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Friday

My Centurion Pre-Ride: Sep. 2012


My Pre - Centurion ride.

My coaches Ed Veal and Mike Mandel had asked me to do the Centurion Ride for 2012, but I knew I did not have the kilometres in my legs for such an event but definitely would attend the "PRE-Centurion" ride held a week before with them. I never went beyond the 120km mark in my life and this would be a good test for me. It was a nervous end of the week building up to that morning. I met up with the group early Sunday morning and we headed off. Here's how it unfolded from my perspective.

I just haven't figured out why I'm not entirely gung ho happy with my pre Centurion ride. I tried to take the positive out of it, but am struggling with it. I've reached a new limit in myself, yes, but part of me is still gutted at the experience. The Centurion ride took me to another level and gave me a greater understanding of my thresholds, and I learnt even more about my body, my recovery and my future in this sport. I honestly think, this time NEXT YEAR , I will be a different rider. I was astounded at how much I was fighting with my mind and my body.

From the 90k mark, I was literally fighting HUGELY with my mind versus my legs. I began to cramp really badly. I can't believe how much my body was pulling from the resources. From water to food. I was going back and forth with this inner conflict of trying to block out the pain. I honestly did not think I could block out the pain for that long ??? And I recovered from the cramping. I managed to block out that pain and continue. More fighting to grab that wheel. More concentration of focusing on the echelon formations. I could hear my coach Ed Veal barking orders about grabbing that wheel, paying attention to the echelon and the wind direction. It was hard enough trying to concentrate on my body's suffering and now I had to block that out to shield myself from the wind. More drinkning and eating regularly helped me recover. But the mind games I was playing was like an 1800's Civil War battlefield and the battlefield got more intense. I guess the Civil War thoughts came from seeing the old barns and old houses along the route. This inner battle continued right until the 20km remaining mark.

With 20kms remaining, we stopped at the stop sign and my coach mentioned the car support would be gone at this point. My mind was really struggling with decision. I looked down at my Garmin with 20kms remaining, after we stopped at this stop sign. It read 175km.Wow! The most km's I've ever ridden on a bike. But I can go on ?????? Fuck it , I have to go on ! Damn it have to go on !!!! I don't spend all this time riding every day to stop here ????? There was a Hungarian chap who was far behind me. He and Mike spoke and he got into the car. I was not going down like that. I had one more fight in me! I had one more 1800's Civil war battle to fight !. On the other hand, what the hell was I thinking I could continue ??? The pain coming down my thighs, my inner thighs, my calves, my soreness in my hands, my forearms, my triceps, my neck was unbearable. Now with all that. Was I f**cking crazy ??? Was it a dumb move ??? I don't know ? Its something I will be thinking and debating for months to come for sure.

So of course, Simon takes a huge DEEP DIVE into a PAIN CAVE he never went to before. How stupid can he be ??? And I exploded into pieces on the battlefield this time. My body felt like I was shattered into pieces. Like a civil war soldier who got out numbered three to one. I got this image of someone sticking a bayonet in my thigh, then another one in my hamstring, then a final bayonet in my inner thigh. This was a pain cave visit I have never been to and man was it ever the most brutal to endure. I kept saying to myself, I recovered from bad cramping, I can do this.. I recovered from bad cramping I can do this.. etc. etc.. But my hamstrings just barked back along with my thighs and I could not even turn a pedal over. I couldn't believe it ??? Nothing registering down there ?? So I said, "Okay, let's try this again ?? Boom , Ouch! nothing.. Okay.. let's try this again Boom ! nothing!! Even more pain.. I had drank a TON of more water leading up to this. Why can't i block out the pain now ????

Was I emptying an already empty tank ? I had nothing within 1-2 kms in of the remaining 20kms. I waved the car. I just couldn't block out the pain this time. I sat in the car next to the Hungarian, and hid my feelings, I was gutted. I failed again just like in Spain. Of course my body is loving it, as a huge relief overcame me physically, but my mind woud not let go how downtrodden I felt. The pain had stopped. But I was gutted, just gutted. I hate that feeling. I will debate if it was stupid move or not, in the months and years to come no doubt. The remaining 20km were filled with heavy winds and rolling hills. So it wasn't an easy ride back to basecamp.

My mind took me well beyond the realms of my body as I kept asking more and more from my body. Yes, an accomplishment and a personal best. But big deal ? I still couldn't finish the ride in the end ? I felt gutted and it wasn't a pleasant drive home as I had a hard time dealing with finishing in the car once again and it hasn't been a good day thinking about it. But time will heal the wounds and I will rise from the battlefield and pick up the pieces of my broken mind and body and will test it again. Am I happy ? No, as I didn't finish the ride with the group. If I was happy about it, that would mean I'm okay with finishing 2nd . or 3rd, or 4th but I"m not complacent. To me I failed and I will now work towards better results. I let and old lady with the "yappy annoying mouth" beat me. GRRrrr.!!!! It has been another eye opening experience and I will continue to see what 2013 will bring.

