Monday, 22 November 2010

of toupes, Tucson and bacon




I'm back from a surreally great trip to Arizona, the team had organised a week of athlete days, rides, bike expos and even something approaching a race. Quite the feat in the middle of November and the week before thanksgiving. Especially when many of my other teammates are in Rwanda doing fantastic work there.

Arizona is (geographically) a short hop from California which of course facilitated massive complacency with regard to my travel arrangements and led to me making a mad dash home from school 2 hours before takeoff riding flat out carrying a bike box and trying not to blow over sideways. I managed to cram my much abused training bike into it's carboard confines, pad it out with lime green lycra and make it t the airport in time to sit on my arse and wait for the delayed flight - smooth.

Whilst we were in Arizona we had various sponsor events scheduled, our main sponsors are the insulin manufacturer Sanof-Aventis. this week gave us a pretty cool chance to actually visit their research facility in Tucson, I was not so excited about getting up at 5.45 AM to be there in time, or with the petrol station coffee we got en route! expecting to discover professors of science int he grey haired, moustachioed saftey spectacled mould i was presently surprised to find a group of guys waiting outside for a brisk ride on our arrival. the ride was great, not only did we move along at a fair clip but the guys we met were genuinely great people. It always baffles me when someone is pleased to see me (unless it's my dog, she goes largely unappreciated in that regard) but these guys were excited to ride with us, even though what they do every day (inventing the compounds which keep me alive) is far more amazing than anything we do in Spandex ( with the exception of any superheroes who happen to be reading). over the course of the week we formed some great bonds with our sponsors out there, they took us out to eat in the best local spots. supported us in the race and made evrythign about our trip perfect. Sometime i wonder about the diabetes "industry" but everything about the guys at sanofi was reassuring. They were, put simply, good people and i'm proud to be able to represent them.

my non sponsor time was split between visiting hispanic diabetes groups (very rewarding, question of the day "cual es lo mejor cervesa para nosotros diabeticos" answers on the back of a postcard please) and riding around the desert outside Tucson trying not to get lost. we got to visit some doctors at a hospital and my teammates had a highly emotional but totally positive visit to the paediatric oncology ward. I actually had a rather emotional cancer related experience myself but that'll wait until part deux.

I also got to hang out at the expo a lot, this was fun, i met lots of cool bikey people including the guys from the Mavic SSC who proved to be another group i'd like to add to the "good people" directory: they were there with snacks in times of crisis and provided genuinely interesting conversation all week and fantastic support during the race. Saldy the whole expo experience was ruined by the revelation that, in our sponsor material SOMEONE HAS PHOTOSHOPPED MY HAIR! im pretty sure there are laws against that kind of nonesense, screw "don't touch my junk" how about "keep your mouse away fro my locks". Not only did they have the temerity to "comb" my hair, they've somehow switched the parting over and "pouffed" it so i like something out of "happy days".

when i wasn't being sartorially humiliated, I spent the mornings and evenings with my teammates from team type 1 and team type 2, in the mornings we rode to coffee shops, drank espresso and posed in the way that only skinny men in lycra can do without looking silly (hang on, apparently everyone else thought we DID look silly, arse). We ate some fantastic meals, and drank some great beer. Above all though i enjoyed spending time with my teammates, we all get on really well. There's never any friction and there's always someone to ride with. i love our mixture of deep conversation and ridiculous banter. Of particular interest was our debate on the acceptability of dipping fries in a chocolate shake, once again i'd love to hear your opinions, but only if they're in agreement with mine, which i wont be revealing until after you share yours.... at this point 47 scott in Tucson deserves a special mention. Our post - race dinner there was fantastic, great food, good portions AND a cocktail based on whisky and bacon - check it out 47scott.com. Honourable mention goes to el guerro canelo - once again bacon was involved, this time wrapped around a hot dog and smothered in, well everything really.

having gorged myself on enough beef to secure a positive test for clenbuterol any time int he next decade and visited Tucson's only 24 hour bike shop in order to make some last minute preparation i managed to sleep a recoverytastic 5 hours the night before the event. But if you want to know more about that you'll have to wait for the next installment.....

