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Thursday, December 25, 2014
Following the mtb adventure in the santa monica's, I ventured south of LA for a bit of a road racing adventure. Keeping two things constant, bikes and motor cyclists on bikes! Sunday's ride was something i was pretty dahn excited about. I spent a month training in encinitas over christmas new year 12months ago and had an absolute blast. I figured it was logical to follow a similar path heading into 2015. The great thing about training there last year was the group I rode daily with. Again like the mtb ride it was small but what we lacked in numbers we made up for in personality's! The regualer group consisted of MotoGP star Cal Crutchlow, cycling superstar Taylor Phinney, 2014 revelation keil reijan, future star Sean bell, son legendary motorcross star spider mike bell, and perhaps the strongest chick I have ever witnessed on a bike Jessica cerra. We would meet daily and head out for our rides. Taylor affectionately named us the wolf pack as we would patrol the roads of socal and at any opportunity go along to any group ride we could find and ride as hard as we possibly could. Cal may be a motoGP rider but I have never met anyone more serious about there cycling than Cal, he's an absolute beast on a bike. The only requirement to be in the group was to work hard, suffer together and enjoy doing! Pretty good morals to have for a group or in this case a pack! Anyways I could on and on about how cool that period was training with those guys but will no doubt have a heap more stories in the coming months so will save writing about the wolf pack for later. Where it's all leading is that on sunday the spy cycling club had there annual poker race event. A 100km 4 man Team time trial where you had to find 3 checkpoints and collect you poker deck and get back to the start finish as quickly as possible. Knowledge of the area was important as if you didn't know where you were going you got lost and took a long route. There were some 220 people who turned up to race the the teams of 4 starting 1min apart TT style. As the top seeds we started last which was a god send as we had no idea where we were going so our plan was simple! Go as fast as we possibly could all day in the hope we would constantly see and pass groups ahead of us whom knew where they were going!!
Anyways Cal has been beaming with excitement about this event for the past couple of weeks. He picked selected his team based on 2 equally important factors, firstly winning the event, and secondly having an absolute blast of a time doing it. Also for cal it has to be interesting and have a challenge involved so stacking his team with cyclists was a no go, we had to really earn it. So the team consisted of one of cals motorbike buddies Greame also from the UK who has probably ridden his bike 4 times in the past 12months. 3 of those times have been since he arrived in LA a couple of weeks ago so I guess the best way to put his condition is fresh form is good form! Besides cal didn't care how fit or strong greame was what was important was that greame knew how to suffer. Cal knew he would absolutely turn himself inside out to survive the ride and do what he could for the team and I have to say he is one of the funniest characters I have ever ridden a bike with, think Mr Bean on a bicycle!! Also let's not forget greame races in motorcross world championship circuit in europe, motorcross's equivalent of motoGP so he's probably one of the fittest guys on the planet. Ever tried riding a motorcross bike full gas around one of those tracks?? It's brutal which I was pleasantly reminded of on monday but that's another story! So while greame may not spend much time on a push bike he is fit and knows how to suffer and for the poker race that made him the perfect team mate! Rounding out the team was robin carpenter who rides for the hincapie development team. He's certainly developing pretty fast as he already has a stage of the usa pro challenge in colorado to his name this past season. He's a gem of a kid and had a massive engine so perfectly balanced out our motly crew! So that was the team, a MotoGP star, a MX GP star, a local rising superstar cyclist, and me and whatever I am! One thing was certain whatever the result would be we were going to have a blast finding out!
So out race plan was simple, full gas. We had no idea what any of the clues meant and nor do we know our way around the area so all we could do was keep catching all the groups ahead and hope they know where they are going. From the gun we were off with cal doing what a leader does best and driving it from the front! He went absolutely full gas out of the gate to set the tone for the day and from there we knew only one pace, full gas. Basically if you were on the front you had to absolutely drive it and if you were trashed then sit on the wheels and recover until you could drill it again! Pretty simple. The speed was simply race pace or as robin put it best like being in a 4 man breakaway for 100km with the peleton constantly breathing down our necks! It really was quite hilarious how much pain we were willing to put ourselves through, it constantly kept us laughing at our own lunaticness!
