Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The off season

The last time wrote on my blog was the morning returned to Australia after wrapping up the season early with my busted ribs and to enjoy some rest. As always this “recovery” period went way to fast and I am now back in Italy about to embark on my second training camp with my new team Liquigas Cannondale. On our first camp we simply had 3 days getting to know each other. Some team building exercises, time playing and literally rolling around in the snow. Of course no initial training camp would be complete without some form of time at the local pup, and after giving every different variety of grappa a test run we went outside to the adjoining ski slope with ski biscuits to have the annual slip and slide destruction derby. The winner was, well no one and with limited injuries was a good time had by all. I can honestly say I had never thought that I night out could culminate in sliding down a ski slope in rubber tyres, the main aim being to get as many people on one tyre as possible whilst attaining the most out of control velocity. It was certainly fun to experience this annual team ritual. So following the camp it has been back to the less glamorous side of cycling, training in the winters rain and snow for the past few days. It iks the first time I have seen a European winter and although I won’t pretend I was prepared for it, being Tasmanian and spending so many hrs in the depths of winter rowing a boat has meant that I don’t mind it so much. I am still might I point out looking forward to getting on the plane tomorrow for our 2 week training camp on the Italian island of sardenia where I have been assured the weather is very pleasant. At the caps conclusion on the 22nd it is straight on the plane for to be home in time for Christmas.

So the off season for as I said before went far to quick. My main aim in this period is to spend as much time with my beautiful girlfriend as possible after our time apart during the season. I stay off the bike for 3 weeks which gives me the opportunity to enjoy my other sporting passion of golf. I really enjoy playing golf simply because I don’t care how bad I play as I don’t have to be good at it. Sure I love it when I play well but the game gives me the chance to relax in a sport and enjoy the company of a wide range of playing companions you come across. As I said before sport is a great leveler and it is certainly a humbling experience when someone twice your age gives you a hiding on the golf course, you cant help but a admire a sport where this can regularly occur. I just hope when I finish cycling I can dedicate a lot of time to improving on my stagnant 10 handicap and have a crack at getting low into the single figures but that can wait. So through in a few weekend escapes and long sleep ins on weekends and the 3 weeks of disappears and then it back into the gym and on the bike. This year I have spent a lot more time in the gym than previous and even got myself back onto the rowing machine. I was told once by neil stephens that the rowing machine was his weapon of choice in the off season so figure as a former rowing it is something I can most likely enjoy again. To be honest I was very surprised how I was able to get back on without feeling like I had much of that strength, sure all the muscles have disappeared thanks to 3 years on the bike but in all honesty I feel more comfortable now than I did before on the machine. The thing is although I harbor no ambitions to ever row a boat full time again, I often think about and wonder how techniquely I could have done it better. As a result I think I must have been sub consciously training in the sport and feel pretty good doing it. I am certainly happy about this as it is nice that 6 years of dedication to a sport has left me with atleast a few skills in the discipline. The off season is also a great time to see all the doctors you don’t make time to visit during the year, dentist, skin cancer analyist, gp and optometrist just to ensure you are in tip top shape to take on a new season. Also admin tasks like tax return always get pushed aside until this period. All in all it is a great opportunity to catch up and all you have not done.

Another past time I have undertaken in the past 2 off seasons is assisting rowing coaching my school 1st eight. It is great to give a little back to a sport that gave me so much and also to my school hutchins whish certainly instilled the patriotic sporting culture into my veins. Coaching is something I have always enjoyed and as my great coach aldo sassi once told me, “a coach is only as good as the athletes he chooses”, in the case of me with the hutchins boys, they have won the past 6 head of the river rowing titles so there quality is certainly very high and not even I am able to bugger them up. It did at times means long days, up at 5am to get on the water, home for breaky, out on th bike for a few hrs, lunch then off to the gym for a couple of hrs meant the days turned into weeks pretty quick but it is a great thing to experience along the way. Watching them perform and most often win gives me great satisfaction and enjoyment, it is amazing to witness sport from the other side. The other side being the hrs in the dingy on the water refining there trechnique to the time in the gym and rowing machine room motivating them to push harder. It gives me a greater perspective of what our team directors must go though during the season, those endless hrs in the car screaming in the radio, having all logistics organized and now it is nice to know that when we do what’s asked and get the right result they enjoy the satisfaction that can only be gained from putting in so many hrs of hard work. All the things I have benefited from by numerous coaches and mentors over the years and it is great to get an appreciation for what this role entails. I have been even more fortunate in the fact that the great roger Drummond was the man whom I was fortunate enough to be assisting. Roger tragically passed away on the 11/11/11 and like the day represents, will be greatly remembered. Roger was the most successful school rowing coach on the scene. His crews had one countless head of the rivers and his athletes have gone on to win both Olympic and multiple world championship medals. I was so honored when roger asked me to be involved with his crew as I obviously had immense respect for him as a person but also had always been intrigued to see exactly what made him such a successful coach. What I learnt that there was no mad science behind his approach, no the secret was simply roger. His way of coaching revolved around finding ways to get the most out of each and every athlete and helping to perform at levels they most likely knew they were never capable off. He was not a dictator nor did he except misbehavior, he did however leave to the athlete to decide if he was prepared to put in the hard yards rather than force it down there thoughts and in every athlete in this group they chose to get stuck right into there collective goals. He was truly a special a person and his skills were not those taught in a classroom but simply ones he possessed from being such a special wonderful person than anyone lucky enough to have been involved with will attest to. Over the 2 years I have been helping roger I therefore became very close to the boys and really felt a responsibility to help them wherever I could. Roger did not stop at rowing, sport was just a part of it and he basically became a life coach for his athletes also. Having been so fortunate to witness him at work I did all I could to fit into the mould as best I could, while I could never ever dream of possessing these special skills roger had I certainly have done all I can to be there for the boys and in the process made some great little buddies along the way. So thanks roger, you have made a massive contribution to this world and any that had time with you are truly blessed.

So that’s my off season In a wrap, I will certainly Endeavour to update my blog a lot more from now on as I return to a more normal routine. Just in closing I would like to share a great achievement from one of my rowing boys in the 2009 head of the river winning crew George Burbury. When I met George last it was obvious he was the natural athlete. It came then as no surprise to me that he excelled in many other sports besides rowing, mainly Australian Rules Football. I realized that Football was certainly his passion longer term and therefore prescribed him more football related training over the summer break. At the time when I sent him his programme via email I gave him some goals which I had done for all the boys of what I thought they could achieve for the season. For George I felt he was certainly capable of winning national titles in rowing with his school crews and following the football season be drafted to the AFL. He achieved the rowing side of things at this year’s nationals and went onto have a standout season with his football. 12months on and he has been drafted to the Geelong Football Club and will begin life as a professional footballer tomorrow. Although I was merely an observer in the whole process it has been a nice experience for me to see something special in someone and follow that journey with him, I am now very excited to watch him progress into life as a professional Australian Rules Footballer. It is always very important to enjoy and celebrate the success of others as one day when you may be lucky enough to enjoy some yourself you hope that others will also share that joy with you.

From Italy’s sub arctic conditions I will say by for now


Sunday, September 26, 2010

The green machine!

Yesterday I touched back down in australia. Season for 2010 wrapped up and time to switch off and get re focused on the next season and new challenges I will be facing. I will be joining one of the strongest teams in the world, liquigas doimo, and am excited about my new role I will play in the team. Man who would not be, I certainly dreamed of always riding for one of the biggest teams in the world, and I don't know why but I always had a goal of riding with ivan basso so for it all to come true is another nice little reminder in my life that sometimes dreams do come true. Why basso? Well I used to really admire the way he took the fight to armstrong back in the 04 and 05 tours. During these years I watched the race on the television in varese while on rowing camps and with it also being his home town I guess I just started cheering for him like you support a football team. You know when you obviously have no real close connection to anybody in the sport so any small connection seems massive so you support that team. Well that was what it was like for me with basso, I felt that being in his home town, I may aswell jump on the ban wagon and support him, and besides you had to support anyone who took the fight to big tex (armstrong) and basso certainly made him earn those victories.