As a result I'm filled with a million thoughts and emotions.. Anytime I pull my right leg back while sitting in my chair , I have a fear in the back of my mind, of that "bubble" cramp is going to appear. I do know that I got knocked down, I came up back swinging. I got knocked down again, hard this time, but I'll come back swinging. Just need some more time to deal with it.. The next time though, I'll be planning on delivering the Real Deal Knockout blow. Its coming.. stay tuned..

2012 Vuelta - My thoughts


I am so happy to see Alberto Contador win his home race. The Vuelta has by far been the most exciting tour this 2012 season. The relentless attacking by Contador made for a great Vuelta. I honestly thought like many people, that Rodriguez would still win. After all, Rodriguez was hungry for a grand tour victory as he let his Giro slip away to Ryder Hesjedal.

In stage 3 I thought Contador's relentless attacking was a bit much. He was trying to rid himself of Chris Froome. However, in the forthcoming days, Froome did crack and continued to crack on every summit finish. I felt sorry for Froome. The man who nursed Wiggo up every mountain pass to Bradley's boring tour win was left with nothing but more suffering once again.
Froome's demise, would prove a new threat to the red jersy, Joaquim Rodriguez.

But on stage 17 to Fuente Dé, Rodriguez’s lead dissolved after he and his team totally collapsed. I could not believe it ? Contador in a 51 kilometre long-distance attack obliterate Rodriguez' lead and took over the red jersey. This has to go down as one of the most memorable attacks in recent Grand Tour history. Nobody expected it, it was not really planned, but on a stage that seemed designed for a boring breakaway to succeed, Contador turned the race upside down ! In doing so, he clinched the stage win and the lead.

The Vuelta had some killer climbs. Bolla del Mundo , resort of Jaca, and the Collada de la Gallina which saw the mountain climbs at 20-25%. Unbelievable. Makes me want to go back to Spain.

A great , great race.

-Simon

Tuesday

My take on the Contador Case


First and foremost I am a huge Contador fan and I am sad for him and sad for the sport. We have this poor man taking the fall for the sport so to speak, while that Texan is smiling. A sad day for our sport in general.

So here are the facts as I saw them:

Clenbuterol is used pre-season /mid-season before peak to aid weight loss. Clenbuterol is a YES/NO drug. It is just not meant to be there at all. It's not like testosterone where the body produces it and a lab needs to determine whether the level is normal for the body. If clenbuterol is there, that is a failed test no questions asked. CAS and the spanish gov't tried to put a different spin on it. In the end, they failed miserably in doing so. This was a slam dunk case that should have been decided months ago.

The initial lab report also mentioned plasticizers in the blood. This specific type of chemical, called a plasticizer, is found in plastic IV bags. Evidence of that chemical in an athlete’s urine means one thing, the athlete has performed a blood transfusion to boost endurance. Furthermore, a test performed on at least one of Contador’s urine samples from the 2010 Tour revealed levels of this plasticizer chemical eight times higher than the minimum amount, which clearly signifies doping. Contadors tests did find evidence of blood doping, expert witnesses noticed clear differences between his blood passport in 2010 and that from 2007.

Where does the Clenbuterol come in ? clenbuterol probably occurred because Contador transfused his own blood on that day, and that the stored blood he had used already had clenbuterol in it. I believe, the minute trace of clenbuterol came from a contaminated needle during a blood transfusion, not from contaminated meat as the Spanish gov't tried to pursuade WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) to accept. I don't believe the theory of the "tainted supplement" as with most professional cyclists, all supplements are checked out repeatedly before being approved. He got caught and that is life ? I think he needs a new needle supplier come end of the year :-)

So on a more positive note, the good news is that we'll see him return in August 2012 when the ban is over. As I mentioned, I feel bad he is the scapegoat for the sport. This is PR nightmare for cycling. I feel bad for Bjarne Riis and the entire Saxobank squad as now Riis has to let his No. 1 charge go. Contador is no longer able to race, the contract between him and the Saxo Bank team must be suspended and could be terminated depending on what Alberto decides to do come August 2012. I'm sure other teams would love to sign him as well. After the Tour de France, this year, expect the "Contador sweepstakes" to take place.


