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

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Stage 4 Suntour

Stage 4 Suntour

The final stage of the Suntour is a real doozey!! There is always suspense till the very end at the Suntour thanks to the final stage finish on the iconic arthurs seat climb. The stage is set down on the morning ton peninsula and has that many twists and turns and lumps and bumps that you feel sea sick at times, there simply isn't a flat section of road in the entire course. Through in the constant flutter of breeze that seems forever present in the area and with all the changes in direction you really have to stay on your toes to ensure your not caught out. While the previous couple of days had all been about steele, the final stage and with the summit finish at argues seat was all about our gc men chris and laughlan to see what they could. We had a fair bit of faith in particularly lauchie for today of a high finish so the plan was pretty simple, get him to base of the final climb as fresh as possible. Following a big 80km loop of the peninsula we had 3 well balanced 16km circuits including the arthurs seat climb to tackle befor the finish at the summit on the 3rd assent. Wight he tricky course and the wind and off course the importance of the final climb for the overall battle in the race, it was always going to be a pretty stressful and challenging stage and it didn't disappoint.

Our man of steele Von Hoff was on his home roads. Sure enough as the flag dropped for the start he was off like a rocket ship in the days early breakaway giving his family friends and fans a good chance to cheer him on all day. The rest of our lads got together in the group and began the day long stressful battle for position ensuring lauchie and chris had as easy a ride as possible. Fortunately I was feeling even better today so figured it was best I take the role of positioning the boys and make good use of the extra fuel I finally started feeling in my pins. On a twisty, windy, undulating course like today the peleton is always stretched out in one big long line so position is even more crucial as the further back you are the more yoyo you have to endure and the more sting it saps out of your legs. Therefore my role role to ensure we were always in the right spot to save the boys valuable energy and also ensure we didn't miss any potential splits in the peleton. It's a simple job really provided your prepared to use plenty of energy. It's alway easy to sit in the wheel at the front but if you can't get a space in the line in a good possi you simply have to form another line and ride in the wind. This can obviously be pretty draining but it makes a huge difference for the boys behind you not wasting energy fighting wind and fighting for position. Also when you are in the long line and it's in the gutter you not real helping your boys as if your in the gutter the guy behind gets less coverage than you do so I always sit on the outside of the wheel in front to give my man behind maximum protection. Basically on a day like today you simply think at every moment where can I ride to save energy for my team mate behind as It could be the difference between a good and greater result for the team. So around the 80km circuit i boxed on in the bunch for good posi for the boys and we were finally at the base of the climb for the start of the circuits. I was not surprisingly pretty cooked by this point so made sure I positioned the guys right at the front at the base of the climb so I would have plenty of paces to drop back through the group and stay at the front of the race for as long as possible!

So onto the climb we went for the first time in perfect posi. I set up camp behind the avanti team doing all the work on the front which meant I had a nice content rhythm to follow. Fortunately my condition seemed to be returning and I was actually finally able to recover a little on the climb as was no longer having to ride in the wind and fight for position as the pace was such that everyone was happy where they were positioned. Lauchie and chris looked good so all was going according to plan for the korda mentha national team boys. By the top I had got my second wind and was ready for my next role should I have the energy, cover any dangerous counter attacks. A few went and I quickly followed but none were at all threatening. With such small gaps on gc none of the big players were going to be able to go anywhere and we were back in the climb for the 2nd time before we knew it. The 2nd time up was much like the first and a nice solid tempo with no attacks. As expected everyone seemed keen on saving the pins for the final climb and try and make a difference there. Was funny day really as on the big 80km loop I spent so much energy holding is in a good position that I was fried by the time we reached the circuits. Fortunately then the more constant pace of the climb had actually freshened me up a little and I was ready to do whatever I could for lauchie on the final climb.

