Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pre Race Jitters

Muesli + Yoghurt = Eaten
Coffee = Process of being drunk
Pre race meal = Packed and ready to go
Clothes = Packed
Equipment= Sparkling, working, in the van, ready to roll
License and money = Never leave my wallet
Motivation= Sky High
Excitement= Through the roof
Preperation= Never as much as I would like
Pre race crap = Normally achieved at the completion of stage two.

So this morning we are off to race the mother of all epic races. It is going to be spectacular.
If your foreign languages are good have a read here,

In short,the IWT Oetingen is a UCI 1.2 race with 198 starters, lots of climbs, cobbles, cobbled climbs, narrow roads, windy roads, narrow AND windy roads and lots of other things to make it sound hard that I can't honestly remember. Basically on the spectrum of difficulty, this bad boy ranks up there with the best. We race over some of the climbs from the Tour of Flanders, some of the real rough ones, some of the real bones rattling, acid inducing, "oh my god will this bastard ever end?!?!" climbs. And I don't think we hardly crack 100 metres elevation!

Anyway, step 2 giving rise to step 10 so Adios!


Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Pictorial of Sorts

In no particular order...

This is Jeanne-Pierre (Spelling?). Funny story actually; on our ride back from a kermesse race this evening, Brad and myself were stopped by the side of the road with Brad fixing a puncture. Out of nowhere this guy comes up, "Uh, are you Jonathan, Lovelock?"
"Ahh great blog!"

Anyway, turns out it is a small world. Jeanne knows some of the guys running the Marco Polo team and just happened to see us on the side of the road. Who would have thought...

Hello SRM Factory!

No better way to spend 5.5 Euro than on the economy menu at 'Wok Always'

The AMAZING forest where James Spragg Lives, seriously, this is cool!

Cool enough for a barbeque

A top notch Malay Spread

Hainese mutton, up close and personal

Best till last, Loh's special combination, vanilla custard, strawberries, roasted peanuts and granulated sugar sprinkled on top. It really is good. Would I lie?

It's past midnight now! Damn these evening races..



Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ruddervorder Review

So my second Pro Kermesse was a whole load less stressful than my first! It was mighty stressful on the startline next to guys from Garmin, Vacansoleil, Columbia, Acqua e Sapone and so on, but, the race itself was not as deadly as I feared it may be.

The race felt pretty much like the protour version of glenvale. It was pretty easy sitting in, but fast fast fast, ie hard to get away. We did the first two hours at just under 47km/h so there was certainly no slacking. I went into my shell a little bit, still feeling tired from Sundays race I guess I found it easier to hang around midfield waiting for the race to explode. Alas the race never really exploded per se, a break got away, another group slipped off the front, and the peleton rode around still averaging 45 and getting pulled out with a lap to the finish (16x10k laps).

The hardest thing about this race was the aroma of grilled bratwursts as we went through the Ruddervorde centrum each lap. Man, you wanna talk about self determination? Well it sure took a lot of mental fortitude not to jump off the bike and join the happy hordes with sausage and a beer.

The outlook for the next week and a half involves not much other than training up for the ever feared Tour de Qinghai Lake

That training will be nicely capped as we have a good block of 3 kermesse races before leaving so there will of course be reports of the suffering sure to be endured.

Back on the food front, it was Hainese Mutton with black fungus, preserved beancurd and dried mushrooms that was whipped up and hastily consumed last night. My ability to live on a diet composed of entirely asian food is very much aided but living with three malaysians who cook superbly. Thanks to some malfunctioning bluetooth action on my laptop the photos will have to remain trapped in my phone for now. Nevertheless, let the hawker diet continue....



Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A summary of sorts

Is right here.


Follow the Lede

Wow. That first kermesse sure blew out some cobwebs. I think it blew out a few gaskets too. I need an oil change and a refuel before I go and do it again in Ruddervorde tomorrow!

The scarey thing is, when speaking to Stu Shaw from Drapac Porsche towards the end of the race he confirmed my worst  fears; this was an easy kermesse. Eighty people finished from one hundred and thirty starters. That's not hard! I get the feeling unless 7 guys all limp over the line then collapse then it's just not hard.

Well, I'll take the easy ones when they come! For someone who claims to enjoy the odd hill or two it still  baffles me I am living for four months in the flattest country in the world...

To change topics completely, everyone knows canned rice cream yeh? Well I reckon it taste like canned crap. This evening  I embarked on a mission to make my own. Rice, milk, sugar, salt, one cinnamon stick, two cardamom pods a little bit of patience and I have before me some damn tasty creamed rice. It's easy, I should have done it earlier, but alas the memories of crappy rice cream will fore ever blight my existence. Oh well.