So we are bulleting along looking for the first checkpoint and we catch a stronger group of guys. As we had no idea where we going we decided to stay with them and offer to work with them to get to the first checkpoint. We let them sit on us as we continued to drive a ridiculous pace which the other team kept reminding us we still had 90km to go! Whatever we said we will cross that bridge when we get to it, for now it was full gas. Eventually they stopped talking to us they seemed to be battling to hold the wheel and sure enough as soon as cal saw the chance on a short steep climb Cal attacked and unceremoniously dropped them and now we were alone!! I said great one einstein now we have no idea where we were going! Cal said well I don't care I'm not letting anyone sit on us and risk towing them to the finish, every team has to be destroyed!! Anyways on our own we had to look at the card again for a clue as to where on earth we were headed. As fate would have it the glue read follow the road all the way to the gold!! I looked at the name of the street which said ranco d oro!! Boom I said this way boys! Oro is gold in Italian!! My ability to speak italian had never ever come in so handy and we were on our way to the first checkpoint and still absolutely flying.
As we barreled along the road we were so flat to floor that we were not looking ahead. Right at the last moment I heard cal shout LOOK OUT as the road was turning to gravel! We were doing over 55kmph at the time and all we could do was cross our fingers we would stay upright. Not surprisingly as soon as we hit the dirt our 2 moto men came to the fore and particularly greame. He had assumed the role of team coxwain and set at the back barking orders and simply gave all he had to avoid being dropped! Once we hit the dirt that all changed and his confidence on such terrain came to the fore and now he was doing the pace setting for us. The night before I had grabbed a new synapes disk break bike from my friends at cannondale for greame to use to ensure he had the flashest looking bike at the event. He was tickle pink with excitement when he saw it and when he hit the dirt on it was like 2 peas in a pod! One of the world's greatest bike handlers off road combined with the world's best rough terrain road bike. Again it was absolutely comical as cal and bryan tore through the dirt like it was perfect ashfelt with legs and arms going everywhere for stability and wheels drifting this way and that. Robin and I were now hanging on with grim death and desperately trying stay upright and on the road, we were well and truly on the ropes and preying for the ash felt to begin again! Oh and all this time we were passing group after group and I would be very surprised if there were not a few mild heart attacks as those 2 crazy pommy moto madman charged past specially considering the age of some of the competitors!! Yeah it was a fun club event but fun it appears for cal only happens when you kicking everybodies butt in the process!! Finally we got back on the road and that would be the end of greame's heroics! For the final 60km he would resume his role as team whip and motivation man and in the process ensure he didn't get dropped. Incase you hadn't picked up already cal is far from the sympathetic type and greame knew he was expected to suffer from go to wo and survive and that's exactly what he did.
Back on the open road and cal continued with his relentless pace. Robin and I now pulled longer and longer and faster and faster as we ripped past all the groups. We were miles ahead on time of everyone and headed for victory but that didn't mean letting up. No margin was to small for victory with cal. Inevitably after the rough road we finally had a flat tyre courtesy of my back wheel. Like the great team we had become we all stopped and chimed in fixing it. I got the wheel out, cal ripped the tube out, greame had the tube ready, I put the tube in, cal put the tire back on, and robin inflated it back up in a flash with his crafty co2 canister skills. I jammed the wheel back in and in no more that 3-5min, it's hard to say precisely, we were back on the road! Into the final 20km as we approached the final stretch along the beautiful Pacific Coast Hwy 1 cal told me to save my bullets. I was need to do the big pulls in the final straight stretch back to the finish line in encinitas. Sure enough as we turned onto HWY 1 cal ordered me to arms I went to work. We ramped the pace up somehow which seemed impossible as we had been full gas all day but somehow we did. For those final 10km I remember pushing just like I would in a race closing down that breakaway for Elia which I've done so many times. This time I was reminded by the stage in colorado in colorado springs where we were chasing down jens. There was no power or speed that you needed to focus on you simply had to push as hard as was possibly possible to catch a man ahead that you had no idea how strong or fast he was going. You knew you would catch him but a moment of complacency or loss of that urgency and you wouldn't. Well along that PCH Hwy we didn't have anyone specifically to chase but simply the desire to squeeze everything out of ourselves and put ourselves through as much pain and suffering as possible. We knew we had the win in the bag but that didn't matter, we were all in until we crossed that finish line! By this stage my heartrate was around 200bpm and I was way beyond fatigue, now we were all in that zone where you may aswell just give it 100 percent as you should have run out of juice yonks before. It was awesome, hurting that much, suffering with those guys and all in the name on winning an annual fun club event, what a way to spend a sunday!
