Sunday, May 10, 2015

Full version of my UK Cyclist Magazine Giro Preview

The season of spring is an action packed smorgasbord of professional cycling. It's a fair argument to say that no other 3month block of the season will test the riders skills and physical condition the way the month of spring seem to do. March kick things of with the race between the seas with tirreno addriatico and the optimistically named race to the sun with Paris nice although you would be hard pressed to find to many examples of sunshine greeting the riders in nice annually! Also during march sees belgium come to life and the hard man come out to play on the cobbles, crosswinds, and what otter feels lie racing on footpaths not to mention the array of climatic conditions that are also thrown the peletons way. Perhaps fittingly in the final month of spring lies a race that has a history of testing all the skill set required to survive during this period with the giro! There is an endless archive of iconic images which encapsulate the uniqueness of the race around Italy, again seeming to serve as one final exam for a peleton that's spent the unpredictable months of racing in spring to prepare for. 3 weeks of racing that can quite literally through up a completely different climate and terrain on each and every single stage to assess how well the warriors of road racing have done the homework or hardwork in this case to be prepared for anything and everything that the giro can through up at you. Like with every great bike race it's logical that the most complete rider will rise to the top and emerge victorious but perhaps this is never more evident than at the giro.

What makes the giro special
The initial part of the season is a build to the classics for the hard men and the giro for gc chargers. To be at your best for the giro means negotiating your way through the most unpredictable and stressful period of the racing season. This therefore means that simply arriving at the start line of the giro in your absolute optimal health and best condition is a major challenge in itself, let alone worrying about the 3 weeks of torture that lies ahead. I can obviously only speak with conviction on the 2 giro's that I've competed in in 2010 and 2013. Both editions of the race were equally different and equally brutal in there own unique way. The lead up to both events is also something special. Often as early as the races in february and march you'll start to see the same faces of the races your using as preparations, another 200 guys on a similar schedule that will culminate in the giro. So before you have even made it to the startling you have already formed a bit of an extended family of fellow giro competitors in the build up, in the end it's not just the 3 weeks you'll spend with alot of all these guys but more like 3 months. Why is this important to know?? Well with the challenges that the giro throughs up with it's climate and terrain and you suffer as badly as you do at times, it makes it's far more manageable when your around a group of guys whom you know know and appreciate what your going though and that solidarity within the peleton can often be critical in helping you deal with the challenges the big lap of Italy throughs your way.

The way the race is played out-

Due to the timing of the giro it takes an extremely resilient and all rounded champion to pull on the pink jersey at the end of 3 weeks of racing. The race can be broken down into 3 stages, First week, second week and 3rd week. Week 1 is the stressful week. The sprinter or bunch sprint friendly stages result in small gaps on GC and alot of riders within striking distance of a day in the prized maglia rosa! With just one day wearing such a prize having the potential to shape the entire career of a rider it's logical that everyone is a little on edge due to the high stakes. With nervous anxious riders comes a nervous anxious peleton and that sadly tends to greatly increase the probability of nasty crashes which the consequences can be equally consequential for those that crash or suffer misfortune as those whom benefit from the crashes taking place and are the fortunate ones. It will ruin a season for some and define a career for others, such are the highs and lows of sickness, injury or a successful daring move that nets that great result. You truly start every stage in the first week of the giro knowing that one thing is guaranteed, that anything and everything is possible of that day for each and every single rider in the peleton.

While I have many wonderful memories from my days racing in the giro, one particular stage in the 2010 edition sums up perfectly my impressions of the race. Stage 11, 262 from Lucera to L'aquila was the longest stage of the 2010 event and came close to the end of what had been a brutal 2nd week. That year the race began in holland which meant that after just 3 days of racing when we returned to Italy we had taken our first rest day. This meant that a haul of 10 straight stages were rattled of before the 2nd rest day would be arrive. Stage 11 came after 7 straight of the most unpredictable and taxing days of racing I've endured. We had searing heat to contend with, almost monsoonal rain falls the next day, sub zero foggy mountain stages with zero visibility the next and to top everything off the gravel or Strada bianchi stage was held in torrential rain which would come as not surprise turned the stage into cycling equivalent of a mud run! That day in the mud was that chaotic that in the end the dismal suffering could only be replaced by the humor of the citation us riders found ourselves in as we plowed our way through the mud! Not surprisingly and fittingly the stage was won by the regarded as the most complete rider of his generation, the great Australian Cadel Evans whom was able to draw of his 20years of professional bike riding experience to cross the line first on a day where guts and determination counted as much for exceptional bike skills, two things which cadel has no shortage off! 

Anyways back to stage 11 to L'Aquila and it's a day of racing I'll never forget. The longest stage in the race is always to be feared. With 7hrs of racing ahead the entire peleton was hoping for as straightforward a day as possible. Straightforward in as much as a nice breakaway that the gc teams could easily manage and the course could be covered in the must civilized possible! Yeah right!! The stage started out in beautiful sunshine and warm condition which was one blessing as the flag dropped in Lucera, that however was the last time there would be anything civilized about the stage. Around 10pm into the stage the attacks were coming thick and fast as we entered a dark tunnel. I was at the front staying alert to control any dangerous attacks for our team leader Michele Scarponi as we entered the tunnel, well 2nd wheel to be precise. I was thinking gee we are hammering here through this tunnel and as we came out the other side and barreled down the other side I noticed we were really hammering. It was a wide open big straight road and I was full gas following the wheel ahead of me. I just assumed all the bunch was there but all of a sudden team sky and movistar stormed to the front and drilled it! At this point I looked back and noticed there were around 50 of us and daylight behind. In the group were some of the biggest gc threats for the race in Bradley Wiggins, Carlos Sastre, David Arroyo, and most excitingly for me that day fellow Tasmanian Richie Porte whom at days end became the biggest name in the international Cycling world when he pulled on the maglia rosa. There was a day that not that richie wasn't already destined for stardom but that day just sped up that process for him which was great to see. So back tot he race and the gap quickly started to rise and the big teams of there leaders drove home the advantage they were being given. I was told by my androni ds gianni savio to sit tight as many team behind were hitting the panic button and chasing hard. He said my chasing energy would be needed later in the stage. So I sat tight and comfortable in the breakaway in the luxurious position of not having to do any work. I even started dreaming of go for a big result myself as I would have a chance to arrive at the finish as fresh possible and spent many minutes studying the finish profile plotting my attack. As were rolled along the road toward L'aquila we also slowly began to rise in altitude, it was one of those days that gradually rose in elevation and with it the temperature dropped and the rain started to fall. S now the warm sunshine was gone, we were on the longest stage of the race and it was pouring rain and freezing cold. I kept checkin in with the team about going back to start pulling but was told to sit tight, all was under control. Yeah right! Sure enough with 100km to and we were 22minutes up the road savio finally called my teammate Rubens Bertagliati and myself back. The only problem was now that we were so far ahead and it was so cold that riding slowly or waiting on the side of the road as I would have got hypothermia! So did the only logical thing, I turned around and rode backwards with rubens and Brent Bookwalker of BMC who had also been called back to help his team captain Cadel Evans. We rode about 3km back over the terrain we had just covered so now turned the stage into a 270km day for us, would have looked interesting on Strava that file!! Anyways I couldn't believe what I saw when what was left of the peleton arrived. The brutality of the chase had taken it's toll and now just 20riders remained in the peleton! All the biggest names were there, all with the same desperate look of needing help on there faces as rubens, Brent and I arrived. The group contained The eventual winner Ivan basso and his team mate Vincenso Nibali, Scarponi, the man in pink Vino, Cadel, pozzato, paolini, Pablo lastras, and some other very strong dudes, put it this way at the time I recognized each and everyone of them! 

