Saturday, February 27, 2010

Time for Europe

It’s been some time since my last entry and alot has transpired, hence not being able to find the time to add to my blog!
Following the conclusion of the training camp, I have been getting organised for annual pilgrimage to Europe. I spent 2 days in Melbourne enjoying some precious time with Jess, enjoyed a meal with Mayor of Toorak and my former rowing partner Tim Smith, and also took the opportunity to meet my good mate Matty Ryans and his partner Sarah’s little girl Marli! This social time as it always does for athletes goes far too quickly and before I knew it we were back in Tassie with Jess back at uni and me into one final intense week of training in Australia before getting on the plain to Europe on Wednesday just gone. I arrived in Milan Malpensa on Thursday morning and I have today competed in my first race of the 2010 season.
I have covered pretty much the goings on of Melbourne so will give an insight into my final week in Hobart. It starts by Jess writing a list of things that need to be done. We are both real list people, Jess is due the fact that she is super organised, me on the other hand developed list writing during my time at the AIS where my sports psychologist Michel Martin suggested i use it as a way to keep me from being distracted by negative thoughts during my build up to the Olympic trials in 2004. I also now find a list useful way of reminding you of the things have done on the days where you simply feel like you have done nothing! Anyway Jess’s list comprises all things big and small to be done before departure such as, spend time with each other, spend time with the dog, catch up with family and friends, ensure I get all my favourite meals consumed, and off course general administrative tasks. This period also raises the great conundrum athletes sometime face, do i ensure i complete all my training to its maximum and risk not having the time to organise all the things, or do i accept that as long as i do enough work on the bike it is perhaps more important to complete the list tasks. I take the approach of slightly compromising my training to ensure i get though the list. The way i compromise is i aim to complete my volume and intensity prescribed by my coach for the prescribed period which means on some days when i have time i do more than prescribed and others where time is limited i do less. By getting this balance wrong you run the risk of making a mess of both aspects. Having said that training went well and i was able to step it up a notch from the camp, add in some motor pace thanks to dad coming down to visit from queensland for a couple of days, and i felt like i was as well prepared as possible to begin racing. On the other side, completed all tasks on the lists and felt pretty relaxed about heading off to the other side of the world again. The one thing I can never prepare for is saying goodbye to Jess which always brings me to tears and this time was no exception, i certainly miss her greatly during out time apart.
I arrived in Italy on Thursday morning and immediately went for a quick catch up with my coach Aldo at the mapei centre. Once we had a caught up and booked me in for the usual beginning of the season lab tests i headed of to my one of my homes away from home, Gavirate. Having spent 3 years rowing out of this town and now entering my 4th year on the bike using it as a base, it is nice to be 20000km from and feel like you have familiar surrounds. One of the best parts about returning to gavirate is the meal a get to enjoy at my favourite little trattoria along at the opposite end of the lake. I don’t know how the Italians do it but there food, wine, and coffee, is truly delightful and unique. I have still never had a bad meal in this part of the world. Day 1 down and Day 2 was and exciting one with meeting my new team mates and receiving my new race and training bikes, and off course the required cloathing that comes with being part of a cycling team. All went well and felt very comfortable around my new colleagues, and i was ready to race.
Race day, and apart from the jet lag i felt as well prepared as possible. We were greeted by bright sunny skis for the final days of winter and although a little fresh which meant i was wearing 4 layers of clothing, perfect conditions for racing. It is unusual for an aussie to race on roads you however with todays course being based around lugano and varese i had trained regularly on the course route. It even went past the front door of my little apartment in gavirate. With last years race winner in our squad the race plan for us was simple, put him in a position where he can try to defend his title. A small break went after 20km and i then spent the next 150 riding on the front with a team mate and the help of a couple of others from opposing squads to bring the break back. With 12km we had the race back together and was time to keep Francesco toward the front so he could follow the moves. The final 12km was made up of to short circuits with a tight steep little goat track climb and an equally nasty decent. Having done my job i was happily roleing up the climb and down the decent in the main field when a mass pile up happened on a tight band and to avoid hitting th e deck myself i locked up my back wheel a little to much and burst a tyre. The narrow road and being toward the front meant waiting some time for the car and a change wheel. By the time this was done and 9km remaining the race was long gone my director suggested i call it a day and perhaps save some energy for tomorrow’s race. With my job done a figured it was a good idea and i had and early shower. At the front of the race Leo did a great job to grab 4th and the King of the mountain title while Francesco made a brave defence of his crown before finishing 11th. All in all, aside from failing to finish myself, a nice way to start the season with my new team Androni Giocattoli.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Camp Concludes!!!!!

The GC camp (which stands for Ginn & Cameron or Great Company or Gaining Confidence or perhaps more fittingly to cycling General Classification) Finally came to an end yesterday afternoon. After 7 days of Eat, Train and Rest, It was time for drew to hop on the plane and head home to his family in melbourne!

