After 9 days of racing this morning we finally had the opportunity to not be woken by an alarm clock. The first rest day was finally here and has given us all a chance to take stock of the weeks that's past since the giro began and look at what we are going to try and achieve moving forward. More importantly it gives the body a chance to absorb some recovery and freshness and get rid of it's arch rival fatigue before the race really ramps as we finally hit the mountains.
So what happens on a rest day for us riders? It's funny as I was scratching my head this morning thinking the same thing, what on earth am I going to do today?? When finally i realized it is no different from an easy day at home when you have just finished an intense period of training. Just because your at a bike race it does not mean you need to avert away from routines you have built up over years and years of training and racing. The only difference is that there seems to be some much significance placed on this day by all those involved with the race that makes you think perhaps you should be doing some extra special like sleep for 22hrs, leaving a couple of hours for eating! But really it's not the case at all.
I woke at a nice pleasant hr of 9am and was super excited to see that my resting heart rate which we take every day along with blood pressure was the lowest I had been all week. Perhaps a sign that my body had finally finished it's battle with the bronchitis and I was finally back in A1 health, thanks the conclusion I will draw anyway! I strolled down to breaky, was not so hungry as I had the mother of all schnitzels last night at the auto grill which I reckon probably measured 60cm in diameter and weight half a kg. I am pretty confident that it will give me a back up fuel supply to last well beyond the final 2 weeks of this giro. From there we assembled the troops for a lazy 90min spin on the bikes. The mechanics really looked after us today and had fitted our bikes with compact cranksets which every rider duly indulged in a light effortless pedal in the 36 tooth small chainring! The legs just loved the opportunity to spin freely without having to feel like you were doing a 100 deep squat every time you turned the pedals as has been the case due to the rain of the past few days.
Following the ride was lunch and time to focus again on racing tomorrow by ensuring the fueling of the tank process begins correctly. So some pasta, ham, and mozzarella along with the customary side salad were in abundance on the table. After lunch I decided to try my hand at the greatest invention I have ever heard of, the "siesta", and zoned out for an hr or so. Took the opportunity to catch up with a good mate of mine Todd Skipworth on the telephone whom if you don't know and follow triathlon you will know alot about him very soon. He has been a member of the national rowing team for past 7 years, competed in the Beijing Olympics, was world champion in 2011, worlds silver in 2010, and more recently 4 in the London Olympics. Following the Olympics he decided he would pursue his other passion being triathlon and by january had already earnt his pro license and a few weeks ago finished 4th in a half ironman in Asia on his pro dubut however should have 2nd if not the winner had he not been sent the wrong way on the Nike course. When it comes to talent skippy has the name and the class to shine as Australia's next big thing in triathlon, that's for sure. So was great to catch up with him and share some perspectives on 2 different professional sports.
Next up it was massage time and now some down time before dinner to write my blog and get focused and organized for tomorrow. As always these easy days simply go way to fast, it's a result of you being so tired that you want the day to last as long as possible! Unfortunately the opposite always occurs. Having said that after my very pedestrian like performance's in the first week I am champing at the bit to get stuck into the next phase of the race. I have felt absolutely horrible at time this weeks and to finally be able to take a deep breath again and also sniff the roses is something have been craving every moment of every stage! I have no idea how I would have been affected by my sickness but i certainly felt a lot better yesterday so all things being equal I am confident this progression will continue.
One thing I was interested to observe today was what our team of tireless staff get up to on a recovery day? As you can see by the photo it is far from a recovery for them, if not an even busier day than usual. As you can see by the photo they are all hard at work from well before us riders lift an eyelid. I opened the window as soon as I woke and the picture was what I found, they are simply the back bone to the team. I took the time to have a chat with the mechanics and masseurs to ask what they did and basically the day without racing give them the chance to catch up on all the not so important things that have pushed aside during the first week and then once that's done start to do any many things as possible to ensure they can make the next week of racing as efficient as possible for us riders of the bike. So mechanics are preparing bikes and wheels for specific hard mountain stages like tomorrow, reorganizing all the bits and pieces in there big truck so they know exactly where everything is at all times, and basically ensuring that they are that well prepared should anything go wrong they have anticipated it and can get ontop of it ASAP.
The masseurs who's job descriptions is far from just dishing out the odd massage are on much the same schedule with all there bits and pieces. A trip to the supermarket to stock up on supplies and ensure none of us ever go wanting for anything. Offering to do any extra washing like our tracksuits, pj's and any other garments of clothing that after a week are starting to become let's just say a little on the nose. If any rider has any little highly injuries then extra time can be allocated to tending to that to avoid any potential problems and then to top it all off give us all our daily massage on top of all this extra work they have taken upon themselves to do on our day of rest. I feel terrible asking them do anything as you know they will always say yes, no is simply not part of there vocabulary as they take there jobs as seriously as us riders. For them i am sure its as much of an adrenaline rush to see us succeed when perhaps they have given us a massage or prepared that banana and honey sandwich they saw you munch down before piling on the pressure on the front of the field. A mechanic can admire the way Elia viviani pumps over 1400watts through his cannondale evo as he goes head to head with cavendish. Knowing he pumped up those tyres and oiled up that bottom bracket to ensure Elia gets every bit of bang for his buck as he turns the bike inside side out. In my own personal opinion to perform this work could not be jus for the sake of it, these guys and sometimes there is the odd women working on teams, are so passionate that's it's simply infectious. A cycling team is an environment where people fuel of each and everyone involved and ultimately success breeds success. It's just so awesome to have such unconditional support meaning all we have to do is the easy part!! turn the pedals! Oh and of course I cannot forget our legendary bus driver lucio who's absolute pride and joy is his cannondale pro cycling team bus! What does the bus driver do on his day off?? Well as you can see by the picture he is up early giving it good wash and polish to ensure that everyone that walks past our team bus can use it as a mirror and straighten up there hair! There is no other way to describe them, the staff are just absolute machine.
So the rest day 1 is now just about in the books for 2013. I certainly feel fresher than I did this morning so from my personal perspective I reckon I have performed I pretty good giorno di riposo!