Sunday, December 26, 2010

Time for a change

Well the last couple of months I have been mulling over what would be best for next year.

Given I am tired and can't think of anything highly creative/amusing it's just a plain ol delivery of facts:

1) Finish Bachelor of Commerce next year. Back to full time. Time to get organised again. If I don't buckle down and finish it I never will!

2) Race for an aussie team. In the end this meant trading up what gave me the best opportunities but in the end I decided to leave the Victorian Institute of Sport and race for Genesys Wealth Advisors

So 2011 brings continued gym, physio and pilates work, a whole load of Economics and Management study  and a bunch of racing in Australia and Asia with a new team and a bunch of great guys. Can't wait.

Ciao,

Jono

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Dumplings the Czech and the V Train

Situation:
Friday Night, Preston, 6:00pm, Face deep in pig livers and soup dumplings; Cam Woolcock recieves a phone call.
"It's Sir Stuart Vaughan, he has two spare tickets to the track world cup tonight"
"Shit yes!"

So after hoovering our food in record fashion we saddled up and raced down high street and punt road to see the last two hours of track racing.

A summary:
-Elimination races are hilarious to watch. It's like a pantomime on wheels, so much fun. We need more!
-Anna Meares is huge and muscly. Pretty amazing athlete!
-Chris Hoy is even huger and muscly-er. Terrifying almost.
-Not a massive crowd, maybe the ticket prices were a touch steep? No infield  bar? Hell, the Melbourne Cup on Wheels on Friday has my vote, more racing AND the infield bar. Nice.

So fast forward twenty four hours and I am cruising down beach road at midday and I see a guy kitted up in the Czech Republic colours with calves bigger than my head (ego included), oh shit, he must be a trackie! And yep, he was racing the night before so a convo ensued;

Czech- " Oh hi, you race much at all, I see you have Belgique bike" (reference to my Museeuw bike)
Me- "Oh yeah but just on the road, not on the track, you race track yeh?
Czech- "Yeh I racing the World Cup on the Track, you know it"
Me- "Of course, I was watching you finish the omnium last night, making you race the kilo TT when aleady out of the medals is cruel, that looked  so hard!"
Czech- "Oh its very shit, so f**king hard, I want it over"

skip some boring convo

Czech- "Oh I see your team, Marco Polo, you know Pavel Stuchlik from Czech Republic?" (Pavel was a stagiare with our team this year, having lived with him for a month you could say I know him!)
Me- "Yes of course I know him!"
Czech- "*laughter* In Czech Republic we all one big family, everyone friend"

And we jabbered on some more, enjoying the sun and warm weather. His program sounds a bit bloody strenuous. 27 hours flying down to Australia, racing two days later, finish two days of non stop omni-liscious circular agony then jump back on the plane for 27 hours to the Czech Republic. Train outdoors* in the Snow for a week, then jump on the plane for a good 30 hours of travel to the next World Cup in Columbia. Try telling this guy that globalisation of cycling is a good thing!

*Note, I asked him about training indoors versus outdoors in winter and he said, "I train outdoors all the time unless really snow, I f**king hate, how do you say, yes ergometer, argh, so shit." I concur my good man, I concur.

But I love in this network how someone always knows someone who knows someone else who knows you. I guess we are just one big family. Group hug anyone?

And to finish a big thanks to the V-Train for those tickets. What a legend, the guy never stops giving (also turn off your sarcasm meter because I am being serious here). And his even better half, Wiki-Tills*, was there of course.

*Matilda can hereby be known as Wiki-Tills because she knows everything about the track. Everything!

Ride Time.

Ciao,

Jono

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I am of the very strong opinion that..

..Mandatory Helmet Laws in Australia are shit. Really Shit. This man outlines exactly why

And whilst I'm throwing links about the place. This also looks freakin awesome. Maybe us roadies are a little uptight, maybe we should all go do something like that once in a while!


Tis all for now I am afraid. Nothing new yet, still getting massive in the gym and smashing back pilates like there is no tomorrow..


Jono

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Happy Feet

I am afraid my writing material has dried up of late.

All things interesting and funny have deserted my life as I have been just putting the building blocks together for a good 2011.

-Pilates, lots of pilates. With ballet dancers. Holy crap, these guys/gals are STRONG! And talk about flexible. I'm pretty jealous.

-Physio exercises, oh so many exercises, my feet, calves, glutes and pelvic floor are getting one hell of a work out. Thera-bands, spiky balls, cricket balls, toe separators, foam rollers, thoracic extensions, you name it; I've got it. I'm getting needles in the arse, elbows in the arse, yes I am basically paying a lot of $/hr to get a whole bunch of disturbing and quite uncomfortable things done to my arse. What an odd life I lead...

-Gym, I am building up some semblance of hip stability so I can ride ride ride in the future and not have any issues. Squats, dead lifts, step ups, leg press, balancing on the wobble board! You don't need to be very strong to ride a bike, but you do need to be stronger than me, trust me!


So take the above three activities, repeat them many times during a weekly cycle, add in cycling to and from plus some cruisey rides and somehow I am still doing 20 hours + a week but it feels like I am doing nothing. Unless I come off the bike, exhausted and on the verge of muscle break down it just doesn't feel like I am 'training'. But these are the steps I have to take!

Mind you I wouldn't mind going for a decent ride!

So I'll continue the hunt for some funny material but for the time being I'll leave you with a note of a good experience at our last race in Belgium.

The race was a Pro Kermesse in Geraardsbergen that was up a hill, down around the hill and back up. 10 k laps, coupla k of climbing through the town on a nice bumpy cobbled road. It was cool. Real cool. There were loads of fans and top level bike riders there. Mr McEwen was the biggest rider of note.

Given my aforemetioned foot problems I did not last long. So plan B involved sampling the local tart (of the cake variety) and grabbing a coffee. As I was sitting in one of the cafes I noticed Allan Peiper walk  in (which made sense given HTC had a few riders in the race). He must be one of the most recognisable people in world cycling.

I was feeling a bit sheepish and he was with a whole bunch of people so I didn't go over and say hello. That night I was discussing it with someone on facebook who was back in aus. Anyhow, this guy shoots and email off to Allan Peiper telling him that some random Melbourne kid saw him in a cafe at the race. Allan shoots back an email to me straight away saying

"Hi Jono,

Should have said hello but nice you respect people's space!


