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Beach Road

July 29th, 2009 by abigailbayley

The imminent opening of the latest Bike Boutique in Melbourne got me thinking about one of the most popular city rides and its Swiss counterpart.

 

Our version of the Beach Road Ride travels out from Port Melbourne with the Spirit of Tasmania along the coast turning at the flashy resort of Sorrento, second beach home to the rich and famous! We fly through St Kilda venue for the Commonwealth Games Tri and fun fair through trendy Brighton and windswept Mentone, all the time hugging the coast making our way to Safety Beach. Steve told me they re-named this place Safety Beach because of all the shark attacks. Apparently they were trying to re-launch the image?? (Not sure if he was just trying to fool this silly pom?) Then its on through beautiful Mount Eliza with its amazing golden beaches and blue blue sea. You know you are nearly at the turnaround as you reach the strip malls of Portsea and smell the hot chips and burgers.

 

The ride is mainly flat but you are often dogged by a constant headwind or buffeted by a nasty cross wind. One magic day we timed our ride perfectly with a tailwind out and back. The wind just literally turned with us and blew us home towards the silhouette of the CBD seeming to float in the sea in front of us.

 

Of course no ride on busy roads is perfect and Beach Road is certainly dogged by a lot of traffic lights. It gets incredibly busy at the weekend too and you are quite likely to turn around and find a mini peleton sucking your wheel if you are not too careful! Not my favourite!!! Or join in the Hell Ride which sees literally hundreds of riders making the pilgrimage along the coast together on a Saturday.

 

Today I did the Beach Road Ride Swiss style … nowhere near the sea and certainly not in Melbourne but incredibly beautiful nevertheless.

 

To do any flat riding you need to descend 17km from Leysin down to Aigle and this is how my day began. Then its on through the windy valley until you get your first sight of the water (Lac Leman) surrounded by mountains. Quite stunning, it never fails to bring a smile to my face.

 

 

 

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First stop is Montreux home to the famous Jazz festival (and very delicious coffee!!). Then you cruise past vineyards perched on the side of almost vertical hillsides

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and Chateaux sitting imposingly on the lakeside.

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We turn at Lausanne, Olympic town and home to numerous Tri European and World Championships and some incredibly elegant waterfront architecture.

Two very different beach roads one very happy Cervelo riding triathlete!

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Super Filth

July 19th, 2009 by abigailbayley

In an effort to make life simpler and more healthy Steve and I decided to try and adopt the Super Food diet; packed full of vitamins and minerals and many other nutrients with amazing health benefits, it also makes life at the Co-op a whole lot easier.

 

Here are our top 5:-

 

1. Broccoli – also known as the “mega-super food” due to its cancer fighting properties, it also packs a mean vitamin C punch – and its not even orange!!!!

 

2. Blueberries, especially on oats. The blueberry is the fruit with the highest antioxidant capacity and can even fight ageing (good news as we are both getting on a bit). The oats provide complex carbs and fibre which slow the release of blood sugar providing a great slow energy source. No wonder I went to such trouble in Nice to try and find the elusive “flocons d’avoine” Apparently the French haven’t fully embraced the oat. Thanks mum for tracking them down!

 

3. Almonds – definitely raw and not roasted. Full of protein, fibre, minerals and deliciousness.

 

4. Avocado – (especially good on toast of the wholegrain variety). Full of good fats, fibre, Vitamin E and folic acid, it evens helps to reduce cholesterol.

 

5. Tea – no true Brit could leave out the national drink. Turns out it is good for us too … a rich source of antioxidants and also calming to this English persons nerves!!

 

Of course, not every bite can be super … so my top 5 filthy foods include:-

 

1. The doughnut, jammy and covered in sugar, perfection. Avoid the ring doughnut impostor, its jam or nothing.

 

2. The Mars bar – do like the Scots and deep fry it (not entirely sure about this) … also substitute for snickers, boost, twix …..

 

3. The mince pie. Americans seem to struggle with this one. No there is no meat in it, just sugar, fruit and lardy pastry. A Christmas delight with brandy butter.