When we finally crossed that line and handed in our cards we had stopped the clock at 2hrs 26minutes. Have no idea what that average speed is for 100km but considering the dirt, traffic lights, footpaths, bike paths, and whatever else you have to negotiate riding around the suburbs I'm pretty sure that's an impressive time for 4 dudes. Greame was as comical as ever right to the bitter end and suffered his was through surving on the train for the day and you couldn't wipe the smile of his dial. Cal was content that we had absolutely destroyed everybody with the 2nd place team some 15minutes behind even with the flat tire. Robin and I had average heart rate north of 150bpm which is a bench mark for a hard days racing. As robin rightly pointed out we have plenty of easier race days than that!! We both agreed it was the best simulated breakaway training you could ever do. After the race we sat around and chewed the fat with our fellow competitors and ate pizza and drank beer. Everybody was in ore of cal being the star he is and just chuffed he made the effort to support there local event. It never ceases to amaze me the types of people cycling brings together and also the way in which people get to know what each other is really like. It's no different with cal, all thos people watch him on tv and are in ore of his ability on two wheels but at the end of the day he simply loves riding his push bike just like everybody else. It was a really enjoyable time waiting around for the presentation just shooting the shit, one we won't and I'm sure everybody there won't forget in a hurry. At the presentation we were presented with the giant eagle perpetual trophy which put a photo off. Greame was so excited about it and insisted on being the one to accept the trophy and pleaded to take it home to sleep with for just one night. He was so excited, he's a guy that rides his bike a few times a year and is thrown in a team with some pretty decent cyclists. All he has to do is hang on but when we are going all out we go pretty fast was it was a remarkable effort by him and one he should be proud of. Greame just had a grin from ear to ear all afternoon and another reminder of what many would consider an insignificant event meant the world to us all. Yeah we are lucky enough to compete all over the world against the world best but competing is all relative. As cal showed it doesn't matter if it's at club level or world level the objective is still the same, give it everything you have to get the best possible result you can achieve. That way when you cross the line you have no regrets because you've given it all you have and you can now relax and enjoy what you've just done, win or lose. I learnt a lot from cal, robin and greame on sunday and feel honored to be apart of such an awesome event with the socal locals. Yet again I was reminded of how fortunate I am to be able to do what I do.
After all the excitement of sunday and the effort we put in monday was a designated rest day. So after putting our legs through there paces in the poker ride we decided to switch to another form of bike and head to the motorcross track. Next season cal will be riding for Honda so picked up 2 brand new crf 250's to play around on. He can't ride 2 at once so he said "Cam I have a bike for you, we are going to the track" beauty I said and why not, I'd had so much fun the past 2 days on the mtb and road bike, may aswell see what the MX bike has to offer. I raced MX until I was about 1e with my last bike being an 80cc. I played around a bit on a 125cc but quickly lost interest when rowing became my focus. So I haven't really ridden an mx bike for 15years but with all the confidence in the world I seem to apply to everything I attempt I jumped at the chance to go mx ing, specially with riders of the calibar of cal, greame, AMA superbike legend josh Hayes and his wif melissa and cannondale sales manager and MX coach steve quate. C mon pretty amazing opportunity to ride with such esteemed company and simply being with them on the same track made me think I could cut loose on the new crf 250 even though I'd ridden a 250 perhaps 10 times in my life!!
