Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Festive Season

Travel has pretty much occupied most of my recent weeks. I had the privilege of attending my first training camp with liquigas cannondale in sardenia which I can say was quite a thrill. Like most of my days on the bike it was a huge learning experience and also a great opportunity to get to know all my new team mates even better. We were relieved of camp duty on the 22nd December which left me just enough time to get home to my beautiful girlfriend jess and our dog tasha for Christmas. Next stop was one of my greatest mates, Matty Ryan’s wedding on new years eve and a couple of relaxing days in Sydney with jess. Home for a couple more days then off to the first race of the season, the nationals road race, then home again for 3 days and I am back on the plane en route to my first outing at the Tour Down Under and first race with the great Lance Armstrong in Adelaide. Luckily I have managed to squeeze in a few days on the bike in amongst all that so I hope I enjoy the race!!!!

I arrived in Sardenia full of excitement, seeing all the new equipment for the 2011 season was very very cool and of course the opportunity to meet the staff who will be supporting us throughout the year was great to spend some more relaxed time with them. There was some very sad news to begin the camp with the passing of cycling matriarch, Professor Aldo Sassi. Aldo had been battling cancer since march and his passing has left a massive hole in the cycling world. For me personally it was a very moving time, the reason I was on the team was because of aldos guidance and his desire to see me along side his favourite athlete Ivan basso. Ivan was also the person whom broke the news to me at 6:30am when we met for our gym training. It truly is very difficult for me to put into words just what a huge impact he had on me and I will forever remember his teachings. I will do a future post about aldo’s amazing contribution to the sport of cycling. My days at the camp started at 6:30am, I would role out of bed and head for the gym. 100min of gym under my belt and it was time for breaky. Breaky is my favourite meal of the day and I must admit having after weights gave me a whole different love for it. I really felt like I had earned my daily ommlette, nutella and jam roles, muslie with yogurt, and a couple of cups of italy’s finest coffee. I was the last to leave breaky every morning. Next was time for the bike at 10am and between 3-5hrs was on the menu each day. Pretty relaxed tempo as for most it was our first training sessions on the bike following end of season breaks so rebuilding was the theme of the camp. Lunch was on the table between 2-3 and I enjoyed plain pasta most days with a wide array of vegies and meat mixed in. Italians seem to love heaps of plates of individual foods but being an aussie I simply get a bigger plate and pile all the small ones onto 1. Top it off with half a kilo of parmesan cheese and a bottle of Italian olive oil and every days meal was yum yum. Enough cheese will make any meal taste great. The next appointment was yoga for 1hr at 5, follow this with massage and it was 8pm and time for dinner. For dinner I usuall had a slight variation of the same concoction I had for lunch but pizza’s also appeared on the menu a couple of times and they were delicious. Post dinner all the riders mingled in the bar for warm drink and unwind and I was in bed by 10. This was pretty much the routine for every day, there was the occasional testing and also media obligations but apart from that very structured and regimented which is exactly what I love. As far as the ins and outs of the camp go, testing was pretty routine. We did the usual 25watt step increments every 1min until exhaustion, I completed the 550watt step which was 1 step or 25watts better than my previous tests for this time of the season so a good start to the season and an indication of what a grand tour will do to your base condition, excited to see where I can get to during the season. The next test we completed was the one made famous by lance Armstrong where he reached an amazing 6.7watt/kg at threshold. This test is performed by riding up a 1.5km climb taking roughly 4min and having you blood lactate level tested at the top. You then decend down and repeat the effort and continue this routine until your blood lactate reaches 4mmol. To do this you start at a low wattage depending on your weight and increase by 30watts each repetition of the climb. It was the first time I had done this type of test so I was interested to see the results. The results are quite important as they determine your training zones for interval work during training. I was about 6watts/kg so a long long way from lance so have a lot of work ahead of me. Interesting exercise none the less. As I said before training was pretty relaxed. One day however basso asked me if I would like to do a couple of extra hrs with him. Again this was at gentle tempo but he just felt the need to do a little extra as I also was happy to do. This gave us the opportunity to have a good chat and get to know each other and also do a bit of race rehersal for my domestic duties later in the year. I think on this day he may have not eaten enough breaky and seemed pretty hungry, hungry enough that he cleaned me out of energy bars and had it not been for the long decent back to the hotel I would have most likely been on the straving train with him, was nice to see even the greatest of riders sometimes miss judge the calorie intake from time to time. Good thing was the expedition which got us lost on a few occasions brought us closer together and I hope that it helps us build a good working relationship for later in the year. The camp was certainly a great experience and gave me a different perspective on the sport.

