Wednesday, February 26, 2014

2000 in 100

Back home in Brisbane, if I want to do a ride with some climbing, I need to basically ride every hilly road that I know or ride 70km to get to a decent climb. The goal is to try to climb 2000m vertically in 100km horizontally. With the biggest climb in my area reaching just over 500m of elevation, this can be quite difficult to do. 

Here in Spain, 2000 in 100 is pretty much a standard ride! Within a few minutes of leaving for a ride, I am immediately going up a climb that is longer than the biggest climb in the area near my home in Australia. This week, I went out for a short 'recovery' ride and in just over an hour I had already racked up almost 1000m of climbing. It is a shock to the system for someone that is used to such flat terrain. 

An even bigger shock was the last race I did, Ruta del Sol in Andalucia. The first two stages were each around 180km and each stage had almost 4000m of climbing!! The entire race had very few km's on flat road and it felt like I was either riding full speed up hill or coasting down the other side the entire time!
For someone that is not a climber, the terrain here in Spain can only be doing me benefit. I am slowly getting used to riding uphill so much and at least, when I get home to Australia, a 'hilly' ride will not feel so bad. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

ReubicaciĆ³n en el extranjero

Back in 2011, I moved to Munich, Germany with my wife for some bike racing. We were fortunate enough to have our fiends, Ben & Beck come along for a year of adventure. 

At the beginning of the year I had several races in Asia, so my wife and friends went a few weeks before me. My wife told me on several occasions that she was finding life difficult in a foreign country as they tried to find a place to live, furniture etc while fighting the language barrier. I thought nothing of it. 

When I finally arrived in Germany, it just so happened to coincide with the day that my wife and friends moved into a new apartment. I helped carry some stuff and moved in without any issues. No problem, right?

My wife told me that next time we had to move, I would be responsible for all of the logistics as it was 'my turn'. Unfortunately for her, at the end of the year, she returned to Australia a few weeks before me as I had some more races to do and she had to repeat her experiences all over again, albeit without the language barrier. I returned to Australia to a new place that was all set up and ready to go. My wife was not impressed but I couldn't understand her frustrations. 

This year, I have based myself in Spain and now appreciate what my wife went through. I have finally settled into a new place just outside of Barcelona and if it wasn't for my team mate's help, I would probably be sleeping on the street. 

It seems that finding out and understanding local laws, rules and customs is extremely difficult if you can't speak the language! The simply task of setting up an electricity account can become a nightmare. Even with hours of research on the Internet, I still had relatively no idea what I was doing. 

This time, my wife will be coming over to see me and hopefully she will be impressed with how I (with my Spanish team mate's help) have managed to get along. Of course I'm going to lie and tell her it was so easy!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

'Benefits' of the cold

Back home in Australia, after a long ride on the weekends, my wife often likes to go out to a cafe for breakfast or lunch. This means that I have to shower and change as quickly as possible and head out the door. 

When choosing somewhere to eat, I have to be very selective. After riding for hours in the hot sun, drinking a coffee in a cafe that has no air conditioning means that within 5 minutes, I'm sweating like I have a fever and am eating a vindaloo in the desert in the middle of summer. 

The hot weather makes it difficult to bring the body's core temperature down and unless I am sitting in a swimming pool or laying on tiles in air conditioning, I have to drink endless amounts of water to rehydrate properly. This does not make recovery very easy. 

Here in Girona it's cold. Annoying cold. Not so cold that there is snow and you can go skiing or make a snowman but cold enough so that you have to wear 5 layers of clothes and your face hurts in the wind. On the upside, it means you don't sweat very much. 

On a ride here, I don't go through a litre of water every half an hour and don't have to drink the same amount for 3hrs afterwards. The body temperature stays normal and recovery is so much quicker and easier. This means that I feel fresher each day and am able to do better training. 

Despite this, I still hate the cold. I hate feeling like the Michelin Man when I'm trying to ride cause I have to wear so many clothes. I hate that my nose is constantly running. I hate that my feet go numb and I can't feel my fingers. Bring on Summer!!