Tuesday, September 8, 2015


So far this year I've given pretty much everything and anything a go that involves the use of a bike. In January I was riding a dirt bike with my Moto GP buddy Cal Crutchlow. The national championships and Herald Suntour ensured I didn't dodge road racing entirely this year and the Oceania TT championships kept my touch with getting aero. February also saw me line up in my first ever MTB race on a scorching hot Tassie Arvo out at Telosa St. In March I was back in California and I decided to through my leg over a triathlon bike and have a crack at the half Ironman in Oceanside. April was time to take part in my first ever gravel grinding event again down in socal with the Belgium Waffle Ride. Come May,  my crazy buddies the Morton brothers and Taylor Phinney talked me into joining them on a five day bike adventure from Boulder to Moab. Again it was the first time I'd partaken in such an journey and again and on an entirely new bike for me, the cyclocross/mtb Cannondale Slate. So by the beginning of June I'd pretty much had a go at all things bike related and realized that being part of the Ridebiker Alliance was perfectly fitting for me. The first half of the year had clearly shown that I was not one of any of the type of riders I've mentioned above, I'm pretty average at all of them. Fortunately Scott Tedro's daughter Kinsey came up with the term "RideBiker" so I didn't need to pretend to be any of them, as a Ridebiker I could be all of them. 

So what is the RideBiker Alliance? It's actually a very good question as although I signed up as a member back in February it took me sometime to really understand and appreciate just how awesome this concept is for anyone and everyone that simply loves riding bikes. There are absolutely zero barriers to entry, you don't need any bike licence or club membership, and you certainly don't have to be of any particular standard of rider. No, this is an initiative that's designed to have a membership of all walks of bicycle life and six months in that's exactly who's signed up. 

In a nutshell the RideBiker Alliance provides a platform to create your own cycling gang and its individuality whilst also being apart of an ultimately world wide cult being the Alliance. Your gang might be yourself, it might be your existing club you're already a member of, it might be a new group you want to start up with your buddies, it can be whatever you want. This platform allows you to create and design you very own kit that allow even the most un fashionable designer of us to feel like Giorgio Armani. Just some minimums and paperwork necessary, but from then on, you're good to go and start designing kits.

Once you're happy enough with your kit design to have it put into production, your very own eStore is created for you. This is where things get really cool as now you're able to order your kits from the eStore and there's no restriction of how many or how few or what size combination of kits you wish to order. Not only you or your fellow gang members can order there kits, but anyone else who's apart of the RideBiker Alliance can also order your kit from your eStore. Now that's unique, simply by signing up which costs you zero you all of a sudden have your own online cycling clothing store! Don't know about you but I certainly didn't have an online bike kit store before I joined the RideBiker alliance. Well, I do now and I think that's pretty dahn awesome!! So with your kit designed and orders now able to take place you simply sit back and wait a few weeks for your pride and joy of cycling fashion designing to turn up in the mail.

The opportunity to sell your own kits to anyone and everyone who wants one without all the complications of collecting orders and money yourself aren't the only benefits of your eStore. The store is designed to provide you a platform to believe it or not be exactly that, a store. Rebates flow to your store as more and more kits are sold. This feature presents the opportunity for your gang to go out and search for sponsorship for you kit as if you're able to sell any, potential backers may be more enticed into supporting you knowing you have a following. Here you're basically starting to become a miniature version of the massive big World Tour teams whom survive on the investment of sponsors that base their decision on how much return they see for that investment. No different for your RideBiker Alliance if that's a path you choose to take, who's knows where that could take your gang, again I think that's pretty dahn cool. 

Now as I've said your eStore is exactly that, your very own eStore. You are not limited to only selling cycling outfits, oh no no no, you can design and sell any range of merchandise. From baseball caps, to t-shirts, socks, the full range of lycra body covering accessories available, drink bottles, you name it. If you can put your logos on it or design something you can sell it! You could even design and sell your favorite coffee drinking mug for the all important pre-ride brew. As the RideBiker Alliance grows the range of products that can be sold on your eStore will grow with it which presents it as the perfect opportunity to use this free platform as a vehicle of creating something quite significant for your alliance moving forward. If I sound excited about this part of RideBiker Alliance it's because I am. As I said it's taken me a while to really understand just how many awesome aspects they have built into this model but I get it now and it's really really rad!! Just in the past two weeks I've added the trendy little triathlon suit Sugoi whipped up for me for Ironman Whistler. I've also had some fun modifying the initial jersey design and that's also now up on my site.  My tri suit was another modification of that initial jersey so once you're happy with one design it's super easy to use that as your template for other articles of clothing. So so so so so so so easy, awesome! 

Just writing about this has given me another idea of how the RideBiker Alliance could present an opportunity. Say you're a budding cycling clothing designer and you fancy yourself as being able to take over the lycra world. Instead of going to a manufacturer and having to design your kit, order a minimum number, and pay lots of money, you can join RideBiker. By simply joining you can design your kit, order as many or as few as you like, and have zero risk. You can then sit back and see how amazing your designing skills are by seeing how many people want to buy them and if it turns out nobody wants it and your design sucks it doesn't matter, design another one!! It's a perfect way to potentially kickstart your own brand or style of lycra design without investment risks that usually need to be taken. Risk free investment as the say and better still in this case there is basically no investment other than your time! 

The importance of signing up the RideBiker Alliance in the first instance is also of note. By becoming a member your not only gaining access to all the advantages of having your own eStore but also the honor of being part of the Alliance. The Alliance is quickly becoming like a cult in domestic cycling with all the weekend warriors who are apart of the movement feeling a sense of camaraderie at local events. Although from different clubs, simply carrying the shield you feel a connection with people whom you would normally not have any association with. It basically breaks down another barrier encouraging socializing in our wonderful sport simply by mutually carrying that shield on your personalized kit. The shield creates a reason for you to reach out and say howdy at local events where you'll find the majority of RideBiker Alliance members. The alliance is another fantastic avenue to expand your riding social group and community which I certainly enjoy doing. 

The Alliance itself has taken the "support" aspect of the RideBiker Alliance to an even higher level at selected local events. This year they had on-site mechanics at all their US Cup and Kenda Cup MTB events. I found out first hand how awesome this was as I decided to go along to a couple of local mtb races in SoCal. Derek, the mechanic on duty for the events couldn't have been more helpful with making sure I didn't go racing until he'd checked and double checked my bike for me. If that wasn't enough he even washed it for me after the race which he did on his own accord when my back was turned. I went in for a shower and came out and my bike was clean! Now that's service, I didn't even ask. He also had a selection of racing nutrition there for RideBiker members in case you forgot yours so basically you were being looked after like you where a pro mtb racer. I'm lucky enough to have that treatment with my road racing career but to have the same at a local MTB event simply for being a member of the RideBiker Alliance really knocked my socks off. That was a fringe benefit I wasn't expecting but also having now witnessed more first hand how Scott Tedro does things I'm not entirely surprized, the guy's a bit of a weapon, that's for sure.

I could go on and on and on about the RideAiker Alliance but my thumbs are getting sore from typing all this on my Blackberry. I strongly suggest if you've taken the time to read this then go to the website and sign up, it's FREE to do that!! While you're there check out my eStore and get an idea of a design that I sell not very many of!! At least you'll have more of an idea of what not to make when you're designing your own!! Anyways I don't care, one thing I'll never be is a fashion designer but I've had a blast designing my gear. Who knows, with Kona coming up I might even need to come up with something a little more Hawaiian for the big day! Rightio enough from me, I'll be proudly rocking my RideBiker Alliance shield on my kits, hope to see a few more on bodies on bikes in the future!!


Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Telstra Mobile network.

Monday, August 10, 2015

All that's to love about bike racing!!

In the past 24 hrs I've witnessed some of the most enjoyable cycling watching on the television ever. It began last night at dinner at LA cycling institution pedalers fork in calabasas with my great mate robbie whom also owns "the fork". On the tv was coverage of the days world cup downhill racing from windem in new York. I've got hooked on the downhill this year and know all the main dudes and love listening to dave warner go ballistic on the mic genuinely appreciating an awesome run by any rider, you really makes you feel each and every bump. Also having done some more mtb this year and even a little DH, not at the craziness of the pros let me stress!! But I've got a whole new appreciation for what incredible bike riders these guys are. Absolutely full gas from go to woh on the edge of catastrophe each and every section of the track, it's simply insane. You never know who's going to win, sure there are the big guns but until they cross the line anything can happen which adds the suspense and excitement for dave warner behind the mic and all the viewer. Yesterday's round was no exception and to see the local her Aaron Gwinn get up for the win and although he beat the aussie's in the process was a fitting way to end another action packed round.

Fast forward to this morning to this morning and on my way home from the gym I called into pedalers again for a quick coffee. At the bar of course I find my pal robbie and local legend Mikey G sitting at the bar watching the cross country world cup race live on tele again from New York. I was planning on a quick pit stop so grapped my coffee, I'm off alchol at the moment, and plonked myself down at the bar to drink it with the boys. Sure enoung the excellent coverage on redbull tv along with the world class gladiators of the sport sucked me in and I wasn't leaving till long after my coffee was finished and the race had been run and won. Again it was enthralling, a three way battle between the biggest guns of XC in Nino, Absolon, and cannondale's very own german maniac Manny fumic!! Left a clear pair of heals to the rest of the field and played out an epic battle for the top step of the podium. XC I've learnt is an extremely demanding event where the tactics seem simple, go as hard as you can for as long as you can and try and do that for longer than any of your rivals can and you should win! The coverage was so good today you could see exactly that, even on the most techniqual downhill rocky sections the boys were racing like moto go dudes seeing who could stay off the breaks longest and take the riskiest line in search of the day victory. In the end Manny lost out due to his courage and dumped it after a daring downhill overtaking manouver and would leave it to Nino and absalon to fight it out for the win. With Manny distanced Nino and absalon went Mano o Mano until one couldn't take another blow and in the end Nino would take the win thanks to showing he perhaps had the biggest set of swingers in the race and taking a dangerous all or nothing line in the rock steep downhill rock garden to distance absalon once and for all. Nino took and incredibly impressive victory, made even more so by the fact he had a flat tyre earlier in the race and had to chase back to the front, all just added to the drama of a sick event. Perhaps the coolest part of it all was the admiration and appreciation the top 3 guys had for each other knowing they had thrown everthing they had including the kitchen sink at each other and the best man had won. It was a great sign of sportsmanship amount the top guns of the sport embracing each other accross the line, each from different teams, each with different sponsors and obligations, but each genuinely appreciative of what they had put into the race. An hour longer than my planned 5minute coffee stop I finally left pedalers for the sofa and TV intime to watch the final stage of the tour of UTAH. 