 

4. My mum’s Victoria Sponge cake with jam and butter icing. So good it was the Dorchester County Show prize winner.

 

5. A cream tea – a West Country favourite – clotted cream and jam on a scone with a cup of tea. What more could you ask for?

 

Avoid the filth above at all costs if you want to be super.

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The chocolate medal, again

July 4th, 2009 by abigailbayley

Last weekend I experienced my first race of the year under truly clear blue skies. I have the sunburn and peeling skin to prove it!

The boss and I decided a few weeks earlier that I needed a good race to harden me up for my key race coming up later in the year. Ironman France, Nice seemed to fit the bill with a very tough bike course with over 5000ft of climbing. Lovely.

The swim was my first experience of a mass start. It can only be described as French arms and legs everywhere, mostly hitting the English girl. I remembered the boss’ advice about doing everything you have to to hang on (including punching and kicking – no biting this time) when I suddenly realised I should also be breathing. A minute of hyperventilating and panic later and I started to settle into a better rhythm and get going. I came out of the water 8 minutes behind the lead man which was an improvement on my Ironman Oz swim but there is still a lot of work to do.

Onto the bike and I was grateful for every uphill because it meant I wasn’t going downhill!!! Lets just say I am not a natural descender and it was frustrating to have girls pass me on the downhills. It made me very determined that I would have a good run however to make up for the time I had given away.

I hopped off my wonderful Cervelo P2 feeling almost as fresh as a slightly wilted daisy and set off at a solid pace I thought I could hold for the rest of the day. I ran as hard as I could passing a few girls early and picking off one more on the last lap. The run was a flat out and back x4, not very exciting but good for pacing. It was amazing to run through the turnaround and be lifted by the music and crowd, especially running past my mum and dad. My dad was even able to offer such useful advice as “smile!”. Thanks mum and dad.

on the run in the sun

on the run in the sun

All in all a solid race for me finishing 4th with a PB marathon and not melting in the sun … a chocolate medal (gold, silver, bronze, chocolate?????) earned, 4th again. I would love the real kind next time. Back to work for me!

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Back to my roots

June 16th, 2009 by abigailbayley

This past weekend I went back to my roots to race the UK 70.3 in beautiful Exmoor. This is the West Country at its best.

I flew into Bristol Airport and was immediately reminded of the unmistakable Bristolian twang. The West Country accent is a sound to behold!! As I walked into arrivals a little voice over the tannoy told us to “mind the stayyerrrrrrrrrs” (thats stairs to you).

From Bristol I travelled with my Dad into Exmoor past signs for strange and mysterious places like Dulverton, Shilingford, Withiel Florey, Wheddon Cross and finally Wimbleball Lake where the race was to be held. You know you are in Exmoor proper when your mobile phone loses all coverage this is deepest darkest Devon/Somerset. The roads are all narrow and windy and tree lined with high dense green hedges. Around any corner you can expect to see yet another pub housing the resident cider heads. Traditional cider (a West Country delicacy) also know as moonshine or rocket fuel is cloudy and evil and definitely best avoided the day before one of the toughest 70.3′s in the world.

Out driving the course the day we arrived we spotted Farmer Giles out on his rickety old bike (no Cervelo thats for sure). He was wearing a wax jacket and welly boots (you never know when the next downpour is coming) and was peddling furiously towards the steepest hill on the course (the technical definition of the hill I believe is “bloody steep”).

The race of course was wickedly hard with ridiculously steep climbs and technical descents (3000ft of climbling on the bike), a hilly and off road run and a somewhat chilly and fog bound swim (we started over an hour late due to the dense mist hanging over Wimbleball Lake).

My home, wonderful England at its eccentric best!