Before we knew it we were finally at the base of the final assent of arthurs seat and just 3km away form the end of the tour. The boys were in a great posi so we had done our job and given them the best chance to strut there stuff on the final climb. As expected the pace on the final time up really ramped up and now I was reminded of the work done earlier in the day as the turbo was well and truly gone! I had the chew chew train legs but anything over and I was instantly aboard the pain train. Anyways I gritted my teeth and hung in aslong as I could to be there for lauchie if required but when the first big attack came with 2km to go the leaders went one way and I went the other, I didn't have any kick in me today. Unfortunately lauchie didn't have the day he planned as he visibly had untimely cramps in the final km or so. As great as it would have been to see him do one of his devastating attacks it just wasn't meant to be today. Lauchie is having a quiet year this year so hasn't done anywhere near the racing or hard preparation he normally would for this time of the year. He'll focus on the big tours in the USA later in the year at altitude with Utah and Colorado so is slowly building up to them. I can understand where he is at as I'm in the same boat, infect I haven't even done any motor pacing this year preferring to just go out and ride and hope to have some decent race condition. I certainly paid for it in the first couple of stages but was a nice feeling to feel the legs hardening back up to the demands of racing the final couple of stages. I was certainly a tired boy but knew I needed a good blowout so was happy to still play apart in the race in the last few stages. Anyways that was that, bit of an anticlimax day for our boys but we did what we planed to do everyday in giving our guys a shot and that's all we could ask of ourselves as we were simply outgunned by better riders.

Once I crossed the line it struck me that the race was over. I felt however like I was jus getting going again and didn't want to the of the bike. I round up the Morton boys said lets ride back to Melbourne. These guys are absolute champions of men and didn't hesitate in saying rightio. It want until we had ridden 10km that they actually asked how far it was as really they didn't care. This was a chance for us to enjoy riding our bikes outside the structure of a race for the first time in a few days and the chinwag home was what the 3 of us most cared about. Besides these two boys rode form port Macquarie to uluru in the off season so riding long days isn't something that bothers them. As great as the whole team was this week riding with the Morton boys was something I'll remember for a long time. They always and I mean always have something exciting to talk about. Infect every night at dinner there stories had us in that much laugher that I had a sore stomach and saw excellent gains in m 6 pack during the 5days! The ride home back to Melbourne was our first chance to really just hang out in an environment it became apparent we share the passion for hanging out in! On a bicycle. In a year that seas the Morton boys and I headed down a similar path with or cycling i guess it was no surprise we got along pretty well. When we finally mad our way back to st kilda at 8pm we figured we may aswell stop at the bar for a quick end of season beverage. It was st kilda festival so people everywhere so I was a little scared when I rolled into the pub and ordered 3 schooners dressed in my Lycra! Fortunately I got the bears, myself, and my wallet back out to the boys with just a few wise cracks, think they were scared of giving me a hard time as I left my helmet on for safety! Always the Morton boys and I had an awesome afternoon discussing everything and everything and a little bit of cycling. We made some plans which will come to fruition throughout the year which we are all pretty excited about. That's an understatement really as some of the adventures we have come up with had us bouncing out of our skin but more on that later. Was a great way to wrap up a great week racing around victoria with an awesome group of guys. Sow to the mortons, davo, Stuy, chris, steels, nick, leanne, and of course the wonderful group of people at Korda mentha who sponsored the national tema for the event thankyou very much for being part of such a an eventful week! Next stop toowoomba and the Oceania TT.


Sent from my iPad

Monday, February 9, 2015

Stage 3 Suntour

Stage 3 Suntour

It was the case of a little bit of groundhog day at the Suntour today with final few km's of the stage identical to that of stage 3. Today we not only finished in negambie but also kicked the stage off there so was a novel day of riding out of the accommodation to the start and also back there after the finish, very very convenient. On paper the stage seemed to most likely come down to a field sprint and our Korda mentha national were more than happy with this and decided to again put our support behind of man of Steele Von Hoff! The tricky part of the stage was Nasty 6km climb midway through the stage which threatened to break the field apart but fortunately we had what I felt was a good plan to ensure we can steele a chance at the bunch gallop.

The stage kicked off ideally with a manageable sized group of 6 riders skipping up the road inside the first 5km. Fortunately a couple of the other teams UHC and MTN also wanted a field sprint and decided to do the early work so our boys could chill out in the peleton before step one of our plan was called upon. The pace was like the day before for the first part of the race, not hard but not solid enough that you were never comfortable. Steele was very confident as usual and made sure we all knew he was keen for the sprint. It's always nice as a team when your sprinter shows this enthusiasm for the bunch gallop battle as latter in the stage when you working your backside of chasing down the breakaway it's always more motivating doing it for a motivated leader. So as we rolled toward the base of the potentially race changing climb the gang sprung into action.