When I flicked on the tele the boys were lining up for the final climb. The boys in green argyle ‎were lined up on the front protecting Joe dombro and he's race lead. Was great to see the cannondale guys up where they belong at the front of the bunch after what's been a tuff season for the team. As expected however once they hit gardsmans pass the field completely detonated with a little help from lachie morton and his jelly belly boys! Have to admit was awesome to see lach giving it a nudge, he made it brutal from the start and while it ultimately lead to him blowing his noodle halfway up the climb, like the true warrior he is he was back at the front of the field once they crested the top of the climb. It's been awesome watching the emergence of micheal woods, I'm not surprised in his rise up the ranks this year, it's commonly known how strong your legs become from running and he certainly has an x factor that's going to bring him a huge amount of success in years to come. To ride a bike fast is impressive of course but to be one of the fastest runners in the world at any point is absolutely huge!! Pretty much everybody on the plannet knows how to run and to reach the top 50 in the world shows you have some serious athleticism under the hood so was awesome to see michael showing that off in utah this week and today on gardsmans. Joe looked like yellow belongs on his shoulders and seemed as cool as cucumber all day. It won't be the last time he leads a major tour or wins one for that matter, it's uncountable that he's certainly a genuine future Grand Tour GC candidate in years to come, very exciting that he's on a cannondale!! Even isolated on the climb he showed maturity well beyond his young years and was clearly the strongest and worthy winner of this year's race. If the confirmed startlist for the vuelta wasn't enough for you then it's certainly worth turning on the tele to see what Joe can do when the race head skywards during the lap around Spain beginning in a couple of weeks. 

Finally and for me the greatest part about today's final stage in Utah was Lachlan Norriss's nail biting victory. How awesome was that, it was absolute suspense right up until his bike throwing lunge for the win to take the win. Was I surprised he won? No, not at all intact I expected it when I saw he was still in the group at the top for a few reasons. Firstly lachie had been in park city training for the passed couple of weeks so obviously knew the climb. Secondly lachie was a world class mountain biker before he focused on the road a few years ago so has skills most roadies can only dream off. Thirdly and finally he's won the coveted tour of tasmania in the passed and if there's one thing that charactorises the winners of that brutal event is you've got to be extremely skillfull and resilient as everything and everything will come your way in that event, never ever give up no matter what, and as a consequence a seriously hard ass dude!! Lachie is all those things. So once he was on the decent to me it was all over. I expected him to drop them all there and then but that's where his class really showed. He was gapped of briefly by bookwalker and it seemed the American was home and hosed! Yeah right!! The American tv cameras wanted that but sure enough lachie dug into his bag of talent and skills and super duper tucked at over 100kmph to get back on terms. Still the advantage was with Brent as he's the more credentialed sprinter but this was lachie norris and his finest hour, I know one way or another he'd find a way to finish it off. Sure enough as he rounded the final bend a few lengths of brents wheel it looked like he was beaten. No no no, this was where his class truly showed as he dug even deeper into his bag of tricks, calmly got back on the wheel of Brent for fleeting second restbite before unleashing a perfectly timed kick for the line that had been ingrained in his DNA thanks to the 100's of bonus seconds he's chased over the year in australia's domestic NRC racing series. Was so so awesome to see and while he won in the complete opposite way I expected him to I never ever doubed him and am extremely pleased for he and the Aussie drapac team, be exciting to see what lachie can do in colorado next week. 

So why am I writing about haw awesome the past 24hrs of cycling TV has been? Well because to me it highlights just how awesome all things bikes has become. I was so incredibly disgusted by the treatment chris froome received from the press and public ‎en route to his 2nd Le Tour title, was absolutely rediculous. Chris simply by showed what an unparalleled amount of dedication can achieve, and in return people slung mud at him from every quarter. The worst was the comments of the former stars of the sport whom actually were in embroiled in genuine doping pasts whom seem to be nothing short of bitter and twisted at the thought that hard work can actually win the world's greatest bike race. The behavior of some media outlets whom decided to report the comments of these trolls only added fuel to the fire which meant it filtered into the general public whom sadly chose to believe the rubbish that was being reported. While chris copped the brunt of it, his team mates were also victims of the nothing short of barbaric behavior of the public roadside which again leaves those media outlets with a lot to answer for. Why on earth allow the opinions of people whom should be forgotten about, whom have tarnished the sport for decades to have a public voice at all?? How on earth can our wonderfull sport move on if select groups seem so adament in constantly dragging up the mud. The worst part is these comments are saved for the weeks of the le tour when the whole world is watching so the issue is amplified. Shouldn't we be using le tour when billions of people are watching to admire our beautiful sport and highlight just how incredible it is? Wouldn't that be best for everyone as at the end of the day it's an industry isn't it that's always struggling to survive. Surely by having a sport free of flawless pie in the sky scandles, pardon the pun, that were slung froome dogs way at le tour, would only mean the world could marvel and appreciate what an incredible athlete and story chris really is. A guy whom no doubt is inspiring millions of youngsters from around the world to come from the tuffest of upbringings and rise to the pinaccle of world sport. I don't know about you but that's one of the most inspiring and intriguing stories currently in the world of sport. 

It seems everyone is an expert when it comes to questing the validity of an athletes performance these days, particularly in cycling. Well he's a few little things that never seem to be considered when these outrageous accusations are thrown around about our top cyclists and there's predicted VAM's, Vo2, wattage and any other myraid of made up flawless comparisons to the past. How about taking a look at technology since the 90's and early 2000's. If bikes simply don't move a huge amount more effiecently for given level of output and inturn much faster, then every engineer in the industry should be fired because what have they been doing for the past 20years? Technology in wheels, frames, tyres, clothing, chains, drive trains, brakes, you name it, each and everything on the rider and there bike these days is as it should be, decades ahead in technology compared to the proven doping infested Era of the sport where all these comparisons so conveniently seem to be drawn from. Through into that food, diets, training techniques and recovery methods and you've got an entirely different landscape of a sport to that that brought the sport to its knees in the past. 

Now at the cutting edge of all these modern marvels is team sky whom ironically froome dog races for. They even went as far as to bring a former australian national team rowing and swimming coach onboard to manage there high performance programs to distance themselves from the shady past of training and preparation in the sport. All off a sudden Kerro's methods are being mimicked by every single team in the peleton as squads scramble to keep up. Others have now started to show signs of innovation in these areas aswell with BMC, Katusha, quickstep, Astana, Saxo Bank, Greenedge and Movistar all taking an abvious large interest and making massive investments into innovation in the form of technology and preparation of the athletes. Other Anglo based team in Garmin and Trek have also shown signs of revolution over the past few years however don't have the same level of dominance as the big 8. I'm not suggesting other teams are not also on the same path but the budgets of these teams particularly are the biggest in the peleton ‎so logically they have the resources to invest more heavily in these areas as all this costs money. And guess what?? These teams are the ones at the top of the sport at the moment! Yeah they have the best riders which in part is due to the fact they are the best athletes to start with but also because there training and preparation is at the absolute cutting edge of what the human body can put itself through. Then ontop of that they get on equipment that there expert staff have prepared to a point that cannot roll any faster, it's absolutely the fasted pedal powered machine they can possibly put under there star riders. Amazingly, like when 1+1 = 2, when you put the best prepared athletes on the best bikes you get the best riders and the ones that win the races. It's pretty simple really.

Doping is NOT apart of the search for optimal performance within cycling teams. For whatever reason, and really it doesn't matter what the reason is, the sport has finally cleaned up its act. In my opinion there's a lot of reasons this has finally occurred over the past 5 or 6 years. I believe it's down to the fact that the top riders in the sport simply won't tollorate the results being effected by doping. Firstly athletes are far better educated these days and know full well that doping is not only cheating but can also be very dangerous for your body. Oh and of course everybody knows it's simply the wrong thing to and ontop of that, everybody is all to aware a scandle of the biggest stars would be catastrophic. It's great that the current crop of top stars have taken it upon themselves to set the right example to the rest of the sport. If it's suspected that a big star is doing the wrong thing then it's quickly identified by the bunch and those individuals are dealt with and are not welcome at the top end of the sport.  The antidoping agencies play a massive part aswell and while in the past have admitted they are often one step behind the cheats, in recent years they have shown signs of turning the tables with new testing methods to catch the few current offenders. The reality is, like it or loath it, the authorities needed the cooperation of the top riders in the sport to ensure its an even playing field & the biggest races are played out on an even playing field. Teams know that scandles can close the doors and that means jobs are lost and a larger scale controversy can be even more devastating for the sport. At the end of the day it's an industry like any other and nobody in it wants to loose there job. The world in itself is built on survival and the survival of cycling is reliant wholly and solely upon sponsorship. Continue to tarnish it with sceptasism and synasysim and you'll quickly drive away all these backers and guess what, we will manage to destroy our sport. Enough is enough!! How bout this for an idea all those people searching for evidence of doping, how bout you spend the same amount of energy finding evidence that riders aren't cheating!! That would actually help the sport!!‎ 

I can't speak on behalf of others riders and why they feel the sports clean but here is my opinion. In the past few years from time to time I've been strong enough to be at the head of some of the biggest races. When I was at my best I knew the numbers that were possible and could basically stare at my srm knowing how long riders could sustain such an effort. Almost to the seconds I'd witness workers drop off or attacks fizzle out, it was hugely motivating to know that with the talent, ability and hard work you could achieve something in this sport and that view hasn't changed. I speak with the guys and know there numbers and they are world's away from the hypothetical predictions of these expert trolls in search of attention. It's a view that hasn't changed in my eyes and it's a great realistic example to me that there ain't anything synester going on. If your good enough and strong enough and work hard enough you can succeed, but you've still actually got to be good enough that's why there only room for a select few at the top, because they are simply better.

