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!!


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

in the rockies, always pack a warm pair of gloves!

It was a good old fashion 4 seasons in one day here in colorado today. As my good mate timmy Duggan said at the start when I ask what to expect weather wise?? He simply said in the rockies always pack a warm pair of gloves just in case!! He wasn't wrong and by the time we had covered the 170km between aspen and crested butte we had most certainly experienced all the seasons. Unfortunately for me I momentarily forgot timmy's advice as after the clouds cleared mid stage I decided I wouldn't need my rain coat that I had carried just incase of a rockies thunderstorm and of loaded it to the team car! That proved to be a mistake! Before I found that out the hard way there was plenty of pedal strokes done by the peleton and here's how things looked from aboard my cannondale evo!

Today was a strange day. Everything seemed to be in slow motion except in the first 2hrs we covered 90km! That's the point at which the breakaway finally was let loose as the teams of the sprinters decided they wanted to mop up the intermediate sprints which came during the first 60km. While it's always nice to get a big chunk of the stage out of the way in the first couple of hours, it's a double edged sword as it also means that it won't be long before the race ramps up for the fight for stage honors, that's exactly what happened today. Junior mohoric craftily put himself inside the days breakaway and with a long fast decent coming inside the final 15km he had an excellent shot at victory should he still be clear of the clutches of the chasing peleton! Sadly for junior, BMC and Garmin had plans of winning the stage and as we hit the slopes of the final climb there advantage started to plumet!

To spice things up a little the final climb of the day was all on gravel roads. Infact the first 8km of the decent down the other side would also be without bichimum which made for a few nerves in the group. Through in the fact that we topped out at over 3000m elevation and while it wasn't a steep climb it certainly through up enough challenges for the group. Through in the flash thunderstorm that would save itself for the final steepest km's and treacherous decent and it safe to say the climb was made as difficult as possible.

I started the day in a very positive frame of mind. I had felt good yesterday and made a bit of a blunder so was keen to see if I could put up a good performance today. As has often happened for me this season my best laid plans didn't quite go to plan and I for some reason was really struggling with keeping my airways filled with air today. I suffer a little from asthma and for some reason today I found myself quite short of breathe uncharacteristically. There is always a couple of reasons for this, firstly the lack of oxygen at altitude seems to trigger my attacks and secondly if I am not in super super shape which it appears I am not at this moment then I have to work a little harder to stay with the front of the race than I would like to. So with these couple of things not on my side today I decided to put up the white flag and save my pins to have a crack at some breakaways in the remaining stages. At this point we were around 10km from the top of the climb and the front group was no more than 40 riders so I had plenty of time to comfortably pedal my way to the finish. Like I said yesterday at altitude the ideal scenario is to ride at your own pace, if your the strongest in the race which is the preferred position to be in everyone has to march to your drum beat. If your not then when you choose to ride your own pace it means simply one thing like it did for me today, the front group is riding away from you! Anyways while initially I enjoyed my peace and quiet pedaling along on my lonesome up the final km's of the gravel climb timmy's advice was about to be become a humbling colorado rocky reality for the peleton!

Just as I had slowly but surely floated out the back of the team cars following the front group, a flash thunderstorm hit! Now being alone wasn't such a great feeling as it was raining cats and dogs and I had no raincoat and no team car close by to give me one! One car was just up ahead behind the front group which still contained our team captain Ivan basso and the other was 15minutes back down the mountain following the gruppetto! Fortunately the first car realized I was close by and stop and waited a minute for me to catch them to give me my jacket. This however meant that now ivan was alone up the front without a team car for support so they offloaded a couple more jackets to me and told me to wait 15minutes in the pouring rain for the gruppetto to arrive! At this point I was only a few km's from the top and boarderlining on hypothermia so I wasn't about to pull over and wait in the pouring rain as I would have most probably snap froze. I also knew how cold I was without my coat so I knew I had to get the jackets to the boys somehow. I slowed down as much as possible to see if there was a group remotely close to me as I figured ted and junior were probably halfway between me and the back group. I could see them in the distance so backed it off enough so as I kept myself warm enough to function but so they could catch up as quickly as possible. Fortunately when they finally came into clear view I could see they had raincoats already so now I switched to plan b. I figured I would find a friendly looking supporter on the side of the road and give them to them to give to the boys down the mountain so they would atleast have them for the decent! I found just the type of dude I was looking for and explained my predicament and he was more than happy to help out. I'm not sure of the man's name except he had a blue rain coat on but he delivered the jackets to the boys so need to thank him for being such a integral member of today's cannondale pro support staff!! I was now close to the top of the hill so backed things of a little more and waited for ted and junior so I could enjoy the final plunge down to the finish with some company.

Up ahead and obviously un beknowns to me the race was full of drama. The lone survivor of the days breakaway held on for the narrowest of victories following a controversial late race nueatralisation. Obviously when you mix rain with dirt you get mud! While going up hill this is not so much of an issue except you go a little slower, going down hill in the mud on skinny road bike tyres is a little scary! The race organisers decided the same so called a cease fire for the muddy decent and restarted the race when the ash felt resumed with the lone escapee setting of 45seconds ahead of the pack of wolves chasing after him with a mere 8km to race, 5km of which was down hill! The hincapi development dude by the name of carpenter must have descended like a stone in Search of victory and managed to increase his lead and at 1min 10 seconds up his sleeve for the final 2km kick up to the line. The peleton was breathing down his neck as he raised his arms in victory but he held tuff to add a super exciting suspense filled finale to a exciting stage that true to timmy's prediction at the start where anything and everything can happen in the rockies! I am really pleased for the hincapi team getting such a huge win as its been one of the standout teams in both here and utah over the past few weeks. They ride so well as a group for gang of such young guys and I am sure today's succes will ensure the team with big George at the helm will only prosper from here on in.

By the time I rolled across the finish line I was a little freezing to say the least, along with everyone else in the race! I walked immediately to my hotel room which was conveniently located only 500m from the finish and straight into the shower still completely dressed in my cycling outfit including helmet, sunnies and shoes! I cranked the hot water and sat down in the bottom of the bath to thor out. It took me a few minutes to regain enough feeling in my fingers to take the sunnies of my face, 5minutes before I had the strength in my fingers to unclip my helmet, and the shoes stayed on my feet for more than 10minutes before I pulled them off. After 15minutes I finally removed my final piece of lycra and regained a normal core body temperature! Just another amazing experience you seem to have time and time again in bike racing so to be brutally honest I am looking forward to shutting my eyes and getting to sleep as no doubt tomorrow will be another unpredictable rockies adventure, fingers crossed it's a more successful one for the green machine!