Anyways there was no time for pondering the situation it was desperate times and time to get to work. For the next 60km we pulled at pur absolute max and when I did my final pull before being catapulted out the back the gap was down to 10minutes. One conciliation was even though I was offering the chase had been solid as now only around 10 of the the strong men remaind in this peleton! It was crazy, there were 50 up the road, 10 in the peleton, and 140 guys miles back down the road!! Anyways as I was unceremoniously dumped out the back of the field I was totally spent and hadn't prepared myself for what was to hit me next. I was completely out of fuel, I was now freezing cold as my body had no energy to keep it warm, and o still had 40km to ride and I was alone! My teeth started chattering and I was starting the face the reality of not being able to keep my body moving. Then almost like a knight in shinning armor, Pablo Lastras appeared out of the mist and saw me in distress. He had seen the work I'd done and been dropped in the process, that alone will earn you respect with your peers. What he did next saved my day ensured my survival in the 2010 giro. He put his hand on my back and simply said, tranquillo Cameron, relax! He simply got me to the finish. He pushed me along and kept me talking, he even unwrapped power bars and opened gels for me, a simply thing my border lining frostbited hands hands a d teeth could not mechanically perform. He was in every sense of the word a life saver for me that day and eventually some 40minutes after the winner petrov had crossed the line and 30minutes behind the group of favorites I'd been helping some 40km's before hand! I was absolutely in peaces! 

This stage for me really signified everything the giro stand for me. We had the 4 seasons in the one day. We had a ridiculously long hard stage at a point in the race when we were already on our knees as a peleton. The stage panned out in the exact opposite way anyone in the peleton predicted before it kicked off that morning. A riders career was catapulted into super stardom when richie porte pulled on the maglia rosa. The eventual champion Ivan boss showed his class and experience and while lost major time knew that staying within his limits would mean he would have the batteries left to put all the field to the sword in the final torturous week of racing in the dolomite's. And off course that solidarity I'd talked about wigging the group of riders that tackles the giro was evident with Pablo lastras whom rode for another team ensured that I made it to the finish that stage. Oh and also my day all in all was as unpredictable as ever which a giro stage can only through your way, it still remains the only time in my racing career I've turned around and ridden the wrong way back down the race course!! All in all was just a magically racing giro day that I and I'm sure every rider whom raced the stage or watched the stage will never ever forget.

P.s. I wrote this 6 weeks ago so it's been interesting following the lead up to the big lap of Italy unfold for the big favorites! Pretty exciting that it would appear the Tasmanian richie Porte is right on track for taking home pink!!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

Belgium Waffle Ride

Belgium waffle ride 2015

With northern Europe wrapping up it's spring classics season on Sunday, southern California decided to join the party with a little classic event of there own. The Belgium Waffle ride has quickly become a mythical event among the socal cycling scene thanks to it's unique course thats designed to challenge a road cyclists ability to handle all types of terrain imaginable. My decision to ride the event was not really my decision but instead my buddy robbie who told me I was racing! I couldn't come up with a decent excuse as why not to do it so figured why not? I was in socal and I'd heard so many awesome stories from people whom had tackled it over the years. Also personally it was a good way for me to test my ability in a group ride situation on challenging terrain. The mix of ashfelt, dirt, sand, mud, up, down, around, twist and turn, and wind that comes from every single direction, was a great opportunity to see how I handle my bike in all these conditions. So many of the surprises out on the course were ones that you wouldn't choose to ride on in training so I was excited to see what my bike would do underneath me. Someone asked me a few weeks before what specific training I would do? I simply replied nothing! I've been fortunate enough to ride my bike a lot over the last 7 years at all levels and on all terrain so figured I'd leave what to expect on the day for the day and have it be a big surprise! Anyways with that being said he's how my whole belgium waffle experience played out.

In the couple of weeks leading in the questions kept coming "how are you preparing for the ride??". Eventually I cracked and did a little more research into what to expect. Firstly found out it was a long way and had alot of climbing and sections of gravel roads. None of that worried me, I'd done loads of 7+hrs over the years and climbed plenty of hills in the process. I'd raced strada bianchi in the rain and in the sun and roubaix aswell so figured I'd be able to handle whatever the course had to through at me. The other element however was equipment which was something I was completely under prepared for. I'd heard that anything between a road bike and cyclocross bike was used so figured I'd call the the experts at cannon dale to send me out the ideal weapon for the waffle ride. As always Jonathan Gerran had all the answers for me and within a few days a new synapse disc was shipped out to to get comfortable on. I've found that simply by having my bike built by Win Allen at Wins wheels gives me a good Oman. He had put my tri bike together which remains undefeated so he was the logical choice to get the synapse all dialed in. I have to admit it was love at first sight when I laid my eyes on my waffle machine for the first time! She was simply beautiful! Gun metal grey in color with snazzy dazzy blue and purple stripes, I simply couldn't wait to through my leg over her and take her for a spin. Once aboard I headed straight for the dirt section of the famed mullholland hwy. I figured I needed to know how it felt on the dirt so that was as gooda place as any for the maiden voyage. Sure enough she felt as good as she looked and I was instantly addicted to gravel grinding. You know when you get a new bike that's just that little bit special and you never want that first ride to end, yeah well my first ride on the synapse disc was just like that. 3hrs later chasing any gravel trial I could track down between Beverly hills and Malibu and it was only the loss of daylight that brought my ride to end, I was having a blast and couldn't wait for the waffle ride, luckily it was only 7 days away so I wouldn't have to wait long. This first ride however was a great sign as it was the same when I rode the slice 2 for the first time in preparation for Oceanside, instantly loved the bike, makes it more enjoyable getting up each day to go training when you love the machine your using! 

Over the last 18 months or so I've really enjoyed training down in the socal Encinitas area. With the ride being held in the area I thought it was an excellent opportunity to spend the week down there leading up and turn it into my belgium waffle week and not just a ride. Also conveniently my great mate Todd skippy skipworth was in town training whom has turned into my most regular training partner over the past few years across all continents! Our training and racing schedule seem to conveniently align across all continents all over the world, even Tasmania!! So I was chirpy as could be as I rolled down the 5 fwy toward San Diego on tuesday night to get my waffle week underway. As always when I head south I call in to see my American parents iin Scott and kimba tedro. It's impossible not to spend time with these guys and not leave feeling a few feet taller and capable of running though brick walls, they always put you in a great mood, just awesome people! So all was set to get my teeth stuck into the week ahead and it all kicked off with the Wednesday worlds group ride at 8am from Oceanside on Wednesday morning. I'd recently blasted around camp Pendleton during the Oceanside triathlon so was nice to be able to sit in a bunch and wheel suck along the same roads for a change!! Was a fast and frantic ride as usual and for the first time in my Wednesday worlds career I won the sprint to the traffic lights at the famed trestles surf beach at the end of the base! Perfect way to kick off my waffle week, form was on track!! The next appointment was to go and have the ritual piece of carrot cake at the panicken cafe which ways around 500gramms! It would prove to be my carb loading fuel for the waffle ride as I had a piece everyday leading up to the event. Oh I love those gigantic pieces of carrot cake! I planned on doing some recon of the course in my days down there leading up but decided that would be taking things a little to seriously so decided against that. I did however check out what was surpassed to be the first section of dirt for the ride with local John abate but that section was taken out so that was a good lesson for trying to be at all tricky. No my training days filled up with training with all my mates and numerous hours at the lofty coffee shop with Brandon and sunny discussing all things xterra so basically the reamining hours in the days were reserved for sleeping. Conveniently my buddy George hincapie and his brother rich were also in town for a couple of days. It's always awesome catching up with George and especially with the classic I was facing on the weekend gave me the chance to get a few last minute tips on getting down and dirty off road on a rd bike! His advice was pretty simple, hit all the off sections in front and ride as hard as you possible can across them!! Pretty simple hey!! The week expectably was flying by and before I knew it it was time for my final tune up before the big day on Sunday, the famous swammies bunch ride on Saturday morning at 8am from Encinitas. This was my last chance to cram in a little speed into my legs and also chance to test my condition ahead of sundays big ride. I decided to attack and attack and attack and tt away from the group and was firs the official STOP sign finish line near the church at the end of the elfin forest. So passed my final test and week's preparations were complete. Only thing left to do now was go and scoff down as much pizza and as many beers as possible with michael and Phil from spy who organized everything at dinner, get a good night sleep, and go and enjoy whatever the Belgium waffle ride had to through at me.

