Monday, April 11, 2011

Bon Anniversaire IV

Well another of my annual updates - four years today since my accident.

For previous editions, click here:
Bon Anniversaire III

What a year, much to talk about, some very good, some simply awful. It's a long post, so come back later if you don't have the time right now....

Perhaps I get the awful out of the way quickly. Typically I don’t make many comments about personal stuff on here beyond cycling activity, so this will be brief. But they were significant and important.

My father passed away in September. He went peacefully and while it was a sad occasion and there is never a right time, it was not so bad all things considered.

Then later in the year my dear younger cousin Dante also died, losing a very swift battle with an aggressive cancer and that was about as bad as it gets. His death really was completely and utterly shite in so many ways. Those that know, know how we all feel about it. All I know is that I am blessed to have spent all those times together with him and continue to live as I do. Enough of that. It is/was awful and will remain with us for a long time.

2010 was a pretty skinny year for my blogging, mostly because I was simply too busy and not because there isn't much to write about. There are lots of topics I have on the simmer, just need the time to get to them.

Taking my energies are four new / start up / emerging business I am involved in, and that takes a bit of doing! All of them cycling related so I'll talk some more about them. Obviously I was also training and racing too and I’ll get to that as well!

Turbocharged business

Taking a substantial chunk of my energy was the continued development of Turbo Studio, and of course my world wide coaching activities. At this time last year, Turbo Studio had only been operating two months.

Since then Turbo Studio has really blossomed and is now a benchmark for how to run these businesses. Over the Christmas break we expanded and refurbished the centre and it was just as well, with the extra capacity being taken up quickly.

Working with Joanne has been (and still is!) an absolute pleasure and I thank all those clients who have made the commitment with us to improve their cycling. Listening to all their stories of great results and personal bests is most gratifying. Jo & I are forever talking about ways to help each client improve. It inspires us. And the indoor race series was an absolute hoot.

The best thing is it’s all grounded in the sound and practical application of science to training which, as long term followers of this blog will know, is a passion of mine. And it is this application of stuff that actually works that is core to why people come, and keep coming back (along with an environment conducive to training for riders from all disciplines).

We don’t go for fads, pseudo-science or sell things based on scant evidence. Jo of course emphasises the business fundamentals of quality marketing and customer support/relations, as well as the coaching. She works so hard and with a passion and commitment to success. It’s a great team.

We also started our own outdoor road training squad, with the Turbo Studio cycling kit now a regular feature on Sydney’s Saturday morning roads. Again the focus is on good training. Far too many groups seem more interested in quantity of riders over the quality of their training, and that’s not how we do things. Group sizes are kept down to promote a higher quality of ride, greater safety, better skill drills, more enjoyment and a far better training impact. They are fun too!

We look forward to opening more Turbo Studios in the years ahead.

Power to the people

So from one new business to another – in 2010 I was appointed by SRM to be an official retailer of their power meter products here in Australia (and some limited offshore markets). That’s been going well, and while a small and specific segment of the market, it perfectly complements everything else I do. The product is first rate in the world of power meters. Let me know if you want one – I promise a good deal!

Coaching goes up a gear

Late in 2010, Ric Stern made the smart move for us both to take the coaching business up another notch, and so Ric brought on board Dave Smith (a former GB coach) as our new commercial director. We set up a new company, RST Sport and the three of us are the directors. We appointed a high quality group of coaches to join our existing team – all with strong background in the practical application of science to coaching for performance. While cycling is our mainstay, we are also working with high level sports people from many backgrounds. The depth of talent on our team is seriously impressive.

My clients this past year have been based all around the world, including Mexico, USA, Australia, France, Norway, the UK and Ireland. It's exciting and fun to work with a diverse group of clients across the globe - and they have all moved up to new levels with their own performances - we all look forward to the challenges ahead, with some big goals to knock over this year. I thank them too for their continued support.

2011 will be an exciting year for RST Sport. There is so much happening and to do.

The cutting edge

There’s one other venture I’m involved in. I can’t reveal a great deal about it other than it will be a new technology specifically designed for the accurate assessment of the aerodynamics of a bike and rider while they are riding their bike, no matter the environmental conditions. It is this latter element that makes this project seriously exciting. This is cutting edge stuff in so many ways, and again I find myself involved with some very smart people. As I can, I’ll talk more about it, but if you’ve heard of “Aerostick” then you’ll know what I’m talking about.


In September and October, I made a return trip to California to spend another week with Steve P and his family, who once again so generously hosted my visit. We had some great rides in and around Sonoma County and once again I participated in Levi Leipheimer’s Granfondo. I can’t thank Steve enough for the opportunity afforded me.