Onto the track and cal gave me a couple of laps to get my eye in and the feel for the bike. It kind of felt like cycling did at the start to me, I watched it so much on TV that I felt I knew how to do it, it was all up stairs I just practically hadn't ever tried it! Fortunately this confidence paid of and I was probably riding better than I had ever ridden an mx bike. I was riding the berms hard and washing speed of in the air where I needed to. I was changing lines in the air to better position for corners and generally feeling like I imagined it would from watching on the TV. Naturally as my confidence grew so did my speed and I chased cal as closely as possible. Obviously he was just playing with me but also providing a great wheel to follow, similar to following eric bostrom on the MTB. One thing I hadn't accounted for was how physically challenging MX was. You often here that's it's the most demanding endurance sport there is but having not done it for so long you dismiss it. Well I tell you what, it's really really taxing and after 30min I was absolutely stuffed. I kept on charging around following cal till fatigue finally caught up with me. My wrists and forearms were so sore I didn't have the strength to back of the throttle into a table top and held the throttle wide open! Into the air I went with the front wheel pointed toward the sun! At this point I realised I was in big trouble and fortunately managed to get my hand off the throttle and some how get the front wheel down enough to not land on my backside! I landed hard and cased out but fortunately stayed on the bike. Was a bit of a fright and made me realize i had to respect this sport so just rolled through a couple more laps and called it a day. I was hooked again on MX and will doing a lot more of it in the future. The mtb ing had certainly helped and I'm sure it will help the mtb. Was really just so cool using a 3rd type of bike in 3 days and having the most incredible experiences doing it. Not only did the MX day reiterate my appreciation for being able to ride a bike but more so how fortunate I am to have the group of people I have around me to enjoy it all with.
With all that merry christmas
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The past few days I have to say have perhaps been the most enjoyment I have had aboard 2 wheels. I say 2 wheels as the stories I'm about to tell cover a few different kinds of bikes. Anyways here's what I've been up to on the trails, roads, and tracks around socal lately.
The fun and games kicked of on saturday morning bright and sparky with an 8am meeting at Dave Zarbriskie's place. Dave had decided the a "mission" was required on the mountain bikes and for those fortunate enough to be invited attendance wasn't negotiable! The fortunate 4 to be invited to one of dave's famous rides were former world superbike star and multiple ama superbike champ and superstar Eric Bostrom, Local socal Pro Road cyclist and all round good guy Jessie Anthony, the owner of the world's most cyclist friendly restaurant Pedalers Fork and absolute champion of an individual Robbie the bear cub Schaffer, and finally yours truly. Dave Z rounded out the roster of 5 so was a pretty intimate group for whatever lay ahead of us. All the guys if you haven't already picked up I have the utmost respect for for not only what they have achieved in there respective careers but most importantly who they are as people. There was no doubt that the day would be a memorable one and by rides end that's exactly what it was.
I have fallen in love with mountain biking of late, I have to admit I kind of have an addiction! To be brutally honest I challenge anyone to try riding the cannondale duel suspension Scalpel and not fall in love with MTB'ing! Ok I know they are my employers but in all honesty I have had a bucket load of mtb's over the years mostly top of the range with all the bells and whistles and none have made me get the mtb bug like the scalpel managed to instill in me. Firstly the bike looks simply down right cool!! The lefty fork which cannondale have made famous instantly grabs your eye with intrigue and also appreciation for its unique machinery. So many people ask me if it was weird to get used to and I simply say if they have ever seen me ride an mtb then they know I don't have time to look anywhere else except where I'm going!! I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to bike handling and in the bush that's amplified! So no I don't notice anything different. What I see looking at it is a bad arse upside down fork just like what's on a motorcross bike. Now a days it seems every level of bike uses the upside down method but back in my day you were stuck with a conventional fork for your mini bike days from a pw50 through to the 80cc. As you progressed through the bikes you used to dream of the day you would graduate to the 125cc and have a bike with that cool looking upside fork. Well atleast that's what is was like for me. I have no idea if it's a better more effective suspension system or the in and outs of its engineering, I just know that it looks dahn cool and just like I was the day I climbed aboard the 125cc I was absolutely excited out