Thursday, December 25, 2014

Exactly how I feel when I'm on a bike no matter what type!!!

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The motley crew

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Socal ing with Cal!

‎Following the mtb adventure in the santa monica's, I ventured south of LA for a bit of a road racing adventure. Keeping two things constant, bikes and motor cyclists on bikes! Sunday's ride was something i was pretty dahn excited about. I spent a month training in encinitas over christmas new year 12months ago and had an absolute blast. I figured it was logical to follow a similar path heading into 2015. The great thing about training there last year was the group I rode daily with. Again like the mtb ride it was small but what we lacked in numbers we made up for in personality's! The regualer group consisted of MotoGP star Cal Crutchlow, cycling superstar Taylor Phinney, 2014 revelation keil reijan, future star Sean bell, son legendary motorcross star spider mike bell, and perhaps the strongest chick I have ever witnessed on a bike Jessica cerra. We would meet daily and head out for our rides. Taylor affectionately named us the wolf pack as we would patrol the roads of socal and at any opportunity go along to any group ride we could find and ride as hard as we possibly could. Cal may be a motoGP rider but I have never met anyone more serious about there cycling than Cal, he's an absolute beast on a bike. The only requirement to be in the group was to work hard, suffer together and enjoy doing! Pretty good morals to have for a group or in this case a pack! Anyways I could on and on about how cool that period was training with those guys but will no doubt have a heap more stories in the coming months so will save writing about the wolf pack for later. Where it's all leading is that on sunday the spy cycling club had there annual poker race event. A 100km 4 man Team time trial where you had to find 3 checkpoints and collect you poker deck and get back to the start finish as quickly as possible. Knowledge of the area was important as if you didn't know where you were going you got lost and took a long route. There were some 220 people who turned up to race the the teams of 4 starting 1min apart TT style. As the top seeds we started last which was a god send as we had no idea where we were going so our plan was simple! Go as fast as we possibly could all day in the hope we would constantly see and pass groups ahead of us whom knew where they were going!!

Anyways Cal has been beaming with excitement about this event for the past couple of weeks. He picked selected his team based on 2 equally important factors, firstly winning the event, and secondly having an absolute blast of a time doing it. Also for cal it has to be interesting and have a challenge involved so stacking his team with cyclists was a no go, we had to really earn it. So the team consisted of one of cals motorbike buddies Greame also from the UK who has probably ridden his bike 4 times in the past 12months. 3 of those times have been since he arrived in LA a couple of weeks ago so I guess the best way to put his condition is fresh form is good form! Besides cal didn't care how fit or strong greame was what was important was that greame knew how to suffer. Cal knew he would absolutely turn himself inside out to survive the ride and do what he could for the team and I have to say he is one of the funniest characters I have ever ridden a bike with, think Mr Bean on a bicycle!! Also let's not forget greame races in motorcross world championship circuit in europe, motorcross's equivalent of motoGP so he's probably one of the fittest guys on the planet. Ever tried riding a motorcross bike full gas around one of those tracks?? It's brutal which I was pleasantly reminded of on monday but that's another story! So while greame may not spend much time on a push bike he is fit and knows how to suffer and for the poker race that made him the perfect team mate! Rounding out the team was robin carpenter who rides for the hincapie development team. He's certainly developing pretty fast as he already has a stage of the usa pro challenge in colorado to his name this past season. He's a gem of a kid and had a massive engine so perfectly balanced out our motly crew! So that was the team, a MotoGP star, a MX GP star, a local rising superstar cyclist, and me and whatever I am! One thing was certain whatever the result would be we were going to have a blast finding out!

So out race plan was simple, full gas. We had no idea what any of the clues meant and nor do we know our way around the area so all we could do was keep catching all the groups ahead and hope they know where they are going. From the gun we were off with cal doing what a leader does best and driving it from the front! He went absolutely full gas out of the gate to set the tone for the day and from there we knew only one pace, full gas. Basically if you were on the front you had to absolutely drive it and if you were trashed then sit on the wheels and recover until you could drill it again! Pretty simple. The speed was simply race pace or as robin put it best like being in a 4 man breakaway for 100km with the peleton constantly breathing down our necks! It really was quite hilarious how much pain we were willing to put ourselves through, it constantly kept us laughing at our own lunaticness! 

So we are bulleting along looking for the first checkpoint and we catch a stronger group of guys. As we had no idea where we going we decided to stay with them and offer to work with them to get to the first checkpoint. We let them sit on us as we continued to drive a ridiculous pace which the other team kept reminding us we still had 90km to go! Whatever we said we will cross that bridge when we get to it, for now it was full gas. Eventually they stopped talking to us they seemed to be battling to hold the wheel and sure enough as soon as cal saw the chance on a short steep climb Cal attacked and unceremoniously dropped them and now we were alone!! I said great one einstein now we have no idea where we were going! Cal said well I don't care I'm not letting anyone sit on us and risk towing them to the finish, every team has to be destroyed!! Anyways on our own we had to look at the card again for a clue as to where on earth we were headed. As fate would have it the glue read follow the road all the way to the gold!! I looked at the name of the street which said ranco d oro!! Boom I said this way boys! Oro is gold in Italian!! My ability to speak italian had never ever come in so handy and we were on our way to the first checkpoint and still absolutely flying. 

As we barreled along the road we were so flat to floor that we were not looking ahead. Right at the last moment I heard cal shout LOOK OUT as the road was turning to gravel! We were doing over 55kmph at the time and all we could do was cross our fingers we would stay upright. Not surprisingly as soon as we hit the dirt our 2 moto men came to the fore and particularly greame. He had assumed the role of team coxwain and set at the back barking orders and simply gave all he had to avoid being dropped! Once we hit the dirt that all changed and his confidence on such terrain came to the fore and now he was doing the pace setting for us. The night before I had grabbed a new synapes disk break bike from my friends at cannondale for greame to use to ensure he had the flashest looking bike at the event. He was tickle pink with excitement when he saw it and when he hit the dirt on it was like 2 peas in a pod! One of the world's greatest bike handlers off road combined with the world's best rough terrain road bike. Again it was absolutely comical as cal and bryan tore through the dirt like it was perfect ashfelt with legs and arms going everywhere for stability and wheels drifting this way and that. Robin and I were now hanging on with grim death and desperately trying stay upright and on the road, we were well and truly on the ropes and preying for the ash felt to begin again! Oh and all this time we were passing group after group and I would be very surprised if there were not a few mild heart attacks as those 2 crazy pommy moto madman charged past specially considering the age of some of the competitors!! Yeah it was a fun club event but fun it appears for cal only happens when you kicking everybodies butt in the process!! Finally we got back on the road and that would be the end of greame's heroics! For the final 60km he would resume his role as team whip and motivation man and in the process ensure he didn't get dropped. Incase you hadn't picked up already cal is far from the sympathetic type and greame knew he was expected to suffer from go to wo and survive and that's exactly what he did.

Back on the open road and cal continued with his relentless pace. Robin and I now pulled longer and longer and faster and faster as we ripped past all the groups. We were miles ahead on time of everyone and headed for victory but that didn't mean letting up. No margin was to small for victory with cal. Inevitably after the rough road we finally had a flat tyre courtesy of my back wheel. Like the great team we had become we all stopped and chimed in fixing it. I got the wheel out, cal ripped the tube out, greame had the tube ready, I put the tube in, cal put the tire back on, and robin inflated it back up in a flash with his crafty co2 canister skills. I jammed the wheel back in and in no more that 3-5min, it's hard to say precisely, we were back on the road! Into the final 20km as we approached the final stretch along the beautiful Pacific Coast Hwy 1 cal told me to save my bullets. I was need to do the big pulls in the final straight stretch back to the finish line in encinitas. Sure enough as we turned onto HWY 1 cal ordered me to arms I went to work. We ramped the pace up somehow which seemed impossible as we had been full gas all day but somehow we did. For those final 10km I remember pushing just like I would in a race closing down that breakaway for Elia which I've done so many times. This time I was reminded by the stage in colorado in colorado springs where we were chasing down jens. There was no power or speed that you needed to focus on you simply had to push as hard as was possibly possible to catch a man ahead that you had no idea how strong or fast he was going. You knew you would catch him but a moment of complacency or loss of that urgency and you wouldn't. Well along that PCH Hwy we didn't have anyone specifically to chase but simply the desire to squeeze everything out of ourselves and put ourselves through as much pain and suffering as possible. We knew we had the win in the bag but that didn't matter, we were all in until we crossed that finish line! By this stage my heartrate was around 200bpm and I was way beyond fatigue, now we were all in that zone where you may aswell just give it 100 percent as you should have run out of juice yonks before. It was awesome, hurting that much, suffering with those guys and all in the name on winning an annual fun club event, what a way to spend a sunday!

