Friday, June 17, 2016

Ironman Cairns, My Professional Debut

Its been a few days since I plodded over the finish line in ironman cairns. The day didn't quite pan out as the fairytale I envisaged but none the less I made it to the finish and wont ever forget the day I made my professional debut as a triathlete. I'd been preparing for this event since January and although had a few setbacks along the way teaching the body how to swim and run again, I arrived in cairns feeling great and ready to tackle the asia pacific championship which had the added incentive of the winner automatically qualifying for the ironman world championships in Kona later this year.

I arrived in aus a couple of weeks early to ensure I was adapted as best as possible for the variance in the conditions than that in LA and after a few days tuning up in noosa I arrived in cairns in time to put the finishing touches on the preparation and have a good look at the course. I have to say I really glad I made the trip early as spending a couple of days riding up and down the captain cook hwy was one of the most breathtaking scenic bicycle rides I've ever had. On more than one occasion the temptation was almost to much to unclip and dive into the pacific for a little cool off! I'm certainly glad I got to see it and appreciate it for its beauty as on race day I ended up being far from in the to appreciate the surrounds. So after a few relaxing reconning and recharging days I was ready for action when my alarm blared into action at 4;45am on race morning!

One of the big changes between the two elite sports I've partaken in before is that your completely left to your own devices in triathlon, no matter how major the race. ensuring all your equipment is prepared and race fueled organized is all down to you aswell as sorting out your morning routine in getting yourself out of bed to the start line. This is certainly a part of things that I really enjoy as training and being prepared when I arrive at races has never been my issue, I look after myself pretty well at home. I have over the years however found it a little challenging to avoid doing things completely differently when I get to the race as things have simply been different. Now it is all up to you so things can be just the way you want them. To say I had to organize this all myself is a stretch as I did have Fallon there to make sure I got my backside out of bed and moving on race morning, no fear of sleeping in again with her around that's for sure! Also dad had logistics all down to a milli second including my favorite pre race meal of oatmeal and crumpets waiting on the dining table when I woke up and loading the car with all my paraphernalia. Before I knew it was time to get the show on the road and head to palm cove for the start.

From there it was off to the start and while the rental Toyota camry may be a far cry from the rockstar bus's we get ferried around in in Europe, being there with your loved ones certainly trumps any luscious leather sofa's that you'd usually be reclining in. Once at palm cove I went through the routine of setting up my transition. As this is only my 5th Triathlon I still take a little longer with this than I should and seemingly do things differently everytime. One thing I have learnt however is not to look at anyone else's bike on race day and copy that, have to be confident with what you have and work on what you didn't do right well before race day. Right on schedule at 7:05 (30min before start time) my bike was loaded up with bottles and food and ready for its assault on the captain cook hwy, well as ready as it was going to be anyways. I found Fallon and Dad and started to get my self dressed into my outfit that i'd be rocking for the rest of the day! I Have to admit I wasn't nervous as I stood on a professional startline for the very first time. To the contrary actually, I was extremely calm and confident in the form that i'd done everything I wanted to in my preparatuion, time would tell if I got it right or not as I couldn't do anything about it at that point if I hadn't. When the announcer beamed out 30 seconds till start, I positioned myself next to the fastest swimmers in my buddy todd Skipworth and Clayton Fettell on the front row, crouched down into my beach start position and couldn't wait for the gun to go off. Bang!!! and we were off!


Swim

I had a great start and as we smashed and bashed our way to the first buoy I was right there in the first few guys. I was certainly swimming way harder than I ever had before so knew I needed to back it off a little and try and slot in behind a bigger group of guys. As a larger group rolled around me in pursuit of the front few I attempted to settle into a nice rhythm hot on there heals. I sat there for another hundred meters or so not really settling, more feeling like I was going hell for leather to stay there, and decided I wasn't at the level to hang with the quick guys just yet so slotted into my own pace. Soon after a few other guys who obviously had a similar idea rolled along beside me and when I spotted the ever green experienced Cameron Brown as one of them I figured these guys know what they are doing, ill have with you. From there my swim was absolutely delightful simply following the bubbles of the guys ahead of me and ensuring I got as easier ride as possible through the swim leg. Being the first time i'd swam with guys of this level realizing the advantages of slip streaming absolutely blew me away, it certainly in my case makes you look like a far stronger swimmer than you really are.

The swim really fly's by when you distracted all the time of ensuring your following someone feet and before I knew we were headed for shore. As the beach approached I fired up the legs and started to drum out a few lazy kicks to wake up the old pins. I figure you don't need your arms for the rest of the day so tend to make them do all the work and save the legs for later on. The only draw back is when you hit the sand they are sound asleep ad they have just been been dragged along for the past 50minutes or so so its important to through in a few kicks so you don't come out of the water stumbling like a born fole! I seemed to get this right as I sprung out of the water with my two feet firmly planted underneath me and headed toward t1 feeling very pleased with my swim. I resisted the urge to rush through transition and instead just followed mr experience cam brown through the whole routine. He's been through more transitions at this level of racing than perhaps the rest of the field combined so was an honor to have the chance to see how calmly and smoothly he does it even whilst in the heat of battle. I came out of the right behind him and jumped on my bike right behind him. As I grabbed my bike dad informed me that as expected I was 5minutes behind the front guys which was bang on my pre race predicted schedule, I was feeling really good about how the day had gone thus far.



Bike

Once on the bike things went immediately pear shaped! I felt so good after my start to the day that I completely threw my cautious race plan out the window and took off a lot harder than I had planned. I had 5 minutes to make up and instead of realizing I had 180km to do I for some stupid reason i tried to do in the first 50Km! Problem was i felt great and having never really tried to race an ironman from pillar to post before in those first 30minutes would kick start a chain reaction of events that i'd pay dearly for later that afternoon. With the rain falling i ignored the fact that sweating is a huge factor in cairns due to the humidity. The reality however is your simply not thirsty when water is falling ontop of you so you need to be even more disciplined to get the fluids down. I'd also made the decision to have all my fuel mixing into my drink bottles in the form different sugars and electrolyte mixes just as i did in cycling which is great particularly the inclement weather in a bike race, would it work for a triathlon?? Anyways like i said before at the time i believed in my plan and as i tore down the captain cook hwy in hot pursuit of the front runners these thoughts never crossed my mind. I didn't have time to slow down at aid stations for water, i was on a mission! 