Where are you living? Maybe we can hook up for a ride or coffee next week.


Allan


Sent from my HTC"


A pity but I had to fly home so couldn't go for a ride with him. Damn. But that email made my day. Don't you love the internet sometimes!

Time for some glut activation...

Jono

Saturday, October 9, 2010

On Top of the Worlds


A nice crappy phone photo of the crowd at the presentation for the mens road race.


Another view looking back down the main straight. But yeh, what a goddam awesome race. The finale was damn exciting and I have never seen Geelong looking so good. Geelong was like that girl everyone knows who isn't ugly, but isn't gorgeous either, but once in a while she dons some spectacular outfit, whacks on a bit of make up and goes out. Meanwhile everyone is standing around whispering "Is that really Geelong? Crikey I reckon I'll have a crack"*

*The above may come across as highly rude and sexist but that's because it is. Sorry, but it really is the best analogy I can come up with! Please forgive me

So it's been a while between drinks I guess. I have managed to drag my arse out from the piles of microeconomic and econometric practice exams that litter my room/desk/general designated study areas and jump on the net and make a post.  Just because there are study materials strewn thoughout my house does not mean I am actually studying, no I am merely convincing myself that the process of printing then stapling practice exams is good enough, actually doing any is a whole new ball game


So from my last post lots of things have happened,

-Finished my time in Europe- Good because I got to come home. Bad because I had to leave Europe

-Did not go to Tour of China- Good because I was having some real issues with my right foot. Bad because I love racing in Asia and I love eating in Asia

-Watched the Worlds in Geelong- Good because it was just freakin awesome. Bad because I had my two exams in the two days following the elite mens race. Great scheduling there.

-Did a couple of exams- Good they are out of the way. Bad because I think I did pretty shit. Blunt, but honest!

- Started watching the Commonwealth Games- just bad.

-Doing tremendously large amounts of rehab work on my foot and some pelvic stability work just for laughs also. Good because having all the muscles in the arches of both feet all cramp at once is pretty damn cool. Bad because having all the muscles in the arches of both feet all cramp at once is pretty damn painful.

-Not going to Tour of Hainan- Good because since starting to race again I haven't given myself adequate time to get all my shit sorted re-body weaknesses, mainly my foot. Bad because of the food, the racing and in Hainan last year we were lucky enough to stay in some amazingly good hotels, I would like to go back, but it wouldn't be wise

I capped my trip with some great times in Amsterdam with a friend from school, so that was a good way to go out. I would just like to go back there with some more time, and some more money! Yes in Amsterdam you can definitely buy happiness...

Jono

Friday, August 27, 2010

Murphy's Law

Murphy is a bastard. Whoever he is, whatever he did, he sure messed it up for the rest of us.

It was a crap day today, lots of drizzle and a genuine bathtub full of filth had made it's way from the road to my bike and clothing. I was a mud-bath moving at 35 k/h.

About an hour from home my pump did a runner from my back pocket. I hit a bump and heard it bouncing down the road behind me. So a quick U-turn and I found that the nozzle had come apart and the spring and washer from the inside were missing. Oh crap.

This road, like the many I had previously travelled over, was of the filthy variety, thus my task in finding and rebuilding my pump was beyond simple. Fast forward ten minutes and not only had I exhausted every swear word I knew (multi-lingual too..) but magically I had found the pieces to my pump, I was away.

So you can imagine during my search I had it in the back of my mind that I could not possibly go without finding the pieces because I would surely puncture.

So I almost smirked with victory when only 5k down the road I heard that familiar hissing sound. My tire was deflated, but I was almost elated, take that Murphy you bastard, I found all the pieces of my pump, this puncture will not stop me!

So apart from getting more grease and grim all over my hands changing the tubes and cleaning off the tyres I waited triumphantly to pump that first breath of air into the new tube. ...

Nothing.

The pump was not creating a seal. Oh crap.

I must have missed a piece on the roadside. Oh crap.

To re-use a great phrase I currently found myself sans paddle and slowly drifting up shit creek. That prick Murphy had me right where he wanted me.

After the second exhaustion of my multi-lingual swear words I had the realisation that I am in fact a complete idiot. The little 'thingamajig' from the inside of the pump was in the wrong way round.

Five minutes later I was on my way.

Lessons learned: Murhpy is a bastard and I am an idiot! Hardly ground breaking I guess.

Over the last week and a half I have had some monster races. 1.2 and 1.1 UCI races in Belgium, it just doesn't get any bigger, any harder or any scarier.

Unfortunately I have been nothing more than pack fodder, never lasting more than half the race. I have been having some real problems with my back and foot stemming from my crash last year. I seemed to have held together until Qinghai lake but now the wheels have completely fallen off the wagon. As a result I am bypassing Tour of China so I can get home and back into some of the rehab exercises and gym work that I obviously did not do enough of previously. Also I have these piddly little things called exams that I should probably (start) study(ing) for. So an extra fortnight of study whilst back home should go a long way.

So that's just about everything, and like they do in Holland, make sure that you
 Ciao

Jono

Monday, August 23, 2010

A bloody queen size bed!!!!!!!

After three months of laying uncomfortably sprawled upon a mattress as skinny as an emaciated cyclist post Tour de France, I am enjoying the lavish luxury that comes with laying upon a plush queen sized bed. Such grandeur, such prestige, such comfort. Who can honestly deny the joy of laying upon a bed large enough to contain all of ones limbs?

The day began like any other: Coffee, yoghurt, muesli, computer.

Matters were complicated as we were being thrown out of our warm cosy residence at the AMVJ hostel in Geleen. Not only did this result in the team being scattered across various spares beds throughout Belgium and Holland. It also highlighted to me that in a roundabout way, perhaps lady luck was no longer shitting upon me from a great height. I think she is back on my side.

Pavel, my newly acquired Czech team mate, and myself made our way to our new accommodation via a criterium race in Kleve, Germany.

After 2 hours of fast crit action, one coke, one pizza and one (or possibly more) pieces of chocolate we arrived at our new home for the next week and a half. We now found ourselves residing with the Australian super mechanic Mark 'Funky' Howard and his better half, Lindsay.

So that is how I have come to find myself laying upon an ever so comfortable bed ranting and raving and generally talking complete crap.

