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It’s great to start off my first blog of the year writing for insidebikes. It’s now mid-February and I’ve just completed a four-day test on Phillip Island ready to start race 1 on the weekend but let me go back a bit and let you guys know what I’ve been up to in the off-season.

In our career December-January is described as our ‘off-season’ but this pretty much just stands for ‘not riding the bike’. For most riders we use this time to get our bodies and minds mentally and physically prepared for the following season which generally means lots of training. My preferred training these days is cycling and I’ve put quite a few miles in over the break in Spain, IOM as well as Australia. My wife’s family is from Philip Island so I’m fortunate that I can come out here early to acclimatise and make the most of the summer weather.  Tatia’s family also has property in the Mountains north of Melbourne which is a great way to spend a few days in the saddle climbing the peaks, but this year was a little scary as the area also played host to an out-of-control bushfire. A few days we were riding amongst spoke but fortunately the fire didn’t come in our direction.

Aside from training and catching up with friends and family, my winter months are also usually consumed with my JAR Honda MX team. I play the team managers role which I really enjoy as I put the skills and experience of being part of a World Superbike team in to action to run a little MX team. This year the team will compete in the British Championship as well as a few Irish racers. Motocross was my first love so this gives me an opportunity to still play a role in the sport and give young riders a chance like the one I had. This year we have riders Wayne Garrett and Lewis Tombs riding for us so if you’re a fan of MX then keep an eye out for them.

So getting back to my real job, there are a few big changes to my team set-up this year including a new team mate, Leon Haslam, as well as an Italian Chips (crisps) sponsor so the team is now officially called Pata Honda Racing Team. We have a cool new livery design which I think looks great out there on track. I’ve also got a new helmet design for 2013 which I’m pretty excited about. It’s always nice to get a ‘new look’ for the season and adds some fresh motivation.

Also new this year on our CBR1000RR is the electronics. We’ve been working hard on the development of this new package for the past few tests and it’s proving to be working quite well. Like anything new though we have a few teething problems but overall it’s a big improvement from last years machine. Our testing to date has shown that we are quite quick at Phillip Island so hopefully we can aim for a good result for round 1.

I’m looking forward to returning home to the IOM early March as I’ve spent the past six weeks hiding from the winter months here in Australia. We have a six-week break (Race 2 in India was cancelled) until the next test followed by race 2 in Aragon, Spain, so I have plenty of time to get settled back in to home life and look forward to the European season ahead.

Until next time,

Cheers JR

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