And all seemed to be going great guns, after the first 40km i'd reduced the gap to the front runners of Luke McKenzie, Clayton Fettell and Pete Jacobs to 4minutes. I was also extremely a happy with the equipment id chosen for the event. My cannondale slice is in my opinion the best bike on the market for all conditions. Its aero so you feel like your on a tt rig but also has the handling of a high performance road bike. With howling wind and on and off spitting rain and coupled with a road that seemed to never be straight!! I was very confident I had the best piece of weaponry to tackle the captain cook hwy. Everything i'd assembled for this race was absolutely perfect and exactly what I wanted. Only question now was whether the turkey using this equipment could do his bit!! 

Anyways back to the race and The running group containing the eventual winner Tim Berkel and Dave Dellow where now halfway between them and me but I was focused on getting to the front asap. When I passed the running group 20km's later Berkel was the only one who was interested in trying to follow my pace. I made a huge rookie error here and instead of allowing him to try and follow me I put the pedal to the metal even harder in a bid to blow him off the wheel and he hung tuff for a while before dropping off a disappearing out of sight. Would have been the move of the day if that was to be the last time I saw him on sunday afternoon but alas it proved to be a silly mistake and waste of precious energy. The effort however spurred me on as only 3 men remained ahead and by the time we made the next turn around and I got a look at them the gap was just over 2minutes. I was consistently taking 2 minutes every 40km, perfect. Next, my first hiccup, my garmin fogged up and stopped working. I no longer had any reference on how hard or how fast I was going. This was the catalyst for a much longer and more agonizing afternoon than I had planned for. I was so reliant on my data that I really had no idea what I was doing and with all my enthusiasm proved to be my worst enemy.

Around halfway into the bike and where I planned to start really putting the pedal to metal!! Well that didn't really happen! instead that spark i'd enjoyed for 2hrs was now gone and ontop of that I felt that sinking feeling that the thermostat was running hot and I hadn't drunk enough water. Still I soldiered on and attempted to convince myself it was just a little fatigue but it was that, little cramps set in, I became a little dizzy and just simply felt like it was all my energy simply to keep my legs turning over. Fearing a complete hunger bonk or worse still coming to a complete standstill, I slowed down at the next aid station and loaded up on endura bottles. Again that proved to be a big error as what my body really needed was water. I plugged away and by the time we turned for the final cross over with 70km remaining the gap was still at 2minutes. This gave me a glimmer of hope as while id been suffering and trying to reset I hadn't lost any ground and with the knowledge that anything and everything can happen in an ironman I had renewed hope.

On the run back to town however I knew it was a big pie in the sky of hope I was hoping for. I got weaker and weaker as the guys up front got stronger and stronger and simply had to put my head down and grovel to the finish and prey for a miracle on the run. It was at this point I counted my lucky stars for my fast bike as it was making me look like a much better cyclists than I was turning into!! nothing better than free speed in the form of slick machinery. All of a sudden with 40km to go I spotted the gangly pete Jacobs ahead of me. This gave me a very weak second wind and reinterated the importance of staying focused and doing the best you can do as anything can and is happening in the race. As I left Pete behind I couldn't believe my eyes when with with 20km to go Luke was standing on the side of the road with a flat tyre frantically trying to change it. While still far from running on all cylinders All off a sudden there was only one man ahead of me, I was back in the game. I put my head down a little lower and leaned into the pedals as much as possible. There was still a marathon to run, perhaps the fairytale could still play out. I entered the bike run transition full of confidence. Being forced to back of the pace for the past 2hrs had meant i'd slowly regained some spring in my step and as i leapt of the bike i quite literally hit the ground running. All of a sudden i couldn't wait to get stuck into this marathon, the luck seemed to be on my side.


Run

My transition from bike to run went so smooth i thought id forgotten something! Nope shoes and socks where on, gells were quickly stuffed down the front of my racing suit and visor and number belt where in hand as i exited the tent to put on while i was running, i was pumped. I spotted dad and fallon who were now very excited armed with the knowledge of what we believed i could do on the run and this gave me confidence i had the lead on the fast men that i needed to stay up the pointy end for the afternoon. Those first km's on the run course were amazing as i felt like i was just floating along and the second wind had finally hit me like howling gale. At the first turn around i got a good look at all the guys. First Clayton still in front came the opposite was but didn't look overly comfortable at all. He'd later abandon the race with a bad back so that would explain that. On my way back to town i saw the men all in hot pursuit. First luke bolted past at a paced that looked frightening and dangerous if he could maintain, pete was gliding along seemingly in slow motion but smooth as silk. Next Dave dellow looked like a potential winner until i saw the man whos run everyone in the field feared Timmy Berkle rocketing along the cairns foreshore. I decided then that i couldn't wait for those 4 to pass me as i could just concentrate on plugging away at my rhythm and wait and see what happened later in the race.

Sure enough Luke flew by me like i was standing still around 10km into the run. I was running 3hr marathon pace so i knew luke wasn't going to maintain the pace he was running at based on his passed ironman success's and I vowed to stay positive and hang in there just as I had on the bike. Anything could happen. Next Dave Dellow came gliding by a couple of km's later and I knew he wouldn't be slowing down, he looked great. The next man to pass me not only blew me away by how fast he went by but also what he said to me everytime we crossed paths in the first 18km of the run. Timmy Berkel would shout out "c'mon legend" "looking good legend" every time we crossed paths, I couldn't believe his sportsmanship, just a class act. He not only blew me away by his camaraderie but also went passed me so quickly that he sucked the sneakers clean off my feet! He was absolutely flying but again you knew he wasn't slowing down and was on his way to the asia pacific title.  What a champion in every sense of the word.

So with 18km in the books and the fast men except pete past me, I was finally where I wanted to be to comfortably drum out my rhythm without any pressure from behind. I'd spotted pete walking in the opposite direction so figured his day might be turning, how wrong I could have been, he was simply showing his experience. Nope Pete was just fine and had his race under control, it was mine that was about to completely flip on its head as I approached the halfway point of the run and I didn't see it coming.