The saddest part for me with regard to the ongoing scrutiny of today's stars in the sport is how do they prove they are clean? All they can do is tell the truth and repeat time and time again I'm playing by the rules. Unfortunately  for decades that's been the response of the biggest champions so sadly nobody wants to believe them. "Sure that's what they always say" sadly the actions of those in the past whom have all turned around later and said "yes I lied, I really did cheat" has taken the simplest form of explanation away from the current generation leading the sport. Froome has been asked to release his data, what on earth will that prove? That's he's the strongest guy in the world on a bike and probably trains harder than anybody else is prepared to train? He's proved that to us all over the past few years winning in the most transparent way he can. Why is it only him being asked to release such data? What about everybody else racing at the top level, there not suspicious because they are not as dominant as chris? How rediculous. No the only way for froome or any of the current big champions to prove they are clean is by doing exactly what they have been doing. They can oly continue to adhere to, and compete within the rules that govern the sport as they can't do anything else. If the authorities want to change the rules then change the rules, don't just carry on about what riders should be doing to prove there innocence. The authorities need to stand behind the riders and say our riders are doing all that's asked of them so please let them race and let us scrutinize the athletes and determine if anybody does the wrong thing. There have been calls for a union and while I hadn't really read much into the whole movement and idea but after spending the afternoon writing this blog I can see why a union would be extremely beneficial for the riders and the sport in general. This type of treatment of individual riders simply wouldn't happen within an NFL model or from what I've witnessed in my millions of hours watching ESPN in any other professional sport for that matter. With a union, instead of the poor select few whom get all the mud slung at them and have to defend themselves with there own singular voice, they would be protected and supported by a united voice of ‎the union and it's members. Looking at it now that sounds like a great idea and something I'd love to be apart off, it certainly appears a big part of the sport going forward.

So please, enough is enough. Can we stop reflecting on what's happened in the past and allow the current crop of cyclists to play out the next chapter detached from those that brought the sport into disrepute decades ago. By not letting go we are not allowing the sport to go forward. Let's herald the brilliance of our riders when they succeed and search for great stories behind that success, that's actually interesting and what people love hearing about. Why waste energy constantly dragging up old crap or reporting heavily on the isolated incidents that occur currently. If a rider tests positive just release the name on the national federation website and ban them like so many other olympic sports. If people want to know who got popped then they can look it up, we don't need to waste headlines on our media streams dwelling on these cases. Let the guys ride and do what there doing, show the world how fast the human body can go naturely on a push bike. It's one of the most common activities on the planet, almost everybody can ride a bike. Let people appreciate it for the beauty that it is across all platforms as in the long run that's what will allow the sport to grow and sustain it for century's to come. I've taken this year away from professional cycling and it's been great for a wide range of reasons. I've had the chance to ride all of my bikes even more often riding my TT, Road, and mountain bikes all on the same day. It's given me a massive appreciation for the career I've been fortunate enough to have and just what a bicycle has given me the opportunity to do. When you step away from something you get the opportunity to look at it all subjectively and see everything in different light and in my case much more clearly. I really felt for chris and the guys at le tour and the way they were being treated and found myself in numerous arguments over the 3 weeks when those around me chimed in on the gossip and rubbish that was being spoken about. Funny that in the year that it doesn't even effect me one bit I was most offended by these comments and that's why I wanted to write this peace. Draw a line, write about what's happening and not what happened, stand behind the stars and allow the whole sport to charge ahead in a way we all want it to. If we give the gloomy past a voice it will continue to speak, let's move and sit back and simply enjoy the ride.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Into the unknown!

‎A few weeks ago I came up with a great idea, why not do an IRONMAN triathlon. The thought first sprung into my mind at the recent cannondale sales conference in Ogden Utah where I was listening to inspiring story of Bonner Paddock. Bonner has  cerebral palsy and has refused to allow it to stop him from doing anything. He's climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and in 2013 completed the hawaii ironman and in the process sustained 27 fractures in his legs!! As he stood before the cannondale family in the Ogden town theater he still had 3 fractures to fully heal which will give bonner the green light to begin exercise again and onto the next challenge. Of course he's already planned that and having never mountain biked in his life he's decided to set his sights on the Leadville 100 of course!! And who'd bet against him with his pedigree of achievements, I truly inspiring story. So what did bonner's story have to do with me wanting to do an ironman?? Well as I sat there I was reminded once again of how lucky I am to have a fully functional healthy body. Hearing what bonner went through to complete Kona I decided that I wanted to do an ironman as completely unprepared as possible and see how my body could carry me. Crikey If bonner could go through the suffering of sustaining 27 fractures the very least I could do was to through my hat in the ring and see how much punishment my body could take. I pondered this for another couple of weeks tooing and frowing between common sense and stupidity and ultimately settled on the latter. That was that, I picked up the phone, called my buddy Brandon who runs my awesome sponsor xterra and said sign me up for IM Whistler, it was now only 2 weeks away! That wasn't all, not only had bonner inspired me but I wasn't entering just to complete an ironman, I wanted to qualify for Kona so I actually had to race this thing! Now I was faced with a real challenge, 2 weeks to figure out how to swim a distance I hadn't swam for over 18 years!! The ride obviously didn't bother me but then I had to run twice as far as I'd ever run before!! Oh and do it relatively quickly so I qualify for Kona. Yeah this was a nice little challenge to tackle.

With such limited time till the event there was only ever one training option, crash fitness program! This was a training program devised by my best mate bomma which basically was called upon when you were way out of shape and you needed to get into really really good shape really really quickly! So naturely I picked up the phone and call bom! Bom's advice was perfect as always. He didn't bother going into the fact that I had no idea what I was getting myself into or that I was crazy, no, he simply said "right you've got f!c! All time so just train like you always do on the bike but instead of jumping in the spa afterwards pull your sneakers on and go for a jog, get your body used to running when you absolutely catcus"! Sound advice so I decided to try and make that as race specific as possible and did 2 days of long rides where I rode for 6hrs hard then got off and ran 1hr week one and 2hrs last weekend. My theory was although I'd only covered 24km I was running with 8hrs of fatigue in my body and my goal was 9hrs 30min as whistler is a very hard course. I figured nothing would prepare me for that final hour + of suffering so I'd save that as a surprize for the day. ‎I hadn't run for about 10weeks as I'd had a little hip soreness which was kind of a blessing as I couldn't run fast even if I wanted to, all I could do was plod which was the perfect pace for the marathon I needed to survive. My swimming was limited as I'd had a nast crash on my MTB three weeks ago and put a couple of small strains in my right pec muscle and behind my shoulder blade so I only got a few seeions in the pool at a very slow pace. It was funny I couldn't breathe on my right side as it felt like I was being stabbed with a knife in the chest but the left was tolerable so that was lucky, I could atleast keep the biomechanics of the swim going. I crammed in some high intensity on the bike as true to bommer's advice it was my only option for maximizing crash fitness!! Last tuesday I did my final solid workout which was the 3.8km swim just to ensure I would make it that far and the 180km's on the bike as hard and fast as possible. I followed that up with bom's crucial advice and quickly knocked out 5km on foot just to make sure my body knew that it's wasn't on vacation anymore once the pedals are snapped out of the cleats! It's funny how time fly's when your racing to be ready in time and before I knew it it was time to get on the bird again and jet on up to canada for the big race!!!

I got to whistler on thursday evening so had a couple of days to check the place out and recon some of the bike course. On‎ friday I did 2hrs reconning half the bike course followed by a 5 minute run and 5minute swim, I was determined to keep my powder dry. Saturday was a short ride of 45min and then a 5minute swim again in the afternoon to make sure that my wetsuit fitted, I was all good to go. Getting ready for an ironman is quite the logistical experience, there are mc millions of things to think off!! Bike transition bag, run transition bag, special needs bike bag, special needs run bag and off course the range of different things you can put in them. Add to that the decision of how many bottles to carry and how much food to strap to your bike and you mind is going a million miles an hour to ensure you don't forget anything! I was exhausted just from thinking on saturday evening so fortunately sleeping wasn't a problem, I was tucked up by 8 ready for the 4am alarm to get my race day underway. Not surprisingly that alarm did indeed go off as planned and it felt like on 5minutes since I'd fallen asleep so deep is your slumber at such an ungodly hour. Still I jumped up full of enthusiasm, I had a feeling similar to before oceanside that it was going to be a great day.

