As some of you are back home sleeping, I’m double checking the contents of my packed bag beside me, hoping that I have everything required for the Giro D’Italia over the coming nine days. We start racing tomorrow, and I’m not nervous, scared, or restless. I think I’ll merely be relieved when it’s over. Our opening stage is a 1.2km prologue, followed by close to 800kms of racing and with some difficult terrain I wouldn’t mind being a climber right about now! The remaining members of our team arrived in Castronno this week in Carlee Taylor, Sarah Carrigan and Nikki Egyed. Carlee has been here since Monday, which has given her and I plenty of time to reacquaint and be our normal selves again (pictured below), while Sarah and Nikki arrived late Thursday. Hopefully the Giro is first-class, and instead of shared bathroom facilities, hand washing and no supplied bedding, maybe we can be pampered elite athletes instead =)
My week on the bike has simply been recovery from testing at the Mapei - human performance lab. My first experience at the centre saw me learn how to count in Italian, another approach for flooding the stationary bike in sweat, and a new pain tolerance for lactate ear pricking! Skinfolds and haematocrit levels are easily tested and are almost painless, our submax test on the other hand is designed to hurt a little. It’s a step test performed on a stationary bike that measures your heart rate and power output. Starting at 100 watts, the power is increased by 25 watts every 3 minutes as a lactate sample is taken from the ear. This continues until your lactate reaches 6m/mol. Unfortunately, reading 5.9m/mol, as I did, means you must complete another level…which had me up at 12m/mol! Unlucky or karma? Today was void of sweat, with the team able to laze around in Varese centre after photos with the mayor (pictured below).
The U19 Junior World boys (pictured below: Me, Michael Matthews, Alastair Loutit, Michael Hepburn, Leigh, Michael Freiberg, Tiff) provided us with a short spout of entertainment this week. On Tuesday, Hepburn, Freiburg and I headed down to the garage in search of a long lost rainbow inflatable swimming pool, measuring 2 metres in diameter. After a bit of a rinse, a degrease, a scrub, and three more rinses it was time to blow it up. ‘Blowing’ up the pool soon turned into ‘pumping’ up the pool, which turned into ‘taping’ up the pool with a whole roll of masking tape. Half filling the pool took a solid half hour, before bathing in the pool was able to take place. In the end, the pool wasn’t even that great! But it was the feeling of success that mattered in the end. Unfortunately, today I had to empty it, which took almost as long as it’s assembly, and resulted in an extra hole that I will now have to tape up on return!
There have been other nightly approaches to the increasing temperatures. Vicki initially started out sleeping with the fan on, then realized the breeze that develops overnight from the cool air outside is much nicer. So a mosquito net was sent from home in Australia so that she wouldn’t get eaten alive with the window open. When we have to close the window during overnight storms, I find Vicki scattered across the cold tiles in the lounge! For the U19 boys upstairs the heat is worse, but now that they have departed for a tour across Italy, we no longer have to pity them. After taking out the first stage and holding onto the yellow jersey, confidence levels will be high for the coming World Championships in South Africa for them. Well I hope you all enjoy watching the Tour de France while we girls suffer in our own miniscule version of the Pyrenees, and I trust that you all have your fingers crossed for us!