From the start of the run i'd noticed I was very hot and craving water. I'd been stuffing my suit full with ice every aid station and gobbling down water aswell. The ice wasn't even melting before reaching the next aid station where id shove even more down there till after 10km I realized I was looking like an oompa lumpa with all this ice and my body wasn't cooling down at all, what on earth was going on?? Well around halfway in the run I all off a sudden felt the strong urge to pee and my body let know what was wrong. I pulled into the porter potty and to my complete astonishment my urine was blood. My insides where shutting down, my kidneys had had enough. I'd never in my life in all my sporting exploits pushed my body to the point of shutdown to where I passed blood. Wow!! I thought to myself and immediately felt pretty dizzy and average. I couldn't stop, at this point I was running 4th with the abandonment of fettel and with my usual optimism and attitude that anything could happen in an ironman I decide to soldier on and see if I miraculously came good. I'd never had the experience of this happening before so how was I to know there was no way back from this point, well I know now! I scooped up my special needs back which was conveniently only a short distance away, slammed in some more sugar gels, the worst thing I could have done under the circumstances, and soldiered on. Soon Pete Glided by on his way to a fine 3rd place and as he did offered me some great encouragement urging me to hang tuff, told me I looked great, thanks pete I really appreciated that but not even words from the 2012 ironman Kona champion could unravel this literal melt down. 

From there things as expected got worse and worse. Soon it was a very slow jog or shuffle with the occasional little walk and not long after very very slow shuffle, a lot of walking and quite a lot of stopping and stretching. By now my body was completely incapable of processing any fuel to the working muscles at all and as a result the cramps were crippling. Somehow however along between the trips to the porta potty where each time I went in I wondered if I would actually come back out it made feel so dizzy and disorientated, I somehow kept moving toward the finish line. I felt so hot by this point inside that I ditched asking for cups off ice and just got directed to the wheel barrow filled with ice to dunk my head in and shove as many handfuls of cubes down my racing suit that I could. I didn't even notice half the pros whom passed me pass me as for some twisted reason thought I was still in with a shout for a top 10 as believing this was a motivating factor, if I was right I wasn't such a bad debut after all. Nope wrong again, I was wrong a lot today! Anyways I waddled my way to the finish and when I finally rolled down the finish shoot I couldn't believe I still completed the course in 9hrs 23min, was actually my best ironman time, all be it by a minute! Still a small victory for the day and at least I got to here those cool words that many do the event just to experience "you are an ironman"!

Once across the line as it often does it really hit me. All of a sudden it was all my concentration and might to simply stay on my feet. I stumbled my way through the recovery centre and found my way out of the start finish area, I just needed to find fallon and dad who'd been out there all day cheering me on. When dad saw me he was pretty worried and when I told him what had happened really worried. He more than anyone knows that it takes a severe amount of suffering for me to complain and quickly whisked me off to the medical tent for a check up.  It was here that I had the opportunity to appreciate even more how amazing the whole ironman family is. This massive tent full of ironman fatigued athletes and each and every staff member was as helpful as could be. It didn't take long for the doctor to figure out what went wrong with once he matched up my symptoms with what i'd put in my body in that first 5hrs of the race. I'd simply had far too much sugar concentration in my drink bottles and no where near the required amount of water to accompany it to dilute it and make it possible for my insides to process it.

Yep I was simply a ticking time bomb from the moment I took the first sip of my "turbo bottles", my brilliant plan to make hydration and fueling so so simple really was too good to be true. The warning signs where there and the damage had already been done on the 2nd half of the bike course where I started feeling light headed. When I cruised out of transition for the all important run it was simply going to be a matter of time before my kidneys started to shut down?? Well I found out, around 18km of bouncing along pounding the pavement, that was as far as I would get actually racing this ironman. Some people have asked why I would risk kidney failure and not pull out? Well my answer to that is simple, I haven't earn't the right to quit a race simply because things weren't going my way and I wasn't winning or in the top 3 or 5 or 10. If id race for years as a pro and been a consistent performer at that level then yeah, slipping back so far in the field would be unusual and perhaps its best to save your bullets for another day. In this case it was my debut as a pro and i'd had to accept being judged on that no matter what the result may be. In the end I was the 14th professional across the line so that's how good I am as a pro. I earned a few precious wtc ranking points and while it would have been fantastic to begin my innings with a 6 i'll have to be content with a single. It is what it is, maybe I'll keep hitting singles and my ranking will continue to reflect where I stand in the sport. I'm a bit of an optimist though and feel that i'll benefit greatly from this result and  next time i'm on the start line, i'm definitely going to come out swinging.

Cjw







Sent from Windows Mail

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Kona


!Warning!
This is very very long! The reason, I'd had a tuff couple months leading into kona and I didn't know what to write in this blog‎. Anyways finally I've put thumb to blackberry pad and here's my kona story. It's very different to my usual race report as I was more of a participant in kona. None the less I've done some sub headings so you can skip sections as i'm sure parts will be boring! It my blog however so I can write what I like, I do however promise to make them much more streamlined in the future! Oh and it's as always unedited.


It's been almost 5 weeks since almost to the hour that I crossed the finish line on alli drive at the hawaii ironman and no blog. The reason I hadn't but finger to blackberry pad is simply that I didn't know what to write, how I really felt about the whole experience. Well finally I've thought about it all enough, the build up, the realization of a childhood dream, the disappointment of knowing I would be racing the event but merely participating, the relief and satisfaction to know at the end of the day I can now call myself an ironman. Anyways I usually write a lot about a 1hr time trial so settle in for a while here as this is a story I want to tell in full and ensure I have a written memory of what when on during my road to the finish line in kona.


Off to kona-

The whole‎ journey began following my race at the whistler ironman in july. My blog for that has most likely already bored you all so no need to go over all that again. Basically by finishing 9th overall and being the first age grouper home I qualified for the 2015 ironman world championships in kona and I was absolutely cockahoot about that!! I honestly couldn't believe my luck after only deciding to enter the event 2 weeks before, throwing together a few runs, rides and swim in that time, an lining up not having any idea what was going to happen to me during the race. In the end I was pleasently surprised and I'd booked by ticket to kona! With my first ironman and marathon out of the way and the result be far better than anyone including myself expected I was and I think quite rightly quietly confident of a strong performance in kona. The week post race was spent planning training camps and equipment for the lead up and for the big day and by weeks end we had what we felt to be an absolute cracka of a battle plan to execut for my debut at the hawaii ironman. The following weekend my closest childhood buddy Posh Mcdonald and I had planned a road trip from LA to downieville for the annual MTB festival which was to be my final opportunity to let my hair down before I began my road to kona on the following Monday.


