Sunday, September 14, 2008

Wien Report and He who holds the Ladle...

Yesterday i raced in the Vienna European Cup which takes place on the isle of Danube. This is a manmade island that divides the danube between new and old vienna. My first impressions of the island when i went to check out the race site on friday were not great. It was really dirty, and basically felt like a offense if your a carny worker.

The feeling i got from the island and the race meeting, was .....hmmm i can see this is going to be a little different than last weekend. Last weekend in Poland the race was very well organized a part from the dogs, but here in Vienna not so much. You would think perhaps the opposite but this Triathlon was not only poor organized it was also freakin out of control....

Race day came and i felt good as i rode the U-bahn subway to the race site. Start time wasnt until 4pm, so i had a good bike warm up planned. The water was just over 20 so no wetsuit, but the air temp was 17 and windy. I made the mistake of warming up sans wetsuit and then becoming extremely cold before the start. This was not good...

The starting mechanism for this race was similar to diving off the rail at thetis lake. Good thing i do a few of those per year to prepare me for this. Basically you climbed over the railing on the pedestrian bridge and stood precariously on a float hanging on until the start, then dove in.

I had a good start, right on to sysoev in the first 100 but then i felt my shoulders become really tight from being cold and from then on it was a flail fest. I came out about 1min down from the lead group. not what i was anticipating.

On to the bike a good size group of 25 or so formed and worked really well. Almost too well. I was suffering out there, my legs wouldnt warm up and I was convinced my brakes were rubbing, they werent. I dont think ive ever rode that fast in a triathlon, maybe even in a crit. It was good though, because we caught the lead group with 5km to go, and then the paced eased.

The bike course was so dangerous and unbeliveable i cant begin to justify its silliness. Imagine having 50 guys racing along the galloping goose, or those revelstokians the greenbelt, that is how wide the bike course was. On one side you have about 1m of rocks that descend into the river and the other a stone wall! Because the path was so narrow, when the groups came together it was impossible to move anywhere. The course also had too many pot holes to remember and no one controling pedestrian traffic....smack smack smack, i wanted the ride over as soon as it started. No broken bones..i am OK!

THe run was the best part of the race for me this time around. 5laps of 2km, 1km out and back. First 2km went well, 2-5km i got another stomach cramp, go figure, then 5-10km i had the best running of this season. I really started to fly on the last lap and pulled back a number of guys who went by me earlier.

Finished up in 22nd. Im happy with it, but not overzealous.

After the race, i decided to ride the bike course once more just to take a look at this devilish deed. On the way back though i got very cold once again, and shivered my way back to the hostel. I suffered a bad fever last night, i think from the tough race and getting so cold. Laying in bed at 11pm my heart rate was 80, thats double what it usually is. THe body was definitley fighting something along with trying to recover. Well it did its job as today the heart rate was down and im feeling much better.

I went for an easy swim this morining and afterwards went down to the saunas. Much different experience in the sauna than in North America. Everyone in there is naked, except for me and it is hotter. There seems to be a "leader" of the sauna here. He is the one who holds the pail and ladle and pours water on the rocks. Along with the water, they also pour on some sort of herbal concoction which makes the room fill up with beautifully delicious scents, much like a ricola cough drop. The "leader" also does most of the talking why he holds the ladle, not that i could understand but it sounds like some jokes and chit chat that the others smile and nod at. That will be my last sauna experience whoever, because near the end of the session the "leader" noticed my wristband colour and kicked me out, "verbotten" i understand as forbidden now. I mistakenly thought that the pool and sauna were the same price, but it is not that way.

So the next part of the trip resumes on Tuesday when i fly back to the UK for 2 weeks before racing in my last race in Lorient september 27th.

All for now.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Vienna Man

Have arrived in vienna and had some nice training yesterday and today.

A great 50m pool is not a far walk from my hostel. The pool is unlike any other i've swam in. It is made from Stainless Steel! As a result the pool is very very clean, no algae gonna grow on stainless. It is all welded as well , neat to look at while swimming.

I had a classic ride for me yesterday. I pulled out the biggest map i could of the city and planned a route to get me out of it as fast as possible and then explore. I dunno why i do this but every time i get somewhere big i want to see all of it and more of it as fast as possible. The urban riding here is very technical. Cobblestones, tram tracks , and lots of traffic. dip, dive, duck dodge and dip my way to the mountains, which turned out to be a 8km climb on cobblestones. This turned into an epic bumpy ride down the other side.

Vienna is a very beautifull city. The race is taking place on what i think is a man made island in the Donau river. The course is pancake flat. With me already having maxed out my point results i need better than a 12th here to gain anything. That being said the field is good here and i would be hard pressed to get a result like that i think. Therefore i am going to go for it on the bike. Try and get in a break and work it like no tomorrow and no run to follow.

auf weidersen.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

KK Race Report

Just back from the race which took place about 8km from my hotel in the village of Kozle. The 8km was a good distance to ride out and warmup on the way over. Wetsuit on and a good warmup to get the shoulders ready.