This was a slam dunk case from the start, that should have been decided months ago. Anyone who's been in the sport a long time, knows it’s impossible to win the Tour de France without doping. Riders think they can get away with doping because most of the time they do. How do you explain riders who doped and came second to the texan ? Now I'm sure the doctors overseeing the Schleck brothers are going to be even more diligent than ever.

Impressed with Team SpiderTech and Cyclesport Mgmt.




Actual pro team clothing (not replica) at a fraction of the price ?

I was in the market for another pair of bib shorts and the usual suspects were simply costing me well over my bugdet. I could not justify spending $250-$300 plus taxes on a pair of bib shorts. It got me thinking, do all pro teams where bib shorts that cost this much ? No they don't.

So I remembered this fire sale that Team Spidertech was having back in November so I decided to go onto their site. I am thoroughly impressed with Team SpiderTech and Cyclesport Management as they allow us the 'public' to purchase actual team clothing their pro riders wear.

For those of you who don't know this team, this outfit, this is Steve Bauer's professional continental team. You can also buy their Argon bikes, and accessories as well. In my 25 years of being in this sport, I have never had the opportunity to buy exact clothing worn by the pros. Yes, I mean the actual clothing team SpiderTech wear on their 6-7+ hour rides.

I emailed a gentleman by the name of Matt and he emailed me back very promptly. I was surprised to receive such high level of customer service. I ordered on Monday and my bib shorts arrived on Tuesday. How's that for service ? Now I can get actual quality pro team clothing for a fraction of the cost, with excellent customer service and next day delivery. That's hard to beat. So for $110 taxes included, included shipping I get to wear what the pros wear.

The only downside is, (yes there is a downside) that this Apple fanatic, will have Blackberry on his lower thigh. But i'm willing to put my differences aside on this as I know it supports Steve Bauer.

Friday

Michael Barry in the Cav Lead Out Train

I can't wait to see Michael Barry charging in the lead out train for Cavendish ! Go Michael ! Go Cav ! Go Sky !


Wednesday

Cycling and my regiment of Dieting

As a cyclist one of my hardest battles to face is dieting. Many of us are trying to improve our "Power to Weight" Ratio. In the last 2 years I'm happy to report that I finally see light at the end of the tunnel. I am hovering at 151lbs (68kg) and I have just a little more to go.

Two years ago, before I got back into cycling, I weighed 175-177lbs (80kg). My metabolism is extremely slow at 41 years of age, so a night of bad eating affects me greatly. It hasn't been easy and is a daily battle.

What I would like to pass to you, is to acknowledge that what works for one person, will not necessarily work for the other. You really have to embrace the lifestyle change if you want to maintain a healthy cyclist body.

I have tried many different paths and finally found one that is working for me.

Along with the typical healthy fruits and veggie eating that we all are supposed to do. You know the typical "diet and exercise" blah, blah, blah, that people keep repeating. I found a few little tricks in my diet that I think have made the difference and have finally given me the reduction I wanted.

1. I cut out refined sugar and only consumer organic sugar. Cutting out eating refined sugar in almost every form was the key for me. As sugar is stored fat.
2.I now drink carbonated water with all meals. I find the carbonation fills me up allowing me to reduce my portions. So I consider it my portion control agent :-)
3.I substitued celery for carrots. Carrots are bad !!! Yes they are, TOO MUCH SUGAR.
4. Every month I do a cleanse. Yes, I cleanse but a specific one that works for me. I drink a special organic tea with built in laxatives. So any residual stored fat from that little bit of junk food I consume every now and then, is out of my system.
5. Instead of going to bed hungry, I will down a few rice cakes with the carbonated water.

So as I mentioned, along with all the typical nutrionist babble, I found those 4-5 things are really helping me shed the pounds. I have finally reached the level where I can "train more and eat less" and shed some pounds and not "bonk."

I've adopted a "Living of Lance" lifestyle for 2012 and so far so good !


Monday

Team BMC, Too many chiefs for the Classics ?



So I'm thinking about how stacked of a lineup Team BMC is, for the classics this year ? Its been a while since I've seen such a "top heavy" team with the likes of Gilbert, Hushovd and Hincapie. You can be pretty sure when those three jerseys line up at the start of any classics race, there will be a level of intimidation for other teams.

So who's going to work for who ? What will be the team meetings like ? I can't wait to see it all unfold in weeks to come.

Hushovd has already shown his selfish ways when he was with Garmin and past teams. I'm not a fan of his especially how he rode in last year's Roubaix expecting the team to rally for him, and then expecting Cancellara to tow him to the line. Good for you Fabian!

Gilbert has also shown some selfish riding but at least he attained classic wins to his repertoire. We just won't ask Greipel what he thinks.

