Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"Tour’s tarnished reputation" - what Sam has to say

"Hey mate

I have just seen my diatribe about the TdF on your blog. Hell, I have to be careful what I say in future.

I watched the final day of the Tour today to Paris and I sense that everybody is putting on a brave face (except Contador of course who is as happy as Larry) to salvage something positive from the Tour’s tarnished reputation. For me, there are still some significant and positive highlights from the Tour. Here are some of them

1. All the Brits survived the full course (Except Wiggins whose team pulled out due to their team leader being caught for doping, very sad for him) and all of them gave a good account of themselves

2. Barlowworld, an also-ran team full of enthusiasm and youth showed what can be done by a team of virtual non-mega stars (except Hunter perhaps who has always done well in the Tour de Langkawi)

3. Contador did fantastically well and especially in the Pyrenees. Let’s hope he does not do a Landis and is found positive after the event.

4. Cadel Evans gave a really gusty and inspirational performance. If only he had a stronger team around him, things could have been different.

5. Even without “the master” Lance Armstrong, the Discovery team still showed an awesome strength in depth

6. Leipheimer’s time trial on Saturday was out of this world, averaging around 50kph. Since you have the same bike…….so, how about it?

7. Soler’s polka dot jersey was an inspirational performance. What a climber! I wonder what time he would do up KK hill? Probably 15mins!

8. Some of the domestiques and teams did a fantastic job in supporting their main man. Rabobank come to mind as a team that worked so hard only to have their main man evicted. How sad is that?

Anyway, I have loved being here in France during the Tour. There is unquestionably a buzz in France when the Tour is on and with it being shown live on Eurosport every day, my afternoons for the past three weeks has been sorted. Sadly, there is no TdF next week so its time to head back to KL.

Before watching the final stages of today’s stage, I went for a 110k ride to Courmayeur in Italy. That was a climb of 1200m to the border from my house and then a drop down the other side of 1400m. So I did a climbing total of around 2600m. It was a lovely ride and while the coffee shop I stopped at in Courmayeur did not have Milo panas, they did a great cappuccino.

I arrive back in KL late on the 7th Aug so see you for a ride the following weekend.

How did your Singapore Tri go? Were you feeling any better or was your chest infection still causing you trouble? Race report please!

See you soon……..


[SIMON] For the record Singapore Tri (my target race for the year) was a wash out. I was still struggling through my second course of antibiotics and not only that but was progressively getting sicker by the day so I cancelled.

Singapore next year - watch out.

Friday, July 27, 2007

"What a shame indeed" - from our TdF corresponent

What Sam has to say: -

"Yes, the TdF debacle continues. What a shame indeed. If the riders knew about Milo panas (Hot Milo)., they wouldn’t need to take all this drug shit!

I cycled up to the top of Col D’Iseran yesterday, one of if not the highest on this year’s Tour. It’s a 38k climb from my house with an altitude gain of almost 1800m. While it looks nice any sunny in the photo, the air temp was very cool. I froze my arse off on the decent.

I did a 9.5hr hike today so I am well knackered. At least summer has arrived at last."

Thank you Sam for that honest and frank report

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tour de France or Tour de Farce?

I decided to stay up past my bedtime last night to watch stage 16 (the decisive stage) of the Tour de France. Wow, what a race I spent the last hour and a half with my heart rate progressively getting higher and higher with the excitement.

It was really enthralling stuff to see Michael Rasmussen being badgered and attacked constantly by the two Discovery riders and Cadel Evans just hanging in there - amazingly the top four riders fighting it out over this long and steep climb.

In the end Rasmussen beat off both the Discovery boys, Levi Leipheimer came in second but eating into Cadel Evans overall 3rd place - Evans on the other hand made it up in fourth, kept his overall 3rd place but was almost in tears of total physical exhaustion at the end.

Wow! and Wow again, I couldn't sleep for quite a while afterwards - I was inspired.

Michael Rasmussen, what a man! I even stuck my neck out after watching him go up the first real climb of the race and said "That's the guy that's going to win the Tour this year".

You can only imagine my utter disillusionment and incredulity when I flicked the news on this morning to see that he'd been sacked by his team and sent home from the Tour - apparently another drugs cheat!

What to say? Actually I've got nothing to say that hasn't already been said but I am hanging onto the belief that Lance Armstrong was the greatest cyclist ever to grace our screens - I believe that he was clean and drug free - read his books and make up your own mind. If I'm wrong then I'll lose hope for all of human nature.