When we finally crossed that line and handed in our cards we had stopped the clock at 2hrs 26minutes. Have no idea what that average speed is for 100km but considering the dirt, traffic lights, footpaths, bike paths, and whatever else you have to negotiate riding around the suburbs I'm pretty sure that's an impressive time for 4 dudes. Greame was as comical as ever right to the bitter end and suffered his was through surving on the train for the day and you couldn't wipe the smile of his dial. Cal was content that we had absolutely destroyed everybody with the 2nd place team some 15minutes behind even with the flat tire. Robin and I had average heart rate north of 150bpm which is a bench mark for a hard days racing. As robin rightly pointed out we have plenty of easier race days than that!! We both agreed it was the best simulated breakaway training you could ever do. After the race we sat around and chewed the fat with our fellow competitors and ate pizza and drank beer. Everybody was in ore of cal being the star he is and just chuffed he made the effort to support there local event. It never ceases to amaze me the types of people cycling brings together and also the way in which people get to know what each other is really like. It's no different with cal, all thos people watch him on tv and are in ore of his ability on two wheels but at the end of the day he simply loves riding his push bike just like everybody else. It was a really enjoyable time waiting around for the presentation just shooting the shit, one we won't and I'm sure everybody there won't forget in a hurry. At the presentation we were presented with the giant eagle perpetual trophy which put a photo off. Greame was so excited about it and insisted on being the one to accept the trophy and pleaded to take it home to sleep with for just one night. He was so excited, he's a guy that rides his bike a few times a year and is thrown in a team with some pretty decent cyclists. All he has to do is hang on but when we are going all out we go pretty fast was it was a remarkable effort by him and one he should be proud of. Greame just had a grin from ear to ear all afternoon and another reminder of what many would consider an insignificant event meant the world to us all. Yeah we are lucky enough to compete all over the world against the world best but competing is all relative. As cal showed it doesn't matter if it's at club level or world level the objective is still the same, give it everything you have to get the best possible result you can achieve. That way when you cross the line you have no regrets because you've given it all you have and you can now relax and enjoy what you've just done, win or lose. I learnt a lot from cal, robin and greame on sunday and feel honored to be apart of such an awesome event with the socal locals. Yet again I was reminded of how fortunate I am to be able to do what I do. 

After all the excitement of sunday and the effort we put in monday was a designated rest day. So after putting our legs through there paces in the poker ride we decided to switch to another form of bike and head to the motorcross track. Next season cal will be riding for Honda so picked up 2 brand new crf 250's to play around on. He can't ride 2 at once so he said "Cam I have a bike for you, we are going to the track" beauty I said and why not, I'd had so much fun the past 2 days on the mtb and road bike, may aswell see what the MX bike has to offer. I raced MX until I was about 1e with my last bike being an 80cc. I played around a bit on a 125cc but quickly lost interest when rowing became my focus. So I haven't really ridden an mx bike for 15years but with all the confidence in the world I seem to apply to everything I attempt I jumped at the chance to go mx ing, specially with riders of the calibar of cal, greame, AMA superbike legend josh Hayes and his wif melissa and cannondale sales manager and MX coach steve quate. C mon pretty amazing opportunity to ride with such esteemed company and simply being with them on the same track made me think I could cut loose on the new crf 250 even though I'd ridden a 250 perhaps 10 times in my life!! 

Onto the track and cal gave me a couple of laps to get my eye in and the feel for the bike. It kind of felt like cycling did at the start to me, I watched it so much on TV that I felt I knew how to do it, it was all up stairs I just practically hadn't ever tried it! Fortunately this confidence paid of and I was probably riding better than I had ever ridden an mx bike. I was riding the berms hard and washing speed of in the air where I needed to. I was changing lines in the air to better position for corners and generally feeling like I imagined it would from watching on the TV. Naturally as my confidence grew so did my speed and I chased cal as closely as possible. Obviously he was just playing with me but also providing a great wheel to follow, similar to following eric bostrom on the MTB. One thing I hadn't accounted for was how physically challenging MX was. You often here that's it's the most demanding endurance sport there is but having not done it for so long you dismiss it. Well I tell you what, it's really really taxing and after 30min I was absolutely stuffed. I kept on charging around following cal till fatigue finally caught up with me. My wrists and forearms were so sore I didn't have the strength to back of the throttle into a table top and held the throttle wide open! Into the air I went with the front wheel pointed toward the sun! At this point I realised I was in big trouble and fortunately managed to get my hand off the throttle and some how get the front wheel down enough to not land on my backside! I landed hard and cased out but fortunately stayed on the bike. Was a bit of a fright and made me realize i had to respect this sport so just rolled through a couple more laps and called it a day. I was hooked again on MX and will doing a lot more of it in the future. The mtb ing had certainly helped and I'm sure it will help the mtb. Was really just so cool using a 3rd type of bike in 3 days and having the most incredible experiences doing it. Not only did the MX day reiterate my appreciation for being able to ride a bike but more so how fortunate I am to have the group of people I have around me to enjoy it all with. 

With all that merry christmas


Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Telstra NextG network.

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Telstra NextG network.

Loving life on the lefty!

The past few days I have to say have perhaps been the most enjoyment I have had aboard 2 wheels. I say 2 wheels as the stories I'm about to tell cover a few different kinds of bikes. Anyways here's what I've been up to on the trails, roads, and tracks around socal lately. 

The fun and games kicked of on saturday morning bright and sparky with an 8am meeting at Dave Zarbriskie's place. Dave had decided the a "mission" was required on the mountain bikes and for those fortunate enough to be invited attendance wasn't negotiable! The fortunate 4 to be invited to one of dave's famous rides were former world superbike star and multiple ama superbike champ and superstar Eric Bostrom, Local socal Pro Road cyclist and all round good guy Jessie Anthony, the owner of the world's most cyclist friendly restaurant Pedalers Fork and absolute champion of an individual Robbie the bear cub Schaffer, and finally yours truly. Dave Z rounded out the roster of 5 so was a pretty intimate group for whatever lay ahead of us. All the guys if you haven't already picked up I have the utmost respect for for not only what they have achieved in there respective careers but most importantly who they are as people. There was no doubt that the day would be a memorable one and by rides end that's exactly what it was. 

I have fallen in love with mountain biking of late, I have to admit I kind of have an addiction! To be brutally honest I challenge anyone to try riding the cannondale duel suspension Scalpel and not fall in love with MTB'ing! Ok I know they are my employers but in all honesty I have had a bucket load of mtb's over the years mostly top of the range with all the bells and whistles and none have made me get the mtb bug like the scalpel managed to instill in me. Firstly the bike looks simply down right cool!! The lefty fork which cannondale have made famous instantly grabs your eye with intrigue and also appreciation for its unique machinery. So many people ask me if it was weird to get used to and I simply say if they have ever seen me ride an mtb then they know I don't have time to look anywhere else except where I'm going!! I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to bike handling and in the bush that's amplified! So no I don't notice anything different. What I see looking at it is a bad arse upside down fork just like what's on a motorcross bike. Now a days it seems every level of bike uses the upside down method but back in my day you were stuck with a conventional fork for your mini bike days from a pw50 through to the 80cc. As you progressed through the bikes you used to dream of the day you would graduate to the 125cc and have a bike with that cool looking upside fork. Well atleast that's what is was like for me. I have no idea if it's a better more effective suspension system or the in and outs of its engineering, I just know that it looks dahn cool and just like I was the day I climbed aboard the 125cc I was absolutely excited out of my skin when I was given my first lefty by my friends at cannondale. Believe it or not it not just the look that makes me love riding the scalpel, no its the feel of. Keeping with the motocross theme it truly to me feels just like riding a motorcross bike. The way the back suspension shatters under breaks and the way you want to whip the tail around as you launch of any available jump that's appears on the trails, the feel for me reminds me so much of riding the dirt bike. Through in the temptation to stick a leg out and powerslide around sweeping bends and through berms and I'm often pinching myself with the amount of fun I have on the scalpel. It's a little scary the influence it's had on me to be honest as I've noticed when I get in trouble on a technical section flying down a hill I do what I would do on the moto, go for the gas!! Yeah I go even faster and figure I'll just plow through the obstacle or the bike will look after me and cannonball over the tricky terrain! Fortunately I've come through relatively date so touch wood that's the way things continue. On a positive note my skills seem to have improved prtty quickly so for now I'll just keep riding my luck and trusting the scalpel. The scalpel has more buttons and gadgets than a A380 in the cock pit which is also pretty cool. Perhaps my favorite gizmo is the simple lock out mechanism in the form of 2 buttons, one for the from fork and one for the back fork. Trusth be told it took almost a month to realize what the button for the back shock actually was!! Like I said I'm not very astute!! Anyways the cool thing about these buttons is you can easily lock out the forks when climbing which makes the bike more rigid and faster going uphill and unlock them when you let loose on the wild bush trail decents. It's a really cool feature. Oh yeah and also the disk breaks! Again it feels just like the breaks on the moto and give you that extra confidence to push things that little bit closer to the edge and get a little lose and still save it!! Yeah all in all I love the scalpel, it's got me hooked on MTB ing, everyone really should try one. 

Anyways back to the ride it wasn't long before we were into the wild wilderness playground in the heart of the santa monica mountain range. Dave root was pretty straight forward. Start out with ridiculously steep nose bleeding long arse climb to the top of a ridge and then 3 hours of rolling single track trials of varying gradient and difficulty to keep you onto your toes. The cool thing about mountain biking is its always a more relaxed crowd when it comes to competitiveness. When I say that I am highlighting the fact that in a group likes dave's chosen chain gang nobody cares who gets to the top first. Basically all getting to the top ahead of everybody else means is that you have to wait longer for the rest of the group. When we say we are going for an mtb ride as a group that's exactly what we mean. At all times we each know where each other is on the trail either in front or behind which is really cool. If there's ever any sort of competition that's reserved for going downhill where a bit of mucho Mano battle can go on and while it's crucially important to prove your the best going downhill aswell as up the same rules apply, at the bottom we all wait for each and make sure everyone is safe and sound. 