Snap-

Once in downieville we hit the ground running. Josh was competing in the famous downhill/enduro/crosscountry unofficial world championship of the event know in the industry as one of a kind! I was being diligent and not competing to avoid taking unnecessary risks in the lead up to kona but still sneaking in a couple of cusual crosscountry rides on the inbetween supporting my buddy posh.  ‎The downieville trials are famous among mtb enduro enthusiasts and people travel from all over the globe to ride there. It's difficult to describe just how unique and magical downie's trials are but think American style of bigger is best with big wide open lucious trials and flowing berms that are literally a car lane wide. There are certainly some extremely challenging sections but with the groomed trials being so wide every section there is a line for the most fearless and techniqual decender and another for the most novice of novice mtb'er it's simply amazing!!

Anyways to cut a long story short, one morning I'm out there enjoying myself ‎on the luscious trials, I stick my leg our for stabilization, my foot jags a rock, and within a split second I have not one but two fractured metatarsels in my left foot and my kona dreams and aspiratin's are quite literally broken!! My first reaction pretty simple really, "you bloody idiot" I said to myself, oh and how bloomen excruciating the pain was when I tried to continue pedaling in a desperate bid to convince myself the damage wasn't that bad, the pain came on so quick so I will go quickly I said to myself no way it's broken!! Yeah right, I deep dwon know right away as I felt like sick to the depths of my stomach, I had the most challenging injury of my life to deal with and the greatest phyical challenge of my life to prepare for, not a great combo!! Sure enough an xray showed 2 nice little fractures of the 2nd and 3rd metatarsal's and after walking into the surgery in my joggers I walked out in my footware for the next 7 weeks, a shiny new moon boot and a set of crutches, Awwwwsomeeee!!!

As with most things I tried to be as optimistic as possible. I convinced myself that I'd able to train around it and not lose any fitness, infact to the contrary as I had no qualms telling people I'd actually come out of this in even better shape than I could have with 2 fit feet!! Yep I was the ultimate optimist. Problem with feet is there are so many little bones all connected to each other in one way shape or form and and movement of the foot at all during the healing phase can re fracture the bone and send you back to square 1. I came up with every trick and modification in the book to get myself exercising again such as pedalling with my heel instead of fore foot and swimming with a pool buoy strapped to my ankles. The pool set up was pretty funny actually as I obviously couldn't tumble turn so had to spin around like a tug boat and head back to the other end of the pool. As the weeks went and I tried improvising to do really what we're nothing more that a problem athetic excuse of maintenance routines, I realised the best thing was full rest and try and ensure I have a foot to go to kona with that can atleast hobble or walk the 42km marathon. At the end of the day this was kona we are talking about and the hawaii ironman ‎ so in my mind I deserved having my other foot broken if I didn't atleast attempt to complete the event. 

So that was that, after a few weeks common sense prevailed and rest and recovery became the only objective. I realized having a healthy strong foot in kona was going to give me a chance of being far more competitive than a half ass'd trained athlete with a nagging foot injury would be. Yep rock up fresh and healed and untrained became my method of preparing for kona, the complete opposite of what I'd envisaged during those battle plan discussions with cannondale in the days after whistler. On the bright side atleast we still have the whole training process for an event up our sleeve should I ever want to head back to kona to actually race it in the future. 

From that moment on the final 4 weeks of recovery leading into kona went really well. I'd train or more exercise every odd day, or 1 on 2 to 3 days off more often than not. When the moon boot finally came off 2 weeks before kona I was able to actually do some "training" again without risk of further injury. I had a lot of muscle imbalance thanks to the 7 weeks in a moonboot so I couldn't train long and hard as I'd favor my stronger leg and amplify the problem. Instead I trained short and hard until my left leg and foot became sore then take a day or days off until it recovered and rebuilded and got stronger from that hit out, basically the opposite type of training you wanted to be doing for an ironman!! So 2 weeks out I started with a 1hr ride at intensity. By the end of the 1st week I was up to 2hrs 30min of solid riding and by the time I'd boarded the plane to kona 3 days before race day I had 2 rides of 4hrs under my belt, I was on the improve. I hadn't ridden 180km since whistler so my final session was planned as a lap of the bike course on the wednesday before Saturdays big test. I wanted to push myself here as I knew if I survived it and I could recover in the 2 days before the event the was a glimmer of hope that I may still be able to chase after that course record on the bike, I might just pull a rabbit out of the hat, I was ready to give kona a crack!!


Race Day-

It was quite a strange feeling when I woke up at 5am on race morning, I was excited but also a bit flat knowing that I wouldn't really be a racer today but merely a competitor. Having dealt with the reality of this I wasn't going to waste my time stressing about a result and taking things to seriously as the best thing I could get out of the day was the experience of seeing how the event plays out. My dissapointment came from the fact this was my 3rd world championship in a different sport after my stints in rowing and cycling, off course I wanted to line up atleast with the mindset of attempting to win a world title but this wasn't going to be the case. I'm not an arrogant sportsman and I know what I'm capable of what my competitors where capable off, knowing I couldn't run a step and I have a long marathon walk that afternoon meant any overall ambition was well and trully the furtherest thing from my mind. All I could focus on was trying to achieve the things within grasp and that was to put together a competitive swim and bike portion to the best of my ability and see where that put me considering my preperation. There is no secrets and everyone who knows me knows the last 3 months has seen me exercise less than I ever have for that time period since I started knuckling into sport at age 14 so the only physiological advantage I had over my competors in kona was freshness! Oh and some stubboness off course as I still believed that if the chips fell my way I maybe just maybe could rip out a fast bike split and a competitive swim. Regardless of my current state of form one thing was certain and although racing as a age grouper for my first attempt on the big Island I wanted to be leading all my fellow age group competitors off the bike. I wanted to see how I felt being that guy who exits transition ahead of your competitors at the famous hawaii ironman, see if it sparked anything in me?? Sure the pro men started 30minutes ahead so I wasn't going to chase them down but the women at 25minutes up the road provided a real carrot to chase all them down and get out on the run course in the thinck of the pro action sandwiched between the men and women, feel the emotion of it all. That was my goal when I woke up on race morning.

