Thursday, August 29, 2013

Even crisps hate altitude

Some people adapt easily to being at altitude and some people do not. Last week, I discovered that I am one of the latter. 
The US Pro Challenge is renowned for being a tough race with a lot of climbing and almost all of it at an elevation above 2000m. In fact, one of the first pieces of information in the race manual is about altitude sickness. 

Some teams foolishly turn up to race only a few days before the start and they struggle with the thin air and lack of oxygen. With no time to adapt, they start well and truly on the back foot. 
In order to prepare for the race and acclimatise, we flew directly from the Tour of Denmark to spend 13 days in Vail, at over 2500m. Even riding into Vail was a struggle. Whilst trying to take it 'easy' my heart rate was almost maxing out while my legs were producing very little power. If I took a drink from my water bottle, I had to slow down even more just to catch my breath. 
At Vail, even holding a conversation with someone can take your breathe away. Needless to say, I spent the entire time just trying to recover from the Tour if Denmark. 

Stage 1 of the US Pro Challenge consisted of 100km with just over 1500m of climbing. When the group hit the climbs, it was as if the race was in slow motion as riders fought for air. I struggled the entire time and rolled in well behind the leaders.

Stage 2 was tough on paper and even worse in real life. It was 200km long starting with a 30km climb up to Independence Pass at 3600m elevation. At this level, oxygen saturation drops to around 75% and riders have a 20-25% reduction in VO2max!

The climb sucked and I was hating life the entire way. The main bunch was just ahead of me as I went over the top and I managed to regain contact on the descent. However... at 115km, when the road started going up again, I had no power and decided to call it a day.

I can honestly say that I do not like altitude and cannot understand how anyone possibly could. Colorado is a great place for a skiing or hiking holiday but its less than ideal for a bike race. At that level of altitude, everybody suffers, even food packaging. These packets of crisps are even hating altitude.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Fan boy

Last week at the Tour of Denmark, we parked the team bus in the teams' area for the start of Stage 1. A few minutes later, the Omega Pharma team bus pulled up next to us. A few more minutes later, hundreds of people surrounded their bus.

They were waiting for a certain someone to step off the bus and that certain someone just happened to be Mark Cavendish. When he did appear, camera flashes went off all around him and people held out paper and pen in order to get an autograph.
Over the last few years, I have watched Cavendish win many races and followed his results in the Tour de France. It was a totally bizarre feeling to be lining up with him on the start line of a race.
I consulted my team mates as to whether it would be appropriate for me to get a photo with him. They assured me that if I did, they would not let me back on the bus. Apparently, it would not be 'cool' to ask someone you are racing with for a photo. Fair call.

The solution to this was simple. If I ride next to him during the race, then perhaps I will get snapped in a photo and find it somewhere on the Internet. Then I would have an action shot with Cavendish and not have to look like a fanboy asking for a picture.
I am yet to find this picture. I have a feeling that it doesn't exist. I missed my opportunity.
Next week, I start the Tour of Colorado along side Tour winner Chris Froome and other guys that I have watched race on TV. One guy that will be there is a guy that everyone back home looks up to... Jens Voight. During the race, look out for him. Then look for me. I want a photo with Jensie.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


When I first started riding, a friend of mine and I had the grand idea of riding 1000km in one week. To do this we had to average around 145km each day or at least 165km if we were going to have a 'recovery' day.
We were not prepared for such an undertaking and like any young man attempting something for the first time, we tried to do it as quickly as we could. Needless to say, we failed on the 5th day and pulled the pin on the project.
Since then, the 1000km week has eluded me. I have done several weeks of over 900km but did not crack 4 digits.

To ride 1000km in one week, you need a lot of time. Approximately 36hrs to be precise if you are going at a reasonable pace. If you are working full time, you barely have enough time to eat, never mind sit on a bike and pedal for 1 and 1/2 days!
Last week, I achieved the elusive 1000km week. In fact, I totalled 1043km in 7 days.

And it did not take 36hrs either. Just an easy 27hrs22mins. Thanks to the Tour of Denmark, 5 days of long, hard racing, meant it went by relatively quickly.
This week, I have a feeling that it is going to be a little bit less than 1000km.