Friday, April 30, 2010

5500 Calories

Is what I burnt today in the looooong 241k spent saddled up today

225 stage + 10k neutral + 6 k warm up.

It was fairly hilly with lots of lovely things to write about but alas I am tired and about to go to bed! So just a quick post to say nothing really changed. Other than octopus, preserved egg and spicy tomato sauce sandwiches are really something special.

Oh yeh, we got more snow flurries at the top of the 2nd KOM today (900m), but no mass freezage a la stage 7.

And another newsflash to say that I am really sick of banana powerbars


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Frozen To The Core

Man oh man, that was tough! Like crazy, ridiculous, just stupid tough!

Picture this: Start line, 6 degrees, icy wind but no rain. Ok this sure sucks, but it's managable.

2k into the 10k neutral the rain she begins to fall. The temperature also begins to fall, 6 degrees down to 3, where it will remain. 4.5 Hours to go. For some reason everyones motivation also begins to fall. Oh crap... ....Oh shit.... hmmm Oh well. Everyone has had one of these rides before. No feeling in your hands or feet, can't brake, can't change gears, don't even think about trying to get food out of your pocket and so on (on a side note I tucked my gels into the end of my knicks so I could access them with frozen hands). Generally it is bad. Real Bad. (second side note: I have a pair of medium winter gloves and a pair of full on winter gloves, I chose the medium ones. Massive error.)

Picture this, I crossed the finish line and found my Directeur and said: hey grab my bag and come with me, I can't use my hands so I need you to undress me! So like an F1 pitstop we ran into some bathrooms at the finishing stadium and I had my Directeur and Masseus on either side of me ripping off clothes, towelling, cleaning and dressing me. It was like a whirlwind of action while I stood there blubbering unable to conjugate correct sentences because my lips were so cold! Then our interpreter came running with tray of coffee and green tea! Legend. Then my Directeur pulls a packet of caramel waffle biscuits he had been saving from Holland. Oh thank you god!

So the race was great fun in racing terms, really jumpy and really fast. Lots of breaks and attacks and no negative racing, just good balls out aggression. In the end I couldn't quite bridge to a group of 15 that had formed at 35k to go and ended up missing an important split. Then bunch shut down and we lost heaps of time! Not helped by taking  a wrong turn at an unmaned intersection. Never mind. I was riding aggressively and attacking when I could so I am happy to say I gave it my best.

My top GC aspirations are done for this race now but a decent placing is still possible with two mammoth stages to come. I'll be spending a good 12-14 hours in the saddle the next two days. Let's just hope it warms up.

It's a pity but my two remaining Malaysian teamates Haidar and Loh both suffered like dogs (doesn't everyone?) but couldn't last the distance in that cold. Talk about a shock to the system, 35 degrees and sun to this filth! Oh did I mention it started snowing in flurries after the finish? Even worse, this morning on the rest day we rode up one of the climbs for tomorrows 225k stage and there was snow everywhere from about 400 metres of altitude and beyond. Let's hope there is no snow tomorrow...

Bye for now

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pig disease

Well the last two stages (5 and 6) have been shortened from 150k to 84k and 200k to 54k respectively. We have been told its because we can't race through a certain region of Korea at the moment due to a 'pig disease'. Who knows! Maybe I'll come back with a curly tail.

The thing is, shorter is not necessarily easier, just fast! Today for example: 54k off death. Every kilometre filled with tension and animosity. Everyone was ready to race and jumpy as all hell. Bars clashed, words were thrown and the riding was not friendly. We raced along some tight, undulating and windy roads going flat chat for 17k untill we hit a 3k constant climb that we flew up. I made the amateur mistake of getting caught at the back, so it was chase, chase, chase up threw the bunch. I crested the hill with about 20 guys but there was a group putting GC in danger that had snuck off the front. From the bottom of the climb to the finish was  about 30k which just flew by. Tailwind or crosswind it was just so fast. We averaged just a tick over 50.

