Read this ...
I love this bit :
I had plenty of time to come up with a fitting book of the day. It’s from the Disk World series by Terry Pratchett. In it, the protagonist is Conan the Barbarian, who is a 70-year-old who has just survived everything. At one point he, and his other old warrior friends capture this village, but then they find that they are surrounded by an army of tens of thousands, and his only reaction is, “Oh man, it’s going to take days to kill all these people!” And that’s the way I was today when I was lying on the ground. I just thought, “Oh no, I’m going to Paris this year, I’m going to Paris. There’s just no way you are going to get me out of this race for the second year in a row!”
Jens, 100% HAF.
Thoughts on the first few days of the Tour
Stage 1. Bizarre crashes, but normal for the first week. Everyone's desperate to snag a win early to take the pressure off.
Stage 2. Guys, it's a rainy road, ride like it's a rainy road. Old racing adage : You don't win a race on a descent, but you can lose one. There's always been narrow roads and the risk of rain in the Tour. At least it wasn't raining on the pave ...
Stage 3. Pave. Always going to be decisive. Way back on '03 or '04 when it was last there, Armstrong and the other GC contenders were freed of Iban Mayo on the Pave. It's a selective surface. It's always been said that the first week of the Tour weeds out the specialists, ie: it hurts the pure climbers. The stages are long and hard and they soften up the lightweight mountaingoats. The first week is why pure climbers very rarely win the Tour. This time it was Frank Schlek, C'est la Vie. Armstrong lost time too, Contador, Andy Schleck and Evans coped well. Cancellara had a sook about it (two days in a row, Fabian, channeling Cadel eh?) as did the old cheat (Bjarne Riis, btw, he had his TdF win stripped of him for cheating, but read this .... Um, Bjarne ... You didn't win the '96 tour, you cheated and that result has been purged) but it's an important part of the Tour. Take out the hard bits of the first week and you may as well do half a dozen ITT's up mountains to decide the tour. The Tour is bigger than that. It's bigger than the riders. It's a race that requires a lot of all round abilities and a little bit of luck. The great riders make their own luck.
Stage 4. What is this, the rebirth of the old sprinters? Petacchi?! Two stage wins? Wow. Robbie McEwen's still got the smarts but hasn't got the legs anymore, but Cavendish, if I was one of his leadout riders I'd be furious. You bust your guts to set him up for a stage and he sits up and watches the finish. Not how to motivate your team mates. Roll out Zabel and Kursipu!
And so it begins, le Tour!
Armstrong, 7 times winner .. Undisputably the greatest tour rider of all time. Last year in his comeback despite team issues and injuries, 3rd place.
Last night, he's the fastest of the real contenders in the prologue. His team mates, right up there too (team time trial form is therefore very good) Early days, yes .. but ominous. It's going to be another fantastic tour.
The Apolitos brought back some goodies from their trip
I'd like to thank Dino, Ann and Emily Apolito, they brought back some goodies that they gave to me from their trip overseas - including an aboc Sprint Squad t-shirt!.
I've just put together the 13th spin session program for this winter, the A stream riders get their first full Tabata interval session. The rest of the A stream for that evening is easier than it would be normally, but the Tabatas are sufficiently brutal that I don't think any will complain. We'll fine-tune these as we progress and any feedback is much appreciated.
I've still got lingering and unpleasant flu-cold symptoms, so may not be able to train much for the remainder of this week - generally coughing up lumps isn't considered compatible with training. Still ... these things are temporary and I'll be better soon. I'm consistently repping out 180kg squats now, and did a set of 160kg deadlifts on Wednesday in the 'Haus, so that's not too bad, and on Tues at Spin I got a 1440 watt effort, which considering I'd just squatted sets of 180kg and was (and am!) crook, I'm happy with. Last winter that would have been a PB, so being able to grind that out when tired and unwell is a good sign for this coming summer.
The 'Haus has been busy this week too, I've had the Sprint Squad, some of the DUCCs and a few friends over as well. Teaching them Rip's squat. I think they'll be moaning today. DOMS is an old friend we know well!
The Apolitos are in France, and sent me some photos
Some of you may remember the very exciting news a few months ago ... Yes, aboc Sprint Squad t-shirts! Remember? Yeah... Of course you do!