Having had the experience of the half ironman in march, I had my morning routine and transition setup all dialed. As I did in oceanside I took the good guy approach and was certain to take a track pump with me to make some friends before the start. Once again I was amused by how many people had forgotten about bringing a proper pump and came to me frantically for a loan of mine, it truly is the greatest way to make friends in a triathlon transition area!! Before I knew it it was 6:45 and 15min before start, the time is set to pull on my snazzy dazzy green and black xterra racing wetsuit and get myself into the water and onto the start line. Another thing I learnt from oceanside was the importance of vasaline for any possible rubbing part of your body and I lathered myself in the stuff. This stuff is really golden and my suit slid on like a glove and I had maximum mobility, barely felt like it was even on so my excitement to get stuck into the gym grew even more!! I bounded into the water with maximum enthusiasm and charged out to the startline. At this point there was a little drama, as I placed my goggles over my eyes they were completely fogged, I wiped them but they didn't clear, I couldn't see 10cm ahead of me. Stupidly I just figured they will be right once I get‎ going and sat on the start line ready to rock and roll!! Soon it was the big count down to the start, 5 4 3 2 1 bang!! And I shot of the line like frog in a blender!! 


So we were off and racing and I felt fantastic in my vasaline lathered wetsuit covered body!! I had my head down and backside above water I charged on without really knowing which way I was going but as I felt fast by my standards I didn't really care!! Big mistake! After about 5min or so of not being able to see it finally started annoying me so I decided to stop and see where was at as with no one around me I figured I must be a long way in front!! Yeah right!! A long way going the wrong way more like!! I was about 100m away from the boy line and swimming completely on my own with the front pack dissapearing into the distance!! Oops!! At this point common sense should have made me flick the goggles but instead I decided again to try and wipe them and plow on! Sure enough after another 5 or so attempts to clear the goggles as I stopped to check my line I found myself swimming further of course again as I rounded the top marker at about 500m into the swim. At this point I finally bit the bullet and flicked the goggles ‎and this was the point where I realised luck was on my side, it was fresh water!! No goggles no problem!! And I was finally off and racing being able to see where I was going again, it was an amazing feeling and took me back to my nippers junior surf life saving days when this was no problem in salt water, I couldn't believe I'd been such a wimp and not ditched them earlier!! Anyways better late than never and most importantly my race was back on track literally and figuratively!! It kind of felt like getting a flat tyre in a road race and having to do a wheel change inside the last 20km when the race is going balistic. The chase back on gives you such a rush of adrenaline you feel like ten men, it was kinda the same in this swim, I felt like I could absolute flat out without any regard for how much effort it took. It was a great feeling as I swam through the field in the final 3km in the pool with my visibility back at 100percent and I ensured I left nothing in the water, I had to make up precise time I'd lost in the first lap. I figured I didn't need my arms for the rest day so I may aswell use them up so I threw them over as fast as I possibly could! When I finally hit the beach I'd certainly given it all I had to make up time as i barely had the strength to pull of my wetty. I pulled on my bike shoes, with the rain now falling I didn't hesitate in pulling on a rain coat, better to be to warm than to cold, clipped on my helmet, scoffed down a 500ml mocha iced coffee, and charged out of transition with my cannondale slice tri bike, I was now onto my leg of the race!!


Once out on course I immediately switched into race mode. I knew I was now around 20minutes behind the pro's due to my poor swim and I wanted to try and catch them. I wasn't going to worry about what my power meter said but instead just pick my way through the field and try and real in the front runners just like pulling back a breakaway in a road race, only difference was the team was me so had to do all the work myself!! Anyways I threw caution to what was coming up after the ride with the run and wasn't going to save any energy for that, I figured I'd worry about that when I got to it. My theory on this was pretty simple, provided I ate and drank enough I wouldn't run out of fuel so I could plow along all day and as the bike was the best place to eat I ate as much as I possibley could which really gave me confidence to push as hard as I wanted. At the turnaround at Olympic park after around an hour I remember seeing the power meter average reading 369watt, Ohh I thought, that's pretty solid but didn't for a second think about backing off. ‎Sure enough by the time I was passing back through whistler after around 75km my average power was now at 375 at the 1hr:45 mark, I thought gee, must have decent legs today so I plowed on stupidly without regard for fatigue. At some point I knew deep down I would pay for that effort!

Sure enough as I got to bottom section around half way I started to feel a little fatigue!! Fortunately the feed zone with my special needs bag was right there. I was pretty organised with my nutrition so my special needs bag had 2 simple things being 2 cans of coke! I figured halfway through a road race the coke is my go to for a pick me up so I packed 2 in case I dropped one! I made no mstake with the first one and got it down the hatch and was quickly back in my tt mode and chase of those still ahead of me on the road. This next next section was the tuffest to focus, 25km straight and flat one way, hook a u turn, and head back. At this point I was feeling my enthusiasm in the first half of the ride in my muscles. While I had no intention of backing off to much I did ensure I settled into a rhythm that would ensure I actually survived the bike leg of the event! The boring section ended up being not so bad as I picked my way through a few more of the pro's, I noticed they all like to draft of each other so when I passed I made sure I did it with as much mumbo jumbo as possible to keep them off my wheel. This was wasting more energy I guess but I didn't care, I'd committed to empty the tank on the bike so that's what I was trying to do. I got to the end of the 50km tt drag section and now just had the 30km rolling climb back to town to haul myself up and it would be onto the run. At this point I ditched the jacket and was in full final part of a road race mode down into my fancy camo singlet and running shorts to feel as racey as possible for the climb.

As I swung onto the climb I hit the wall hard!! It was about 3hrs 30min into the ride and I was still at 348 watt average, as soon as I glanced down at my power meter ‎when my legs went dead I knew i was about to pay a price for my complete disregard for the challenge I was facing. To be brutally honest on those first few steep ramps as I climbed out of pemperton I knew coming to a complete standstill was a very real probability, I simply had no power left, it was like a light switch turned off. Don't know if I want hunger flat or my legs simply gave up on me, probably a combination of the two, regardless it was a very difficult moment for me. 

Normally in a road race after working on the front for almost 4hrs you simply retreat to the back of the bunch and the gruppetto for a gentle roll to the finish, didn't have that option so I had to figure a way around it! Luckily there was really only one option, eat, and pedal easy and try and recover a little. Fortunately the climb consisted of lots of step ups with some little decents. My power was now all gone but was still moving forward, instead of being in the mid 300's with the watts I was cranking, the pedals around in the mid to low 200 watt range, I was in big trouble!! Anyways fortunately I kept moving forward which is the golden rule in ironman right? So long as your moving forward your getting closer to the finish! I thought of that a lot in the final 20km to the finish of the bike leg. Fortunately for me as climb progressed and I recovered on the decents and got some extra food in I started to feel a little more spritly. Speaking of food I'd made a last minute purchase from my super mechanic win Allen of wins wheels in westlake village just before I left for whistler. As I was walking out of his store I spotted some fancy new bonk Breaker bars. I thought that's a great name and if there's ever a risk of bonking it's in a jolly ironman so I'd best buy a couple! They had my favorite flavor of salted caramel so I grabbed a couple of them to jam in my feed container on my bike. So in my moment of desperation it was so so good to see these 2 bars sitting infront of my when I flipped the lid on my container and I quickly scoffed them down, I was in desperate need of needing a bonk to be broken so I crossed my fingers that they lived up to there name!! I have no idea if it was the bars that brought me back to life or not but I can assure you there is quite a strong placedo effect with eating a salted caramel bonk Breaker bar when you have well and truly bonked!!

My power was coming back in the final 10km and instead of being relieved to have dodged a bullet and saving energy for the run I got back to work and had the power meter back up in the mid 300's, I wanting to make up as much time as was possible! It was funny really, I basically had 1hr where my body had a powernap and all of a sudden it was alive again!! Anyways for whatever reason I didn't care and figured make hay while the sun shined and I jammed the pedals as hard as I could on the ride into the run transition. An ironman I've heard is as much mental as physical and with that in those final km's on the bike I got excited about the 3rd race of the day, the marathon! I was sick of the bike, I'd been on it for a long time and wanted to do something else. At this point I believe the mental side mad a massive difference as the reality was tank and legs were empty, I could have happily gone home, showered and slept for the afternoon, happy with my 325 watt for 4hrs 45min effort, I'd never done that before. But no, I still had a marathon to do and I was mentally excited about that and that got my body excited, that was really really lucky for me!! Intact I was so anxious to get of the bike that I decided to make use of my fancy mavic triathlon shoes with the giant velcro strap for easy exit!! I'd never tested out taking my feet out of these shoes, truth be told I'd only ridden in them for 30minutes the day before on the ride over to transition, a little risky I know!! Anyways I reached down as I rolled to transition and slipped the feet out, for that brief moment I almost felt like a triathlete!! So as I jumped off the bike in T2 I had a massive spring in my step , pretty crazy getting of tt bike after close to 5hrs and not being one bit stif an sore, comfy bike I guess?? again this was quite fortunate for me as I'd never run a marathon before, now the race really began.


Into transition and I have to admit this was a pretty cool moment. There were only 4 of the pros ahead of me on course so the awesome crowd were excited to see the first of the battler class, this gave me a real buzz. I grabbed my transition bag and quickly went through the routine I'd gone over and over during that 180km's on the bike. I ripped off my socks as they were wet and I had some special weapons in my bag for my feet. As I was packing my bag I spotted my golf shoes and inside as they always are were my favorite golf socks washed and ready for my next round. I have no idea what brand they are but they are white and soft and seem to have heaps of cushioning, I never ever have sore feet or legs after a round of golf. My logic was that as golf was the closest I'd come to spending 4hrs on my feet then these sock might just have the same effect on a marathon. Again I'd never ever worn them running before but just had a hunch they wouldn't let me down. So I slid them on and promptly after my Mizuno running kicks. I grabbed my crucial piece of nutrition being a starbucks 500ml iced coffee and headed out onto the run leg. I plodded of slowly to get the iced coffee down, I love those things so had decided to go for comfort food in the marathon anticipating I'd need every positive I could get to get through it. The ice coffee's became my go to endurance drink oof choice on Richie's 400km birthday ride we did last year, again that was something I'd never done before in one day but I never ran out of fuel thanks to what I believe to be the 6 500ml iced coffee's I downed on the day. Worked for me then so figured I give it another whirl for the marathon. So I downed my milk and was now underway and I have been to admit I was stoked with my choice of comfy socks, felt like I had springs in shoes!! Who would have thought the trusty golf socks could be great marathon socks aswell, that was a stroke of luck! I had a pretty simply plan for the run, walk through every 2nd aid station and have a gell and cup of gaterade which was about every 4km. I figured if I do this I wouldn't run out of fuel which was my biggest concern.

