Thursday, January 28, 2010

Last Sunday, the Adelaide Hills and the TDU

Last Sunday was marked with a great ride with the QSM riders. We had planned to meet in town and then head to Adelaide Hills. That meant a climb, rolling hills, fast descents, a second climb, another great descent and a fast pace ride back to the city. Perfect thing to do before coffee(s) and the start of the last race of the TDU!

I am not sure how many kilometres we rode or the average speed, I know it was a great ride with some good and interesting people who love cycling, in any form. And in a very beautiful part of the country, a bit of a cycling paradise, really!

The usual coffee and chat before heading off to the start of the race. Adelaide offers so many options that it would take weeks to find the best coffee around. We settled for an Italian cafe on Hutt St and didn't leave disappointed...

After leaving the group, I rode to the race where I met a few friends. Some playing the tourist type and some working.

Others, just rode past as if going to another club race.

I ended up heading back to my mate Phil's place to watch the race on a big screen and have a couple of Dr Timm's. Fairly civilised, I thought.

So, that was my TDU trip this year. Short and sweet!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Riding with a Pro (2)

My trip to Adelaide was a short one this year. Sandra couldn't make it and I had just the weekend to ride my bike, see friends and watch a bit of racing.

I finished packing the bike Friday night, had a couple of hours trying to sleep and was up at 3:45 am to get on the 5:30 DJ flight. All very exciting as I had not booked a hotel room or rental car for the weekend. True, I have old friends (like family, actually) that I can call but everything had been decided so quickly, I didn't call anyone.

At the airport in Adelaide, a text came through as I was setting up the bike for the weekend of riding - "the key is in the letter box, beer in the fridge, see you on Sunday - Phil". Well, that's all I needed apart from his address...

Thirteen or fifteen minutes of riding and I was in the city of churches, to the letter box with the key (I wasn't thinking about beer) no more than 6 km away, took me forty five. I wasn't doing very well. I was riding in big squares, as one does in Adelaide.

Dropped my bag, filled my bottles and looked for a map at Phil's place. That's all the time I had as the race was about to start and I had to get to Willunga Hill before the peloton.

Ok, nobody has maps these days, they have Garmins, iPhones and GPSs so I just headed to the city again and then south, looking and chasing cyclists who looked in a hurry like me. I did find them and the ride to McLaren Vale was more like a Cat 2 race. I had to ignore the fact that I went there to relax and ride my bike in Z2.

Nearing the township, the atmosphere was fantastic. Thousands of people camped along the way waiting for the peloton to come past. Waiting for anyone to come past as I got a good share of encouragement as I raced trough the township and to the bottom of the hill.

Climbing Willunga Hill was fun. There were thousands of people. Walking, riding, or just sitting around having a good time. Near the top, the crowd made sure every rider felt like a King of the mountain. Really funny!

For me, the highlight was to see Cadel Evans flying past the 800 m mark with no other rider on his wheel. I think everyone on that hill wished his attack would last.

Unfortunately for Cadel, a Spanish duet had other plans and made sure they caught him before the finish.

After a small meal, it was time to head back. This time, I wanted to stick to my low HR Zones even if that meant getting dropped by every bunch. That's what actually happened until I got picked up by a small group travelling on a smooth and constant 30 km/h.

And smooth it was, perhaps the smoothiest bunch I have ever riden with. A quick look and I noticed a green and gold band on one of the rider's jersey. Another look and I noticed the OMEGA PHARMA LOTTO kit and the race number on the Cannyon (#34).

The guy next to me said: "Yeah, some of us went to school with Matt and came here to support him on the race..."

Good on you, guys and yes, I did ride with a pro cyclist in Adelaide. And... I loved it!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Riding with a Pro (1)

I am not one to get out of my way or get too excited to see sport celebrities, or any kind of celebrities. In fact, one of the things that do bother me is seeing news footage of people waiting for celebrities to get out of a car and then scream and faint as they walk the red carpet to enter some "let's promote ourselves a bit more" kind of award night.

Pretty much my thoughts when I learned that more than 6,000 people went for a ride with Lance Armstrong one morning, in Adelaide. Why would we do that? Is it going to make us thinner, better GC riders, or better human beings? Or we will be able to tell our grand children, When I rode my bicycle with Lance...

We couldn't have. A very few would have been lucky just getting a glance of the cycling star that morning. What the event might have done was make Twitter an even more popular modern communication tool, reinforced later in the news, with a well known journalist finishing his segment with "... it is the power of the Twitter!

So, Power and Twitter in the same sentence. Bizarre, I reckon! But let’s face it, how many more people did start an account with after riding with Lance? And how much did Lance Armstrong get paid to organise and show up for the ride that morning?

All for good causes, I imagine.

Monday, January 4, 2010

2010: Great Season Ahead

It is going to be a great season. I can tell.

Locally, we have a great calendar for 2010. I am really looking forward to start training and racing and with a bit of luck, I will be getting on the bike to start clocking the kilometres in a couple of weeks. The racing will have to wait a little longer.

Planned for 2010 are also some hours in the gym and some cross-training. Everything tells me that I will need to get stronger to race in Masters A again. Team Racing has become the norm for club and open events so the races should be harder around here.

Being relatively new to gym work, I don't want to over-do it. That's when my cross-training will come into place and I will hit the surf again. Now, that's going to be an experience after two or three years without catching a wave.

In Professional cycling, the calendar looks pretty much the same. For us, in Australia, the most exciting race will be the Worlds in Victoria with Cadel Evans defending the rainbow jersey. My favourite for 2010 has to be the TdF. Not just the fact that there will be a lot mountain climbs this year but there will be more than a handful of riders that could take the Yellow jersey in Paris. Not that they all think that way...

That's what some of them are saying:

Alberto Contador

"In 2009 I won, but this year I'm going to take it relatively easy"
"I admit (Armstrong) pushed me to the limit in all areas, psychologically and physically... But it helped me a lot to mature and I hope to exploit that experience next year."

Andy Schleck

"My career goal is to win the Tour… For the moment there is someone stronger than me. I'd prefer not to have to face Contador. With him we've crossed a great talent; perhaps he is even stronger than Lance Armstrong."

Alessandro Valverde

"You have to be realistic - it won't be easy to beat Alberto Contador… Nevertheless, in a 21-day race nothing is impossible."

Cadel Evans

"I've had a focus on the Tour [de France] in recent years but I think I am able to race two grand tours at a high level."
"(Lance) is going to be bigger and more dangerous than in 2009. I think we'll see Armstrong at another level in 2010..."

Carlos Sastre

" is a spectacular Tour for climbers apart from those stages with pavé at the beginning of the Tour, with sections of Liège and Paris-Roubaix."

Ivan Basso

"I had form, but I was never able to be calm. With a year of racing, however, I am calm and secure..."
"More than the pavé in the first week, I am worried about Contador, who will be just as strong..."

Lance Armstrong

"Every muscle in my body that is focused on one goal: the Tour in 2010.”
"(Alberto) will be very hard to beat. Like Andy Schleck. He is a very good rider, perhaps the best we ever saw."

So Cheers!!! to a great racing season.

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