February 2006
Check out what I've been up to between races.

Since we last touched base I've been to Spain twice testing once at a little track down by Almeria and the other was Valencia. They were both the most successful tests we've ever had. We really came away with better bikes and an exact direction where to keep heading.

The first test in Almeria was a test with the HRC boys from Britain and the Japanese technicians. The added support from HRC this year is a big help particularly with the electronics. The only downside to the test was the temperature which barely raised above single figures and if so it was only for an hour or two, oh and we didn't have any of the new tyres to try, just last years model.

In the end it turned out for the best, because there wasn't any decisions to be made about which tyre to use, there was only one and we just concentrated on the rest.

There was about 10 days between Almeria and Valencia tests so I spent my days at the pool carving laps, ) wasn't keen at all to go out-side particularly when the pool temperature is about 28C. The rest of the time I spent avoiding the dreaded Cheese Fondue dinner invites, which are notorious for this time of the year. Don't get me wrong I don't mind a bit of crusty bread dipped in a pot full of hot melted cheese, but it's definitely a meal your gonna wear for a couple of days or longer! You've gotta wonder when you need to drink copious amount of black tea and kirsch snaps to help digestion! Mmmmm.

The Valencia test also went well, concentrating only on the new evolution of forks and shocks which was more work then the track time allowed. My mechanics just worked there asses off, there was always at least one bike with the front end missing. The boys were at it all day. The boss definitely got his money's worth! The biggest advantage was getting through all the new stuff just in time to try out the 06 tyres, the only thing that wasn't on our side was the time of the day and the temperature. Well, it was 4.15 pm after all! Never the less we didn't break the lap record but we for sure broke new ground as far as the bike is concerned. I really feel we've made some giant leaps forward this winter, and I'm also feeling the same way with my health.

I know I keep complaining about the cold but it's so cold that we went ice skating on one of the lakes in Zurich the other day. This is no ordinary lake either; it's about 25 km if you want to walk around the thing. People even have sailing boats on it, and not just the dingy kind. It's been so cold down here, the last time the lake froze was 14 years ago! It's bloody huge! Over the weekend they had somewhere between 50 to 75 thousand visitors on the ice, they even set up bars, little cafes & BBQ stands etc. etc. Nice!

Today I'm heading up into the Alps for four or five days, we just bought some new snow shoes, there like small tennis rackets but with teeth. The forecast looks good, blue skies bit nippy -10ish but it's a perfect opportunity to test drive my new shoes. The idea is to use the shoes rather than the ski lift, so hike to the top, then snow board down. I figured it would be a great way to kill tow birds with one stone, exercise and fun! I'm not too sure how many runs) might get in, she's a fair old hike from 1000 meters to 3000 meters. I think I might be lucky too, if I can get one a day!

I also think I'm gonna regret buying these things, and wish I spent the money on a lift pass. Who would have thought a pair of snow shoes would cost an arm and a leg! Spendy!

By the time I get back from the mountains I'll have 3 or 4 days to pack my bags, tidy up a few loose ends and head off to the first two races. Qatar is once again the first race but this time it's back to back weekends with Philip Island, so a bit of a road trip and a lot of air miles! I'll give you the low down from Qatar & Australia in next month mag.

Be good, if not be good at it!



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