Race Day

I couldn't wait for the alarm to go off on Sunday morning, I'd been in town for an entire week and everybody was so excited about the big day. I refrained from a sensible breakfast of oatmeal and fruit and instead headed for the start location to tuck into what I assume was the compulsory waffles, eggs, and bacon! Oh and copious amounts of maple syrup. I'd never eaten such a breakfast before so had no idea how it would sit on my stomach but figured it had copious amounts of calories and I'd be burning plenty of them during the 7+hrs ahead on the bike! So with my stomach full it was time to head for the start line. Whilst en route I ran into British strongman chris spence who slipped me a couple of extra co2 canisters which would come in extremely handy later in the day!! So big thanks to spence, he's a champ. So finally we were all lined up and set to go and I was not surprisingly extremely relaxed, I had no idea what to expect so had nothing to be nervous about, it was just another long day on the bike. In patriotic american style a rendition of the national anthem was boarded out and the 2015 Belgium waffle was finally underway.

The race was extremely well organized and as such had a police escort. Later in the day that escort would only be with the leaders of the ride which was crucial in keeping things as safe as possible. It was all pretty mellow for the first 30km or so as everyone expectedly wanted to save there cookies for the remaining 200+km. At this point the first gravel section greeted us and true to george's advice I was first man onto the dirt. I realized that everyone was taking this ride pretty seriously so I just twisted the throttle a little to ensure there were no easy rides in the group. The gaps appeared quickly so I was a little more relaxed in knowing I would be able to turn the screws a little later on. The group seemed content to follow me around which didn't bother me at all, it just meant I figured if I'm going to ride on the front then I will just force a little selection so as I can spend the day up front and out of trouble. I didn't have to wait long for the opportunity with a nice little 1.5km climb cling after 40km. As we hit the lower slopes I stood up and went for it. I only a short climb to do something but was confident it would draw out some strong dudes for me to boogy with and at the top I had Phil Tinzman, john abate (my tour guide earlier in the week) oh have to also take the opportunity to mention the awesome energy bars john and his business partner jess cerra supplied me with for the ride, they were awesome. It was like have a bowl of oatmeal in a conveniently pocket sized easily digestible block which gave you the confidence you would have energy for hours on end. The choc chip peanut butter flavor was particularly awesome! So thanks guys and was great having John up the road. Also with us was local jellybelly rider Cody Stevenson. The great thing was all these guys knew where we were going so that was quite crucial as i had no idea!! There were already a few guys up the road which we quickly caught and a nice little group of 7 formed at the front of the race. We soon hit the second section of single track gravel and once we were on that I knew it would be the last we would see of the group for the rest of the day. The other exciting thing about hitting the gravel full gas was how comfy i felt on my new synapes disc, i could basically go full gas on the trusty steed bull dozed though everything in its path, i could slip and slide and drift it this way and that and it felt so stable, it was simply just plain fun!! all was going along nicely.

We rumbled along through the back streets of I have no idea what town! Was like racing in Belgium, left, right, left, left constantly changing direction that made me feel sea sick at times. Our little group were enjoying the ride as we all rolled turns, oh except one cyclocross rider Ryan trebon. I couldn't understand why he wouldn't just enjoy rolling along with the rest of us but I guess he was taking this thing seriously, It really annoyed me and later on I snapped. The next section of gravel came on a nice 4km climb and I decided to keep the pace on. I wanted a smaller group and by the top there was only 3 off us. Around halfway up we hit the first section of mud which proved to be a bit of a problem for me later in the day due to the amount I got stock in my cleats. I got my shoes clipped back in with a lot of force but I wasn't expecting the consequences later in the day when the mud of my shoes would turn to dry clay!! Anyways after this dirty section we were now 3, phil, trebon, and muself, and just 160km to go, perfect, would get a good workout! Trebon continued to not do a turn which again didn't bother me, I just let him sit there while I waited for the next opportunity to dislodge him but keep Phil with me, Phil is a great dude and organizer of the event so I really wanted to help him as much as I could have a great Belgium waffle ride. More rights and left through the back blocks of who knows where and before we knew it we were headed through the start finish signifying the halfway point of the ride. The situation was 3 of us up the road, really 2 as trebon was not assisting at all, and around 40guys chasing around 3minutes behind, perfect situation but was time to turn the screw.

2nd Half

Once out and into the second lap I lifted the intensity a little. With 120km in the legs of the group it was time to ensure that we didn't give them a sniff of being able to pull us back. 20km later phil's and my work was rewarded and we were now 6minutes ahead of a tired looking pack as we made the turn around at racho santa fei, we were well truly away now. Still trebon refused to enjoy the ride with us so we ignored him and waited patiently for the longest gravel section of the ride. As a cyclocross rider I knew trebon would have been fancying his chances to stick it to us there having stayed as fresh as he could all day while we dragged him along, that really annoyed me. So as soon as we hit the dirt I hit the gas and following a technical downhill section he was dropped and Phil and I were on our merry way without any passengers. Phil is perhaps one of the best bike handlers I have ever had the chance to follow. His background is as one of the pioneers of the downhill scene here in the USA and is a cult hero in California for that. You quickly identify a rider who really has that special ability to handle his bike and I quickly saw that in Phil. The result is you can trust there wheel and line 100% and you don't even bother looking where your going you simply follow the wheel in front of you. It was awesome ripping through the single track gravel with Phil, again slipping and sliding and hopping and bopping at full speed, the synapse disc was just so incredibly awesome to be aboard, I never ever felt in danger of coming off. Then we hit a rocky section and phil's line as usual was perfect as he literally thread the eye of a needle through the sharp stones and I know I was going to quick for my ability and wasn't able to read his line as well with all the sharp rocks around. Sure enough I hit one to many and that pssssss sound was there, I had gotten myself a front flat. I yelled out to Phil that I'd flatted but he decided to charge on, oh well, was now in for a lonely day but that was the least of my worries. By now the mud had turned to dry clay and my shoes were glued to my pedals! I couldn't unclip. Embarrassingly for me there were randomly people standing at that exact spot where I wanted to stop and I had no choice but to topple over right in front of the to bring myself to a standstill!!

On the ground and strapped to my bike it must have been an hilarious sight. I pleaded for help and eventually my shoes were loosened triathlon style and was up on my feet to change the front tyre. I certainly didn't change the wheel at any F1 pit crew speed but I wasn't in much of a hurry either, I figured I had time to take a chill pill and ensure I changed the tyre correctly the first time. This is where I said a thank you to my mate spence who had provided me with those co2 canisters to ensure rapid inflation!! I through the front wheel in and just as I did trebon came rolling past and I thought excellent, I'll get to pass him again! I got back on my bike, shoes still attached to it, and took off triathlon style, still on the dirt I got myself up to speed and slid my feet in, was excellent training for my next triathlon!! Once my feet were in I decided to leave my shoes completely loose as if I needed to get off again the only way out was to do it try style again. It was a slight inconvenience but on the bright side I wouldn't have to worry about my shoes being to tight for the next 100km!! Besides things like this are all what make the ride so challenging, you have to be prepared for anything and I simply had to deal with one of these unexpected obstacles, can certainly say I've never ever had such a situation occur before!! Anyways I was now back on the bike with feet in the shoes and gunning again for trebon. As I reached him I hit the gas pedal to ensure he wouldn't be able to wheel suck me again and hammered for the final few km's of the dirt section around lake hodges. Once back on the road I no longer had the police escort as it was up the road with Phil and I was instantly uneasy with that as I had no idea where I was going. The signs were few and far between to add to the challenge of it all soi rode very carefully to ensure I didn't get lost. 