Anyway ... Dino and Emily have some (do you feel uncool for not having one? Give it time ...). They're also in France on holidays. Here's some photos :
I heard at Spin on Tuesday that only leaders wear yellow in July. Right!
We're helping at the EJT
I've spent a bit of time knocking up a website for the Eildon Junior Tour. It's a basic Plone site, no frills, content is king ... Anyway ... After a relaxing and totally bike-free few days at Bonnie Doon, it's back to the millstone today. The plan is a set of medium weights in the 'haus at about 4pm, then spin like a loon in the sprinters stream at Spin tonight. Tomorrow, if my legs are ok from today, lift heavy - I've done a couple of sets of 3 reps at 170kg squats now, it's time to up the volume and go for 5's before I bump the weight up. The 3's felt reasonably easy last week which is a good sign.
Nathan ran DISC on Sunday for me, it'll be good to hear how that went from him and some of the others who went along. It'll be back to me running it this Sunday though, so no rest for the keen.
News from the Apolitos is that they've got a nice view in some village in France. Very nice ... No bikes yet though.
Part of me wants to cheer like a madman, part of me says 'punchdrunk boxers do this and it's never good'.
Pou-Pou to make a comeback
llub tihs, Idaho
After the excitement of Lance 'Big Tex' announcing his comeback to the professional peloton with the aim of winning his 8th tour and 'Getting it up the French again', another shock annoucement; Raymond 'Pou-Pou' Poulidor has also signed up for the 2009 Tour de France. His reason? Cadel Evans. Poulidor was heard muttering at the 2008 tour about the bland performance of Australia's beige jersey winner, and vowed to show the gutsy Aussie that his was the rightful name on the penultimate platform of the podium at Paris. 'No one steals my place in history', he was overheard saying at a smokey cafe in Amsterdam while on a training camp.
Further rumours of a Greg Lemond/Lance Armstrong 'superteam' are yet to be confirmed, but a Trek bicycle representative, makers of Lance's bikes and recently estranged from Lemond, did confirm that they had seen the two former champions riding a tandem during a recent charity event together, but could not confirm who was the captain and who was stoker.
Marco Pantani didn't return calls requesting his opinion, but Eddy Merckx was thrilled when told the news.
He's not ideally placed, but is still in with a fighting chance, and the aboc dinner was great!
Firstly, I'd like like to thank everyone that came to the aboc dinner earlier this week, we had a record attendance (29 in total) to hear a fantastic talk from Stu 'V-Train' Vaughan, as he showed us his 'Cycling Journey' from 125kg couch potato to world masters pursuit champion in 4 years, by way of marathon running, cross-country ski-ing and triathalon, before Stu finally settled on bike racing as his sport. In particular, I'd like to thank Bev who did a heap of the organising for the dinner which made my job a lot easier, and Dino for taking some photos for me.
I've had a lot of positive feedback for the dinner and Stu's talk, so thankyou V-Train for taking the time to tell us your tale. It'll be a hard one to follow.
And to le Tour. Wow .. CSC did what everyone expected, ah-la Lance Armstong in the past, but with a two-pronged attack in the end, with Carlos Sastre launching up l'Alp de'Huez at the very start of it, and gaining a lot of time on Cadel (and everyone else). Cadel bogged down in a flurry of false attacks and stutters driven mainly by Valverde (being paid by CSC?) and Andy Schleck which conspired to keep the chase group's pace low (attack and recover is always slower than a tempo effort up a climb). Sastre remarked afterwards that he knew it's faster to climb at his own pace than it is to attack and surge etc, it was unfortunate to see Evans get caught up in that, maybe he'd have been better just riding his own tempo up the climb and if he towed the rest up and they attacked him at the end, it wouldn't have mattered, he needed to limit his losses to Sastre more than he needed a stage win. The fact that Menchov managed to get back into the bunch just by riding tempo shows that it's sometimes better to get dropped by a surge and just ride your own pace than it is to go over threshold. Ullrich used to do that, he'd get dropped by surges, but would catch back because the surging riders would, once they settled, drop to a lower speed than Ullrich's tempo.
The final time trial on Saturday night will be a nailbiter.