of my skin when I was given my first lefty by my friends at cannondale. Believe it or not it not just the look that makes me love riding the scalpel, no its the feel of. Keeping with the motocross theme it truly to me feels just like riding a motorcross bike. The way the back suspension shatters under breaks and the way you want to whip the tail around as you launch of any available jump that's appears on the trails, the feel for me reminds me so much of riding the dirt bike. Through in the temptation to stick a leg out and powerslide around sweeping bends and through berms and I'm often pinching myself with the amount of fun I have on the scalpel. It's a little scary the influence it's had on me to be honest as I've noticed when I get in trouble on a technical section flying down a hill I do what I would do on the moto, go for the gas!! Yeah I go even faster and figure I'll just plow through the obstacle or the bike will look after me and cannonball over the tricky terrain! Fortunately I've come through relatively unscathed.to date so touch wood that's the way things continue. On a positive note my skills seem to have improved prtty quickly so for now I'll just keep riding my luck and trusting the scalpel. The scalpel has more buttons and gadgets than a A380 in the cock pit which is also pretty cool. Perhaps my favorite gizmo is the simple lock out mechanism in the form of 2 buttons, one for the from fork and one for the back fork. Trusth be told it took almost a month to realize what the button for the back shock actually was!! Like I said I'm not very astute!! Anyways the cool thing about these buttons is you can easily lock out the forks when climbing which makes the bike more rigid and faster going uphill and unlock them when you let loose on the wild bush trail decents. It's a really cool feature. Oh yeah and also the disk breaks! Again it feels just like the breaks on the moto and give you that extra confidence to push things that little bit closer to the edge and get a little lose and still save it!! Yeah all in all I love the scalpel, it's got me hooked on MTB ing, everyone really should try one.
Anyways back to the ride it wasn't long before we were into the wild wilderness playground in the heart of the santa monica mountain range. Dave root was pretty straight forward. Start out with ridiculously steep nose bleeding long arse climb to the top of a ridge and then 3 hours of rolling single track trials of varying gradient and difficulty to keep you onto your toes. The cool thing about mountain biking is its always a more relaxed crowd when it comes to competitiveness. When I say that I am highlighting the fact that in a group likes dave's chosen chain gang nobody cares who gets to the top first. Basically all getting to the top ahead of everybody else means is that you have to wait longer for the rest of the group. When we say we are going for an mtb ride as a group that's exactly what we mean. At all times we each know where each other is on the trail either in front or behind which is really cool. If there's ever any sort of competition that's reserved for going downhill where a bit of mucho Mano battle can go on and while it's crucially important to prove your the best going downhill aswell as up the same rules apply, at the bottom we all wait for each and make sure everyone is safe and sound.
Back to the course and this first climb was a real beast! It just went and went and went and went and seemed to get steeper all the way to the top! I rolled up it with dave z and eric and we tried our best to chat away to take our minds of the how fricken challenging the climb was. All in all it was around a 40min slog fest, basically similar to a long climb on the road except on the mtb every muscle and bone in your body seems to ache! Often being on pitches in excess of 20percent you hang on for grim death and have to keep the front wheel on the ground and this is requires your whole bodies balance of effort distribution, simply put a 40minute climb on an mtb feels like around 4hrs of climbing on the road bike, it really saps you. Once we were at the top we took a moment to take to breathtaking scenery that surrounded. Robbie and Jessie were cruising along at there own pace so I took the chance to get a photo of them cresting this beast of a hill with the picturesque backdrop. I've never really been one for taking photos but since I've been training in and around LA on both dirt and road I've really been blown away so try not to miss any photo opps.
With all 5 now safely atop the ridge we stopped for a moment to get in some tucka and have a quick chinwag about everything and everything and where we were headed on the ride. It's amazing when you out in the bush with such an amazing group of guys the conversations that happen. An environment like that for me creates such a meaningful honest and enjoyable setting that i really cherish. You have already earnt each others respect by making it through that brutal climb and that in itself forms a bond between a group of people, it's such a rare thing that cycling can create among groups of people, it's certainly forming these friendships I doing the sport I love that means the most to.
