Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dads Trip

In the past few weeks i have been a little bit on the go, resuming racing, visitors from aus, and enjoying sometime in italy. I resumed racing after the giro at the tour of austria. Was great to get back in the bunch and also my dad made the trip across to catch up and see me in action. I must point out how impressive it was dad even made it, on his day of departure he took part in his first marathon at age 55 and recorded a huge effort of 3hrs 4min. Only 6hrs later he was on the plane for europe so i was very greatful for the effort he put in to come watch me race. For me the race went ok, it was nice to finally be more toward the front of a field than the back again and enjoyed the benefits of the giro but not feeling as tired as usual. I just performed my usual role for the team by assisting our two leaders for race, Leo and Luis, with Leo taking a very impressive victory in stage 3. Following the race i headed home to monaco for one to give dad a quick tour of where i live, it was quick as my appartment only measures 50square meters! anyway he enjoyed having a good look around, being a big fan of nice cars and boats his one day here certainly kept him very busy taking in all he could. So after merely 36hrs here i bundled him into the car and we headed to my other european base in gavirate (40km north of milan). Dad was not complaining however as he has been hearing abput gavirate for the past 6 years from my rowing days so was excited to see the place also. The reason however for this trip was to perform my biannual round of testing with my coach aldo sassi at the mapei centre.

I always feel very much at home in gavirate, i been visiting for the past 6 years and the surrounding area is inhabited by many aussies so thats always good. Infact it has become such a aussie hub that they are building a mini Australian Institute of Sport right on the lake in gavirate. This will become the base for all traveling olympic sports teams from aus who can use the are for there training. Two sports certain to use it most are cycling and rowing so i am very excited about its completion in the new year. It will be equiped with all the bells and whistles of the ais in canberra, physio, massage, physical testing laboratories, doctor and of course accommodation, just a smaller version and also i dont remember seeing the world best pizza and gelato joints within 1km of the centre in canberra. Sorry Belconnon by the typical european town of gavirate provides the perfect town setting for our countries athletes to prepare for the olympic, world and other major events on there calendar. Also being the first aussie athlete to actually call gavirate home i am touched that the government decided bring the centre to me rather than me having to move, nah just kidding, alot of planning has gone into it an i will post some pictures in a future blog. Basically i can see it becoming a point of reference for all aussie athletes living and competing in europe which will be great.

Back to our trip to gavirate, so we arrive and first port of call is to take dad to a traditional italian restaurant for me tea. I have my little favourit by the lake and the chef marco and restaurant owner roberto never let me down. They opened my eyes to what real italian food is and how jolly good it tastes. Yes most places are jolly good in italy but this is by far the best i have experienced. Marco and Roberto have been big contributers to my fussy eating habits where i refuse to settle for a meal i wont enjoy greatly, remember if it aint worth burning the calories, dont eat it. Simple economics really, the satifaction you get from having an extra unit of somthing must outweight what you give up to have. Guess my Economics finance degree has helped me out afterall! So after a delightfull feed of real italian carbonara ( and yes it is very different to what you get in the rest of the world, one hint, no cream) a perfect steak and potatos, and gelato to wash it all down, Dad was satisfied after having the best meal of his life and he said it certainly justified him flying 20000km to come and enjoy it, and i was ready to rock and role for my day at centro mapei for physically laboratory testing.

Anytime i go to mapei i need to put asside the day, and this was no exception. The morning would be taken up with meeting my nutritionist doctor luca mondazzi for a fat mass test and some race nutrition strategy stuff and the afternoon was filled with my lab test and medical checks. So first with dott mondazzi and all was good, weight was down 1kg from the giro to 71kg and fatt mass down 1% also so he was happy. We set a race nutrition strategy so i am looking forward to implementing it in the final part of the season. Next up was the dreaded VO2 max laboratory test. Following a warm up the test starts at 100watts and increases by 25watts every minute untill you cant go anymore or you cadence drops below 96rpm. For me this time his occured 25seconds into 575watts so again good as was my best lab test to date. 550 step seems ok but talk about the straw that breaks the camels back when you hit 575, man it is just broke me so i am determined to finish it i hope in the near future. VO2 normal at 80 and all other sub treshold and threshold numbers were also up by 3-5% so professor sassi was happy with my progress post giro and post glangelor from last year and confident now that these health issues are behind me which is very reassuring. The afternoon medical checks again backed this up so i walked out of the mapei centre, dad in tow of course, he had had a great day watching me get put through the riggers of aldo, with a big spring in my step and looking forward to what lies ahead this year.

