Thursday, 26 December 2013

2013-Year sum up

What a year it has been, full of thrills, spills, plenty of miles and loads of fun! 2013 was consisted of track racing, the summer road tours, school team time trials, schools and club road racing, I also got a sponsorship deal with Frequency Projects which allowed me to buy a new road bike, a new track bike and a Frequency Projects cycling kit. Over the year I won 6 national titles, 23 medals and I was part of the best girls cycling school in the country, Baradene College, my highlights would probably have to be riding on the indoor, wooden velodrome in Invercargill for track nationals, and racing as part of the Baradene Junior A team time trial team! Over the year I have recieved so much support, I'd like to give a big thank you to the team at Frequency for all their support, Ben at Performance Bikes for fixing my battered and bruised bike and all your help you give me. I also want to thank my coach Paul Leitch for helping and coaching me at track and road, and my parents for being my biggest (and loudest) supporters, taking me everywhere and giving up your time to watch me train and race! I'm so proud of how successful this season has been, bring on 2014!
The Year in Pictures

Sunday, 8 December 2013

AKSS Track Cycling Champs

Over the last 4 Sundays  I have competed in the first Auckland Secondary Schools Track Cycling Competition at the Manukau Velodrome. Due to the numbers in the Baradene team I joined an U15 boys team, with my brother Aidan and Jamie Leitch. Each race day had 4 events including one team event, although most of the races were individual each rider earned points for their team. It is always a great experience riding with the boys, they are very fast and have a completely different style of racing; fast and furious. As the races went on I learnt how to hold my own, ride smartly to my advantage and by the end I managed to get a couple of placings. Our composite team were probably the 'underdogs' of the competition, with only 3 riders who were all at least younger than the rest but in our Italian pursuit we proved that anything was possible, beating the slick Auckland Grammar team! By the end of the competition we had accumulated enough points to place 2nd in the U15 boys division and 3rd in the Overall Boys School division. It was a fun event full of new learning and just a good, valuable experience.
Line up for Italian Pursuit 

In among the racing

Final sprint

Match sprint final

Battling on the track

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Sports Awards Dinner 2013

It's that time of year yet again, Baradene sports awards, a night to sit back, relax, and celebrate the successes of the past sporting year! I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to the dinner along with many of the high achieving sportswomen at the school. We arrived sporting our whitest shirts and smartest uniforms to the Ellerslie Event Centre, and the night quickly kicked off. We had the first set of awards followed by a huge dinner, our guest speaker (a former all black) spoke then we got into the major awards! The excitement grew in anticipation of who the winners would be, so far I had won an outstanding achievement award for track cycling, a gold award for winning national events in cycling in 2013, and a silver award for representing Auckland in football. They started announcing the 'team of the year' awards, i exchanged nervous glances with the members of my Junior A cycling team as this was the award we were really aiming for. The Year 7/8 A cycling team won the Year 7/8 team of the year, the climbed on stage with all the cycling girls cheering loudly for them. Time for the Juniors, "and the winner of the Junior Team of the Year is............... JUNIOR A CYCLING TEAM! We all leapt up and I don't think we stopped smiling for the rest of the night! Now for the final award, for the 'Most Outstanding Performance of the Year', it is usually won by a senior and it is said to be the most prestigious award of the night. "but this year this award has been won by a junior, a sportswoman who has put 6 national titles to her name this year, Jenna Merrick", I actually can't begin to describe what I felt in the moment but the first thing I probably thought was "what?!". I was stunned, and absolutely in awe of how it could ever be me! With shaking legs I made my way onstage, my voice trembled all throughout my speech but I was extremely happy. I made my way back to my seat to be welcomed by all the cycling girls, and that was the end of the night! I walked out of the with 5 awards and a rather special trophy, one which I never dreamed of getting. In the car on the way home I read the names of the previous winners, two stuck out to me, Henrietta Mitchell, a track cyclist who went to the commonwealth games, and Emily Collins, a road cyclist who currently rides with a pro-cycling team in Europe. I couldn't believe that my name was among two of my heroes!

What a night! Successful, and a great way to finish a hard year of sport! I'd like to congratulate all the award winners who worked so hard to get there, especially all the cycling girls who cleaned up fair chunk of the awards ending what has been, a phenomenal season.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

National School Champs 2013

26 spin classes, 33 6am starts, and over 150 rides in the past 26 weeks were all in preparation for this; the final event of the 2013 school road cycling season, national champs. The championships consist of 3 races, a Team Time Trial, Individual Road Race, and a Criterium, held over 3 days, each race a different venue; Levin, Manawatu, and Manfield. In 2012 Baradene won the overall best girls school at the competition, we were back to try and retain that title.

Friday was the practice day; I woke that morning with a pounding headache and a bad cold, and I wasn't the only one. It seems that 3 of 4 members of my Junior A TTT team also shared the sickness. We coughed and spluttered during our ride on the course, and spent the rest of the day wrapped up in bed.