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Inspiration take 2

May 31st, 2009 by abigailbayley

I have always enjoyed the Christmas re-runs of the 100 best horror films or the 100 best singles of all time etc etc. I spent a lot of time in the silent study area at college, studying …. I ate my lunch in the language laboratory to listen to French TV …. All fine proof that I am a true geek. So in the spirit of this revelation I decided I wanted to share a few top 5’s with cyberspace and my first is inspirational sports performances.
England’s victory in the Ashes 2005 is my number 5 choice for capturing the attention of a nation and still being just dull old cricket. This is a controversial choice with Aussie and non cricket fan Steve. I too am normally horrified when my dad insists on watching another test match that seems to go on forever and that we are sure to lose or even worse draw! However, in the summer of 2005 the series really gripped the nation and I can distinctly remember literally sitting on the edge of the couch watching it. Impressive for cricket! And depressing too because after their greatest triumph the team proceeded to fall apart. Very British.

ASHES 2005
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4th on my list is Alistair Brownlee’s performance at the Beijing Olympics. The first time I saw this young man was at the Royal Windsor Tri. It is one of the biggest and most prestigious races in the UK and is often a selection race for one Olympic Distance Championship or another. First sight I got was a tall gangly looking boy out in front on the run ahead of all the top English contenders. He was just trying so hard and going so fast and it was such a surprise to me (and I am sure his competitors too). I had no idea who he was. Turns out he got caught but he was, I believe, just 17 at the time and this was possibly his first attempt at the distance. Fast forward a couple of years and he was doing the same thing at the Beijing Olympics. He doesn’t seem to care who else is on the start line he just goes for it. Turns out he got caught again … maybe he could have raced smarter but certainly not harder. Roll on 2012.

Paula Radcliffe‘s first senior title at the World Cross Country is number 3 on my list. She was the undisputed heroine of English distance running but always the also ran on the international stage until this race and it was normally her sprint finish, or people said her lack thereof, that let her down. She was always second best to the dominant Africans but in Ostend, Belgium in 2001 in all the mud and gore she fought back and won in a sprint finish no less! There is a photo of her that explains the emotion behind that win, relief and absolute exultation. Finally she has proven herself and in 2002 she unleashed her winning self in incredibly dramatic style most outstandingly with her 2.15 marathon world record.

The runner up for inspirational sports performance is a legend in my triathlon world. The Boss described Chris Legh as “all heart” and his performance in Kona in 1997 proved that statement beyond a shadow of a doubt. He literally pushed himself so hard that he needed surgery to fix him. The footage of his breakdown just hundreds of metres from the finish line is heartbreaking. Luckily for him he went on to sort out his hydration issues and still competes and wins at the highest level in triathlon today.

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My number one choice has to be Cathy Freeman’s victory at the Sydney Olympics 2000 . The pressure and expectations of both a nation and a people were on her shoulders. To see her run and win the 400m still gives me goosebumps. When she sits on the track at the finish she looks slightly lost and staggered not quite able to take in what she has achieved. She would never be the same person or athlete after this race.

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Lessons at the Chateau de StAbi, Swiss

May 31st, 2009 by abigailbayley
The Chateau de StAbi is Steve and my affectionate term for our shoebox size room in the Swiss Alps.  I think our first lesson learnt  is that so far we can survive in the smallest room in the world (or at least in Switzerland) and not want to kill each other (much) (yet) (!!!!). Good to know.
kitchen, lounge, bedroom

kitchen, lounge, bedroom

Next, cows in Switzerland really do wear bells! We often hear them on our way up to the pool or out on a run and you can’t imagine where they possibly could be. There they are though perched on a near vertical slope eating happily.

cow, bells, big mountains

cow, bells, big mountains

 It’s true the Swiss love cheese and fondu is a near obsession. Even the Chateau de StAbi came equipped with its own fondu machine!!

Easy rides are not easy in the Alps and even saying that I definitely prefer going up hills to down them. I am, as my dad liked to call me growing up trying to learn to rollerskate and ride a bike, a CHICKEN!

I need to pay better attention to vehicular traffic, trains and cars especially as both seem out to kill me if I am stupid enough to let them. Good job I got some sense bumped into me on Saturday.

they look friendly but really they are not

they look friendly but really they are not

Finally, the grass is greener on the other side of the fence but most of the time this is because it rains a lot! Luck is just luck, you choose whether it is good or bad.