Back to the course and this first climb was a real beast! It just went and went and went and went and seemed to get steeper all the way to the top! I rolled up it with dave z and eric and we tried our best to chat away to take our minds of the how fricken challenging the climb was. All in all it was around a 40min slog fest, basically similar to a long climb on the road except on the mtb every muscle and bone in your body seems to ache! Often being on pitches in excess of 20percent you hang on for grim death and have to keep the front wheel on the ground and this is requires your whole bodies balance of effort distribution, simply put a 40minute climb on an mtb feels like around 4hrs of climbing on the road bike, it really saps you. Once we were at the top we took a moment to take to breathtaking scenery that surrounded. Robbie and Jessie were cruising along at there own pace so I took the chance to get a photo of them cresting this beast of a hill with the picturesque backdrop. I've never really been one for taking photos but since I've been training in and around LA on both dirt and road I've really been blown away so try not to miss any photo opps. 

With all 5 now safely atop the ridge we stopped for a moment to get in some tucka and have a quick chinwag about everything and everything and where we were headed on the ride. It's amazing when you out in the bush with such an amazing group of guys the conversations that happen. An environment like that for me creates such a meaningful honest and enjoyable setting that i really cherish. You have already earnt each others respect by making it through that brutal climb and that in itself forms a bond between a group of people, it's such a rare thing that cycling can create among groups of people, it's certainly forming these friendships I doing the sport I love that means the most to.

So after a quick re group it was time for the fun single trial. For the next few hours we rolled along through the santa monica's on the backbone trail toward westlake village. Due to the recent rain the dirt was in absolutely pristine condition and seemed to make your tires stick to the dirt like glue. It was epic conditions as the Robbie the Bear Cub repeatedly reminded us, the type of conditions that encouraged you to push yourself to your absolute physical and technical limit. 

Up and down we went and inevitably the competition increased within the tripe. Again going uphill was more of a rest period and chance to have a good social chat as we climbed to the next hair raising decent! Jessie particularly was the one who wanted to push the pace and started making what seemed like dangerous overtaking maneuvers at the time particularly on dave. By this time however we were a group of dudes having some fun and although a little sketchy going that hard under breaks into dangerous corners, it was all in good and before we knew we were all throughing caution to the wind and cannonballing down the hillside. Fortunately no one was injured and was hilarious all the different styles. Jessie and I have a slight air of motorcross skill to our depending and all over the bike and powersliding at any opportunity. Dave Z and robbie are smooth as silk and always seem to pick exactly the right line. It often looks like there going slow and you want to get past but in reality they make it look that was because they are so smooth. Eric, well he just oozes class. Scott tedro showed me a video of eric racing his AMA superbike against the world superbike's at laguna Seca back in his racing days. Eric was giving away 200HorsePower to his competition in the likes of aussie legends troy corser and troy Baylis. On every straight eric would lose ground to the more powerful ducati and into every corner he would end up right up there rear end as they came out of it. He was so incredibly smooth that the Powerfull bikes couldn't shake him and in this particular race he finished 3rd behind Carl fogerty and troy corser from memory. Was incredible to watch. We all after mtb ing with him for 5hrs I can see how he was so dahn good. He simply looks effortless on the mtb and is an absolute dream wheel to follow both up and down hills. I would never ever in a million years have happily attempted to ride over the things I did both up and down hills had I not been follow his smooth effortless style and line. It was truly an honor to ride with eric as growing up an all types of motorbikes fan I knew who he was and was always one of my hero's so that was pretty cool. Perhaps the biggest honor I have had in my recent memory riding my bike was when eric asked if I'd partner him in some 2man mtb events in the future. He said it's important to have a good partner as you have to finish together so that was a huge honor. Not sure if he just liked hanging out with me, thought I was good on a bike, or thought it was cool that we had the same bike!! I don't know his reason but hopefully a mixture of all 3 and I immediately felt pretty chippa after that compliment. Ah the moments you have on the bike.

Inevitably the ride came to an end back where it all began at dave's. Inevitably the competitiveness you get when 5 sports nuts get together ensured and a race to dave's driveway was the unspoken holly grail for the days victor. As we rolled into dave's street we appeared to call a cease fire. Jessie had been dropped on the boulevard into dave's neighborhood after dave and I decided we would chase down some road riders and show how fast our knobby 29" inch wheels could role. Eric of course had effortlessly slipped into the slip stream and was ready for the final sprint while the ride of the day came from bear cub himself, the famous restaurant owner, Robbie. Robbie had gritted his little teeth and hung tight when daze twisted the throttle and was still in the main group to fight out victory in the sprint to the driveway. You may have noticed robbie was the only non professional athlete per say that was invited on the ride but robbie is also by no means your average restaurant owner. Robbie is famous for throwing down what is known as his grenades which as you may be able to easily guess en tale a ferocious turn of speed on any terrain with the sole objective to make everybody else his riding with suffer for an unknown period of time. The get an idea of how donating these grenades are it's literally 100percent to the point where your preying he will blow asap as if not you not far from it yourself! On the road I did 1000watts for close to 30 seconds once trying to follow one of robbie's grenades. To this day it was probably the biggest one I have endured on hidden valley road but when you look back and see the likes of Dave Z instantly miles behind in a 30second period of time you know you've given it one hell of a nudge! Anyways robbie's grenades are famous among the north LA area and he well and truly earns his spot riding with guys at absolutely every level, from top to bottom. Robbie also has the most amazing ability suffer and never complain about it. Infact its awesome having him on rides as when you think your suffering you simply look at him and immediately feel much better! The bear cub really knows how to put himself into the pain cave!! Doesn't matter what the level of riders around him or what type of terrain or what type of bike your on, robbie will never let the gang down, he's pretty much the glue that keeps our groups together, he's a real champ.

Anyways back to unofficial finish line of dave driveway. Dave and eric were sitting on the front rolling along knowing exactly what was about to happen but not wanting to make the first move. Robbie and I were sitting behind plotting our assault and ambush in a bid for glory. Dave lives on this nasty pasty drag of about 2percent and you can see his house about 500m out. Sure enough as it came into site robbie let rip and was off in search of glory. I could by the ferocity with which he attacked that he would explode so I waited patiently. When I finally picked my moment Eric the racer was up to the challenge and off we went side by side wheel to wheel! It was funny as I saw his wheel beside mine neither wanting to give an inch it reminded me of those rowing days where the bows surge in unison. Your both just waiting to see who's bow starts drawing away first. At point it felt like eric was moving but then I dug again. We blew past robbie and he gave me a cheer, unofficial teammates!! As I started to edge clear I dug even deeper and quickly had a bike length then 2. The battle had been won and by time I reached dave's driveway I had lactate acid pouring from every mm of my body. Was just an awesome end to an amazing day in the bush with an amazing group of guys. It's days like this ill always cherish and feel grateful that my life allows me to have these experiences on the bicycle. 

With the ride done there was nothing but a grin ear to ear from all 5 of us. Obviously we made plans to do it all again soon and it was awesome to see how that 5hrs had made 5 dudes such great mates. Robbie and I loaded the bikes and headed of to his restaurant Pedalers fork for the traditional post epic ride feed! This usually consists of a burger or a ridiculous amount of eggs and smoke salmon, depends what we feel like. Best part is at pedalers fork all the food is awesome so it really doesn't matter what you order. On this particular day we super-sized the usuall chef burger which I will post a photo. Don't think I been that hungry for a while so needed to fill a massive hole which is exactly what it did. Through in a few to many coffee's, pedalers is famous for its 10speed coffee and you have one hell of a post ride feast. The other great thing about pedalers is so many of our cycling buddies frequent it aswell so on weekends cyclists are there in there droves. This is a really cool as then you sit around and share your epic adventures with people that probably appreciate it much more than others. I love talking you may have picked up so a good out chinwag about riding bikes at pedalers is something that never ever gets dull for me. All in all it just tops off an amazing day, an amazing experience and reminds me yet again how fortunate I am to be able to do what I do. 


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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Final day in Beijing

‎The 2014 and final tour of beijing wrapped up today with a bit of a blast around good old olympic park. It's been the same stage for the past 3 editions of the race and like every other year a nail biting chase down of the breakaway preceded a chaotic bunch sprint. In the end it was an italian team that emerged the victor from the mele, sadly it wasn't GB from our italian but instead the classy sasha modelo from the lampre team. For me it was a rather flat end to what's been a bit of a frustrating week for me with my maneuvering to avoid a high speed crash with 5km to resulting in my rear tire exploding. I was really annoyed about this as I had done everything possible to save my energy for that final lap to help GB. At one point I managed a whole 8km look in the wheels and out of harms way with my heartrate below 90BPM. That's not so easy to do when averaging 40kmph on a flat circuit even inside the peleton. So the puncture Sadly meant I couldn't do what was planned and help position GB in the finale but guess I should be counting my lucky stars that I didn't end up with some nasty Chinese road rash so close to the end of the event. Getting through a race unscathed is always a relief and more so than usual when racing in beijing! Anyways the week has flown by in what seems like a blink of an eye and I'm now at the airport getting ready to board the plane back the italy. Will give a rundown on my 2014 experience of beijing en route to LA later in the day!