Anyone for some icing on that cake? Yeh? How bout a cherry on top too?

Oh you better believe they have a smoking quick wireless network. Why the bloody hell didn't we come here earlier? This IS living people.

Lindsay has equipped us with a map for a nice recovery ride through the forests with promise of a damn tasty hot chocolate near the end if we find our way correctly.

Time to make use of this beast of a bed and punch out some Zzzzz's

Ciao

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay

This post should be consumed in conjunction with THIS

I left my home in Holland
Headed for the Antwerp Bay
Cos I've got a team to ride for
And there's a job to be done today

So I'm just ridin' on the dock of the bay
Watching the peleton roll away
Ooo, I'm ridin' on the dock of the bay
Waistin' time


Holy godfather in heaven. That was hectic. Yesterdays Antswerpse Havenpijl was one of the crazier bike races I have participated in to date.

I am not sure what the term 'Havenpijl' refers to but in 'Lovelock's Thesaurus' it is the foremost antonym for 'scenic' or 'beautiful'. Doesn't matter what Roget thinks, my mind is set. This place sucks.

Well, to be fair, we only saw the docks of Antwerp, we bypassed the real city so if anyone from the Antwerp tourist commission is reading please don't sue me for libel.

The course snaked along the docks with the appetising odours wafting from the buffet of chemical factories lining the course providing motivation for everyone to finish the race as soon as possible. To keep the riders nervous and twitchy were a number of obstacles; there were some cobbles and some nice gutters that I became well acquainted with. The rails of death, however, provided the most drama. A number of times when we would swing round a corner to be greeted with train lines in the road, running parallel with our path of travel.

I would come sweeping round these 90 bends, everyone leaned over, flying, bumping, shoving their way to the front before the inevitable split in the cross winds, and I would look up and see people on the exit of the turn changing direction and bunny hopping all over the place. My first reaction was to crap my dacks. My next reaction was to wonder what obstacle was coming up. In between reaction one and reaction two I would see a big nasty looking train line just ready to swallow my front wheel. Then reaction four was to wonder who decided to race us over this road? I mean, it's not even a road, it's just a path for effin big trucks and effin trains to get effin big containers off effin big ships to the effin big factories. And we are effin racing here? What are they, effin nuts?!?!

Luckily in between reactions two and four was an autonomous bunny hop that saved my hide. But then ten minutes later, another set of lines. Oh god. And the steak knives that completed the package got delivered in the form of MORE rail lines, running at a 45 degree angle across the road that we were heading down, with a tailwind, at 50k/h plus. So I was thinking that

Looks like nothings gonna change
Everything still remains the same
I can't do what the DS tells me to do
So I guess I'll miss the break away to,

Sittin' here not breakin my bones
And this hunger won't leave me along
It's 100 miles I rode
And I'm glad to leave this dock and go home,

Now, I was ridin' on the dock of the bay
The peleton has now rolled away
Oooo-wee, just ridin' on the dock of the bay
Waistin' time


Maybe reaction five should have been giving the race organisors a bollocking for such a ridiculous course.

I suppose (apart from apologising to Otis for butchering his song) I should be thankful that it was dry, and, no one crashed. In addition, the wind was really blowing so the racing was good and hard and certainly good prep for the 1.1 Race that we have tomorrow: GP Stad Zottegem.

I'll check back in with some more news as it comes to hand...

Ciao

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Random thoughts brought on by caffeine

- I can't believe in my post a short while back detailing the return to form of one (I Hate) Shane Miller I forgot to neglect the one person truly responsible for his comeback. That person being his better and prettier half, Nurse Von. She's not really a nurse I am afraid but she manages to take care of the big injured baby aka GPlama whilst he is incapacitated and still bring home MASSIVE bags of 'off run' crunchy bars from consulting jobs at Cadbury just so Shane and I can sit in front of them while watching Tour of California on the Tele and see who can go the deepest into hypoglycaemia without eating any. The mental battle is intense. Then we part ways and devour 3 kilo of said crunchy bars in secrecy. Mmmm clement chocolate. Is there anything better?


-Similarly whenever I find myself bedridden its thanks to my very own private nurse (aka mum) that I survive. I am indeed lucky.


-I am also coming to the very real and terrifying conclusion that I am exactly like my father. I guess everyone has this horrifying discovery sometime around the post teen years. It really is the stuff of nightmares. Why am I exactly like my old man?

Well, he loves routine, and I love a good routine. Each day runs to a schedule, which must be abided by. Each week runs to a schedule. Today is saturday. Saturday is market day. Ooooo the joy of fresh fruit and vegetables makes me as giddy as a school girl. Fresh prosciutto? Well, that's the one thing my dad buys every week from the market. Every time he comes home with it I just roll my eyes..
"Prosciutto agaaaaiiiiin? Dad you're just sooooooo predictable"

But what do I find myself craving and hence purchasing, with the predictability of of a feel good Hugh Grant movie? You got it. The cured, salted, hung and dried quarter of a pig. Love it. Adore it. Whack it in a sandwich.


- Also I have just noticed that beach road has a new road safety crusader, introducing Pete Dowe
So this guy is a bayside resident fiercely opposed to the clearway trials that are being proposed in certain councils and approved in others. It is sad that you can have someone calling themselves a 'Road Safety Advocate' who is obviously biased against those two wheeled pests invading his beach haven. Now I'll freely admit, I'm heavily biased towards the cycling point of view. No Shit. So this modern day saint is getting on his high horse and spending his weekend mornings filming bunches on beach road. Capturing the anarchy on camera for the world see. Oh the atrocities! Oh the humanity! When will the injustice end?

This is the stuff I find laughable, see this description of one of his videos
'Difficulty stopping! Crossing lights are red for 15 seconds before a cyclist urgently yells "lights" to the rear of the large pack, yet the bunch still enters the Mentone Lifesaving Club crossing on red, where elderly Mentone pedestrian James Gould was struck and killed by a Hell Rider in a large, racing cyclist bunch on Sat. 26/8/06 @ 8.30AM'
Now watch the video here
Could he be any more incorrect? He has just proved how a large bunch of cyclists can safely ride the roads with proper communication, ie calling out 'lights'.

The thing is, there is plenty of dodgy bunch riding on beach road. But Pete, if you're going to get up before 6am in the middle of winter, at least get something worthy of the hysteria you are trying to whip up!

