Archive for the ‘australia’ Category

I was going to write about how tough Lath and I were for putting in two good hours on the bike today in 28 degree (Fahrenheit) weather, but 1) it was too cold to take the gloves off and take a picture of our road-salt crusted faces and 2) my Verducci-Breakaway teammate Theresa Cliff-Ryan is way tougher!!!

T-Bird pulled in not one, but TWO podium spots at the Copenhagen World Cup. Our girl is on fire!!! Couldn’t find any podium shots of T getting her hardware (for the record, she’s took third in the points and scratch race at the Copenhagen World Cup) . . . so we’ll just post a shot of her and favorite training partner, Gorda . . .


And now a word from our sponsors . . .

Need a little something to prime the pump and rev the engine? Try Cottee’s Coola, Australia’s Favorite Lime-Flavored Cordial. So what if it looks like anti-freeze? It gets the job done.


(For the uninitiated, cottee’s lime coola goes down like concentrated melted lime slushie. Nothing better to get you through a mid-summer, midday track workout at Canberra’s legendary Bundadom.)

Cottee’s Coola, the official drink of Sprint Club.

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This is becoming a lesson in managing fatigue and exhaustion! Returned from Sydney after the worst travel experience EVER. Quantas flight late, missed connection in Sydney, bounced between lost luggage and ticketing agents from dueling airlines like a ping pong ball. Got to spend another lovely night in Australia.

Maybe someday, I’ll get to see the Sydney Opera House from a vantage point other than a plane!

Spent the entire trip from Sydney to LA to JFK, then ultimately Newark trying to trace my 4 bags first lost by Quantas then United. God, I would hate to be in lost baggage. Can you imagine a worse job, especially around the holidays?

I got everything a day later. Some minor damage to my Teschner frame, though. We opted to stay the night in Newark to pick up our bags on Sunday morning vs. letting Quantas and United fight over who’d absorb the cost and responsibility of getting them to us in their own sweet time.

The bright spot is I had great travel mates at each leg of my trip, the highlight being a hot tip from Dawn on the Sydney to Brisbane leg on how to properly eat Vegemite.

Stay tuned for that little nugget . . .

After a day of scrambling to find Christmas gifts and help my friend Jackie make wedding favors, we made the 5 hour drive the home to spend Christmas with my family. This was an important Christmas for us, as last Spring, my dad was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis. He’s been managing it like a prize fighter, and we’re just grateful he’s still committed to his rehab. Here’s hoping he keeps it up in the New Year.

I wish I could talk about how memorable the Christmas was, but I slept through all of it. The return home from Australia was SO MUCH worse than going. I didn’t even feel the jet lag when I got there; and I’ve been nothing but since I got home. It seems innocent enough, until you have a bad case of it and you find yourself googling “Jet Lag” in a sleep deprived stupor, hoping for some clarity and relief.

I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

We pulled in at 6pm on Christmas eve, and wrapped our naked gifts. On Christmas morning, I was up in plenty of time to watch my niece and nephews unleash Christmas as only they can. Then I went back to sleep, got up and ate, went back to sleep, got up and ate, then went back to bed for good.

The following day: more of the same. I’ve been like a slug moving across my folks’ couches.

I’m hoping I can get back to training soon. This whole crossing 16 time zones and the international dateline has thrown me for a loop!

Happy holidays! Here’s to exciting things in 2008!

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How cool is this?

Brondwyn (jess’ mom) has been going nonstop preparing for Christmas; making cookies, polishing silver, doing the requisite last minute shopping. She clearly has her priorities straight, though. Last night, she stopped everything to throw on a pair of shin guards, cleats and play soccer with her mates.


The Belnorth Beauties!

Jess and I had just returned from the gym in time for the Maclean family outing. When we pulled in to the park, I couldn’t believe what I saw: a complex of groomed soccer fields, filled with teams of women, age 35 and older, getting ready to rip the pants off of each other.

It looked like any Saturday morning in Suburban America, only the players were the moms, with a few kids watching patiently from the sidelines!

It was clear this was no powder puff league. These ladies meant business. No, scratch that. In true Australian spirit, they all came to the field so very polite and cordial . . . until the whistle was blown.

Then it was war.