Sure enough I cracked with around 50km to go and was convinced i'd gone the wrong way which was always my biggest fear for the event to be honest.  I have to admit at that point i thought bugger this and just type the lost abby brewery into my gps and head straight back to the start finish and call it a day. Fortunately my fear of quitting hit me just as quickly so i decided to turn around and head back in the direction I'd come from in the hope of running into another rider. As I rode backwards I was pretty agitated but also figured it's not over till the fat lady sings and so long as I could get back on course soonish there was still a good chance of riding Phil down. It turned out I was going the right was and it was only 2km back down the road that I ran into the 3rd place dude. It was no longer trebon, I assume he had quit, but I was simply relieved to see another rider! Fortunately whoever the dude was in the blue skin suit knew where he was going so I stayed with him until I could be certain I knew where I was going. It was great going fast but the problem was then you also went fast in the wrong way!! We had a time check that Phil was only 8minutes up the road and with around 45km to go so I knew I could ride that back once I knew where I was. I roughly knew the last 40km where we faced the final long and technical section of dirt and gravel road and the final run into double peak climb and then it was a simple decent down the gravel to the finish line. 

As we hit the final long dirt section at 40km to go Phil was 6minutes up the road, it was time to boogy. Once on the gravel single tracks I went for the gas, i had 100% confidence in my synapes on the gravel and I knew this was where Phil would be strong and I had to hold my own over the next 8km section of strada biachi! By the end of the section I was how I wanted to be, alone, and I was now only 4 minutes back. Once on the road I really hit the gas peddle as I knew that Phil would be really starting to suffer from spending 60+km up the road alone. The next little obstacle was quest haven which had a gate to climb when you entered and a gate to climb when you came out. Fortunately I was prepared for this with my triathlon set up and completely loosened shoes and I made a couple of swift transitions both on and off the bike much to the amusement of the the motorbike photographers now following me as I closed in on Phil. Here I have to admit I had a couple of bad moments energy wise as I'd basically been going full gas for over 6hrs now. After climbing 4000m over the first 220km I'd averaged 34kmph was wasn't mucking about and when I made this calculation I wasn't surprised I felt so light headed! I slammed down some gels and cold cokes from supporters on the side of the road and brought me back to life, I was ready for the final haul up the fearsome double peak climb!

Just as we swung onto the lower slopes of double peak I was on Phil. As I drew along side him I let him know I was disappointed he hadn't waited for me when I flatted before continuing on my merry way. Really he did nothing wrong and had every right to pedal on but I would have stop for him and at least offered to help but guess that's all part of the waffle ride, you have to take care of yourself so I just did the same and carried. Double peak certainly stopped me dead in my tracks and I quickly praised the cannondale mechanics for fitting a compact 34/32 granny ring to my bike as I now desperately needed it!! I rolled up the climb with all the force I could knowing I only had a decent down to the finish. It was amazing how many people were out there cheering on the climb especially fellow Aussie and star triathlete Luke mckenzie and his family. It was awesome to see that the whole cycling community got behind the event by either participating or competing themselves, was really a great atmosphere up there. I crested the summit and it was time to plummet down to the finish at the lost Abby brewery in San Marcos. This was a periodic the ride where you could finally enjoy and reflect a little on the craziness of the previous 6hrs 30minutes you had had on your bicycle.

With full police escort I entered the final few km's of the 2015 Belgium waffle ride. At this point I started to think of my victory salute as I wanted to have a little fun with it. I decided that a nice tribute to the event would be to create a W with my fingers to symbolize Waffle. I swung into the car park and the crowd there was awesome. Inhale no idea how many people there were but they were making enough noise to really fire me up and enjoy the final few hundred meters of the ride. As I approached the line I stuck up my hands in the shape of a W in celebration of the waffle ride. Once across the line I had to pedal on a little as I needed to pull out my feet tri style again to actually detach myself from the bike much to the amusement of everybody. I have to admit It was an extremely satisfying ride especially with the hiccups and hurdles I'd overcome out there on the road as I knew I'd rant my spot as a waffle ride finisher. To be honest that ride was so challenging there was no such thing as winners, everybody who finished the ride was a winner. It was so brutal that no body had any choice but to go the pace they knew they could survive at. It really was a ride of survival which even almost brought me to standstill a couple of times out there, to me that was the coolest part of the event, the comradary each and everyone who finished that event felt. A truly  Great ride.

With all the formalities done after the ride it was time to go and meet my buddies at the brewery. My training gang of robbie, Ryan, Dave z and e boz where all in there enjoying some liquid re carb loading and soon I was doing the same. One by one our other training gang in Paul, oliand my mate Brandon from xterra all trickled in and there was soon a room full of guys and girls in sweaty cycling gear slamming down some fantastic beers. It's was a bit like being in a golf club house after an Ambrose event where everybody has a great story to tell about how their round went. Soon my bike arrived still with the shoes attached and was being photographed here there and everywhere including up on the bar. The shoe thing was so hilarious and I never got tired of telling everyone who asked why on earth are your shoes attached to you bike?? My simple answer was try and get them off!! By days end my shoes were totally destroyed from people trying to dislodge them as beer after beer took it's toll on the party. Post race party games!! Yep was an absolutely awesome day and fantastic to be apart of such a great community event, i had no idea what to expect and I'm pleased about that as nothing could have prepared you for that ride. Was a fantastic individual challenge no matter what level of ability you are and if you have the chance to one day partake I highly recommend you make it happen, I'll be an amazing experience that's for sure!!


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Oceanside 70.3 a TRI ing day!!

With my sabbatical season in full swing, this past weekend I partook in my first half ironman triathlon. I'm now back in LA and conveniently Oceanside is the setting for the first major ironman 70.3 event of the season so as it was just down the road I figured I may aswell cruise on down 5 hwy and give it a crack. I have to admit I was pretty excited to give this particular distance of triathlon a crack as the distances of the respective swim bike and run seemed manageable for a first time while being advantageous to decent cyclists. The timing of my first attempt was influential in choosing Oceanside as after coming of the back of the Australian summer of racing I wanted to make the most of my ability to still be intouch with pedaling reasonably well! So with that all in mind when I finished my final road racing commitment 5 weeks ago I decided to jump back in the pool and pull on the sneakers and get myself ready for oceanside 70.3, I had thirty five days to snap into some sort of triathlon shape!