So after a quick re group it was time for the fun single trial. For the next few hours we rolled along through the santa monica's on the backbone trail toward westlake village. Due to the recent rain the dirt was in absolutely pristine condition and seemed to make your tires stick to the dirt like glue. It was epic conditions as the Robbie the Bear Cub repeatedly reminded us, the type of conditions that encouraged you to push yourself to your absolute physical and technical limit.
Up and down we went and inevitably the competition increased within the tripe. Again going uphill was more of a rest period and chance to have a good social chat as we climbed to the next hair raising decent! Jessie particularly was the one who wanted to push the pace and started making what seemed like dangerous overtaking maneuvers at the time particularly on dave. By this time however we were a group of dudes having some fun and although a little sketchy going that hard under breaks into dangerous corners, it was all in good and before we knew we were all throughing caution to the wind and cannonballing down the hillside. Fortunately no one was injured and was hilarious all the different styles. Jessie and I have a slight air of motorcross skill to our depending and all over the bike and powersliding at any opportunity. Dave Z and robbie are smooth as silk and always seem to pick exactly the right line. It often looks like there going slow and you want to get past but in reality they make it look that was because they are so smooth. Eric, well he just oozes class. Scott tedro showed me a video of eric racing his AMA superbike against the world superbike's at laguna Seca back in his racing days. Eric was giving away 200HorsePower to his competition in the likes of aussie legends troy corser and troy Baylis. On every straight eric would lose ground to the more powerful ducati and into every corner he would end up right up there rear end as they came out of it. He was so incredibly smooth that the Powerfull bikes couldn't shake him and in this particular race he finished 3rd behind Carl fogerty and troy corser from memory. Was incredible to watch. We all after mtb ing with him for 5hrs I can see how he was so dahn good. He simply looks effortless on the mtb and is an absolute dream wheel to follow both up and down hills. I would never ever in a million years have happily attempted to ride over the things I did both up and down hills had I not been follow his smooth effortless style and line. It was truly an honor to ride with eric as growing up an all types of motorbikes fan I knew who he was and was always one of my hero's so that was pretty cool. Perhaps the biggest honor I have had in my recent memory riding my bike was when eric asked if I'd partner him in some 2man mtb events in the future. He said it's important to have a good partner as you have to finish together so that was a huge honor. Not sure if he just liked hanging out with me, thought I was good on a bike, or thought it was cool that we had the same bike!! I don't know his reason but hopefully a mixture of all 3 and I immediately felt pretty chippa after that compliment. Ah the moments you have on the bike.
Inevitably the ride came to an end back where it all began at dave's. Inevitably the competitiveness you get when 5 sports nuts get together ensured and a race to dave's driveway was the unspoken holly grail for the days victor. As we rolled into dave's street we appeared to call a cease fire. Jessie had been dropped on the boulevard into dave's neighborhood after dave and I decided we would chase down some road riders and show how fast our knobby 29" inch wheels could role. Eric of course had effortlessly slipped into the slip stream and was ready for the final sprint while the ride of the day came from bear cub himself, the famous restaurant owner, Robbie. Robbie had gritted his little teeth and hung tight when daze twisted the throttle and was still in the main group to fight out victory in the sprint to the driveway. You may have noticed robbie was the only non professional athlete per say that was invited on the ride but robbie is also by no means your average restaurant owner. Robbie is famous for throwing down what is known as his grenades which as you may be able to easily guess en tale a ferocious turn of speed on any terrain with the sole objective to make everybody else his riding with suffer for an unknown period of time. The get an idea of how donating these grenades are it's literally 100percent to the point where your preying he will blow asap as if not you not far from it yourself! On the road I did 1000watts for close to 30 seconds once trying to follow one of robbie's grenades. To this day it was probably the biggest one I have endured on hidden valley road but when you look back and see the likes of Dave Z instantly miles behind in a 30second period of time you know you've given it one hell of a nudge! Anyways robbie's grenades are famous among the north LA area and he well and truly earns his spot riding with guys at absolutely every level, from top to bottom. Robbie also has the most amazing ability suffer and never complain about it. Infact its awesome having him on rides as when you think your suffering you simply look at him and immediately feel much better! The bear cub really knows how to put himself into the pain cave!! Doesn't matter what the level of riders around him or what type of terrain or what type of bike your on, robbie will never let the gang down, he's pretty much the glue that keeps our groups together, he's a real champ.