Here is another video. All I can see is some nice cycling tips and TFM kit and a bunch of cyclists having fun, but I guess I am biased...

It is seems a little ironic that in many of his videos he shows cars stuck behind large bunches or smaller groups overtaking other small groups. He highlights this behaviour as a reason for NOT enacting a clearway. Now, the clearway would help with the 'driver frustration' as it would be it easier for bunches to overtake and stay left, that seems pretty obvious. What is also obvious, however, is that on Pete's behalf, there should be no concession to the cyclists who are making life so horrible down by the bay. No, road safety is not being advocated here, it is mere petty 'not in my backward' pig headed stupidity.

Anyway, rant over! Ride time...

Ciao

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Someone murdered a black cat

This is the bad luck story of the century. Cue, junior mens road world time trial championship...

Whilst in Europe I have been following Dave Sanders facebook updates about the latest crop of juniors racing for the national team all over Europe. These guys have been dominating so it was needless to say expectations were high coming into the world championship. This was Davo's update after the TT

World Jnr road TT .
D.Parker fastest splits. Then punctures. Changed bikes.
J.McCarthy Even faster splits and leading on the road.
Then is knocked off his bike by a motor bike marshal in the way on a corner.
(excuse me!!)
Both got on with it and finished 4th & 5th. @ 5 secs off a medal and 30 secs off the win.
Proud of them both.
"That's life"
We have the best athletes.
Bring on the road race!! (Sunday)


Wow, that is just terrible luck! Fingers crossed all goes ahead without a hitch for the road race. Just goes to prove when you look at Cyclingnews and can only get results they must be consumed with grains of salt, every result has context!

Ciao

Friday, August 6, 2010

An Ode to the Lama

The following is something I have been meaning to write for a while now. See I have this mate, this quiet achiever, who has been kicking arse of late. But it hasn’t been all shits and giggles for this guy. The past couple of years for him have been riddled with even more crashes than me (!!!). So let’s begin…


I am talking of my arch TT rival, Shane Miller.


I first met Shane a few years ago at the local winter criterium. We both raced B grade. He won. I then found out he had only started racing in D grade two weeks ago, he won that, jumped to C, and won that. The week following his B grade win, of course, he won A grade. From bottom to top in 4 weeks, and amongst Hawthorn Cycling Club the “I Hate Shane Miller (IHSM)” club was founded.

Our rivalry flourished as we both discovered the website cycle2max.com. The next year or two of our respecting careers involved chasing down hill climb records and trying to continually best each other.  Our commitment to vertical ascension victories led us many places, the best of those being an IGA in Montrose in the Dandenongs We had been hailed on and rained on for the past 3 hours and were both frozen to death. Shane’s brilliant solution? Buy new socks. Yep, a 4 pack of socks, on went some new, dry socks and the old ones into the bin. Then we had another pit stop later on at the Black Kettle CafĂ© whereby pancakes and a 2nd sock change gave us the motivation to get home. This was only topped by a Mt Donna Buang climb where we were greeted by snow for the last 2 kilometres. IT WAS COLD. Yeaouch.




Fast forward to 2009 where we faced off at one of Blackburn CC’s Boulevard TT’s. Being both ‘Boulie’ locals and knowing each corner so well we could ride it blindfolded we were both backing ourselves to rip the course apart. Rip it we did. What I was not expecting, however, was that the prick would beat me! By two seconds! Here you have the VIS scholarship holder getting beaten by a full time IT professional. Crap. What can I say, maybe he should search for a new employer, I hear Riis is making moves ;-)

As we have both climbed and time trialled against each other, we have both sought to outdo each other in terms of injuries inflicted. I think I got the ball rolling by being knocked cold after hitting a dog in Tasmania, Shane upped the ante with a broken collarbone at a northern combine race, I followed suit with a collarbone at a Sandown crit. Not to be outdone Shane did his other collarbone at the Tour of Bright. Believing I was still the far superior between us I thought why not break my pelvis once at Gippsland, then again in China along with a bunch of other gnarly injuries. Well only a few months ago Shane saw my raise down in Geelong by demolising his pelvic bones in a way that would make many old grannies lower their heads in shame. Yes the osteoporotic cyclist award was firmly back in Shane’s hands.

So to give some context to these reminiscent ramblings, Shane has come back with some serious form. This crazy bugger does the majority of his training in his ‘Pain Cave’, I am talking about in his apartment on the wind trainer. I think he has a serious mental disease. Honestly, turn on a little fan and put on a Foo Fighters concert recording and he rides himself into the ground A true headcase. A true Time Trialist.

But boy does the hard work pay off, lately he’s been kicking some serious arse in a bunch of different time trials. He is putting out some insane power numbers too, but you’ll have to ask him to share if you want to know. 



So watch out for his name in some future TT results. He’ll be up there. And if he’s not, he’s probably just broken another bone, but don’t worry, he’ll be back on the results sheets in no time.


PS- Shane Miller should ride nationals TT at Buninyong. HE OWES IT TO HIS FANS!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Down Time

It's one of those things that floats round in rider folklore, passing through generations of cyclists who venture up to the big scary land of Qinghai Lake. People who come back fall into two categories, period.

Hypothesis 1
-A rider upon return from Qinghai will encounter some spectacular form and demolish their competition in any number of ways and enjoy the sweet and succulent fruits of success.

Hypothesis 2
-A rider upon return from Qinghai will be so deep in a hole that the only way to get out of it is to.....

Hypothesis 2 is still under investigation, no answer has yet been found. All cyclists facing hypothesis 2 are either in the dole queue at centrelink or wrapped in a straight jacket thinking that Tony Abbott may be our next Prime Minister (oh shit.)

Aside from snide left wing cheap shots or that I still can't believe that Australian Politics could get even more uninspiring I am currently experiencing some reduced training and racing in this time of 2 weeks AC (After China..) One interesting case study is Kiel Reijnen who rides for Jelly Belly. Apart from being a funny guy he's also a gun cyclist. He was telling me last year he got sick in Qinghai (heard this story before), but he got some tests before he left. Result?

Ebola virus. Result?

