Thursday, March 30, 2006

Finding My Legs

The team got hooked up with our new kits on Thursday before Redlands....and like Brent says....we look good. We now look like a real pro team and can now be confident in how we look when we hit the road. Sad thing...i cant find a picture of them, that will have to wait till next time.

So although i havnt felt bad the past few weeks on the bike, i have really had no results to hang my hat on and to prove to some of the new guys on the team that i am worth working for....well that finially changes this weekend in Redlands. Although i didnt win anything or even make to podium, i did crack the top 10 for both the criterium and the circuit race.

FRI: As i mentioned in my last post....i suck at uphill time trials....i lost 1.27 to Nathan O'neill. Now sure the guys is in good form but it was only 5km. Why are there hardly any flat time trials in this country?????Booky rode a solid time and finished in 15th for the stage, giving him the team leadership.
SAT: The crit was a 90mins slog. I got a call up and for the first time got to crack out the new national kit that my team had organised for looks pretty sweet. I rode out the majority of the race mid field and then moved into the front for the last 10 laps. The wrestle for position was tough and i was continually shoved back by teams with groups of 3 or 4. Being alone this made the last 10 laps a war, where i survived, but didn't come out on top. I finished in 8th....not bad but still not quite where i should have been.

SUN: The circuit race was a much tougher affair than last years race. 12 laps of a 10km circuit with tight corners and 4km of climbing per lap. With Helath Net going into the final stage with a slim lead it was bound to be an aggressive race. Health Net controlled the breaks and rode themselves into the ground and eventually the pack was wittled down to 30 survivors on the last lap. The field then decends down and finshes on the crit circuit from the previous day. I was less aggressive than i should have been and have regretted it ever since. I came in 6th, 2 places further back than the same race last year.....but i have to say that this was a far more select field.

So after the red eye flight back from California, Im now back in freezing Michigan, living with Bob Hughes, one of the teams sponsors. It has been great to catch up with Bob and Heather again and climb back into the most comfortable bed i have ever known.

Kate has left for Germany now and over the next few days will begin her preparation for the World Track Championships. Although her arrival date is continually getting closer, the constant travel and flying are making us feel further apart. We have spoken nearly every day thanks to some sweet phone card she was able to land. Im not sure if talking everyday is a good thing or makes you so dependant on the contact....and now she is flying and we cant talk i dont know what to do with myself. Im really looking forward to her worlds campaign though, it will be fun to be part of someones success even if i cant be a competitor myself. It is also Nat Bates' birthdat today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the Commonwealth Games Road Racing Champion, it was so good to see her and Kate racing together.....and boy would Judy and Rob be the proudest parents in the world. 2 girls, each with a Comm Games gold medal....what a gene pool.
So for me for the moment i will have to work off their success to get me through the home sick and empty part of our season.

This weeks MENZIES WATCH.....i can only say nice things because Menzies road like a beast on the weekend. He finished 14th in the TT, won the crit and then road the 3 laps of the circuit race on the front, in my opinion he saved them the race. Im not sure that without him O'Neill would have been able to withstand the constant attacks that Toyota-United would have unleashed. He then......riden into the ground, helped me in the final crit circuits to finish high up on the stage........Thats why he is someone i admire so much (Im not gay i promise, he's just a good guy). So for this week i dont have anything bad to say.....but i will drag out a picture from the past.....back before Menzies was the superman he is today......he used to drink....a lot.... and even then he didnt know how to talk to women.....but i wish him luck with Jamie this week....his flame from the US 2004. She is way to good for him....but if she doesnt realise it, then i wish them luck.

Later all

PS. Menzies didnt drink all that beer, i think he bought it to try and make worked....look how popular he is. Jamie wasnt far away.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Redlands (CA), what a view....

As promised, i have some of the photos of the amazing place that we are staying in Redlands, California. It is an awesome house, with some great hosts. You got to check out the views from the front and back decking area.....

This is a picture of the mountain range we look at from the front porch. Its snow covered at the moment.....Hotham would be happy with the levels of snow.

The awesome entertainment area and pool at our host house.

This is the view from the decking and pool area. Doesn't much better thatn this, especially on a warm day.....which we havn't had a lot of.

This is a picture of my machine. It is a sweet ride. Custom team paint job which adds a bit.