It's now blurring into week three of le Tour. Simon Gerrans has just won a stage in the Alps, Cadel's lost the yellow in what we can only hope was his bad day on the tour where he didn't look strong and the race is far from having a clear leader, with 6 riders within 50 seconds of Frank Schleck's tenous grip on the yellow jersey (everyone has a bad day on the tour). Tonight's a rest night for the Tour, phew ... some sleep at last. The next two stages in the Alps will sort that out though.
A good article on bikes as transport in today's Age some exerpts from Chris Saliba's article, called
A bike often gets you there quicker
A recent report says that 52% of typical car trips in Australian cities are under five kilometres long. That's about a 20-minute ride. Broken down into energy costs, such a trip will set you back about 200 calories.
I soon learned how much fun it was whooshing along and enjoying the fresh air. I was hooked and couldn't have cared less what people thought. I now have a large basket attached to the back of my bike and can easily do all my shopping as well as commute. As far as I can see, bikes are a great positive. They save you money on petrol, burn up body fat, help the environment — and they're fun. On top of that they're very reliable and, in some situations, faster than cars.
Our DISC session last night ended with a few of us utterly trashed. Need. New. Legs.
Happy new financial year
I'm relieved, after a couple of quite painful days hobbling, today my ankle felt ok, ok enough to consider a strength session. In the mail on Monday I received my new video camera (Sony VX2100), and then today, a tax refund cheque, a new book (Might as well win, by Johan Bruynell, famous for directing US Postal and Discovery to 7 Tour de France wins with Lance Armstrong and one with Alberto Contador) and an invite to my old school's 20 year reunion. Along the way a very frustrating SCO UNIX install in VMware finally started to behave itself a bit. Not a bad couple of days, despite the hobbling around and missing training at DISC on Sunday.
So when I finally got a spare 30 minutes, I put on the lifting shoes and headed out to the Power House. I've put some lights in at last, and can use it when it's dark. I had a go at some unweighed squats, and felt ok. Warmed up on a few sets of 20kg, 60kg and 100kg. Felt good. Ok, we'll try for 5 x 5 @ 142.5kg .. got 'em! Work set tonnage was 3,562.5kg. My form wasn't 100%, so I'll repeat the lifts at the same weight on Thursday, but I'm happy with that. I didn't have time for any other lifts.
I didn't leave myself much time to recover from the squats before tonight's spin session, I finished in the Power House at about 5:50, and got picked up to be at Spin at 6 (thanks Bev!). An hour later, warming up on the bike with a healthy turnout at the spin session, we had 18 of us tonight, that was good. I quickly found that while I could clip in, clipping out was not so pleasant, twisting out of cleats with an ankle sprain .. heh .. ouch. Enough moaning .. I managed to hit 1332 watts in the first 10 second max effort, not a PB, but ok, given the closeness of the squat session. I might have a play with timing of that, to see if different times between strength work and bike work has a significant impact on peak wattage. Had a bit of a chunder at the end of our lactate efforts, but more of a retch than anything chunky. No carrots anyway. They hurt, those efforts, lots of blood lactate, very high heartrate ... We had a good session, the enduros all enjoyed, if you can call it that, their work for the night and there was enough food to keep even Tom happy. Luckily Vanders is overseas .. he normally eats everything! I'm sure he's a latent sprinter hiding in an enduro's body.
Everyone's gearing up to watch the Tour, there's a lot of home town expectations on Cadel Evans, who is going in as a favorite to win it. It's pretty exciting to have an Australian ranked so highly as a possible winner, whatever happens I'm sure he'll ride as well as he can and if the recent press is any indicator of the truth, he'll be graceful and decent no matter what the final result. Many years ago now I was lucky enough to ride with Cadel for a few k's and while we didn't speak much, he was polite and a decent sort of bloke. Camster and I were riding to watch a Bay Crit and tootling along Footscray Rd towards Williamstown, when we met up with Cadel and we rode the rest of the way together, as four of us (Cadel was riding with a friend). Back then I was a half-decent B grade flatland roady and we (Cam & I) worked the front of our little bunch to speed Cadel to the crits as he was running late. It was kinda fun to be his domestiques for a few k. We'll be camped on the couch for the tour, cheering him on and also seeing how well the other Aussies go, Robbie again, who seems to have hit some form just in time, O'Grady of course, and even Baden Cooke is back, one to watch for as a bit of a dark horse in the sprints. Bring it on, and go Cadel!