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Monday, October 13, 2014

Copping a shelacking in Beijing

‎Another picturesque and memorable stage here at the tour of beijing today. A couple of passes under the great wall and yet another perfect course for a bike race. Again there was a fair amount of challenges to blow the race to pieces but also for those with a strong set of pins the opportunity to hang in there on a mountain top finish that perhaps doesn't usually suit them so a fair course all round yet again. The stage had 6 climbs between 2-7km between the start and the base of the final 12km 6% drag up to the finish line, none of which were overly difficult but as always when the road rears upward was just a question of how hard the peleton would be pushing when we were on them. A nice small but manageable break skipped away early in the stage and our canadian cannonball GB showed his versatility by slipping into the days escape. He did a great job up the road all day showing off his condition he gained from completing his first grand tour at the vuelta espana in september and was certainly one of the strongest of the 4 being the last one caught as the peleton charged into the bottom of the final climb. Big hats of to GB as in the end he was by far the shinning light for the cannondale clan on an otherwise very uneventful day for our boys in green. 

With GB up the road setting the pace for the race we all settled in behind the team of the race leader phil gil of BMC. They rode a nice controlled steady rhythm keeping the break in check but also saving the legs of there workers all day and when we crested the penultimate climb with only a flat and very fast 15km run into the final climb there was a peleton full of beans! Garmin seized the initiative and hit the afterburner's on the front and had the peleton in a long line instantly reminding us all what sore legs feel like which made positioning for the final climb all the more difficult. Krizek again did an awesome job positioning me and at the start of the climb I was in the pole position close to the front on phil gils wheel and licking my chops for one big effort to the top of the climb. Sadly this sensation didn't last long!

Unfortunately for me there were plenty of dudes in the bunch whom also had fairly fresh legs and where rairing to go at the service of the service of there climbers. The pace was absolutely franetic at the bottom with what seemed like endless lead out trains driving the pace higher and higher. This was the last thing I wanted and it meant acceleration after acceleration which I have been suffering with all week. I knew it would be fast but was hoping for a steady continuous hard I could get into my rhythm with and grit my teeth and hang on for the ride but was not to be. The ups and downs of the rapid tempo simply blew me to pieces on the lower slopes of the climb and I was shot out the back of group unceremoniously around half way up the mountain. Taking the edge of me was an absolute understatement as I wasn't even close to producing the numbers I believed I could, I was simply cooked from trying to survive the onslaught. That's the great thing about a power meter as you always have a clear reference point as to if you did or didn't meet you expectations. I have enough data to know when I was simply not strong enough like on stage 2 and today when I was simply out of juice from the rhythm of the bike race, this is very quick and easy to ascertain. I obviously need to spend a lot more time behind the car or motorbike in long periods without racing. Since my crash I have been really nervous in the group and not fighting for position as hard as I should, I little self preservation I guess. Today and this week really I got the fight back and was at all times in the right place at the right time but today the other element to being successful at this level, race conditioning left me missing the extra gears I needed. I was finally back training at my best levels in the past week which meant I was a chance here this week if the cards fell my way but in the end and deep down I know it I needed a little longer to consolidate this condition to be able to back it up in a race situation multiple days in a row. I am disappointed for sure but I gave it everything I had and this week it's just were I am at. I have come a long way since alberta my last race 1 month ago but as always I need to work very hard to be at my best and I simply ran out of time to get myself to the level I needed to be competitive here in beijing today. Anyways to be honest was a nice feeling also to simply be amongst these guys again in a big race, an experience I haven't had at all this year. I never take for granted how fortunate enough I am to be racing at this level and that's why this week I probably over estimated my ability to fight for position and race against these and not expect it to take its toll. If your going be lucky enough to race against these guys you may aswell do all you can to get amongst it as that's the only way you can possibly ever figure out how to be competitive so I am pleased I at least managed to show that again.

Anyways again big hats off to GB. He put a great ride in the break today and while I am sure it took some fuel from his tank I have no doubt It would have also given him an extra spring in his step for tomorrow's traditional bunch sprint finish outside the birds nest olympic stadium. Time for some shuteye!


Time 4hrs 10min, 157km
Elevation Gain 2700m
Ave power 240 watts
10min peak power 420watts
5min peak power 455watts
Ave heart rate 130BPM
Kcal Burnt 4000

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Stage 3 tour of Beijing

‎Was all systems go at the tour of beijing today. The smog had as if by the flick of a switch decided to go and hover some place else and the was out enough to create perfect conditions for bike racing. It's was truly fantastic that all could go ahead as planned today as the course was simply spectacular. We passed through and around the great wall twice and while we were traveling at warp speed everybody took a brief second to check out the mega structure and admire what's a global icon. Apart from the great wall there was plenty to admire on our 170km journey today with in my opinion the perfect mix of ups and downs and twists and turns and road sizes you will ever come across in a bike race. The terrain to reminded me much of the mountainous range that's sits behind nice and the italian boarder. There was a vast network of rivers we rolled along beside, densely tree lined smooth roads, and perfectly manicured concrete guide rails that could have easily made you forget you were in china and not europe. The profile offered something for everyone with climbs and technical decents close enough to the finish that if we decided to race flat biscuit up and down the peleton would have exploded. Equally the climbs and decents were manageable enough that if a more passive or gentlemanly approach was taken then we could go to the finish line in a happy big bunch for a group sprint. In the end this is exactly what happened and big hats off to the American Tyler Farrar from garmin to breaking the finish tape first on stage 3. 

For the cannondale clan and myself it was a pretty uneventful day to be honest. The goals were pretty simple, keep GB and alberto close to the front on the climbs to ensure they had a chance at the sprint should it all stay together. I was to keep my witts about me and stay alert to any selections that formed on the climbs and keep myself in GC contention ahead of tomorrow's mountain top finish. We rode really well as a team all day and when the final short climb began with only 15km to the finish we were all at the front, well on it to be precise out of harms way and in the best spot to avoid being dropped. Jean Marc, french specialist manuvere man did an awesome lead into the final climb and as it ramped up was in command of the group. As soon as the climb began attacks from the climbers came thick and fact and I quickly ensured I covered them. The climb was neither hard enough or steep enough to dislodge the sprinters and at 35-40kmph on a 4% grade the group sucks along pretty quick. As expected our attacks were absorbed and large group all be it a very long and alightly tired one plumeted down the decent and into town for the sprint. Again GB had himself positioned perfectly heading into the final km's thanks to motorbike marongoni and krisek guideing him into place as reliably as ever so great job by them today. 

I felt quite good again which was a nice feeling. Slowly but surely getting my legs going again at this race rhythm. Reacting to the attacks on the climb was a nice feeling as lately I have been afraid of opening the gas too often through fear of blowing up!! Must admit today the man who instigated the attacks was none other than the croc man adam hansan. That guy is a beast and when he goes he really goes so you legs and lungs know pretty quickly who on earth your trying to follow!! Still Today I seemed confident to give it a go so fingers crossed it's opened me up a little ahead of tomorrow's queens stage and mountaintop finish.  

So with that all being said time for me to get a little rest and get ready for the fun and games tomorrow afternoon!


Race data:

Time 4hrs 15min
Distance 170km
Peak 5min power 470watts
Peak 30sec power 780watts
Peak 1min power 591watts
Kcal Burnt 4000
Ave power 240watts
Ave Heart Rate 134BPM
Final climb speed 2.3km @ 36.4kmph @ 4.8%
Final climb Ave Power 444watts

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Beijing stage 2

‎Well the tour of beijing continues to through up surprize's for its final edition. Today we were greeted with the news at the start that the stage would be shortened by 50km and finish atop the final mountain of the days route after just 111km. The reason was simply due to the fact that pollution in the finish town was above healthy levels to hold a bike race. After yesterday racing in such conditions for the final 50km or so when descended of the plateau the organizer's didn't want to risk an all out backlash from the riders and teams. The course changed the dynamic of the race quite a lot with now finishing atop a 1km 8% ramp as oppose to a 40km flat run into the finish line which was ideal again for the sprinters. Now the finish was destined to be a mix of the 2, a sprinter that could climb pretty and a climber with a good kick and that's exactly the type of riders that occupies the top 10 at the end of the day.

One man licking his lips with the course change at the start line was Phillipe gilbert. He has been banging on the door of a big win over the past few weeks and the finish like this had his name written all over it. Sure enough as soon as the flag dropped his BMC boys where on the front and ensuring there man had a shot at glory. Sure enough when we reached the revised finish line atop this little kicker it would indeed be gilbert who finished before anybody else so hats off to him. As a fellow competitor I am always immensely impressed by the way an unbackable favorite like phil was today is still able to go out and walk the walk. He had a massive target on his back and everybody tried to follow him but at the end of the day nobody could do anything to stop him, pretty impressive indeed! So enough on phil and he's a little recap of how the race went for cannondale clan and myself.

The objective again today was for GB in the sprint. With the course change we didn't really change our focus as we thought perhaps it could still end up being a bunch sprint as nobody really knew what the final km would look like. With the stage now measuring only 111km it's was going to be over pretty quickly. Firstly it was freezing cold and threatening to rain so nobody really wanted to be out there longer than was necessary. With this common feeling in the group a few teams planted guys on the front and kept the rev limiter pretty close to 50kmph. I felt quite good once we got underway, yesterday the world tour pace was a shock to the system after not racing at this level for so long but today I felt like I had a bit more of spark in my pedal stroke. With the pace so high before we knew it we were inside the final 15km and the fun was about to begin! 