Therefore it was simple for me, With armstrong retiring, I felt that if I wanted to do this sport of cycling I had to learn from the best still in the peleton and for me I felt that was basso. So that's where a small seed was planted in 2005 when I started to entertain the thought of changing sports, If it was going to ultimately work I want him as my teacher. He obviously had some troubles the following year and he dealt with them very well and it was at this time I first met him in 2007 when he was serving his ban.

I was out training with wez sulzberger and we came across him on the side of the road with a flat tyre and no pump. We stopped to help and then rode for 1hr and got along very well, we talked about many things, my rowing, his cycling, why I changed and so forth. To me he was very sincere and happy to help out with advice regarding training and the racing progression I should aim for in order to make the transition from paddle to pedal. In 2008 we started to be trained by aldo sassi and therefore started to share training rides and sessions, well more I guess I was simply in awe that I was doing the same training on the same rodes as him which would make us often cross paths. In 2009 we did a few races together and in 2010 we started the season together in gp lugano and followed pretty much the same race programme through to the giro so I obviously saw him and spoke with him more and more.

Watching him race particularly this season only re affirmed my desire of I guess dream of riding on the same team. He seems to do everything right in races, always at the front and never looks in any difficulty, much like a top afl, soccer, or rugby player whom always seem to have that extra second to everybody else and therefore seem to use half the energy to do the same job. This means when they go they really go, like gary ablett, these sportman always have that extra gear as they are more efficient and simply one step ahead of everybody else. For me I realised by watching basso this year that he is the one with this gift in the peleton and that's a person you want to learn from.

So there I was before the start of tre valli veresine, my home race which finishes with circuits around my home town of varese, talking to my amazing coach aldo sassi when he introduced me to roberto amadio, the big boss of liquigas cycling team. my italian is not perfect but not bad so I could understand what they were talking about, aldo was singing my praises and robert amadio seemed interested. So we exchanged the usual pleasentries and I knew that this race would be important. Luckily for me I was part of main breakaway of the day, much to delight of my team as the race is one of the few televised live on local television so sponsors were happy, always nice when employers are happy! So having had a little imput into the race I was happy with my days work and I went off to a meeting with my agent after dinner. We sat down and he explained that liquigas were keen and had made an offer, it did not take more than half a split second to both agree that this was the perfect opportunity and said yep, were in!

So as quickly as that, a small little thought that was hatched in my mind in 2005 while I watched le tour, became a reality, I would change to cycling, become a professional, and the iceing on the cake, be given the opportinity to ride along side ivan basso. I think most fittingly might I add, it all came true in the beautiful small town where my dream started, varese.


Sent via BlackBerry® from Telstra

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ribbed off

My season sadly has come to an early end. On sunday i fractured a rib avoiding a crash by jaming my brake hood into mi left rib cage. In consultation with the doctor and my team it was decided i should put my race bag in the cubboard for the season and look ahead to next season. Of course when somthing comes to an you tend to want reflect and i have only great memories of my time with Androni in 2010.

I guess my season was shaped by the relationship i developed with the team leader michele scarponi. Very early on we struck a great accord between each other and had trust in what we could do for each other, This being that i would give my all to help michele achieve great results and in return i knew he gave everything to deliver his best performances. This was a great learning experience for me in highlighting how much enjoyment and satisfaction you can feel by watching the success of your fellow team mates. Michele had offered to repay this with some domestic work for me when i was in top form but unfortunately in the second half of the season, fatigue, tiredness and ultimately this broken rib meant this did not occur. Maby in the future we will switch roles but regardless i am super pleased and greatful about the time i have had riding with michele.

There was never a moment to relax during the season as our team never turned up to make up the numbers. Our directors ensured that every pre race team meeting had a spercific plan about how we would be involved in what happened on the race course. Marco Bellini, Giovanni Elina and of course the ever so stylish team manager Gianni Savio did not except any passengers. We were all expected to turn up ready to work whenever we pinned a number on and if you were unable to perform it left you feeling empty as you knew you had let down your team mates. This inspired me to do all i could to not experience this as for me this is not a nice feeling. For this i am very greatful to the team staff for enstiling this bike racing work ethic into me and am sure that it will benfit me in the future regardless of my employer. It does not only stop at the riders and management where i felt this responsibility but the whole staff, massage guys, mechanics, and the doctor, they all put in everything and it was super important to me to know that after every day at the office i had given all i could to justify the daily massage, cloaths being washed, bike cleaned so well it always looked brand new, and of course just the fact that all is done for you so you only worry about pushing those pedals. It has been truly a great honour to be part of such a professional organisation and i again i am greatful for the cyclingisms that i know have as part of my cycling tool kit from my time with the team.

So a great year with a great bunch of people and i wish the androni team all the very very best for the future


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gloves and learning to recover

After my time in Italy where i felt i was reaching a good level of condition, i was full of optimism for my next race, the brixia tour. Things did not work out well, upon arriving at the race i realised i was super tired and desperate for sleep, that night and next morning i suffered from gastro and then hoped i would come good in the first stage in 40 degree heat. Well i didn’t and was again flat out just making my bike move forward. Normally gastro you can get over taking the stages easy but in this heat it was not working, i struggled on through stage 2 where i was in the breakaway, this really annoyed me as if i had felt atleast half ok i could have had a real crack at the day but the fuel levels were to low so was a missed opportunity. The team suggested i pull out and go home and rest up for the upcoming races before i get myself into a serious hole, so after i checked with my team mates that they were ok for the final day without me i finally did the smart thing and headed home for some r n r. For me i hate pulling out of races. Until this time i always took the mentality that if i could survive the stage i would be racing. This therefore has meant that i have had far to many days where i have performed way below my capabilities. The reason for this is cycling is too harder sport to expect to be competitive when you are flat out turning the pedals, and secondly by racing when you are that tired and sore only succeed in putting yourself in hole that the longer you race like that, the longer it takes to come out of it. Sure sometimes you just have bad condition and racing will indeed benefit you so suffering through can be advantageous at times, however this is not the case when you do have good condition but just tired which was the case this time. I guess my adverse opinion to pulling out of races come from my time in rowing. It is never an option to pull out of a rowing race. I guess there are so few big regattas annually that you never dream of not competing regardless of your condition or health. In cycling i have finally realised that every week there is atleast one big race and your team will more than likely not win them all so it is no problem to pull out of the odd one if it means you will benefit from it for the upcoming races. So therefore this was the case for me so after some easy days i was feeling fresh and strong again and ready for my next race.
Just as i felt all was back on track i did a very silly thing and crashed in training. Ok accidents happen but i have top admit this one could have been avoided. I was out with Ritchie porte exploring the country side behind menton when i hit a small bump on a non technical decent, hands flew of the bars, chest fell on the handle bars and after trying in vain to regain control of the bike clutching at the breaks i went over the handle bars and slid face first down the road. Again accidents happened but this one could of been avoided if i had only listened more to cadel evans one day in training. When we met for a ride in 2008 i asked him while he was not wearing a helmet, his reply was why are you not wearing gloves? Good question, so i said, if you wear your helmet i will wear my gloves! I did this for a long while but then stupidly stopped wearing gloves in training to avoid tan lines! Yes i know very vain and very stupid and in this case it taught me a valuable lesson as the only damage i did in this crash was to my hands, infact they were about as badly grazed as they could be without being a major injury so really the perfect wake up call to wear your gloves in training! Feeling like a complete dim whit for being so stupid i was again reminded by my dad that when i used to ride my motor bike he would only make sure i wore my boots and gloves, helmet optional although i always wore it, again he had taught me the importance of the gloves so finally i have learnt the lesson. Unfortunately the hard way. Again i was recovering but this time from an aching body, it came good enough in 3 days for me to resume racing on Sunday and thankfully i felt good again, i was up the front and super active, then going across to a break on the climb i did perhaps somthing even more stupid than my training crash, i crashed going uphill, i was so amped up and feeling good that i swung around a corner went for the accelerator, was still on to much of a lean from the corner and hit the pavement with my pedal and down i went. Very very very silly move. This time no major damage done and i was back on my bike that quick that nobody really noticed i went down as i was between the break forming and what was rest of the field. No major injuries but i did have a little bit of damage to the bike and was a little tight in hips so i offered myself for the work for the final part of the race so to the front i went to try and set up the race for leo. The race was 13 laps of a 14km circuit so with a lap and half to go the field was all together again and the attacks started in ernest with leo ultimately coming 2nd. For me i did not complete the final lap as my work was done and by this stage the body was a little sore from 2 crashes in 3 days and then having to ride on the front to try and control the race, so again the team told me to take an early shower which i duly did, i rode straight down to the beach which was 100m from the start finish for some AFL style recuperation, glad i did as now 2days on i feel like i am ready to go for another race which is on Thursday. So the last 2 weeks have been very good lessons for me in recuperation. Firstly because i was tired then secondly from crashes so in a funny way i have learnt alot and feel better equipped for these situations in the future, unfortunately these incidents are a little unavoidable in cycling from time to time.
Today is my birthday where i have turned 27years old. I guess i have fitted a fair bit into that time but it also reminded me that i am a bit of a slow learner in some instances like the gloves which i learnt this week and the pedal on corners. I have decided today for a bit of a resolution for my birthday that i need to learn quicker some things, especially things that involve me losing skin!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dads Trip

