Sydney, Australia & Italy, March
After Malaysia, instead of coming home to Sydney for a week before heading to Europe, I got an extra two weeks at home. Apparently, I was too fat and my director told me to stay home and train in the heat for a few more weeks to get the kilometres in and lose those much needed kilogram’s (note the sarcasm, I will never too lean!). I wasn’t complaining, was this suppose to be a punishment?? Not likely, training in the Aussie sun with mates or training a maximum of 2 hrs a day in the coldest winter Italy has had in 200 years.
I had trained pretty much full gas from Christmas so the week after Malaysia I had planned a week of R and R, before getting into it again. I took it easy during the week on the bike, and on the weekend headed to the Hunter Valley for three days without the bike. I had planned to go to the Hunter Valley with my brother and his wife since Christmas and was looking forward to this weekend away. The Hunter Valley is NSW’s most popular winery area. On the Friday we went to six wineries in the lower Hunter before heading further north to the Upper Hunter where we were staying for two nights. There were some very good reds but also a few disappointing ones - the surprises tended to be the smaller wineries that you haven’t heard of much. The next day we went to another four wineries in the Upper Hunter and had lunch at the Rosemount Estate winery, another great day. On the last day, on the way back through to Sydney we called back through the Lower Hunter again and did a few more wineries. At the last two I got a bit carried away, especially on the final winery. After getting a start in the back cellar room (or what we called, “the high rollers room”.) I bought a case of '98 Lindemanns Shiraz and half a case of 97’ to go with a bottle of red from every single winery we went to. So the wine rack looks impressive and full, while the wallet looks empty. It was a great weekend away!
Back into the training and into routine. Somehow most of my mates have one day off a week and they all fall on different days, so it works out perfectly for me, I usually always have a training partner. My summer training partner Steve Wooldridge was also keen to do some good training before heading to LA for the track Worlds and then Germany to ride with Comnet. So the two of us put away some km’s and not a moment goes by where there is not a laugh or a joke. I was doing a lot more specific training now including strength, endurance and hill efforts. I was also trying to do a few club races to give myself some kind of race fitness. After doing over 100km in the morning I was going to the evening crits at either Heffron Park or Eastern Creek to have a hard 45-minute hit out. It did the job, giving myself a lung opener and hard hit out. In the middle of all this I had my cousin’s wedding, perfect timing! So it was another chance to give the bag of fruit (suit) a start. It was a great day, especially when I don’t get to see the extended family often. I did keep getting the hint though, I am the only one left standing… single that is.
Big Steve headed to Adelaide for a track Worlds training camp so I lost one training partner but a few days later Russ turned up in Sydney to do some training before heading to Italy out of Sydney. The week was spent running around like a maniac organizing things, catching up with people, fixing things and of course training. I did get the chance to throw in a game of golf, if that’s what you call my game, and a last visit to the local before I left.
I’m in Italy now and as I have the last five years, I got sick straight away. I looked after myself but my immune system is not my strong point. It didn’t help that we had to go to a gran fondo race down in Liguria for some unknown reason. Up at 6am to leave at 6.30am and arrived home at 9pm, a long day after getting off a 26-hour flight 36 hours earlier. The day was made that much longer from the good ol' fashioned Italian autostrada traffic jam, nearly 2 hours of waiting. Tell me I wasn’t over that! Apart from that, it's cold, but not as bad as I thought it would be. Apparently a week again was 10 degrees cooler so I’m glad it warmed up for us.
Tomorrow we’re off to Germany for our team presentation, then a race in Switzerland, then straight to Coppi Bartoli, a five day tour. After that, we’re straight to the boot of Italy for Calabria. In total we’re on the road for two weeks.
Also, for anyone that didn’t know, our team got selected as a wild card for the Giro d’Italia, one of only two positions left after the 20 ProTour teams get automatic selection. The other team to get the wild card spot was Brown and Lancaster’s Panaria team.