Saturday, June 30, 2012

Qinghai lake stage 2

Hi Sharon

 For today's tweet

Stage 2 Qinghai lake

Today was a little more of a soften up for the bunch however in the end it came down to a large group sprint. Today we started to climb in elevation topping out at 2900m so was interesting to see and gauge who the brave ones will be as the race heads for the sky!! As expected the columbians showed there hand but fortunately the climbs were neither steep enough or long enough for them to do damage. In the next 3 days we race at an average elevation of 3300m so they will certainly have plenty of chances to drop us beachside boys over the next few days, certainly going to be an interesting battle. In the end we were able to control the climb to ensure our sprinter Aaron was over in the front group however unfortunately in a ultra fast 60+km/h downhill sprint we were unable to assist him much and finished just outside the top 10. He will have plenty more chances but for the next few days i will be a case of keeping every possible orifus in your body open to get in as much oxygen as possible to keep the pins spinning as we head toward everist!!! Feeling good and looking forward to the unknown!!

Today's stats
Distance 122km
Time 2hrs 42min, 45kmph average
Heat rate, average 138, max 183
Power watts average 236, max 1064
Calories burnt 1500


Friday, June 29, 2012

Day 1 qinghai lake

Tour of Qinghai lake kicked of today in the highland city of xining. As expected the race finished in a bunch sprint giving the peleton a good little, not hard, not to easy day, ahead of 2 weeks racing. We went into the stage with the objective of giving our sprinter aaron kemps the best shot at victory and in the end he was 6th across the line. Prior to expected sprint finish there was the usual barrage of attacks which ultimately saw around 8 riders break clear including or local hero Liu biao. Having him up the Rd meant we could all take it easy in the bunch and wait for the finish so was great to have him up there. 

Being at 2400m elevation the lungs don't function as well as they do at sea level so the opportunity to spend as little energy as possible when possible will be a crucial ingredient in achieving success over such a long race. Heading into the final 5km we all moved to the front to help keep Aaron is as good a position as possible which is a great sign for the race ahead as we seemed to be working really well as a group. 

So a good first day with the local cycling super star of xining lui biao up in the breakaway and getting plenty of attention and Aaron showing that he will be one of the faster men in the sprint finishes as the race progresses so plenty of optimism for the 12 days of racing ahead for team champion system.

Power meter data
Distance 96km
Race time 2hrs 4min
Av speed 47kmph
Average heart rate 134
Max heart rate 186 (felt like 286!!!)
Average power 225 watts
Max power 932 watts
Calories burnt 945

New horizons

In 2012 I am a member of the Champion System Pro Cycling Team, registered in Hong Kong and the 1st professional continental registered team from Asia. The UCI has a clear goal  of globalizing the sport and with that the team is new frontier in this evolution of cycling and when the opportunity came up to be apart of it I jumped straight into it. Through the vision of Luis Shih, champion system owner and massive supporter of cycling throughout the world, and the guidance of the vastly experienced Ed Beamon, the team was launched in January and began it's journey into the world of professional cycling. 

The identity of the team is most definitely international. We have a very significant Asian influence in terms of riders, staff and sponsors. A very anglo Americans/Aussie theme stemming from the management, riders and sponsors from the region and of course strong European ties with riders and our central service course in Belgium which is the infrastructure hub of the team to deploy us all over the world. Nationalities that make up the team include, Chinese, Malaysian, hong kong, estonian, german, Swiss, new Zealand, Spain, Belgium, american, and Australian. This mix of personalities and structure of our race program where we have strong representation in professional races in Asia, Europe, and America all season long demonstrates our very international culture. 

A program of this scale has certainly been done to some level in the past however perhaps not to the extent which Champion System will embark on in 2012. The logistical issues faced by management headed by Ed Beamon are certainly never ending and a very demanding part of keeping the program running. Similarly the riders on the team are faced with new challenges of trying to maintain competitiveness across all continents with the added stain of travel. Fortunately we are a very international team with most of the riders used to traveling long distances to ply there trade so we have some experience to deal with the continent hopping. With the major races now on around the globe you need to very quickly find ways to manage the travel to the best of your ability as there are no head starts or time bonus's given to you for spending more time than your competitors traveling around the globe. I have found that the mental approach to the travel is very important when spending time so much time on plane's, and going through time zone changes. Personally I often look forward to boarding the plane so I can catch up on the latest movies, a good book, and most importantly some forced rest which professional cyclists often find difficult to do when the bike is readily available! Not much training can be done from 30000 feet so may as well make the most of the down time.

Team Champion System's commitment to the emergence of Asian cycling is very significant. Until now Asian riders have been faced with so many barriers to entering the world of professional cycling outside of Asia. Participation of the sport in the region is immense and vast, however travel restrictions have meant that often the athletes from the region cannot travel to freely compete wherever they choose around the world like us anglo's and Europeans are able to do. That's where team champion system is a unique opportunity for riders from the Asian region that are fortunate to be apart of the 1st professional team to compete from the region. With the team they are able to race all over the world and gain the experience much more easily than they have been able to in the past. Ed and his management team take the responsibility to ensure all the correct visa and travel permits are in place so these athletes can focus solely on there preparation and racing across the globe. 