Monday, August 18, 2014

kicking things off in colorado, dumb and dumber!

The tour of colorado kicked of today in the lavish alpine town of aspen. The movie dumb and dumber was the first time I knew about this place and sadly that would be a pretty good way of summing up my performance on stage 1. Cannondale assembled a very competitive team on paper with me being a late edition. I had been keen to do this race all season however I wasn't given the green light until after utah when our young gun Davide numero uno formolo was rulled out with sickness. I jumped at the chance to add my name to start list and lined up today along side the green bullet elia Viviani, our captain Ivan basso, motorbike marunga, the German Koch, kich, salerno, and junior mohoric. It is a team pretty well suited to the race and with a sprint finish expected today we were confident in out chances with Elia and attacked the stage accordingly.

I had a very good feeling about today at the start. Elia was confident and all the boys were geed up to deliver him perfectly to give him a shot at victory. As soon as the flag dropped the boys were rapidly into action and ensured a manageable group was let loose and we went about controlling the race. All went perfectly according to plan and entering the final 15km the race was all together and only a 1km climb posed any threat to derailing our plans.

Today's course was a deceptively challenging 95km route. 3 laps with a few short but leg sapping climbs and some nice technical decents thrown in there for good measure to keep us on our toes. What makes racing here in colorado so challenging is the altitude and lack of oxygen which really means you have to measure your effort. Push a fraction too hard and explode and you simply don't recover and very quickly find yourself further back than full back. Ideally you ride at your own pace or happily follow a pace slightly less than you are capable of going however as its a bike race it pretty rare you going the pace you want unless your on the front. As a result of this and due to the lack of oxygen you are seemingly always uncomfortable. Anyways that's how it should be as its a bike race and certainly adds a huge degree if unpredictably about how every stage can pan out which I imagine makes watching races held at altitude pretty exciting.

Anyways back to bike race and the boys did a perfect job of controlling the race. On the penultimate climb the pace started to ramp up a bit so I got myself to the front and ensured the pace was nice and steady heading into the final climb to give elia the best chance of staying up the front. As we hit the final climb I was on the front and did my best to slow the group down to ensure elia the easiest possible ride up the final obstacle. Sadly the uhc team knew what I was up to and barged past and ramped up the pace sensing the opportunity to drop our missile sprinter and give there own speed demon and eventual winner keil reijan the best shot of glory. They really set a ferocious pace reflecting there belief in keil and quickly the group started to break up. At this point I was still at the front but knew elia would be in a little difficulty so started to drift back and wait to see where he and the boys were as there was still plenty of time to ride back some splits in the bunch so long as we were not to far behind over the top of the climb. This is where my stupidy kicked in and as I drifted back to regroup with the green machine I underestimated how much damage UHC had done to the group and I was quickly behind and out of the front group which I did not anticipate to be so small. I tried not to panic and look around for elia in the hope now that I would be able to ride back across but when I realized he wasn't there now I was well and truly on the back foot. Over the top of the climb I wasn't far of the back but at altitude your turbo is very limited and with bmc, UHC and garmin driving the pace I knew it would take a miracle to ride my way back into the front group, in reality with the calibar of riders up there I had no chance! That's where the the movie dumb and dumber comes to mind! I was in the perfect position when we hit the final climb and instead of sand bagging I should have simply kept my rhythm and the power on the pedals and I certainly could have made life a lot easier for myself. I was so confident in elia however that I just believed he would not far behind and hence that was my first thought. He had said to me on the final lap that not to panic when people attack as we need to simply stay together as its easiest to get ourselves out of trouble. Elia is a great captain and I always believe in him so today was no different but in reality at that moment on the final climb I should have just focused on staying at the front which was hard enough at altitude and should elia have been there great, unfortunately in the end my indecision meant we had nobody in the front and after the boys doing such a brilliant job all day we had to return to the hotel empty handed, that was one big blunder on my behalf.

While I am mad with myself on one hand on another I don't regret what I did. Yeah I blew a big chunk of time in the GC competition but my mentality always seems to be one to look out for my team mates first and foremost, especially elia whom a respect greatly. To be honest the front group was not that large so there's no guarantee I could have been in it however I should have at least tried. Better not to die wondering! When he asks for the teams the support he rarely let's them down and being apart of his victories has been some of the the best moments I have had on this team so from that perspective I don't regret my decision for a second. In reality he could have just as easily been right there and won the stage but today it went the other way. Sure on this occasion I should have just looked out for myself on that final climb but I didn't and today that backfired on me big time. I went very quickly from being in the perfect position at altitude of being the bat and quickly became the ball that smacked out the back of the bike race, the harsh reality of how the wrong decision at the wrong time in a bike race can be so costly. Anyways no use crying over spilled milk and we will just have regroup and reassess our goals and get stuck back into it tomorrow. It's going to now be a tuffer road to hoe but fortunately we have plenty of road to get it done before we get to Denver on sunday. I have to also say how pleased I am for keil. He is an absolute class act of a rider and has been knocking on the door of a result like today for years. Today his team really took the race by the scruff of the neck on that final leg snapping climb and keil showed everybody just why they did by winning the stage in such thrilling fashion, I am sure it's just the start of many big victories for him!!


Saturday, August 9, 2014

still aboard the pain train here in utah

Stage 6 here in Utah was the queens stage of this year's race. 3500m of climbing over 170km and average elevation of 2200m, it was certainly going to sort out who's hot and who's not! But days end I would certainly find out that I was certainly not! Anyways as always there is a tale to be told from every single person who got from start to finish today and here is mine.

