Drysdale's Olympic cycle begins in Amsterdam
Mahe Drysdale took one last look at his holiday snaps on the plane, then switched attention to work once again.
The double Olympic medalist will start his four-year Games cycle this weekend when he competes at the invitational Holland Beker regatta in Amsterdam.
Drysdale hasn't raced since winning gold at the London Olympics in August last year. The 34-year-old committed himself to pursuing further Olympic rewards late last year but was given an extended break from the sport by Rowing New Zealand.
During that time Drysdale has watched the All Blacks play in Argentina, competed in the Coast to Coast and Australian Ironman multisport events and this week, he and partner Juliette Haigh were among a group that climbed Mt Kilimanjaro to help raise funds and profile for World Vision Micro.
''It's been a tremendous 10 months - I've done a huge amount of things,'' Drysdale told the Fairfax Media from Amsterdam yesterday.
''We were having a look back at the photos on the plane over here and thinking 'wow'.''
Drysdale said climbing the world's tallest stand-alone mountain took him out of his comfort zone.
''It was a pretty awesome experience,'' Drysdale said.
''I've never been to those altitudes so it was quite a challenge and it was really weird feeling. I didn't find it physically that tough, but felt I was a bit out of control up top on the last day, just stumbling around.''
However, he feels he's recovered well to contest the men's single sculls at the regatta that he competes in most years and is the defending champion at.
''I've got a little bit of a cold, but apart from that, and a few sore muscles, I feel pretty good.''
Drysdale will then head to London to compete in the Royal Henley regatta before returning to New Zealand with the goal of being selected for the world championships in South Korea in late August.
''It feels like a new start, a new phase for me. I'm settling in for the next three years and preparing for Rio.''
He was also ''pleasantly surprised'' at how well felt after returning to training at Lake Karapiro with long-time coach Dick Tonks and the heavyweight and lightweight women's doubles crews in the three weeks before he went to Africa.
''Obviously I'm not as fast as I was before I left.
''But I'm a lot faster than I thought I would be after such a long break, so that's really pleasing.
''I've been trying to build up the Ks again, trying to build up that base fitness, and training with the two women's doubles crews daily has certainly ramped up the learning and the speed a lot quicker than if I was on my own.
''It's all about that four-year goal, so the base work is the most important thing for me at the moment - to get that base as big as I can over the next three years. There's still a big gap between where I was and where I'm at now.
''Probably by next year's world champs I'll be well and truly back at my best.
''This weekend, I think it'll be quite a struggle to be honest.
''Coming back to racing after 10 months out, I think it's going to hurt.''
Drysdale has been joined at the regatta by women's single sculler Emma Twigg and the rest of the New Zealand women's team that didn't compete at last weekend's World Cup regatta at Eton Dorney.