The final 15km was a slight drag uphill of around 2-3% average with the 1km kick up to the finish. To spice things up a little we had turned off a 4 lane super highway onto a small farm road so all of a sudden the fight for position became 4 times as hard as the pace ramped up! When it's like this it's pretty simple, holding position isn't easy and you have to fight for every wheel. Often at this level the fight is to survive the original shirmish and once you have done that and in a good position in the bunch it almost seems easier than the fight to get to when the race really begins! Anyways inside the final 5km and I had held my own pretty well. I am pretty curtious and prefer to take a spot in the bunch and risk knocking someone out of the way and make an enemy. I am like this as when I guiding one of my team leaders to the front you want the respect of the other guys up there and if you haven't pissed to many people of then your path forward when you need one seems to be a little easier. Maby this is a fault and I should be more aggressive but I am not at the moment and specially after my most recent trip to the ashfelt I don't want to take any additional risks and hit the deck particularly on Chinese roads!! Anyways with 5km to go had held a pretty good position, saved as much energy as possible, and most importantly hadn't made any enemies, atleast that I know off! 

At around 3km to go the pace slackened a little and I was able to jump up around 10 positions or so get myself close to the top 20 wheels. Don't get me wrong this had by no means been an easy run in. We had been doing 40+kmph up the slope for the previous 15km and a check of the power meter would show I had averaged 400watts simply sitting in the wheels for the final 20min. Feel sorry for the poor buggers drilling out the tempo on the front!! So with 3km to go it was time to grit the teeth and see if my pins where up to the challenge. The beauty of a finish like this and slight incline like this is that you are expecting it to be like climbing pace, noticeably slower than on the flat right?? Wrong!! On a 2-3% grade like that these world tour dudes can comfortably crank out 40-45kmph so the km signs continue to fly by! It's a great feeling actually and very similar to rowing in a fast 8's race at a regatta. When you race the single scull in a tail breeze a fast time is around 7min, that's pretty quick. In an 8 man crew with a tail breeze I have been in boat that 5:28 once. I still remember to this day the 250m markers just flying by at lake barrington on a hot january afternoon in north eastern tasmania. Although the pain was insane as we were absolutely hauling arse it almost was negated by the fact that the finish line was getting closer so rapidly. I remember that masking the pain and wanting to push harder and harder on that day as you knew sooner than usual you would cross the line and pain would be done with! Well today had a similar feeling in that final few km's, the pain of going so fast uphill even in the wheels you could almost embrace as you knew soon it was over and done with! Only catch was we were about to hit the 1km ramp to the line and while it had felt like a tail wind rowing race for the previous few km's it was about to have a radical wind shift and feel like a block head wind!

These type of finishes are by far the worst for me. 1km 1.5-2min all out explosive power is about as opposite to my physiology as you can get. Still today I knew I hit to grit my teeth and simply try and follow the wheels. So as the head wind sensation hit I began to feel the proverbial grand piano fall down and playing on my back! No matter how determined my mind was my legs were beginning to turn in squares and in retrospect it was just a matter of when the knockout blow would be dealt to me! Still with 500m to go I was right there and 300m to go sitting in that front 20 or so riders. At this point I actually believed I might survive the pace, I could see all the favorites ahead of me and I was finally back in one of those exciting positions when your apart of the bike race with some of the best riders in the world. I feeling I haven't felt for a long long time sadly. Then just as we swung left for the final 200m and the red flash of Phillipe gilbert blasted out of the peleton I went to go with the group and completely blew my pooper valve and was on my knees groveling to the finish line! I just didn't have that extra % at the moment, the percent you miss when you miss the world tour level racing. Still I am where I am and again was nice to be at least closer forward than back and if my feeling are correct and am on the improve then the next couple of days will offer opportunities to enjoy some hard racing, time will tell on that one!

Of course following an explosion like that your curious as to what caused your explosion. Where you simply not good enough?? Well of course on this occasion but more importantly did you perform to your ability?? A quick check of the SRM would indicate with my current condition being a little light on race days I performed to more or less my capacity. The final 10min of the race I averaged 445 watts, not super high but when it's made up of accelerations of 700watts and idles of 200watts it's pretty high. For the final 5' I averaged 502watts which is kind of a bench mark for me during a race. I have done 525 in training but of course that's when your fresh and chances are if I did that today I would have stayed up front but that's the difference, being able to handle the race rhythm and still bang out your best numbers. On the flip side the higher the numbers you can produce in training when fresh the higher the number you will produce when your tired in a race?? Higher you are higher you can fall?? Anyways for the final 1min I averaged 600watts which is again a bit of a bench mark but minus that explosion in the final 200m it would have been quite a bit higher and needed to be to keep up with these front guys. Anyways was what it was and in reality I performed to where my current condition is at and I would have expected. Had I produced bigger numbers would have been a bit of a miracle or lucky break or super freaky day so have to be content with just having a solid day.

Time for some rest, tomorrow's going to be a GREAT day we traverse the GREAT WALL for the first time in this year's race! 


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Friday, October 10, 2014

Tour of Beijing day 1

‎The final edition of the tour of beijing kicked off today and I was on the start line to be apart of the historic occasion! Well not so historic really as the race has only been running since 2011 but I can proudly say I have apart of 2 of the previous editions. It's sad that the uci has decided to shelve the event however also very understandable from a logistics point of view. Sadly traveling to china is by no means as easy as traveling to and competing in all the other parts of the world we take the world tour road show to and with all the logistics and so worth involved with putting on a bike race it's understandable that's there has been a review of the events inclusion on the world tour calendar. I will write a little more about my experiences in china in a blog a little later on when I have some time to think about that side of things. Anyways the fact is this will be the forth and final running of the event and as in previous years the organizers seem to have continued to improve the variety of the course and today was certainly quite a leg sapping kick off to the 2014 event. 

We began this year's tour of beijing 300km away from the city in the ski town of chongli. The stage had the potential to literally have every sort of outcome imaginable due to the profile however in the end it came down to an expected battle between the fast men. As always a lot went on between the flag dropping and luka mezgec of giant shimano celebrating the victory after 168km so here's how it looked from aboard my Cannondale evo.

The course on paper looked pretty straight forward. A couple of short but nasty climbs after 30km followed by a nice rolling plateau for 90km or so and then a gentle 50km plunge and flat run into the finish. Perfect for the sprinters really!! The catch?? The following! Those couple of short 2km climbs after 30km had ramps of 20%. By the time we crested the second one we were at 2000m above sea level! And from when the climbs began to the end of the 90km plateau was the biggest stretch of wind farm windmills I have ever seen anywhere in the world! So 1 guess as to what happened!! Yep was a shit fight to get to the front on the climbs and while we climbed them at a casual pace if you were not at the front it was going to take a big effort to move yourself up any positions. As soon as we hit the top and the wind started blowing the road across the plateau was the size of a belgium country lane and never ever was straight and was never ever flat. It was littered with leg snapping rollers and equally steep and technical downhill sections so again whatever position you were in at this point was going to take a lot of effort to move from! Let the chaos begin!

I had a hunch the you know what would hit the fan either on the climb or very soon after it so positioned myself in a nice safe position, 2nd wheel to be precise when this section began. Our sprinter for the day the canadian cannonball Boivin was close behind me so all was el capa in casa cannondale. Once we crested the 2nd climb and the rollers and wind whipped up there was no looking back. Everybody wanted to be at the front and you knew that meant it wasn't overly nice being at the back! GB and I were safely in the first 10 riders and sure enough after about 20km of this stress filled full gas battle for the front of the peleton sky hit the front and it was on like donkey Kong so to speak. Fortunately I spotted the big black sky clad kit of austrian bernie eisal chatting on his radio and a second later his men whipped into action. I followed and like always in these conditions you simply have to hang onto the wheel in front of you for grim death and hope when the dust settles and the pace subsides a little you are at the front of the bike race. Not long after I spotted the big burley figure of matt heyman of greenedge who dulley chimed in as well and while all this was going on I realized nobody was fighting me for 5th wheel anymore!! It's a good lesson cycling that when there's wind around and matt heyman is near the front, something is about to go down down!! Sure enough once I saw him ripping out monster 1000horse power turns on the front it could mean only one thing?? The race had blown apart! There were about 40 riders or so in the front group but unfortunately with still over 100km to the finish no team was heavily enough represented or wanted to commit to trying to keep maintaining the advantage. The peleton was now in around 5 groups and eventually when the dust really settled around 20km or so later a lead group of 80 riders had reformed and that would be the family that would trundle along to the finish together. As it regrouped and the numbers swelled the stress in the peleton resumed and it now took a bit of fighting to keep a front position. The cannondale clan were well represented in the front group with GB safely riding great position and looking sharp for the finish. The only real obstacle between all hell breaking loose and group exploding again in the final 50km was the final decent down to the flat run into the finish. 