Bronny, aka “Dozer” (short for Bulldozer, according to Jess) is quick and crafty . . . she ran circles around the other team. Jane, who played goalie for the second half, was grace under fire. I lost track of her saves. Cathy, Maria, Irene—who told me she didn’t start playing soccer until she was 49 (she’s now 62)—were all go . . . juckin’ and jivin’, driving the ball down the field. I didn’t catch the names of the other two women. They were all beautiful.

They give hip, new meaning to the term “Soccer Mom.”


Top left to right, Irene, Cathy, Maria, Jane, Brondwyn

Hands down, one of the highlights of my trip. Why don’t we have a women’s soccer league like this back home? Maybe we do? I don’t think so. We should start one. I’ve never seen that many women playing organized team sport on a casual Sunday afternoon. One thing I know for sure was there were a lot of happy faces walking off those fields.


I’m guessing there are a lot of happy faces back home, too. The match ended 1-all, not a bad go.

Got up, ate breakfast, read The Australian Sunday paper, got my roller workout in, helped with the yard work, went to the gym, rooted for the Belnorth Beauties, enjoyed one of Lochiel Macleans’ innovative meals of 3 kinds of sausage, pumpkin and potato mash, and steamed peas, . . . went back for seconds, watched Erin Brockovich with my host family, picked on Lochiel Jr. a smidge, and fell into bed tired and smiling.

Hands down, a perfect day.

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Ok, so I’m sitting here minding my own business, taking over the Macleans’ office and Broadband as I have since I moved in. I’m trying to figure out what I’m doing today . . . and my host brother, dear Lochie, comes knocking on the door, kicks me out of his chair, and tells me my time is up. It’s time to eat the Vegemite.

I don’t know what it is about these Australians. This Vegemite is like a national treasure. If I’m not getting the pressure at night from his dad … I’m getting it in the morning from junior. You’d think they have stock in the stuff.


Here’s Lochie, enjoying the spread in question.

“Why do you like it, Lochie?” I ask, completely confused as to why anyone would chew on something that smells like carpet. “It’s good!” he replies, enthusiastically. (I think they’re brainwashed)

“Besides, it’s rich in Vitamins B, C, XYZ, PDQ . . . and it puts hair on your chest.” {editorial license}.

While I’m on the subject of the Maclean’s, I have to introduce my family back home to my family here in Australia. Every night, Mr. Maclean stuffs us with a wonderful, home-cooked meal while Mrs. Maclean entertains us with funny stories of her day. Last night, after my first training session on the track after Beijing, I came home to a lovely dinner party in honor of Amy, a family friend.


From left, Alex, Amy, Theresa, Lochiel, Gary, Bronwyn, Jess, and Lochie J.

Lucky, lucky, lucky I am. Thank you again, oh Dispenser of Karma.

We even had Pavlova, a beautiful, light, airy dessert named after ballerina Anna Pavlova (legend has it that a chef in Adelaide dreamed it up to capture the way she danced.)

So good, Theresa and I split seconds!


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It’s a wrap . . .

So, I’m up way too late, still have to pack another bike, and I’m feeling like it would be good to download some Sydney World Cup thoughts before hopping on a plane to Beijing. I’m still trying to figure out blogging. I mean, I get the medium but I’m trying to figure out what I’m doing with it.

I can tell you that I rode my 500M time trial yesterday in 35.776, good for 12th place. My prep for the 500M is going into a monastic, zen-like state, only to rocket out of a starting gate for 2 laps and be done with it. 35.776 is not a pr, but faster than what I rode at Elite Nationals, and good enough to make Josiah Ng, Malaysian national hero, talk me up as the fastest 40 year old he knows. (For the record, I’m 38).

Keirin’s not my strongest event, so I was happy to get some good race time in today, and not just roll through it. I tried to take the front, tried to move to the front, hold the front, attacked, made some moves and didn’t just roll over. All part of the learning curve, and the other good thing is I’m not getting dropped. Just gotta figure out the gearing for this level.

The level of competition at a World Cup is SO MUCH higher than racing in the US, and the level of competition at THIS world cup—according to the guys like Jo who’ve been doing this for years—is higher than even the World Championships. Heck, the guy rode a 10.38 personal best for his 200M today, and still qualified 17th—one spot out of the tournament.