The brief summary of what we did on the bike over the 7 days is as follows, 34:17hrs of riding at an average of 230 watts (more for drew), burnt 28067kcal during training (again more for drew), covered 987km, and climbed a total of 16000m in vertical elevation. We basicaly amassed this in 6 days as we had an easy day of 90min on day 4 which did not greatly contribute to the overall fiqures. As to what we did in totaling these numbers, 8hrs 10min at U2 or 75-85% 0f max heart rate with this time broken between flat tempo intervals and also climbing , and 1hr at Anaerobic threshold done on tt bike and climbing. The remainder of the time was spent at general endurance intensity.

The goal of the camp were vastly different for both of us. Drew was looking to get a good solid week in on the bike and have a little look at what i do, and was able to test my system a little to guage my recovery from the glangelor virus i suffered from last year.

Not unexpectly when you spend that much time with another person and go though periods of feeling good and a little tired you learn alot more about each other. I always say that sport is a great levela, this is perhaps more evident on a push bike. You often find you talk alot more about things you may otherwise not have discussed, a bit like when you are drunk! This means you learn alot of great stuff however it also means there is plenty of conversation that goes in one ear and out the other. At the end of the day however it is highly likely that if you actively engage in conversation with your training partner when possible on the bike, you will finish that session having learnt somthing. Learning to me is very important, and being exposed to a person like drew and the knowledge he has stored over the years has meant that combining this with 34hrs of exercise, i have learnt some very valuable lessons which i hope stand me in a little better stead in the future. I also hope that amongst the jibberish that often flows from my voice box was some valuable information he may be able to use!

To me that is sport, putting yourself in an environment where you are prepared to have a go. Somtimes you succeed and somtimes you feel like you have not achieved your desired outcome. Everybody judges these two outcomes very differently, however you always need to remember buy simply having a go in the first place, you have achieved somthing!

A very enjoyable week

Best wishes


Saturday, February 6, 2010

My First Blog

Blogging is something I have been meaning to do for some time so finally a good friend has convinced me that it is time to start. So here goes!!

I am currently at the half way point of my first training camp (actually second after the camp i attended as coach of my school 1st Eight however more about this some other time) for the year. Not the usual cycling training camp of your entire team or institute, this time it is just myself and my good friend Drew Ginn, another rowing convert to cycling. Drew's Pedigree in Rowing is of course far beyond anything i could have ever imagined and in my time in rowing he was certainly a key role model for me the person whom i regularly looked to improve my speed on the water. We maintained this relationship as i tranitioned into cycling, intitialy with him taking a similar role in giving me direction as to how to attain my new goals in a new sport. Slowly, and with drew's transition to cycling post his 3rd gold medal in beijing, our relionship has become one in which we are now learning from each other. This has therefore led to drew traveling down to Hobart Tasmania to spend a week training with me and getting a first hand impression of what i do on the bike, an impression a SRM power file simply does not tell you which has been the more regular way of us sharing what we are doing with our respective training.

Although having attended regular training camps over my 8 year sporting career, i had never been incharge of developing the training program and also maintaining to positive and interesting environment away from the training. The good thing was that drew was here to see the way i train so as i am fortunate enough to work with Aldo Sassi, one of the best and most prominent cycling coaches in the world, the training aspect on the bike was already done for me. I simply incorperated my sessions into the most scenic route so as drew could experience the best sites southern tasmania has to offer. Off the bike was entirely my responsibility so required some planning. My very supportive partner Jess is always there to ensure our nutrition is up to sratch to meet the 14000kj i have burnt over the first 3 days training. A trip to her parents Peter and jenny's property in the derwent valley was our way of allowing drew meet my beautiful dog tasha and to experience some good quality home grown steak, a few tasmanina beers, and jenny's desert specialty, Toblorone Cheesecake. Some might say not the most ideal cycling meal, however if you had seen drew post day one ride, it was certainly required to bring him back to life for the days to come, and it certainly worked, he was a new man after his meal at the Wade's. Luckily for me, late nights and the subsequent late starts with 5hr 30min and 6hr 30min respectivly on the bike, meant the remainder of the day was spent sprawled out on the loungeroom floor, stretching and watching fox sports news and cycling dvd's of those we are trying to emulate. A meal last night at jess and my favourite restaurant Paesanso's in west hobart, where we enjoyed a Peroni, a couple off pizza's and off course a little dessert, and we had in my opinion made it successfully to the halfway point of the camp!

I will elaborate more on the training side of the camp in a future post, but now the time 12:15 and we have not had breaky, so better get into salamanca for Jess to enjoy a new york bagel and let drew experience a propper coffee as apposed to the sump oil i have been serving up to him for the past few days!