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

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

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

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

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

cameron james wurf

Monday, July 19, 2010

looking back and looking forward

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

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

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Just last week i had the added privelige of me top pal Bomma (his nickname as when he was youngster he could not pronounce his real name Tom correctly) come and visit for a couple of nights. He managed to fit me into his schedule in between a wedding and 60th birthday he had traveled to europe for with his danish girlfriend. Bomma and i first met in 2003 when we rowed and won the under 23 worlds together. I dont know if it was the 20 pints following the selection trials that year or just we were destined to be good mates but in real aussie fashion we struck off a great friendship and one which i cherish greatly. In 2003 we trained in perth which is bommas home town and i consequently spent alot of time at his joint. In 2005 bom decided to come down to tassie to hang out with me and ended up staying for 5months. In 2006 it was my turn again to train in perth and therefore another 2month stint at his place and in 2008 bom was training for the nice ironman and decided that 2months in varese in northern italy with me was the best place for him to prepare and it was again my turn to accomodate him. Therefore over the years we have spent alot of time together and i can honestly say never had a glitch. I reakon this is a pretty good sign of a friendship.

This has led me in the last couple of days to reflect on the important things i have learnt from bom. Firstly bom was the first to encourage me at the time to have a look at cycling in 2007. Cant be that hard and how much much suffering for that long on bike everyday he told me, and with that belief i embarked on the journey that has led me to where i am now. I have had to reinterate to him on numerous occasion the sport is perhaps a little harder than we pigioned holed it 3 years ago. Secondly he really pushed me to take on challenges. Being a person that loves structure and set perametors and goals in my sporting endevours crazy challanges where never part of my routine. These have included a range of things from 8hr cross training sessions, to seeing how many beers you can consume in one go with his giant funnel, 4 being my record and perhaps our most daring challenge, riding from hobart to lake barrington. With Boms back calling an early end to his rowing career his forays into fitness, or witness the fitness as he likes to call them have become more speratic. This means that whenever we get together boms tends to put himself though alot of suffering but he always seems to enjoy it. Jess gets a little mad with me when he arrives home barely able to stand each day but i assure her he would not have it any other way. And i reakon this appitimises bom, he is happy to suffer to hang out with his mate, and this is pretty cool as you know he is a bloke you would want in the trenches with you.

Anyway back to the ride to barrington. This was in 2006 and the rowing nationals were being held at lake barrington and i had recently had hip surgery and despite my protest that i was ready to race the national selectors would not let me race until the final sunday in the interstate regatta. This annoyed bom as much as me as he was living with me at the time so he decided that the best way to show them i was fit and ready to row was to ride the 300km to lake barrington. Simple enough we thought, only 10hrs ish at 30kmph so off we setthe day before the regatta started. The ride was not so bad, a little challenging at times and bom started to suffer pretty bad about 60km in a town called deloraine. This town is now affectionately know as Bommerspain among the rowing community following his recital of the suffering he was experiencing. For me it was not so bad and to be honest i arrivied feeling pretty good, it was the first indicator that perhaps cycling may suit me. Enjoying 10hrs on a bike with kost of it riding into a howling northerly of the Bass Straight is probably not somthing many would enjoy but i did. So upon arriving and bom and i thought the point had been made and i would get to race afterall, we were simply told how stupid we were and that i was still not allowed to race until the following weekend. Anyway we did not think it was stupid and like with all challenges had opened up a new range of what to judge a long day on the bike on. For the record i finally got to race on the sunday in the interstate regatta and we won the lightweight four for the Penrith cup for a record 8th consecutive year so i felt i had earnt the right to travel home in the car. I would have ridded but it was late in the afternoon and had some celebrating to do and bom had also decided that riding the mt wellington time trial the following morning was the best way to recover from the rowing regatta. So after a nice night out i was up early to go up the mountain as fast as possible. By this stage i had not ridden the bike for the 10days of the regatta, somthing i would consider unthinkable these days before a cycling race, but this was different, this was another of boms challenges only this time he followed in the car yelling out the window. It was another painfull day and although from memory i went ok, i dont think i rode my bike for a while afterwards! This is a pretty good example of how most of our time is spent together. Infact even in his two days here bom decided it would be a good idea to do a bit of a fitness test on the Col de Madone, Lances test climb. His idea was i would ride up it flat out and he would follow on the scooter. This would give him a chance to do two things he greatly enjoys, looking at a bloody good view over the mediteranian, and watching me suffer. Again for the record i did suffer and averaged 420watts for the climb so despite suffering was nice to see the giro had given me some good condition.

This final thing i will touch on that bom instilled on me is if it aint worth the exercise to burn off then it aint worth eating. This came about when i was keen to go to macdonalds following the rowing world cup in lucerne switzerland in 2003, bom quickly laid down the law and said in a foreign country under no cirumstances would i be dining in mcdonalds. If you want a burger we will get a proper one at the pub and wash it down with a pint, cant get a pint in mcdonalds he said so i guess you can argue with that logic. These food lessons evolved continued whenever bom felt i was not paying the correct attention to me diet. As a have showed before, it is not so much the food thats the issue, just where you get it, and also the experience you have from eating it in that place. This has ultimately led me to be terribly fussy about where and what i eat. Not even breakfast escapes scrutiny and Jess gets a little stroppy with me as it often causes me to think way to much about whats on the menue or be to fussy about the restaurant or quality of food we buy. I simply cant eat a meal i am not really stoked about, It all boils back however to the simple principle that if you are going to eat it, it has to be worth the effort required to burn of the calories. Therefore i can eat as much pavlova or toblorone cheese cake as i like, just means a little longer on the bike the day after. On the contrary if i dont feel like doing much exercise i know the has to fit the bill for this, therefore this what most would seem a silly little rule bom decided to instill in me like gospel, has actually become pretty usefull in my current chosen endevours where nutrition truly is the fuel that keeps you going!