And then there is Big George. Will "the greatest team mate" be just that, come April 8 when the battle on the cobbles commences ?

So many questions to answer. If George has the ability to go for the win, I don't see him stopping to help ? That goes about the same for Gilbert and Thor. But , if everything goes sour, and the finger pointing begins after Roubaix, how will that unsettling energy in the team bus be controlled for the support of Cadel in the months to come for the Tour ?

In the mix of it all, is the young american Taylor Phinney, who's George's roommate at the moment. He carries great promise as the next big thing. He's hungry to help, but who will he sacrifice for ? I'm sure he's influenced by George at the moment. Will he be the perfect teammate for the others ?

And then after all the classics drama are out of the way, the big red BMC machine has to get organized to support Cadel for the tour. I'll discuss later in the year with another post. For now, bring on the classics. I can't wait !!

More Reason to love Shimano and Di2

My Rapha Cross 3/4 Bib Shorts - Perfect Solution


This off season I was experiencing knee/joint soreness from the cold air. At times I would put leg warmers on as they were a lighter option. I was tempted to dawn my Rapha deep winter tights, but they were just a bit too thick.

So the perfect solution for me were the Rapha Cross 3/4 Bib shorts. I picked up a pair of these bibs and the extra material over my knees allows me to ride pain free once again. Interestingly in that, the Cytech chamois is the same one used in Assos' F.I.Mille shorts, known for its supreme comfort. So I'm enjoying the both of best worlds.

Due to the versatility I think I these will replace my tights and leg warmers ? I see myself getting a lot of wear out of them.

Slate, I'm really a Zach/JPow look alike now. ;-)

Wednesday

Look -Polar Pedal based power meter - A little too late in the game


Look and Polar are finally ready to ship the world’s second pedal-based power meter, the Look KeO Power.

As the name suggests, the system is based around a Look KeO pedal, combining data from 16 pedal-axle strain gauges and an externally mounted Polar P5 accelerometer and sensor setup to calculate power. The system will cost $2,200.

Pedal-based power meters provide a solution to practical problems posed by crank-based or hub-based meters — SRM, Quarq, Power2Max, and Powertap all included. Most importantly, they are easier to install and move between bikes than a crank-based system, and they don’t limit wheel choice as a hub-based system does.

Pedal-based meters can also provide a data set not available from a crank-based or hub-based power meter: left vs. right power. This helps identify deficiencies and allow those deficiencies to be corrected.

This is about the only selling feature they have.

The Look KeO Power will only be compatible with Polar CS500 and CS600 series head units, at least at first.

I don't know if this is a good move, but we all know LOOK's reputation in the peloton. The jury is still out on Polar's rebirth in the pro peloton. I say pro peloton because at over $2,000 dollars I don't think the weekend warriors are going to spend that much. So I think this is another problem Polar will face. They are pricing themselves out of the market.


What about those riders who enjoy Speedplay pedals with SRM or Powertap ?

How is Look going to change those who are currently riding dura ace or speedplay ? Again, a steep uphill battle they face.

I think its a little too late in the game for Polar. Garmin came in and pushed them right out with a superior Edge series product years ago. I think Polar have a steep uphill climb to regain market share in cycling again. By pairing itself with Look seems to be a last desperate attempt to get back into cycling.

I don't know any cyclist who's opting for a polar cs500 or cs600 in today's world ?

Polar reminds me of RIM, they had their day, did not invest in innovation, rested on their laurels, and have now become yesterday's news.

Friday

Cycling when you're sick is Tough

As my title states, cycling when you're sick is tough and trying to do it while recovering is just as difficult. I just spent the last 2 days and nights with a bug I caught that had me puking at night, making my system completed depleted. In my recovery, my throat is sore from the heaving and I'm weaker than ever. Any quick and sudden movements render me "light headed" and I have to sit back down. I really don't know how the pros get sick during a GT and finish the race. Wow ? I just spent 1 hour on the bike into day 3 and could barely muster up the strength to turn over the pedals. I am still feeling weak. My appetite is slowly coming back along with my strength, but at this moment i guess I will cut it back so I don't drain my tank completely.

