Sunday, July 24, 2011

Camp Jon

Fresh off the table from a great Kim Ward massage I'm sinking into this plastic chair outside the Coq D'or Hotel wifieving (wi-fi stealing) some online business.

After racing Hamburg WCS I had another quick exit, this time 3:30am with the Portugese team to the aiport. Met Jon#1 and Kyle in Barcelona and then we made our way up to camp to meet Simon and Jon#2. Jon#3 arrived yesterday completing the Camp Jon trifecta.

This week has been a great. Some recovery and aclimation early week followed by some quality as the weekend rolled around.

In total there are 9 canuck athletes here in the Pyrenees Orientales getting our groove on. I have been rooming with Kyle Jones and the Big Man Matty Sharpe. Combo working well, who said a love triangle never works?

This morning I had my first real chance to explore some running trails. Brilliant network of routes here, endless.

This afternoon will watch the final tour stage, should be an exciting finish!

Here are a few pictures from the first week:

The Dream of Living above a Bakery is alive and well.....

View from the appartment balcony looking down to the lake

The Doctor in his scrubs pre-swim

Lane 1

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Within ninety minutes after crossing the finish line in Edmonton, I was checking in at the airport ready to travel to Germany for the my first WCS debut. For me, my world ranking is at the level where my entry into WCS events is possible but not certain. It was 10 days before the race that I found out I had rolled off the waitlist and onto the startlist, I was excited for the opportunity to race the best in the world.

So, arriving in Hamburg late Monday night the key to the week was to fully recover and keep the body moving. It drizzled throughout the week as we did our swims at the Alsterschimmhalle and ran and rode throughout the city and its beautiful parks. Saturday morning came and the skies were clear. A beautiful day ensued for racing.

I look at this event as the pinnacle of our sport in terms of organization, course layout, crowd presence, and overall atmosphere. Transition is within the city hall square and tens of thousands line the streets to cheer.
On the pontoon I set up shop right in the middle. I had a good start and avoided most contact with good water until the first right hander. Things started to pile up here quite a bit there as we made the turn. The swim didn’t seem any harder than WC level, or even a swimmers CC. It was however much more tactical and strategic, constant awareness of placement in the pack was always the task at hand. In this swim we went through a tunnel about 50m long three times. Having a pack of 65 men swim through a 10m wide tunnel is like floating down a river, the current was amazing! I exited the water in about the middle of the pack. I thought I had had a good transition however once onto the bike there was already a split in the group with the leaders of about 20, 15seconds up the road. Macca joined our small chase bunch mid-way through the first lap, a surprise but a pleasant one. The gap to the leaders stayed about the same for three laps and then suddenly it was closed very quickly. Once all together the pace did not slow. The bike was definitely another league in terms of pace, placement and handling. I struggled a bit here and could never work my way forward. More work to be done in this regard. With the addition of the Specialized Prime every lap and perhaps Macca this bike was a full minute quicker than the fastest bike split here in years past. It was on, and unfortunately my power meter was not working.

Into T2 I was in the back third of the group. I had a quick transition and got out at the back of the long chain of runners that snaked through the city streets. On the run you fully got an appreciation of the crowd intensity. I don’t think there was a section of 5m where there was a break in spectators. The bike had taken more out of me than I would have liked but I found my rhythm and focused on holding form and picking off guys ahead. On the last lap the crowd took me home, simply outstanding to have that type support inches from your skin.

Crossing in 37th was not great but I had weathered my first WCS storm and had come out on top of some established athletes and many others that simply didn’t survive the swim/bike.

I am now waiting to meet up with Kyle and Coach Jon here in Barcelona before we travel up to meet the rest of the Canadian crew in France.

Stay tuned….

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Edmonton WC

After 4 years hiatus the world cup weekend in Edmonton is back. Despite some pretty ridiculous weather patterns rolling through every couple hours the weekend was a success for all. Kids of Steel saturday, and Juniour elites/agegroup/elite all on Sunday.

Chantell arranged a great homestay for me for the weekend with Byron Unger (triathlete, ex Canadian Swimmer, and Anesthesiologist extradornaire) and his girlfriend Mel at UofA. Can't thank them enough for taking me in on such short notice and providing the hospitality that they did. Great folks.

We arrived on Friday, keeping the time in Victoria to a maximum and getting in our key pre-race sessions with the comforts of home. Once in Edmonton using the pools at the Kinsmen centre was a great strategy. Especially Sunday morning, made it feel like just another day of training with a hard brick in the afternoon.

Saturday night I went for a short run after a ferocious hail storm had passed. I felt very off on this run, wobbly and uncomfortable. Not sure what the story was but I was also very tired that day, having a 2hr nap and a solid 9 hr sleep. Sunday morning the ship had righted and I felt fine. I think sometimes the body, when ready to race, sends signals to not overdue things and really focus more on rest. Often i'll feel sluggish before a great performance.

