Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Ghost town

It's no secret that Spain has been experiencing some economic difficulties lately with stories of their financial situation all over the news. Despite this (or perhaps the cause of this), Spain sure knows how to relax during the week.
 
Whilst at training camp, it is extremely difficult to get to shops or even buy a coffee because the sun takes forever to come up or everyone is on 'siesta'.

At 8am the sun begins to rise and most people are just starting breakfast. This is extremely odd to someone that is usually up and on the bike by 5am. At 10am most shops open up but 3hrs later, at 1pm they close again for 'siesta'!!

During this time people get lunch, relax and can even have time to take a nap. The town turns into a ghost town with no one around on the streets and barely any cars driving around. At 4pm, siesta ends and shops reopen for 3 more hours of trading until 7pm. So that's a 6hr working day with a 3hr lunch. Not bad. To top it off, on Mondays, some places have a longer siesta to 'recover' from the weekend!!

Whilst walking around town and riding around, it as if there are more buildings and businesses in Spain than there are people. During the week, I barely saw people on the streets and at night, only a handful of lights can be seen in huge apartment blocks. It is almost as if it is one giant ghost town.


 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Compliant

After signing onto a professional cycling team, every rider is added to the UCI's athlete drug testing pool. This means that they can come knocking on your door whenever they like and ask you for blood and urine samples.

So that they know where I am all of the time, I need to tell them where I will be every day, 3 months in advance. This means that I need to provide them with an address that I will be at during the day, a 1hr window in which I will definitely be at this address for testing and an address of where I will be sending the night. I recently had to enter all of my details up until the end of March 2013.

If I asked you where you will be at 2pm on February 12, 2013 could you tell me? I struggle to predict where I will be on the weekend, never mind in 3 months time!!

To go with these grand expectations, there are some dire consequences if you don't adhere to them. If you fail to enter your whereabouts in time or are not at the specified location on 3 occasions, you are deemed to be non-compliant and can be banned from competition for up to 2 years. It is the same as testing positive. This means, that if you decide to head down to the shops to pick up some milk and the testers knock on your door, you are in big trouble!

Here at training camp, I got a taste of the UCI drug testing. On day 6, the UCI turned up for a random doping control. A guy watched me pee into a cup and another lady took some blood from me. During the test, everything is carefully monitored and you are not even allowed to leave their sight until you have provided a sample.

5 days later and I was woken by a bang on the door as the UCI arrived for another test. We all rolled out of bed and sat around again, waiting to provide samples. The testers give you all the pleasantries and one lady even remembered my name but I suspect it is just a ploy to stop you from hating them.

Apparently, the frequency of the tests is due to the fact that we are new riders and do not yet have a 'passport' history of tests with the UCI. They require 3 tests to ensure that they have enough data on file to compare future samples with.

In 3 weeks time, I head to Italy for our second training camp. As the tester was finishing up, she politely wished me well and added, 'I will probably see you again in Italy.'

Hooray!!

 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Countdown to T-Day...

Well it's exactly 7 days until T-Day. 7 days until I become a man.

Since I'm in Spain, James is scheduled in for his tattoo a week before me and he is literally in the middle of getting his done. His lips are locked tight on whether or not it hurts or not but I suspect it's only because they are quivering like a small girl's would.

Instead, he has sent me some images of the progress...




Risqué kit

In Australia, black is the new white. Well, in cycling kit at least. Teams such as FDJ and some national teams have 'revealed' some of the flaws in having a predominantly white kit so it recent years, it has been avoided.

Here at Team Novo Nordisk, the new team kit is white. It does look good, pretty damn good, actually and I am looking forward to putting white back into circulation. But I can't help but conjure up images of... well... this...
 

Drug camp

At home, I don't really know any other diabetics and last year I was the only diabetic on the team I rode for. As a result, I didn't really want to advertise the fact or make it obvious that I was the guy that had to shoot up at every meal.

At group dinners or outings I would leave the table to take my insulin or wait for everyone to be distracted before 'shooting up' under the table. If anyone did see me, they would have probably thought that I was a sneaky drug addict!!

Here on Team Novo Nordisk, everyone is a diabetic and there is no need to hide it. There are insulin pens laying around everywhere and I can shoot up freely. You can be mid-conversation with someone as they pull out a needle and stab it into their stomach then continue on with the chat.

I imagine this is what a methadone clinic is like, but a lot classier.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Old man Williams

At 31 years of age, I am relatively old to be joining the professional ranks of cycling. Most come in somewhere in their early 20's and work their way up from there. Despite this, I am by far, not the oldest guy in the peleton either. Hard men like Jens Voight race well into their 40's.
 
On Team Novo Nordisk, I am the oldest rider on the team.

Most of the other riders are much, much younger, without a lot of experience in the peleton, never-mind living out of home. So what does this mean for me? Well, with my infinite wisdom and life experience, I need to help the younger riders learn the ways of the world.

 

I'm not sure exactly what that entails but I'm assuming its advice like: Resist the urge to buy Cocoa Pops for a breakfast cereal just because you are away from your parents that never let you have it. Staying up until 3am watching music videos isn't a good idea when you have a big day coming. And you can't survive on pasta, olive oil and cheese alone.

This role makes me feel old. Damn old. Perhaps I can turn things around and simply live vicariously through them? Convince them to do all the things I never got around to. Or maybe I could go Mr Miyagi and teach them abstractly by making them do all of my chores. It's worth a try.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

On the Road Again...

Having diabetes has its down sides: You have to stab yourself with insulin every time you eat and delicious sweets are not conducive to its maintenance. Despite this, the needles eventually become part of every day life and you get to scare your friends by pretending to stab them.

When I was first diagnosed, I was at a race & collapsed after a relatively short, easy stage. I went to the hospital and that afternoon I was told I had type 1 diabetes.

When the doctor found out that I raced a bicycle, she told me that I would have to have a couple of months off and that it wouldn't be a good idea to go riding long distances. At this point I was ready to give up cycling and was preparing to sell everything bike related that I owned.

Then, the next day, I got bored. What else am I supposed to do? Sit around and watch Dr Phil all day? So I got back on my bike and haven't looked back.

Since then, I have discovered that what the doctor told me is the typical advice that diabetics get from health professionals. Because diabetes affects the level of glucose in the blood, add exercise to the mix just complicates things and makes it too hard to manage.

In order to combat this misconception, there is a new cycling team that I am proud to say that I am a part of. Team Novo Nordisk is the world's first Pro-Continental cycling team made up of all diabetic riders. The team is based in Atlanta, in the States and will race mainly in the US, Europe and Asia.


So for me, this means that I am back on the road traveling again. I am currently sitting at the airport waiting for my flight to Spain for the Team's first training camp where I will meet everyone for the first time.

So in the coming months, keep an eye on the blog... it's time to fire it back up, seeing how I may have some more exciting things to write about. In the meantime, you can read more about the team at www.teamnovonordisk.com