Anyways back to unofficial finish line of dave driveway. Dave and eric were sitting on the front rolling along knowing exactly what was about to happen but not wanting to make the first move. Robbie and I were sitting behind plotting our assault and ambush in a bid for glory. Dave lives on this nasty pasty drag of about 2percent and you can see his house about 500m out. Sure enough as it came into site robbie let rip and was off in search of glory. I could by the ferocity with which he attacked that he would explode so I waited patiently. When I finally picked my moment Eric the racer was up to the challenge and off we went side by side wheel to wheel! It was funny as I saw his wheel beside mine neither wanting to give an inch it reminded me of those rowing days where the bows surge in unison. Your both just waiting to see who's bow starts drawing away first. At point it felt like eric was moving but then I dug again. We blew past robbie and he gave me a cheer, unofficial teammates!! As I started to edge clear I dug even deeper and quickly had a bike length then 2. The battle had been won and by time I reached dave's driveway I had lactate acid pouring from every mm of my body. Was just an awesome end to an amazing day in the bush with an amazing group of guys. It's days like this ill always cherish and feel grateful that my life allows me to have these experiences on the bicycle.
With the ride done there was nothing but a grin ear to ear from all 5 of us. Obviously we made plans to do it all again soon and it was awesome to see how that 5hrs had made 5 dudes such great mates. Robbie and I loaded the bikes and headed of to his restaurant Pedalers fork for the traditional post epic ride feed! This usually consists of a burger or a ridiculous amount of eggs and smoke salmon, depends what we feel like. Best part is at pedalers fork all the food is awesome so it really doesn't matter what you order. On this particular day we super-sized the usuall chef burger which I will post a photo. Don't think I been that hungry for a while so needed to fill a massive hole which is exactly what it did. Through in a few to many coffee's, pedalers is famous for its 10speed coffee and you have one hell of a post ride feast. The other great thing about pedalers is so many of our cycling buddies frequent it aswell so on weekends cyclists are there in there droves. This is a really cool as then you sit around and share your epic adventures with people that probably appreciate it much more than others. I love talking you may have picked up so a good out chinwag about riding bikes at pedalers is something that never ever gets dull for me. All in all it just tops off an amazing day, an amazing experience and reminds me yet again how fortunate I am to be able to do what I do.
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014
The 2014 and final tour of beijing wrapped up today with a bit of a blast around good old olympic park. It's been the same stage for the past 3 editions of the race and like every other year a nail biting chase down of the breakaway preceded a chaotic bunch sprint. In the end it was an italian team that emerged the victor from the mele, sadly it wasn't GB from our italian but instead the classy sasha modelo from the lampre team. For me it was a rather flat end to what's been a bit of a frustrating week for me with my maneuvering to avoid a high speed crash with 5km to resulting in my rear tire exploding. I was really annoyed about this as I had done everything possible to save my energy for that final lap to help GB. At one point I managed a whole 8km look in the wheels and out of harms way with my heartrate below 90BPM. That's not so easy to do when averaging 40kmph on a flat circuit even inside the peleton. So the puncture Sadly meant I couldn't do what was planned and help position GB in the finale but guess I should be counting my lucky stars that I didn't end up with some nasty Chinese road rash so close to the end of the event. Getting through a race unscathed is always a relief and more so than usual when racing in beijing! Anyways the week has flown by in what seems like a blink of an eye and I'm now at the airport getting ready to board the plane back the italy. Will give a rundown on my 2014 experience of beijing en route to LA later in the day!