Hard days like today there is never A shortage of riders eager to get in the breakaway and today was no exception. As soon as the flag dropped jens as usual kicked of the festivities and it was on for young and old. I was keen to be in the break but knew at the altitude I only had limited bullets so did my best be in things that looked threatening and not blow myself up in The process. I stayed calm and up the front and waited for the break to form before trying to launch across. As it turned out I had way to much confidence in my own ability or got my timing very wrong! 14 riders formed at the front with all strong riders in the group and I waited for the moment to jump. Finally when it appeared to be established I hit out from the group in pursuit of the escapees and instantly had a good gap, perfect, now all I had to do was ride across what was no more than a 15-20second gap. I started to close and it appeared the group was disorganized and not working well together which was perfect for me. Just as my spirits soared things started to go south for me. The group began co operating and now I was full gas simply holding the gap. Not to worry I thought, we had a 6km climb coming up and with all the confidence in the world figured I would just doodle across once the road kicked up. Yeah right! What's the golden rule of altitude?? Don't waste your bullets and what had i done yet again?? Wasted my bullets! While I kept the group in check they started to edge away from me on the climb, 20sec became 25 and 35seconds over the first few km's and I was tiring badly. I looked back for the first time in a while to see if the peleton was still well behind me and spotted a red jersey headed toward me. I figured beauty I will just take it easy and work with whoever it was and ride across on the decent and valley that followed the climb. Yeah right again!

That's red jersey was none other than cadel evan's! The days eventual stage winner who had blasted out of the group and decided to bridge a 2minute gap on the climb. As he approached I looked up in disbelief as to who it was. It seemed like no sooner had I first spotted him well of in the distance coming across he was now right on my wheel and coming straight past. He gave offered me a few words of encouragement to hang tuff and hold his wheel which I was able to do for a few hundred me. Then as the road kicked again he got out of the saddle and just powered away from me and I knew there and then that being strong enough to win the race today was simply holding that wheel and today I couldn't do it. I had no choice then but to put up the white flag and surrender and wait for the group. Cadel was a huge threat to the overall classification so I knew the race leaders garmin would be cranking thing up behind to reel him in or at least keep the race under control. Sure enough they gobbled me up not long after and it was quiet peleton. The start had been all out and now the great cadel was on a crusade to blow the race apart. This was going to be a day of survival that's for sure.

To use a Jensie phrase I had been pig rooting a cricket ball when cadel caught and dumped me! That mean I was already on suffer street and with 140km still to race I went into serious self preservation mode. At altitude you don't recover and I knew today there would be no miracles, Infact the miracle would be making it to the finish! To put in perspective just how buckeled I was from my failed attempt to be in the break away I didn't speak a single word to anyone all day! I would normally happily talk under water with a mouth full of marbles but today cjwurf was well and truly on survival mode. I must admit I have only myself to blame. I arrived here not having ridden on the road for 3 weeks and with a broken rib, stitches in my knee, and a separated shoulder. On day one I had the ordacity to try and ride away from the field in ceder city. Day 2 I decided it was a good idea to do 100km on the front of the peleton for a spot of training up and over 3000m elevation which seemed so enjoyable at the time. From there I have gone out of my way to spend as much energy as possible and hurt myself at every opportunity over the past few days as I knew I needed to hurt myself as much as possible to get myself in the best shape possible for the vuelta in 2 weeks time. So yeah, I only have myself to blame for how I felt today but while on one hand my efforts have all been in vein on a results front but I atleast have done all I can to keep George in the GC fight so in reality I shouldn't complain as I have actually done exactly what I wanted to do. And hey we will still have a day to go so who knows what tomorrow will bring!! One things for sure I will not be leaving anything in the tank. Also one thing I am extremely happy about is the fact that I will have the highest average power for any one week race I have done this year being around 265watts over the 7days and when you consider the race had been at an average elevation of 2500m so in other words no oxygen, I am pretty happy with how much constant suffering I have put myself through.

Anyways back to the race and as we hit the business end of the race with two 11km climbs in the final 40km I it was time to survive. I rolled myself up beside George and managed to get enough words out to see if he needed anything and that was about all I could offer him today during the final part of the race. He was all good and not surprisingly that was the last time I would converse with for the rest of the stage. I watched as George spun his skinny little legs away on the wheel of the yellow jersey as I settled into my own metronome rhythm to ride to the finish. George would go onto put in another great display on the final climbs of the day and preserve his spot inside the prestigious top 10 on GC. He certainly has been very dependable for the team in the hard mountain races throughout the season. With tomorrow's fearsome finish climb up gardsmans pass there is certainly every chance of something spectacular from him there so I am looking forward to seeing what he has up his sleeve for tomorrow.

So another extremely hard day is in the books. I must admit it's been mind blowing the intensity of racing we have maintained from start to finish despite the elevation. I said to Chris Horner yesterday after we rolled across the finish line that I wasn't surprised he won the vuelta after racing here in utah, I doubt there would be too many altitude camps that you could put yourself through to match what we have endured this week. All in all this has been a great week and in my case exactly what the doctor ordered!! Time for some shut eye and recharge ahead of the final round tomorrow.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

all aboard the pain train! stage 4 utah

Stage 4 of tour of utah was an absolute doozy today. When you stick a nasty 5km 10% climb in the first 15km there is only one possible outcome, suffering! Everybody wants to be in the breakaway and there is always someone or some team that isn't happy with whatever break forms! Well today it was our cannondale clan that missed the potentially dangerous move so it was our turn this time to make the day harder than I guess everybody including us would have liked! I have to put my hand up and take some responsibility as it was my role to be in break but after all my time on the home trainer in the lead up and pain in my shoulder my ability to attack hard out of the group is a little limited this week. Fortunately my endurance is not so bad so instead of attempting to jump across I decided to drum out a solid tempo on the climb and keep the 16 riders in check and wait for the boys in green to come up and keep things under control.

So onto the climb we went. I had 2 objectives, firstly to set a tempo that would annoy the breakaway as the hopefully make them think they couldn't get away. Secondly I needed to keep the pace as easy as possible to keep the group as large as possible over the first climb as there would be more chance of some willing helpers to assist us to bring the race back under control, safety in numbers was my theory. Fortunately it worked out pretty well and up over the climb we had a nice size grouped and once we got down the boys in green charged to the front to shut down the move. It didn't happen that easily I must stress and without motorbike marongoni and Mr aerodynamics junior mohoric we may not have shut it down at all. In a crucial moment like this it's important to stay calm as if we exploded then the group was gone and any chance for a high GC for George was gone, so not bringing the group back wasn't an option!