So thats a little snap shot of bom and the time we have had over the years. I would like to think i have also taught him a thing or two but he would have to tell you about that. What him coming to stay did really make me reflect on how lucky we are to have mates, and specially those that a you grow up with and help guide you into the person you become, usually positive guidence i hope! I am sure in the years to come we will do plenty of other silly things and no doubt learn alot more from each other and i look forward to that. Also maby some of these little stories give a bit of an insight into the way i go about things and the person i have become. So i guess what i am really trying to say is look after your friendships and never take them for granted.

cameron james wurf

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Giro from the middle of the bunch

For the past 4 weeks i have been battling my way through the giro and now enjoying some recovery time. The Giro was an amazing experience for me, my main role in the race was to be there to help our team captain Michele Scarponi and with him finishing in 4th place in the General Classification only 10 seconds behind 3rd, it was also a very satisfying experience. Our team did not have the greatest of fortune on the luck front however thats all part of the sport and where you miss out in one way you tend to benefit somewhere else so you like to think that in the end it is fare for everybody with regard to luck.

After the first few days we returned to the home of the race for the remaining 18stages. We did make a breif detour into switzerland on stage 20 but appart from that it was all on the roads of coffee and pizza. The Team time trial was the first stage on italian soil and was not such a great day for our team. We started very well and at the midway point we were in the top half of the field, unfortunately a couple of km further on we hit a freak hail storm which lasted all of 5min and lost all our rythm and along with that a bucket load of time and ultimately a very average performance. It was a pretty crazy experience having to race in a hail storm however quickly realising stopping and waiting for it to pass was not an option, i quickly tapped my head to ensure my helmet was safely secured and figured i was pretty safe from any serious injury! The team TT was followed by a couple of flatish stages with the next big day involving the famous gravel roads in tuscany. On the one day where rain is far from welcome it bucketed cats and dogs turning the usual white gravel roads to brown mud. Again unfortunately the team did not have a great day with me pucturing at a very inconvenient time just as the peleton had split. I was thrown a wheel by the neutral spares cars but with the convoy a minute away behind the second group my day at the front was over. Not long after michele crashed and had a bike fight to return to the front of the race and did a great effort to get within 1min of the days winner Cadel Evans which was a fantastic effort by him. Riding through mud and rain is pretty much like riding with 2 flat tyres and your brake pads tightened up against the rims so whoever can win on a day like that is truly a super strong dude so with michele not in the mix was great to see the aussie get up for the win.

After the day in the mud a few more regular roleing and flat stages followed, most noteably a sprint stage win by tasmanian Matty Goss which was great to see. He sure is a special talent. The next big test came on the longest stage of the race, 265km to the earthquake ravaged l'aquila. I dont think anyone would have imagained how great a impact this day would have on the peleton at the start of the day but by the end of the stage nobody will forget it in a hurre. It was a very nervous start with all well aware that the lucky one to make up the days break away would more than likely arrive at the finish to fight for the win. This occured however instead of the usual group of 10-15, a group of 56 escaped up the road including carlos sastre, bradly wiggins, david arroyo, and the big winner of the day the white jersey wearer and fellow tasmanian Ritchie Porte. Myself and Matt Goss were also present so tassie had its full representation in the great escape. With all the big teams either unwilling or unable to do anything back in the main field, the gap rose to 18min before my team called myself and 2 of my team mates back to start chasing it down. This is pretty normal ask when riding for the GC however on this occassion with rain wind and freezing cold temperature this 30min wait for the superstar group really messed me up! By the the time they arrived i was no longer feeling super strong and with teeth chattering i took my place on the front and started chasing the group i had just been relaxing in for the past 160km. My legs were now turning in squares and after 60km of pulling the gap was down to 12min 50sec and i went flat out out the back of the group when we hit the final major climb of the day. For the final 40km i suffered like never ever before, again teeth chattering in the freezing cold and seemingly incapable or unable to eat i was in big trouble. My saving grace came in the form of Pablo Lastras, Greg Hendy Henderson the Kiwi, and Michel Albasini who realised my suffering and rode me to the finish. In the end Michele along with Cadel Vino and Basso lost 12min 30sec to the breakaway and the guttsy little tasmanian Ritchie Porte had ridden himself into Pink so was a great day to be appart off in that respect. After the finish i reflected and how i had ended up in such a state and realised how much can go on during 7hrs on the bike. It had started perfect and i was in the break, doing no work and hoping for a good performance. Then i find myself waiting on the side of the road to wait and chase the group i just sat up from. I bury myself to try and close the gap then suffer like never before simply to make it to the finish line. Pretty crazy i quickly realised that it certainly wont be the last time i experience such days on a bike and really in the end after realising that i still had 10 fingers and 10 toes and had not lost any to frostbite i realised in a funny way it was a great experience and i was lucky to experience it, the tuff days make the good ones all the more satisfying!

With Ritchie now in pink and with a handy lead the group enjoyed a few easy days with breakaways and the opportunity to regain some strength for the mountains of the final week. The Monte Grappa stage quickly established those who would be prominent in the final week and michele came to the for finishing 3rd in a group of basso and cadel and it was time to start clawing back the lost minutes. By the time michele finished the stage on the zoncolan the podium was insight and with the rest day to follow the team had plenty of optimism about the final run to verona. I meanwhile had developed a good relationship with michele and was enjoying the role of looking after him. Simply i did anything i could to ensure he did as little as possible, water food, tell him a joke, and of course the more serious duties such as moving him up front. On the hard mountain days once he was in the perfect position to start the crucial climbs i would give him one last bottle and a push and sit up and save some juice for the next day. One funny thing about every race is that you always tend to find yourself in the same group at the finish, i was always pretty much bang in the middle, hence the name of this post, and made some good friends in the final km's of stages as we rode to the finish without the stresses of being right up the front.

It was all set for an exciting final week which was kicked off with the mountain time trial. For me this was not such a good day, my ambition was to ride the climb at regular intensity to ensure i firstly made it up the climb but also to try and keeps as much juice in the tank as possible to help michele in the final days. This plan backfired a bit on me and i got a little bogged down and suffered more than i should off so will know for next time to be a little more prudent with my effort on such stages. Michele had a great ride and was 5th and was continuing to claw back the time. 2 easier days followed before we reached the final 2 mountain days, the tuffest of the race no less. Michele again showed great determination and was the only rider to hold the furious pace set by the liquigas duo of Nibali and Basso and was rewarded with the stage victory. Basso was now in Pink and the race was finally turning into an italian affair after the first part dominated by the anglo saxons and the spainyards!

The tone was set for the final road stage and with micheles win the day before and getting ever closer to that podium, our team was ready to rock and role. I personally was really determined to make the breakaway to hopefully be there late in the race to help michele take back some time. The day started perfectly as i was feeling good, quite a luxury after 20 days of racing. I made the breakaway and was again full of excitment as we hit the first of the day 4 climbs, the 34km monster which took us to livigno. Half way up the climb the breakaway group had significantly taking a bit of facelift with the initial group being whittled down with the likes of Sastre, Lloyd, Cunego, Simoni, Vino, Pinnoti and the eventual stage winner tschop from france joining in on the escape. When Vino and sastre arrived the pace went up all over the race and the pace was to much for me, with 4km to climb i was dropped and by the time we reached half way i was back in the peleton. I offered michele some food and that was it on the climb out of livigno i was dropped and spent a very painful day dangling between the front and last group on the road, i position i was getting used to being in. I was pretty dissapointed in myself as i really wanted to hang in the break but on this occassion was just not strong enough and i guess with the calibre of riders i know i am not quite at there level yet, specially on day 20! Anyway after that michele had another great ride and put in a huge late attack and was 4th on the day, more importantly had dropped nibili and was now only 1 second of 3rd overall. The play of the day however was probably by basso as he was able to follow the move of scarponi and pip him for 3rd place. This meant that michele missed out on the 8second time bonus for 3rd and ultimately was pretty much the difference between 3rd and 4th on GC.

