Ramblings from Down Under

Well, it has been a pretty long time since I’ve posted anything up, something that I should really really start bucking up on if I want this place to stay alive. Probably keeps things interesting for my teammates racing abroad as well, giving them something to read when they’re bored. Brandon Canty from the Aussie team Search2Retain stumbled here a couple of days back and asked me why I wasn’t updating here more often. There isn’t really a good reason actually, only excuses! Although I must say I have been pretty busy in Singapore the past few months …

Anyhow, since the last post in November 2013, plenty of things have happened and 4 months almost feels like a year with events just flying past. The team training camp in Chiang Mai, Thailand, was really fun and a good time away from Singapore. Perfect weather and roads to train on, and it was made even more interesting because the guys from Search2Retain joined us as well. A good 2 weeks (ish) of just riding bikes and training hard, was an awesome way of getting some miles into the legs and great way to push me up the road to fitness.

Combined Team Training Camp in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Combined Team Training Camp in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Great time riding around in Thailand!

Great time riding around in Thailand!

Heading back to Singapore after the Training Camp was quite a downer for me actually, would have loved to stay there longer … heck, maybe even a month – long or so! I had to try to adjust back to the lifestyle back home again, and it didn’t help that it was the festive season. I got a bit sick over the year – end but got better once January came.

January to February, was just all about training and getting myself and the coaching business more organised. I’ve had some off days but overall a good 2 blocks of training. The coaching business was also slowly starting to take shape as well, which I was really excited about. In general it was 2 months of preparing for what was to come in the near future, and I was highly motivated to put my whole heart and energy into getting fit as a racing cyclist and organised as a coach.

Media Commitments: OCBC Team Media Launch

Media Commitments: OCBC Team Media Launch

Getting some shots done for administrative purposes.

Getting some shots done for administrative purposes.

Then came March. Time to head down to Melbourne, Australia, to base myself there for the next 3 months. I’m sort of on an exchange programme between OCBC Continental Cycling Team and Search2Retain (as part of their partnership/agreement since last year), and basically here to get back my racing legs before I tackle the UCI AsiaTour in the next half of the year. I must admit that I was pretty excited to be heading down to Melbourne to train and race, partly because of the training you can do with the terrain here and the amount of racing I was able to get out from 3 short months.

It took about a week to find my bearings around here in Melbourne and get used to the weather, etc. It definitely helped to have great people over here, both from Bethel B-P church as well as teammates (1 Singaporean who flew across with me, and a handful of Aussies who stay in Melbourne). I was actually craving really badly for Asian food by the end of the first week, so I just had to go down to the markets to grab some Asian condiments and ingredients to cook up stiy – fries and stews. Not that ‘Western’ food doesn’t suit my taste, but it just made me feel more at home and easier to settle into the rhythm of things with something familiar at least. Keeps life interesting as well, trying to think of different ways to use up the various ingredients I’ve got.

Asian - style meal here down under.

Asian – style meal here down under.

The standard of racing here is definitely hard – arse, with top blokes from the country and ex – WorldTour riders lining side by side alongside you. All my time racing here I can’t really say I’ve really had any successful day of racing. Glimpses of form appear here and there, but nothing that really screams ‘You’re there mate!’. To be honest, it has been a real struggle trying to get up to standard, and I’m desperately trying to look for some good form, especially since 1/3 of the whole stint is gone and even more so with the goals that I’ve set for myself for this stint in December last year.

Racing in the Sandown Criterium.

Racing in the Sandown Criterium.

I’m racing my first ever NRS race here in Adelaide now, the Adelaide Tour, and it’s also my first stage race in the last 2.5 years? Definitely a steep slope to climb in terms of fitness, and I’ve been finding that I lack quite bit of power and strength. I definitely have to have a re – look at my training programme and make a few adjustments here and there, top priority being ramping up the intensity even more. I’ve been feeling like I’ve been on a training plateau a bit for the past 1 – 2 weeks, and this week’s race in Adelaide confirms that.