Having Ivan there as a road captain was absolutely crucial in this moment. At certain point where we were getting close to the group Ivan rode up and said that's go all out for 10min and shut it down. We already thought we were going hard, to be honest 30-60 second pulls of around 500 watts, but ivan said that's really crank it up. Motorbike marongoni has done this type of thing 1000 times and his next pull was absolutely amazing. All of a sudden we were heading north of 60kmph on the flat and to maintain this new tempo the 30second pulls were between 550-600 watts! Again Jensie was up the road so it's never going to be an easy shutdown but with motorbike marunga motoring along and us chipping in slowly but surely after nearly 40km of all out full gas racing we brought the break back. What happens next is always the most interesting bit as the counter attacks go baserk. This is where we really had to be on our toes as if you bring a break back you better show you did it for a good reason and not miss it again! Sure enough our road captain Mr basso himself was ever attentive and jumped in the break that finally stuck and the race finally settled down a little! That was a huge relief and by the time this cease fire occured I had average 340 watts for the first hour of racing! Now don't be fooled it wasn't like now we just dordled around the country side of ogden before we reached the days final 2 brutal climbs!! No to the contrary, again some teams were not happy with the break and kept the 14 riders at 1minute all day and with a nasty breeze constantly buffeting us there was never a single relaxing easy moment before we hit 140km and the race really began!!

While ivan was playing bunny rabbit up the road we were all back in the group looking after George. The stage was tailor made for him with 15km of climbing at above 10% coming within the final 25km. With the annoying breeze and the group in single file it meant always taking some wind in the face to keep George as protected as possible, this obviously means burning a few extra watts in the process but to be honest I am loving this week as I have been able to suffer every single day one way or another. After 3 weeks on the stationary training I have been craving the feeling and while I know I am wasteing a bucket load of energy and not really using it constructively to get results for myself, I am riding my way into my best condition the only way I know how to so I will continue to jump at the chance to burn some matches over the final few stages.

Back to the race and with the climbing about to start Ivan and his fellow escapees were brought to heel. I had gone back for bottles to ensure George had a nice fresh one to start the decisive moment in the race and kept one extra for ivan as he got gobbled up. As I towed George forward to start the climb in the best position possible I slapped a fresh bottle in ivan very tired looking hand and said well done. To use a cricket term much like Jensie the other day, ivan had played a fine captains knock.

Onto the climb and geroge was spinning his skinny little legs like an egg beater. The steep gradients that lay ahead in the initial 5km climb and final 10km to the finish suited his 58kg ringing wet figure to a tea. Once I knew he was good I started to find a pace I could handle. The efforts of the days work and perhaps the days before was catching up with me and I wasn't comfortable with the furious pace being set on the climb. I took the punt and swung out and decided to try and stay close enough to catch back on on the decent. At the top I had gambled a bit too much and after a daring decent I found myself just out of touch of the lead group. Bugger I thought, more because I couldn't be there to help George but in reality of a finish climb where the average speed was not much more than 10kmph you can't assist much, it simply who has the pins to do the job. So as I had suffered so far I figured I may aswell keep some pressure on the pedals for the final 20km and soldiered on solo in no man's land. In the end the final hour I banged out another 330 watts so was nice to bookend a pretty solid day with the same power for the first and final hour so guess a good sign that I didn't fatigue too much as the day went on. Funnily enough while I am instantly on suffer street when I need the turbo button here I can keep a nice steady pace for long periods of time so good sign that the home trainer work has done some good for me. I am sure after some rest and recovery after this week of sufferance I will have all the pieces of the puzzle to be in my best possible condition going forward. I guess also having 16stitches in my knee, a broken rib and separated shoulder its going to hold you back a little so once that too sorts itself out I am sure the old body will be feeling a lot happier about putting itself a little deeper into the pain cave!

Up ahead George was slugging it out with the big guns and with 5km to go was right in the thick of it. I he made the super selective group of the 10 strongest guys here and then proceeded to unceremoniously drop none other than cadel Evans en route to a fine 7th place on The stage. In the end I finished a little closer to the front than the back which is always nice but to be brutally honest I didn't really care on where I arrived I was simply happy with putting in another extremely hard days work in the saddle.

Here are some fact and power figures from the days race. Bare in mind the average elevation was around 1800m however I would be extremely happy with this effort at sea level!! This was one of one of my higher power days for the entire season.

Time 4hrs 25min
Average power 287watts (with zeros) 325 (without zeros)
First climb 19min 390 watts
Second last climb 18min 30sec 403.5watts
Peak 20min power 401 watts
Peak 10min power 432 watts
Peak 5min power 454 watts
Peak 30min power 385 watts
Peak 60min power 345 watts (first hour of racing)
1min peak power 525 watts
30sec peak power 675 watts
20sec peak power 740 watts
Kcal burnt 4652

You can see that I have some work to do on my shorter peak power levels, am a little to much of a diesal at the moment!

3 days to go and 3 more opportunities to feel the burn as they say, time for some shuteye, today's been a pretty solid one.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

logging some training miles here in Utah

Stage 2 of the tour of utah turned into a nice little training day for me. The stage was pretty similar to yesterday with a similar bunch sprint expected so again we within the cannondale clan had free day to see what we could come up with. The stage started with a flurry off attacks and at 2000m elevation just jumping in moves willy nilly has the potential to basically blow yourself to bits and out of the bike race. Unfortunately we were not positioned overly well in this free for all first 20km of the race and I simply had to retreat to the ropes and just try and ensure nothing to out of control got away. Sure enough 2 or 3 to many strong guys were in the group including big jens and the eventual stage winner Micheal shar so I knew I was going to have a good opportunity to do some good training on the front of the bunch today. The lead quickly jumped out to 7minutes and while it was not our teams responsibility and nor do we have a favorite for the GC, we do have George Bennett whom would like to do well in the race so I wanted to help keep the race under control to give him the best possible chance of doing well. Also it presented a perfect opportunity to put some long periods of pain back into my home trainer watching TV softened legs!! I decided to let the other teams do the work in the first half of the race and keep everything in check and then in the final 100km when the climbs began I would get on the front and work on my suntan!!

On a stage like today, 210km, average altitude of 2500m, and 3500m of climbing, you want to ride at your own pace!! One thing is certain, there is going to be no easy way to get from the start line to the finish line so you just have to find the best way possible! Added to the suffering of today was an annoying breeze which was just enough to keep the group in one long line all day and with it ensure you were never ever comfortable and always on high alert for splits opening up in the tired peleton. Basically put, it was one of those days where you never want to have to go back to the car for water bottles through fear of not making it back to your team mates in the peleton to deliver them safely! So with that all being said with 100km to go it was time for me to become the bat instead of the ball sitting in the bunch and give the garmin and belkin boys a hand to get the break under control.