So with that all being said I wasn't getting to wound up in pre race meals and digestion at all. I know I could through down a bowl of oatmeal and a couple of bananas a couple of hours before start and that would give me ample fuel to get through a 59minute swim and 4hr 30min on my bicycle. I wasn't at all worried about the run as I knew I wouldn't be running, I'd attemped to trot 1 mile in the underpants run on the thursday morning during race week in kona and my foot blew up like a Baloon, there would be no fairytale for me on race day. My body simply wasn't up to it and simply hadn't done the training that deserved a miricle to happen in such a prestigious event. People train and prepare for this event for years to get the reward on race day and that's how it should be and that's something that motivates me to go back and do it properly. Anyways ‎I shoved down some fuel and at 5:30am bang on schedule Fallon and I jumped into a taxi and headed off to the race start. 

When we arrived at the race start it dawned on me that I had no nervs wasn't a great feeling, when I'm not nervous it usually means I'm not going to perform that well. It generally means I've got nothing to lose, for some reason I perform much better when I feel like I've got something to lose. On this day I did every excuse in the book for whatever outcome, I hadn't trained, I had a couple of broken bones, and had no pressure to achieve any sort of result. The only pressure I felt was what I put on myself to maintain some pride on the bike and atleast get of the treadly ahead of all the age groupers and in the thick of the pro women. Maby I should have given myself loftier ambitions as that's exactly what happened but in all honesty I was scared to shoot to high as I knew there was a large probability of not living up to my expectations considering my physical condition.

I whisked through all the pre race protocols. First was get you numbers marked on your body which I'm always so impressed how they seeming write everything backwards so it looks the right way round! Always baffles me! Once that was done headed to transition to put my "turbo" bottles on my bike and pump up my tyres. These bottles were the main source of fuel for the day so was imperative they were on my bike secure. As I put my bottles on my bike the pro's were getting ready to start. They took off 30minutes before we did‎ so the anthem and fly over was all going on. It wasn't until this moment that I realized, wow I'm really at kona, I'm about to go and race kona! This sent chills through my spine and gave me goosebumps all over, I'd dreamed of being here and now I was right there. I vowed to myself to no matter what today I'm crossing that finish line, I want to become an ironman. I don't care if I fracture every other bone in my foot in the process, I'm getting accross that finish line and between the gun going at the start and crossing that line I'll give it 100percent of my capability. This was kona!! Honor the event!! I took a moment while they counted down the pro and cannon started to soak up the atmosphere, it trully was electric and inspiring even at 6:25am!! Once they were off so was I, bike was ready to rumble, was time to suit myself up, sunscreen up, grab a final feed, basically get myself ready to rumble!

I found Fallon who had all my race clothes and set about getting myself organized. I had a fancy new speed suit that had to be rolled down as you can't cover your shoulders in the kona swim. I rolled it up tightly and tucked it in under my swim skin, I was really starting to feel the part! With a little help from Fallon and a few deep breathe I managed to squeeze on my roka swim skin and I was certainly streamlined! She was snug! I felt extremely streamlined!! Next was the lather up with anti chafing cream which I learnt from whistler not to wipe all over the lense of my googles!! Fortunately fallon was on hand with a towel to wipe my pinkeys and I wouldn't have a repeat debarcle of not being able to see and consequently ditching the goggles and swimming 3.5km goggles less! No mistakes today. The final touch was sunscreen so I shut my eyes while Fallon gave me what I can imagine must feel like a fake tanning as she sprayed me head to toe with 50+, I was going to be out there for a long time! I jammed down a final choc salted caramel bonk breaker bar, quick swig of my electrolyte mix and I was all set. It was 10 minutes till race start so perfect time to get a quick warmup and get myself onto the start line. Fallon wished me luck, said I'll see you later on today!! I'll try and be finished by dark I promised, and I was off, it was go time.

From that moment on I just couldn't wait for the race to start. I charged through the crowd toward the water. I was like being at a big rowing regatta, you just want to get in the boat and start your warmup as from that moment your in control. I just wanted to get myself in the water, start my warmup and get on the startline, it was time to race!‎ Once in the water I felt great! As I expected my tight fitting roka swim skin made me feel incredibly streamlined and my confidence grew for sub 1hr swim. I'd never swam this far without a wetsuit before so had no idea how I'd go but as usual I was confident I'd be ok. The next task was lining up on the start line. I'd been told that to be on the front row you have to be aggressive and make it look like your a fast swimmer. One things for sure I had all the gear with no idea what to do with it so I looked the part, now I just had to somehow look like I was a good swimmer as I barged my way to the front row. The seas parted for me so to speak and when they announed "2minutes till race start" I was planted on the front row! Wow, not only am I in kona but I'm now on the startline and on the front row!! That's cool! That 2minutes went for an eternity but finally the countdown began, "30 seconds" was annouced and we waited for the cannon! "BOOM" and we were off!


Swim:

Common sense would say that with a 3.8km swim, 180km ride, and 42km run ahead you should probably start out conservatively, it was going to be a long day. Nah, not me, when that gun went off I went out like an absolute wounded bull!! When I finally decided to have a look about and transition into a bit of a race rhythm after around 100m flat knacka, I was leading!! I actually laughed under water which was a mistake as I swallowed about a litre of sea water! I couldn't believe these guys were following me, I'm ok over a short distance but it I'm in far from a strong swimmer so I must have bluffed them hard on the line. Anyways I was leading and I was also hurting! My arms and shoulders were chocka block full of lactic acid and fatigue and I had around 3.7km's still to swim, perfect I thought, was exactly the start I was looking for. My tactic now was simple, basically stay at my maximum for as long as possible and maby just maby I might have a good swim bike. First of all though I had to let some actuall fast swimmers get past me so I could get on there feet and have a toe, that's the cyclist in me!! This proved to a mistake as as I tried to slow and get some guys ahead of me I got absolutely pulverized by a bunch of dudes keen to get past me. I copped one good fist bang on my left foot right on my fracture site which made me wince in pain, again a mistake as I swollowed another L of sea water. Like when I play football once I'm hit once the gloves are off so I started fighting back and got myself into a nice group of good swimmers to tow me around the course. I judge a good swimmer by how much they kick, I don't kick at all, it takes me about 20minutes to do 100m kicking in the pool, I really suck. So I just looked out for guys kicking a lot and followed them. Also that way they broke up even more water so was easier for me to swim in there wake and go a lot quicker than I was actually normally capable of, it's pretty cool how the whole drafting thing in the water works, really cool actually.

