Tour of Utah 2015
In thinking about what to write about for the Tour of Utah blog, I feel like this strava comment from James G is a good place to start:
“BC: have enjoyed watching your progression so much. Congratulations. I see you wrestling with which cognitive frame to put around your results, glass half full or half empty – perhaps think about which frame will be more useful to your motivation. We’re right behind you mate….but in most cases we’re a fair way behind you.”
Make no mistake Slim G! I am extremely proud of what I’ve accomplished at this years Tour of Utah, particularly when I compare to what took place last year in 2014. Back then I was battling to finish each stage, and my blog post mentioned that my biggest highlight was simply finishing the tour. This year, I was finishing stages feeling disappointed for losing time on GC. We had objectives as a team that if I finished top 10 on GC it would have been a really good result. I failed to achieve this particular objective, coming in at 18th overall, but I don’t believe I failed at this years Tour of Utah.
So whichever cognitive frame I choose to take, (half full or half empty, failure or success), motivation is not a problem. I am proud of what I’ve achieved, but I will want to achieve more. I guess that’s where the sense of disappointment comes from. I strongly believe that as a competitive athlete, you can never be completely (100%) satisfied with finishing in 2nd place. In the short term, yes, finishing 2nd may be really good (as finishing 18th in the Tour of Utah is good). But in one or two years time, I would not like to consider 18th a good result… Just as you don’t want to always finish 2nd.
Similar to last year, there are some moments of this year’s tour that I’ll remember. One of the best things about racing a tour of this caliber is the level of competition amongst the peloton. You only need to do some research on some of the riders to realise that there are some of the world’s best cyclists here, and that I get to race my bike against them. It’s difficult to explain what it’s like riding next to someone like Frank Schleck in a reduced peloton up a long climb with a helicopter hovering above your head. In a few weeks I’ll see him line up in the Vuelta a Espana against riders like Chris Froome, Nibali, and Nairo Quintana.
I did have a little off-road moment on stage two this year that saw me lose a couple of minutes. At altitude, the speeds of the peloton are increased due to less air resistance, and so descending also becomes lots faster. If you follow my strava uploads, you’ll see the maximum speeds reached on each stage would also get close to 100km/h. Back home, you’d be lucky to get over 60km/h. Considering this, I was fortunate to only come away with a scratch on my left arm, and some frustration for losing two minutes on that stage as a direct result.
Speaking of the topic, during stage 6 there was a big crash that was caught on video that went viral. (You’ve probably already seen it) I distinctly remember that corner from last year, and did some recon on it again this year before the tour started so was well aware of what was coming up. You come around a blind right hand sweeper that you think you can take with lots of speed, but then a sharp left hand hairpin pops up and you have little time to slow down for it. I was doing just under 70km/h coming into that hairpin and got around fine.
We also don’t train with carbon race wheels, which have a significant difference in braking performance and feeling to a regular aluminium braking surface. My personal preference would be to train on the same braking surface that we race with… Or at least that’s the excuse I’ll go with to justify riding around with a pair of lightweight carbon clinchers. (It also helps with Strava KOM’s).
During the tour I was reading Phil Gaimon’s book “Pro Cycling on $10 a day” which was a good read, made more interesting by the fact that I was racing against him at this years Tour. I bumped into him a few times at the buffet or around the race and I kept mentioning which chapter I was up to, and how I thought it was a fascinating story. He’s probably glad he won’t see me for another week. I’ve finished the book anyway, and am now reading a biography about Elon Musk, cofounder of PayPal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX.
At the teams presentation this year, each rider was given a choice of free pillow made by Malouf. I chose a ‘zoned dough & bamboo charcoal-infused memory foam, zoned for breathability and neck support.’ I didn’t think it at the time, but in hindsight, traveling with a good pillow on tour is probably a really good idea, and I’ll definitely be using it throughout the USA Pro Challenge.
Along with the perks of free pillows, the race organization give all teams subway for lunch post race. We collect these before the stage start, which means by the time we get to eat them the tomato and dressing has completely soaked through the bread, making things pretty moist and difficult to eat after a tough 5 hour day in the saddle. Mostly the entire team is glad we didn’t have subway for lunch today, except a few of us did miss the cookies.
The focus now has turned to recovery. After consuming a few slices of pizza, a burger and some donuts following the final stage (very important recovery food), our team is hanging around Park City until Friday before driving over to Colorado for the USA Pro Challenge. I haven’t raced the USA Pro Challenge before, but from all reports it’s a massive race and I’m really looking forward to it. It starts on Monday, the 17th of August.
As always, thanks to all those who keep track of my racing and whereabouts whilst overseas, and the ongoing support always means a lot! I’ve spent a significantly longer time overseas than I initially thought and its been heaps of fun, but I’ll also be looking forward to getting back home to see the family, and hitting up the local bunch rides again with Peak Cycles