You know it's a hard chase when as soon as you get to the front and show your there to work the other riders thank you! It means they are in the hurt locker and would really appreciate someone lightening the load a little. Truth be told I was chomping at the bit all day to get on the front and it had been difficult to resist the urge earlier in the stage. I knew it was a training session I needed to put myself through so I was happy as a pig in mud to be up the front with the wind in my face. From my first turn on the front I instantly felt much much better. I was finally able to ride at my own pace and the adrenaline kick you get from chasing a dangerous breakaway is a boost that can't be simulated by any training session. After a couple of good long pulls to give the other guys a bit of a rest and settle my body into a long hard day at the office the advantage thankfully started to drop pretty quickly. Firstly from 5min to 4min then after a bit of a climb and giving it some herbs it was down to 2min. I have to admit I also love the challenge of chasing Jensie down! He is so bloody strong and you know he is going to make you work bloody hard for every second to claw him back. When he surrendered with around 50km to go leaving the imperious schar out there alone It certainly puts a spring in your pedal stroke. While on one hand you do feel good I actually also felt bad as jens is here to put on a show and in his final races of his career it would be so great to see another signature Jensie victory! He still has another 5 chances here and tour of colorado and you bet your house on the fact that he won't be leaving anything in the tank in his quest to go out as he deserve to with another fine victory.

Anyways back to the race and now we simply had a 20km steady climb up to 3200m elevation and a 30km plunge down to finish line. Here I employed my safety car technique of taking the head of the field with our evergreen team leader Ivan Basso glued to my wheel. The ticket here was to ride at a pace to keep the leaders in check more for the GC as to prevent a blow out but also to get as many guys as possible over the top of the climb in the hope that other teams will chip in with some help on the fast run into the finish. Fortunately things played out perfectly and the bunch were happy for me to do my thing with basso dictating the pace from behind me we could cruize at a modest but solid at 3000+m elevation 300-330watts up the climb & at the top 40 riders still remained and it was on for young and old to try and chase down schar on the decent. We went absolutely hell for leather and there wasn't a single person in that front group completely revving way outside the race limiter which is just how a bike race should be. I was still occupying the same spot I had for previous 100km now at the head of the field just that I had a few more willing helpers to give me a breather from time to time that I was now in desperate need off. It's was a jolly exciting final 30km and in the end schar could feel us breathing down his neck as his raised his arms in victory a mere second infront of the field, after 210km of racing that would have to go down as the most well measured and we'll timed ride to victory I have seen.

In the end I was just happy to have ensured that Georges GC hopes are still alive. On top of that I really enjoyed having a good training session to snap a bit of race rhythm back into my pins. Cadel actually asked me why I was so intent on working so hard and I told him of my build up and that I saw it as a crash fitness program or get fit quick regime! Truth be told I feel like I am pretty good nick I just need to top up the race speed to go with my mindless hours spent grinding away on the home trainer and I will finally be back to where I want to be.

In closing I have to share the quote of the day. At dinner tonight I couldn't resist the opportunity to go and apologize to jens for chasing him down. Well I actually told him I was sorry but if he hadn't have been there I would have bothered riding so hard, chasing him is just so much more enjoyable!! In his typical jovial nature He said he knew it was me and said not to worry as he has already burnt the postcard I gave him the other day!! Larickan. He then proceeded to give me the quote of the day to basically sum exactly how I think every single rider in the peleton felt at some point in time today. He said to use Australian language for you wurf so you understand reallllyyyy gooood! "I felt like I was pig rooting a cricket ball"!! What a class act.

Anyways another long unpredictable day tomorrow so excited to get some shut and get stuck into it all over again.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Flying and Dieing!

Was back in the thick of the racing action today with stage 1 of tour of utah kicking of cedar city. I was so excited about pinning the number on again after the past 6 weeks of adventures that I couldn't wait to go to bed last night as the sooner I fell asleep the sooner I would be waking up on race day! So this morning I was like a kid in a candy store and simply couldn't wait for the flag to drop.

The cannondale clan here in utah is a group of dudes basically using the event to prepare for the second half of the season. Having said that that is a positive thing as without a team leader we all have an opportunity to test our legs on occasions that suit ourselves which is nice to be able to do. I guess we have a good bet for a high overall placing in the GC with George Bennett, our kiwi rock spider who has had success here in the past but apart from that we all have a carte Blanche for the week to get ourselves in shape and see what results that can deliver in the process.

So onto stage 1 and it's was a perfect stage for a bunch sprint, all be it a very hard one! We had a couple of long draggy climbs that took us above 3000m elevation but with the last 60km all downhill and basically flat it was going to take a big effort to foil the chances of the fastmen fighting out the stage finish. The stage was nice and controlled, everyone was happy for a small break to go away and ride as easily as possible at such high altitudes and it's wasn't until the plunge down hill back to cedar city began with 50km to race that things started to get exciting.

As the decent began I wasn't taking any chances. Nursing a broken bone, a separated shoulder and worrying about the 16 stitches still inside my knee I decided to take the decent on the front! I had a big chain ring on my bike to ensure I could keep as higher speed as possible and keep the front position and figured basically it was the safest spot to be even if it did require ex pending a little extra energy. With speeds touching 100kmph as we plunged down the canyon I figured that there wasn't much chance of anyone challenging me for the front positions, that was until Mr aerodynamic himself, junior mohoric flew past me in his famous aero tuck and proceeded to simply role away from the peleton. It was quite extraordinary as we were going absolutely full biscuit and junior just kept rolling away, guess you don't win the junior and U23 world titles without having a few tricks up your sleeve!! Junior proceeded to bridge to the days breakaway and as we entered the circuits had a advantage that kept the race in the balance as fatigue started to set into the peleton. Unfortunately for junior there steam ran out before the peleton's did and with 6km to go the group was almost on them so I decided bugger it, I will have a crack myself!