Off the back of the oceania TT championships I was fortunately is reasonable TT condition by my standards. With this in minds and such  limited time to turn myself into a triathlete, I decided to not to bother trying to change my approach to training to much! Instead, I simply continued with my cycling training ‎as usual and incorporated some short swimming and running sessions to do nothing more than adapt me body atleast biomechanically to these disciplines. My theory was pretty simple, the advantage I had was that all my cycling training had given me a good sized endurance engine. I saw this as an advantage from the point of view that assuming I took around 4hrs for the tri then my body was well and truly accustomed to that type of strenuous and physically taxing effort thanks to my years in the peleton. The biggest weakness I had was the fact that I hadn't swam more than a few strokes or run longer than a few miles at a time in around 7 years. Since I began cycling basically. So the challenge I saw was using my strength to turn my weaknesses into lesser weaknesses and at the same time not losing any of my strength on the bike, well seemed like the most logical approach to me! The plan I came up with was pretty simple, swim 2km in the pool straight 3 afternoons a week after training rides as a nice recovery session, and on the alternate 3 days do a light 30minute jog at 6minute mile pace. My rational around these two sessions was again very simply. Firstly for the swim I knew that I could easily do it in 30 minutes and if I trained hard I might do 27 minutes so didn't see any point training hard for such a small gain and instead would just make sure I could swim the distance easily. The run on the other hand was a leap of faith. I knew if I tried to run 13miles at such short notice it would firstly destroy me and secondly severely compromise my training on the bike. I therefore decided I'd simply give my legs and body a bit of a taste of the pace I'd like to do the run leg and then cross every finger and toe that I would be just tickedy boo on race day!! I did this program religiously for 4weeks and then race week decided to through in a little race rehearsal as I realized I really had no idea what was in for. I therefore devised my own version of what triathlete's call a brick session for the tuesday before the race consisting of a 2km swim, 90km bike and 30minute run. The reason I chose these distances was I knew I could swim and bike that far comfortably but also knew if I tried to run any longer than my trained 30minutes I would run the risk of taking on huge fatigue and not recovering intime for race day, I wanted the suffering of the half marathon to be a complete surprize!! I didn't want to know what I was in for. I won't tell you the specifics of the splits I did for the brick session but it gave me the confidence that if I had a good day I'd do 4:05 at best and 4:15 at worst. When tucked myself into bed Friday night I went to sleep feeling pretty confident I could achieve my target of winning my age group the following morning.

Race Day

The alarm blazed to life at 4:45am and I sprung out of bed surprisingly bright eyed and bushy tailed! Waking up with so much enthusiasm at such an ungodly hour gave me even more confidence that it was going to be a great day and I was straight into my pre race routine. I was staying a mere 500m from the transition area where I had to check my bike in at 6am so there was absolutely nothing to stress me out before the race as I relaxingly consumed my gluten free chia seed porridge and a chopped up banana for my Pre race meal. At 5:45 I grabbed my backpack and bicycle and walked out the door champing at the bit to get down to the transition and set up my little possi. I'd been along the previous evening to scope out the area so I knew exactly where I was headed and was pretty excited off my allocated rack. I was positioned right at the very end of transition which was the first racks when you left the swim exit so was easy to find in my anticipated post swim delusional state! I arrived at transition and quickly get all my things lined out, bike shoes and running shoes, bike, helmet, glasses, number belt, all meticulously placed to limit my transition time as possible. I'd made the decision to put my bike shoes on in transition and also put on socks as appose to doing it the Tri way while in motion on the bike! I knew this would cost me a minute or so but having the same feeling in my feet as I've had for years on the bicycle would make up way more than a minute out on the road. Also while I knew I'd lose time on the first transition I'd make up for in the second as I would be so much easier to pull on my sneakers with socks on, I was pretty happy with this plan! The thing that I was most proud of though was remembering to bring baby powder with me to set up my stall!! I laid out a big towel and placed my shoes on that, bike shoes first and running shoes behind. I left around 1 foot of space at the front of the towel and drowned it in baby powder. My plan was that I would stand in the powder while I was putting my shoes and socks on and ensure my feet where as dry as possible so I was pretty pleased with myself for thinking that one up!! Oh I almost forgot I also unintentionally found out the best way to make friends with people in transition at 6am in the morning before the race!! All you have to do is take a track pump into transition!! I was amazed at how many people where in needed to put air in the tyres and hadn't come prepared! The bright yellow pump I'd borrowed from my mates at peddlers fork in calabasas went here there and everywhere in transition that morning to the point that I had no idea where it was going. It always came back but was quickly gone again and everybody so so so friendly when they borrowed it I really felt like I was fitting into the Tri community nicely, I was growing more and more in confidence about the day ahead. At 6:30 transition had to be cleared and I headed to get myself ready for the swim. As always our cannondale sports marketing lovely lady lauren celli was there to help out in anyway possible and had a pass for the VIP ironman area where I could get my wetsuit on and get ready for the start in piece right at the start line! Things couldn't have been more stressless and relaxed for before my maiden 70.3 adventure!

The guys at xterra had provided me with there latest technology wetsuit so I knew I had as much of an advantage as anybody in the field. Exactly 15minutes before my start time of 7:05 so at 6:50 I started to get myself into my snazzy silver and black speed suit. As I pulled my legs and sleeves up I drowned a redbull to give me one last little boost and pick me up before hooter sounded for the start of my wave. This 15minutes went so slowly! I just wanted to jump in the water and get stuck into the race, it was a great sign and when your not prepared the opposite occurs, yo feel like time is racing by!! Finally I was in the way and the countdown began, 5 4 3 2 1 horn!!!! And we were off. 

My swim strategy was pretty simple, go hard for the first couple of hundred meters and ideally get out infront, from the I would settle into a rhythm until the final 200-300m and then bring home a little. I did exactly that and I was quickly clear with a couple of guys, I felt great in the water and I knew I was on good pace. About 8 waves of people had started ahead of my wave and after about 500m I started running into traffic. From here it was a complete slug fest where I lost count how many bodies I quite literally swam over the top of, pushed of the shoulders, pulled there legs or whatever else I had to do to get past. I was definitely being a bit of an a hole but I was on a mission and wanted to get out of the water as quickly as possible! As I approached the final few hundred meters a strange emotion came over me and was one I would surprisingly feel later on the bike aswell. I simply couldn't way to get out of the water and get on the bike, not because I was fatigued, no to the contrary! Due to the swim being such a slog fest of holdups with traffic I couldn't actually swim hard so was more frustrated than anything else as I couldn't push myself, I simply wanted to get on that bike and turn those pedals in anger and burn some energy! Right on Que and and anticipated schedule I exited the water in just over 28minutes, so far so good, my expectations based on preparations were on track, I was even more confident now of executing my race plan! Into transition and all went smoothly, I ripped of my wetsuit in a matter of seconds which was a relief as I hadn't practiced that at all!! Oops!! Stood on my baby powder soaked towel and effortlessly pulled on my socks and shoes. I clipped on my race number belt, on with the sunnies, helmet over the top, grabbed my bike and headed for the exit of transition. I was now on my home turf for the next 90km!

The bike course was an absolute beauty and one i knew 80% off lie the back of my hand. Last off season I spent one month training on the roads around oceanside and the streets on and around camp pendelton I frequented quite often. Another reason for excitement was the opportunity to finally let loose on my brand new cannondale slice 2. This bike is an absolute beauty where Cannondale's engineers obviously spent years developing. Like all cannondale's TT bikes it feels extremely fast in a straight line but what excited me most about this particular model is the way it handles underneath you in corners and up and down hills. On this missile I simply don't feel the need to touch my brakes as I want to rail every corner!! Well rail it by standards which isn't that crazy fast but feels good for me, I just feel extremely confident on this bike. The other feature is how Greta it feels while I'm climbing. Historically TT bikes have had a reputation and feeling to match that they are absolutes dogs when it goes uphill. Well this bike bike bucks that trend as when you hit a long climb or share rise and burst out of the saddle the slice 2 responds like the evo road bike and feels simply awesome! Year sure cannondale is my sponsor and I'm loyal to them but in all honesty this bike has absolutely blown my mind as far as it's performance goes and I was could wait to wind it up!! The other exciting thing about race ay of course is having all the race wheels dialed in and speed lid protecting your melon. Your bike not only looks awesome with a 80mm deep mavic cxr 80 and matching rear disk but it also feels fast, its such a great feeling riding a fully kitted out TT rig, very very exciting actually!
Anyways back to the bike course and having some local knowledge. This proved to be pretty crucial as on the bike I still had a bucket load of traffic to navigate my way through. I knew my bike split would be +/- 2:05 depending on whether I really jammed it or not so quickly and surprisingly easily was straight into that 43-45kmph speed average.the only issue I was faced with on the bike was again traffic like I'd encountered in the swim, there were people everywhere and it required all my peleton skills to duck in and around all the bodies on bikes to maintain my pace. As i roared through the camp ground and the stretch of road that the wednesdays worlds champion is crowned each week I reminisced about the day on the ride when Taylor Phinney, Sean Bell, Keil Reijan, and I would lead out Cal rutchlow for the sprint. He won it every single week and man it was fun despite my effort at the time brought a giggle and smile to my dial for a few seconds! By around the halfway point of the ride I was through all the age groupers from the waves ahead and I had some clear road ahead of me. The next group on the road would be the pro women but for 10km's or so I enjoyed some piece and quiet on the road between the famous trestles surf beach and the back gate to re enter camp pendelton. The other key aspect of the bike leg was also nutrition as it was when most of the food for the days race would consumed. I had come up with a pretty simply plan for this. I had 2 large 800ml drink bottles which each contained 100grams of carbs, 20grams of protein, and 100ml grams of caffeine. One bottle was to be consumed in the first 45km and the 2nd was to be consumed in the final 45km, simple!! I was confident that these bottles would contain enough energy to pretty much get me through the entire event. Sure enough at 45km I finished of the first bottle, as I entered the back gate at camp pendelton all was on schedule. Also one other crucial piece to my nutrition plan was 2km decent at around the 75km mark with a 40kmph safety speed limit. The pace felt like you were walking and must have looked like at a NASCAR race where all of a sudden the car is moving so stupidly slow!! Anyways it was great as I took the chance to slam down a block of cliff blocks and have a good drink as basically I had nothing else to do, just had to quite literally role it out. The annoying thing was all the pro women I'd just passed on the climb barreled past me as the rule was only for the age groupers and not enforced for the pro's, anyways didn't matter, was great to get that Tucker in and get it swallowed without being rushed, a luxury you often take for granted in bike races!