For Worlds and the Olympic games, stiff selection criteria is applied to keep the field size under control. But track powerhouse countries like Great Britain, France, Australia have ‘partnerships’ with folks like TOshiba, Cofidis and Science in Sport which feature their premier athletes on a UCI Trade Team. End of the day, all of their athletes are here chasing UCI points.

I got to catch the men’s madison and women’s keirin final tonight. Holy crap. That’s all I can say. Tonight, team USA mechanic Nick waxed on over beer about the poetry and beauty of the Madison. I gotta go with him on that. It looked dangerous. And it looked Freakin’ fast. Chaotic and awesome. I had to rely on my teammate, Theresa, to help me keep track of what was happening. I have no idea how the guys racing do it. 155rpm for 30+ minutes.

Perspective, I’m telling you. That’s what it’s all about.

In the Women’s Keirin Final, Jennie Reed wrestled with her bike for, oh, say, the last 2 1/2 laps, pounding every last lick of speed she could get out of it only to get nipped at the line by Vickie Pendleton. Wow, can that girl dig deep. An amazing ride for both of them. Jennie celebrated by going out to the McDonalds next door for dinner.

It was either that, the mini mart.

Watching Jennie race is watching 10 years of world class experience unfold in 2 1/2 laps of perfectly timed, perfectly executed moves. Same with the Dutch and Spaniards in the Madison. The Dutch put a lap on the field to win the with two laps to go. 2 laps to go. They left no room for a counter attack or error.

It’s overwhelming to think about where I’m at and what it will take to make the final or the tournament in a field like this. I’m not intimidated by the work, just stalled by the sheer magnitude of what it would take to make it happen. Stuff like coming into a World Cup with no time behind a motor. Haven’t had access to one, wasn’t in Canberra long enough to arrange it, don’t really have the money to hire it out anyways. I liked training on an indoor wooden velodrome for 2 months before racing LA last year. I don’t like going into an event of this magnitude winging it. Not my style.

It’ll be good to go to Beijing, though. If for no other reason than to change some things I didn’t do right here—stuff like kicking too soon in the 200M, under gearing in the Keirin rep—and arrive healthy this time, and see if it makes a difference.

I’m racing for my UCI trade team, Verducci/Breakaway in Beijing. Word on the street is that the pollution is so dense, you can’t see more than 400meters in front of you. We’re all kind of joking about wearing face masks, but I don’t get the sense we’ll be doing much road riding. And Jess’ mom warned us not to eat salads or turtle soup. Should be interesting.

gotta run. gotta pack. gotta sleep.

Thanks for tuning in.

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Round #1—Match Sprint

So the Women’s Sprint tournament is stacked. It’s a Who’s Who in track sprinting. Wait. Let me clarify that. I should really say the Sydney World Cup is a Who’s Who in track cycling. A lot of people ask me when the Olympic Trials are. So here’s my explanation:

Qualifying for the O-games is a points race. Olympic spots are secured by the folks with the most UCI points by the end of the World Championships in March. First you have to secure an Olympic spot for your country, then each country has their own way of determining who will fill that spot.


The numbers of athletes in each event vary from discipline to discipline and gender, and a few spots in each event are reserved for the athletes who win the A & B World Championships and winner of the World Cup series.

That’s a long-winded way of explaining why there are so many athletes here—a record number 400! There are 4 World Cups before the World Championships, which basically means you’ve got to be here to be in the game.

For me, that means 34 women were entered in the Match Sprint; the largest field ever—with 16 moving on into the tournament from the 200M Time Trial and 18 not making the cut. Today, you had to be riding better than 11.6 to make the cut, and I didn’t. I rode 12.002. It’s not my best (I’ve got a PB of 11.80), so I’m disappointed in that. I felt like I had a better ride in me, but seemed to have lost my attack when I needed it in the tt.

I was going for a personal best, and wanted to make the tournament, but faster than 11.6 would have been a stretch for me coming off this week. I think I’m capable of it, but can’t say I’m confident in my preparation right now which getting sick has only magnified. Still, it’s eye opening to see what kind of speed you need to play with these girls—and that doesn’t even take into consideration the tactics!