Michele therefore needed the time trial of his life to get on the podium and at the middway stage had taken the time from nibili. Unfortunately on the 5km decent run into the finish nibili took 8 second out of michel and the final margin was 8 seconds, how handy that time bonus would have been the day before! Anyway thats sport and michele did a great job and also the team worked to our best capabilities to set him so everybody was pretty satisfied. Michele i know perhaps was not as 4th always leave you wondering, in my final Rowing world campionships in 2006 i was 4th and there is never an easy way to view it. For an italian to finish 4th in the biggest event of his life i am sure will fill him with the required determination to come back next year and hopefully for him move up some spots.

For me the giro was an experience i never thought i would have in my lifetime. It was great to be there to see what you need to do to one day try and succeed in such a race. Sure there are the exceptions such as Ritchie who was the revelation of the race and basically looked born to be in the position he was in thoughout the race. To dominate the young riders comp from day one, spend 3 days leading the tour, there is only one place he is going in the future and that is to the podium whenever he steps on the bike. Its exciting for him and those arround him to see what he is capable of. I am super lucky to have been close to him over the past few years and the work he does is seriously impressive, certainly hrs most would consider insane but for ritchie the proof is in the pudding! Anyway back to getting though your first grand tour and i was reminded of some wise words Matt Lloyd gave me once, "to finish first first you must finish". Sure finishing first my be out of my reach but also pefhaps not, in 21 days of racing you have alot of time to reflect and perhaps i was just halusinateing but there were moments where i thought perhaps one day i can be up the front. For now one step at a time, first is recover and recover well to ensure this glangelor does not coem back to haunt me, and also ensure i enjoy the power bumb you earn by racing a grand tour, then look to my next race which will be the Tour of Austria where i hope to be finally feeling on top of things after the hectic start to the year!

So rest rest rest and plan the final part of the year which i am pretty excited about. One great part about the giro is you leave home with the weather still a little temprimentle at the end of april and when you get home it is summer and time for the beach, and i love the beach!

for now

cameron james wurf

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


On saturday I began my first grand tour. The giro d Italia. I am super excited to be here as my goal since arriving in Europe has Been to be appart of the team for the giro I very greatfull for being given the opportunity to do it by the team management and senior riders. My role is simply as a domestic. This basically means use as little as possible energy whenever I can as when I am required to perform work, be it riding on the front or collecting bottles or giving up my wheels for punctures of other riders or helping riders back on after crashes or whatever I need to use the energy I have for these purposes. Perhaps later in the tour I will get an opportunity in a breakaway were I will have my own chances but firstly my job is to ensure Michele scarponi, our team leader is well looked after.

If I had any doubts as to my role they were quickly emphasied to me on the first stage where I had been toward the front with 5km and I suffered a flat tyre. As the field had split majorly due to crashes I I tried to ride on the wheel while I waited to our first car however was to risky with all the fast corners. Therefore I stopped took out my wheel and waited to for the car ready for a quick change but when the car approached I realised they we're not slowing down and did not stop as they needed to stay with the front groups in case Michele had any problems. I therefore was left stranded without a wheel and had to wait another couple of minutes for our second car. After this I gently rolled on into the finish with the knowledge greatly reinforced to me that I am certainly the dish pig on the team and taking it easy and saving energy to the finish Is actually a reward which I should embrace. On the positive side Michele finished safely in the front so team goals for the day satisfied and all were happy.

Day 2 for me was much the same on the luck side of things, dropped my chain just as we entered a hectic crosswind section where the peleton did indeed split, got back to front group then avoiding a crash ended up on the footpath with access to the road being blocked by a road of trees so when I finally made my way back onto the tarmac the lead group was gone again, I quick check to ensure Michele was all ok and in the front which he was and I simple sat up and rolled easily along until the second group caught me and enjoyed another early mark for the final 20km. Again team goals met with mechele finishing safely up front and not losing time so again all happy. As for me I am dissapointed I have not been able to really push and get involved in the first 2 days but as far as my job description goes I am happy also as I have only average 190watts and 110heart rate for the 10hrs of racing in the first two days so I am greatfull that fatigue has not found its way into my system as yet. With 18 days racing still to come I am sure it won't be long before this is not the case!

Today we have enjoyed a rest day after flying back from holland where the first 3 stages were held to Italy last night and tomorrow we have the team time trial so I am looking forward to that as it is a day where I am really expected to contribute more so very excited about that!

Really don't know what to expect being a 3 week race but the best advice I have been given is when the stage finishes forget about and start resting and preparing for the following day. After my first 2 days which could often leave you a little annoyed I have realised the importance of this as you need to ready when you do have those good days!

For now from the giro


Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Patients is a little word that has taken some years to become part of my make up. Aslong as i can remember i have always been in a hurry to do things. Unfortunately i am realising now, perhaps a little late, that it has prevented me achieving my chosen endevours to a much higher level. Anyway can dwell on the past and better late than never to realise this i guess?

The reason i have finally come to this realisation is cycling has taught me that you must build the foundations to get where you want to go. Again it has taken 3 years in this sport to realise this but i feel i am starting to get there. It has come about as this season has not begun for me like previous years where i am usually toward the front end of the fields and full of optimism for the year. Things just seem to be a little tuffer in the crucial points of the races where i am usually coming good and i need to be patient to let these sensations return. Luckily in my new team i am able to ride in the role of domestic and help the team leaders to success which allows me slowly build my conditon. Being a professional sport you also are quickly reminded when you have not spercifically prepared for a race when things get hard, you are quickly put in your place and thats how it should be.

For me this year there a couple of good reasons why i am little behind at this point. Firstly my recovery from glangelor was long and has meant i am 3 months behind in my preperation compared to previous years. Secondly when you race every week with only 5 days recovery in between it is impossible to train and do the specifics required to reach your full potential in the races. The most important thing is i accept this and learn to work around it and balance better my recovery, preparation and racing. Although i am only now giving this process to required attention i finally like i am building toward getting the most out of myself in the races. The sensations are good for 90% of the time however i need to patient (for the first time in my life) and put together the process to get there. I hope in the future to be writing a blog about implementing this process and how it worked effectivly for me!

The great thing about this sport is the ones that put in and prepare best will always be the ones up front. There are not many miracles in cycling where major results are achieved with little or now preperation. It is impossible to fox your way around up to 7hrs of intense racing, across mountains, flats, cobbles and brutal winds and come out the strongest. No it is a sport for those committed to the sport and those most commitent and "patient" in there preperation not leaving a stone unturned who will more often than not be the ones the fans come to watch and enjoy the spoils of there success. Back to my problem, it is quite simple, if i want to get to this point in the sport i simply have to patient!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Currently I am in the trento region of Italy, just north of Venice in the mountains. Today I begin the giro del trentino. The reason for this blog however is that I have just leant a little about the Columbian culture!

My room mate for the week is one of our star riders Jose serpa. He is an amazing climber and has 3 wins to his credit already this season. It is not his cycling I want to discuss however. Since rooming with him for the past 24hrs I have noticed he spends an unusually large amount of time on the telephone and by this I mean almost constantly. Puzzled by this attraction to the telephone I just raised this with him and his response was very interesting.

