Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tour of NZ: The Get-Fit-In-4-Days Plan

The camera-shy Jayco-VIS team (in some cultures, looking directly into the camera lens means death)

In my uni days (before I was a proper athlete), I had a special training program that was called the Get-Fit-In-4-Days Plan. It doesn't need much explanation. Most people have tried some variant of the GFI4D Plan at some stage in their lives (a popular cousin is the Get Fit In 1 Day Plan, which happens across Melbourne about a week before the Around The Bay In A Day).

This year, the Get-Fit-In-4-Days plan came back into my program in the form of the Tour of New Zealand, a UCI 2.2, 5-day tour which featured teams like HTC-Highroad and the Australian, Chinese, Japanese and NZ national teams. Last year, this was a breakthrough tour for me and I finished 5th on GC. This year, I was riding the tour as a 'test' after a very frustrating period of injury and rehab. Essentially, I was just hoping to make time cut each day. I had physio permission to ride 3 stages, then assess how my quad was going before deciding whether to start the following day.

Supercoach gives us a pep talk
All frivolity aside, this tour was an unbelievably hard way to get fit, and I owe a lot to the VIS who have supported me throughout my rehab and put no expectations or pressure on me for results. I also owe a big thanks to my teammates who were happy to have me along despite my being about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Oh, and sick. The Jayco-VIS team consisted of:
  • Jo 'GC Contender' Hogan
  • Vicki 'International Superstar Ring-In' Whitelaw
  • Kendelle 'Sprint Queen' Hodges
  • Lisa 'Team Leper' Jacobs
and was led by Donna 'Supercoach' Rae-Szalinski, with Bob 'The Builder' Farley on mechanics and Sarah 'Super Soignny' Roy as team soigneur. It was an awesome crew. Jo 'Excuse me' Hogan raced like a champ and finished 7th on GC; Vicki  'Wiki Wiki' Whitelaw played the ultimate super domestique and finished 8th; and Kendelle 'Get IN MAH SPACE' Hodges almost walked away with the sprint jersey and a stage win. Respekt. For my part, I sweated spinal fluid for 3 days then came good enough on the 5th stage to bear a passing resemblance to a cyclist.

This must have been taken before the stage because I'm still standing (R)

My physical preparation for the tour was pretty limited due to my rehab and made harder by getting sick right before the race. Hence the 'Team Leper' tag. I won't go into details, but it involved getting a double-whammy cold and stomach virus 4 days before we were due to fly out, lots of time in the foetal position, getting sick during the race* and a course of antibiotics after the tour finish (see, now I'm just boasting). Tours seldom go to plan, but I don't remember coming up against a more challenging set of circumstances while racing.  

The rest of the Jayco-VIS team, though, was AWESOME. The tour started well with with Jo 'Trolley Stealer' Hogan and Vicki 'Don't tell Dave I crashed' Whitelaw nabbing 4th and 5th in stage 1 and making Donna happy that she could be 4th car in the race convoy. Bob 'BAAAAAAA' Farley earned the attention of the commissaires for making like a prom queen and standing out the sun roof of the race car. Sarah 'Positive Circle' Roy rode ahead and beat the entire field to the finish line on the first day by an hour, only to be disqualified for starting an hour early and not being entered in the race. Then she did our washing and gave us all massages. All week. Kendelle put up with me being her roommate for the week and managed not to catch anything. And Donna bought me more salty treats than I could have dreamed of. It was awesome.

Jo was in awesome form and smashed everyone, including herself on stage 5

Vicki and Jo in action with Judith Arndt (yellow jersey and tour winner)

Play of the week goes to Bob 'Bob-san' Farley who at the end of the week comprehensively won the Oceania Pavlova Speed Eating Championships by several lengths against a quality field. He followed up his Oceania title with a win in the Pan-Asian Pavlova Eating marathon champs later that night against the entire Japanese cycling team.

Bob-san with his fans

Bob could not be contacted for comment but his spokesman stated that, 'Bob has been training for this his entire life. They said it couldn't be done, but I think Bob is living proof that you can eat more than half your bodyweight in meringue. If only the greater Wellington region hadn't run out of pavlova, we might have seen history that night.'

Finally, a very big shout out to Sarah 'Frickin YEAH' Roy for all her camera work. Stay tuned for some more of Roy's work when she launches her own site - I can't wait.
Happy birthday Roy!

*I won't tell you when but here's a hint: on stage 2 I came 62nd.

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