Thankfully I grovelled my way back to the front as the race was exploding! At 20k to go there were 3 guys still in front and only about 15 guys in my group. Sweet! Unfortunately we turned into a bit of a headwind and lost our impetus. By the finish the group was back to 60 guys. Boy oh boy, that hurt!

Right now I am at Paris Baguette enjoying dipping a glutinous rice baguette into a hot chocolate. Trust me, this is living!


Friday, April 23, 2010


First stage=wet and windy
Made the lead group that formed after due gutter time but we never caught a lone leader up the road. Very hard day. Hardest thing abotu stage one was the bus then plane then bus transfer we had that took the best part 6 hours after our driver got lost! Oh well, thems the breaks.

Stage 2 was shorter and easier and there is not much to write up about other than nealy getting dropped and suffering like a dog for the last 30k after hitting the mother of all cateyes on the side of the road. Bloody tyre was hitting the brake pad pretty hard. Having said that, I was dam lucky I didn't flat or break the wheel because given the speed we were doing I never would have made it back on. Many people are falling victims to the ridiculous sized cateeyes in Korea.

Food update: Have had a fair bit of Bulgogi and bucket loads of Kim Chi. Last night I had Kim Chi on my spaghetti with some pickled octopus..yeh, try and get that in Italy. (I can hear the nonnas screaming in unison!)

Out of time!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dam you Volcano!!

Our six man strong team has now been cut back to 4 as my team mates Leon and Khalid travelling from Europe did not make it. Never mind.

I had a solid 24 hours of travel with 3 flights and train ride and a bus ride but I am here and most definitely ready to race. Here is also known as Jeju, an island south of Busan in Korea. It's fantastic, the island is basically a volcano so everywhere you ride you just circumnavigate this ominous looking peak in the centre of the island. Fortunately this one is no longer active...Everywhere is lush, green and the whole area is planned out with resorts all carefully placed around cliff tops and in among rolling hills, a very well laid out holiday destination.It's a bit like an Asian take on Hamilton Island but not so plastic and thankfully there is no XXXX beer..

To all seafood fans out there you are definitely missing out not being here. I have had some really fresh and tasty salmon, tuna, kingfish, calamari, oysters ,octopus and sea snails. Brilliant. Only let down is the coffee but there are no shocks there... the green tea comes up trumps.
The other big find in Korea has been the awesome chain "Paris Baguette". Now I 've been to Paris, and I've eaten spent vast quantities of time sampling everything I could afford at various boulangeries, now the ones here are certainly not that good. They are, however, well above the average Asian baked goodies, so I'm happy with that.

First stage tomorrw, 177 kilometres around the coastline non stop on a windy Island. I reckon it's gonna be H-A-R-D. Oooooh yeh. Bring it on. As long as its not 40 degrees (which it won't be..) I am ready to suffer.

Time for some sushi for afternoon tea. Again, I'm happy.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Energy Bars

Just pondering out loud here re-energy bars for long training rides or races.

I remember a while back Wade from Cycling Tips was talking about how in Australia we are quite literally starved for good bars to eat while out riding. I have never gone nuts about Powerbars, but at the same time, I wasn't about to go ordering a bunch of food from overseas. Muesli bars, jam sandwiches and obligatory bakery stops see me through. However I try to do some long rides eating Powerbars or similar as that's what  I eat during races so obviously it makes sense to train with them every blue moon.

Well, scrap all that. In Thailand I was fortunate enough to score a big bag of excess race food off the Jelly Belly guys as they were pushing their baggage limit. So, now that I find myself loaded with these Gatorade bars I have been smashing back some good long rides and have actually been enjoying (shock horror) eating energy bars. They are great. Really great.

Everyone knows the 'baby poo' vanilla powerbar or the thick, cloggy, dry and all round average chocolate powerbar. Well these are a level above, no doubt. to Korea tomorrow! I am very excited. Now just hoping my team mates coming from Europe make it with all the flight dramas of late. Either way, we'll work it out!



Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tasty Tasty Thailand

Well, it's no secret, I love Thai food. Nothing more to say really.

Maybe it  was a minor blessing finishing the race two stages too early, I was free to roam the streets and see what peculiar things took my fancy.

This was the first dish I encountered when I arrived in Thailand. I had flown Air Asia via Kuala Lumpur then onto Bangkok. I had 12 hours and a night to kill before flying out the next morning to rockin' Ubon Ratchathani. So, operation street stall I walk out of our hotel near the airport and the area is looking pretty baron, no big city here. I walked for a k and found a bunch of stalls all slowing down after the lunch rush. Well, I wasn't too choosy, I was tired and oh so hungry. The first stall that was clean, fresh and smelt tasty was where I sat. After some smiles and a bunch of pointing I ended up with one of the best meals I had the whole trip. 

A grilled fish (of what variety, I have no clue) that appeared to have been sitting around for a while but was still good, with a really, I mean really, tangy and spicy chilli paste which was salty with fish sauce, spicy thanks to the bucket load of dried chilli and sour with tamarind, no sweetness either. It was given some crunch with a few spring onions thrown in the mix. Nice on the rice, but truly at home on the dark fleshed fish. All the sweetness was waiting in the green papaya salad, which was also, the best (and one of many..) green papaya salads I had all trip. Papaya, peanuts, limes, tomatoes, snake beans, whole garlic cloves, dried shrimp, some obscure purple flower petal (???) and a tamarind, chilli, vinegar, sugar dressing. All pounded with vigour by this crazy old Thai lady who couldn't believe I was eating all those chilli's!

 These were discovered in a night market after stage 4 and were hence named by Rob and I, the chicken condom. A gelatinous but sticky rice paper crepe was spread on a hotplat, filled with chicken mince which had a bunch of local herbs, the only one I recognised was saw tooth coriander, rolled up, and cooked. Then boxed up with a sweet vinegar style sauce and some diced bits of liver and you were on your way to a sticky, gloopy but oh so tasty heaven.

Next up was an assault on the grilled meats stall. Anything, I mean anything, on a stick, grilled. It's here. Where? Well an obscure town in the middle of Thailand.... But I digress, this is where carnivores come to die. Pork belly, some part of the chicken which I could not for the life of me identify, and a whole bunch of offal, all graced the three sticks I consumed (sticks not included). And I consumed them rapidly, because they tasted great. I've definitely had better, but given each one was about 25 Australian cents, I was happy.

And then there were bugs. Dried, crispy, and frankly just a little bit odd. Grab a leave and wrap em up. 3, 2, 1, and...chew. Well. Hmm. They tasted like, Bugs, I guess. The had this strange medicinal taste. If some Thai guy told me that they were supposed to cure ailments I'd believe him. Buuuuut, I probably wouldn't buy them again....

And so off to Korea I head. It'll be tough, a long race will require a lot of food, but there shall be no street adventures until after the last stage. As nice as it is exploring around and eating god knows what from god knows where, there nothing worse than a 225k stage with an upset gut. And no one want to end up like Boonen

Eat well.

Footnote- Thank you Rob Doyle for taking the photos.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Where's the time go?

I swear it seems like only yesterday I was quickly typing out a blog in Thailand...

I must be having fun because time sure is flying. I have been back home for a week and am off for the next Asian instalment on monday: Tour of Korea. A good 1600 kilometres over ten stages and eleven days, the first tour I have done with appropriate magnitude to grant a rest day. Wow. This. Will. Hurt. Lots.

But back to the land of Thai's..