Saturday the Team Time Trial day; the butterflies in my stomach grew as the time to race came closer. We watched each Baradene team set off, and came back from the 16km race, now it was our turn. Warm up flew past in a heartbeat, I felt nervous, excited, and a little sad as it was our last race together as the Junior A four, but I slid on my aero helmet and immediately forgot about anything but the race which loomed ahead. We rolled out to the start line as one unit, leaving a trail of the minty smell of vick's vaporub.

It was time, I mounted my bike shaking, but the reassuring words of my team members reminded me I had a job to do! 3, 2, 1, and we were off! We swiftly rode into our 'snake-like' formation and started to battle the hard headwind. The race went perfectly, on the day I don't think we could have gone any harder or faster, we won 2nd place and were extremely pleased and proud!

Sunday the Individual Road Race day; 'it's now or never' I told myself as the hill became steeper. I started to up the pace, a bit at a time until there was only two of us, the wind swirled and it started to rain, we needed each other if we wanted to stay out the front. The road race was 16km, starting with a long hill, I raced in the U14 girls grade along with 50 others. A gap was made after the first hill between two of us and the bunch, working together we maintained a small lead until around 5km through the race where I became the 'lone rider'out the front. For the next 3km I just put my head down and worked hard, battling the worsening rain and swirling wind, I was too scared to look back and see where the others were so I just kept riding. I came to the halfway point, and turned into a tail wind, I ventured a look behind me and the bunch was no-where to be seen. I kept my pace up for the remaining 8km and rolled over the finish line with a big smile and over a minute in front of the next rider. I put absolutely everything into that race and I'm so happy that I got a really good result!

Monday the Criterium; the morning was chilly, swirling wind and rain battered on the car as we headed for the Manfield Park Racecourse. The final day contained the last event of the competition, a criterium, the winner is the rider who wins the most points from sprints during the race. The Manfield Park Racecourse is a car racing circuit which the event organizers hire out for the day, each lap is around 3km, filled with technical corners and long straights, a very interesting course. During the fourth and second final lap in the race I had secured the position of first equal, with a total of 8 points, to win, I must cross the line anywhere in-front of the other competitor on 8 points. The pace of the bunch continued to rise as everyone apprehended the final sprint, as we approached the final bend I start to go around the bunch, halfway through the corner I already have 20m on the bunch with my main competitors even further back. But the road was just too slippery, I was going too fast for the amount I was leaning, and the rubber wheels slipped from between my weight. I bought down around 8 others with me but only a couple with more serious injuries. As soon as my body would let me I lept back up from the ground, I had never not completed a race before and I just felt really inspired to keep going. I had around 200m to ride to the finish line, once I straightened my bike up and started riding. It felt like it took ages and my body hurt but I was proud I finished. To my complete surprise I had earned enough points to win second place! After prizegiving we headed straight off the local A & E. After hours getting cleaned up and bandaged we headed back to watch Baradene getting crowned the best cycling girls school in the country for the second year in a row and recieve the AJ Drake cup.

Despite the sicknesses, and crashes it was a rather successful weekend of racing, definitely one to remember, with tonnes of fun, friends, riding and some wins too!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Monday, 9 September 2013

Football and Cycling

What a week!
 I competed in national tournament week from Sunday to Friday, with my 1st XI football team last week! It was a new experience and was really testing, the team gave it their all and did so amazingly well, I'm so proud! I had a blast and can't wait for next year! 
After traveling back from Wanganui, the next morning I found myself lining up for racing in the NZSS National Cycling Champs! I managed to win 4 gold medals in U4 girls (itt, hill climb, crit, overall), and improved my times from last year, I'm super stoked! Everyone who competed did amazing! A big thanks to everyone who helped out and made the racing possible!

U14 Tour Winner presentation

Age Group Tour Winners

Sunday, 25 August 2013

AKSS Road Race

As one of my buildup races for nationals at the end of this season, I competed in the AKSS (Auckland secondary schools) cycling road race. 
On the foggy morning of the race 21 U15 girls lined up at the start line in Karaka Hall. 14.5 km later of swirling winds, undulating hills, and the hot sun beating down, the final 1.5 km hill loomed in the distance. 

Halfway up I decided to take my chances and attacked, i held my lead to the finish line and pulled off a 16 second victory. I won a Mt Eden cycles jersey and the race was really fun. :)

Warming down with Jamie

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Track Bike

After my success at track nationals earlier this year on a rented bike we have managed to convince mum and dad that I NEED my own track bike.

So here it is.