It turns out the Jose has 3 wifes in Columbia. No wonder the poor bloke is on the phone 24hrs a day, he deserves a medal for keeping ontop of that situation. In australia most blokes struggle to keep just one wife informed of what's going on let alone multiplying this by 3!

This is what I love about cycling. It is an international sport and the things you learn and experience are often things far removed from the bike. It is a educational sport in its very own unique way!
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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Settling In

The last 2 weeks have been very productive for me. I have finally settled into my appartment in monaco and been able to resume a normal recovery from race and training schedules. Added to that, having my own kitchen to prepare my favourite meals and i cant complain about too much at the moment. You may think living in and out of hotels is fantastic and to a certain extent it is great, having your bed made, your washing done and fresh towls is certainly a pleasure after a long day in the saddle, however, it is funny how you miss also doing these things for yourself. I know it may be odd but i love washing my cloaths and cooking my dinner and even on the odd occasion i make my bed and challenge myself to do so at the same standard of the hotel is very enjoyable. Certainly being on the road is good but it does make you appreciate the simple things you get to do when you are home.

My little one bedroom crib in monaco is perfect for me. I have a bakery, coffee shop, small supermarket, and atleast 3 good italian restaurants within 50m of my front door. I live up on the rock near the princes castle so as he loves his sleep he puts a ban on people up there after 10 at night and before 7 in the morning so i always sleep like a log. Perhaps my favourite features of my crib appart from my laundry and kitchen are my nespresso coffee machine and cable tv. Although only 15km from italy it is almost impossible to get a good coffee in monaco so i rely heavily on the easy and user friendly nespresso machine to get me going in the mornings and perk me up in the afternoon. Secondly my cable television could not be any better, ok i dont get home and away which would be nice but i do have eurosport 2 which televises the AFL live every week. I am however going to write a letter to eurosport and ask that they do something about the aussie dude that does the comentary and stick with the regular dudes in aus. You cant beat bruce and denise so i dont see why they silence them and have some monotone dude who does not even know how to pronouce the names of the players, this is my only gripe with the tv. Also as an added touch the V8 supercars are telecast so it truly does feel like australia is a hell of alot closer than it actually is which is nice when in reality you're 20000km from home.

Tassi has a great presence in the principality with 4 riders and one top block nick named "Rock" who works for ducatti. We all catch up regularly and through in another 6 aussie riders and we can almost make the beach feel like bondi in the summer! As for the training well that is simply perfect, sure the traffic 10km either side of monaco in the summer is a little tedious at times but then its plain sailing along the mediteranian or inland toward the alps. The most famous stretches of road close handy include the final stages of milan sanremo (or the city to surf as i reffered to it in a previous blog) and of course a climb by the name of col de la madone or more simply as it is commonly known to many cycling fans around the world "the madone". Yes this is the climb that a certain man by the name of Lance Armstrong uses to test his condition and like the steep slope so much that he named a range of trek bikes after the slope. 12km @ 9% average gradient it is a pretty tuff obstacle on a training ride but also a good training road so i frequent it very often. Basically the area offers an almost perfect training environment but when you combine that with the laid back and super easy going lifestyle for me it is the perfect place to set up camp in europe.

Now i am settled in it time to resume racing!


Friday, March 26, 2010


There are some days when spending 2hrs 30min on the home trainer is unbearable and some when it is a pleasure! Todays it is a pleasure as my beloved cats are playing and its live on eurosport, if it was not for the frenchmen arguing outside I would think I was home in my lounge room in tassie!

Go the cats!
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Breaky time before a day in the saddle is crucial, for me I choose a long black coffee from my nespresso machine, they are so good and so easy! Then I occompany that with a smoked salmon ommlette in a tortila wrap, delicious! I wash it down with a glass of apple juice and it is a delightful little snack and I am ready to hit the rd.
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Thursday, March 25, 2010

City to Surf (italian style)

On saturday the 20th of march i particpated in my first city to surf sporting fixture, italian style. Like the sydney fun run, the italian version commonly known as Milan Sanremo, begins in the hustle bustle of the busiest city in the country and finishes in perhaps the busiest beach side suberb in the country. Luckily for both race the roads are closed to traffic giving all a clear path to torture themselves in the respective events.

Having never done the sydney event i can only report on the italian version which i competed in on saturday. The 300km journey was completed in just under 7hrs therefore averaging close to 44kmph. Ouch. The race started under grey skys however the rain conveniently held of until the roads became smaller and more twisty and undulating at the 100km mark, just what you dont want. The race however started well for use with fabrice placing himself in the breakaway of 3 riders relieving the pressure from our team to ride at the front. A welcome chance from the week before in tireno adriatico! At 100km in the race started and with the rain came the inevitable crashes, luckily neither my team mates or i ever went down however the road blocks it created caused many splits and nervious moments. This continued for the next 100km and with 100km to race the sun was out and the race all together and we were happily racing along the mediteranian with a lovely little tail breeze towards sanremo. All seemed to be perfect. Then i dawned on me that my pockets were still filled with food. This unfortunately for me meant that during the previous 100km i had forgotten to eat as much as i should have and was suddenly hungry! I quickly gobbled down as much as i could but in a race of this intensity and duration, when you are at the stage where you are hungry, it is to late to reload, you body is depleted and it was just a ticking time bomb as to when i would bonk! (go hunger flat where your blood has no glycogen and it basically tells your brain to stop your body working so jolly hard).

I tried to think possitively and keep eating hoping for a miricle. Had a few chats with our team captain scarpa and i was geed about helping out in the finarly! I spent the next 60km jostling for position trying to get to front and when we hit the cipressa, the first of 2 decisive climbs which come in the final 20km, i went for the gas pedal to get to the front and help out or captain for the day ginanni. Alas the power did not greet my pedals and as Ginanni came to fore i put on the hazard lights and got spat out the backside of the peleton. At the top of the climb i found myself in a small group with non other than last years race winner mark cavendich and had regained hope that perhaps his team would come back for him! They did not and we would eventually role in 6min behind the winners. As i said before on the cipressa ginanni came to the four, attacking numerous times on both the ascents and decents, and again on the final climb the poggio in an attempt to steal the victory. The climbs were not so brutal at only 3-4km and 4-5% however the italians have this amazing ability to find the most dangourous decents to ride a bicycle down. They really do love to see crashes. For some of the best riders this is also i place where they take there opportunities to win races, ginanni is one of these riders and made some bold attempts at escapeing on these goat track! Unforunately on this occasion he cooul not break the shackels of the peleton and when the bunch reformed just before the finish he was to finish 7th in the sprint, still a very very good result in the first major classic of the season.

So that was my first city to surf, be it sydney or milan, there is certainly no better was to get from the hustle and bustle of the city to the seaside party scene of the beach than by doing a sporting race!


Friday, March 19, 2010

Terra Race Wrap

The final days of turino adriatico were very nervous and although we had the leaders jersey, we were always on the edge of our seats controling the race for scarponi. Alas he started the final day with a two second lead to Stefano Gazelli or the gazelle as i called him, and he was unable to stop the gazelle from speeding to the bonus seconds in the 2 sprints during the stage and losing the lead and finishing second on a countback! Was a heartbreaking experiences for scarpa i am sure and the team felt dejected as we came so close to sealing the victory and the mood post race gave me good indication how great the margin is between winning and coming second to the italians in the cycling world! It is good to hurt as it is a positive reminder that you want to always strive to avoid this feeling in the future! I am sure we will re group and we must as it is only march and the big races are only just beggining so onwards and upwards!