Next was rocketing home to aus and I gratefully avoided the snowed in flight delays out of Europe and arrived in Hobart on time on Christmas eve. I spend Christmas with Jess’s family and Is always a pretty wild time. An annual water fight is usually undertaken with the neighbours but after we borrowed the local fire brigades truck last year and consequently won the annual battle hands down, this year our opponents surrended without a fight so will have to wait till next year to restore hostilities. Anyone who has had the privilege of eating a meals at the Wades (my girlfriend jess’s patents Pete and Jenny’s home) knows how great the cuisine is. Well Christmas is stepped up about 3 notches and I don’t even try and restrict myself from indulging in as much food as possible on Christmas day. Every calorie that goes in my mouth from jens kitchenat Christmas is well worth the extra work on the bike to burn off. My favourites being the turkey with plum sauce and of course jen’s flagship dessert the toblorone cheesecake!!! Umum um, also jess’s pavlova is a sight for sore eyes and gets a good workout aswell, I cant ignore the way in which the days begins with jess’s sister lanny’s exquisite eggs benedict. I am certainly full of energy on the 26th December when I saddle up for training. Yes Christmas is always a wonderfull time of year at the wades residence.

News years eve brought a very exciting celebration of its own this year with the marriageof my great friend matty ryan to his beautiful bride Sara. They had a great wedding on a farm in Windsor just outside Sydney and was great to catch up with all my old rowing pals as well. The ceremony was very nice and the food great I must say that the giant bowl of mm’s post dessert was something I have never seen before at a wedding and was huge success. Might I add seemed to help prevent a hangover!! Special mention must also be made regarding the exceptional poem composed by Matty’s best man Oliver Zuk. If anybody is looking for a poet to capture a relationships development using a wide array of sporting facts then this man is the best in the business. It was a great night enjoyed by all and everybody was very excited for the new Mr and Mrs Ryan.

After a couple of days in Sydney with jess I jettet home to get back on the bike with the first race of the season rapidly approaching. The nationals always starts my season and is a great event to partake in. I love the atmosphere of staying with TIS (Tasmanian Institute of Sport) group in a good old fashioned Australian motor inn. It takes me back to my rowing days of these trips with the Tassie crowd and look forward to it each year. The race this year was not so great for me. It was my first race in 5months and it certainly felt like it, I suffered very badly after the opening laps attacks and surges and realised that also not having done any motor pace for over 6months I was starting a bit behind the eight ball. I suffered on and finished the race as it was crucial prep for down under being my only race and hope within the next week I feel the benefits from this pain. It is funny no matter how many times a season you smash yourself in a race, the first race back each year hurts more than you expect it too. Well good thing its now behind me and I hope to get stronger from here on in. Very impressive performance by Jack Bobridge with the solo victory and Matt Goss coming so close for Tassie in 2nd. Matt Goss is going to have a very impressive season i am predicting.

So that’s been the wrap of my goings on. I have now arrived in Adelaide and am pretty excited to be here for tour down under. We are pretty spoilt staying in the Hilton and having short commutes to stages and shorter than normal races so I hope it’s a very enjoyable and successful week for the boys in green being my liqugas cannondale team. Now I am off to bed

cjw