As we approached the decent to the finish I said to the boys I will ride on the front for 20km. I did this as the fight for the front was getting nervous with the potentially dangerous windy decent fast approaching. By me riding on the front with sky it meant our boys could safely and stresslessly line up behind sky at the front of the peleton and save precious energy both physically and through stress should the fuzz be re lit on the front. It's a simple etiquette in cycling that the team riding on the front get to sit at the front so our boys could have a nice armchair ride to the finish. The breakaway at this stage was only 1 rider and at 50 seconds with 30kms to go so we did not need to ride very hard on the front so I was pretty pleased with this situation as it was the first opportunity I had all day to recover a little and spin some of the leg sapping fatigue out of pins from the slug fest we endured on the 2000m high plateau! It's very therapudic riding on the front for me and those few gentle turns I did in the final 50km or so made me feel a hell of a lot better than I did 60km before!! GB and the boys sat patiently in a comfortable possy at the front of the field and into the final 5km the pace ramped up as the sprint trains wrestled for control of the front of the peleton. I drifted back until I found the boys and stayed close by to GB to give him one last effort to get him out of trouble should he need it. He had motorbike marunga piloting him into the final 2km so I was certainly rendered useless, marunga is a magician in this situation! Sure enough he dropped GB off on the eventual winner's wheel around 1.5km to go and all GB had to do now was hold position and open up the sprint at the right time. 

As expected after a hectic leg burning day like we had just endured everybody was scrambling in the final km's. A day like today catches up with when you go for the turbo and that final km sure showed that with many teams attempting to gain control but finding it a little hard to maintain. In all this chaos GB sadly lost mezgec's wheel but the positive is he put himself in the best possible position so close to the finish. So tomorrow should end in a similar situation so we will try again for GB as he is obviously not far away from a great result! From my perspective I was happy to get though the day unscathed and not completely on my knees. It's been a long road back from my crash in big bear and an extremely long time since I competed in a world tour race so was nice to be amongst it all day. Anyways time now to get some rest and recovery as as today showed the courses here in china turn out in a by no means predictable way, looking forward to seeing the cats are pulled out the bag tomorrow.


Race data:
Distance 170km
Time 4hrs 20min
Ave Power: 235watts
Max power: 1156watts
Ave Heartrate: 140bpm
Ave Cadence: 90rpm
Kcal Burnt: 4200
Ave power without zero's: 295watts
Peak 30sec power: 720watts
Peak 20sec power: 820watts
Peak 5min Power: 445watts
Peak 10min Power: 400watts

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

fighting creme puff itis!

This week I am hanging out in Alberta canada. As usual that involves racing my bicycle for a few hours each day which to be brutally honest is probably one of my preferred methods of checking out somewhere I have never visited before. The race kicked of in calgary a couple of days ago at the olympic park which was pretty cool. Racing around olypic venues and checking out past olympic cities is something that always makes me pretty excited to be involved with that particular bike race. Yesterday we enjoyed the temperamental weather patterns of the Alberta region with freezing cold rain and threats of snow which fortunately never eventuated! I must admit I raced like a bit of a girls blouse yesterday in the rain, sadly I think all that time spent in sunny LA has turned me into a bit of a creme puff so was determined to get out there today and punish myself and remind myself this sport ain't a place for blouses! By the end of today's stage there was no doubt that I had certainly inflicted as much pain on myself as possible and litteraly crawled over the line so I was in a happy pain cave again! As always there's a story behind getting to that point so here's a bit of a snap shot of what went on today at the tour of alberta!

After 2 stages which by no means we're easy, the time gaps within the field are still very small. Therefore when it comes to the beginning of each stage and trying to make the breakaway everybody wants to be in it for a wide range of reason. With a GC so tight there is always the opportunity to form the perfect breakaway which steals a heap of time and inturn sets the tone for the outcome of the race. When this is a possibility that simply means every single one of the 120 riders in the bunch senses the chance to seize the initiative and consequently there is non stop all attacking going of the front of the bunch. What's this means is there is always someone going full biscuit on the front which inturn ensure the peleton behind is being sucked along at warp speed! This was most certainly the case today and most certainly by the end of the day was one of my memorable days of the season!

When it's going nuts like today there is no easy spot in the bunch. It's more often than not single file and as jensie would politely put it you spend a large amount of time pig rooting a cricket ball! The thing is the pace is so high that you can't afford to be out of position as along with the pace being so high it also means you can be in the wrong spot at the wrong time very very quickly of miss that crucial move very very quickly! Also that go for following moves, you never know which one will stick as it may seem like a pointless attack but when your humming along at 60kmph on the flat and somebody drops the wheel all of a sudden 30 riders could be 30 seconds up the road which happened about 50 times in the first 100km today! Anyways simply put you need to be alert if you want to be apart of the action more on days like today than usual!

Yesterday as I said I raced like a bit of a girl. It's was raining and cold and while I usually relish such conditions all the time in sunny LA has well and truly softened me up! Anyways to punish myself today by hook or by crook I was determined to be in the breakaway and I was literally prepared to blow myself to smitherines and out the back of the bike race to achieve my goal. Today most certainly set my season record for how long it took for the breakaway to form. It wasn't until the 100km mark that finally 5 of us skipped clear and as I noted above with my daily intentions that meant that the first 2hrs was absolutely an all out attacking fest on my behalf and consequently when I finally used up my final bullet to make it into the breakaway I was on my knees! The average speed of the first 100km was 51kmph which is to my memory the fastest 2hrs of racing I have been fortunate enough to be apart off, certainly an experience I won't forget in a hurry! One positive of such a fast and furious start is the fact you have covered a large majority of the race distance of 150km in a short space of time! At usual final 50km race pace that means only another 1hr or so more to endure!

Anyways back to race and I finally had myself in the breakaway. I was absolutely blown to smitherines but as always once you escape the clutches of the peleton you often gain a second wind?? Yeah right!! Today I had well and truly burned through my 1st 2nd 3rd and any other consequent re charging winds that miraculously come your way and I was simply all out to maintain the pace of my fellow escapees. Normally I dream about these days, given a little head start and relishing the challenge of trying to hold of the hunting pack. I don't care about getting caught, that happens 90% of the time, I simply want to always ensure that whoever chases us down has to work as hard to do it as I am up the road! Make being up there worth it! Also being only 50km from the finish there is no way the peleton will give you much rope so you really have to work for every second you can prise out! Basically I was in the perfect situation to ensure that I absolutely burried myself beyond oblivion today and gave myself a good lesson in suffering after such a pitiful performance yesterday.

The 5 of us were all committed and working like a real team. At 20km to go we had 45 seconds which while a slim chance meant we had a chance. A few km's later we had 30 seconds and things were looking bleak! Then I got my miraculous 100th wind for the day and starting to give it some herbs and we all seemed to be getting a bit of a boost at the same time and at 15km to go we were back out to 40 seconds! We were back in the game! When I am in top shape this is the moment to really hit the turbo but sadly for me my best condition is far from where I am currently at some I have to be content just giving it all I have for the moment. I am sure if I suffer enough for long enough this week my condition I enjoyed in the first half of the season can't be far away, surely there's no secrets, you work hard and eventually you will be rewarded.

Anyways with 15km to go we all got motivated. We were pulling through with a new vigor and geeing each other up. Well I was doing a lot of geeing up of the other guys, think it comes from my rowing days that I do that and it caught on a little with a few positive comments also coming from my counterparts! Then as we approached 10km to go our team car arrived and our director biagio conte told me to stop working and sit on he the back as a few of the guys where a big threat to villella's GC position. This situation is really unfortunate as as badly as I wanted to go all in with my fellow escapee's and what will be will be I had to honor first and foremost the objectives of the team and Davide vilella has ridden really well in the first couple of days to be in 5th overall. Anyways biagio putting on the reserve bench and not working certainly had the desired effect as all the boys lost there spark and vigor. It's very psychological for a breakaway when a team makes that decision as instead of thinking bugger it, you can just sit there and get a free ride and we will try and beat you anyway at the end, you think I don't want to give anyone a free ride and loose the spring in your step in your attempt to hold off the hungry pack.

Sure enough with around 6km to go first I was caught and the rest of the guys not long after. Once I knew the group was on it I sat up and waited and let the guys have one last dig at staying away as I knew it would be in vein, they didn't need any passengers for there final km or so of going for glory. Once back in the group I made sure all the cannondale clan where in a good position up the front which as always they were. Formolo uno formolo was pedaling with his usual enthusiasm and villella looked as effortless as usual. The one I was most excited about was junior mohoric who looked to be extremely comfortable heading into the final km's and with his superior aerodynamics the downhill in the final km suited one of his famous seated on the top tube attacks! In the end junior would opt for a crack at the sprint and would gallop to a fine 5th place against some of the fastest men in the sport. For a guy who has won the junior and U23 world title road race over the past 2 years, his season best performance only a month out form this year's world's could be an ominous sign for his first crack at the senior world title!!

So all in all was a great day for me and also a great day for the team. Juniors's promising performance coupled with vilella's maintenance of a high GC position meant we are all smiles within the cannondale clan! I was so happy to be full of fatigue up to my eyeballs when I limped across the finish line! It's a feeling or place I haven't taken myself to for a while simply because I haven't been able to as I just haven't had the condition. It's a promising sign that while the pain will never disappear in a bike race, I will start to get a little more return for my efforts than I currently am!

So will give it another crack tomorrow and keep doing so all the way to finish line in Edmonton on sunday afternoon!