Friday, 5 November 2010

stripathons and such






seems like it's time to climb back on the horse; my calendar says November (actually it doesn't I've just realised that and I'm going to stop writing and change it. Right, i'm back, crisis averted). i bet you're all excited to hear about the thrill that is logging base miles, not drinking (as much beer) and lifting (girly sized) weights. Well you'll have to wait until there's nothing more exciting to write about. right now i'm about to divulge a fascinating insight into the last few weeks of my offseason, peppered, as always with amusing anecdotes, top tips, uncorrected typos and even a sly recipe.

first up; halloween has been and gone: this is a great time to stock up on minature chocolate goodies which you can tote about in your jersey pocket. it's also a good time to buy pumpkins really cheaply. if you roast the pumpkin you can put it in oatmeal with cinnamon and honey and raisins and almond milk. it's pretty much the ultimate autumnal breakfast and it's sooper cheap and healthy. then you can roast the seeds with some salt and herbs/ spices. mix them up with raisins, your little goodies (i like peanut m&ms- they have a gi of like 48) from halloween and some almonds for a pretty damn fine trail mix for all those long slow miles you're going to be logging (or all those movies you're going to be watching).

Incidentally don't fall into the trap of thinking all this domestic godliness doesn't come without risks, right now I'm nursing a smoothie related wound. Apparently hot espresso in a cold smoothie machine isn't such a good idea. The glass cracked, the blade kept running and i was trapped in a frozen fruit/ coffee/ glass tornado. Luckily I'm harder than titanium coated nails and if ought my back to the blender and unplugged the little bugger but not before it had propelled some glass into my hands and some milk into every bloody orifice in my kitchen. 45 minutes and a roll of tissue paper later and i think I've avoided the potential for fermenting smoothie in the biscuit drawer.

I'n the brief periods in between all the eating and drinking i've been doing i have managed to poke my nose into the public sphere a little bit (yep Habermas reference on a cycling blog). Last Saturday i visited the TCOYD conference in San Diego. admittedly i wasn't quite as set up as some of the exhibitors; essentially my stand consisted of me, a bike and some rollers. What it lacked in grandeur it made up for in purple spandex and enthusiasm. I got to meet lots of really cool local people, share the 'betes knowledge and try to balance on the rollers whilst people poked my omnipod, all in a day's work!

I want to highlight a particular friend of mine called Art. Art went blind at 21 due to complications from type 1, he was on medicaid and it's not always easy. Anyway art has better control now and has started riding; with the help of his dedicated friend and stoker Don and my somewhat haphazard coaching he's making progress. He's not on cgm which makes it pretty tough for him to check often (imagine getting the blood on a strip when you couldn't see either) but we're working on it (help would be appreciated). His bike's a piece but once again, we're trying to find something better. What's important isn't the bike, or the 'betes technology it's the fact that Art is the most enthusiastic athlete i've ever worked with. i told him to set his goals high and he has; he wants to be, in his own words: "the fastest blind dude in the world"...watch this space (pun intended)

Art went blind when he was 21 but in parts of the world he'd be lucky to live that long with diabetes. right now the team is preparing for a stage race in Rwanda. this'll be the first time an entirely diabetic team will be racing in a uci level event. I'm aiming to make the team for this race next year. For now, there's a more important goal. Thousands of people in Rwanda live with diabetes but without the supplies needed to thrive or even survive. YOU can help. click here
and donate your unused strips, meters, lancets and pictures of ex presidents printed on green paper. These people need your help, they suffer from the same malady that i do and but for an accident of birth our roles could have been switched. I've spent a fair chunk of time in Africa, it's a place which is very close to my heart . It's pretty hard to condemn people to an ealry grave when we CAN provide what they need to thrive especially when it's simply by sharing things that we'd normally throw away. so do it NOW.

right Bob Geldof bit over (i think his hair is even messier than mine) I have to go and retrieve some pumpkin seeds from the oven. In other news listen to postcards from a young man by the manic street preachers, they've yet to make an album which i didn't like. (and yes someone else took that picture, and they twittered it, and i stole it)