The team here though, is racing really well! It was a shame that Brandon took a real tumble while descending at 60km/h when he was in the front group after tackling the infamous Corkscrew climb, not too good for the first day of the Adelaide Tour, but the subsequent stages (2 and 3) have been just awesome. Stu Smith managed to sneak away in the winning breakaway towards the end of Stage 2, and sprinted in for 2nd just behind Brenton Jones (a world – class sprinter mind you!). That also elevated him to 4th on the General Classification, which he’s still holding on to after Stage 3 today. Gus, outsprinted his group of 7 riders and came in 5th on Stage 2, and putting his sprinting skills again to good use today and finishing 3rd! Oli, went on a break today and collected enough KOM points to put himself in the KOM jersey and ‘Most Aggressive Rider’ jersey. That’s 4 podium appearances in 2 days and after a not – so – good first day! Not forgetting the oh – so – experienced Stu Shaw who seems to have a crystal ball (nahh that’s with Calvin right?). I’m really impressed with how well they ride their bikes, both as an individual and as a team, and it’s even more enjoyable when they’re all so easy – going and nice people to be around. Man, we don’t even have a support crew of soignuers and mechanics, and aside from Peter being the team manager and 2 other friends of the team who were nice enough to help out, we have to do most of the other stuff by ourselves. It’s stuff that has been taken for granted when you race in UCI races; stuff like accommodation, daily meals, grocery shopping, cleaning bikes, transportation in between races. Racing in the NRS here, the teams have to worry about accommodation during the race, cooking/feeding the riders, getting to race start and back from the finish … All of which are taken care of when you race in a UCI race. The only thing you’ve to worry about is getting on that flight to whichever country the race is held, and after that it’s pretty much taken care of by the race organisers. It’s a bit hard to fathom for a while actually, considering the level of racing here. But yeah, 4 podiums after taking care of all that, including mechanical work (we’ve had a total of 9 punctures on tubulars since), pretty impressive don’t you think?

The Search2Retain team after Stage 2 of the Adelaide Tour.

The Search2Retain team after Stage 2 of the Adelaide Tour.

Stage 4 tomorrow and I hope I’d be able to do something and help the team out, and get my freakin’ racing legs back!! I’m being impatient, but man, I need to stress myself if I wanna improve fast. I’d say I’ve been pretty disappointed with the way I’ve been riding, but it’s also easy to forget of how high the level of racing here is, and that I’m coming of a 2 year racing hiatus. Still, feeling low is quite inevitable but there’s no point focusing on that emotion when I can use the same focus and use it for something useful. More training, smarter training.

Let’s get those racing legs back. 1 month, mate.

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Re – focused

Rainy morning and a really exhausted body meant staying in that comfortable bed and logging in more recovery time today.

I have been riding my bicycle a lot more consistently since the start of this month, something which I really needed to do badly. No amount of training is going to work if it’s not done consistently, and the reason why I have been able to do so is because I’m clearing my leave before I ORD on Thursday. I’ve also finally found the drive that I used to have before I enlisted, that insiatable feeling to swing my leg over that 2 wheeled machine and crank away. I have lost touch with it for a while now, and even though glimpses of it appeared once in a while, it often went away after a period of time.

I have been stressing myself up to start training proper again and get back to form quick. With the team progressing on as it is now, I have to find at least a way where I can contribute to it’s success fast. Admittedly, it does feel like I went into a wormhole for 2 years and while the rest of the team has progressed, I have been stuck in the same spot, or perhaps going backwards even. The feeling of getting left behind certainly does not feel good, and while the team management are really nice blokes and never placed any stress on me with their expectations, I owe it to myself and the team to get back to form quick and perform.

It’s either I perform or get left behind, no two ways about that.

Studies have shown that intrinsic motivation is the most powerful motivating force. External sources definitely do contribute to the motivation source, but strip down everything and you find that often the reason for pouring dumb hours of training in a wide variety of circumstances is motivated intrinsically. I have always been the sort of person who does work best when motivated from the inside, but it is also easy to lose focus, be swept away by the currents of external forces, and forget the real driving force. After these 2 years, I have re – focused again and feel fresher than ever to get on with the work I have to do.

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