The swim really flew by. I was absolutely dyeing a 1000 deaths 100m into the swim but by the time the king Kam hotel came into clear view on the swim back to transition I was feeling great. The whole following feet business had actually given me a chance to recover and have as much energy as possible for bike. I followed my little pack of strong kickers all the way to the beach and after 59minutes I was back on dry land, perfect timing!! I felt like quite the pro as I exited the water, I had my zip undone in a flash and by the time I entered the tradition tent I had both sleeves up and over my shoulders, beginers luck!! I grabbed my bike gear bag and found a seat. I quickly ripped off my swim skin and pulled on my socks and put on my bike shoes and I was off again, I couldn't wait to get on that bike. As I exited the tent and the bike transition came into view I felt good as it was full. A full transition after the swim means you've had a good swim as there's more behind you than infront of you!! I found my bike first time which is always a bonus, jammed on my snazzy brand new rudy project aero lid and charged out of transition, well charged with a destinctive hobble!! I couldn't wait to see that mount line to get the party started, I was finally on my home turf and headed for the infamous queen K HWY.


Bike:

I felt awesome when I started pedaling. I hadn't pedalled my cannondale in anger for 10 weeks since the whistler event, it felt so amazing. I'd taken my power meter sensor off my bike as I didn't care what it said. I knew to break the course record I had to average 42.5kmph and that's all I cared about. I had average speed set on my Garmin and I was just going to try and do whatever it took to average that speed. This was probably stupid as I had no reference to output by it was all or nothing for me on the bike and being as out of shape as I was I just needed to roll the dice and see what happened. My first checkpoint was to be at 20minutes as I exited town after the mini loop we do at the beginning around Kailua. I smashed that and was 18min and already 43kmph Ave, the slice was absolutely humming along for me. Once up on the queen K I really opened up. My bike had been fitted with ceramic speed everything the evening before and I couldn't even feel the pedals everything felt so incredibly smooth and fast. It just felt like nothing was working against me and everything was literally helping me blast along the queen k. I blew past the age grouper whom exited the water ahead of me and after 40km I was all alone! I'd start seeing the pro women soon enough but for now I was all alone on the queen k, just me, my bike and my average speed, in other words I couldn't care less if I was alone or in the middle of a Christmas pagent! I was racing my bike. The next check point I had was the bottom of the climb to Hawi. I needed to be there with an average speed of 43kmph to ensure by the time I reach to turn around at the top my average hadn't dipped below 40kmph, I was bang on target!

Nutrition is obviously crucial in an ironman event. My buddy Tim Reed had given me a great tip the day before to ensure I eat as much as possible in the early stages as I'll need it in the last 40km. Ummmm ooppss, I was so excited about going fast that it wasn't until the 60km mark that I remembered to eat some bars! By then it's too late, I was already on the path to running out of fuel!! The cool thing about ironman events is the aid stations. Basically you could take no food at all and you'd never go hungry out there. Another bonus of being up the road alone is you get first crack at the aid stations. This becomes particularly beneficial when you blast through them at 50kmph as you can afford to drop 10 bottles and hopefully catch 1! Initally I slammed down the orange gatoreade but after around 80km I ditched the electrolytes and just started grabbing coke. I love coke and it tasted so good chilled out there in those lava fields. By the end of the bike course I must have smashed around 6 bottles of coke.

Back to the climb to Hawi and I started picking up the pro women. As I passed them I tried to offer a word of encouragement also so they knew it was a boy coming past and not one of there competition. I remember passing the 2014 champion from australia Miranda Carefree and giving her a big come on!! Sadly you could see on her face that it wasn't going to be her day, she stared straight back blankly at me and looked so powerless that I wanted to give her a hug, how devestating for such a great champion to be feeling that way on your day!! Anyways kona can kick anybodies backside and this year rinny got a taste of that, she'll be back better and more badass than ever next year no doubt. Back to the race and I reached the turn around at Hawi ahead of schedule with a 40.3kmph average, great, on track. Next checkpoint was to get back to bottom inside 3hrs total time. The ride down from Hawi is perhaps the hardest part of the course as you think you should be flying downhill but your pedalling flat knacka to go anywhere quickly, the whole course is so unrelenting. Still I reached the bottom of the Hawi climb rd at 2hrs 58min, still on track, I really believed at this point I'd give the record a nudge, I had 1hr 20min to get home.

As I swung back onto the queen k the wheels started to come off. I don't know if the Hawi decent had me out of rhythm or conditioning and nutrition mistakes caught up with but I just felt the spark go. I ignored the signs and dug in even deeper, I was on track for a quick time and had my next checkpoint on my mind at 40km to go. I wanted to role through there under 3hrs 18min as it gave me 1hr to get to the finish. I figured 40kmph was well within my grasp so was a good target. ‎The clock read 3hrs 17min when pedalled through my final checkpoint and from hear it was head down tail up and set sail for home. By this point I was really starting to struggle and the power was gone from my pins. The muscle imbalance of 8 weeks in a moonboot had caught up with and my left leg had checked out. My right leg was doing all it could to keep the wheels turning my it to was rapidly running out of horsepower. Sure enough with 20km to go on the bike I was simply rolling my legs over and my speed was dropping faster than an Olympic diver off the 10m platform! It was plumeting but without any grace! Soon 35kmph became hard, the 30kmph, then 25kmph, I was literally on my hands and knees as I finally dragged my sorry self to the turn of the queen k hwy with 1km to pedal. The record was long gone, now staying above 40kmph would be a good result. I had caught all bar the 1st place pro women so I was going to get my wish of feeling the emotion of the crowd when the pros were on the course. I think I was 15+minutes ahead of the next age grouper so I was happy with that. I finally arrived at the bike/run transition and was put out of my misery. I'd given the bike everything I could possibly muster and the course came out on top, I wasn't up for the fight today. Anyways I couldn't wait to get of that bike, it was time to get on with the day and the next objective, getting my broken foot to hard finish line before dark! I did take one quick moment to smile as I entered transition. The pros bikes are all lined up in the front left corner of transition when you enter which doesn't take my space, there are only 100 of them combined. The other 2000 spaces are for all the age groupers so was a pretty cool feeling seeing only the pro men's bikes and the age group racks completely empty, I was leading the category. While that did make me feel good I did also ponder how awesome it would be to be the first professional back to transition, all racks completely empty, that's something I want to experience one day. Anyways didn't have time to ponder and before I knew it was in the transition tent again and throwing on my running shoes. The volunteers at ironman events are so amazing and are there at every turn. They were so excited to see the first age grouper that they all wanted to help. I had one each helping with each shoe, another peeling a bannana,for me, and 2 others applying sunscreen all over my neck, arms and face as after all It had been nearly 6hrs since Fallon had slip slop slapped me. Once sneakered and suncreened up I was ready to run, was time to get off the backside for the final time for the day and enjoy some time on my feet!