Along with Lance there is still the Discovery Team, they are now leading the Tour, (1st team overall and 1st and 3rd individuals) and I assume they are doing so by setting a good an honest example. Let's hope so at least.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Very Sad News

I have just learnt that one of the competitors in Sunday's Triathlon in Port Dickson encountered some difficulties in the swim and drowned.

I am not aware of the circumstances and have very little information but the following extract was taken from the New Straits Times online.

"In Port Dickson, a participant drowned while competing in the Port Dickson International Triathlon at the Admiral Marina & Leisure Club yesterday.

Mohamad Zubir Zainal Abidin, 55, from Petaling Jaya, drowned while taking part in the swimming leg of the triathlon."

It's too upsetting to really say anything more. My deepest sympathies go out to his family. Rest in Peace.

Post Race Beach Fun - UNCENSORED (some nudity)

After the aborted race I cycled home, took a bath and strolled out of the hotel villa and on to the Beach (about 10 paces away) - Very Cool.

The boys were having an awesome time - it was cool and a bit overcast so conditions were perfect for them.

Sid doesn't like being dirty so it was a little icky for him but he loved it anyway. The only time he didn't like it was when Mummy and Daddy kept putting sand on his legs to annoy him - parents aren't supposed to do that are they?

Seb on the otherhand was in his element and was covering every inch of beach on his wayward travels - he has no fear!

Sid enjoying lunch in the restaurant afterwards. All in all a lovely weekend.

PD Olympic Distance - 22nd July 2007

The day started with Shilpa expressing her feelings about me doing this race. Not altogether a pleasant experience when a) she's passionate about something, b) she's tired, c) she's angry and worst of all d) you know she's right.

Anyway I assured her that my plan was to drop out after the bike if it was too much stress on my body (of course she didn't believe me).

There were 1,352 competitors at PD which was an awesome sight. It was part of the Asian Cup Series so many athletes had come from Hong Kong, Philippines, Macau etc in fact 33 countries were represented. The race was started in waves with the elite racers going off first. (Photos borrowed from www.pipot.com)

My wave was the penultimate wave with the women and relay racers going off 5 minutes behind. My strategy was clear, I must put everything into the swim and first half of the bike. The swim was the most important as I had to come out with the good relay swimmers who were starting 5 minutes behind. I could then ride with their cyclists and real in whatever I'd lost to the better swimmers in my age-group.

I was surprised and pleased to see that I came out with Don Khor. We started the bike together and soon got picked up by two strong relay cyclists (both national riders) they attempted several breakaways but we held with them until we hit a long hill at which point I powered up and managed to drop Don (but fortunately not the relay guys) - then we were off, our pack began to get bigger and bigger until there were about 30 riders including Iwata and Patrick. I sat at the back and tried to nurse my cardiovascular system which I'd been red-lining since the start of the bike.

I made a small break at the end as I didn't want to go around two roundabouts or into transition with 30 other riders (potential carnage - there had already been one crash in our pack). I was first out of transition from the pack with only one other guy ahead of me in my age-group. Sadly (an painfully) that's about all the good stuff I can report.

Iwata flashed past me and about 1.5k into the run Patrick (a great cyclist but not known for his running) also came by. The pain in my kidney's and lungs was excruciating and then my back and shoulder blades just got tighter and tighter. At 2k (8k to go) I fulfilled my promise to myself and Shilpa and pulled out of the race. Nothing more was to be gained from struggling to the end and I had Singapore on my mind for the following week.

PD Sprint Triathlon - 21st July 2007

I arrived in PD swallowing antibiotics, decongestants and painkillers like they were smarties. I was "sick as a dog" but determined to pull something out the bag for the weekend.

I decided to do the Sprint Race as I didn't feel too bad - although with the benefits of hindsight that was probably the excitement and the drugs masking the reality of the situation.

So I found myself on the beach with the largest contingent of racers I'd ever seen in sprint race which was really cool although I wasn't feeling very motivated. However, the gun went off and I raced into the water closely behind one of my main rivals Iwata San from Japan. The water was quite shallow for quite a long way out and I did have a chuckle to myself as I "ran" past Iwata as he was swimming along.