The thought of running 42km seemed crazy even to me so I decided to break it down into blocks of distances to tick the km's off. The marker I set was 12km as Dylan gleeson whom was first age grouper 12months prior in whistler told me to do that section as easy as possible to ensure you've got the ability to go the distance. I trusted Dylan and plodded through the first 12km eating and drinking as much as possible. To my delight at 12km in I felt fresh as a daisy, almost like I'd recovered a little bit, my spirits rose! At this point I decided to keep this comfy pace until the end of the first lap. If I could get halfway feeling like I'd done nothing then that would be awesome specially considering before today that was the furthest I'd run. All went to plan and as I plodded along to start the 2nd lap I felt tickedy boo which I'm sure was largely mental but in honesty my legs still felt preety good. The next check point was 24km where the run special needs back was located. I was excited to get to this bag as it had another starbucks ice coffee and I was pretty certain the calories and nutrients in that bottle would ensure I wouldn't run out of fuel in the final 18km. I was putting a lot of faith in these ice coffee's!! Before I knew it I had my bag in my hand and my milk dissapeared within seconds, wish I was that good At sculling pints of beer!! And I was back into my slow plod! The last 18km is where I'd been told crazy stuff happens and things get tuff!! It was time to have if nothing else a tuff coconut!

With my final ice coffee on board it was the mother all placebo effects, it was like taking of with fresh legs all over again. The next mental marker I was told to focus on by Dylan was between 25-30km, he told me that's where things get interesting!! Have no idea what he meant by that but I just kept telling myself I was in cruise control and was doing it easy. Not whether it was a positive or negative but at around 26km mark I had my first little drama, I had a tumbling tummy and felt the urge to drop some pounds!! All had gone so smoothly so I didn't panic and when I spotted a porta loo in the distance I fixed in on it and looked forward to sitting down and having a crash weight loss session!! This turned out to be an awesome turn of events as as I got back out on course I felt fantastic and I was now in the middle of dylans danger zone so all was going great. After a couple more km my tummy had another little turn so after the success of the first visit to the porta loo I didn't hesitate in stopping again at the 30km mark to lighten the load even more for what I was sure would be a challenging final 12km's, things had to get tuff sooner or later! The next marker I set was 33km's in as this was where the final turn around of the day. I figured if I get that far all I then have to do is run back to town and also that last 9km was ever so slightly downhill so I was sure I could make it from there.

As I rounded the final turn around to begin my haul back to town I have to admit my legs were getting a little heavy and I needed a spark. Again I'm certain someone was smiling down on my that day as a boost would come in the form of a girl named Claire who was on her 1st lap and trotting along at a fine pace. As she came up to me she told me I looked great which was ironic as that exactly what I thought about her!! She looked to be in extremely good shape if you know what I mean so I quickly repayed the compliment. She told me to hang tuff and that I was going great, I was obviously bluffing those around me pretty well!! Anyways I quickly asked what pace she was running at and she said 3hrs 20 - 3hr 30min pace which was the exact pace I was hoping to run best case scenario. I ask her if she minded if I ran with her to keep me going along and focused on something else other than suffering and she absolutely. Claire was awesome, constantly looking over her shoulder and encouraging me and I had ne drama's following her from behind, it was quite a pleasent sight, I mean point of focus!!! I have to admit Claire must have been some sort of Rockstar as every second person was cheering her on, that's why I'd never forget her name, regardless Rockstar or not she was definately my hero at that moment!! As Claire kept me plodding along I was now getting toward my final checkpoint at 37km. My superstar dad ran his first marathon at 55 and did it in 3hrs, pretty dam impressive hey! Anyways his only advice he gave me was that at 37km everybody falls apart, you just have to fall apart less. I love my dad, he's always an amazing point of motivation for me and this was no different. Little did he realise I took this advice in a completely different way, I was flattered and bouyed with even more self belief that he thought I would even make it 37km's!! If I made it that far it would be a miracle, let alone what the body starts to do at that point!! 

Anyways as I rolled toward the 37km danger zone falling apart was the furthest thing from my mind.‎ My eyes were still firmly set on Claire drumming out the tempo in front of me so much so that I didn't even see the 37km marker and the next one I saw was 38km!! You beauty I thought, I've dodged a bullet here and for the first time I had had enough of the run and just wanted to get to the finish, I was fresh as a daisey. I strided up beside Claire and thanked her for her help but it was time for me to boogy to the finish. She gave me a big cheer and I was off to bravely face the final 4km alone! I also knew I was in 9th overall and wanted to stay in the top 10 and I was sure there were guys not far behind. I decided I'd jam in a quick couple of km's to kill of there challenge as I wanted to ensure I reached the finish area alone so I could enjoy my first run down an ironman finish shoot. I couldn't believe how good I felt and had to remind myself that 3km's is still a ways to run so sprinting wasn't wise, still my km pacing dropped by almost 1minute for those final few km's. It was such and awesome feeling to see the board that says 2nd lap go left, finish go right, all of a sudden I was alone again like at the beginning of the run and off to enjoy my first ironman finish shoot. I'd watched a head of doco's on ironmans over the years and always marveled at how people could sprint at the end of all that. Well now I have the experience of that adrenaline and absolutely you want to sprint! Firstly to get your backside accross that line as quickly as possible, and secondly because the crowd is so excited and motivating that you feel like your floating, it was simply an oarsome experience finally passing under the ironman finish arch in 9hrs 23min. I'd finished my first ironman!

Once accross the line Jaime and Nat from sugoi whom are my snazzy apparel sponsor where the first to greet me. They were perhaps more excited than me as I think they were a little worried about me due to the lack of preparation and training I'd done, they certainly looked relieved to have me accross the line in one piece, they are such amazing supporters of mine. I headed straight for the massage tent but blew that off pretty quick as my muscles were so sore that if the lady touched me with any force I jumped through the roof of the tent. I called mum and dad and let them know I'd finished safe and sound, again they seemed relieved, I was beginning to realise I was perhaps the only one stupid enough to believe I'd be able to go out and do what I just did, truth be told I has some scarey thoughts and the day before aswell!! I the headed of to go hang with my friends from sugoi and slam a few beers and enjoy reliving the day with them. After an hour or so the days exertion started to show and I just wanted to go home and have a little sleep, I guess I was a little tired afterall! ‎After a couple of hours restlessness trying to sleep I realised I was far to fatigued to even rest! That was something new so I pulled my cloaths back on and headed back to the finish to watch the last few hours of finishes to complete the ironman. The cutoff time is midnight and it's a massive party down at the finish as everybody cheers home the final finishes. Here is where you see the hero's of the day, husband's and wives, parents and kids, legends pushing north of 70 charging accross the line, it's so inspiring seeing how elated all these guys are simply to make it to the finish. That the great think about an ironman, just getting accross that line is a real achievement and you see it on each and every face, really really cool. The final finisher passed under the arch at 16hrs 56min or 11:56pm and the course was finally empty, it was at that moment that I finally paused for a second the consider what had just happened in the past 20hrs since I woke at 4am for race day! It's all written above but was a cool moment to realise how much stuff you can get done in 24hrs!!

Things changed a lot for me in those 9hrs and 23minutes, those changes will became more apparent in the near future. I learnt a huge amount about myself, what I can put myself, how much a part the mind plays in sport, what keeps me going, I could have never anticipated how my outlook on my future in sport would change by doing an ironman. With only 4 months left in my sebatical year away from the world of professional cycling I've decided my final adventure event will be the hawaii ironman in kona. It's an event alongside the Olympics and Le tour de france I dreamed of as a kid partaking in one day. The fact that the 2015 tour wrapped up on the same day as the ironman was an interesting coincidence. This was another motivating factor for me to give it a good crack to be honest as so many of my buddies had just raced there ass's off all over france so the least I could do was inflict a little bit of fatigue on my body aswell!! When I line up on the start in kona I'll have ticked of two of those objectives, I would never have guessed kona would come ahead of le tour but hey you never ever know what card sporting life has got install for you next. I'll have to work even harder now to complete the set as I get back in the peleton next year but that's even more motivating for me now, 12months ago I'd lost that desire so I'm pleased that putting myself through an ironman finally got that spark and drive back that for so many years had been missing, better late than never I guess. Anyways onwards and upwards, I'll take a couple of weeks off to ensure I recover 100percent, if I need to I'll take a 3rd week, I'm not going to underestimate how much that event took out of my legs, specially considering I only did 2 weeks of solid training for it. I plan on taking kona a little more seriously and will commit 6 weeks to the race so will start in Ernest again on august 22nd and that will give me a week to taper and be fresh for the race day. Yeah I'll go to kona for the experience as I know that you can't expect to do anything exceptional of 6 weeks training but I want to be able to enjoy it which mean getting the most out of myself for the condition I have so that will drive me to train hard for that. 

Yep the ironman is one thing I'm glad I decided to have a crack at! Bonner paddock was so inspiring that no matter how out of my depth I felt in preparation or during the race I felt, I knew that wasn't even on the same plannet of being challenged as he was climbing killamanjaroo or completing the ironman. Bonner's story certainly rang load and clear in my head but he is just one amazing story to come out of the ironman movement. These absolute hero's concept of challenge is world's away from what all us able bodied athletes face in our sporting lives, I can't expres sin words how moving some of these stories are. Anyways, thanks bonner I'm off to kona and can't wait to see what adventures and amazing individuals I'll come accross over there.


Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Full version of my UK Cyclist Magazine Giro Preview

The season of spring is an action packed smorgasbord of professional cycling. It's a fair argument to say that no other 3month block of the season will test the riders skills and physical condition the way the month of spring seem to do. March kick things of with the race between the seas with tirreno addriatico and the optimistically named race to the sun with Paris nice although you would be hard pressed to find to many examples of sunshine greeting the riders in nice annually! Also during march sees belgium come to life and the hard man come out to play on the cobbles, crosswinds, and what otter feels lie racing on footpaths not to mention the array of climatic conditions that are also thrown the peletons way. Perhaps fittingly in the final month of spring lies a race that has a history of testing all the skill set required to survive during this period with the giro! There is an endless archive of iconic images which encapsulate the uniqueness of the race around Italy, again seeming to serve as one final exam for a peleton that's spent the unpredictable months of racing in spring to prepare for. 3 weeks of racing that can quite literally through up a completely different climate and terrain on each and every single stage to assess how well the warriors of road racing have done the homework or hardwork in this case to be prepared for anything and everything that the giro can through up at you. Like with every great bike race it's logical that the most complete rider will rise to the top and emerge victorious but perhaps this is never more evident than at the giro.

What makes the giro special
The initial part of the season is a build to the classics for the hard men and the giro for gc chargers. To be at your best for the giro means negotiating your way through the most unpredictable and stressful period of the racing season. This therefore means that simply arriving at the start line of the giro in your absolute optimal health and best condition is a major challenge in itself, let alone worrying about the 3 weeks of torture that lies ahead. I can obviously only speak with conviction on the 2 giro's that I've competed in in 2010 and 2013. Both editions of the race were equally different and equally brutal in there own unique way. The lead up to both events is also something special. Often as early as the races in february and march you'll start to see the same faces of the races your using as preparations, another 200 guys on a similar schedule that will culminate in the giro. So before you have even made it to the startling you have already formed a bit of an extended family of fellow giro competitors in the build up, in the end it's not just the 3 weeks you'll spend with alot of all these guys but more like 3 months. Why is this important to know?? Well with the challenges that the giro throughs up with it's climate and terrain and you suffer as badly as you do at times, it makes it's far more manageable when your around a group of guys whom you know know and appreciate what your going though and that solidarity within the peleton can often be critical in helping you deal with the challenges the big lap of Italy throughs your way.

The way the race is played out-

Due to the timing of the giro it takes an extremely resilient and all rounded champion to pull on the pink jersey at the end of 3 weeks of racing. The race can be broken down into 3 stages, First week, second week and 3rd week. Week 1 is the stressful week. The sprinter or bunch sprint friendly stages result in small gaps on GC and alot of riders within striking distance of a day in the prized maglia rosa! With just one day wearing such a prize having the potential to shape the entire career of a rider it's logical that everyone is a little on edge due to the high stakes. With nervous anxious riders comes a nervous anxious peleton and that sadly tends to greatly increase the probability of nasty crashes which the consequences can be equally consequential for those that crash or suffer misfortune as those whom benefit from the crashes taking place and are the fortunate ones. It will ruin a season for some and define a career for others, such are the highs and lows of sickness, injury or a successful daring move that nets that great result. You truly start every stage in the first week of the giro knowing that one thing is guaranteed, that anything and everything is possible of that day for each and every single rider in the peleton.

While I have many wonderful memories from my days racing in the giro, one particular stage in the 2010 edition sums up perfectly my impressions of the race. Stage 11, 262 from Lucera to L'aquila was the longest stage of the 2010 event and came close to the end of what had been a brutal 2nd week. That year the race began in holland which meant that after just 3 days of racing when we returned to Italy we had taken our first rest day. This meant that a haul of 10 straight stages were rattled of before the 2nd rest day would be arrive. Stage 11 came after 7 straight of the most unpredictable and taxing days of racing I've endured. We had searing heat to contend with, almost monsoonal rain falls the next day, sub zero foggy mountain stages with zero visibility the next and to top everything off the gravel or Strada bianchi stage was held in torrential rain which would come as not surprise turned the stage into cycling equivalent of a mud run! That day in the mud was that chaotic that in the end the dismal suffering could only be replaced by the humor of the citation us riders found ourselves in as we plowed our way through the mud! Not surprisingly and fittingly the stage was won by the regarded as the most complete rider of his generation, the great Australian Cadel Evans whom was able to draw of his 20years of professional bike riding experience to cross the line first on a day where guts and determination counted as much for exceptional bike skills, two things which cadel has no shortage off! 

Anyways back to stage 11 to L'Aquila and it's a day of racing I'll never forget. The longest stage in the race is always to be feared. With 7hrs of racing ahead the entire peleton was hoping for as straightforward a day as possible. Straightforward in as much as a nice breakaway that the gc teams could easily manage and the course could be covered in the must civilized possible! Yeah right!! The stage started out in beautiful sunshine and warm condition which was one blessing as the flag dropped in Lucera, that however was the last time there would be anything civilized about the stage. Around 10pm into the stage the attacks were coming thick and fast as we entered a dark tunnel. I was at the front staying alert to control any dangerous attacks for our team leader Michele Scarponi as we entered the tunnel, well 2nd wheel to be precise. I was thinking gee we are hammering here through this tunnel and as we came out the other side and barreled down the other side I noticed we were really hammering. It was a wide open big straight road and I was full gas following the wheel ahead of me. I just assumed all the bunch was there but all of a sudden team sky and movistar stormed to the front and drilled it! At this point I looked back and noticed there were around 50 of us and daylight behind. In the group were some of the biggest gc threats for the race in Bradley Wiggins, Carlos Sastre, David Arroyo, and most excitingly for me that day fellow Tasmanian Richie Porte whom at days end became the biggest name in the international Cycling world when he pulled on the maglia rosa. There was a day that not that richie wasn't already destined for stardom but that day just sped up that process for him which was great to see. So back tot he race and the gap quickly started to rise and the big teams of there leaders drove home the advantage they were being given. I was told by my androni ds gianni savio to sit tight as many team behind were hitting the panic button and chasing hard. He said my chasing energy would be needed later in the stage. So I sat tight and comfortable in the breakaway in the luxurious position of not having to do any work. I even started dreaming of go for a big result myself as I would have a chance to arrive at the finish as fresh possible and spent many minutes studying the finish profile plotting my attack. As were rolled along the road toward L'aquila we also slowly began to rise in altitude, it was one of those days that gradually rose in elevation and with it the temperature dropped and the rain started to fall. S now the warm sunshine was gone, we were on the longest stage of the race and it was pouring rain and freezing cold. I kept checkin in with the team about going back to start pulling but was told to sit tight, all was under control. Yeah right! Sure enough with 100km to and we were 22minutes up the road savio finally called my teammate Rubens Bertagliati and myself back. The only problem was now that we were so far ahead and it was so cold that riding slowly or waiting on the side of the road as I would have got hypothermia! So did the only logical thing, I turned around and rode backwards with rubens and Brent Bookwalker of BMC who had also been called back to help his team captain Cadel Evans. We rode about 3km back over the terrain we had just covered so now turned the stage into a 270km day for us, would have looked interesting on Strava that file!! Anyways I couldn't believe what I saw when what was left of the peleton arrived. The brutality of the chase had taken it's toll and now just 20riders remained in the peleton! All the biggest names were there, all with the same desperate look of needing help on there faces as rubens, Brent and I arrived. The group contained The eventual winner Ivan basso and his team mate Vincenso Nibali, Scarponi, the man in pink Vino, Cadel, pozzato, paolini, Pablo lastras, and some other very strong dudes, put it this way at the time I recognized each and everyone of them! 

Anyways there was no time for pondering the situation it was desperate times and time to get to work. For the next 60km we pulled at pur absolute max and when I did my final pull before being catapulted out the back the gap was down to 10minutes. One conciliation was even though I was offering the chase had been solid as now only around 10 of the the strong men remaind in this peleton! It was crazy, there were 50 up the road, 10 in the peleton, and 140 guys miles back down the road!! Anyways as I was unceremoniously dumped out the back of the field I was totally spent and hadn't prepared myself for what was to hit me next. I was completely out of fuel, I was now freezing cold as my body had no energy to keep it warm, and o still had 40km to ride and I was alone! My teeth started chattering and I was starting the face the reality of not being able to keep my body moving. Then almost like a knight in shinning armor, Pablo Lastras appeared out of the mist and saw me in distress. He had seen the work I'd done and been dropped in the process, that alone will earn you respect with your peers. What he did next saved my day ensured my survival in the 2010 giro. He put his hand on my back and simply said, tranquillo Cameron, relax! He simply got me to the finish. He pushed me along and kept me talking, he even unwrapped power bars and opened gels for me, a simply thing my border lining frostbited hands hands a d teeth could not mechanically perform. He was in every sense of the word a life saver for me that day and eventually some 40minutes after the winner petrov had crossed the line and 30minutes behind the group of favorites I'd been helping some 40km's before hand! I was absolutely in peaces! 

This stage for me really signified everything the giro stand for me. We had the 4 seasons in the one day. We had a ridiculously long hard stage at a point in the race when we were already on our knees as a peleton. The stage panned out in the exact opposite way anyone in the peleton predicted before it kicked off that morning. A riders career was catapulted into super stardom when richie porte pulled on the maglia rosa. The eventual champion Ivan boss showed his class and experience and while lost major time knew that staying within his limits would mean he would have the batteries left to put all the field to the sword in the final torturous week of racing in the dolomite's. And off course that solidarity I'd talked about wigging the group of riders that tackles the giro was evident with Pablo lastras whom rode for another team ensured that I made it to the finish that stage. Oh and also my day all in all was as unpredictable as ever which a giro stage can only through your way, it still remains the only time in my racing career I've turned around and ridden the wrong way back down the race course!! All in all was just a magically racing giro day that I and I'm sure every rider whom raced the stage or watched the stage will never ever forget.