On the pontoon i started near the right side. Usually i am able to get a good start in continental cup racing but with these euro cups the field is stronger and deeper and I noticed this right off the start. There were some really good swimmers (little vasilev and a slovak named richard varga, both last year juniours!) and they took off in a big way. I managed to maintain a spot in the big pack that swam quick but not insane. There were some surges that i was able to take and without getting beaten up to bad i exited in a good spot right behind Kazak Olympian Sapunov.

Onto the bike it was pretty good pacelining for the first 3 laps trying to reel in the lead group of 3 which had about 30s out of the water. By lap 4 the group had got them and it settled in a bit with the odd attack here and there. Little Vasilev though takes right after his big brother, in that he wouldn't let us catch em easily. There was one crash on the cobblestone corner, but the main danger were the dogs. I have noticed the dogs are pretty territorial here and anyways, on lap 5 or 6 3 dogs, yes 3 dogs side by side were on the course up ahead and were coming towards us barking! This was very scary, i thought i was going down big time at 40k/hr. Somehow they were avoided, but i will always remember the moment when i saw the terror in the dogs eyes as i brushed by him and likewise he with me.

Coming into T2 i was at the back of the pack but avoided most contact and got out onto the run. The run went well for me with one minor glitch were i couldn't hang on to a group of 4 on the first lap and spent the rest of the run trying to reel them back. With the run being 10.5k my split was about a 34:10 10k which is where i've been at most of this year.

One interesting thing was racing two twins from Israel, the Alterman Brothers. On the run i went by one, but then a few minutes later i saw the same name up ahead. What! i just past this guy, did he shortcut somewhere? I couldn't get him in the end and considered protesting, but after the finish i learned that they were twins. Now i know what it feels like to play against the Sedin Brothers or race the Coates Girls, its like the old double mint gum commercials!

Finishing up in 12th spot was a decent result, just out of the money though which could have helped.

Tomorrow I will do doing some light training here, and having a look around before heading by train to Vienna on Tuesday to race another euro cup on the 13th.


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Two Beauties

"I love a good nap, sometimes it’s the only thing getting me out of bed in the mornings."

[George Castanza]

Why is commitment such a big problem for a man? I think that for some reason when a man is driving down that freeway of love, the woman he's with is like an exit. But he doesn't want to get off there. He wants to keep driving. And the woman is like, "Look, gas, food, lodging, that's our exit, that's everything we need to be happy. Get off here, now!" But the man is focusing on sign underneath that says, "Next exit 27 miles," and he thinks, "I can make it." Sometimes he can, sometimes he can't. Sometimes, the car ends up on the side of the road, hood up and smoke pouring out of the engine. He's sitting on the curb all alone, "I guess I didn't realize how many miles I was racking up."

[Jerry Seinfeld]

Friday, September 05, 2008


Have arrived here in the small town of KK in southern Poland. Good first impressions of the country, town and race committee. They are well organized here and it shows. Was picked up at the airport and driven 150km here, that is pretty good commitment to the athletes. I was told that this
race will be a world cup next year.

Poland, from the countries i've visited seems to me like a cross between germany and hungary. The language although is terribly hard to pronounciate. Usually i'll learn some words to not seem like im a totally ignorant westy but it is hard here cause whats worse, someone butchering your language, or someone using sign language?

My hotel is at a great part of town, running trails right out the doorstep and an indoor pool about a 5min ride.

Tomorrow i will ride out to the race venue. A few interesting features to this race are:

- wetsuit swim
- river with current
- 2nd transition at different location than 1st
- extra 500m on the run.....that might hurt a little

Having two transitions is choatic as in the 2nd one everyone just throws their bikes aimlessly into the racks. You need to be near of the front of the pack on those ones.

About the only thing i can watch on tv here is eurosport, as sport needs no language. Good coverage of the tour de espana and the us open. The mens semi's for the open are two great matches. I will say Djokovic takes down both federer and nadal to the title. Although i would like nothing better than for Andy Murray to win, just so there could be some happy bagpipers in ol'scotland. Cause when was the last time a bagpiper was appreciated?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


I arrived in the UK and settled in just in time to leave. I will be back though for a much longer stint after racing a couple of european cups this weekend in Kedzierzyn-kozle, poland and next weekend in Wien, Austria.

The last three days have been great weather, especially for over here. I am staying with my Aunt in the countryside of berkshire in the small village Binfield. Binfield is home to F1 car racer Fernando Alonso and has some brilliant riding, just amazing roads. One great workout i did this week involved hill repeats up at LegoLand. There were a couple of groundskeepers working on the hill as i started. They noticed the second time that i was doing a workout and jokingly said "were gonna have to start charging you to use this hill." From then on, every repeat as i came by they shouted words of encouragement making the repeats a little easier to finish.

I've joined up with a local swim club here as well and have been very impressed by their group and the facilities they have. The head coach has been very glad to have me train with them for all sessions. They swim over 6k per practice though so sometimes i cut it short. The pools they use are both on military bases. I'm biking to these workouts and I must say i feel pretty confident my bike is safe outside with armed troops marching around the base.

Tomorrow i am off to Poland to have a go, and lay down some Canadian Bacon!

I would have some pictures up but i seem to have forgotten my usb cord!