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Inspiration

May 26th, 2009 by abigailbayley

 

 

 

 

 

I have always enjoyed the Christmas re-runs of the 100 best horror films or the 100 best singles of all time etc etc. I spent a lot of time in the silent study area at college, studying and I ate my lunch in the language laboratory to listen to French TV …. All fine proof that I am a true geek.  So in the spirit of this revelation I decided I wanted to share a few top 5’s with cyberspace and my first is inspirational sports performances.

England’s victory in the Ashes 2005 is my number 5 choice for capturing the attention of a nation and still being just dull old cricket. This is a controversial choice with Aussie and non cricket fan Steve. I too am normally horrified when my dad insists on watching another test match that seems to go on forever and that we are sure to lose or even worse draw! However, in the summer of 2005 the series really gripped the nation and I can distinctly remember literally sitting on the edge of the couch watching it. Impressive for cricket! And depressing too because after their greatest triumph the team proceeded to fall apart. Very British.

ASHES – 2005

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCTw6jfNaOE

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgStAPQhA3M

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwhJlgIy77o

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You know you are losing it when ….

May 23rd, 2009 by abigailbayley

… you start laughing quite hysterically at Steve’s very corny joke.

We have started a bit of a tradition of going to the co-op for a cold drink post training and sitting like slightly lost hikers on the steps outside enjoying the view of the Alps.  Well today we also bought some turkey …

ABI:  Shall we go then?

STEVE: Yeah we should leave before the turkey starts to go foul

ABI: Hillarious laughter for about 5 minutes.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear

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Quote of the day from the Swiss Alps

May 23rd, 2009 by abigailbayley
big mountains everywhere!

big mountains everywhere!

“Whenever I look up, all I see is mountain”.

Truer words have never been spoken!!!  The quote comes from a Swiss rider we stopped for directions on one of our “easier” rides.  We were looking for a road through the valley but he knew nothing about it … he pointed left to the col des mosses,  right to the col de la croix and straight on to the col du pillon.

I love it here!

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The Mother Country

May 18th, 2009 by abigailbayley

Training for triathlon in the UK is definitely doing it the hard way as I discovered on my 10 day trip back to the Mother Country en route to Switzerland. The Boss’ first email to me stressed just concentrate on not getting knocked off your bike. An instruction I was quite keen to follow. Well, mission accomplished. Of course I did ride the trainer almost every day … as much to avoid the rain as the traffic though. Yes, it did rain. A lot.

Steve and I also fell foul of the strictest pool in the world. No watches, you could take someone’s eye out, no paddles you might improve your swimming too much. Of course I did work at this pool as a lifeguard (possibly the worst year of my life so far) so I did get to enforce my fair share of rules and took great delight in throwing out unruly children (meanie I know). Thank goodness I was so miserable though otherwise I might still be there.

But being home also had a lot of plus sides.

My mum’s amazing cooking – she has made bread for the last 25 years and there is nothing quite like it.

The bike escort I get on every run – my dad loves it especially when I tell him we are doing the hilly route. He only has to get off and push twice these days.

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My dad in the weymouth rain

The old training grounds. I did a big run at The Marsh, a 1970′s cinder track where I trained as a schoolgirl and where I did my first 600m race in the SW Dorset Schools race and realised I could go quite fast. It was here I earnt the nickname Abi Long Legs.

Plus I have almost Wongstar status in Weymouth!! My old work and school friends and swim club buddies always want to know where I have been and what is next. I almost feel interesting especially with the exotic and devastatingly attractive aussie boyfriend in tow!!!

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Another high point is the tea. Tea only tastes right in Blighty. Not sure if this is because it compliments the miserable cold weather so well or because the tea/milk/water combo is different. Whatever it is back home I am an incurable tea addict.

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Tea? or a nap maybe?

Most importantly though I got to spend time with my lovely family who I don’t get to see as much as I would like. They have been instrumental in helping me try and achieve my dreams whatever they may be. To me, they are the mother country.

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