Race data:
Srm was out of action but had heart rate and speed, I think these numbers illustrate pretty well how full bannana the day was!

Ave heartrate 161bpm
Max heart rate 195bpm
Average speed 48.5kmph


Saturday, August 23, 2014

the truth hurts in the race of truth!

A nice little individual time trial here at the tour of colorado today. The race of truth as its affectionately known!! Always provides the answers as to who's hot and who's not! Today was no exception to this rule with the top 10 riders in the GC showing exactly why they occupy those positions with them taking the top 10 positions on The stage. The race leader TJ van garderan was in a class of his own going so fast that had the race commisers been strict on the rule book a large number of riders would have been outside the 25% time limit, I very impressive performance indeed.

Not much to report from my perspective today. The stage confirmed what I already knew, that I am feeling far from my flamboyant best here this week and I performed accordingly. I went through my usual routine and thankfully a lot better than the day before but I simply didn't have the power or ability to breathe and be competitive today so didn't bother digging myself into a hole. Tomorrow we have another great opportunity for a sprint finish for Elia so will need all hands on deck so I wanted to be certain I had as many bullets in my arsenal for tomorrow and not waste any unnecessarily in today's tt. Today's course was perfectly suited to me. Basically dead straight and ever so slightly uphill, hardly any corners, and no steep climbs! Had I been in tip top shape I would have been bouncing out of my skin for today's stage profile however the sport is so often very humbling and today I simply had to accept my fate. It wasn't that I didn't want to go hard, I would have loved to absolutely bury myself out there but my body simply won't do it. I have simply been at altitude so long and had such a disrupted build up with my crash that I am just tired. I can still do a job for the team and elia but as far as personal glory goes those ambitions will have to wait until I get back to see level, recover a little and regain some power. I am optimistic that come the prologue in tour of Alberta on the 3rd of october I will have my spark back. I am simply longing for that feeling of choking on oxygen again. Fortunately that is now only 1 day away!!

So with the tt out of the way the final hurrah in Denver is now all that left before the curtains come down on the 2014 tour of utah. All the cannondale clan here in vail took it as easy as possible today to give one final good nudge tomorrow so we will sea what we can muster up. One things for sure like every other stage here in colorado regardless of how things transpire on the road tomorrow it will take a seriously big effort to ensure a sprint for Elia. Tomorrow is also the final day of Jensie's carrier so you know he won't be leaving anything in the tank, it's a duel he has already warned me about so I am looking forward to getting some sleep and gettng up tomorrow and getting stuck right into it, no doubt it will be a very memorable day for the sport.


Friday, August 22, 2014

never an easy day at the tour of colorado

Pretty quiet day here for me today at the tour of colorado. After all the excitement of yesterday's stage I was greeted with the harsh reality of the efforts made to chase down jensie and my pins where far from happy with as the flagged dropped and stage 5 got underway. Today's stage was tailor-made for a breakaway to skip away and contest the stage win and that's exactly what happened. My versatile himself christiano salerno flew the green machine flag nice and hi and was one of the brave men to be in the escape. Just to make today's breakaway was a huge achievement in itself and it was until 55km and more than an hour of racing that the 10men finally were let loose. I think at this point the entire peleton was relieved after the flat out start and nobody was interested in trying to pull them back and as a result this was the last we would see of them all day.

Back in the group I relished the opportunity to try and recharge the batteries. Yesterday's result emphatically showed that Elia is our best chance of glory here this week so with another sprint opportunity on sunday in Denver we will need all the mumbo jumbo we can muster! With this in mind we all rallied around elia and each other in the bunch and saved as much fuel as possible. While the race situation was perfect for us with christiano up the road us taking it easy in the bunch, the rockies weather variability had returned!! Around half way through the stage the cloudy sky's decided to open up and dump bucket loads of ice water on us quite literally sending shivers through the bunch! To add to this we had wind coming from what seemed like every which way and it was utterly miserable. I don't recall seeing any smiling faces for the final couple of hours of the stage! Anyways off course we rolled along and with a nasty 5km climb in the final 20km those of us looking for a quiet day knew that this was the point at which we could turn the engine down to an idle and putter home at our leisure. Of course the climb sparked the GC riders into action to try and unsettle each other ahead of tomorrow's TT but in the end the breakaway was well clear and would inevitably decide the race winner. With the final 20km all above 3000m elevation I have to put a badge of honor of the chest of those brave soles who battled it out for the stage win. After hours in the freezing cold and rain to lay it all on the line when you have no oxygen takes a serious set of swingers so hats of to all the breakaway men and off course the days winner Didier from the trek team.

With the rain and cold there are quite a few things that make the day difficult. Firstly it's raining and cold so you hard pressed finding anyone on the planet that enjoys this feeling. Secondly you are constantly contemplating how many layers and which type of rain coat you would like to wear. This is more complex than it sounds as personally for example I carry no less than 6 rain coats. A short and long sleeve spray jacket, a waterproof gortex rain jacket, a lightweight & heavyweight neoprene jacket and a an additional light wind vest for cold decents. As conditions change so to does you garment requirements but unfortunately as conditions deteriorate and in today's case so rapidly, it's no so easy to go back to the car and put on a rain coat in the wind and freezing rain. Your hands are often numb and it's requiring all your energy just to stay in the peleton so you are faced with the dilemma of do I get cold and stay in the group or do I take the gamble and go and get more cloths and risk getting dropped!! Yep today was one of those days. In the end I went back to the car for additional layers and stopped on the side of the road, put on my warm jacket and was immediately feeling much better about the world! Elia did the same so I paced him back to group and while it was a rather long chase back on between the cars it was certainly worth it to be warm, well relatively speaking anyways, we at least were no longer shivering! Oh and the other great thing about the freezing cold rain is that eating becomes so difficult. Firstly water and god know what else is flying up in your face and in your mouth and as a result you don't feel hungry. You better however and know you need to eat but your fingers are frosen!! Add the fact you have 1 or 2 layers of rain coats now covering you jersey pockets containing your food and all of a sudden eating become just too hard! Infact even if you did manage to fish around and grab an energy bar or gell from your back pocket there is a high probability your numb hands will drop it before it gets anywhere near your mouth! Manage to avoid dropping and then you are still faced with dilemma of trying to open it!! Oh it just seems all to much so that's a reason while on rainy days I always carry bottles with sugar and then just hope I will have enough fuel to get to the finish line! Today I had certainly burnt through the vapors by the time I dordolled through the finish line but fortunately there was a long decent to the finish! Yep today was almost a nice relaxing day but thanks to the variability which I guess is also the beauty of the rockies, today's turned into yet another tour of colorado memorable adventure.

TT tomorrow so looking forward to that, only need to suffer for around 30minutes!!


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Chasing Jens so Elia can WIN!!!

Little beauty!!! Finally some delight for the green machine here in the rarefied air of the rockies with elia the green missile Viviani demolishing the field in today's very selective bunch sprint in colorado springs. Yesterday was perhaps the lowest of low days for the team performance wise in my years with the team with none of us making the front group. 24hrs in cycling can be a very long time and with the scares of what went just a day before the cannondale clan stepped onto the startling ready to rally around our sprinting team leader elia and give him a shot at stage glory! In the team meeting our director gave us one simple message! Don't make a mistake and regardless of the outcome ride with intelligence. It was just what we needed to here, we have made bucket loads of errors in the past couple of races through a range of reason and they have been amplified with the suffering at altitude. Today however we had to show why we are one of the biggest teams in the world and ride the race accordingly, "important" alberto volpi emphasized, "no mistakes".

As far as race strategy goes our plan was very simple. Before the start Elia wasn't convinced he would survive in the front group on such a demanding circuit. With this in mind we decided we would see how elia feels halfway through the race and if he was confident we would start working to ensure a sprint finish. I had the hunch elia would be tickedy boo today and sure enough he said game on with around 40km to go and we began deploying the troops accordingly. The only little concern we had was the fact Jensie was up the road and had a very big lead! In his final season he seems to have more enthusiasm than any new professional in the peleton and is still the hardest rider in the world to chase down. Anyways fortunately the pace had been on for a majority of the day which proved to be crucial for a couple of reasons. Firstly I meant we didn't have to do any work for the first 2/3 of the race and secondly the guys up in the breakaway including Jensie had to ride extremely hard to gain and maintain there advantage. First we set our big diesal Ted King of the road King and Mr versatile salerno up to the front to help ramp up the chase a bit. At this stage they were still chasing a group of 10 riders but as the gap started to fall, surprize surprize!! Jensie attacked and went solo! The most impressive part about this is the fact that all 10 guys in the group knew what Jensie was going to do and when he decided it was time to fly none of them could do a thing about it! That's just another clear illustration of what an absolute legend Jensie is! Anyways with ted and christian up the front the gaps started falling, not much jens but soon his fellow escapees had been re absorbed into the peleton. With the boys rolling over on the front the rest of us rallied around elia at the front and kept his as well positioned and fresh as possible, we knew the final 25km lap would be full gas and Elia was going to need all his bullets to get through it and pull out one of his blistering bursts of speed.