2 months on the couch. BUT, and a big but this is (we are talking Serena Williams here..), he came back strong strong strong. Not only did he win the tour of Thailand this year but he just capped it off with a GC podium at Qinghai, solid. So what I am saying is gimme a year and I'll be sweet, just put up with my complaints for the time being ;-)


I am hoping with some gooooood massage, some goooooood food, less saddle time and plenty of time watching 30 rock I can get my head screwed back on, my lungs plugged in, and my legs ready to work.

All analogies aside, I am feeling some serious motivation for our next big race: The Sparkassen Giro. A UCI 1.1 road race, in germany, in 2 days time. oh boy oh boy this ones gonna hurt. That good kind of hurt, that 'if I last just one minute longer maybe I'll internally combust but shit I'm gonna see what happens cos I'm not dropping that wheel in front' kinda hurt

 In far more hilarious but a touch disturbing news there has been a squatter staying in our building. This place we are in is a big ol' 3 story hostel with a big basement. This weirdo somehow got a key to the place, had his bags stashed in one room and would sneak into the basement and sleep (on a table) after all the lights went out, then nick off in the mornings before anyone was up. So now I know which bastard ate my 5 apples the other day. Damn you thieving squatter. Damn you. Not so smart was our sneaky intruder that he left ID with his baggage. So when we stumbled upon his assortment of 'crap' in one of the 50 single rooms in this building we suddenly joined the dots.

Back on the food front. I made pork spare ribs last night. It was great. That's it.

Ciao

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Head on over to

Cyclingtips for a big dose of toilet humour, promise it'll be good.


Jono

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Back from Qinghai TDF2010, doping and the Landis effect

Long time no post!

Well I got back from Qinghai Lake last night and am busy typing up some stories of my time at altitude.

The Chinese net filter means no facebook, blogs or twitter (Oh the humanity!) so I was stripped of all communicative powers!

But on another cycling note I got an email from an ex Kiwi Pro Nathan Dahlberg, have a read....
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------


 Just a quick thought on the Tour De France this year which was a vintage year and definitely a big break from the past. Back in Mid June I wrote to some of you that after watching the results of Tour De Suisse and seeing the interesting transformation whereby Climbers were no longer Time Trialists and vice versa I wondered if the "Landis effect" whereby the current Federal investigation into certain members of the Professional cycling world (ie slowing them down) would pass on to other members not at this moment under investigation - and I believe it has. Greg Lemond writes some good blogs about it all in cycling news , and just today he adds a link to sports scientists who are analyzing the data provided by times and power meter data. Generally anything to do with human performance and concrete "medical" figures leads me to quite some skepticism as figures are so easily played with and misinterpreted but in current cycling the difference in figures are so extreme as to be undeniable. Leading riders performances in the Tour De France climbing are around 10% slower than in the last 17/18 years - I mean we are talking about the difference almost of the first and last guys in the peloton here!! The Climbing performances this year are back to the level of the 70's and 80's pre EPO generation.
 However for me its all a lot more obvious than figures. When a lightweight little climber blasts the best Time Trial experts on a flat course , or a big sprinter who’s pulled for 2 weeks on the front for his yellow jersey leader rides away on a mountain stage and wins than the whole race becomes absurd.
 This is not to say there is no doping in cycling now and there wasn't before the 90’ s  but the institutionalized doping programs that started during my time as a Professional rider and that have generally dominated the whole sport ever since are now been wound back. People have often told me that been professional athletes its their choice to take products and the improvement in performance makes a better race.
In fact for a young cyclist doping products are only a great risk health wise and the race is devalued into a drag race - for the spectators the human element vanishes into a Formula One world of who has biggest budget wins. In fact the trends of the last 20 years have not enhanced cycling but significantly devalued it for those that have been passionate about cycling.

One of the most active campaigners in the last 10 years against doping in cycling is Greg Lemond so below is a brief msg I wrote him that further elaborates some of my thoughts.

Nathan


Hey Greg
 You probably remember me – New Zealand Pro , late 80’ s early 90” s on 7 Eleven , Motorola etc. I’m writing this as a msg of support and some insights of my own regards cycling and doping – I don’t expect a reply as you are probably a bit busier than me. 
Some 3-4 years ago I was talking to an American journalist who mentioned your fortunes were low not the least because of your ongoing dispute with LA and I told him Greg’s probably right in everything he says but no one is listening as Lance is currently the man.  I see fortunes are changing right now (been reading your comments on Cycling news). Here below I just give my thoughts – from a long distance on the matter.

Whilst I was Pro 1988 -92 I noted a marked increase in speed and also a huge change in mentality in the Pro peloton and cycling as a whole. Some “older Pros” have told me that is naivety and there was always doping in cycling however what they don’t realize and what is rarely mentioned is what I call the politics of doping. When I started as Pro 88 doping was still very much as a famous Belgium rider put it to me “hearing from someone somewhere that some other rider had used something to win a race and than going down to the pharmacy and trying to procure some than taking it with no idea what the effect would be in the hope of a better performance”.
During the time I rode that all changed, doping became a scientific occupation conducted by medical experts and institutionalized as part of any teams basic program – doping evolved from an individual secretive act into a question of – “have you done what it takes” to finally – to be part of our team sign here and you will do what it takes – or leave the sport. In fact the Pro peloton became the peloton of the willing to do it – even if it didn’t help their performance those that were willing were active conspirators in the whole process and going to keep there mouths shut.

Some fallacies in the general public opinion that have also tainted the issue

1 all Pro cyclists are on something – as you know very untrue although a great number were in the 80’ s and probably far more in the last 20 years I have meet a great many from all nationalities that are natural.
2 As Pro cyclist’s that is their professional option and they benefit from it. In fact in many teams there was no option (if you wanted a contract) and it was rarely the rider that benefits , he took all the risks both health wise and legally and team doctors , managers and sponsors’ took all the benefits’.
3 the courses are too hard and races too long – not at all , any good cyclo tourist can do all the courses – just much slower. It is purely the speed which is the reason for doping

As a postscript I crashed heavily at the end of 1992 shattering my femur etc and never effectively rode again with the Pros although have been involved with cycling especially in Asia setting up the Marco Polo cycling team etc. Sometimes people say what was it like losing potentially the best years of my cycling career – I’ve always replied – there was no loss, that was the time to be out of cycling. Rather than having to make the choice of being one of the willing or not getting a contract I was just trying to walk and ride again!!