To keep the food front rolling on I have to add that since the arrival of my other Malaysian team mate  Haidar and his wife Bella, I have been dinning, no, feasting, on wonderful Malay food. Honestly I could talk all night about how good their food is. It's like I've died and gone to heaven.

Anyway, sleep is a must. And being the leader of Procrasti-Nation I have a whole bunch of episodes of the Shield and the Wire to get through before I can  get onto exam study (prioritising..)


Friday, June 18, 2010

It has taken two weeks

But I have finally been properly rained on in Europe.  Yesterday we drove down to the Ardennes to do a hilly loop to round out the weeks training before a Pro Kermesse on Sunday in Lede.Well, it was beautiful, but it was also wet. 4 hours non stop rain. But hey, shit happens. Still great to ride lots of bergs made famous by races such as Liege-Bastogne-Liege . Also interesting to notice some bloke named Phil had his named written in big letters up every hill. Who the bloody hell is Phil?

I was later informed that Phil was short for Philipe Gilbert, one of the local legends, ahhh ok, that makes sense then.

In other news, the previous evening was  my first taste of Belgium Kermesse racing. And boy did it taste good. It tasted tense, nervous, angry, desperate, fast and left me yearning for a second course. 176 starters, lots of people watching, music playing, frites flying, beer flowing and big winds blowing, everything felt so very euro; so very cool.

The race was 22 laps of a 5k circuit with lots of corners but it was pretty free flowing and a lot of fun. Racing wise I didn't do much, just getting into the swing of it. Baby steps I say.

And yes, unsorted photo time from pre France and beyond...

Marco Paulo? Mais oui!

Le chambre petite

Assorted stuff in the team bus

All my dreams came true when Loh's parents visited us in Geleen and made a big pot of beef rib soup, complete with classic chilli, lime coriander garnish. Aaahhh to live with a Malaysian family...

When you are short on space, why not just conduct post race massage/physio in the hallway? At least at this stage Brad was still partially clothed...


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bad Luck

Well stage 2 was hard and fast and much like stage 1 for the first 2 hours, then we were stopped at a train crossing, then a group of 40 literally rode off the front of the bunch!  Needless to say I should have been there, but I wasn't, so it was an easy 2.5 hours to finish off the stage.

Stage 3 was much of the same; single file, sprinting out of corners, battling to get to the front. All was going to plan, ie I was still at the front, until my shifter broke at 35 kilometres into the stage. So, 155km to go, gears available: 39x11 or 53x11; I was disheartened but the equation was not impossible.
I found the 39 was good for most situations but every fast crosswind section I was spinning like a mad man but the 53 was that bit too tall.  Either way I was survivng, just waiting for a break to go and the pace to slow, but unfortunately we reached a KOM first, and a steep KOM it was. Picture this: a highly stressed lanky guy running up a hill in tap dancing shoes whilst short of breath from the combination of exertion and swearing; you've now probably got a good idea of what I looked like. Yes, I had to run up it. 

So goodbye peleton, hello lonely road! I rode to the feed station and promptly demounted my steed all the while highly tempted to do a Bjarne Riis and hurl it into the bushes... but hysterics don't fix shifters so I decided against it

Not much to report on now, more races soon and plenty of training to come.

Au revoir

Friday, June 11, 2010


Hello from a cramped little motel room in the sunny Oise departement of France.

We are here for a really damn tough 4 day 2.2 UCI stage race. Everything got underway yesterday with a rough little 125k stage that was over before it began it felt that fast! We have 3 more stages all around the 180-190k distance to go so I am looking forward to getting on with it.

First impressions of yesterdays stage were
1) Holy crap this is fast,
2) Holy crap this is fast, and,
3) Holy crap this is fast.

We went straight out of town, round a small 5k loop then through the town and out a steep as all hell 2k climb with two switchbacks. We all know the rule stay at the front, yes? Well yesterday was another perfect justification for why we hear this over and over. The road was so narrow up the hill that we were coming to a complete stop mid hairpin down the back of the bunch.

Although I really suffered yesterday, I have to say it was so much fun! The speed and intensity of the race was exilirating, a big change from Australia no doubt.

After some tasty baguettes and a couple of bowls of plain pasta (Ketchup being the only condiment offered...) this morning I am fuelled and ready to take on stage 2.

Au revoir

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"How close did we get to Germany?"