After enjoying a little time of solitude out in the open road my days target on the bike course being the pro women were now coming into sight. They had started 22minutes ahead of me and I knew if I caught them then I would be a long way ahead in my age group. Historically the fastest age group athlete had achieved the same time as the leading pro women so by catching the women I knew my lead was already somewhere in the vicinity of 15-20minutes. I started to pick them off 1 by 1 and as approached the final 25km the realization that still had a half marathon to complete after the bike leg! A run that would be double double the distance of any run I'd done in the past 7years! So with that I had a decision to make. Do I push on at this pace and shoot for a 2:02-2:03 bike split and risk blowing to prices on the run? Or do back it off a little and aim for a 2:05 and give myself the best chance possible to have a decent run and ensure I win my age group? Fortunately I made the intelligent choice and backed things of and started resting up the pins for the unknown that lay ahead! I tossed and turned in my mind with my ego wanting to go as fast as possible on the bike and common sense telling me that it's important to win the race and not worry about an ego boosting bike split. So the final 25km was extremely enjoyable and fortunately due to the predominant down hill still very fast even with my foot off the gas. The funny part was with around 10km to go I got the same sensation as I'd gotten in the swim, I was now ready for the bike leg to be over. Well there were a couple of reasons for this! Obviously I hadn't taken the time to test out my flash new tri suit sugoi had prepared for me and especially given myself the chance to get used to the very minimal chammy they have! So that meant my under carriage was a little on the tender!! But really the other sensation I was experiencing was that I was well and truly ready for the bike leg to now be over. I wasn't pushing hard anymore, I was recharging my batteries for the run to come and I simply wanted to get stick into it. In a strange way the fear of the unknown that lay ahead had an equal amount of excitement and anticipation of just what might happen to me during that 21km with nothing but my 2 feet to carry me. Anyways I was still n the bike and I still had to pedal some final km's and finish of that all important 2nd drink bottle of fuel. When I finally rounded the port on the final few hundred m's to transition the I took my final gulp and I was bursting with excitement to start the days long jog! I hit transition and as id anticipated this one felt extremely fast. My split was again exactly in the ball park I'd anticipated at 2:05 so I was stoked with that. My bike shoes were quickly relieved of duty from my feet and my mizuno running flat were on in a flash. In fact I surprised even myself with my speed in this transition that I paused for a moment as I was sire I'd forgotten something!! I hadn't, I was obviously just getting the hang of all this and while I hadn't down any practice transitions at all I had done plenty of visualizing how I'd do the transition and it was amazing to me to see how much that helped me nail it on race day. I was now headed into the great unknown!

Like the swim and the bike I had a plan for the run and it was pretty simple, try not to blow up!! Kimba Tedro had given me some great advice and told me that my first 2miles should be my slowest and build up from there. As a usual fly and die guy this was a hard one accept but I took kimba's advice as she is always very good with giving tips and headed out on the run relaxed and at a pace I felt was holding plenty back and as later in the run would show, it was dam lucky I took her advice!! Once out on the course I started to get plenty of support. The crowd I think felt sorry for me ad I was running right smack bang in the middle of the top 8 women. Talk about the thorn amongst a big pile of roses!! The pro men were up ahead and the age groupers were now some 20minutes behind so everybody just thought the logical thing, this poor block is miles behind the pro's! Good on him for sticking it out among the women! It was pretty funny hearing there feeling sorry for you encouragement. Little did they know I was absolutely brimming with confidence and excitement. I hadn't lead anything since the oceania TT and on that occasion Micheal Heburn ultimately got the better of me in the final km's! I remember how nice it felt to be on the podium that day but also how much it hurt not being strong enough to hold on for the win. Well today I was finally out in front again and had a chance at a victory and I was determined to not let it slip. As I turned the top marker on the first lap of the run, I had done as kimba suggested and taken it steady and was feeling great. 

Along the run route there were aid stations every mile so basically 3 each way on each lap. My buddy Todd Skipworth had given me great advice to just role through all the aid stations nice and slowly and take on water and a couple of gels int he first lap and a half. I took Todd's advice and again it proved to be pivotal. Out on course my supporters from cannondale and sugoi were all cheering me along which was great. It's awesome when there is support out there but it's always more special and motivating when you here you name. As I began my 2nd 11km lap I felt Great. It seemed my steady pace was paying off and keeping up the fluids was proving pivotal. I was now however entering the great unknown as I hadn't run this far for almost a decade. I simply hoped that the engine I'd developed over the years in rowing and cycling would be enough to keep the biomechanical movement of the running technique I'd worked on for 5 weeks going! Also at this point I felt so good I decided to start upping the pace and driving for home as mentally I believed I just had to get to the final turn around at 5km to go and that part would be a freebie! Surely regardless I could survive from there? At roughly the 15km mark I noticed my legs getting a little sore! I didnt have any injuries but I could just tell that were now some 30minutes over my usual training run time and were attempting to raise the white flag. I was actually happy to feel this, I expected it and was surprised it hadn't come sooner. I'd promised my mates no matter what I was put myself well and truly into the hurt locker on that run leg and that was now exactly where I was headed!! I finally reached the top mark and was really starting to labor. Still I also now only had a little under 5km to the finish and could almost touch the finish line. This feeling drove me another 2km the boom!! It finally hit me!! I was going crosseyed!!

I'd always wondered just what it felt like to be stabling along in the final stages of marathons and triathlons when you see it on tele. Always just wondered at what point does that kick in and do you really no longer have control of how your legs function with the rest of your body. So like so much of the day when then questions were asked I was wrapped I'd pushed myself to that point and so intrigued as to what was going to happen to me. The next thing to save me was the redbull tent situated around 1mile from the finish. I could see it up ahead, it seemed to take an eternity to arrive and by the time had dragged me to that point the coordination of any sort of technique was gone, I was simply throughing one keg in front of the other. I have to admit redbull really did give me wings on Saturday! I walked through the aid station and slammed a couple of cups of the magic potion and admired the view for a brief moment of which redbull had obviously taken great care in ensuring was top class, much appreciated by this weary triathlete! Once through the station I had my legs back but of course it was short lived however it did drag me another 800m or so until I literally started getting tunnel vision and loosing color, I was on the verge of passing out! I succumbed to walking again for 50m or so and so so fortunately had my legs spring to life once again and start carrying me toward the finish shoot I could clearly see in the distance about 600m. I fixed my stare on the ironman banner and simply focused every tiny bit of energy I had on putting one foot in front of the other. Again that final stretch seem to take an absolute eternity which in reality it did, I'd dropped off almost 2minutes per km in those final few km's so was going pretty slow! Anyways that didn't really matter as the only important thing was I was moving forward.