That night we went to what i regard as the best piazza joint in the world, followed of course by my number one gelato joint and our dads time in italy was almost up. The next morning we quickly threw down a cappa before hauling backside back to monaco intime for dad to make his flight out of nice back to aus. Pretty much i think form the time dad woke at 4am on the morning of the marathon to the tiem he walked in his front door in queensland at 3am 10days later he had not stoped for even 5 seconds to scratch himself, no surprizes that he has slepted pretty well for the past couple of weeks! So that was my time with my dad

cameron james wurf

Monday, July 19, 2010

looking back and looking forward

Since the giro i have been very fortunate to have a little break from racing. 5 weeks infact have past since i pushed a pedal in anger and it has given me a chance to really settle back into life in Europe. Also very fortunately for me, this period has coincided with the arrival of summer so i have been back in the ocean which is something i think Australians cherish more than most. It has also given me the chance to reflect on the very hectic start to my season and time to look forward and establish some goals for the final months of the season. More importantly i have been able to some training and enjoy exploring the surrounding roads around my European base without the stress of doing to much specific training as i continue to recover and rebuild from the first months of the season.
Alot of my thoughts have revolved around the experiences i had at the giro, where i saw myself in the race and of course admiring the feets of those animated and dominated the race. Still all be it a little biased, the way Michele fought really makes me smile and realise the work i did for him was appreciated and he showed this by his courage or grinter as the Italians call it. Second to that but perhaps almost equal was the performance of Ritchie, he was the revelation of the race and showed he was literally born to be on a bike, also along with him the victory by Matt Goss was a huge highlight and i very deserving for guy who is going to win a bucket load more big races in the future. Certainly the future grand tour success of Australia and more importantly Tassie is in very good hands with these two superstars. I hope Tassie realise just how incredible the achievements of these two truly is.
During the giro alot of little funny things happen. Firstly you stop getting tired, you are just simply tired after about 10days. From my experience what determines how you go day to day after that is all in the mind, when you wake up feeling great generally you have a good day. You wake up tired and you tend to suffer so much you wonder if you will make it to the finish. Secondly it starts to take longer for the attacks to start. Instead of km 0 everybody seems afraid to be first to hit out and waits, unfortunately this seems generally to be accompanied by it taking progressively longer each day for the break to stick which tends to lend to everybody waiting waiting as people know they have less attacks in there legs than in the beginning of the tour. Also the groups get bigger and bigger as result of this so this also tends to mean the group will arrive at the finish with a healthy gap on the peloton so therefore everybody except perhaps the top 10 on gc want to be in it. This make the initial stages of each stage harder than the start of the tour however once the break goes it is generally a pretty peaceful role along in the bunch, well in cycling terms that is, it is certainly not the same as a strole in the park. Thirdly is food. Obviously fuel is crucial in such an event so you need to stay ontop of this. I am super fortunate to have the Guidence of Doctor Luca Mondazzi at the Mapei Centre so i di not have too many diet food issues. In fact i finished the tour at the same weight as i started 72kg, however i was 1% body fat less so i managed to build some muscle which was good. The funny thing occur with what you start to crave. For me Ritchie got me hooked on Nutella and Bananna Roles much to the discuss of my very typical Italian team who don’t approve of such sustenance and also a drink bottle filled with half coke and half water. You may think this seems simple but to me this was gods own medicine during the final week of the giro. Also at dinner i stopped eating saled as i was afraid i would turn into a carrot, my hair is enough orange i think, and used this space in my tummy for extra dessert which was almost always italys version of a raspberry or apricot jam tart, i was simply addicted. Also i could never sleep properly without a camomile tea. Very simple you might say but to honest i enjoyed every meal, oh and of course i was not leaving the breakfast table without a ham and cheese omelette in my tummy, a addition to everyone on the teams breakfast menu once they saw how much i enjoyed mine. I was proud to bring this to the table so to speak! Next came the conversations in the peleton and as the race went on and you got sick of talking about cycling, you started to get to know people alot better and will be great to catchup with these people you strike up a little acquaintance with at future races and speak with a little more substance to a conversation. As i have said many times, sport is a great leveller and the giro is certainly no exception to this so naturally new friends are a great bonus from such an event. All i can say is thankgod Julia Gillard did not become PM during the giro because this would certainly have been a question asked way to many times and i am not so up to date with politics, guess its a by product of being on the other side of the world. And finally you realise how truly powerful the mind can be in convincing yourself that you are not fatigued. At the end of every stage the best advice i was given was to forget that day and start to prepare for the next. In a funny way i guess it is a great way of your mind keeping at bay how your body truly feels. I did not realise this until the end of stage 20 when i sat down on the bus. With only the time trial to come the following day and therefore scarponi being along for that one, my job was done and i could enjoy simply being able to complete the giro. My body responded in a way that i have never experienced fatigue before, it was all of sudden a huge task to make it firstly off the bus, secondly to dinner, and then when i was to lazy to change into my pj’s for bed i realised that i was simply spent. My mind had shut down and so had my body. I truly regret the now as i should have maintained my focus the final days tt and inevitably i simply had no energy, i could barely muster up the strength to warm up. I guess it is just a by product of being a domestic and having only this goal for the race however i will certainly do it a differently next time when the tt ends the race. However that’s that, there are of course billions of other things i could discuss but it would simply bore you and probably take me 3weeks to write it all down!