I came out of the swim in about 14:30 which was OK but slower than I would have expected had I not been struggling to breath. Onto the bike (my strongest discipline) and off I went streaming past the faster swimmers. It was amazing how many tiny kids were ahead of me - wow could they swim!

Last year the bike was only 9.5k (it is supposed to be 20k) and I knew that if I was to stand a chance it had to be the full distance. I was pleasantly surprised to see that we turned right at the traffic lights where we had U-turned the year before. Sadly my elation lasted but a second or two as the U-turn was just a few meters further on. Oh-well a 10k bike this year!

Despite my breathing problems I still had a great bike and caught a pack with about 2.5k to go. Iwata and Don were in the pack so I whizzed past only to have them sit on my back wheel and draft me to the finish of the bike.

I was in first place out of transition but that's when it all went wrong and the higher demands of the run exposed my frailty. Iwata went past as if I were standing still and then within 2k Don was on my shoulder ready to pounce as soon as the first slight hill came upon us. There was no way to respond and off he went.

I struggled home in third place quite pleased under the circumstances but realised that the Olympic distance race tomorrow was unlikely to be as forgiving and I resigned myself to the fact that I probably wouldn't do it.

(A few more antibiotics, inti-inflammatorys, painkillers and decongestants later and the masking effect took hold, strangely I felt better again and I decided to do the Olympic race the next day albeit I drop out after the bike if I was really hurting - Singapore triathlon next weekend was my real target race).

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

TDF Correspondent

More from TriTwins very own Tour De France correspondent Sam Pritchard. We have embedded Sam with a platoon of Frenchies in the Alps and this is his latest report. (We are a bit concerned that Sam thinks David Millar is a top tottie but each to their own).

"I rode up to Val D'Isere yesterday morning (about 20k with a 900m ascent) and hung around in the heat for over two hours until the start. However, the atmosphere was still brilliant and there was loads of top totty around, including David Millar (see photo).

I did not ride up the first climb after the Tour riders in case I overtook them! I had been hanging around for too long and I was not going to wait until the Police decided on when they would open the road again.

Instead, I plan on doing one of the Cols the Tour did on Sunday (Cormet de
Rosland) tomorrow and then I will tag on another two cols to make it a nice and hard circuit. Today is a run/swim day.

What about that Colombian yesterday on the Col de Galibier? He stormed off like a man possessed. He probably laced his sports drink with a touch of Colombia's best white powder!"

DISCLAIMER1: The writer's views regarding the Colombian's performance are purely personal and in no way reflect the views of TriTwins.

DISCLAIMER2: The writer's views regarding his ability to overtake the peleton are purely personal and in no way reflect the views of TriTwins or any other sane human being.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Tour De France

Sam is sitting sweet in France - the tour went past his house yesterday and this is what he had to report: -

"The Tour de France is coming to town today so no guesses at what I will be doing today. I will be beside the road on the last climb (about 20k to the finish) in my village Ste Foy Tarentaise. So keep an eye out for me on the tele! I reckon the leaders will pass me at around 4.30pm (2230 KL time). I cycled all three climbs of today’s stage albeit I did in two days!

I went to check out the finish line in Tignes yesterday and all the barriers were up ready for today’s race (see the last climb to the finish line). The route up the hill is littered with camper vans and people in tents and some are equipped with their own satellite dish (see photo).

Clearly, watching the Tour is serious business. As I cycled the last 20k of today’s stage yesterday, the atmosphere was fantastic and even though I was plodding up at a snail’s pace compared to the pros, people shouted encouragement at me. You would have loved it. If you can imagine the hill back from Titi lined with thousands of cycling enthusiasts that is what it is like.


School and Driving Lessons

You know how some parents go on about how smart their kids are - yawn! Well, I'll let the pictures do the talking - the boys are excelling at school and have even been given the go ahead to take driving lessons.

Sid saying "I'll have that gold star thank you very much".
Seb strutting his stuff and saying "Yep, I'm d'Man!"
These speed bumps are a bit vicious!

"Hey Sid, look at that hot chick over there!"

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Zoo

We went to the Zoo today!
It was very disappointing!
The only animal they had was a small dog!
It was a Shih-tzu

Monday, July 09, 2007

Sporting Spectacular Sunday

Wow what a day, PD tri clinic in the morning (see earlier post). I then watched the Wimbledon Women's Final (Venus won, what an amazing bloke she is!),

British Grand Prix (Lewis Hamilton on the podium again).