Monday

Being part of the Real Deal Family

In my return to cycling, I had reached a fork in the road. I spent many hours asking myself, had I become a person who was "interested" in this sport ? Or was I “committed" to this sport. It took me a while along with some soul searching. Days, led to weeks, weeks led to months as I pondered "Am I committed, or am I just interested ?" I had been at the "interested" level and experienced common to most as "plateau-ing." I wanted something to get me over the "hump." I knew I wanted to improve, but coming from the old school, I was confused over today's cycling training methods. I never heard of "tempo," nor pushing big gears in the winter months. I was always told to use a fix gear and stay on my small chain ring and spin for December and January. As you know, a lot has changed in training methods. I was debating about joining a local cycling club/team for a long while, but a team simply gave me a Sunday ride with a group with little room for real development or improvement. I wanted something more than just once a week casual conversation, and then as the pace increased, to get dropped off the back. After speaking with Ed Veal a few times, we met and discussed my goals. It wasn't a "sales pitch," it was simply allowing myself to embrace a totally new philosophy about this sport that I didn't know existed. Coming from the mid 80's, "LeMond" mentality of cycling, I did have a base of which to work off of, but I knew I would face a steep learning curve. I embraced Ed's philosophy and am proud to say I am officially under the guidance of not only himself, but of his partner Mike Mandel as well.
Many of you asked, how different is this from a personal trainer ? How do they differ from a personal trainer ?
Simple, they themselves are currently riding and trying to get better and share their wealth, knowledge and experience. I have found the majority of personal trainers feel they have reached their peak, and don't really get involved in the sport as heavily as they could. So their perception and perspectives becomes a lot different in what they pass along to you the client. This is not the case with Ed and Mike. They are currently working just as hard , and struggling to become better cyclists. They are not relying on their morals and their reputation.
Ed and Mike's philosophy gives me the structure I require. They are the ones, who I rely on to recognize barriers standing in my path, and help me get through them. They encourage and support me almost on a daily basis. Being 41 years old, I thought I knew myself ? I actually don't know myself as well as I thought. Ed and Mike have taught me more about myself and made me realize a potential I thought I never had. I think they are brilliant men. How these guys divide themselves up for all of us ? I don't know ? It's simply magic.
Are you one of those cyclists who are struggling to improve ? Do you go out on Sunday rides, hoping to receive more guidance and input from other riders, but never get it ? If so, then I would seriously recommend, changing your thinking and going the route of a coach. I did not think my life would turn out this way, where I would be seeking a coach and mentoring at 41 years of age ? But I have, and continue to learn more about myself through this new journey. I continue to push the barrier and its NOT EASY. It requires dedication and a lot of hard work Its a complete lifestyle change. Are you ready to make that change ? Along with my very supportive wife, thank you Ed and Mike, as you have transformed our lives for the better.

A Couple of Rapha Poster Boys

Sunday

Bruyneel addresses the challenges of 2012

I'm so glad Johan has spoken about the time trialing in the 2012 tour. I for one, am sick of hearing about it and he addresses it here and will no doubt have Andy and Frank ready. I think the world is going to be surprised for what he has in store for the peloton.

Wednesday

Rapha you seeing this ?

I think this is really cool of Castelli to do. Its something I thought Rapha would be the first to do with the classic softshell. Hmm ? I wonder if I can take the drill to my classic softshell now ? heh heh .. Dont' think so.

Part of a Saxobank Train - Chris Juul-Jensen

I really hope Bjarne's strategy works out. He's suffered a barrage of comments including one from his own star Alberto Contador about the lack of depth their 2012 team have. Contador and many out there, think these young riders can't support him in the GT's ? However, I beg to differ. I think stacking the deck with young hungry riders wanting to "prove themselves" may prove to be a better option. I think they will make the best domestiques. These guys are so hungry for success that they will not bat an eye to sacrifice for Contador. I hope to see a "Saxobank Train" with one of these 4-5 young chargers taking the front. One of these "hungry" young riders is Chris Juul-Jensen.

Good Luck Michael Barry for 2012

I am here to wish Michael Barry a great 2012 season. He has a pivotal role this year, as the team is divided in supporting Cavendish for the sprints, Flecha, Eisel, Stannard, and Thomas for the Classics, and of course Wiggins in the mountains. I can't wait to watch his specific "domestique" role and how it all unfolds. Good luck Michael. I hope to see you very shortly :-)

Tuesday

Contador and Hernandez Training in the Snow

This kind of riding in the winter makes little sense to me ? I can only hope that they experienced a "sudden" snow covered road in their training as their bikes and bodies appear to be ill equipped for this ride.

My Favourite 2012 Kit so far - Omega Pharma Quick Step

So far this is my favourite new kit for 2012. As well, we may have to get used to seeing it up front as I'm predicting Tony Martin to have an even better year. Can't wait for the season to start.

New Year, 2012 New Kit, Saxobank

I prefer the black and white of Saxobank. It will be difficult to see them in this "deep blue" , but I'm sure I will get used to them. I really like the Tarmac's and Venge's paint scheme though.