By Steve Medcroft The Australian National Mountain Bike Team drew attention to itself this past...
By Steve Medcroft
The Australian National Mountain Bike Team drew attention to itself this past weekend in Coloradoâs State MTB Championships. Team members hogged the podiums across the board. Emma Colson (Topbike Tours - Giant) won the pro womenâs race with Niki Fisher (Trek) close behind in second, Erica Oldfield (QLD academy of Sport) won the junior womenâs race and junior men Lachlan Norris (Cannondale/Maxxis), Andrew Arthur (Clarence Street Cyclery) and Gary Millburn (Cannondale/Maxxis) swept their event.
Quietly training for the Livigno, Italy World Championships (August 28 to September 4, 2005) in the U.S., the Australians were at an altitude camp in Silverthorne, Colorado (population 5,000). âWeâve got a group of twelve athletes and five staff here,â explains Colson, Australiaâs current national cross-country champion.
The camp is partly funded by the Australian Institute of Sport and organized by National Team Coach Damien Grundy. âWeâve been here about two and a half weeks,â says Colson. â(Coach Grundy) put the trip and training camp together. He knows a lot of the trails around here and has been giving us very specific workouts, specific efforts.â
Silverthorne sits at 8,751 feet. âWeâre trying to acclimatize since worlds is at altitude (Livigno sits at 5,980 feet),â Colson says. âThe highest mountain in the whole of Australia is Mt Kosciuszko â (2,228 meters or 7,300 feet). And you canât even ride to the top of it.â
Colson says she and the other athletes felt the effects of altitude their first day in Silverthorne. âWe all had trouble breathing, headaches. We brought a physiologist with us and did lactate tests and on the first day; we were sky high.â
It took a while for Colson to feel comfortable. âIâve done a lot of riding in Europe and ridden up to altitude but some of the passes Iâve ridden here (in Colorado) are higher than Iâve ever lived before. Itâs a weird feeling: your heart and lungs give out before your legs do - like you can never use all the strength in your legs.â
One week after arriving in Silverthorne, Colson says that everyone in the group is acclimatized. âThe tests show it, as do the results in the Colorado races. And Iâm feeling good, feeling lean.â The group heads to West Virginia on Wednesday then will transfer to Milan two days after racing the NORBA at Snowshoe. âThe key from here,â says Colson, âis to stay healthy, cope with the travel and not eat too much.â