When I attacked from the bunch I felt fantastic, so much so that I bridged across to junior's group and kept on pedaling by. I figured there was no time to see if anyone wanted to come with me and set sail for home! For around 1minute I felt sensational until the reality of racing at altitude hit me! I had attacked with the same vigor I would have at sea level but unfortunately when you do this at 1800m elevation you have only one fire cracker up your sleeve and it has a very short fuse! Sure enough a couple of km's later I had well and truly blown my poopa valve and was heading back to the bunch at a rate of knots! I had again let my ambitions get in the way of my capabilities at altitude but better to learn that on day 1 when hopefully I have time to learn from my mistakes and do better next time. Truth be told I believed I could ride away from the group and got a good gap before putting up the white flag. For me this is a great sign after spending 3 weeks on the home trainer and riding with the injuries I am still recovering from as it means what work I have been able to do has put me in good base level physical shape at least. Suffering like I did attacking however also showed that my top end is seriously lacking but not to worry, I will get that back during this week's race, the most important thing now is to be as aggressive as I can possible be all week and this should ensure all energy systems are in place for the last half of the season.

In the end our boys all finished safely in the main field and junior was awarded the most aggressive rider award for his incredible depending skills, was truly remarkable to watch! All the boys seem to be in good spirits and we're happy to get day 1 under there belts and looking forward to doing what we came here for and look for more opportunities as the week progresses. Personally I am very happy with today, whenever I have a injury on the more serious side it's always my objective to come back as strong if not stronger than before so was relieving to do that. Again have to give all those who kept me positive and motivated and supported me in socal a big big thankyou for the massive part you played in that.

Time for a nice big sleep and then get stuck into round 2!!


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Californication 2014

Today is august 3 which just so happens to be the day I celebrate my birthday. This year marks the 31st year since my beautiful mother delivered me into this world and dad promptly nick named me PUG thanks to squashed face her saw at first sight! Its funny that though out those 31years I have rarely been called by my christian name and I guess as dad nicknamed me at birth that's no surprise! I have been called a range of things and with a last name of Wurf there is endless puns to played on that one but strangely enough in the past couple of years I have heard more Cam's than usual so perhaps mum will finally get her wish at some point and as I get older I might even be called my Christian name after all. To be honest I am pretty happy being called whatever, it sort of seems to make you more approachable as people feel like they know you better when calling you by a nickname and I certainly know that I have many people over the years that have no idea my name is actually Cameron which I always find amusing. Anyways don't know why I got on that path but guess i just would like to take the chance to thank my mum and dad for bringing me into this world and giving me all the opportunities any child could ever dream off, the have certainly been the backbone to anything I have ever taken on and will continue to be in the future, I am a very very fortunate and lucky boy that's for certain. To be honest i feel like everyday has been a birthday for the past 5 weeks so here's how I put in my days leading up to the 3rd of august 2014.

It's been a jolly long time since m past blog and there's been a few reasons for that. Firstly I was obviously disappointed to not be partaking in Le Tour this pas July but I quickly moved on from that with a trip across the ditch for some californication and reloading for the second half of the season. Secondly once I arrived in California I have been running around like a frightened cat on a hot tin roof training and when not training being apart of anything and everything that's going on about the place. Thirdly basically I have been so many exciting things by my standards that there has simply always seemed like way to much to write about so have pit off writing a blog so am pretty sure this will be a very long on so grab yourself a cuppa and get comfy if your planning and reading the whole thing in one sitting!

Once I got the news of no Le Tour I was at the airport and on the plane to Los Angeles before I even hung up the phone from the team manager. I had already made contingency plans for either outcome so wasn't about to dwell on what could have been for even a single second and was instantly concentrating on preparing for the second half of the season. The basic plan was to spend 5 weeks in California at altitude in big bear lake for a nice training block before returning to competition at the tour of Utah which begins tomorrow. During this period I had some enjoyable down time activities planned in california and due to big bears proximity to major airports and the SoCal area big bear lake provided the perfect location to do all these things as stresslessly as possible.

Big bear lake-

I chose big bear lake for a couple of reasons. Of course it's location was a big selling point and the fact that I had heard alot of great things about the place. But perhaps more significantly was the fact that it had come up as a training location of choice for my hero's of the boxing ring in all the Mayweather, canelo alvares, de la Hoya, mosely's, golofkin, sugar Shane mosely, tyson, and even tido Ortiz from the ultimate fighting clan. I am a huge fan of all these guys and have the greatest admiration for there training and dedication to such a brutal sport. Basically if they loose they in big strife! With that in mind it means in there training nothing is left to chance, seeing and studying some of the things they put them selves through is nothing short of mind boggling so I was excited to get up to big bear and check out where the boys strut there stuff. I was like a kid in a candy store as on the first day local bike shop owner derek herman gave me a tour of the boxing training grounds and where all the boys had there houses. Is was fascinating to see with my own very eyes the gyms and houses I had seen so many times over the years on the documentaries. Infect perhaps the place I had seen more often than any other on the big screen was de la hoya's training ranch where all the fighters seem to have stayed and trained at over the years. It's situated a little out of town and conveniently for me anyway situated at the base of the climb I used twice a week for my strength endurance training. I would do 4-5 repeats and always turn around outside the de la Hoya ranch so no matter how much I was hurting after each interval, I would always draw inspiration from the thought of how hard the boxing boys had trained in the gym I stared at every time I turned around to head back up the hill. Again like so many moments in my sporting career I was pinching myself to find myself in such a location and was loving every second of the suffering on the onyx climb out of big bear lake! I had to giggle to myself every time I turned around at the de la Hoya front gate as it has sign saying "please don't disturb the owners"! I am pretty sure if you simply wrote the name of the bloke who owned the place on the front gate there wouldn't be to many people too keen to go in uninvited!! 

From a training perspective big bear provided a perfect environment for what I was looking for from a terrain and altitude perspective. The town is at 2100m so ideal for sleeping. I had the lake to ride around which was 70km of flat prefect roads and From there had a few options for some climbing. A couple of climbs went up out of the lake to around 2600m before beginning to drop down to LA. The option was to drop down the back to the dessert toward las Vegas where I could be at 1000m elevation within an hour and train with relatively normal oxygen levels before doing the 12km climb back up to the lake. Out here it was around 40degrees every day as you would expect from the dessert so while you escaped the altitude you had to deal with the heat so you where always having to not only endure the workload but also deal with extreme weather elements, the perfect location inn my book for a training camp! I was quickly in camp mode and into my regimented routine. I would get up around 7:30 and head out for a nice little wakeup jog. Here I would often come across the boxers out jogging in the sweatsuits which was funny to see, it was around 30degrees and they are basically running in garbage bags! Took me back to my rowing days where saying in and sweating down were apart of my competition routine so was happy to able to finally dress for the conditions and be jogging along in my rugby league shorts and a blue bondsy! Aftera jog it was break time before heading out for my time on the road. Once I had banged out 4-5hrs I would have a little rest before heading up into the hills on the MTb for a little recovery spin and what I liked to call a smell the daisy's ride. There is something pretty special about riding in the bush at 2700m altitude which such amazing scenery and back drops around you. Basically it's far to say just like in Tenerife I simply wanted to be out exercising every single minute of every single day! This is where having LA in close proximity became paramount!