(Jono: And in a later email Nath added the following)
I think what I'd like to add as some people missed the point - in the end this is not real pointing the finger at any individuals , every rider has almost been a loser from doping in cycling.Its the whole sport that has been devalued - when it is an individual choice against the rules ethics and morality of cycling than it is right to punish the indvidual(s) involved, but what has happened is the whole ethics and morality of the sport changed so we have all (whether we were involved or not) decided that the ends justifed the means - the popularity and money in the sport increased because of certain people and we were all willing to benefit without questioning really if it was morally correct how things were been done.

Anyway all best in your efforts for a clean Sport there.
Nathan Dahlberg

Jono: Then top that up by reading this

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Present from Home


Thanks mum. You legend.



Spelling Lessons



Thank you Belgium. Thank you Sloggi.


1k to go, a lot of hanging around in Spa, all to no avail!



Bella Haider, creator of all things tasty


Roadside cherries. Loh made me realise only chumps buy cherries here, you just ride down the road a little and start picking them from the trees overhanging the road. Jamming your pockets full of cherries  gives every recovery ride a purpose!

Ciao, definitely sleep time now.

Jono

Friday, July 2, 2010

Clutter, Clang, Bounce, Bang

Cobbles. Wow. Real cobbles, just, wow.

Rough, uneven, large, disjointed, rock hard cobbles are something everyone must experience. Be it downhill, flat or up the Muur, they are serious fun. The are a serious challenge. But a fun challenge.


That's right, upon the same Muur  where we saw Fabian 'motor' away from Boonen, another 198 oxygen depleted cyclists attempted the same feat yesterday in the Internationale Wielertroffe Oetingen.

The race consisted of a 100k big loop including three cobbled climbs; the not so festive Congoberg, the steep forested Bosberg and of course the aforementioned Muur van Geraardsberg. Through this first section of the race it was just crazy; the bunch was tense, on edge, ready to jump into any gap between wheels. The modus operandi for every rider being get to the front, at all costs. Footpath, gravel edges, grass edges, no path to the front can be passed up.

Why such desperation? Well, take the Muur for example, this road is so narrow that the team cars have to detour and meet the back of the peleton on the descent! So, imagine sending 198 riders up an 18% cobbled hill too narrow for a car to fit up. Yes, mayhem ensues. I got myself close enough to the front to avoid getting caught in the bottleneck that resulted in many riders having to run up the last 500 metres of the hill. I still missed the front group though! Luckily everything came back together.

So I survived the first 100k without too much drama, there were some splits, some very intense climbing but all to plan. The race finished with 4 laps of a 15k circuit with two 2.5 kilometre cobbled stretches. As we hit the circuits there was a small group ahead of the peleton which now consisted of maybe 50 less riders than when we began. As we hit the cobbles the race literally exploded. One of the stronger Belgium teams had 4 riders at the front just before the cobbles so I jumped through a few tight gaps to get to the front. Turned out to be a good move as after the first cobbled stretch there were maybe 60-70 guys left in the peleton. On the 2nd lap I got blown away on one of the cobbled stretches but made it back on 5k later with some other guys. All the grovelling came to an end just before we started the last lap with my legs, lungs and mind all giving way simultaneously. I battled away to finish 47th, with only 56 guys finishing.

My impressions of my first real cobbled race are that they are definitely an art. Picking the correct line is tough, usually the dirt strip down the outside of the road is the quickest and smoothest path, but when a 100 man peleton hits the pave only so many guys can ride down the outside of the road. After two kilometres of bouncing and clattering your whole body seems to go numb, your hands get sore from gripping the bars, your arms and shoulders are just clenched tight, and your nether regions get worked over in a less than satisfactory fashion.

I am trying to find some race photos somewhere but I have so far come up short

Now the team looks ahead to another pro race in Aarschot, Belgium, on Sunday. Another 180k dose of all things great about riding a bike.

Ciao,

Jono

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pre Race Jitters

Muesli + Yoghurt = Eaten
Coffee = Process of being drunk
Pre race meal = Packed and ready to go
Clothes = Packed
Equipment= Sparkling, working, in the van, ready to roll
License and money = Never leave my wallet
Motivation= Sky High
Excitement= Through the roof
Preperation= Never as much as I would like
Pre race crap = Normally achieved at the completion of stage two.

So this morning we are off to race the mother of all epic races. It is going to be spectacular.
If your foreign languages are good have a read here,
www.jongmaarmoedig.eu

In short,the IWT Oetingen is a UCI 1.2 race with 198 starters, lots of climbs, cobbles, cobbled climbs, narrow roads, windy roads, narrow AND windy roads and lots of other things to make it sound hard that I can't honestly remember. Basically on the spectrum of difficulty, this bad boy ranks up there with the best. We race over some of the climbs from the Tour of Flanders, some of the real rough ones, some of the real bones rattling, acid inducing, "oh my god will this bastard ever end?!?!" climbs. And I don't think we hardly crack 100 metres elevation!

Anyway, step 2 giving rise to step 10 so Adios!

Jono

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Pictorial of Sorts

In no particular order...

This is Jeanne-Pierre (Spelling?). Funny story actually; on our ride back from a kermesse race this evening, Brad and myself were stopped by the side of the road with Brad fixing a puncture. Out of nowhere this guy comes up, "Uh, are you Jonathan, Lovelock?"
"Yep!"
"Ahh great blog!"

Anyway, turns out it is a small world. Jeanne knows some of the guys running the Marco Polo team and just happened to see us on the side of the road. Who would have thought...



Hello SRM Factory!


No better way to spend 5.5 Euro than on the economy menu at 'Wok Always'


The AMAZING forest where James Spragg Lives, seriously, this is cool!


Cool enough for a barbeque


A top notch Malay Spread


Hainese mutton, up close and personal


Best till last, Loh's special combination, vanilla custard, strawberries, roasted peanuts and granulated sugar sprinkled on top. It really is good. Would I lie?

It's past midnight now! Damn these evening races..

Ciao,

Jono

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ruddervorder Review

So my second Pro Kermesse was a whole load less stressful than my first! It was mighty stressful on the startline next to guys from Garmin, Vacansoleil, Columbia, Acqua e Sapone and so on, but, the race itself was not as deadly as I feared it may be.