The Tour de France in Kent, England - David Millar (England) winning the Polkadot jersey by the most nail biting and narrowest of margins.

Robbie McEwan (English Parents, British passport but rides for Australia!) crashes with 21k to go, still not back in the pack with 5k to go and even if he'd been there the roads were so narrow that he'd never have got past the 150 riders bunched up in front of him.

The sprint started winding up with flashes of different team jerseys everywhere but with the commentator lamenting that is was sad that Robbie was nowhere to be seen and he never stood a chance of getting back into it. Then with about 30 meters to go there was a flash of a pink jersey and McEwan came from nowhere (and I mean NOWHERE) to win the sprint finish with a damaged back, damaged wrist, finger and elbow and covered in road rash. Wow, I'm not much for hero worshiper but I have a new respect for this man.

With that done I watched most of the Wimbledon Men's final but had to concede defeat after 4 sets and go to bed - it looked like Roger Federer had blown it anyway - to my surprise and delight I saw in the morning that he's won his 5th straight Wimbledon final. Big respect!

A couple of other results (thank goodness for remote controls and 4 sports channels on Astro), Jamie Murray (the younger brother of Andy) won the mixed doubles final - now that's a turn up for the books a Brit winning something at Wimbledon.

And Colin Montgomery won the European Open at the K Club to end a 19 month winning drought - nice one Monty.

I prefer to "Do" rather than "Watch" but having done the tri clinic in the morning I gave myself permission to be a couch potato Sunday evening - I even had a couple of beers and Shilpa cooked me the most amazing pasta you've ever had (My wife is the BEST cook I know by a very long way).

PD Triathlon Clinic - 8 July 2007

Another PD tri clinic with another good turnout. Having said that I couldn't believe how many absent faces there were. This is an extremely well organised clinic that replicates pretty well the race day conditions and is great high intensity training.

Mmmm! I guess everyone knows their own bodies and minds best but I love this sort of training as it's fun, mentally and physically stimulating; it also takes away any surprises for the impending race (new swim course for example). You can work out the pace for the race, you know when the tough bits are coming and how much longer you've got to suffer - you've just got to love it!

The day started with usual 8 a.m. start (my watch said 8:45 - must be Malaysian time again). The swim course was measured properly and was marked out with buoys around the turn from the beach start into the marina. I had a scrappy swim and Kevin was trying to drown me most of the time but in between that I was trying to concentrate on identifying "sighting landmarks" to assist the navigation during the race. That part was successful at least and Mr Chan said afterwards that the entire course will be marked out with rope and buoys.

We hung around for ages waiting for the slower swimmers to come back and then we were off on the bike. The first 5k was super slow as we all had to stay together until the right hand turn onto the quiet country roads (Kimberley - Malaysia's very own triathlon superstar - decided not to hang around though and took off early). As we turned I expected the hammer to go down and the pack to take off. It sort of did but there was a mighty crash behind and two or three riders when down on some slippy debris on the road. The biggest bang was Randy and he now sports some sympathy generating road rash and a lovely gash under his left eye.

There seemed to be a lot of expectation from the leading riders in what I might do - mainly that they were going to draft behind me I think. So I sat back in the pack for a while before attacking fairly early on. I managed to drop them down a big hill (I'm fatter than most so I go fast downhill). I caught Kimberley up going up a hill and as quietly as I could I pulled up behind her and sneaked past.

That was that then I thought until I heard what sounded like a bellowing bull on my back wheel - it was Eugene Chan looking like his lungs were going to explode. Eugene isn't what he used to be on the bike (he claims only to do 40k a week now) - too many girlfriends is the problem I think. We shared the work for a while but then I snuck past him up a hill and hit the turnaround alone.

A long lonely ride back the way we came, I backed off a bit as Shahrom wasn't there to mow me down like last time and I finished feeling fairly fresh.

I put the bike away and then started out on the run. I was in better running shape than the last tri clinic and got to the 5k turnaround in 20 minutes flat. Heading back I saw Kevin at the 2.5k mark and he turned around to run with me to make me suffer some more. I proudly announced I was up for the challenge - but with about a k to go I was shot and Kevin took great pleasure staying 2 strides ahead of me all the way to the end. It didn't even slow him down when I pulled his tri suit down around his ankles.

I was seriously overheated when I finished but did a negative split and managed 39:17 for the 10k which I was pretty happy with after a swim and bike. I didn't win anything in the lucky draw again - oh well eh!