The Tedrow's-

As soon as I arrived Scott Tedrow as always was on the speed dial to help me in anyway he possibly could. Scott and his wife kimberly became absolute saints for me and where there to help me out in every and any type of situation I managed to find myself in as it turned out! The tedrow's lived conveniently 1hr or so drive from big bear so was easy to pop down and hang out with those guys when I needed a break from the solitude and thin air. Scott is the perfect dude for me to hang out with in my opinion at least!! He may have a varying view!! We both love tiding our bikes, have a passion for fast cars and motorbikes, and define a lazy afternoon as smacking a white dimpled thing around a nicely groomed grassy paddock!! Basically put it seems that at anytime of the day we are keen to be doing the same thing. Oh and though in an addiction for top quality sushi and even in keeping our tanks full we have similar priorities! What I really appreciate Scott for however is how much he has done for the sport of cycling and particularly mountain biking here in the USA. Not only that but his commitment to cannondale is also un rivaled as everywhere you look in his house there is something displaying the distinctive C glaring back at you! Not only that but he also recently opened an exclusive cannondale store in orange county and although I am around bikes everyday i happily wander aimlessly around it for hours, it's really really cool concept store. So basically Scott and his wife Kimberly are absolute legend and over the past 5 weeks we have had and incredible amount of fun and I honestly would of had the blast of a time I have had had it not been for there incredibly generous hospitality. If your in orange county make sure you cruise past sho air cycles and say hi to Scott and his team, I assure you that yo want be disappointed.

Down Time-

When you train alot and I guess potentially risk training to much particularly while at altitude it's important you also rest and recover very well aswell. After a couple of weeks it was time for my first adventure down to sea level for a little fun. My mate Brian staring was conveniently racing at laguna seca  in the world super bike championship. I had always wanted to go and check out Monterrey beach and the laguna race track so was excited to go and see him strut his stuff. I had a great day down there partially seeing how severe the gradient of the corkscrew is, it looks scary on tv let alone in real life! Couldn't imagine what it is like plunging into it at 250kmph!! Anyways as usual was a great experience to witness another sport at the top level and see the going on of the worlds top teams. I usually seem to find myself in places at motorsport events that shouldn't be in and it was no exception at laguna, I lost count how many time I got kicked of pit lane! I had to change my had so they would recognize and kick me out! I was just entrapped to see how it all happened behind the scenes so big thanks to bryan for taking me along for the ride, hahaha pardon the pun!!!

From Monterey I  jumped on a flight back to LA for my next social engagement for the weekend being the best buddies TEAM Maria event in Beverly hills. I am really proud to be apart of the best buddies foundation and have nothing but a massive amount of fun whenever I am with the buddies clan. this evening was highlighted by meeting none other than Maria Schriver herself and having a bit of a chat with her. She was a lovely lady and I am looking forward to catching up with her for a spin sometime soon on he flash new custom painted cannondale! The other highlight if the evening was meeting mini me himself, Verne Troyer, whom I gave one of my team jerseys to. He is such a character that his response was "gee man I will be able to wear this thing as a nighty when I go to bed" drawing attention to the fact that he probably doesn't have that similar shoulder width and torso Hightower as myself!! Still was a remarkable dude and certainly an honor who definitely doesn't let his physical limitations stand in his way to do what he wants, a great reminder to us all able bodied ones out there of just how lucky we are. So after a jam packed full weekend of sport, fun and recovery, it was time to get back to the big bear stomping ground for the next block of work.

The Crash-

I was absolutely champing at the bit to get back to work after enjoying my few days of active recovery! I got straight back to work and now acclimatized to the big bear altitude I was able to start ramping up the intensity a little. Monday morning I was out on the running track and feeling chippa as could be, I was sprinting along and took this enthusiasm onto the bike. I grew session was followed by the recovery MTb and massage to finish the day and couldn't have been happier with where the condition was at and how preparations were coming along. Not surprisingly as the sun rose on Tuesday morning I hit the day with same enthusiasm!! I headed down to the dessert and gave myself a hiding before refueling and readying myself for the Tuesday night world championship group ride in big bear! Every town in socal seems to have a Tuesday worlds and big bear is n exception and the locals loved putting me to the sword so I loved tuesday nights! Unfortunately this was when my best laid plans and preparations Almost came to a dreaming standstill!! Well actually that did but fortunately only momentarily.

