Date: Friday, 09 July 2010
Posted by: Cycling Southland

Chapter 2: Bringing the Heat.

It’s been hot, in fact hot is the understatement of the Century, the East Coast has been hit by a heat wave and we have seriously felt the effects of this increase in heat, scorching would be a more appropriate term.  Each day has been in the 40’s with no clouds and serious heat, our house is kept in the bearable mid 30’s by one wee A/C unit that has been running non-stop since we arrived!

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Above: A temp reading of one of our bike computers...........yip its warm. 

Last week was pretty big for all the boys in the km count, we are all over the jetlag and getting stuck into our various training programmes.  I can’t speak for the other boys but I know Andy and Myself did nearly 600km last week.  So we are shocking the legs into finding some form.  The training over here is amazing, the majority of the roads are smooth bitumen and there are endless small climbs and strange/interesting sights to see.  

There is a huge amount of animal life over here squirrels, snakes, ground hogs, chipmunks, deer, bright red cardinals and foxes.  They are all over the show, Andy being the keen hunter he is swears black and blue every time we pass Deer wandering in the river or bush by the side of the road.  Andy’s spiel goes something like this “If I had my bloody rifle here we would save a hell of a lot of money on meat, it would be venison every night of the weeks boys”.  He has even started devising a plan to try catching one with his bare hands.........watch this space.

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Above: Andy on the way to Hawk Mountain by one of the Pennslyvannia’s unique covered bridges.

On one of our longer rides last week we rode out to a place called Hawk Mountain.  The ride out there is pretty surreal, most of the way you are riding right beside a river and in the forest.  The best way to picture it is a scene from Last of the Mohicans, I expect a Tomahawk wielding Mohawk warrior to come bounding down the wooded hillside at any point and scalp me.  With minimal traffic, it’s very easy to knock out a 100km ride.

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Above: One of the private swimming ponds scattered throughout the countryside, pretty cool.

Once we got to the top of the Hawk Mountain climb we went in and had a yarn with the staff at the conservation sight, they told us that there were a few bald eagles nesting in the area, we thought this was pretty cool.  They also told us there were quite a few black bears around and it was not uncommon to run across them, this was not so cool.  It would be fair to say that we peered over our shoulders a bit during the ride home.

On the way home from the track this week Andy convinced us to stop in at a Hunting store to quiz the staff about the Hunting round these parts.  Wow what an experience, an old bloke that looked like Jed Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies was running the place.  We decided to wind him up a bit and ask what the best pistol to go deer hunting with would be.  I pointed to a very feminine looking “purse” pistol and said “that looks like it would do the trick”, to this he replied in a serious tone (imagine thick American accent) “Son, that there side arm aint gonna stop em, its just gonna piss em off some, what you want is this thing right here” to which he produce a giant Desert Eagle .50.  We all struggled not to laugh, it was like a scene from a comedy.  All jokes aside it is quite scary that over here Joe Bloggs can walk into a Hunting store buy a weapon and then later on apply for the appropriate licence.

The weekend rolled around pretty quickly, we had entered in two Criteriums (fast short circuit road races).  So at 7am with the bikes loaded and with Philadelphia plugged into our GPS (who we have named Sally) we set of to the Heart House Gran Prix situated about 24km from Philly city centre.  We arrived with plenty of time to spare and had a good warm up not that we needed to it was 40degrees on the boys SRM monitors (a power, cadence, heart rate – basically a badass scientific bike computer). 

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Above: Cruising on the motorway heading into Philly.

The race started pretty fast with some of the New Jersey and New York based teams controlling things.  Then the first significant break went, Hamish was tucked well in there and Sam put in a big effort in to bridge across.  Andy and Myself sat on the front of the Peloton and set a relaxed tempo so the boys could gain an advantage.  Andy did a great job of marking some of the strong men who were trying to bridge.  Eventually Sam managed to lap the field with a couple of other riders.  With 6 laps to go one of the riders who took a lap with Sam jumped off the front so I chased him down and brought it back together.  We then set up a small lead out train for Sam,  Andy finished it off with a monstrous effort that dropped the entire field bar Sam and a couple of riders hanging onto his wheel.  Sam stepped out and stomped on the pedals to take a phenomenal 2nd place.  Hamish held on for 9th.  The whole team had worked well together and everyone’s form is coming along nicely – we were pretty stoked at our display in our first road race over here.  A quick stop for subway and back to “Little Bosnia” we went.

Another Early start and we were back on the road this time to New Jersey for the Circuito De Marlton Criterium.  After a couple of dodgy calls from Sally the GPS we made it to the race in one piece.  As soon as we stepped out of the car we knew it was going to be a tough day in the saddle why? Because it was a scorching 45degrees outside although Andy’s computer read 50!!! It was overwhelming and I believe just as hard as racing in single figures back home.

The race got underway and straight away it was obvious we weren’t going to be allowed the freedom we were the day before.  We were all very active in the first half hour of racing trying to get away, but the other teams were marking us well.  Eventually when a break did go we had no riders but all the other big teams did.  Thus it was left to us to try and bring things back together.  Lap after lap we spent on the front but with no help from other teams and searing heat, big efforts were made by Andy, Hamish and Myself but we didn’t quite bring things back together. 

Again we got a lead out going for our form sprinter Sam Steele and he easily won the bunch sprint.  We missed out on the podium though as riders were still up the road.  As soon as we crossed the line we shot off up the road and huddled under a sprinkler in a park trying to cool down.  The race organiser later told us that a large proportion of the field had pulled out because of the heat.  I can honestly say it was by far the hottest day I have ever had on the bike.

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Above: Ghostbusters on the Freeway off to work, we were going to ask them to check out our basement.

Well that’s all for now, next week we have two nights of Pro Track racing and then the famously brutal Iron Hill Classic in West Chester, this is a huge event with massive crowds so it should be a great opportunity to let the kiwi flag fly.  I’ll let you know how this goes in a week’s time!

Thanks again for the support.

James Canny

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