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Monday, October 13, 2014
Another picturesque and memorable stage here at the tour of beijing today. A couple of passes under the great wall and yet another perfect course for a bike race. Again there was a fair amount of challenges to blow the race to pieces but also for those with a strong set of pins the opportunity to hang in there on a mountain top finish that perhaps doesn't usually suit them so a fair course all round yet again. The stage had 6 climbs between 2-7km between the start and the base of the final 12km 6% drag up to the finish line, none of which were overly difficult but as always when the road rears upward was just a question of how hard the peleton would be pushing when we were on them. A nice small but manageable break skipped away early in the stage and our canadian cannonball GB showed his versatility by slipping into the days escape. He did a great job up the road all day showing off his condition he gained from completing his first grand tour at the vuelta espana in september and was certainly one of the strongest of the 4 being the last one caught as the peleton charged into the bottom of the final climb. Big hats of to GB as in the end he was by far the shinning light for the cannondale clan on an otherwise very uneventful day for our boys in green.
With GB up the road setting the pace for the race we all settled in behind the team of the race leader phil gil of BMC. They rode a nice controlled steady rhythm keeping the break in check but also saving the legs of there workers all day and when we crested the penultimate climb with only a flat and very fast 15km run into the final climb there was a peleton full of beans! Garmin seized the initiative and hit the afterburner's on the front and had the peleton in a long line instantly reminding us all what sore legs feel like which made positioning for the final climb all the more difficult. Krizek again did an awesome job positioning me and at the start of the climb I was in the pole position close to the front on phil gils wheel and licking my chops for one big effort to the top of the climb. Sadly this sensation didn't last long!
Unfortunately for me there were plenty of dudes in the bunch whom also had fairly fresh legs and where rairing to go at the service of the service of there climbers. The pace was absolutely franetic at the bottom with what seemed like endless lead out trains driving the pace higher and higher. This was the last thing I wanted and it meant acceleration after acceleration which I have been suffering with all week. I knew it would be fast but was hoping for a steady continuous hard I could get into my rhythm with and grit my teeth and hang on for the ride but was not to be. The ups and downs of the rapid tempo simply blew me to pieces on the lower slopes of the climb and I was shot out the back of group unceremoniously around half way up the mountain. Taking the edge of me was an absolute understatement as I wasn't even close to producing the numbers I believed I could, I was simply cooked from trying to survive the onslaught. That's the great thing about a power meter as you always have a clear reference point as to if you did or didn't meet you expectations. I have enough data to know when I was simply not strong enough like on stage 2 and today when I was simply out of juice from the rhythm of the bike race, this is very quick and easy to ascertain. I obviously need to spend a lot more time behind the car or motorbike in long periods without racing. Since my crash I have been really nervous in the group and not fighting for position as hard as I should, I little self preservation I guess. Today and this week really I got the fight back and was at all times in the right place at the right time but today the other element to being successful at this level, race conditioning left me missing the extra gears I needed. I was finally back training at my best levels in the past week which meant I was a chance here this week if the cards fell my way but in the end and deep down I know it I needed a little longer to consolidate this condition to be able to back it up in a race situation multiple days in a row. I am disappointed for sure but I gave it everything I had and this week it's just were I am at. I have come a long way since alberta my last race 1 month ago but as always I need to work very hard to be at my best and I simply ran out of time to get myself to the level I needed to be competitive here in beijing today. Anyways to be honest was a nice feeling also to simply be amongst these guys again in a big race, an experience I haven't had at all this year. I never take for granted how fortunate enough I am to be racing at this level and that's why this week I probably over estimated my ability to fight for position and race against these and not expect it to take its toll. If your going be lucky enough to race against these guys you may aswell do all you can to get amongst it as that's the only way you can possibly ever figure out how to be competitive so I am pleased I at least managed to show that again.
Anyways again big hats off to GB. He put a great ride in the break today and while I am sure it took some fuel from his tank I have no doubt It would have also given him an extra spring in his step for tomorrow's traditional bunch sprint finish outside the birds nest olympic stadium. Time for some shuteye!
Time 4hrs 10min, 157km
Elevation Gain 2700m
Ave power 240 watts
10min peak power 420watts
5min peak power 455watts
Ave heart rate 130BPM
Kcal Burnt 4000
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