We were as usual having a great evening ride and had stopped for our mid ride breather. I was a little slow to get going again due to a shoe buckle adjustment that didn't need to be made and as I rolled off was looking up ahead to see the group and make sure I was headed in the right direction. No sooner had a spotted big Ray's helmet to see which was to head I found myself laying face first on the Tarmac!! I had not been looking at the road as I gazed into the distance for the group and had rolled straight into a rock the size of a football laying on the road! As soon as I hit the ground I knew it wasn't good. My shoulder was dislocated and my rib was broken. As I slowly used my good arm to lift myself up a spotted alot of blood on the road so new there was a big wound somewhere on my body. I quickly felt my face and was relieved that it was unscathed so decided to worry about where it was coming from once I was up on my feet! I slowly got up and when I looked down at my bike I was really annoyed!! I had a flat tyre from hitting the rock!! To rub insult into injury I had to repair a tyre before I could pedal off anywhere! Funny when you are standing there with a dislocated shoulder and broken bone and blood oozing from a wound in you knew that the only thing you are actually annoyed about is the fact yo have a flat tyre!! Anyways first things first and that was to pop the shoulder back in as quick as possible. I had never had a dislocated shoulder before so never been through this pain but had seen how it works on the movies plenty of times so gritted my tweety and swung my arm back and few creeks and cracks later it seemed to be pretty much in the right spot again. Next was pick up the bike and fix the tyre which I did very quickly as I was so annoyed at how stupid I had been. Once underway I had a look down at my knee and could see the kneecap so knew it was a little deep so figured I needed to tend to that. I strolled into the nearest servo and brought a first aid kid and went about cleaning myself up and ensuring it was sanitized to insure no infection, wounds that deep can be a little dangerous. I was lucky I had the broken rib and separated should as the pain in my knee seemed to numbed by everything else and honestly I was just happy I could pedal normally, meant no broken bones in my lower limbs. I could now happily finish off my training session which by the time I rolled home was 8+hrs and although quite the wounded man I had the satisfaction that I had got as much as possible out of my last ride on the road for a couple of weeks. On the ride home I had already planned the next 2 weeks on the home trainer and how I would continue working and not lose any condition. Infect by the time I had ridden in this state I had convinced myself that this was actually a blessing in disguise and that 2 weeks on the home trainer was exactly what I needed to be doing, the actually had merely ensure that that was exactly what had happened! Yes I agree us cyclist are a Brett cookoo bunch when it comes to pain and injury! I cruised past the pharmacy on the way home and got all the medical supplies I needed for the night to keep everything clean and protected as I knew I would need to make a trip down to surgeon in the morning to get my knee other back together. Once home I called my Californian knight in shinning armour's, the tedrow's and sure enough they knew exactly who to call and everything was organized for me for the following day to get the best care possible. When I got up the next morning I knew I wouldn't be training for a couple of days while the stitches settled so I did my planned recover ride of 1 hr on the home trainer before I jumped in the car down to orange country and to dr hernandez. 

Once I arrived at the doctor's surgery Kimberly and her motherly instincts had kicked in and she was waiting for me to ensure I didn't have to feel alone with a new doc! Just another example of how jolly wonderful the tedrow's are. After we exchanged pleasantries the doc quickly diagnosed me with a separated shoulder and a fracture to the outside of one of my left ribs, exactly what I had told him as he made the point of saying don't know why we bothered turning the ultrasound machine on to check!! I am pretty good with assessing injuries. The next thing was the wound to the knee and this required some serious treatment. Firstly the doc had to remove a rock from deep inside which luckily had not caused any infection. Next he began to piece what flesh was left together which by the time he finished involved 3 layers and a total of 20 stitches. So now once I was all pieced back together he said I would prefer you didn't ride today to which I responded "it's ok doc I knew you would say that so that's why I did my session before I arrived"! So now I had already planned 2 days of complete rest to recuperate and great fully the tedrow's insisted on me doing my rest at the snazzy dazzy homely home.

R n R-

With two days at my disposal I was able to catch up on alot of things I had neglected over the past 2 weeks. Firstly rest!!! And secondly taking my buddy John hatchet up on his offer to come and check out the criminal minds set at the studios. I am not the best patient and while I realize I need to rest I also view being mentally fresh as an equally important component to the recovery process. With that being said I headed out to paseadena to check out how they make one of my favorite tv shows. I had an absolute ball and everyone out there was incredibly welcoming and friendly. Not surprisingly I have since gone back and plan on spending alot more time with the guys at seasons end which is something I am very excited about. There are plenty of bike fans out there and even rowing enthusiast's so was easy to strike up a good conversation with almost everybody and everybody on the show. Shemar is an absolute larikan and also owns a cannondale which makes him extra cool so looking forward to spending some time cruising the boulevards with him in the off season. Mathew is surprisingly just like he is on the show, very very intelligent and aj, well aj is a very very nice bird indeed! John had me in and amongst everything and now he doesn't even bother trying to babysit me, after a couple of trips out there I know my way around and know most of the staff so happily make a nuisance of myself. I have to really thinks the criminal minds gang for providing me with a perfect mental distraction during the past couple of week recovery period as when you spend so many hours on the home trainer you need something positive to think about!

Back on the horse-

So after a couple of days of rnr it was time to get back into it. I spent the first 5 days just feeling out my body as to how much intensity it could handle on the home trainer and by day 5 I was back to almost normal intervals. In the first week I logged 25hrs on the trainer and in the second 27hrs before I was given the green light to return outside last week. Many people gasp at the idea of spending 3-5hrs pedaling away in one spot but I actually love it. I simply break it down into tv shows. I watch a criminal minds episode or 2 to warm up and then switch to the music channel for intervals. Then for extend periods in between workouts or cooling down I watch ESPN news or more criminal minds episodes and you would be amazed at how quickly even 5 hrs can flash by. Also I always feel a great satisfaction from training for so long on the home trainer as when you have finished you can proudly say I actually pedaled for every single second of that 5hrs! Sure once I finally got let loose again on the road last tuesday I was a little rusty but after a recovery day spent hanging with my new buddies down at the criminal minds set I felt tickedy boo when I resumed hill climbing intervals for the final hit out before Utah on Thursday. Friday the doc pulled the top layer of stitches out of my knee and complimented me on my healing power. He didn't tell me at the time but said he though I was dreaming when I told him I would be all set to go in 3 weeks for the tour of Utah considering my injuries, he jus figured I would find out the reality in my own time! Anyways fortunately I followed our plan and everything went to the script so far so I will be on the start line tomorrow with his blessing. I am pretty confident when it comes to recovery the mental aspect of things plays a major part in the bodies ability to bounce back so am pleased that I found ways to keep both body and mind fresh and positive in what could have otherwise been a difficult period! To be honest at the moment the only thing that worries me is my shoulder. That's a recovery that can be rushed I am finding out. That will be sore for another couple of weeks so will have to learn to manage that this week but it should be 100% for the next major race I line up for in august being the vuelta espana so long as all the recovery continues to go to plan this week in Utah. 

So with all of that behind me I am on the eve of returning to the race track. As always there are so man unexpected things that can go in during a cycling cycling and it's important to find ways to duck and weave and navigate the best path through them. The last 6 weeks have been no different and while there was many times where the wheels could have fallen of the cart so to speak I have to thank the wonderful people being the tedrow's, Derek Herman, the cycling community at big bear, moto man Bryan staring, dr hernandez, and of course John hatchet and the gang down at criminal minds for keeping me sane quite literally both on and off the bike. You guys have all been amazing and once again like seemingly every trip to socal I have had an absolute blast and rebooted and fired up for whatever lies ahead! Oh and of course can't wait to get back there for a little more fun in the sun at season's end! Yep the past 6 weeks every single day has felt like it's my birthday!!