The month of June was incredibly hectic for me. My job decided it wanted to try and take over my life and then my daughter, Celeste, decided she wanted to enter the world. Only one of the those events was a priority in my life and it definitely wasn’t my job. My training as a result suffered and I barely managed to get a handful of short rides under my tyres before our second Team Soldier On training camp came around. The second training camp was based out of Kingscliff, just south of Tweed Heads near the NSW/QLD border over the weekend of 28-29 June 2014 . The plan was simple; coach Scott Sunderland was going to make us climb some hills and ride some big kilometres akin to what we will be facing in France for the Trois Etapes. I don’t enjoy flying and certainly don’t enjoy flying with an expensive bicycle packed inside an expensive bike bag that screams “stack as much heavy crap on me as possible”. While the flights to Coolangatta went off without a hitch (top effort QANTAS) – the flights home came very close to being labelled a cluster-f**k (thanks VIRGIN Australia) complete with delayed/cancelled flights and high-end bicycles being sent to the wrong state and being ignored by the Virgin airport staff!
After arriving at the Peppers Salt Resort & Spa at Kingscliff we headed off to the local restaurant strip for dinner before heading back to our rooms to ready our bikes for the next day’s riding.
On Saturday we set off about 20 minutes out of Kingscliff with coach Scott following us in the support vehicle and photog Matt zooming past us in the search for optimal photo locations.
The ride started easily enough with a few short climbs before suddenly becoming a decent 8km climb followed by some very sketchy (for me) descents. I was definitely in the red zone early on in the ride and was finding it very hard to regulate my breathing and lower my heart-rate.
The months of training was certainly evident in the other guys, but as the ride progressed I knew I wasn’t keeping up. Some more sketchy decents saw our driver Bruce (this time on a bike) overshoot a corner and meet the bushland up and close.
As the day was drawing to a close and we were heading back to Kingscliff, I was steadily dropping off the pace and eventually pulled over and jumped in the SAG wagon with Matt.
The evening culminated with a group dinner and short presentation to coach Scott.
Sunday saw us step off from the hotel nice and early for a brisk ride before tackling some more climbs. I pulled up reasonably well from the day before and was looking forward to some more riding.
The morning air was cool and very nice to ride in. We eased into our first 20km at a nice quick pace with all riders taking turns at the front.
At around the 35km mark I knew I was in trouble. In just two short days I had ridden further and harder than I had in the past three weeks. My troublesome knee wasn’t the issue this time; it was my hip. I had ridden past being uncomfortable and was now experiencing some fairly acute pain in my hip and glutes. I made the hard decision to stop riding and once again jump inside the SAG wagon with Matt.
I watched the other guys ride from inside the van as Matt drove the van and took photos. I was quite disappointed in myself for not riding through the pain; but considering I’ve just spent a week of intense physio and rest I’m glad I didn’t injure myself any further.
At the end of the weekend we were all tired (some sorer than others) but more determined for the Trois Etapes in August.
Please support us we head towards this once in a lifetime opportunity to raise awareness and much needed funds for Soldier On.
Over the weekend of 10-11 May 2014, I was lucky enough to attend the first Team Soldier On cycling training camp at Thredbo NSW.
Thredbo? Really?… Well that was my first reaction when I saw the week before the training camp that it was in fact snowing in Thredbo Village; exactly were our base camp was to be. Combine this with one of the worst weeks of my working life as a civilian and I was not exactly enthusiastic about attending a Scott Sunderland training camp.
I drove down on the Friday night after work (in retrospect this was a very bad idea) and met up with some of the other guys at Cooma before heading to our accommodation in Thredbo; the Navy Ski Lodge. The drive was itself was uneventful, white line fever had set in and the alpine roads were starting to look like a rally track. Luckily we arrived at the lodge, unpacked and headed to the pub for some late night beverages.
Let’s get something out of the way early. Thredbo is a very small town in the off-season. The locals are young, in their early twenties and all work at the resort in some capacity. The moment we stepped into the pub we stood out more than the bollocks on a bulldog. This was fact not missed by the locals; both male and female. After a few quick drinks we left and retired to our rooms for the night.
The temperature was colder than Canberra and the weather was expected to take a turn for the worse the following day. The change swept through in the early hours of Saturday morning in the form of howling winds and pouring rain/sleet. By the time we woke up it was apparent the rain was set in for the day and that the last thing anyone wanted to do was go outside and ride bikes.
Breakfast was a sombre affair and I soon took over the TV room and switched on RAGE; my usual Saturday morning routine. The general (un-official) consensus was that riding in the rain and cold was not the preferable option against a warm ski lodge. We broached the subject with coach Scott, who while enjoying a coffee, was in agreeance that riding in the terrible weather was not a good idea and we should get through some required administration and team tactics instead.
After a couple of hours spent in the TV room discussing our next few months and future Soldier On Cycling plans; it was time to break out the trainers and don the lycra. What better place to set up than in the kitchen?
I sat in the kitchen, ate my risotto for lunch and awaited my turn on the bike. As I watched the other guys sweating profusely I regretted my decision to eat just prior to riding my bike.
After my turn on the bike I spent some more time with my hand in a box of BBQ Shapes and headed to the pub….to rehydrate. Andy cooked an awesome pasta dinner for everyone and we discussed the next day’s plan. Option A: Good Weather – drive out to Jindabyne and ride for a few hours including the climb back to Thredbo or Option B: Bad Weather – pack up, head to Canberra and ride around the Brindabella’s.
When we woke up to clear skies and relatively warm weather it was clear Option A was a goer.
A quick coffee stop in Jindabyne and it was time for some rolling in the Jindabyne hills with Scott dishing out some quality coaching.
The ride was enjoyable and we were quickly warming up on the climbs; but the flats and rare descents reminded us that we were still in alpine country.
The climb up to Thredbo was a quad burner and an exercise in heart rate management. We took turns at the front and found our rhythm all the way back to the Ski Lodge. Our first real test as a cycling team tackling some decent climbs similar to what we will be facing during the Trois Etapes later in the year.
Stay tuned for more updates on Team Soldier On!