Jon planned this race out well for me. We kept the head down after Monroe and put in a focused 10 days with a sharp taper near the end of race week. With this being an 'A' race on my schedule we payed particular attention to getting some more leg speed with two key speed sessions for the run.

Starting to get used to these late starts. 4pm allows you to have a relaxed morning and leave everything to the last minute because even when you think you should get going down to the race site you still have a couple hours to delay.

It had rained from Friday to Sunday afternoon. Things brightened up for our race however, roads were dry and perfect temps for fast racing. With the cold, wet conditions leading up to racing everyone, including myself, was rolling into check-in overdressed. I would give the award for most bundled to Austrian Franz Hofer who exhibited full winter cycling kit, toque, and ski gloves on a mid July Sunday, only in Canada!

The water temp in the duck pond had plummeted with the hail storm 24hrs prior from 22C to 18C. This meant perhaps the first wetsuit swim in the history of the race for elites (someone might want to check into that). If Edmonton is to try and get this event to the WCS level then the swim needs to be adjusted somehow. Lining up I gave myself a two spot buffer from one particular brazilian that i've had some blows from in races past, however it didn't help as within the first 100m I had both goggs knocked to my cheeks. There was no fixing them, not with guys behind you ready to pounce. I essentially became blind and swam by feel. Surprisingly this worked ok, you can go along way by the feel of bubbles on your face to navigating a swim properly. I tried to maintain as best position i could and once out for the 750m beach run i readjusted the goggles and had eyes again. I saw i was in company with Jimmy Seear and Hunter Kemper, not a bad spot. The second lap I weaved my way up a few spots so i was in the mix of the pack for T1.

My helix came off smoothly and I mounted my new Cannondale Super Six ready to address the 6 lap bike course. Up the first climb I had a flashback to 2007 where i thought i was going to explode. This time around i felt strong and confident in my legs to bridge me up 5-10s into the chase group that had formed led by Kemper,Seear and Leckie about 10s down from the leaders. On the groat road downhill our packs merged and the lead bunch had formed with about 25-30 riders.

On the second lap I heard someone (i think simon) yell that the chase of about 15 guys was making up time. I felt good and rolled to the front for a pull as we made our way back to the park. Once there i realised that this was the prime lap. I kept it controlled by strong for 10-20s and then had a couple of brazilians come by as we turned into the park. I sat 3rd wheel as we turned left into the tranny section. Perfect position i thought as the lead out brazilian peeled off for his teammate. After the last corner to the line I swung wide and started my sprint. The brazilian however had taken a wide line as well and in the process had boxed me in with an overlap. There was no way of slowing and getting around him to the line so i tried to squeeze past but there wasn't the room to do so. Edged by a half wheel. The opportunity was there.

In this race I found myself much more aware, alert and focused on the task at hand. I had a mental note of where the strong riders where at all times and knew exactly how far into the bike we were for nutrition timing.

The climbs were strong but not crazy. With them coning off the centre line it actually made the climb the most technical part of the ride i thought.

As the pace accelerated into T2 i heard Simon give me a heads up for his wheel as he passed. I jumped on and we dismounted in the middle of the group. A hungarian guy however slipped right in front of Simon, bringing him to the floor as well. I had to leap over simon's rear wheel with bike in hand to avoid the same fate.

Out of T2 i found my legs were responding well. I had the leg speed to hit out the first mile in a large group. After we re-entered the park for the first time things began to disperse. I found myself running with teammate Brent McMahon who was tapping out a steady pace. He was slowly picking off athletes as they fatigued over the second 5k and I made sure to follow his lead. As we neared the final climb/descent on the run I made a pass on brent and on the downhill used my long legs to open up a gap with another long legger Latin from Estonia. Latin took the lead thru the transition area and then I surged by him on the out and back to the far park turn-around. As I neared the far turning cone I felt someone coming up inside. It was Brent. He made a great tactical move by coming up inside on the gap i had left and taking the inside on the turn. He then really put in a strong surge out of it leaving me on the brink of his tail. Back to the finish was a slight head/cross wind. I gave everything to get close to him and gain the slight advantage. As we neared the chicane to the finish line he put another surge in to try and reel in Noble from Ireland who was starting to tie up and that was the dagger.

Crossed the line in 17th with a great all round performance. Lots of fun, something i'll remember for a while.

As we hit the recovery area I came up to brent who was hunched over and put my pinky in his ear. 'Just checking for blood' i told him with a smile.

Next up Hamburg WCS

Photos courtesy of Byron Unger, thanks.