"Pretty close, actually about as close as I think you can get."- Spraggy
"Oh really?"- Me
"Uh yeh, we're in Germany"- Spraggy
"Oh..."- Me

And what a ride it was. Wind, bergs, coke, strudel, honey cake and the warm smell of fermenting cow shit all day long. Yesterday was a big bunch ride led by hard man and GPS equipped local legend Leon Van Bon.

We went south through Valkenburg and the Amstel Gold race area, then kept heading to the south east, entered Germany, did some rolling climbs, ended up in this amazing olden style German village complete with a castle, church, cobbles, coffee, coke and cake. Then it was onwards and upwards into Belgium and slowly getting up to the highest point in the country, which was actually 694m I'll have you know! Then we continued along a bunch of narrow rolling roads all the way back to our front door. A good 6 hour ride followed by an even better dinner at a newly opened "Wok Always" takeaway shop in town; things just keep improving

The hard man himself


The old Kinglake Bakery just doesn't live up

Black Kettle Tearooms are also, I guess, just not quite up to scratch

And with that it's time to find a less creative way to whittle away some hours online, bye!


Sunday, June 6, 2010


What a glorious day! My first three days here have been amazing; mid twenties, no shortage of sun and not a breath of wind. The last two days have been spent exploring the area south of Geleen in the very most southern part of the Netherlands. This area is where the Amstel Gold Race is held every year and to put it in the most basic terms, there are 50 climbs (between say 1k to 3k) within a 30-40km radius and to get in some solid riding you can simply create a plethora of different loops over different bergs until your heart's content.  

Yesterday we started out coming through Valkenburg and straight up the Cauberg which is the finish for Amstel, it's so cool riding up this hill with all the painting (Schleck, Boogerd, Evans etc) half faded on the road, and the finish line is at the top year round so there's no shortage of half wheeling going up the climb.  The day before yesterday I had recently Pez'd fellow anglophone, James Spragg, play tour guide and show me round a bunch of different locations; all adorned with the suffix 'berg'. Good to know that my new training ground, despite being in Holland, is anything but flat.  Now for some pictures...

Brad and Loh enjoying the sun

I am also enjoying the sun

Enjoying  the green surroundings

Enjoying the Dutch bike path systems

Enjoying the car free centre of Geleen

Definitely enjoying finding an asian grocery store in Geleen (yes I am as shocked as you!). Then compounding that enjoyment with the fact that they had fresh rolled sticky rice parcels filled with minced turmeric chicken. Yes, there was a lot of enjoyment on my behalf.

 I can survive a month without food but 3 days without Fish sauce and I am in serious trouble.



Saturday, June 5, 2010


Who: Marco Polo Cycling Team

Where: Geleen, The Netherlands

How Long: 4 months

What Races:
To put it in simple terms, 6 weeks racing various tours, kermesse races and 1 day road races, amateur and pro level in and around the Netherlands, France, Germany and mostly Belgium.

Then 2 weeks of agony in Qinghai ,followed by a rest week or two

Then another 6 week European block as above, then a trip home via another week racing in the new Tour of China which is rumoured to be hilly!

Why: Why not?

Life in Geleen: So far so good, a small town, certainly not Melbourne sized. The biggest difference so far is that in Aussie terms we are out in the 'sticks'. Instead of a few hundred kilometres between towns, it's more like <5 kilometres.

Enough: Yeh.

See ya.

The European Chapter

And thus it begins.

Welcome to the foreign land of the Netherlands. Welcome lush green scenery. Welcomes obscure but useful bikepaths. Welcome offensively flat countryside punctuated with bergs to the south. Welcome confusing and humorous language. Welcome sun and 25 degrees. Welcome overwhelming cool bike culture. Also welcome swift adaptation to the new time zone thanks to caffeine.

Not so welcome abundance of average coffee (but still warm, comforting and making me go to the toilet since 1989). Very much unwelcome lack of south east Asian cuisine (sniff). Feeling a bit unwelcome myself if I try to ride on the left hand side of the road..'what, they drive on the right here', queue horn, "BEEEEEEEEEP", woops.

Blah blah blah, so on and so forth. This joint is different to Melbourne, but at the same time similar, still a developed, westernised kind of country and frankly I'm more than happy being here. Which is a good thing, as I have 4 months to go. Plenty more stories as they come to hand. It's just me, a slow net connection and a pantry of food getting me through the post ride afternoons.

On a side note, KLM have taken my award for shittest plane food in the aviation world.I call it the Very Offensive Meals In Transit (VOMIT) Award. It it highly prized. Let it be known that every time you serve customers a powdered egg omelette God/Allah/Buddha/Vishnu kills a kitten. A cute one too.

So just think about that KLM.

Bye for now!