Chris's knee flared up after 450km and he had to withdraw, but in four years, he'll be back
After some frantic last minute packing, we finally boarded the plane last Friday and landed safely in gay paree on Saturday morning.
The Hotels in France are rather small and there is not enough room for the bike (or its case) so I had to reassemble the bike on the edge of "La rue de monge". Which is just a fancy name for the street that runs outside the front of the hotel!
We hit our first hurdle trying to check into the ride on Sunday morning. French Rail decided to do track work on the line that takes us to the start at St Quintin. They were running a replacement bus service, but I was not allowed to take the bike. So after studying one of the local tourist maps, the only option was to attempt to ride accross Paris and get on the train accross town. If you've ever looked at a road map of Paris, you will understand this is not as simple as it may sound.
As I was studying the map for the umpteenth time, a Spaniard who was also doing the ride pulled up along side me. He had a bigger road map than me and as we were headed to the same place, we road the streets of Paris together. We had a lovely ride alongside the Sienne River, Notre Dame qnd the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately we weren't supposed to be anywhere near these landmarks. It took us nearly an hour to do the 8km to get to the station. I got to St Quintin an hour and a half after my checkin time, but no major dramas. I got myself registered, bike inspected and ride card issued, ready for the 9.30pm departure on Sunday night.
The start was staggered into waves of 600 riders departing every 20 mins. I choose the wrong line to queue in and ended up leaving in the final group at about 11pm. The amosphere was fantastic. People on the streets clapping and yelling "ally, ally, ally" (Still no idea what this means, French equivelent of Aussie, Aussie,Aussie???). Volunteers were stopping traffic at the intersections to let bikes through and the drivers of the cars got out and clapped. Very different to Around The Bay ride in Melbourne where stopped motorists honked their horns and yelled abuse!
The first 50km of the ride were reasonably uneventful, except for some near misses with some low cobble stoned roundabouts that are just about impossible to see in the dark. Then the heavens opened and the rains came. I took shelter in a Patiessery at about 3.30 am and munched my way through a Cafe Eclair before continuing onto the first official food stop at the 122km mark.
The first stop was a high school gym kitted out with seats, kitchen and a bar. I didn't really feel like a beer at 4.30 in the morning, but a nice steaming plate of spag bog went down a treat.
I left the food stop just as the sun was coming up. The rain had stopped and although there was a wind, it started drying everything out. I really enjoyed the next 90km into the second checkpoint and got there a few hours ahead of the cutoff.
I'd had a few gear issues on this stretch, could not get the gears to run smoothely or change down properly. I found the cable had frayed and a couple of strands had jammed into the cable covering, stopping the cable sliding properly. I worked with the local bike mechanic to change it ( He had a new cable but no idea how to get the old one out of brake/gear lever - i'd never changed one either) and after paying the huge sum of two euros I was on the road again.
The next 90km I refer to as the "hungry kms". Just could not get enough to eat. Every pattiserie or road house I would stop and look for food. Got into the next checkpoint at about 5pm on Monday.
The next stretch was a short 52km. I started having knee trouble. A pain in the top of the quads that extends into the knee. Very similar to the knee problem I had before I left, but the other knee this time. I survived into the next checkpoint (about 360km) but was in a bit of trouble. I rested for a few hours and went and saw the local ambo's who could only give me some gel to rub into the knee and they suggested I spend the night to let the swelling go down. Unfortunately, due to the cut off times I had to keep moving. The plan was to use my lowest gears, spin lightly and make it to Brest (250km away) where I would get a time bonus and a chance for a decent rest before heading back to Paris.
This plan worked well for the next 30km, then hills and a strong head wind caused me a lot of grief. I rode another 50km ( which took nearly 3 hours) in quite a bit of pain to the next major checkpoint. I couldn't stand on the pedals and had to conpensate with my good knee to keep going.
I got 4 hours sleep at the checkpoint and and woke feeling a bit better. But a quick spin around a flat car park still caused me pain and I realized I couldn't finish the remaining 750km and withdrew after 450km.
Pretty devastated after waiting four years to compete but as Lina keeps reminding me, there is always the next one in four years time.
All that is left now is to get the bike shipped home and enjoy the next 3 weeks of our holiday as we tour around France, Switzerland, Italy and the UK.
Will catch you at spin class when we get back.