For me was a great experience week. I rode in my first breakaway at protour level and had my first attempt at trying to attain the victory on this day. I fell short but learnt that perhaps one i may just make it to the finish before the rest of the peleton so for sure i will try this approach again in the future. Following this day i switched roles to domestic and this is a role i really fell comfortable with and a role i can really give all i have the cause. It was nice to feel a real purpose in this race, although it did require me to stretch myself to new levels of exertion, so much so that i stopped wearing my heart rate monitor which i have always believed to be an important monitoring tool, i was really really enjoying being able to contribute and understand how to apply this type of role to the team. I hope this skill will be a big benefit to me this season. Of course the recognition of your efforts from the team is always important more as a means of re assureing yourself that you did the right thing, to me this is important as i like to know if i make mistakes to learn for next time!

This is no different to the workforce and although there is great importance for the worker to know he has done the right thing with positive feedback, it is perhaps of even greater importance that the leader or boss is honest in therein there appraisel of your efforts, again if though fear of offending you dont tell someone what they did wrong how ill the person to do it differently the next time. This is perhaps the most crucial element to the success of anything where a team or group of people are involved, if feedback both positive and negative can be used constructively by the workers you will have a greater chance of a successfull team than if you sit on the fence through fear of offending. At the end of the day any feed back must be not pigion holed as good and bad but simply as positive as you are either learning or being re assured you are on the right track.

For me i was certainly a culperate in my time in rowing of being to positive specially when things were not going as well as they could have so i guess with some very poor rowing results and experiences behind me and unfortunately some cycling ones also, i feel that for me this is a crucial area for me to work on and be attentive to. Luckily in my new androni team i have found an environment that most certainly opperates in this way and i think the core of this is respect for each other, staff and riders and everybody wanting the same thing, success. I am sure that this is also the core principles of successfull organisations in the business world.

Tomorrow i race milan sanremo, usually best done in a car however the italians decided to create one of the biggest races of the year by having us race the 300km. Luckily for i once rode from my home at Mt rumney in the south of tasmania to lake barrington in the north east, also 300km however on this occasion i had one element i luckily will not have to face tomorrow and that is the bass straight sea breeze just to make sure it was super hard, i dont think the mediteranian sea can through anything like that at us. Also on that occasion i had my good mate bomma for company so will perhaps be a little quieter without him but i am sure there will be plenty going on to keep us all on our toes for the 7hrs.

looking forward to what i hope is another good day of team work with the androni boys


Sunday, March 14, 2010

When I am at a race there a few subtle signs that I am getting tired,

Firstly I stop taking the numbers of my jersey and just through it in the washing bag so I don't have to re pin them tomorrow!

Secondly spend a lot more time lying on my back trying to avoid any movement which requires any energy although generally increase my psp time!

Thirdly you find yourself taking a lot more notice of the distance to the finish signs!

And finally I start craving nuttela, so I generally sneak in an extra serve morning and night and when I find a small panini with it in my feed bag at the feed zone I am instantly re energized for another 50km, this final one is certainly an enjoyable part of getting tired at a race! After nearly 1000km in 5 days you tend to not worry so much about the extra calories but you do still need to be diligent, you don't want to get tubby!

Of course you have tired legs and generally feel a little whacked but everybody feels the same way, the tired signs are perhaps a little more individual however also I am sure others have similar tendencies!

The put in perspective none of this gets you down its just part of it, and at this race I am super excited to be appart of it as scarponi still leads the race so bring on tomorrow!
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Race update

With the snow behind us the sun begin to shine on our ANDRONI team yesterday with a brillient performance by Michele scarponi to win stage 4 and Leo toping it off with 3rd on the day. They are now 1st and 3rd on GC also and the team is 1st on the teams classifcation so all round exciting! The team of serpa Leo Jackson and ginanni did a amazing job to set up this result for Michele, they final 30km resembled the profile of sharks teeth with equaly brutal gradients on the short slopes so I am sure there we're not many fresh legs left in the entire peleton in the finale however to the delight of our squad on this day it was Michele who was still going the best at the end

For me the race has been a good experience, made my first breakaway on stage 3 and went alone with 30km to go hoping to outclimb the closing peleton however was not to be and I was caught 10km from the finish with a decent and flat run to the finish for the remaining sprinters. I had a go though and enjoyed my time off the front! Yesterday my role turned to domestic and I must admit I much prefer this job in the early season while I find my race rhythm. Michele sent me to the front for the flat section and final long climb as he was primed for a big day, with my work done at the 200km mark I sat up and listened to the race unfold on the radio as I rolled along with a another who had also been on the front with me Matt hayman. To my jubilant enjoyment Michele won and all of a sudden the fatigue from the time on the front seemed to vanish, unfortunately this was short lived as I still had 10km to ride to the finish with a very nasty little pinch to through in for good measure!

So for today I am looking forward to trying to defend the race lead our leader Michele scarponi!

Molto bene gara

From somewhere on the adriatic coast

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010


The snow that awaits us for turino adriatico starting tomorrow! I have talked many times about new experiences and challenges and being out of the comfort zone! Racing a bicycle in the snow is certainly going to be one of these moments!

For now unfortunately the snow has is stationary on the auto strada 100km from our destination so therefore the first obstacle in the adventure is getting to the start!
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Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Climb It Ise Ation

Coming to europe always requires some adaptation. This time however i had a new element deal with, winter! My second race GP lugano in switzerland was raced under grey drizzly sky's and add to that 2 degrees and it was quite a shock to my summer system. To stay remotely warm i had 4 layers of cycling cloathing and a raincoat on top off all that, and although the race was basically flat out all day, i never once entertained the idea of removing anything. As far as the race went, a large break went which we were well represented in, two strong teams chased very fast for 100km to bring it back, once back attacks started again and this time i was envolved in the moves however a swiss man in an audi decided to drive head on into the race and collided with a rider, fortunately the rider was fine however the audi was perhaps not so fortunate. A protest followed and the race was off then restarting then cancelled then finally we did restart however by this time half the riders had accepted the early mark and headed for the showers, what ever happened to swiss prescision in organisation? Upon the restart we worked hard to set up leo again, he was 7th and it was time for a defrost and shower!

Next was a day to recuperate before heading off for another race. This time the weather was more favourable and for me more enjoyable. We had hoped to set the race up for our fast man alberto loddo, however the hills were a little to much for him and he took an early exit. Fabio Tabore put in a great ride to try and steel the race from the breakaway however by the final kms it was still a large group of 60 and fabio myself and alesandro were unable to barge in on the sprinters parade. All in all a good race to get into the system, next stop my first big race of the season, Turrino Adriatico.

With 4 days now to unwind after the rush of the past month i have had plenty of time to contemplate my goals and aspirations for the season. First priority is to get settled in europe, this means resuming normal training, having a long term program, setting goals for these races, and settling into my appartment.

I have ticked of the training resumption, coach sassi is always keen to resume this structure asap. Training with a good training partner such drew at the gc camp we held recently in hobart was somthing upon reflection i realised can be very benficial. Somtimes spending all your time alone can result in you getting very settled in your own comfort zone. Unfortunately cycling is a sport which takes you completely out of your comfort zone, you are constantly being forced to go at others pace in an attempt to be the stongest rider. Having a training partner, although not to the extent of racing, gives the possibility for subtle changes in your desired pace which adds to training intensity. Although i would not often articulate to drew, there certainly were times partically when cruising between intervals that the varying pace to what i was used to was making me concentrate much harder on staying on top of the session. This is a crucial element to develope in cycling as although you can predict to a certain extent how the race will unfold, you simply never know when it will be on and off. Therefore after drew in hobart, Ivan basso happened to be doing the same climbing session as me yesterday. As we have the same coach we do similar work and when we do similar races which we have done over the past week, our sessions fall on the similar days. Again although we are basically doing the identical session, his pace again varied to mine as he was using a higher cadence and i addapted to this. Again this took me out of my comfort zone for a few intervals then my body addapted to the change and i was back feeling comfortable again. These two experiences of taking me out of my comfort zone with drew and now Ivan, i reslise its importance in my continued development in this sport.