The race felt pretty much like the protour version of glenvale. It was pretty easy sitting in, but fast fast fast, ie hard to get away. We did the first two hours at just under 47km/h so there was certainly no slacking. I went into my shell a little bit, still feeling tired from Sundays race I guess I found it easier to hang around midfield waiting for the race to explode. Alas the race never really exploded per se, a break got away, another group slipped off the front, and the peleton rode around still averaging 45 and getting pulled out with a lap to the finish (16x10k laps).

The hardest thing about this race was the aroma of grilled bratwursts as we went through the Ruddervorde centrum each lap. Man, you wanna talk about self determination? Well it sure took a lot of mental fortitude not to jump off the bike and join the happy hordes with sausage and a beer.

The outlook for the next week and a half involves not much other than training up for the ever feared Tour de Qinghai Lake

That training will be nicely capped as we have a good block of 3 kermesse races before leaving so there will of course be reports of the suffering sure to be endured.

Back on the food front, it was Hainese Mutton with black fungus, preserved beancurd and dried mushrooms that was whipped up and hastily consumed last night. My ability to live on a diet composed of entirely asian food is very much aided but living with three malaysians who cook superbly. Thanks to some malfunctioning bluetooth action on my laptop the photos will have to remain trapped in my phone for now. Nevertheless, let the hawker diet continue....

Ciao

Jono

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A summary of sorts

Is right here.

http://www.cyclingtipsblog.com/2010/06/beer-bikes-and-waffles-the-holy-trinity/

Jono

Follow the Lede

Wow. That first kermesse sure blew out some cobwebs. I think it blew out a few gaskets too. I need an oil change and a refuel before I go and do it again in Ruddervorde tomorrow!

The scarey thing is, when speaking to Stu Shaw from Drapac Porsche towards the end of the race he confirmed my worst  fears; this was an easy kermesse. Eighty people finished from one hundred and thirty starters. That's not hard! I get the feeling unless 7 guys all limp over the line then collapse then it's just not hard.

Well, I'll take the easy ones when they come! For someone who claims to enjoy the odd hill or two it still  baffles me I am living for four months in the flattest country in the world...

To change topics completely, everyone knows canned rice cream yeh? Well I reckon it taste like canned crap. This evening  I embarked on a mission to make my own. Rice, milk, sugar, salt, one cinnamon stick, two cardamom pods a little bit of patience and I have before me some damn tasty creamed rice. It's easy, I should have done it earlier, but alas the memories of crappy rice cream will fore ever blight my existence. Oh well.

To keep the food front rolling on I have to add that since the arrival of my other Malaysian team mate  Haidar and his wife Bella, I have been dinning, no, feasting, on wonderful Malay food. Honestly I could talk all night about how good their food is. It's like I've died and gone to heaven.

Anyway, sleep is a must. And being the leader of Procrasti-Nation I have a whole bunch of episodes of the Shield and the Wire to get through before I can  get onto exam study (prioritising..)

Ciao.

Friday, June 18, 2010

It has taken two weeks

But I have finally been properly rained on in Europe.  Yesterday we drove down to the Ardennes to do a hilly loop to round out the weeks training before a Pro Kermesse on Sunday in Lede.Well, it was beautiful, but it was also wet. 4 hours non stop rain. But hey, shit happens. Still great to ride lots of bergs made famous by races such as Liege-Bastogne-Liege . Also interesting to notice some bloke named Phil had his named written in big letters up every hill. Who the bloody hell is Phil?

I was later informed that Phil was short for Philipe Gilbert, one of the local legends, ahhh ok, that makes sense then.

In other news, the previous evening was  my first taste of Belgium Kermesse racing. And boy did it taste good. It tasted tense, nervous, angry, desperate, fast and left me yearning for a second course. 176 starters, lots of people watching, music playing, frites flying, beer flowing and big winds blowing, everything felt so very euro; so very cool.

The race was 22 laps of a 5k circuit with lots of corners but it was pretty free flowing and a lot of fun. Racing wise I didn't do much, just getting into the swing of it. Baby steps I say.

And yes, unsorted photo time from pre France and beyond...

Marco Paulo? Mais oui!


Le chambre petite


Assorted stuff in the team bus


All my dreams came true when Loh's parents visited us in Geleen and made a big pot of beef rib soup, complete with classic chilli, lime coriander garnish. Aaahhh to live with a Malaysian family...


When you are short on space, why not just conduct post race massage/physio in the hallway? At least at this stage Brad was still partially clothed...

Ciao

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bad Luck

Well stage 2 was hard and fast and much like stage 1 for the first 2 hours, then we were stopped at a train crossing, then a group of 40 literally rode off the front of the bunch!  Needless to say I should have been there, but I wasn't, so it was an easy 2.5 hours to finish off the stage.

Stage 3 was much of the same; single file, sprinting out of corners, battling to get to the front. All was going to plan, ie I was still at the front, until my shifter broke at 35 kilometres into the stage. So, 155km to go, gears available: 39x11 or 53x11; I was disheartened but the equation was not impossible.
I found the 39 was good for most situations but every fast crosswind section I was spinning like a mad man but the 53 was that bit too tall.  Either way I was survivng, just waiting for a break to go and the pace to slow, but unfortunately we reached a KOM first, and a steep KOM it was. Picture this: a highly stressed lanky guy running up a hill in tap dancing shoes whilst short of breath from the combination of exertion and swearing; you've now probably got a good idea of what I looked like. Yes, I had to run up it. 

So goodbye peleton, hello lonely road! I rode to the feed station and promptly demounted my steed all the while highly tempted to do a Bjarne Riis and hurl it into the bushes... but hysterics don't fix shifters so I decided against it

Not much to report on now, more races soon and plenty of training to come.

Au revoir

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bonjour

Hello from a cramped little motel room in the sunny Oise departement of France.

We are here for a really damn tough 4 day 2.2 UCI stage race. Everything got underway yesterday with a rough little 125k stage that was over before it began it felt that fast! We have 3 more stages all around the 180-190k distance to go so I am looking forward to getting on with it.

First impressions of yesterdays stage were
1) Holy crap this is fast,
2) Holy crap this is fast, and,
3) Holy crap this is fast.

