After 3 of the most brutal days I have had in my cycling life today's rest day could not have come at a more convenient moment! From the moment I woke this morning I had a giant smile on my face knowing that finally my aching body could get the chance to recover. At the best of times I am not very skilled in taking it easy and resting. When I am craving such a 24hrs I know that I really really need it and as a result relished the opportunity to do a whole lot of nothing today. The other fantastic part about todays rest day is we are staying a 5 star hotel so everything from the comfort of the bed to the freshness of the bread is simply top notch quality. Just what an aching body needs on a day like today.
The second rest day of any grand tour is always a day where everyone seems to regain a spring in there step. All of a sudden there seems light at the end of the tunnel with merely 5 days of a 21 stage race remaining. By everyone I mean everyone, from the mechanics, to the team managers, team massures, of course the riders, and even the chef seems to gain a extra edge of enthusiasm and as if the food is not already perfect alex some how manages to raise the bar a little again. Yep its a joyful day and the perfect way to hit the reset button before the final charge to Madrid.
I bounded out of bed at my usual time this morning, around 9. I headed straight for the doc to have a check of my rib cage and try and find out why I was in so much grief the past few days. I knew this would be the most strenuous part of my rest day so wanted it out of the was ASAP. He again simply looked at and said you have a broken bone!! I said I know but that's assess it a bit more so get a better system to deal with failing on me! Firstly he checked to make sure the lungs nut punctured, bonus!! Next came the hard bit but a good way to wake up aswell!! Take a deep deep deep breath and expand your lungs to capacity! Now I wanted to punch him!! And exhale. The doc continued these orders for another 2min and slowly the pain and discomforted vanished to nothing more than the general broken bone pain you feel! Perfect it was a simply fix and the first possible problem so no time wasted there. From that however I have realized more than ever that I have to maintain these deep breaths and merely use the pain in the rib as a trigger that I am doing the wright thing. From there the time in the race should be more constructive. I am not here to have a holiday, I am here to get amongst it!
With the control of the doc out of the way and clear bill of health once again (within reason) I was as I often am, 1st down to breakfast. With all due respect to countries who believe they rule the breakfast roost!! Spain really does nail the first meal of everyday. Everything is so fresh and just makes you feel good after eating anything at a spanish breakfast buffet, especially the fresh crispy bread and fresh yogurt are my cherished rituals of the morning meal while in spain. Breakfast on a rest day takes on a whole different form of satisfaction. For once you are not simply slamming down the calories in a fashion that you can just burn them all of in the upcoming stage. On the rest day you get a chance to enjoy your food and eat exactly what you want without the great stress of winding up on the side of the road with an empty tank in the race!
Next up was a little ride. I have tried all systems, ride, no ride, home trainer, and its definitely important to get out and do somthing. Keep the body routine on track and also just like breakfast enjoy pushing your pedals without the stresses of being bumped into by 200 blokes! A rest day ride done in the right way can really make the legs a whole lot happier with you. For me this is just letting them decide the intensity, no power meters, no heart rates, just letting your body tell you how hard it wants to go for and for how long. In yesterdays case after 90min my legs were feeling bonza again.
With a ride out of the way its time for lunch and few formalities which often come up on the second rest day. Its often the day when the team sports directors will sit down with you and finalise your racing schedule for the upcoming period, in this case through to the end of the season! Wow! It goes fast. I have been given a great program with a 1 day race in donoratico tuscany a week after the conclusion of vuelta. From there my next weekend is free of Cannondale commitments to ensure I am available for the National Team should I be selected for the world championships on sept 29. The next saturday 5 oct I will line up in tour of lombardia for the first time. The "race of the falling leaves" around lake como has always been a dream of mine to partake in so I am really excited about that. From the it will be time to get on the plane and head for the tour of beijing to round out my season before heading on home to aus. This program put a real smile on my dial as I will do every race in this period that I wished for so again I am very grateful to the management of the cannondlae pro cycling team for always giving me such a great racing schedule.
Next stop was a quick control of my body fat with the team doc. We have these done every few months or so just to ensure our diets are on track and I guess also to keep you honest. I have slowly become leaner and leaner during the season and yesterday was a new record for me so all good on that front. I have lost about 1% gradually since march when I was already in some of my best condition in catalunya so I am pleased that my balanced diet is ensuring I am not carting any excess chubba around on my cannondale!
In the afternoon is my time for a powernap and massage. Munga loves to give me a much longer massage on rest days just to ensure everything is lined up and functioning as best as possible for the final week. He has been in the sport for over 40 years, raced along side francesco moser and worked as cippolini's personal massure for many years, I never question any of munga's wishes. I know he will do everything he possible can for me on the massage table to get me to madrid in the best possible shape. Again always an extremely insightful 90minutes had with mugna the encyclopedia of cycling!
And just like that the done is done. Sure it flys by however in all honesty I am glad it did. I rested as much as I wanted to and certainly felt a lot more full of energy by the evening than I did in the morning. For me this is a good sign that I did all the things my body wanted to do on its day of recovery. Also the quicker the day passes the faster we arrive at the start of stage 17 and the beginning of the final week. As always, pinning that race number and getting stuck right back into it is what I enjoy the most.
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