I guess this experience does not only have to apply to sport, people often challenge themselves in all fields by spending time with those who do it a little differently. Whether it be a different way of thinking or analysing on a business front, the way a lawyar prepares a case, doctors approach to healing there patients, or the way in which a painter does his art work, putting yourself in a situation where you are not 100% comfortable will often, if pursist with it, help you to progress in your chosen field. For me i will continue to look for these situations not only in cycling but in all aspects of what i do, and in the process continue to learn little things i otherwise would not have discovered.

As for my race program and appartment, i plan to move in following this weeks race from the 11th till 16th, goal is to be a good support for our team leaders. As for races after that, i hope to learn more about shortly, for now i am simply enjoying being in an environment which is certainly far removed from what i am fortunate enough to be appart of in hobart, and with this environment trying to learn as much as i can.

Bye for now from Gavirate Italy


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Time for Europe

It’s been some time since my last entry and alot has transpired, hence not being able to find the time to add to my blog!
Following the conclusion of the training camp, I have been getting organised for annual pilgrimage to Europe. I spent 2 days in Melbourne enjoying some precious time with Jess, enjoyed a meal with Mayor of Toorak and my former rowing partner Tim Smith, and also took the opportunity to meet my good mate Matty Ryans and his partner Sarah’s little girl Marli! This social time as it always does for athletes goes far too quickly and before I knew it we were back in Tassie with Jess back at uni and me into one final intense week of training in Australia before getting on the plain to Europe on Wednesday just gone. I arrived in Milan Malpensa on Thursday morning and I have today competed in my first race of the 2010 season.
I have covered pretty much the goings on of Melbourne so will give an insight into my final week in Hobart. It starts by Jess writing a list of things that need to be done. We are both real list people, Jess is due the fact that she is super organised, me on the other hand developed list writing during my time at the AIS where my sports psychologist Michel Martin suggested i use it as a way to keep me from being distracted by negative thoughts during my build up to the Olympic trials in 2004. I also now find a list useful way of reminding you of the things have done on the days where you simply feel like you have done nothing! Anyway Jess’s list comprises all things big and small to be done before departure such as, spend time with each other, spend time with the dog, catch up with family and friends, ensure I get all my favourite meals consumed, and off course general administrative tasks. This period also raises the great conundrum athletes sometime face, do i ensure i complete all my training to its maximum and risk not having the time to organise all the things, or do i accept that as long as i do enough work on the bike it is perhaps more important to complete the list tasks. I take the approach of slightly compromising my training to ensure i get though the list. The way i compromise is i aim to complete my volume and intensity prescribed by my coach for the prescribed period which means on some days when i have time i do more than prescribed and others where time is limited i do less. By getting this balance wrong you run the risk of making a mess of both aspects. Having said that training went well and i was able to step it up a notch from the camp, add in some motor pace thanks to dad coming down to visit from queensland for a couple of days, and i felt like i was as well prepared as possible to begin racing. On the other side, completed all tasks on the lists and felt pretty relaxed about heading off to the other side of the world again. The one thing I can never prepare for is saying goodbye to Jess which always brings me to tears and this time was no exception, i certainly miss her greatly during out time apart.
I arrived in Italy on Thursday morning and immediately went for a quick catch up with my coach Aldo at the mapei centre. Once we had a caught up and booked me in for the usual beginning of the season lab tests i headed of to my one of my homes away from home, Gavirate. Having spent 3 years rowing out of this town and now entering my 4th year on the bike using it as a base, it is nice to be 20000km from and feel like you have familiar surrounds. One of the best parts about returning to gavirate is the meal a get to enjoy at my favourite little trattoria along at the opposite end of the lake. I don’t know how the Italians do it but there food, wine, and coffee, is truly delightful and unique. I have still never had a bad meal in this part of the world. Day 1 down and Day 2 was and exciting one with meeting my new team mates and receiving my new race and training bikes, and off course the required cloathing that comes with being part of a cycling team. All went well and felt very comfortable around my new colleagues, and i was ready to race.
Race day, and apart from the jet lag i felt as well prepared as possible. We were greeted by bright sunny skis for the final days of winter and although a little fresh which meant i was wearing 4 layers of clothing, perfect conditions for racing. It is unusual for an aussie to race on roads you however with todays course being based around lugano and varese i had trained regularly on the course route. It even went past the front door of my little apartment in gavirate. With last years race winner in our squad the race plan for us was simple, put him in a position where he can try to defend his title. A small break went after 20km and i then spent the next 150 riding on the front with a team mate and the help of a couple of others from opposing squads to bring the break back. With 12km we had the race back together and was time to keep Francesco toward the front so he could follow the moves. The final 12km was made up of to short circuits with a tight steep little goat track climb and an equally nasty decent. Having done my job i was happily roleing up the climb and down the decent in the main field when a mass pile up happened on a tight band and to avoid hitting th e deck myself i locked up my back wheel a little to much and burst a tyre. The narrow road and being toward the front meant waiting some time for the car and a change wheel. By the time this was done and 9km remaining the race was long gone my director suggested i call it a day and perhaps save some energy for tomorrow’s race. With my job done a figured it was a good idea and i had and early shower. At the front of the race Leo did a great job to grab 4th and the King of the mountain title while Francesco made a brave defence of his crown before finishing 11th. All in all, aside from failing to finish myself, a nice way to start the season with my new team Androni Giocattoli.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Camp Concludes!!!!!

The GC camp (which stands for Ginn & Cameron or Great Company or Gaining Confidence or perhaps more fittingly to cycling General Classification) Finally came to an end yesterday afternoon. After 7 days of Eat, Train and Rest, It was time for drew to hop on the plane and head home to his family in melbourne!

The brief summary of what we did on the bike over the 7 days is as follows, 34:17hrs of riding at an average of 230 watts (more for drew), burnt 28067kcal during training (again more for drew), covered 987km, and climbed a total of 16000m in vertical elevation. We basicaly amassed this in 6 days as we had an easy day of 90min on day 4 which did not greatly contribute to the overall fiqures. As to what we did in totaling these numbers, 8hrs 10min at U2 or 75-85% 0f max heart rate with this time broken between flat tempo intervals and also climbing , and 1hr at Anaerobic threshold done on tt bike and climbing. The remainder of the time was spent at general endurance intensity.

The goal of the camp were vastly different for both of us. Drew was looking to get a good solid week in on the bike and have a little look at what i do, and was able to test my system a little to guage my recovery from the glangelor virus i suffered from last year.

Not unexpectly when you spend that much time with another person and go though periods of feeling good and a little tired you learn alot more about each other. I always say that sport is a great levela, this is perhaps more evident on a push bike. You often find you talk alot more about things you may otherwise not have discussed, a bit like when you are drunk! This means you learn alot of great stuff however it also means there is plenty of conversation that goes in one ear and out the other. At the end of the day however it is highly likely that if you actively engage in conversation with your training partner when possible on the bike, you will finish that session having learnt somthing. Learning to me is very important, and being exposed to a person like drew and the knowledge he has stored over the years has meant that combining this with 34hrs of exercise, i have learnt some very valuable lessons which i hope stand me in a little better stead in the future. I also hope that amongst the jibberish that often flows from my voice box was some valuable information he may be able to use!

To me that is sport, putting yourself in an environment where you are prepared to have a go. Somtimes you succeed and somtimes you feel like you have not achieved your desired outcome. Everybody judges these two outcomes very differently, however you always need to remember buy simply having a go in the first place, you have achieved somthing!

A very enjoyable week

Best wishes