away and I was still a minute adrift by the end of the 6th and final lap.

Stoked to score a podium though, wire into the zone and tucker the body out like that, and to have so much support out on course! Back at the start-finish for wheelies, champagne and so many yarns my jaw cramped.

Champagne Showers

Back home for some treats and then off to Electric Ave, like a little kid (a music festival with a lot of my favourite artists playing) to rage away the National Champs fatigue haha. Before I knew it Sunday was hitting me in the face...

SUNDAY 28/02/2021

... managed to skip that sleep thing while being an all-night menace about Christchurch (one of the better nights had - no dodgy stories to report!). Somehow found myself biking in the wee small hours with a mate out to Sumner and back with a stop at Barefoot Eatery (again) for a one times – “save me please” - coffee and breakfast.

Home to pack my life back into its bags, chuck the bike back into its box and fly back to Rotorua. Collected at the airport by Dad. Directly home to pick up my work gear for the week, some bike touring gear, a tent and a sleeping bag. Then on my bike by 6pm, pedalling towards Waikaremoana. Wicked, and no rest allowed.

Gravel Riding to work. Lake Waikaremoana

Hopefully you still have a sip of coffee and bite of scone left to get you to the end of this ramble.

MONDAY 01/03/2691

Up early to break camp in the rain. A coffee, a lot of food and a hundred kilometres of scenic riding to Waikaremoana. Dad and some work mates met me out there. We stayed in a nice 'n' cozy Fish and Game hut for the week. We circumnavigated the lake by boat, undertaking a plant and bird survey. A very neat trip.

Got out for a few missions in between and caught up with quite a few mates randomly that were either doing the Kopiko Aotearoa (Taranaki to East Cape brevet - every one of them dressed in Ground Effect threads) and some others who were randomly out there for work (tiny world stuff).

SATURDAY 06/03/2021

Biked outa there after a great time out in the middle of nowhere passing a few more mates on the way who were competing in the Godzone Adventure Race. One of the more unexpectedly social solo rides I’ve been on for a while. Then off home to catchup with the fam and my nephew Oscar.

Nga Mihi Team. <3

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