A great day and if you weren't there you really missed out!

A sad bit of news on the way back - a massive traffic jam due to an accident (in perfect weather). Several cars smashed to smithereens on the side of the road and down embankments. At least one body bag was being zipped up as I passed - I've seen this scene far too often in Malaysia and I have to admit my own driving habits have historically been pretty poor. The more I see this sort of thing and especially since the twins arrived I have become a better driver but there's always room for improvement for all of us.

I arrived home in a massive storm having had an awesome morning and reflecting on how good life is but also how much you must treasure it. Life is fragile and you never know which day will be your last. So when you wake up in the morning don't waste a minute of it!

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Dead Duck's Bill

A woman brought a very limp duck into a veterinary surgeon. As she laid her pet on the table, the vet pulled out his stethoscope and listened to the bird's chest. After a moment or two, the vet shook his head sadly and said, "I'm so sorry, your duck Cuddles has passed away."

The distressed owner wailed, "Are you sure"?

"Yes, I am sure. The duck is dead," he replied.

"How can you be so sure?" She protested. "I mean, you haven't done any testing on him or anything. He might just be in a coma or something."

The vet rolled his eyes, turned around and left the room, and returned a few moments later with a black Labrador Retriever. As the duck's owner looked on in amazement, the dog stood on his hind legs, put his front paws on the examination table and sniffed the duck from top to bottom. He then looked at the vet with sad eyes and shook his head.

The vet patted the dog and took it out, and returned a few moments later with a cat. The cat jumped up on the table and also sniffed delicately at the bird from head to foot. The cat sat back on its haunches, shook its head, meowed softly and strolled out of the room.

The vet looked at the woman and said, "I'm sorry, but as I said, this is most definitely, 100 percent certifiably, a dead duck." Then the vet turned to his computer terminal, hit a few keys and produced a bill which he handed to the woman.

The duck's owner, still in shock, took the bill. "£150!" she cried, "£150 just to tell me my duck is dead"?

"The vet shrugged.”I'm sorry. If you'd taken my word for it, the bill would have been £20, but with the lab report and the cat scan, it's now £150.

Cyclosportiv - UK E'tap - 1st July 2007

My Buddy Chris (who'll be joining me in Busselton for the Ironman in December) just did the UK E'tap which is basically a mass participation bike ride along one of the legs that the Tour de France will be taking next week. There were 5,000 participant's - this is what he had to say: -

"Hi Simon

Cyclosportiv - UK E'tap

A great day out with 5000 other cyclists as 120 miles of the Kent roads were taken over a week before the Tour de France hits the UK.

We started 6:30am out of Greenwich Park riding with the 15 other Deal Tri members. To try and ease congestion of the roads they released 40 riders every minute. As the roads were not shut.

At many traffic lights as we followed the Thames downstream to Chatham there were cues of cyclists (rather than the usual cars), and the towns centres were swamped as we passed through at a rate of knots. There was even pretty good support out en route. I have never seen so many punctures, one a mile was probably not an over-estimate! Ivor, who was riding with us had 2 in the first 30 miles. Kirk, Bryan and I waited and we ended up riding as a group of 4 for the remaining distance.

Some clubs has tops made for the day; one noticeable one was a striped cycling top with a motive necklace of garlic bulbs and onions and baguette coming out of the rear pockets, and they all had beret helmet covers on (made me laugh every time I saw one).

Weather was OK, with occasional showers, but not the downpours that had been predicted, and the wind built as the day went on. Bryan and I punching our way into a headwind near Maidstone, when I commented, "wouldn't be good if we could slot into a group somewhere and have a break!!" Bryan told me too look back and we had a group of 60 formed behind us!! We went through Tunbridge Wells in a pack of 150 which made for an exciting 40mph descent out of town.

Feeding stations were chaotic but OK and the organisers did a good job of having them off the route in school fields or lay-bys (very different to IM's, none of this grab and go….it was a social gathering where you meet club mates, friends and regrouped). Had a good tail wind for the last 40 miles and did the last 20 miles in under an hour! Big crowds as we came into Canterbury……a fantastic day out. Thanks to Sasha for the entry as a birthday prezzie.

Riding time was 6:58:47 for the 120 miles (average speed 16.9mph). Hate to think how quickly the real Tour will do it in next Sunday