The current COVID19 pandemic has hit the world hard and the team has also felt the impact of the global virus. Our riders, like most racing cyclists, have been left without a definite calendar for the first time in most of their careers. With no racing on the horizon when the lockdown was introduced across Australia, it left many of our riders in a weird headspace training-wise. Some decided it would be a good time to focus on university or other endeavours while the bike took a backseat for a while as others decided to do the polar opposite and ride for the love of cycling. Here is how a few of our team members got on.
As racing has been cancelled, I’ve had a bit of time to challenge myself over the recent weeks with my most recent personal challenge being an Everesting attempt. All it involves is picking any hill and riding up and down the road until you reach the vertical ascent of 8,848s metres, the equivalent height of the world tallest mountain, Mount Everest. However, this was not done on Greenhill Road, instead, it was completed in my living room on Zwift, climbing up the virtual copy of the iconic Alpe D’Huez 8.5 times.
All it took was a 10pm message from fellow teammate Jason Thomason on a Monday night to convince me and there I was on a Tuesday ready to start my attempt. I’ll be honest, after about 5 minutes I immediately regretted my decision and was filled with fear which is probably not the best mindset to be in for a 10 hour long ergo session. However, Jason and I hit the Alpe and start climbing with the goal of a 50-minute pace for each ascent of the hill (12.2km at 8.5%). After a few smoothies and lots of SIS bottles, the 8,848 metre indoor climbing challenge was completed in just over 9 hours (ed – over an hour faster than Mark Cavendish’s effort). As weird as it was to sit on the ergo for 9 hours, I quite enjoyed this challenge but don’t think I’ll be signing up for it again any time soon.
When I first discovered that all the NRS and local racing was cancelled/postponed for the foreseeable future, it’s safe to say I had minimal motivation to continue with the hard interval sessions day to day. I was originally pretty angry and annoyed about the lack of clarity in this time but I soon came to realise it would allow me to do what I love the most. Just ride my bike. After starting my week with a 25km recovery ride and an 80km loop on Tuesday, I had the bright idea to bang out a 1000km week. I didn’t really realise how badly I had played myself by starting the week with such short rides but after some maths calculations I worked out that I had to do three 200km rides with some crusiey 120-150km rides in-between.
It sounds crazy when I look back at it but not once throughout the whole week did I not enjoy just riding. When you are training for a specific race, all your training is tailored to make you fit for the race scenario and this makes it really easy to forget just how fun it is to crank out some kilometres with your mates. Luckily enough for me, my local mate Elliot Murrada joined me on the double 1000km week epic journey which I think we would both agree made it much easier mentally. It’s been really nice to go back to the basics of just riding and reminds me just how much I love this sport.
Like most Australian cyclists I have upped my time spent on Zwift. I have been using Zwift for years now, so it is nothing new for me. It has been fun, and sometimes pretty funny, being joined by the rest of the team, and my other cycling mates and seeing them try to figure out the little tricks and techniques of Zwift racing. One thing I am keen to see is Tristan try and out-sprint Dan.
I have been slowly coming back from a bit of a persistent knee injury after on several occasions last year grinding myself on the bitumen, so it’s been nice to see some improvements. Something that got me fired up was finally going sub 20 minutes (for the first time since 2017) on our local long climb Greenhill Road. I have also finally picked up my guitar and have been practising regularly lately which has been awesome for something else to focus on. Between keeping up with uni, work and training, having something that is just simple, and relaxing is awesome! I hope to be shredding on stage, and on the road in the NRS again at some point soon!
So I’m probably one of the few people who Corona Virus has made life a whole lot simpler for (well, except for the added stress). No bike races to go to and no bike races to run suddenly means that I have consistent weekends for the first time in probably 5 + years. My initial intention was to use this time to get fit. And although I have been chipping away at that goal, coming in with a pretty low base meant anything more than 8 hours of pedalling a week became a bit of a challenge. So I’ve used the time to play with bikes, and get everything ship-shape.
We made the decision to take the whole team to wax in 2020 (which I won’t try and justify – Zero Friction Cycling can do that for me). That’s not a big deal for most – but I may suffer from an excess of bikes. Two roadies, a TT bike, track bike plus the teams (singular) spare and wheels meant this was a bit of a mission. I won’t be leaving any grease marks anywhere anytime soon. In fact, I was so enamoured with the result that I decided that my town bike (an early 90’s Peugeot set up as a flat bar) needed the same treatment. Now that’s done – I might need to start organising my bike room.
Life hasn’t changed a whole lot for me in this time of isolation. Being someone who works in traffic control, I’m classified as an essential worker and have been going to work every day as normal whilst also making the most of the time left to train. Although some of the boys have reduced their time riding outdoors and doing zwift, I’ve also discovered the extra benefits of zwift and really enjoy the racing aspect. It has got to the point that it’s the only thing I’ve been doing training-wise during the work week and fits into my life really well. A quick break from racing to join Dan for the Everesting attempt was a bit of fun but you won’t see me doing too many rides outside of zwift racing on the trainer from now on.