Now for looking forward. As i said before i have had the opportunity to enjoy some regular training without to much specific intervals. This has meant that i have the opportunity to simply enjoy riding the bike. I focused a little on dropping some weight, a decision i took during the giro where i realised what skinny realise looks like when look at some of my fellow competitors. This will inturn reduce my power temporarily however i am hoping long term it will indeed make me stronger, particularly on the climbs. With having the glangelour over the summer and being unable to ride the bike i was unable to these usually regular tasks so it is good that i get this opportunity now. I am already very excited about getting really stuck into it over the off season and hopefully starting 2011 in my best condition. It certainly has been a long slog back from the virus however i am finally starting to feel more of the sensations i had in my legs and recovery before having the virus so this is a good sign i think especially considering i just completed the giro. Finger crossed by the final 2 months of the season i will be back to my old self and that will be a very nice feeling. This period has also given me a chance to look at the type of rider i want to develope into as this season has seen a complete transformation in my role in races. I now simply perform the work for the team however i realise at time to time i will be also called upon to perform. For this reason i have tried to regain my climbing ability and as i am hoping that perhaps i can use this as a little advantage in future breakaways, also have reintroduced some tt work so i have a little more confidence that i can handle all terrain a little more effectively now. Unfortunately during the giro with all the beginning of season races requiring my work on the flats, i felt like concrete anytime we went skyward so working on this was my number one objective. I am currently racing in Austria and however my role here still being to perform the usual tasks of breaks and work and getting back some race condition after my rest, i am feeling the benefits of this climbing work so that’s been nice. Give me good motivation to stick at it when i resume more regular training after Austria.
So Next up is the brixia tour followed by vuelta burgos and tre valli verisine which is a race i am very excited about as it as close to a home race as will ever get in cycling with it being raced on the roads surrounding varese. After this the focus for our team is on all the Italian one day races so will be hoping to contribute where possible and look for some opportunities when they come along. I am certainly looking forward to the final part of the year as all the experiences i have had in the first 4 months have meant i am alot more relaxed when i am racing, it is nice having a bit more of idea what your in for as it helps me prepare for the suffering a little better. So for now it is off to Italy to the mapei centre for some testing then some training on those familiar roads of varese in the lead into brixia tour so i am looking forward to some good pizza, very hot weather, and a good gelato to cool me down at the end of the day!