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!!


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