It is really light and looks so mean. Dad managed to get the last small sized Giant Omnium in the country and they are not bringing in any more. The down side to this is that I will have to wait 6 - 8 weeks before I can ride it at the velodrome. We are still in the road cycling season and there are lots of races and training still to do... But I can't wait!!!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

AKSS TTT record

KEEP IT UP BARA, DOING WELL GIRLS! The calls of my 3 team members were drowned out by the wind wooshing past my sleek aero helmet. As I lapped off the front, their faces told me it wasn't any easier for them. It was race 4 of the AKSS Team Time Trial series, I was in the Baradene College Junior A team.
We had previously won races 1, 2 and 3 so we wanted to keep our winning streak alive. The day was 'perfect conditions', dry ground and no wind, we were out there to prove ourselves. A clean turn around at halfway was well worth the practice, but shortly after we were a team of 4 down to 3. We approached the last hill with heavy legs and pounding hearts but with encouragement and determination we flew up it. We set our sights on the finish line as we rounded the last corner.
My garmin showed 25.50 mins, 30 seconds to get to the finish line. The clock was ticking down and our legs were working hard, as we rolled over the line we set a new junior girls record at 26.11 and held onto the top of the junior girls.
I'm so proud of the team and everything we've achieved so far :)

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Shinny new road bike

WOW!!! My new road bike arrived today. It was waiting for me when I got home from school. An Avanti Questa Team. Black, red and white.

Thanks heaps to dads cousin Peter Harris for organising things on the Australian side and uncle Simon for transporting it over here.

Ben from Performance Tuning is coming over tomorrow to tune and do a bike fit. Can't wait to have a ride . It is so light and looks fast....

And thanks to my friends at Frequency Projects for looking after me.

I will be sorry to let go my Genius road bike. We were great together. Lots of wins, a couple of falls and loads of fun. But I have a need to go even faster.

First race on the Questa will be Race 4 of the AKSS Team Time Trial.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Kiwi Velo North Harbour Junior Tour

Tour Winner U15 Female

Presented with the Tour Leaders Jersey 
Road Race 1, first lap

Getting ready for the sprint
Road Race 2

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Cyclezone CRI Junior Tour 2013

Winner of Stages 1, 3 and 4 for U15 Female

Photos from the tour

Road Race 1
Time Trial


Sunday, 24 March 2013

Auckland and Counties Manukau Individual Time Trial

15km of road, blustering headwinds, and the other competitors stood in the way of me and an Auckland and Counties Manukau Open Time Trial Champs U15 title for 2013.

Lining up for the start of the out and back course I was unaware of the building winds which would test me on the way back. I flew on the way out and dug deep of the way back, there was a sigh of relief when I finally crossed the finish line after battling the wind. After a warm down and watching the rest of the racing, prize giving was underway. I was called up and stood in first place, with a beaming smile and sore legs I felt proud and equally tired. Then home for a shower and a well earned nap.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Suprise Offer

Following the excitement of winning two national medals I began preparation for the Junior Summer Tours.

It was then that Liz, Jonathan and Andrew from Frequency Projects Limited offered to help me by providing some sponsorship money. WOW. I was so stoked, surprised and really happy. I actually can’t express how happy I am and how helpful it is for us.

We are planning to spend the money on a new road bike. Yesssss

Friday, 1 March 2013

Summer at the Track 2013

Summer 2012/13 was supposed to be my off season. Hanging at our Karekare bach, swimming, surfing and sunning. But as soon as I rode around the Manukau Velodrome I quickly realised that this summer would be different. On a rented track bike with no breaks or gears I learnt to ride the high sloping walls and fly down at speed.  I was in love with track.

I trained on the track 3 – 4 times a week including race nights. I got to ride behind Paul and Chris and be motor paced in dizzy circles. Before I knew it the season was ending and I was competing at the Auckland Track Champs.
I won all four of my races. (Scratch, Points, Derby and 500mt ITT). I also broke the track record (U15 women) for 500mt ITT, set by Steph McKenzie back in 2006. Stephanie is a top New Zealand track cyclist now riding for Team Novo Nordisk!!! How cool is that.

It was then that I realised my next step would be going to the national’s, one year earlier than we had been planning. With this exciting turn of events I found myself on a plane to Invercargill. My nerves were in overdrive. The Invercargill velodrome is the only covered velodrome in NZ.

Riding on the wooden boards was really different and absolutely amazing. It was so fast and an amazing experience. I competed in seven races including heats. I got to use automatic starting gates and wore an aero helmet for the first time. During the week-long event I had my birthday. Paul and Alison surprised me by singing happy birthday while going through the tunnel. No cake though as I was in competition mode.
I soon discovered that my summer of training had paid off. I won gold in the Points Race by making a breakaway on the final sprint lap.
I also won bronze in the Scratch Race after narrowly being pipped at the line following my trademark solo breakaway.

Track Nationals was an amazing experience and I am extremely grateful I could compete. It was also fun hanging out with my team mates from Auckland Cycling and my fellow competitors. Plus I had loads of support from my friends at school and teachers.

Perhaps next year I’ll have my own skin-suit and bike. Hint, hint mum and dad.