Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Following my little foray onto European soil next stop on the team champion road show is the USA for the SRAM tour of the gila in new Mexico. The race is quite unique in that it raced entirely at an altitude of above 1800m which greatly adds to the intrigue of the event. The try and better prepare myself for this added element of the the event I have arrived in America 1 week early to spend some time in boulder Colorado which is at a similar altitude for some specific training to simulate what I may!!! Experience in new Mexico. Boulder Colorado has been a destination that I have wanted to visit for some time. It is quite a mythical place within the cycling fraternity and not surprisingly home of not only many professional cyclists but athletes in general from all over the world. It did not take long for me to realize this as I saddled up on my first morning with former team mate and local bouldarian Timmy duggan. Simply there are healthy fit bods everywhere, on the Rd, footpath, pool and the surrounding parks and ovals. Not to mention the gyms that seems to be on every corner and I am going to take a wild stab in the dark and say that there would definately be more fitness centers per capita than any other town in the world. Once out of town and on the training rds it did not take long to realize why 1000's of road cyclists and triathletes have cosen these Rds for training over the years. The town sits at 1800m of altitude and if you look left or right, depending on which direction you are facing, it is pancake flat as far as the eye can see. If you look left or right again depending on which direction you are facing you will be confronted by the quite imposing Colorado Rockies and thus make it the perfect training ground for riding a bike. TT work and specific flat intervals can all be done without a drama and for those whom desire to go skyward there is simply a climb for all occasions. From the 30km 3% drags to the 10km 15% nose bleeder climbs for those looking to accumulate as much lactic acid as they can during there session. Timmy showed me all the main training routes and although I am sure there are many hidden treasures which I will hopefully uncover on another visit. He also took me on the Thursday night bunch ride, "the busstop ride" which leaves at 5pm from the traffic lights on the north hand edge of town. Timmy warned me that if you can show yourself to be the strongest in this bunch then there is a good chance that a big victory is just around the corner. I took his comment with a grain of salt but I certainly realized what he was talking about within the first 30min of the scheduled 2hr loop when I had left my lungs on the Rd some minutes previously and was now in the process of trying to convince my Brain to keep my legs turning to keep me in the group purely from the point of view that if dropped out of the group I had no idea where I was and certainly no energy to get myself home!! Fortunately m brain and heart and legs continued to turn over and purely out of pride I managed to keep myself at the front and even do a few very soft token turns on the front of the group, the whole time with my heart rate north of 180 beats per min an With the altitude thrown in and my arrival the day before I was learning a whole new level of suffering. I just kept telling myself not to forget it's how hard you can push yourself once your tired thats important! Lotto professional Greg Henderson was the main protagonist of the group ride and while many locals certainly pulled there weight also it will take a mighty strong and fast sprinter to knock off hendy once he rejoins the peleton in a couple of weeks as he builds toward the tour de France. So once the 2hrs of humiliation was over and i was roping home giving my body the much awaited opportunity to consume some oxygen that would actually reach my muscles and also try and find my lungs that had deserted me 2hrs earlier, I was definitely convinced that this was not only the hardest bunch ride I had ever done but perhaps harder than any race I have done in the past. Also was on my mind that i had now done 190km and 6hrs of riding for the day and i had only planned to do 4 so my stomach was in desperate need of filling. Fortunatly i was in the perfect city to meet this demand as i will touch on a little later. This altitude racing is certainly going to be be whole different type of suffering. So the training is fantastic in the boulder, that is no ground breaking news but what makes the town perhaps so great for athletes is the town and community itself. It has in place certain rules that prevent big chains from flooding the town and as result the city is filled with privately owned restaurantes and shops that cater for all walks of life. Being a town filled with such fit and healthy people the food options are often organic or at the very least super fresh. With all due respect to the rest of this monsterous country it is not a quality i have found in any other city or town. This also goes for the supermarkets so for the athlete desireing to be as healthy as possible and particularly for me that is all to often temped away from the healthy option, having delicious helathy nutritional options all around you maks it alot easier to give the body what it needs when training at a resonably intense level. All these ingredients certainly seemed to help me as i was there for 6 days and trained as if i would have if i had been at home in hobart for 6 months. It reminds you also what being in a such a positive environment can do for your moral and inturn your productivity. In this case i had just travel 14hrs on a plane from one continent being europe to another being america, also arrived at an altitude that would enable me to hit a golf ball 50m further (as a result of the thin air not my ability with a golf club), dealt with 8hrs of time zone change and i honestly felt like i went about my daily business as if none oif this had occured. So my time in boulder has now come to an end but for sure i will be back. I am now down in Silver City new Mexico preparing for the race that drew me to the continent in the first place. I have to say a big thanks to boulder for living up to all the hype and more and making it such an enjoyable few days. Certainly feeling as well prepared for the racing adventure that faces me this week down here in new mexico. In my time in boulder i have uncatorgoricaly come to the conclusion that it is the fittest per capita population in the world! I hope a little bit has rubbed of on me.