The plan for the long climb was to simply get steele over it as fresh as possible and in a position to ensure a bunch sprint eventuates. We were prepared for the group to be split by the climbers but we wanted to ensure we were close enough and fresh enough at the top to ride Steele back to the front of the bike race. To do this the plan was pretty simple, I would employ my "safety car" technique. It's a pretty simple approach and hopefully works just the same way as in a car race. Set a safe tempo at the front to get through a potentially dangerous section of the race. In this case a dangerous section was the fear of Steele being left behind by attacks on the climb and not being able to return to the front for a crack at a sprint finish. My role was simple, ride on the front at a pace that steele could comfortably handle but also at a pace that made any potential attackers think twice about doing it. My their was that I would ride a t pace until people stopped talking within the group which usually means people are having to work at least a little hard. Also if they did attack we would be at a pace that meant they had to ride very hard to get any sort of a gap, hopefully if they did ride that hard they would be buggered from getting the gap and not be able to hold the attack the 60km to the finish. So onto the front I went and starting feeling for this safety car tempo to tap out. Another factor is by me being able To ride my pace means that I won't be tired at the top and will have plenty of juice in the tank to ride on the from and help keep the race under control to the finish. As I started setting the tempo Lachlan was my eyes on Steele to help set the pace. Initially on the steeper Ramps we had to back it off a little but once steele was through the hard middle section of the climb he really showed his class as a leader getting himself right up on my wheel to dictate the pace fro. Right behind me for the final 3km of the climb. No teams attacked fortunately, doubtful it was a result of our tactics but that doesn't really matter, if they had we were read for it and as we crested the top of the climb the break was In check, peleton was intact and most importantly Steele was feeling great! First step done.

Once down of the climb the was par began, slowly winding in the days breakaway on the final flat 50km run into negambie. The gap was at a manageable 2min so it meant that we just had to keep a steady pressure on the pace as up front the breakaway would be sat ring to feel 100km on the attack in there legs. Our korda mentha boys really rode like a solid unit on the run into town sensing how the chase was going and helping out where required. At 25km to go the gap went out 30seconds or so and Laughlin and Gus showed there class by instantly coming to the front and rippin out two monster turns to rip that advantage straight back of the break and at 20km it was again a manageable 1min time gap. That little quick thinking by the guys really impressed me actually. From there it was just text boom bringing the race back together. Was now on the front with just Simon Clarke to help me as we had run out of Helpers from UHC and MTN and with 4km to go we had everything back together. From there I slid back into the group to ensure steele was where he needed to be and he was glued to caleb ewan wheel, perfect! Nick Schultz had done his job perfectly and ensured steele had the wheel he wanted and was also there to ge him out of trouble if required. With all under control with steele I went back to the front and ripped out a couple more turns until we were inside the final km. As the peleton rocketed into the uturn with 400m Steele was perfectly poised for a great result on calebs wheel. Unfortunately for Steele again his lucked out a bit on the corner with his line and lost some valuable. Showing his class and excellent summer of form he kicked hard to drag himself onto the podium in 3rd place and a great result. Today there were no regrets, we did all we planned and everyone including Steele were happy with the teams effort on the day and the result. Evan after just 2 days together as a composite team we were really riding as a unit and that's something that is really exciting to see and enjoyable to be apart off. Bring on arthurs seat!!


Sent from my iPad

Friday, February 6, 2015

Stage 2 Suntour

Stage 2 Suntour

They turned on the heaters here in country Vic for stage 2 of the herald Suntour. On paper It looked like a nice easy day for all involved, a relatively flat 115km run from bendigo to negambie but as is so often the case, these little short stages cam prove to be quite the leg burner!! Having the man of steele Von Hoff in our ranks we fancied our chances for a victory for him and therefore made the plan pretty simple, if he wasn't in the breakaway we would make sure it was a bunch sprint. After not really playing any part in the race yesterday at all I was determined if nothing else to ensure I suffered as much as possible today and by the time I arrived in negambie I was that buckled that I just wanted to jump of the starting pontoons at the rowing course just 100m from the finish of the bike race! By the end of the fast and furious stage which we knocked over the 115km in 2hrs 35min steele would gallantly gallop to a fine 2nd place. As always there plenty that goes on between go to wo so here's the tail of the tape through my eyes.