With the uci spreading it's wings all over the world but predominately in china, it appears that emergence of team champion system has come at a crucial time for the Asian riders to make themselves more prominent in the international peleton. Having so many high level races also in there own region means they can now compete in the comfort of there home environment against some of the best riders in the world and then in turn take this experience with them all over the globe and improve there skills and competitiveness even more. Not only is the globalizing of the sport great for the athletes with which home countries the events are staged, it also open the eyes of the world to the beautiful sport of road cycling which popularity seems to be spreading like a plaige. Like running, almost everybody can ride a bike and as such the sport offers a unique feature in that those watching can appreciate just how incredibly gifted, and to many of the observers how super human the top athletes within the sport truly are. 

Of course the world economy has to have an effect on the development of professional sport as it is the commodity that keeps it all moving forward. In light of this it is also no surprise that the uci are reaching further afield to region's previously only touched on by road cycling. On the flip side, the sport has to provide a product that is entertaining and marketable and good for the image for those investing in it. I feel that due to the incredible growth of the sport particularly over the last few years the collective personal involved from sponsors, host cities, riders, staff and admin are doing a great job in providing a show at all corners of the globe. For me it  is an amazing and exciting opportunity to apart of the road show as it roles on.

This week with the start of the Tour of Qinghai lake marks the first of a string of important races in china which team champion system will compete over the coming months. What an amazing event, 14 days, all stages held between 1500-3800m in altitude, and all on the fringe of the Tibetan plateau. I am just wondering how long it will be before the organizers have a summit finish on base camp at everist!! That would be something. So for the team it is a great opportunity for the Chinese riders to compete in front of there home crowd and give our Chinese sponsors the opportunity first hand to see what there generous investment has helped develop. The riders and staff are all very excited about the 2 weeks ahead.

The season is certainly a great journey into the unknown however upon reflection so is the evolution of professional cycling. Sure Le tour de France will always be the mecha of the sport that captivates the world and I continue to strive to one day be apart of it. However the globalization of the sport through the vision of the uci and the development of teams to give riders in these regions thanks to the investment of the likes of Luis shih is a exciting space to watch also. In reality it's all just the beginning of a very exciting future for all involved in the evolution of our wonderful sport.


Monday, June 25, 2012


Yesterdays was one of those days on a bike where there is endless drama. I am now in xining, the capital city of the qinghai region of china on the fringe of the tibetan plateau preparing for the tour of qinghai lake. The city is at 2400m altitude and the race will take us as high as 4000m so the need to arrive early and try to acclimatise as much as possible Is pretty important. Yesterday was to be my final hitout before the race begins with a 6hr easy spin with a little intensity to open up the lungs and legs. So to the drama!

It started out when I was pumping up my tyres and I managed to break the valve! Flat number one and delay to begining training as I headed out on the rd.

On the road and feeling really good, excited about my trip to qinghai lake 100km away when down when the same tyre about 45' into the ride. Another change and underway, still feeling great and assuming bad luck done with.

Next was a careless error when doing a u turn after taking a wrong turn, front wheel hit a small divide on the rd and I hit the deck!! No damage just pride. By this stage I could only laugh at what had transpired in the initial 1hr 45min of my ride, anyway I soldiered on. All went smoothly as I climbed up toward the lake and did a little interval around 3000m high to see how the lungs would react, certainly found out racing up there will be somthing I have never experienced before but that excites me. So just as I finish my interval it starts raining and gets a little cold so I do the sensible thing and turn around, I am now at 3200m altitude, an elevation I have not ridden a bike at before and figure I have shocked my system enough and being 80km from home and in foreign country turning around seems logical.

As I trundle back toward civilisation down goes flat number 3, I can't believe my luck and thanks my lucky stars that at least the rain has stopped. Quick change as I am getting pretty good at them now and 60km to get home, I am now out of spares so really preying I get most of the way home before testing the quality of my training rims!!

Just as I feel I have dodged the bullet and 15km from the closest bike shop down goes the rear wheel for flat number 4, I am relieved its the rear as at least I still have the front to ensure I can steer properly which is kind of paramount when dodging the chinese traffic!!

Clunk clunk clunk I go along the city streets with all the locals staring now more intensely than usual, not only is it strange to see a white man riding a bike but to be doing it on a flat tyre is even odder for them to witness. To make things even more amusing for them only 7km from the shop down goes the front to make it flat tyre number 5 and the epic day of misfortune is complete.

I limp into the bike shop after 5hrs on the rd and fortunately due to the state of my bike no need for any explanation, 2 flat tyres, one tyre destroyed and no more spares there was no need to try and exlain what I was there for. The local mechanics quickly rush to my aid like a ferrari formula 1 team as the photos shows and I am back on the rd in no time for the final 1hr of my adventure which quite incredibly heralded no more flat tyres or incidence.

After the ride I was a little tired after enduring a 6hr ride which took almost 8 so I went of to the blind massage joint that our team translator had told me about and I had visited the day before. The guys there are completely blind but give the most incredible massage to get me feeling like new again, infact the massage was so good my legs had completely forgotten the days ordeal, the only lasting memory will be the skill fullness with which I can now change a tyre on my bicycle!!

Still 17 more days in the region including the big race so and certain the unexpected adventure will continue!!


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