Run:

As I exited transition on the run I could've cried. I wanted so badly to run like an athlete but everytime my left foot hit the ground I was winching in pain. I'd refused a painkilling injection or taking any orally as I didn't want to not feel how bad it was. I also wanted to cry as I felt like a fraud. Here was the leading ameture but nearly 15minutes it looked like I couldn't run a step. I decided there and then that I had to atleast try, I had to as best I could lift my legs as high as possible and honor the event. As soon as the first age grouper passed me I'd then take it easy and ensure I get to the finish but until I'm no longer leading age grouper I'll run as best I could. The crowd and atmosphere as I headed up alli drive was incredible. It was the emotion I wanted to experience, the atmosphere I'd felt as a 16 year old watching the olympics from the grandstand in sydney, the shivers that sent up my spine and made me dream of one day being an Olympian. I watched cadel climb alp d'huez in the 2008 tour and felt the same feeling, that moment made me dream of one day being a professional bike rider and racing le tour, that dream still ain't dead. And now here I was in the thick of the action on saturday afternoon at the hawaii ironman and got the same thrills and chills, I can't wait to go back one day when I come out of that transition still racing, what an incredible feeling that would be.

Back to run and I shuffled/jogged up alli drive. Finally after around 7km or so the first age grouper passed me. When he did, a absolute character who was wearing a camel back I thanked him for doing so and wished him all the best. He asked why I looked like I'd never run in my life and I told him about my foot. He gave me a big hug and thanked me for the support and complimented me on my ride, it was a nice moment and another moment that's meant I've fallen in love with the sport of ironman. The comraderie in the sport I'm not saying is better than any other sport but it's just different, it's I feeling amongst the athletes I feel really comfortable in and love being around, pretty special. So now I was off the hook! I could walk or whatever I wanted to do, I just needed to get to the finish before the sun went down. I experimented with a few different techniques to keep moving forward. First I tried shuffling and that felt pretty good. My theory was keep both feet as close to the ground as possible and limit as much as possible the impact on my foot. I tried walking but that actually hurt more than shuffling so I stuck with the shuffle which was good as it was much faster than limp walking, I wa ontrack to beat the sun home!

Now that I was well and trully in cruise enjoyment mode I started to enjoy the day again. I stopped everytime I saw someone I knew on the side of the road supporting which helped break up the otherwise lengthy marthon ahead! I ran into former aussie pro cyclist Ben day, my good mate from lord howe island Tim Reed and countless other familiar faces. The cannondale clan were out in force with Timmy Eaton, Steve Kwait, and Kevin Costa, those boys had my bike all dialed and for years have all been there for me whenever I need anything, absolute legends. Next I ran into my california parents in Ethan and Marisol Penner. Marisol trains me in her pain cave and they made the trip accross to watch the event which meant the world to me. They knew I couldn't run, they see me everyday, marisol through knew I was capable of still finishing so wanted to make sure I wasn't quiting by grabbing my shoulders and looking me square in the eye and said "finish cam". ‎The only way I wasn't finishing was if I was in an ambulance, I wasn't quitting.

With pleasentries all out of the way through town it was back to the queen K. A few mile down the road and I saw frodeno running back to town en route to his first kona tittle. He's a seriously impressive looking athlete and was pleased he won. He also won the oceanside event I did in march and looked equally impressive that day. I say that as he obviously is a champion year round, takes the sport very seriously and you can see by the results, was great champion. As much as he was suffering inside you couldn't see it on his face, he was en route to glory. The rest of the pro's on the other hand looked like they were on struggle street!! No surprize I guess considering they were at the end of a marthon let alone everything that proceded that!! Anyways I wished I was suffering but sadly wasn't, I was just shuffling and would be for a couple more hours so best keep on keeping on. I made my way along queen and finally into the feared energy Lab. That section was very memorable due to the enthusiasm of the volunteers, wow they were simply incredible. Something pretty special about having a bunch of little 3-5year old hawaiin kids handing you a cup of water and cheering you on, no shortage of inspiration out on course that's for sure.

Back onto queen k for the final time and as the km's to the finish line dropped so to did the sun and I began focusing on that, I wanted to beat it! On this stretch of road I came up with the optimal hydation combo. First you grab a cup of ice and a cup of coke and pour the coke over the ice. Then walk through the station and grab a water and some bannana and by the time you get to the end of the station you have a beautifully chilled cup of coke! Delicious! Anyways finally I made way to the end of the queen k but just before I turned off I found one of my closest friends coming the other way, Sunny Garcia. We met in oceanside and have been training together ever since, rarely a day goes by where we are not training together or talking about what we did that day. It's been an incredible friendship and one that I trully cherrish, sunny is most certainly one of the most incredible people put on the this planet. Let alone how he's pioneered pro surfing but all his work for charity and children all while facing depressions an incredible struggles himself, just an amazing human and here was en rout to finishing the hawaii ironman!‎ So I stopped for final time to be social and had a chinwag with sunny. He was in great spirits as he only had 24km to go! I was in great spirits as I had only 2km and was going to get home before the sun set! Was a nic moment and was so pleased we crossed paths at that point, I'd be waiting for him in a few hrs when he crossed the line.