P.s. I wrote this 6 weeks ago so it's been interesting following the lead up to the big lap of Italy unfold for the big favorites! Pretty exciting that it would appear the Tasmanian richie Porte is right on track for taking home pink!!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

Belgium Waffle Ride

Belgium waffle ride 2015

With northern Europe wrapping up it's spring classics season on Sunday, southern California decided to join the party with a little classic event of there own. The Belgium Waffle ride has quickly become a mythical event among the socal cycling scene thanks to it's unique course thats designed to challenge a road cyclists ability to handle all types of terrain imaginable. My decision to ride the event was not really my decision but instead my buddy robbie who told me I was racing! I couldn't come up with a decent excuse as why not to do it so figured why not? I was in socal and I'd heard so many awesome stories from people whom had tackled it over the years. Also personally it was a good way for me to test my ability in a group ride situation on challenging terrain. The mix of ashfelt, dirt, sand, mud, up, down, around, twist and turn, and wind that comes from every single direction, was a great opportunity to see how I handle my bike in all these conditions. So many of the surprises out on the course were ones that you wouldn't choose to ride on in training so I was excited to see what my bike would do underneath me. Someone asked me a few weeks before what specific training I would do? I simply replied nothing! I've been fortunate enough to ride my bike a lot over the last 7 years at all levels and on all terrain so figured I'd leave what to expect on the day for the day and have it be a big surprise! Anyways with that being said he's how my whole belgium waffle experience played out.

In the couple of weeks leading in the questions kept coming "how are you preparing for the ride??". Eventually I cracked and did a little more research into what to expect. Firstly found out it was a long way and had alot of climbing and sections of gravel roads. None of that worried me, I'd done loads of 7+hrs over the years and climbed plenty of hills in the process. I'd raced strada bianchi in the rain and in the sun and roubaix aswell so figured I'd be able to handle whatever the course had to through at me. The other element however was equipment which was something I was completely under prepared for. I'd heard that anything between a road bike and cyclocross bike was used so figured I'd call the the experts at cannon dale to send me out the ideal weapon for the waffle ride. As always Jonathan Gerran had all the answers for me and within a few days a new synapse disc was shipped out to to get comfortable on. I've found that simply by having my bike built by Win Allen at Wins wheels gives me a good Oman. He had put my tri bike together which remains undefeated so he was the logical choice to get the synapse all dialed in. I have to admit it was love at first sight when I laid my eyes on my waffle machine for the first time! She was simply beautiful! Gun metal grey in color with snazzy dazzy blue and purple stripes, I simply couldn't wait to through my leg over her and take her for a spin. Once aboard I headed straight for the dirt section of the famed mullholland hwy. I figured I needed to know how it felt on the dirt so that was as gooda place as any for the maiden voyage. Sure enough she felt as good as she looked and I was instantly addicted to gravel grinding. You know when you get a new bike that's just that little bit special and you never want that first ride to end, yeah well my first ride on the synapse disc was just like that. 3hrs later chasing any gravel trial I could track down between Beverly hills and Malibu and it was only the loss of daylight that brought my ride to end, I was having a blast and couldn't wait for the waffle ride, luckily it was only 7 days away so I wouldn't have to wait long. This first ride however was a great sign as it was the same when I rode the slice 2 for the first time in preparation for Oceanside, instantly loved the bike, makes it more enjoyable getting up each day to go training when you love the machine your using! 

Over the last 18 months or so I've really enjoyed training down in the socal Encinitas area. With the ride being held in the area I thought it was an excellent opportunity to spend the week down there leading up and turn it into my belgium waffle week and not just a ride. Also conveniently my great mate Todd skippy skipworth was in town training whom has turned into my most regular training partner over the past few years across all continents! Our training and racing schedule seem to conveniently align across all continents all over the world, even Tasmania!! So I was chirpy as could be as I rolled down the 5 fwy toward San Diego on tuesday night to get my waffle week underway. As always when I head south I call in to see my American parents iin Scott and kimba tedro. It's impossible not to spend time with these guys and not leave feeling a few feet taller and capable of running though brick walls, they always put you in a great mood, just awesome people! So all was set to get my teeth stuck into the week ahead and it all kicked off with the Wednesday worlds group ride at 8am from Oceanside on Wednesday morning. I'd recently blasted around camp Pendleton during the Oceanside triathlon so was nice to be able to sit in a bunch and wheel suck along the same roads for a change!! Was a fast and frantic ride as usual and for the first time in my Wednesday worlds career I won the sprint to the traffic lights at the famed trestles surf beach at the end of the base! Perfect way to kick off my waffle week, form was on track!! The next appointment was to go and have the ritual piece of carrot cake at the panicken cafe which ways around 500gramms! It would prove to be my carb loading fuel for the waffle ride as I had a piece everyday leading up to the event. Oh I love those gigantic pieces of carrot cake! I planned on doing some recon of the course in my days down there leading up but decided that would be taking things a little to seriously so decided against that. I did however check out what was surpassed to be the first section of dirt for the ride with local John abate but that section was taken out so that was a good lesson for trying to be at all tricky. No my training days filled up with training with all my mates and numerous hours at the lofty coffee shop with Brandon and sunny discussing all things xterra so basically the reamining hours in the days were reserved for sleeping. Conveniently my buddy George hincapie and his brother rich were also in town for a couple of days. It's always awesome catching up with George and especially with the classic I was facing on the weekend gave me the chance to get a few last minute tips on getting down and dirty off road on a rd bike! His advice was pretty simple, hit all the off sections in front and ride as hard as you possible can across them!! Pretty simple hey!! The week expectably was flying by and before I knew it it was time for my final tune up before the big day on Sunday, the famous swammies bunch ride on Saturday morning at 8am from Encinitas. This was my last chance to cram in a little speed into my legs and also chance to test my condition ahead of sundays big ride. I decided to attack and attack and attack and tt away from the group and was firs the official STOP sign finish line near the church at the end of the elfin forest. So passed my final test and week's preparations were complete. Only thing left to do now was go and scoff down as much pizza and as many beers as possible with michael and Phil from spy who organized everything at dinner, get a good night sleep, and go and enjoy whatever the Belgium waffle ride had to through at me.

Race Day

I couldn't wait for the alarm to go off on Sunday morning, I'd been in town for an entire week and everybody was so excited about the big day. I refrained from a sensible breakfast of oatmeal and fruit and instead headed for the start location to tuck into what I assume was the compulsory waffles, eggs, and bacon! Oh and copious amounts of maple syrup. I'd never eaten such a breakfast before so had no idea how it would sit on my stomach but figured it had copious amounts of calories and I'd be burning plenty of them during the 7+hrs ahead on the bike! So with my stomach full it was time to head for the start line. Whilst en route I ran into British strongman chris spence who slipped me a couple of extra co2 canisters which would come in extremely handy later in the day!! So big thanks to spence, he's a champ. So finally we were all lined up and set to go and I was not surprisingly extremely relaxed, I had no idea what to expect so had nothing to be nervous about, it was just another long day on the bike. In patriotic american style a rendition of the national anthem was boarded out and the 2015 Belgium waffle was finally underway.

The race was extremely well organized and as such had a police escort. Later in the day that escort would only be with the leaders of the ride which was crucial in keeping things as safe as possible. It was all pretty mellow for the first 30km or so as everyone expectedly wanted to save there cookies for the remaining 200+km. At this point the first gravel section greeted us and true to george's advice I was first man onto the dirt. I realized that everyone was taking this ride pretty seriously so I just twisted the throttle a little to ensure there were no easy rides in the group. The gaps appeared quickly so I was a little more relaxed in knowing I would be able to turn the screws a little later on. The group seemed content to follow me around which didn't bother me at all, it just meant I figured if I'm going to ride on the front then I will just force a little selection so as I can spend the day up front and out of trouble. I didn't have to wait long for the opportunity with a nice little 1.5km climb cling after 40km. As we hit the lower slopes I stood up and went for it. I only a short climb to do something but was confident it would draw out some strong dudes for me to boogy with and at the top I had Phil Tinzman, john abate (my tour guide earlier in the week) oh have to also take the opportunity to mention the awesome energy bars john and his business partner jess cerra supplied me with for the ride, they were awesome. It was like have a bowl of oatmeal in a conveniently pocket sized easily digestible block which gave you the confidence you would have energy for hours on end. The choc chip peanut butter flavor was particularly awesome! So thanks guys and was great having John up the road. Also with us was local jellybelly rider Cody Stevenson. The great thing was all these guys knew where we were going so that was quite crucial as i had no idea!! There were already a few guys up the road which we quickly caught and a nice little group of 7 formed at the front of the race. We soon hit the second section of single track gravel and once we were on that I knew it would be the last we would see of the group for the rest of the day. The other exciting thing about hitting the gravel full gas was how comfy i felt on my new synapes disc, i could basically go full gas on the trusty steed bull dozed though everything in its path, i could slip and slide and drift it this way and that and it felt so stable, it was simply just plain fun!! all was going along nicely.