Sixteen women qualified in the 200M Time Trial between 11.1 and 11.597. That’s pretty awesome. Jennie (Reed), who qualified with a smokin’ 11.417 said it’s never happened before. Best part of the day was watching Jennie ride against top seed Willie Kanis of the Nederlands. Jennie was the underdog coming, and she beat Kanis in their first ride. But the Dutch girl wised up and came back, played up her speed.

All I can say is I’ve got my work cut out for me.

Other great performances for the US today came from Christen King of Southbay Wheelman and Becky Quinn, who both made it into the Scratch race final. Sarah Hammer duked it out with Wendy Houvenhagel of Great Britain, for 5th place in the individual pursuit. I don’t think she’s peaking for this competition, so it’s not easy to get out there and race as the reigning World Champion and take it on the chin. But she fought valiantly to come back in the final 2K and finished just out of the medal rounds. It was a great match.

If you have any interest and want to check out the times, you can go to http://www.Tissottiming.com and download the results sheets.

Thanks for checking in! And great news!!! Bruno (aka Meathead) is back. It appears he spent a day carousing around our neighborhood before getting picked up by the cops. So now he’s got a record.

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Quarantined . . .

Stuffed up and tired . . . that is NOT how I wanted to arrive for the Sydney World Cup. But my head cold has gone full blown and the only thing I’ve seen so far is the inside of my hotel room.

The 10 hour drive north from Melbourne probably wasn’t the best way to get ahead of the curve, but what are you going to do? We’ve got a saying at Verducci—we’re doing it tough. Character building. That’s what we’re all about. Our appearance money from the Revolution might cover the petrol from Canberra to Melbourne to Sydney—but it’s still cheaper than airfare for 4 people and their baggage. Plus, think of all the team building time!

Let those other teams and federations fly in . . . Hah! Just look at all the glorious Australian countryside they’re missing! Let them have their team nutritionists and massage therapists. We’ve got Choco’s and snacks from the Servo to get us through. Hah!

The upside of driving more than 800K in the Team Verducci-mobile was (between sneezing) it was hysterical. Gary’s a driving machine! His years of racing then managing inline skating teams has apparently made him immune to fatigue. That, or he’s preternaturally optimistic and easy going, which is a blessing under such circumstances.

T and Jess are just interesting and fun. And even though we offered, Gary drove the entire 10 hours, WHILE telling stories and leading a stimulating round of word association. I gotta say, I’m a big fan of Aussie humor. And, I finished my first Sudoku puzzle. The only game we didn’t play was Truth or Dare, which I guess we’ll save for Beijing.

We got in at 10pm last night, and after unloading the Land Cruiser . . . T and Gary dropped me off at my hotel. I ran into US coaches Andy Sparks and Des Dickie in the lobby, careful not to shake anyone’s hands. We’re just down own the road (1K away) from Dunc Grey—the 2000 Olympic velodrome. My Verducci mates are camping out across the street in these funky little cabins.

I talked to the US Team soigneur Larry this morning, thinking maybe I should see a doctor. Larry suggested we wait it out and reevaluate tomorrow morning. Jennie (Reed) called this afternoon. It’s comforting to know she’s gone through this and raced sick and was surprised at how well she went. Her experience is always reassuring. Coach Ben reminded me to take the long view; it is what it is. Most important is to let it run its course now so whatever I’ve got doesn’t drag out.

So everything (minus the head cold) just got beautifully easy. Now, it’s all about rest, rest, and more rest . . . and eating well and getting dialed in on the track. My hope is that tomorrow I’ll wake up feeling like a million bucks Australian, get on the rollers and do yoga. Then eat and more rest. I’ll watch video from last years’ Sydney World Cup after lunch, then (cross your fingers) get on the track with the US team tomorrow night.


Bruno, aka Meathead.

Before I go, my other hope is that our dog Bruno will come back home. Lath said he picked up a scent on Saturday, dashed off into the woods and still hasn’t come back. Bruno has a tendency to chase after deer trails—which are mayhem in Pennsylvania Game Land right now. It’s happened before, so when I’m home, I look him straight in the eye and remind him where his home is. So Bruno, if your still running around out there in the cold, please come back home. I’ll miss you. Lath will miss you. And no one will be there to keep Rube on her toes. Our lives won’t be the same without you.


Rube, aka Stinky.

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