So that's it for the moment. We started tour of Redlands today and it is official.....I SUCK at uphill Time trials. Im not sure if i should even bother anymore. In fairness our team is at a slight disadvantage because we don't have our TT rigs yet and i had a last minute bike change drama which wasnt ideal. But i really suck TTing up hill. Ill go into more detail after the weekend when i do a race report. We did get our new kits yeasterday which was an exciting time for everyone, so even though i didnt go up the hill particularly quick....boy did i look good.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Comm Games Glory, Oh And I Raced As Well

So im happy to report that in the week that has just passed my girl and my madison partner got up for gold medals on the same night. Never have i been more proud than to say i was able to receive a 3am wakeup call from Kate to tell me that she had triumphed in the women's points race. From what i have read and been told it was a pretty dominant performance where she was able to secure the gold and then helped her team mate to a silver medal finish.

To add fuel to this, one of my best mates followed up to take out the men's points race in an equally dominant display, where he took 5 laps over the course of the race running out the winner by over 10 points. I dont like to take all the credit but i sent some pretty inspirational text messages to the 2 of them throughout the course of the day leading into the make the call....but 2 from 2 aint bad.

Kate then topped off a great week with a silver medal in the individual pursuit behind Katie Mactier. Despite being a nervous wreck before the race she was very pleased with how the race panned out and came closer to Katie than she has over the past few years. With as little preparation for this race as she has done, it was a terrific result......its so much easier to get a 3am phone call when there is a happy athlete on the other end.....beautiful.

Katey after an awesome
ride in the points score
to defend her Comm
Games title

My main man Sean
'Shrek' Finning after
taking out the men's
points race. Never
have i seen so much
emotion from him....

Kate during her individual pursuit

final. She went closer to Katie than

ever before. Nice ride sweetie. xo

Shifting the focus back to me.....i raced a 3 day touur this weekend. Despite what would look like a reasonably average performance to anyone from outside our team i felt that i had a very good weekend on the bike. The uphill TT was not the greatest but istill put in a solid performance in the conditions. It was about 6 degrees and pouring with rain during the race and i swear i was nearly frozen solid on my decent of the mountain.

In the road race i tried my best to play a team role. I rode strongly upfront all day and kept my GC boys out of the wind and up the front for the majority of the race until i self destructed with 15km remaining. It was a good course for racing tight and technical with a tough hill each lap. Glen finished off the teams strong work with 2nd place on the stage, Tommy finished off well with 8th place.

20 mins before starting the criterium on Sunday, the clouds opened up and down came the rain.....just to add to the already freezing temperatures. Brent Bookwalter from our team rode escaped on the first lap in a 3 man break which was caught 89 mins later on the last lap. Tommy was able to finish off well and narrowly missed out on the win...getting rolled by JJ Haedo (Toyota-United). I was forced to pull the pin with 20 mins remaining after breaking my cleat. Disapointing, because i believe that if i was there for the finish the team would have notched up its first win for the season. But it topped off a solid weekend....2 podiums....2 tops 10 on GC and a little bit of money for our wallets.

We have now travelled across to Redlands in preparation for this weekends 3 day tour. Its one which should suit my abilities. The hardest stage this year was one i finished 4th on last year. Im looking forward to ripping it up this year. We are staying in the most amazing house for this tour. I will post some pics asap of the should all be impressed. I will also get out some of the pics of our bikes and stuff the minute i get a chance from my computer.

This weeks MENZIE'S WATCH......
Karl rode his way to a soft victory on Saturday this week by spending 5km sitting on a breakaway and then outsprinting Glen Mitchell (from Priority Health, my team).
Although he is smiling i think that its only because he managed not to drop himself this week....thats the first time in 3 weeks.

Its funny how much he used to complain about having Health Net sit on him last year and beat him in the finish......times change.

Keep an eye out for my upcoming blog's, ill be starting a new segment based purely on Edward 'Ted' King's facial hair. Should be interesting, he has some interesting ideas and we will do our best to come up with some original looking designs.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Man the US is cold

After my first weekend of racing the road for the year all i can say is, "man this place is cold". I am staying in a small town called Merced and we raced near by in Fresno this week just passed. We have already seen rain and snow and sleet and hail and sun and wind......not sure that leaves much to come......more sun i hope though.

The racing itsself was more of a warm up for me. I have not done any road racing for a fairly long period, i think since Tour of Southland, so i was using this weekend just to get my bike position sorted and get a feel for racing in the US again. I started on a bad foot with the management, when i arrived and pretty quickly realised that the bike they had organised me was a size too big. Its all sorted now, but its never good to get here and just say.....yeah its nice....but nah its too big. Especially when they have gone to the effort of organising me one with a special pain job for the crits....but of course its in the larger size. Ill have to post a picture of the bikes on my next entry....havnt got any on me at the moment....but the Ridley's are sweet.