As always when we have a day like stage 1 everyman and his dog who got left behind yesterday wanted to be up the road today. So that meant about 80 guys wanted to be in the breakaway! So from the gun it was on like donkey kong and before we knew it we were half way through the stage. Steele was alert as ever as where all the sprinters who figured if they got in the break it was a good bet after yesterday's stage outcome and with there rapid accelerations we knocked put 50km in the first hour, no mean feat on these cheese grater Vic country dead roads! Our boys were all on the ball and everything was going to plan. The stage was hard which we wanted as Steele is a man who can handle a hard stage and still have a kick like a mule and if something got away we would be in it. Around this midway point we had a little alarm with our young MTb climbing star chris hamilton taking a tumble off the road and that meant me and nick dropping back to bring him into the race. It was a little average timing as at this point the break was slipping away but we needed to ensure he was protected as possible and saved as much energy as possible as he is a big gc hope for arthurs seat on Sunday. Fortunately only a few guys slipped away however what they lacked in numbers they made up for in HP with the big horse will Clarke and speedster classics strongman Tyler farrar setting off in pursuit of glory. With the group happy to let them go we rolled along for a bit of a respite while we waited to see who was going to take up the chase.

At this point I was pretty nervous and apprehensive about letting these strong men have too much breathing room. We had only ridden 55km and had only 60km to the finish!! Sure enough 10km later when UHC finally started to form some sort of a chase the gap was 3minutes and I knew this needed to be shut down as these boys were sting and we had only 50km to pull them back. The reason that I knew there was some urgency was that it's one thing to chase even 3 strong boys for 50km after 150km but to do it after only 60km means they still have alot of fuel in the tank. It meant the pace had to be pretty much full from behind specially with only a few guys working to make up the 3kmph difference in that final hr of racing. So up to the front I went and immediately told the UHC boys we needed to booggy! They agreed and we ramped up the pace. To give you an idea usually you can build into a chase which I do using heart rate. First pull 150ish 2nd 160ish and then settle into where need to be which in the final 50km is somewhere between 160-190pulse. Well today I had a far amount of respect for the men up the road that my first pull was at 190!! And there wasn't one pull that dipped below that, they fluctuated between 190-195 for my 90second to 2 minute pulls. After a good struggle with the strong men up the road the gap finally got a manageable 1min 20sec with 25km to go. At this point I went back and grabbed nick to give me a hand as we were Helpers and I wanted to ensure we all stayed as fresh as possible, me included despite to work i had been doing on the front, to ensure steele didn't get in an trouble in the final part of the race. Nick and Gus did an awesome job in helping shut down that final 90seconds which while we managed to do with 10km to go was a real fight all the way till we had them in the group. Will and Tyler both knew that there chances were not over until they were absorb fully by the peleton which awesome to see them put up such a huge fight and really make a great bike race. With the race together at 8km to run I dropped back into the group to ensure Steele was all good. While my HP for an type of lead out or positioning had well and truly been used up I still had just enough energy to get him out of trouble and back to the front if he needed it. Sure enough and every great spinters does Steele was surfing away in pole position in the peleton ready to follow whichever lead put train was the best. Steele is a free styling sprinter that doesn't rely on a train so the best you can do for him is ensure there is a sprint and he is in the washing machine of top sprinters to choose the right wheel. Today however we had a made a little blunder with having Gus and nick ride as ideally one of them should have stayed with Steele to help him position that final time in the final km as he did get boxed out on the final corner. Being so far out of position really made his 2nd place fantastic as he came from the clouds which obviously leaves yo thinking what could have been but it is what it is. On one hand we made a fortunate call by going up and riding hard as otherwise there ma have been no sprint but then we lacked a little in the end. Still with a composite team there will always be teething problems so we have hopefully another day tomorrow to get it right.

From my part i was happy to really suffer again. While the stage was short bu sweat in only 2hrs 30min which I was still 165heart rate average which certainly let's your legs and lungs know you've done something so hopefully the racing body is waking up a little and I can get amongst it all again tomorrow!


Sent from my iPad