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.

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