Onto the final lap we rolled and we sat patiently waiting for stage 2 of our plan. After absolutely turning himself and everybody else having to follow in the peleton inside out, christiano tapped me into the paceline and chase train, my turn to step up to the plate! Jens had actually just dangerously increased his lead to over 2min 30sec with 20km to go so I knew the pulls on the front had to be all out to try and psychologically atleast let jens know we were still coming at him. I love hitting the front of the peleton, there is a strange adrenaline rush that hits your lactate filled legs and all of a sudden you seem to have a few more gears in your cluster. Luckily everyone else knew it was now or never and all went all in and finally the gap started to come down. You know when the peleton is chasing hard as you do your turn and then basically have to do another all out effort to get yourself back in the pace line! That's exactly what it was like today in those final 20km's, Jensie was giving everyone one final reminder just what an absolute legend he is and just how much horsepower that big V12 German engine has!

Today's circuits around colorado springs took place within the garden of the gods. I am told it's extremely beautiful there but sadly I had lactate acid up to my eyeballs all day though there so didn't get much of a chance to enjoy it! Must go back some time. Anyways the circuits were made hard by a 20% wall of around 500m as we entered the park. This was just to soften us up as from there the next few km's kept false flat and rolling up basically giving you no Rest bite until you finally plunged back down to down town at around 10km to go. This climb on the final lap was always going to be full gas for a number of reasons. Firstly those up front want to go as hard as possible to make it hard for those down the back. The sprinters whom can climb want it fast to try and dislodge there fellow fast men more challenged by gravity. And thirdly it's the last lap and 15km's or so from the finish so nobody is holding anything back! Basically put you simply shut your eyes and grit your teeth and go as hard as you possibly can and hope when you get to the top you are still in the front group! On the final lap I finally reminded myself how to really hurt myself again! I hadn't really dug deep since my bingle in training 6 weeks ago but today finally had that spark and urge back to see what it feels like when you have gone way beyond your comfort zone. Normally the climb wouldn't have been so bad but as I had been pulling full gas on the flat run in to the climb the climb was now absolute torture!! Anyways we hit the climb and sure enough it was full biscuit! I sat behind elia and just gritted my teeth knowing that if he got over it I needed to get over it aswell as he still needed troops for the run into the finish line. As we charged up the climb I also spotted motorbike marongoni whom absolutely turns himself inside out for elia race after race after race and after suffering so badly this week in colorado he was now showing his all round class as a rider and team mate and right in the middle of the selection being made on the garden of the gods wall! Once we were over the top not surprisingly lots of riders were dropped. This obviously meant the workhorse stocks of teams were seriously depleted and it's was all down to us. Elia noticed immediately and put up his hand and in a blink of an eye motorbike marongoni was on the front and in hot pursuit of Jensie. I dragged my lactate filled backside to front but to be honest it took all my power simply to get to marunga's rear wheel! Once there I was in big danger of completely exploding and was definitely not going to pull the skin of a rice custard compared to what motorbike marongoni was doing so I retreated to the group to recover a little. Motorbike marongoni put out an absolutely phenomenal turn of 5km or so and carved out a huge chunk of jensie's lead and with 10km to go he was down to below 1min 30sec, we now had a chance. Elia saw me struggling and simply said "Cam if you have anything left try and help marunga when you can" its amazing how inspiring calm words like this are from your team captain in these moments and I instantaneously felt as strong as ten men. My plan was to recover on the plunge down into the city and then go and give it my all on the 6km run into the finish. I sucked in some big one's and finally with 6km to go as I planned I was back on the front with marunga for one final haul!!

Jensie could sniff the big victory and we could sniff a bunch sprint! To paint a picture there were 4 of us guys all over 6 foot tall on the front of the peleton going full full blast and Jensie was still holding us at bay! The only saving grace we had was the long straight roads so we could see our prey and that always gives you that extra little bit of mumbo jumbo. Motorbike marunga was still absolutely powering along like a locomotive on the front as he had done for almost 15km's now, an absolutely brilliant best on groud performance from the green machine. After Elia's pep talk I had an extra kick in my pedal stroke back and as we hit a few km's to go I knew Jensie wasn't going to survive. Also remembering your chasing Jensie always adds to the motivation, you really really have to earnt and if you catch him it's a special and always memorable feeling. It's funny as your in two minds as you want to catch him so bad but you also want to see him win!! It's just a special race anytime jens is involved! With the line in sight and no more than 2km to go there were plenty of dudes will to chip in with a pull on the front mush stronger than I could bang out so I went back into the group to ensure elia was all ok. I had enough juice in the tank to get him out of trouble and up front if need be but certainly has used up all my turbo boosting effort so any type of lead out was out of the question. Elia simply asks that with 1km to go he is in the right wheels to contest the sprint. He doesn't expect a big lead out train when the whole team is not built around him but make very good use of the resources he has available to him. So with 1km to go the jens show was over and elia was on the wheel he wanted so all I could do now was sit back and watch the show!

It was a head wind sprint so the final 500m seemed to happen in slow motion. The group even smarmed for a second before ty magner of the hincapie team finally hit out first and guess who was on his wheel?? Yep the green missile himself! At this point I knew the win would be elia's! He allowed ty to drag them away from the rest of the field before kicking like a mule with 200m to go on his way to yet another emphatic victory. I call him the missile as from watching from behind that's what it looked like, he picks his moment to come out of the slip stream and fly by his opposition so fast that he sucks there helmet of in the process, it's jolly awesome to see!!

So that was an absolutely brilliant day for the green machine. After our performances here in america it was one we so desperately needed and has now got our swagger and confidence back. Fortunately for us we still have 3 more stage left here in colorado so bet your bottom dollar will keep trying to replicate the enjoyment of today all the way to Denver!


Race data
115km in 2hrs 35min
Ave power 275 watts
Kcal burnt 2800
Average elevation 2000m
Peak power 1337watts
1min power 619watts
30sec power 685 watts (the average length of pull and effort required to pull back jensie!)
5min peak power 436 watts

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


It was the queens stage of the tour of colorado today and with a man whom goes by the name of King (ted) in the cannondale clan we figured it was a good omen for the green machine! We had a very simple objective today being to be in the days breakaway as it stood a good chance of arriving at the finish before anyone else and while at the end of the day that's exactly what happened, the make up of that breakaway was quite unexpected.

It seemed pretty much every team had the same idea when the flag dropped today as riders shot out of the peleton left right and centre!! With the altitude you need to do your best to just your attacks as you don't get many of them so it's a little more of a chess game than usual to enter the days escape! My tactic was to wait for something that looked threatening to form and then jump across which I did a few times and was convinced it was gone but as often happens on days like today someone wasn't happy with the moves make up and a lack of cooperation up front and a chase from behind would kill of and threatening moves. The stage was pretty simple in terrain, 1 single road! The first 50km was on the flat to the base of the the days major climb which we would ride up and over the other side, do a couple of laps of a town and ride back up the side we just descended to complete of 150km of racing. My biggest fear before the stage began was that I would shoot all my bullets trying to get into the breakaway before the first climb which rose to over 3500m in elevation and would then explode on the climb!! When I saw so many other going bazzerk for the break along with me I figured it was worth the risk as worse case scenario I would have quite a few guys for company if I failed and was spat out the back! I had no idea however just how massive that group of guys in that position would turn out to be!!

So as we flew along the valley at more than 50kmph I started to realize that the break not sticking before the climb was a real possibility. Still threatening moves were forming which you I had to be in and when one almost got away at 45km I thought beauty but then just as quickly oh oh oh!! Sure enough after less than an hour of racing on a false flat we hit the lower slopes of the climb and all the GC men whom had been saving there pins where drawn into action by attacks from the big GC boys of this year's race in ton danialson and t j van garderan. It was not the sight I wanted to see so early in the stage these boys countering the final failed attempt by us opportunists to jump clear but I had made my bed and now I had to lie in it and try and survive this 15km climb without any oxygen available that my body desperately needed! Immediately the strongest guys were clear and I was in the middle of the peleton and the break. I recovered as best I could and did my best to keep the lead group at a manageable distance while riding at a pace that I could form as many allies around me as possible. I quickly had a good sized group so just kept the pace solid enough to give us a chance to come back on the decent.

At this point I realized there was only 12 riders or so up ahead, another 20 in-between me and them and that meant more than 80 were behind me. I was instantly worried about elia as it was important today he saved as much energy as possible for the 3 upcoming potential sprint stages and what for the green machine has become the best chance of us having some success this week! I realized even if we got back on terms, like yesterday I wasn't at the level of the best guys this week so backed the chase of. I had been doing the pace setting as sadly we were the only team without a rider in the front group as our captain basso was having some difficulties with his breathing at the high altitudes. With the chase backed off elia was now able to plonk himself in the middle of the group and save some energy. You need to pick your battles in this sport and particularly as the green machine is hardly fireing this week we need to be even more precise with the how we deploy our lagging resources!

So that was the race there and there. Within the first 60km around 90 riders were out the back of the race and the strongest 15 were up front. The rest somewhere in the middle. Basically everyone was simply trying to get to the finish at there own pace, some to fight for victory, and most, to simply live to fight another day. As our whole team was in the 90 rider group we kept a nice moderate pace for all to enjoy for the stage and made sure elia was able to save as much energy both mental and physical for the coming days. Basically was a day of 2 parts, out and out aggression for the first 50 or so km, and then out and out defense and survival for the final 100 or so km. Really the big positive to take out of the day was that the green machine lived to fight another day! Will see what we can do tomorrow, hasn't been the greatest of weeks so will be working hard to see if we can turn things around quickly!!