So during stage 4 I  got a rear flat early on while the race was moving pretty dam fast. Ok, no worries, wheel change, jump back on, all to plan. I am slowly crawling my way back through the convoy, gritting my teeth, suffering like a dog. Now in Asian UCI races you get plagued by these infuriating moto-commissaires on little scooters who are there seemingly to get their power trip for the year. They flat out refuse to let you even look at the back of a car let alone get some assistance in getting back on after a mechanical or a crash. Needless to say this makes it much harder getting back into the race. So amongst the blur of wind, pain and exhaust fumes that is the convoy, I managed to get myself distracted by one of these little two wheel moto-pests and then ..
BANG! I went into the back of a team car! (After hitting the skids and nearly pulling up!)

Regardless, it was a very minor mishap, but more to the point, after I jumped up, straightened my bars and grabbed the Oakleys currently being loaned by Rob, the convoy was just out of reach. Hmmm. Time to get pensive.

Distance to finish: 170k
Temperature: 40 degrees
Wind direction: Headwind (Of course..)
Liquid situation: Enough for another two hours
"Yes, that's right Jono," (said the dehydrated little voice inside my head)
"You're rooted."

So long boring story short, I made it to 4 hours in, about 60k to go then pulled the pin. No shock, no shame, just a good bus ride with one of the race chaperones teaching me how to ask for 'proper' spicy food in Thai. Now that proved to be useful.

So the next two days where a mix of time following the race in the team car, training on my lonesome or with some mates from Perth, eating delicious delicious mysteries and just sweltering in the heat.

I have some brilliant photos of some of the tasty delights I ate bout to load up, so be ready, I just have to go about stealing them off another website and we're good to go.

Finally I spent a night on the trip home with my team mate Loh hanging out in Kuala Lumpur. He has a house there so I got to spend a night and morning just eating and buying great stuff in local markets. So much to do, but never enough time.

I am running like a madman off to uni now, so no spell check..this could prove interesting. In the mean time, who do you reckon has lower Cda? Brad or me?


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Out the arse

Puncture, pedal, pedal, pedal, hit back of car, get up, all alone, pedal some more.

So basically after going into the back of another car in the convoy (not very hard, no injuries etc I got to spend a few hours on my lonesome in the Thai heat today! Talk about going a bit bonkers. Anyway, after 4 hours and still a possible 2.5 to go I pulled the pin. Not much to write about now other than just eating my way to heaven via the BEST street food market going round in Mukdahan. Offal, bugs, entrails, you name it, it was there and it tasted good.

Off to bed.

Moral of the story: When in the race convoy, eyes forward at all times. Because if you turn your head for .0001 seconds, Murphy's Law of Cycling #37 states that it is exactly in that moment that the car in front of you will slam on the brakes.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Well my first race back is now swinging into action. I just finished the prologue somewhere midfield and am happy to be back in the swing. I am short of time so will have to forget about punctuation, grammar etc etc yada yada.

Best Shit
-Exchange rate. Oh yes you Aussie dollar you have purchasing power over here and for that I love you so.

-Absolutely stonkily ridiculously tasty street food. Green papaya salad, grilled chicken, grilled fish, rice (of course), smashingly tasty curries, heinously spicy tom yum soup. My flavour senses have been hit for six. It's fantastic. I am in heaven. A hot, sweaty, spicy heaven. But be warned, take the chilli easy. I learnt my lesson after an enforced mid ride middle of nowhere emergency paddock discharge. That's one cycling cap I will NOT be taking home ;-)

-New Bike-Oh yes. new stuff is the best stuff. Museeuw frames are shiney, light, fast and generally all round awesome. You should all buy one. Seriously.

-Thai massage. You get poked, proded and stretched in all forms of legal and possibly illegal positions. (All people who have cracked a 'happy ending joke' please send me $5. I am going to be rich.)

-Caffeine. Been weening off lately, 2 No Doz pre prologue today= Jono READY TO GO! Let's hope I sleep tonight. She'll be right.

Bad Shit
-Nothing. Thailand is the land of all things good.

Au revoir pour ce moment.