After the week in Santa Rosa, I made a long road trip, first south to San Diego to meet up with a new client, a very promising junior from Mexico, and his father. After that I headed east through Arizona and New Mexico, visiting some places I’d seen before and some new sights.

I'd been to Sedona before, but thought it was worth another look:

This was on my way to Colorado Springs via New Mexico to catch up with the good Dr Andy Coggan, who was talking at the USA Cycling coaching conference which I sat in for a session and spent a little time hanging with the USAC coaching development team. Andy & I hung out for the day which was pretty cool. Andy's the skinny dude:

Then I headed back west to do some sightseeing through Utah, Nevada on my way back to Santa Rosa. Here's a few pics from the journey. You can click on any of them to see a bigger version. It's pretty spectacular scenery:

Once back in Santa Rosa, I delivered a seminar on aerodynamic field testing using a power meter, hosted by our good friends at Echelon Cycles. Among those attending the seminar was Professor Robert Chung, whose methodology was one of those I was lecturing on, so it was kinda cool to have the good professor in the audience. You sure know quick smart if you make a mistake, but I don't make too many fortunately.

We were scheduled to do an actual practical field testing exercise the next day, however the heavens opened up and so rain forced us to postpone to another day. I was headed back to Sydney the next day, so follow up was done remotely. Amazing thing this internet.

In February I got to return the visitor’s favour to one of Steve’s team mates – Peter and his partner Therese, hosting their visit to Sydney and taking them on a road trip, mainly to see some kangaroos. We saw hundreds of the buggers. Lol. That was fun.

Training & racing

Yep, did that too!

Just after my last annual report, I raced a local 2-hour enduro and it was hard. Riding as part of squad we did well on the day. As it turns out, my two-hour race power was my highest ever all time, pre- and post-amputation. I was pretty amazed but there you go. It would seem legs are over rated.

But there was a cost. My knee didn’t agree with the effort that day, and severe pain and swelling resulted in several weeks off the bike and nearly a week of being unable to use the leg for walking. Now it wasn’t all the bike racing’s fault, as that was Easter and I had a visit by a mate and his kids and we spent a long day out doing touristy things. That meant many hours on my feet, and well that just doesn’t agree with me. I seem to be able to do 6 hour hilly rides with no ill effects, but 6 hours of standing/walking is bad news.

These set backs happen to most competitive athletes and we learn to deal with them as best we can. As an amputee, well it adds a bit of extra spice to the mental challenge. Along with that I was having a few challenges with the bureaucracy of cycling and wondering whether para-cycling was worth the emotional investment.

Once the leg settled down, I began the rebuild and training went well, with one winter flu bug being the only interruption (well that and my driving holiday in the USA). But not a lot of racing to speak of for the balance of 2010. That picked up early 2011.

Performance highlights were:

- Setting all time power to weight bests for aerobic power from 4-minutes through to 2 hours.

- Winning my opening crit at Heffron (by breaking away with 3km to go for a solo victory)

- Silver medals in both the Kilo time trial and 4km individual pursuit at the paracycling national track championships

- 4th place in the State points race in a field with two world champs

- A win and a new State record time with my team at the Masters Team Pursuit Championships, repeating the same feat we attained in 2007, just a couple of months before my accident

- And just this weekend at the National paracycling road championships, a silver medal in the individual time trial (24km) and a bronze medal in the road race. I made the move in the sprint and it so very nearly paid off with a win and national championship but it was not to be, with my competitors getting me on the line. Inspecting my power file shows a PB 30-second power post amputation, which just shows I really did commit and give it all I had.

- And today, of all days, I get notice that the national selectors are recommending I get a start at the UCI Paracycling Road World Cup in May. That was my main season goal. How good is that!

There is other racing news to come (especially about my new sponsored race team), but I’ll talk about that later once it’s officially launched.

Here I am in the new race kit at the State points race:

Once again there are so many people that have helped me along the way and I am very grateful for their support. Hard not to mention Ric Stern of course, the super coach who's taken me from the lows to banging out more power than when I had two legs. Thanks Ric.

This next year will be a cracker. I can just feel it.


Unknown said...

Have just started following your blog. Have you considered doing motivational speaking? Amazing!

Lawrence said...

What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger. Life changes: itself, us, stuff around us. How we deal with it is what is important; as is connecting with who and what we are, and making that a reality (or two) to keep sanity, creativity, motivation alive.

You are on the right track dude. Keep pedalling along that rising road and enjoy the view. You have worked hard for it.