When I finally crossed that ironman finish line off course I was spent. I had absolutely wrong every last bit of moisture I could from my body during the event. Lauren, Jaime and nat were all there to meet me at the finish and give me the knows I kind of knew but was so relived to here the confirmation, I'd Won!!! I had no idea of the pacing I was running at so but I assumed it was slow. I therefore was so excited when I realized i'd run a 90minute half marathon! That was simply what I'd hoped for, even with all my confidence deep down I didn't think I pull that one off. I had completely dodged a bullet on that one and gave me some hope that perhaps my running can be worked and I could be more competitive in The sport. That however was going to have to wait a while my body will take some time to recover from that prevent on Saturday. With the win came my expected slot allocation for the 70.3 worlds in my age group which I was so incredibly excited about. I had an absolute blast at the triathlon in Oceanside not just with the event but more importantly because of all those who came out to cheer, was just an incredible incredibly fun and enjoyable day. So that was my first 70.3 triathlon, done and dusted. I came in in what many would say was underprepared and in many ways I was however on the flip side of that I believe the way I managed my training and timing made me as well prepared as was possible under the circumstances and that gave me huge confidence. I'm hooked, I'll be on the startling again very soon looking forward to seeing what I can do against everybody else in Austria on august 30, jolly rippa of a day!

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday the 13th oceania TT!

Friday the 13th oceania TT!

While alot of people fear misfortune on todays day and date, I was optimistic it would bring me some good fortune!! By days end it would prove to be the case and while I fell short of it being a perfect day of fortune I certainly finished Friday the 13th with a pretty big smile on my dial. For the past 4 weeks I've been very focused on the Oceania TT which was held today in toowoomba and when the dust settled on the 40km race against the clock I had finally got myself back on a TT podium. It seems a long long time ago now that I was a decent time trialist. Sadly over the past few years i simpl have not done the work on the TT and I've been hopeless at it as a result! Today I was determined to simply give it all I could muster and see if I could get back amongst it on the TT rig.

The Oceania championships is quite a cool little event. While it's far from the glitz and glamour of the big european races, or even the big Aussie races we have just had over the past month, its unique in it's own way. It's held in a more remote country area usually which in 2015 is toowoomba, right on the top of the great dividing range. I love coming to events like this as I get to do it with the gang from the TIS. I have a soft spot for going to races with the tassie sporting gang as it's what interstate trips always involved in my young sporting days. I felt particularly familiar coming out to toowoomba as the last time I'd driven out the a2 highway from Brisbane I was headed to 2001 national rowing championships at lake wivenhoe. I had a pretty successful trip that time winning the school boy single skull, figured it had to be a good Oman ahead of the Oceania champs. There are no team buses, trucks, stickered up race cars, massage therapists or expert mechanics at your bec and call. No there are replaced with the Toyota hiace renta van. There is often no fancy hotels on these trips, infect this time we are staying in a caravan park. It's funny as I've been so spoilt with hotels in my time that you could get a little snot nosed at staying in a caravan park?? Nah not me, I love it and not so much because I'm in a caravan park but these types of accom represent these type of Aussie sporting trips.

I have to admit I was pretty jolly nervous when I woke up this morning. Although I could hardly call the 4 weeks I've focused on this event a hugely sacrificing period of my life it's certainly been on mind each and everyday so obviously I wanted to see some return for the work I'd put in. That's a positive and negative all in one as you are completely in control of how hard you push yourself so can dictate to an extent how well you perform. It's a negative as I've you ride like a softy you get your backside handed to you and Theres only one person to blame! So I've had m fair share of ass whippings lately so at the very least if I was going to put myself on the startline today I was going get everything out of my body no matter what shape it was in. I went into the race with a pretty clear race plan after some solid recon of the course yesterday. The course was pretty simple. 5km straight line dead flat, turn left, another 5km with a nasty 100m 20% wall half was only, do a u turn and ride back to where you started from. Once back to where you started do another u turn and do it all over again! Pretty simple! As I said Id studied the course pretty well yesterday and there were a few factors. Firstly the wind, head wind one way, tail the other! 2nd the climb, 3rd the heat, 4th the dead roads which DS Dave Sanders reiterated there condition to me by saying they were as "dead as Roy Orbison" just to ensure I really knew how slow they were!! He is an absolute crack up!

The other little factor of these events is you need to be organized! Well I'm not really used to organizing everything myself, been way to spoilt in my cycling career, my entire sporting career for that matter! Funnily enough was funny talking to hepburn after the race who said exactly the same thing. With greenedge he always have everything at his beck and call but up here he was largely left to his own devices aswell. It's funny the small things you take for granted like race food. All of a sudden it's not all laid out for you on a table under your shaded warmup area. No your at the supermarket buying it all and worrying about what you have forgotten! Then warmup your trying to find a shady tree or something similar to set up the turbo trainer. Then there's getting your bike ready! Ok we are exactly without resources, there's heads of mechanics here whom are always very happy to help but it's still something to think about. I was jolly lucky to even have my bike on the start line as my disk wheel got destroyed in transit here. Fortunately Andrew Christie Johnston, the owner of the avanti team was on my speed dial to bail me out. Andrew is a legend and is always there in a time of need and he had me up and running with one of his fancy disk wheels. Stuy sanders who's another gem of the sport here in australia ensured that was fitted properly and the bike was running tickedy boo and I was ready to rumble. It's very good for you to realize how much is done for you at all these races, certainly makes you appreciate it even more. Everyone in a cycling team lis without a doubt all equally crucial in ensuring that the wheels go round and round as well as possible!

Back to the tt and after a bit of analyzing with our TIS team manager Ron tubby Bryan and my dad we came up with a pretty good strategy. The first half of the circuit was head wind and we figured this would be telling, particularly on the 2nd lap. The idea with this was therefore to hold a little back on the first and give it grief on the 2nd lap into the wind, pretty simple. The 2nd factor was the hill which being so short but steep still had the potential to take the edge of you if you tried to smash over it but if you backed of a little you could save the legs and drop just a few seconds which you would likely take back later in the course with fresh legs. So was decided to use a small gear there. 3rd the heat, well can't do much about that but make sure your well hydrated and mentally prepare yourself to get pretty jolly hot under the color out there so tha was a simple one. And finally combating the dead roads simply meant there was no free speed anywhere on the course, not even the fast decents, if you stopped pedaling at all you slowed down even going down hill, you simply needed to keep the pressure on the pedals all day no matter how much you were suffering. I was actually happy about this as I spend alot of hours on the ergo so this I felt gave me a little bit of an edge! So with all that considered I hatched the following race plan. Go put solid and try and keep my heart rate below 185beats (my threshold) for the first lap. Then on the 2nd lap into the wind give it some herbs and build up to around 190 beats and then simply give it all I had for the 10km run home toward 195-200beats. Pretty simple hey? Oh and above all else I wanted to give myself a chance at winning which meant at some point rolling the dice a little!! Well here's my execution of it!!