We went straight out of town, round a small 5k loop then through the town and out a steep as all hell 2k climb with two switchbacks. We all know the rule stay at the front, yes? Well yesterday was another perfect justification for why we hear this over and over. The road was so narrow up the hill that we were coming to a complete stop mid hairpin down the back of the bunch.

Although I really suffered yesterday, I have to say it was so much fun! The speed and intensity of the race was exilirating, a big change from Australia no doubt.

After some tasty baguettes and a couple of bowls of plain pasta (Ketchup being the only condiment offered...) this morning I am fuelled and ready to take on stage 2.

Au revoir

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"How close did we get to Germany?"

"Pretty close, actually about as close as I think you can get."- Spraggy
"Oh really?"- Me
"Uh yeh, we're in Germany"- Spraggy
"Oh..."- Me

And what a ride it was. Wind, bergs, coke, strudel, honey cake and the warm smell of fermenting cow shit all day long. Yesterday was a big bunch ride led by hard man and GPS equipped local legend Leon Van Bon.

We went south through Valkenburg and the Amstel Gold race area, then kept heading to the south east, entered Germany, did some rolling climbs, ended up in this amazing olden style German village complete with a castle, church, cobbles, coffee, coke and cake. Then it was onwards and upwards into Belgium and slowly getting up to the highest point in the country, which was actually 694m I'll have you know! Then we continued along a bunch of narrow rolling roads all the way back to our front door. A good 6 hour ride followed by an even better dinner at a newly opened "Wok Always" takeaway shop in town; things just keep improving

The hard man himself


Great.



The old Kinglake Bakery just doesn't live up



Black Kettle Tearooms are also, I guess, just not quite up to scratch

And with that it's time to find a less creative way to whittle away some hours online, bye!

Jono

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Valkenburg

What a glorious day! My first three days here have been amazing; mid twenties, no shortage of sun and not a breath of wind. The last two days have been spent exploring the area south of Geleen in the very most southern part of the Netherlands. This area is where the Amstel Gold Race is held every year and to put it in the most basic terms, there are 50 climbs (between say 1k to 3k) within a 30-40km radius and to get in some solid riding you can simply create a plethora of different loops over different bergs until your heart's content.  

Yesterday we started out coming through Valkenburg and straight up the Cauberg which is the finish for Amstel, it's so cool riding up this hill with all the painting (Schleck, Boogerd, Evans etc) half faded on the road, and the finish line is at the top year round so there's no shortage of half wheeling going up the climb.  The day before yesterday I had recently Pez'd fellow anglophone, James Spragg, play tour guide and show me round a bunch of different locations; all adorned with the suffix 'berg'. Good to know that my new training ground, despite being in Holland, is anything but flat.  Now for some pictures...



Brad and Loh enjoying the sun

I am also enjoying the sun


Enjoying  the green surroundings


Enjoying the Dutch bike path systems


Enjoying the car free centre of Geleen


Definitely enjoying finding an asian grocery store in Geleen (yes I am as shocked as you!). Then compounding that enjoyment with the fact that they had fresh rolled sticky rice parcels filled with minced turmeric chicken. Yes, there was a lot of enjoyment on my behalf.

 I can survive a month without food but 3 days without Fish sauce and I am in serious trouble.

Ciao

Jono

Saturday, June 5, 2010

FAQ

Who: Marco Polo Cycling Team

Where: Geleen, The Netherlands

How Long: 4 months

What Races:
To put it in simple terms, 6 weeks racing various tours, kermesse races and 1 day road races, amateur and pro level in and around the Netherlands, France, Germany and mostly Belgium.

Then 2 weeks of agony in Qinghai ,followed by a rest week or two

Then another 6 week European block as above, then a trip home via another week racing in the new Tour of China which is rumoured to be hilly!

Why: Why not?

Life in Geleen: So far so good, a small town, certainly not Melbourne sized. The biggest difference so far is that in Aussie terms we are out in the 'sticks'. Instead of a few hundred kilometres between towns, it's more like <5 kilometres.

Enough: Yeh.

See ya.

The European Chapter

And thus it begins.

Welcome to the foreign land of the Netherlands. Welcome lush green scenery. Welcomes obscure but useful bikepaths. Welcome offensively flat countryside punctuated with bergs to the south. Welcome confusing and humorous language. Welcome sun and 25 degrees. Welcome overwhelming cool bike culture. Also welcome swift adaptation to the new time zone thanks to caffeine.

Not so welcome abundance of average coffee (but still warm, comforting and making me go to the toilet since 1989). Very much unwelcome lack of south east Asian cuisine (sniff). Feeling a bit unwelcome myself if I try to ride on the left hand side of the road..'what, they drive on the right here', queue horn, "BEEEEEEEEEP", woops.

Blah blah blah, so on and so forth. This joint is different to Melbourne, but at the same time similar, still a developed, westernised kind of country and frankly I'm more than happy being here. Which is a good thing, as I have 4 months to go. Plenty more stories as they come to hand. It's just me, a slow net connection and a pantry of food getting me through the post ride afternoons.

On a side note, KLM have taken my award for shittest plane food in the aviation world.I call it the Very Offensive Meals In Transit (VOMIT) Award. It it highly prized. Let it be known that every time you serve customers a powdered egg omelette God/Allah/Buddha/Vishnu kills a kitten. A cute one too.



So just think about that KLM.

Bye for now!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Picture time

Photos from Korea
 Hotel view: Beautiful Jeju Island. You can see the pre race presentation stage in the distance

 Stage 1, Roll out.

Leaving the neutral section, stage 1, uphill and into the wind and rain.

 Many hours post stage 1, plane transfer. Very over it by now, tired and grumpy for sure.

Brief moment on the front, stage 2

 Stage 3, pacing back on after a flat. Downhill, tunnel, fast, fun.

Stage 3, Out of tunnel, nice view!

 Jimmy, our mechanic, also a big fan of fresh Korean seafood.

 A typical Korean sex motel (aka love motel)

 Trying to have a team meeting in the overheated, sweaty and stuffy sex motel room!

  Haidar in action: Drink time

 Loh on the rest day, top of the 1st KOM for the next stage!

 On the way up...

Heading back to the motel, rugged up of course.

That's it! And I have to say a massive thanks to Marco Polo Cycling Team and the organisors of the Tour De Korea for another great adventure..flight to Hong Kong departs in 1 hour. Sad sad reality awaits!

Ciao