Off the queen k for the final time and I was homeward bound. I soaked the atmosphere of my final km or so and again pondered how amazing would be to be at this point having raced the whole way. To have put your body to the absolute limit in the most extreme conditions and finally be insight of the line, that would be something pretty special. Anyways it wa still special for me as I was going to make it to the finish line and do so before the sun went down. I swung onto Alii Drive for the final time and you can't help but smile at the sight of the crowd, they go absolutely nuts! It gives me chills just thinking about it to be honest. Down the finish shoot and accross that line and finally I hear those words "cameron wurf from tasmania, you are an ironman" funny even in kona we are not Australians but tasmanian, guess kinda like hawaiins, probably why sunny and I get along so well!! 



So that was that, I was now an ironman. Once I heard that famous voice and had the flowers thrown over my shoulders it was all over. I didn't even take any notice of how long I'd taken I didn't care, the sun was still up. There was a brief moment of excitement and soaking up that finish area, I spotted the sugoi girls, nat, jaime and lisa in the vip area and went and said hi to them. They have been the first ones to greet me at my other 2 events this year so was nice to be there with them again for the big one. Sugoi is a great supportor and sponsor of mine and have been for many years so this year being able to work much more closely with them has been great. Once I'd seen the girls thought I have to be brutally honest I just wanted to find Fallon and get changed. I wasn't tired, I wasn't fatigued, I basically felt like I just had a round of golf. I hadn't run a single step so my muscles weren't beat up and I'd consumed enough calories in coke and redbull throughout the day that I had energy stores for another 10 kona ironmans! No I was just pleased I'd got to the finish before the sun had set, I'd had a good swim and given it everything I had in me on the bike, my job was done. If I'd dwelled on the moment I would only have kept thinking what could have been and that was pointless. Yes I want to go back and do the race properly in the future so the quicker I moved on from this year's event the better. Nope there were no laying down getting a masage or shoveling kg's of food down my stomach, I simply couldn't wait to see fallon, get changed, go grab a nice meal with her and then head back to the finish to wait for Sunny to cross the line. At that point however it dawned on me I had no phone, no cloaths, and no way of knowing where Fallon would be. I simply had my running shoes, a snazzy sugoi racing suit, some hawaiin beeds wrapped around my neck and an ironman finishers towel wrapped over my shoulders. There were 10's of thousands of people about so just had to put a little faith that I'd bump into her. 

Sure enough when I finally got myself out of the finish area there was fallon walking toward me close to where we parted ways almost 11hrs earlier, what a relief as I was really pleased to see her. I asked fallon what time it was 7? 7:30? I've got no idea I said I was just racing the sun!! When she told me it was only 5:45 I couldn't believe it. I said that means It only took me 10hrs 30min or so! Cool felt like I was out there for way longer than that. So that was the de brief, I no kinda knew my time and the race was behind me, I was in civilian cloaths and just was excited to now just be apart of the crowd. We went and grabbed a quick feed with ethan and marisol and kept a Close eye on the ironman tracker to see where sunny was, we didn't want to miss him coming down the finish shoot. It was far more exciting for me to watch sunny come accross the line than the excitement I felt myself. He'd actually achieved something that day and I'd seen quite literally the blood, sweat and at times tears he'd put into even being on the start line in kona but to be finishing the event in 13hrs or so was nothing short of a monumental achievement that meant so much to him as a person. So many had questioned his commitment to the event and desire to finish and he just went out there and showed everyone what a great champion he is yet again. I was so incredibly proud of him and just so happy I'd made the effort to still come to kona as I wouldn't have wanted to miss that moment for anything. 

With sunny across the ‎line there was just one pal left on course I wanted to cheer home. I met thom hulick in oceanside and instantly struck a good accord. Thom was so interested in my background and just one of the most sincere genuine dudes I'd ever come across. We kept intouch speratically throughout the year and logically crossed paths in Kona. Meeting thom is another example of what I'm loving about the ironman scene, your just surrounded by so many great people. Again not implying my previous sports aren't the same but it's different in ironman. In a bike race you don't have the ametures following the le tour peleton up alp d'huez 15minutes behind and finishing under the same finish banner. In triathlon the age group athletes do exactly the same course as the professionals at exactly the same time. What that does if it gives the age group athletes a real appreciation for what the professional athletes can do and this shows in your interaction with those guys, it's unique. From a professional side and while not racing as a pro I gues they see me as one, we have a huge admiration for what these age group athletes achieve while working full time!! We train all day everyday so should be good, these guys are juggling work school and God knows whatever else before they get to there training. It creates a wonderful environment because the age group athletes aren't trying to beat the pros, they are simply doing there best which is an achievement on its own. Thom has become a great friend and it's a friendship that born from this great sport, one of mutuall respect so I wa stoked to be there to high five him as he came down the finish shoot on Alii Drive, such a different race day environment to what I'd become accustomed but one I could very easily get used to so well done thom!!

With my mates safely home I was ready to leave Alii Drive behind for the day myself. Fallon and I bundled up my bike and gear and headed back to the ranch. I'd planned to stay for the final finisher like I did in whistler but I didn't feel like it. I just wanted to go home, take a shower and get some rest. I'd done all I could for the day and just wanted to literally put it to bed and get on with tomorrow. I'd had a taste of how special the hawaii ironman is, how special kona is, and how special it all was to me. I with performance out of the question I went wanting to answer thos questions for myself, no better to do than first hand hey!! Did I love it? Absolutely, being there with my awesome sponsors, my closest friends, new friends, and off course those so special to me. Being able to literally share the experience with all those people from the moment you wake up on race day till the moment you go to sleep that night is really really special, something before I found ironman hadn't existed in my sporting world to this point. Sure there's the race but ironman call themselves a family because that's what it is, support all around you, an environment that make you want to do your abolute best, each and every competitor, just awesome. Yep I'm hooked and I'm going to do my very very best to put the right foot foward in the future and get back to kona to race!!

Cjw



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








Tuesday, September 8, 2015

RideBikerAlli


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!!

Cjw

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.

CJW