Warm up-
When I'm nervous before a TT I'm simply champing at the bit to get the warmup started. This is a good sign as I know that I'm ready to do a good ride and just want to get on with the job. Well today I was so nervous I was shaking so brought the start of my warmup forward a few min to settle the nerves and get in the zone. Sure enough as I rolled off on the road bike for a quick 30min get the legs rolling spin before the the final tune up on the turbo trainer I instantly was relaxed. Legs felt light and effortless and I was ready to go. Once the warmup begins it's all so systematic down to the minute, 30min on the Rd bike, on the tt bike on the turbo 45min before start time, off the turbo to skin suit up and helmet on 10min before start time, then off to the start between 5-6min before kickoff to check the bike, chill out, final stretch, and on the start line! While I'm on the turbo I choose the fm radio instead of the iPod and my old man is there to ensure I'm drinking the right drinks and have everything set before kick off.

Fortunately for me dad still loves coming to the races and takes great pride in his glamorous role of tyre pumper uppera! Logistics liaison! And just generally still being for those moments when I've forgotten or need something and even at 31 years old have the desperate "Daaaddd" tone in my voice when I need and extra gell, towel, or some cold water! Yep he's still doing the same things for me at these national events he's benign doing since my first rowing nationals as a 15 year old in Adelaide, I'm pretty sure he still enjoys it as much aswell. His only difficult is he hasn't ever come to terms with the fact that I can carry or pedal my own bike to and from the start/finish line! At rowing he got to carry the boat aswell so feels a little surplus to requirement a those moments during my race days but none the less he always seems pretty chirpy about being in amongst it.

Anyways back to the warmup and once on the turbo trainer the earplugs go in and I start to go into the zone. I slowly but surely warm up all the energy systems over the next 35min to be red and raring to go come start time. I start of with 10min building up to medium intensity. Have a few min off the 2 lots of 5min building up to race pace with a few min off between. I finish of with 1min at VO2 intensity then I'm ready to go. I know from the warmup if I'm a chance to do well as all the efforts should feel easy. Well let's face it your in big trouble if you struggle to do a few min at the same intensity you plan on doing 50min for!! Anyways today was a great warmup and I was ready to go. 10min before the start I was off the turbo, towel off, helmet on, dad slid the rear disc into the trusty cannondale slice RS, quick stretch and off to the start right on schedule 6min before kickoff! Bike check all good and I was finally in the starters house staring at that screen, WURF 5-4-3-2-1 go time!!

1st lap-
Out of the start ramp and I was quickly into my stride. I flung around the left hand corner that started the first 6km straight drag into the wind. I was eager to start this section as when your on a good day you don't seem to notice the head wind. Yeah sure your going a little slower than normal but it doesn't bother you, you feel like you can plow into it. Well I really felt good here and was around 2-3kmph quicker than I anticipated or planned! Yep that's where I made my first big mistake for the day. I got all amped up by how good I felt and believed I could go that extra few % harder than I had meticulously planned. In other words in those first 2-3km's I got my ambitions and capabilities a little jumbled up. Anyways I was committed and while the signs of over revving kept smacking me in the face I ignored them and charged on. My heart rate was at 180beats after 5min so around 20minutes earlier so I just put it down to the heat and freshness and it didn't bother me that much. After 6km I had taken 40seconds out of my minute man and knew I was going quick and needed to be a little reserved so backed it off a bit. Still with the carrot now there right in front of me I didn't back off much and by the time i had ridden 11km I was past him. Now with the tail breeze up my backside I was honking along at 55-60kmph toward the turn. I kept the pace on with my heart rate already settled in around 192 so I was well and truly on the rev limiter. As I came back I could see the guys coming toward me and only Hepburn looked a threat. I know seems presumptuous and impossible to tell riding in the opposite direction but you can sense atherosclerosis riders pace and his poise certainly made know I was in for a fight. Still this also gave me motivation as I was about to enter the section I was confident would make or break my tilt at the title as I began my second lap so I took a few deep breathes, rounded the cone and headed out on what was going to be a very painful final 20km!

Lap 2-
As I hit the head wind for the 2nd time I still had that good feeling. I felt ontop of the breeze if that makes any sense and was relieved that there was still some life in my pins. As I swung left onto the dead roads toward the little kicker and top end of the course for the 2nd time the questions in my head began. I was really starting to feel those dead roads and my head rate was pumping away at 195, I was at my limit. I had mentally prepared for this and knew that when I felt the dead roads I simply had to keep pedaling, everybody would be suffering backing off to gain some rest bite would be a disaster so just had to grit the teeth. When I hit the top of the little kicker for the 2nd time I knew I was in survival mode big time as this time around I was craving a respite on the decent! The lap before I accelerated nicely over the top and down the other side, I needed to stay focused. At the top turn around with 10km to go i got a few seconds reprieve as I rounded the cone and it gave me a bit of a 100wind!! I will and trully used up my 2nd-99th in the first 30km!! At this point i knew i was still on a flyer. The splits would later back me up on this as i was 2seconds up on hepburn at that final turn. Unlike him i had no idea of any splits as i didn't have a race radio. Would it have made any difference?? Maby but probably not. Sure it would have been nice to be re enforced how far ahead I was but in reality I was cooked, no amount of encouragement can make you ride any harder when you've simply put yourself way to far into the red zone in an individual TT. Infect at this point all you can hope for is that your far enough ahead that you hang on for the win or your rivals are slowly as rapidly as you are, basically your no longer in control of the outcome, just cross the fingers!! By now my heart rate had been around 190beats for nearly 40min and it was as simple as getting every last little bit of energy out of my flagging body. This was the plan all along mind you to hang on from this point, only problem was I realistically had been hanging on for around 5km more than I could handle in my current condition. Sure enough as I swung around the final right hander with 6km to go and that big tail breeze hit my backside the speed didn't go up as much as it needed to. On the first lap I was 55-60kmph comfortably, on the all important run to the finish i was flat out doing 50kmph. It was all I could do to turn the pedals around, the feeling was well and truly gone from my legs and so was the power. The pulse was banging away at 200beats and I was well and truly groveling to the finish. I could see a drapac rider up ahead around 30seconds and knew that was the race. I'd been catching adam one an who started a few min ahead all day and knew I needed to get him to win. I don't know why but just had a feeling that that was the marker. Try as I may I couldn't get going to make any further inroads to Adam and when I crossed the line I knew I was going to come up short. I knew I would be close between heppi and I as knew how draining the course was and there was always the chance he over cooked it aswell. As he had my splits and with all his experience I knew this was unlikely as he would have know with 5km go I'd slowed big time and he really turned the screws on me in those final km's. He told me he was doing 60kmph down there and that's the 38sec difference he would eventually pump into me. After going toe to toe with him all day he showed his class and superior condition by having that bit when it mattered most so was a very deserved winner so well done heppi. It was a relief to see him looking just as demolished as me after the finish as I could be content in the fact that I had at least made him work for it.

When it's all said and done I was really happy with my performance. That first 5km's of excitement proved to be my undoing in those final 5km's. It's funny but just backing off 1-2kmph there could have made 5-10kmph difference coming the other way into the finish. In reality it would have made the 38seconds I needed to fend of heppi so doesn't matter anyways, I was beaten. Anyways a good lesson to trust and believe in your pacing. To be honest while I believed I could do a good TT yesterday I was also scared I wouldn't and thats the way rode it. I got my tail up and instead of riding a calculated ride I rode on the whim of hope. In other words I hoped I could handle the pace I was pushing. Its been 3 years since I rode a competitive TT so it's normal to have reservations which I won't have next time I line up in such an event. The most important thing for me to get out of this event was the belief back that I could ride a good TT again. I knew I hadn't down the work to do a phenomenal performance, I simply haunt made the sacrifices over the past 8 months to be an elite athlete but I knew I'd done enough work to get a glimpse of whether or not it was still in there. It's a huge relief to me and extremely motivating that that first 30km gave me all the answers that I needed and I'm now really excited to put my head down and focus again on the race against the clock in the future!! job done


Sent from my iPad

Wednesday, February 11, 2015