The two things I think of when Hobart is mentioned to me are:
1) Cold Weather
2) Mt Wellington
So when our team decided to have a week long training camp in Hobart I got pretty interested. I started packing my thermals even though it's summer, and then I started wishing I was as light as I was when I was 15.
I also packed my flute. You never know.
During my time with the VIS we where always lucky enough to have our camps at Bright in the epicentre of the Victorian Alps. We had Hotham, Buffalo, Falls Creek, both sides of Tawonga, Rosewhite and the climb into Beechworth at our feet. It really was an all you can eat buffet of long painful climbs, I was always cautious not to overindulge. Every hill there were always two or three different groups:
1) The overeager juniors. The halfwheelers. The racers. They had numbers pinned on and there was a finish line at the top. They often started out the week smashing up the climbs, going like Contador past a dropped chain, the moment the road went up these kids found their way to the front
2) The camp regulars, these were the guys that had been overeager once, but now found themselves weathered but nonetheless wise. Racing flat out on the second day up Falls Creek usually meant a world of agony then next day up Mt Hotham. These guys paced themselves and did some specific efforts but generally climbed en masse and put pressure on the overeager juniors to 'Slow down it's not a race!'
Every regular knew that on the last day coming back from Beechworth was when everyone put their balls on the line ( chicks too!) It was the 'halfwheel-off' of the century:
Riders two abreast, mano a mano, you and your nemesis just kept upping the tempo every 500m of your turn, the pace always increasing to the excruciating end. Each rider trying not to let on how much it hurt, no swaying, no grimacing, just push, push, push.
"Keep your breathing steady, eyes straight forward, keep your cadence up, don't bog down, oh god this is starting to hurt, don't worry, he'll crack soon, just 500 metres more, you can do it, come on, keep going, oh god was that 500 metres all ready!?! Hey! I said STOP swaying, what are you doing with that breathing? Sounds like you are being strangled"
Then as both riders neared thermal implosion the stronger of the riders would begin to sense the kill. Like any true predator the strong partner would go in for the kill. As the weaker rider you could tell when your stronger nemesis started to smell your defeat, they oozed confidence, you knew, that they knew, that no matter how much they were hurting, it was hurting you more. Much more. They had the power to end it all. And eventually they would put it down one more cog and blow you to smithereens. And it was game over, back down the group you would drift, fending off the taunts of defeat. Only to do it all again next time you got to the front.
3) Then came the 'out of formers'. For these guys the camp was pure agony. The juniors smashed you on the climbs, the regulars flogged you on the flats. No rest. No joy. Just a long week of seeing the group of riders you should be with disapearing into the distance whilst keeping a brave face when Davo drops back in the car to see what's taking you so long! No hiding here!
Throughout my VIS years I have been a member of all three groups and I always came back from the camps feeling fitter, stronger but mighty happy to be home.
The only downside being, that even with enough climbs to construct a grand tour, it still managed to get a bit 'same same' throughout the years. Nevertheless this repetitive grind didn't worry me, being a creature of strict routine and structure I found it kind of pleasing knowing exactly what we would be doing each day.
So with tomorrow comes a whole new training camp! Getting on a plane for starters adds a bit of adventure, but also increases the CBF factor. One of the most draining things ever to confront a cyclist is having to get off a plane and unpack your bike and go riding straight away, but I guess I'll just have to suck it up! So providing I can get Internet down in Hobart I hope to have some good stories of of pain and suffering.
Speaking of pain and suffering, this is a favourite of mine from Arnaud:
Arnaud is not the kind of Masseus to start causing you all sorts of grief in all sorts of places then to have the nerve to stand there and patronisingly say
"Relaaaax, just let the muscle relaaaaax"
"I CAN'T EFFIN RELAX YOU'VE GOT YOUR ELBOW JAMMED THREE FOOT UP MY @RSE! HOW THE F*** DO YOU EXPECT ME TO RELAX!!!!"
No, Arnaud is a forward thinker, he is pretty aware of human reflexes; when he starts gettin' in there people usually start jumping and flailing and screaming and crying; unless you are Scott Morrison who apparently has no feelings at all ;-) .
But for Arnaud, no problem, just strap the poor bugger to the table. He ain't goin nowhere!
From the mainland, and soon to be on the Southland,
Bye for now!