We rumbled along through the back streets of I have no idea what town! Was like racing in Belgium, left, right, left, left constantly changing direction that made me feel sea sick at times. Our little group were enjoying the ride as we all rolled turns, oh except one cyclocross rider Ryan trebon. I couldn't understand why he wouldn't just enjoy rolling along with the rest of us but I guess he was taking this thing seriously, It really annoyed me and later on I snapped. The next section of gravel came on a nice 4km climb and I decided to keep the pace on. I wanted a smaller group and by the top there was only 3 off us. Around halfway up we hit the first section of mud which proved to be a bit of a problem for me later in the day due to the amount I got stock in my cleats. I got my shoes clipped back in with a lot of force but I wasn't expecting the consequences later in the day when the mud of my shoes would turn to dry clay!! Anyways after this dirty section we were now 3, phil, trebon, and muself, and just 160km to go, perfect, would get a good workout! Trebon continued to not do a turn which again didn't bother me, I just let him sit there while I waited for the next opportunity to dislodge him but keep Phil with me, Phil is a great dude and organizer of the event so I really wanted to help him as much as I could have a great Belgium waffle ride. More rights and left through the back blocks of who knows where and before we knew it we were headed through the start finish signifying the halfway point of the ride. The situation was 3 of us up the road, really 2 as trebon was not assisting at all, and around 40guys chasing around 3minutes behind, perfect situation but was time to turn the screw.

2nd Half

Once out and into the second lap I lifted the intensity a little. With 120km in the legs of the group it was time to ensure that we didn't give them a sniff of being able to pull us back. 20km later phil's and my work was rewarded and we were now 6minutes ahead of a tired looking pack as we made the turn around at racho santa fei, we were well truly away now. Still trebon refused to enjoy the ride with us so we ignored him and waited patiently for the longest gravel section of the ride. As a cyclocross rider I knew trebon would have been fancying his chances to stick it to us there having stayed as fresh as he could all day while we dragged him along, that really annoyed me. So as soon as we hit the dirt I hit the gas and following a technical downhill section he was dropped and Phil and I were on our merry way without any passengers. Phil is perhaps one of the best bike handlers I have ever had the chance to follow. His background is as one of the pioneers of the downhill scene here in the USA and is a cult hero in California for that. You quickly identify a rider who really has that special ability to handle his bike and I quickly saw that in Phil. The result is you can trust there wheel and line 100% and you don't even bother looking where your going you simply follow the wheel in front of you. It was awesome ripping through the single track gravel with Phil, again slipping and sliding and hopping and bopping at full speed, the synapse disc was just so incredibly awesome to be aboard, I never ever felt in danger of coming off. Then we hit a rocky section and phil's line as usual was perfect as he literally thread the eye of a needle through the sharp stones and I know I was going to quick for my ability and wasn't able to read his line as well with all the sharp rocks around. Sure enough I hit one to many and that pssssss sound was there, I had gotten myself a front flat. I yelled out to Phil that I'd flatted but he decided to charge on, oh well, was now in for a lonely day but that was the least of my worries. By now the mud had turned to dry clay and my shoes were glued to my pedals! I couldn't unclip. Embarrassingly for me there were randomly people standing at that exact spot where I wanted to stop and I had no choice but to topple over right in front of the to bring myself to a standstill!!

On the ground and strapped to my bike it must have been an hilarious sight. I pleaded for help and eventually my shoes were loosened triathlon style and was up on my feet to change the front tyre. I certainly didn't change the wheel at any F1 pit crew speed but I wasn't in much of a hurry either, I figured I had time to take a chill pill and ensure I changed the tyre correctly the first time. This is where I said a thank you to my mate spence who had provided me with those co2 canisters to ensure rapid inflation!! I through the front wheel in and just as I did trebon came rolling past and I thought excellent, I'll get to pass him again! I got back on my bike, shoes still attached to it, and took off triathlon style, still on the dirt I got myself up to speed and slid my feet in, was excellent training for my next triathlon!! Once my feet were in I decided to leave my shoes completely loose as if I needed to get off again the only way out was to do it try style again. It was a slight inconvenience but on the bright side I wouldn't have to worry about my shoes being to tight for the next 100km!! Besides things like this are all what make the ride so challenging, you have to be prepared for anything and I simply had to deal with one of these unexpected obstacles, can certainly say I've never ever had such a situation occur before!! Anyways I was now back on the bike with feet in the shoes and gunning again for trebon. As I reached him I hit the gas pedal to ensure he wouldn't be able to wheel suck me again and hammered for the final few km's of the dirt section around lake hodges. Once back on the road I no longer had the police escort as it was up the road with Phil and I was instantly uneasy with that as I had no idea where I was going. The signs were few and far between to add to the challenge of it all soi rode very carefully to ensure I didn't get lost. 

Sure enough I cracked with around 50km to go and was convinced i'd gone the wrong way which was always my biggest fear for the event to be honest.  I have to admit at that point i thought bugger this and just type the lost abby brewery into my gps and head straight back to the start finish and call it a day. Fortunately my fear of quitting hit me just as quickly so i decided to turn around and head back in the direction I'd come from in the hope of running into another rider. As I rode backwards I was pretty agitated but also figured it's not over till the fat lady sings and so long as I could get back on course soonish there was still a good chance of riding Phil down. It turned out I was going the right was and it was only 2km back down the road that I ran into the 3rd place dude. It was no longer trebon, I assume he had quit, but I was simply relieved to see another rider! Fortunately whoever the dude was in the blue skin suit knew where he was going so I stayed with him until I could be certain I knew where I was going. It was great going fast but the problem was then you also went fast in the wrong way!! We had a time check that Phil was only 8minutes up the road and with around 45km to go so I knew I could ride that back once I knew where I was. I roughly knew the last 40km where we faced the final long and technical section of dirt and gravel road and the final run into double peak climb and then it was a simple decent down the gravel to the finish line. 

As we hit the final long dirt section at 40km to go Phil was 6minutes up the road, it was time to boogy. Once on the gravel single tracks I went for the gas, i had 100% confidence in my synapes on the gravel and I knew this was where Phil would be strong and I had to hold my own over the next 8km section of strada biachi! By the end of the section I was how I wanted to be, alone, and I was now only 4 minutes back. Once on the road I really hit the gas peddle as I knew that Phil would be really starting to suffer from spending 60+km up the road alone. The next little obstacle was quest haven which had a gate to climb when you entered and a gate to climb when you came out. Fortunately I was prepared for this with my triathlon set up and completely loosened shoes and I made a couple of swift transitions both on and off the bike much to the amusement of the the motorbike photographers now following me as I closed in on Phil. Here I have to admit I had a couple of bad moments energy wise as I'd basically been going full gas for over 6hrs now. After climbing 4000m over the first 220km I'd averaged 34kmph was wasn't mucking about and when I made this calculation I wasn't surprised I felt so light headed! I slammed down some gels and cold cokes from supporters on the side of the road and brought me back to life, I was ready for the final haul up the fearsome double peak climb!

Just as we swung onto the lower slopes of double peak I was on Phil. As I drew along side him I let him know I was disappointed he hadn't waited for me when I flatted before continuing on my merry way. Really he did nothing wrong and had every right to pedal on but I would have stop for him and at least offered to help but guess that's all part of the waffle ride, you have to take care of yourself so I just did the same and carried. Double peak certainly stopped me dead in my tracks and I quickly praised the cannondale mechanics for fitting a compact 34/32 granny ring to my bike as I now desperately needed it!! I rolled up the climb with all the force I could knowing I only had a decent down to the finish. It was amazing how many people were out there cheering on the climb especially fellow Aussie and star triathlete Luke mckenzie and his family. It was awesome to see that the whole cycling community got behind the event by either participating or competing themselves, was really a great atmosphere up there. I crested the summit and it was time to plummet down to the finish at the lost Abby brewery in San Marcos. This was a periodic the ride where you could finally enjoy and reflect a little on the craziness of the previous 6hrs 30minutes you had had on your bicycle.

With full police escort I entered the final few km's of the 2015 Belgium waffle ride. At this point I started to think of my victory salute as I wanted to have a little fun with it. I decided that a nice tribute to the event would be to create a W with my fingers to symbolize Waffle. I swung into the car park and the crowd there was awesome. Inhale no idea how many people there were but they were making enough noise to really fire me up and enjoy the final few hundred meters of the ride. As I approached the line I stuck up my hands in the shape of a W in celebration of the waffle ride. Once across the line I had to pedal on a little as I needed to pull out my feet tri style again to actually detach myself from the bike much to the amusement of everybody. I have to admit It was an extremely satisfying ride especially with the hiccups and hurdles I'd overcome out there on the road as I knew I'd rant my spot as a waffle ride finisher. To be honest that ride was so challenging there was no such thing as winners, everybody who finished the ride was a winner. It was so brutal that no body had any choice but to go the pace they knew they could survive at. It really was a ride of survival which even almost brought me to standstill a couple of times out there, to me that was the coolest part of the event, the comradary each and everyone who finished that event felt. A truly  Great ride.

With all the formalities done after the ride it was time to go and meet my buddies at the brewery. My training gang of robbie, Ryan, Dave z and e boz where all in there enjoying some liquid re carb loading and soon I was doing the same. One by one our other training gang in Paul, oliand my mate Brandon from xterra all trickled in and there was soon a room full of guys and girls in sweaty cycling gear slamming down some fantastic beers. It's was a bit like being in a golf club house after an Ambrose event where everybody has a great story to tell about how their round went. Soon my bike arrived still with the shoes attached and was being photographed here there and everywhere including up on the bar. The shoe thing was so hilarious and I never got tired of telling everyone who asked why on earth are your shoes attached to you bike?? My simple answer was try and get them off!! By days end my shoes were totally destroyed from people trying to dislodge them as beer after beer took it's toll on the party. Post race party games!! Yep was an absolutely awesome day and fantastic to be apart of such a great community event, i had no idea what to expect and I'm pleased about that as nothing could have prepared you for that ride. Was a fantastic individual challenge no matter what level of ability you are and if you have the chance to one day partake I highly recommend you make it happen, I'll be an amazing experience that's for sure!!