Hamish Bond's desire to push himself to discover the extent of his sporting abilities will take him to Europe on a cycling mission this year.

With his longtime coxless pair partner Eric Murray having retired, Bond is contemplating his options.

He's taken a year off rowing to immerse himself in road cycling.

He, temporarily at least, leaves behind a record of two Olympic gold medals, six world championship titles and an unblemished record of never having lost a pair event with Murray over 69 races.


Europe will help him get a better handle on his cycling potential. He aims to go in June-July.

"It's half to get out of the cold and half to tap into a real hotbed of knowledge and expertise in time trialling which I'm focussing on," he told Radio Sport's D'Arcy Waldegrave tonight.

"The idea is to learn as much as I can and come back a better rider and develop my understanding of what my potential is."

Time trial riding is cyclist against the clock, an individual ride as distinct from bunch riding. The best trial riders are able to keep a steely focus and not get distracted.

Bond's ultimate decision will be to stick with cycling if he believes he has a sniff of a chance of making the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 or return to rowing, albeit not into a pair.

"The decision will be twofold: what am I excited and motivated by, and what's realistic," he said.

"I'm not aiming low here in cycling. I want to go as high as I realistically can, but I know I've got a fair amount of work to discover what my potential is."

Bond, at 31 three years younger than Murray, knows it is "a big ask".

"People spend their career trying to get somewhere near their potential and I'm trying to do it in a very condensed fashion. But I would rather try and fail than not try at all. If I don't make it (in cycling) it won't be for a lack of trying."

Bond knows ideally he should be doing a full four-year rowing preparation for Tokyo and accepts he "can't just get back in a boat and be back to where I was".

The flipside was Bond wasn't prepared to make that four-year commitment at the start of this year, but he's confident his years of rowing at the top would mean he could get up to speed relatively quickly.

"It's got to be a lot easier putting 14kg on than it was taking it off," he quipped of his significant weight loss while he's been on his bike.

Bond won't give himself a time limit to make a decision which sporting path to take, but knows the time will come when he reaches decision day.

As for which boat he might aim for if he returns to rowing, Bond hinted the eight has a particular appeal.

"It's a great challenge, the one thing Rowing New Zealand hasn't cracked in the last dozen years of the golden run we've had. It's the boat we haven't got on the medal podium and that would be a massive challenge and a good way to give back to the sport if I feel I have something to offer."

Bond joked that if he could split himself in half he'd be in Tokyo as a rower and cyclist.