So the race.....the time trial was supposed to be a hill climb which was changed last minute becasue of snow for a flat one. So with no time trial bikes yet we had very little chance. I just rode the 27km nearly as slow as possible, sat on some guy for a was a fun start....i was nearly 10 mins down by the finish....not bad.

The road race was on a flat 25km course....8 laps....200km for my first road race in 4 months, talk about building into it. I actually felt half decent for the majority of it, but when it started to sleet with 1 lap to go i pulled the pin in the feed zone to avoid a case of mind hypothermia. A bit soft i guess...but im just warming into it. Its hard when you come from 40 degrees in Aus to 40 degrees in the US (only one is celcius and the other is farenheit).

The crit was a bit more to my liking but after getting shoved out of position with 3 laps to go i spent too long fighting the mind and ended up sitting up around the final bend. But still my legs felt good and its amazing what the national title does for your respect in the bunch. The signs i believe are good for the next few weeks.....Redlands is my major focus in terms of racing well.

So my new team mates are a great bunch of guys. Of the 5 new guys in the line up 3 i had never met. But these boys are power houses. The 2 King brothers and Zirbel are big units and add strength and size to our lead out train. Looking at the list we have this year and feeling my form and tactics have improved since last year im really looking forward to making a big impact on the US scene this year. While we are still slightly behind some of the other teams in terms of equiptment, due to the last minute signing of Priority Health as our key sponsor we still have some cool stuff we are cruising around in.

This is a picture of our nice looking team van. Its a pretty sweet looking paint job and the trailer and the car compliment it nicely.

Kicking back in our house in Merced with some of the boys. Frank Overton (coach), Glen Mitchell and me. Its pretty cramped but it works for the budget.

The only nice day we've had so far, its still long sleaves and leg warmers though......sunny but freezing. Hows all our matching kit? What a unit we look like....hahahaha

Have a look how white i look....a lot of bleach has gone into this outfit (thanks for the knicks sweetie). I cant believe how filthy my facial hair looks. Why didnt anyone tell me i looked that bad?

So i still miss home big time at the moment. A little bummed that i am missing out on watch the Comm Games in general, but more that i wont be able to watch Kate defend her title. Feel like im missing the pinacle of what i have watched her prepare for. I was wondering around the supermarket last night like a lost sole.....its a bit depressing when you do a shop and the groceries have to stay in their plastic bags and fit into a suitcase. Oh well, things should improve when we base ourselves out in Michigan in 2 weeks time. Im looking forward to catching up with Bob soon, he just won a big sailing race this weekend.

Oh at the end of each blog i will now include a MENZIE'S WATCH....its just a little dedication to a mate who isnt on my team anymore but i still think he should be included.............
Menzies after finishing 4th in the TT on Friday and dropped himself in the road race with a lap to go and then snapped his chain near the end of the crit..... Funny stuff......keep up the good work he looks fat in the health net knicks.....


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Dissapointment Again

So, today i received the news that, yet again, i have not been selected for the Australian team for the World Championships. Despite my form at the National Titles and completing the qualification process last week in Adeliade, i have been pipped at the post yet again.

For now, i am down but have just arrived in the US to begin my road season and have some points to prove, not only to my US competitors but also to the Australian selectors. I want to prove to them, via good results rather than slanderous arguements that i deserved a spot in that everyone watch pumped, once i get some road legs back over the next couple of weeks, some people better stay clear.

Since my last update i have riden the Sydney leg of the track World Cup. I represented in the Teams Pursuit and the madison. My teams performance was thoroughly dissapointing. I felt uncomfortable on my bike, i was a weird sensation after coming off a sucessful track nationals. It almost felt as though i was riding someone elses bike. I put that behind me for the madison and Simon Clarke and i rode a reasonable race to finish 7th. We were leading at half way after perfoming very strongly in the early sprints, but we concluded that we wasted too much energy chasing early points and when the teams went to take the lap we didnt have the juice to go with the move.

Me throwing in Simon Clarke during the madison.

So I've left home now and again had a hard goodbye again at the airport. I left home and Melbourne a week before i left Australia but then had to say good bye to my new and exciting relationahip. Goodbyes are never easy and even though Kate and myself are involved in the same line of work and understand the implications of the sport, being away from anything you crave and have become accustom to having by your side or an easy call away is always hard. So Ive just landed on US soil and i miss home that sad???

Start racing this weekend, so hopefully once i am surrounded by my new and old team mates i will feel more at home and relaxed. Lets hope so,