Ironman and Author Rhys Chong is interviewed by The Running Bug and talks about working with a professional Team to achieve his goals

Author, Physiotherapist and Ironman, Rhys Chong describes how he completed an ironman using his own team of professionals. Whether it’s 5k or an ironman you can boost your chances of success by training like an elite.

ironmanWinning a Gold Medal at the Olympics, winning the Tour de France or winning an Ironman are spared for the elite athletes of the world. Every sport has its unique demands, but there is one goal all athletes strive for … to be the “best he/she can be”.

Whether you are a professional or an amateur, there are aspects of trainingwhich can help you be the “best you can be”. The key is to have a team of specialists who work specifically for you. Bradley Wiggins, Chrissie Wellington, and Sir Chris Hoy all have a team of professionals guiding them to success.

I completed my Ironman and had a team of professionals working with me. I knew if I wanted to be the “best I could be” I would need coaches for different parts of my training. In my team there was a training coach, swim coach, bike mechanic,nutritionistmental conditioning coach, massage therapist, physiotherapist, and pilates instructor.

Each member of my coaching team had their role to play at various stages in my year of preparation for the Ironman. My training coach directed the overall training plan and as my strength and technique improved, with the help of other specialists, I focussed on work with my mental conditioning coach. I did have injuries during the year but they were minor. It helped to condition my body with gym work and pilates. The expert physiotherapy treatment and massage therapy I received allowed me to train six days a week.

Elite athletes will train in cycles of four years in preparation for the Olympics. The focus of their team is to have them at peak performance for that one race, on that one day that really counts. This could be your “A” race for the year when you want to set a PB (Personal Best).

My advice is to plan your training with your coaches. Your entire physical and mental preparation will be for your “A” race. The synergy created by pinpoint focus on your “A” race will create incredible results.

There are multiple benefits to having a team of coaches. Your coaches are with you from the beginning of your journey through to crossing the finish line. They know how you “tick”, and can provide you with emotional guidance and motivation, in the good times and the bad. Your training can be adapted to fit with what is happening in your life. When it really matters, we all want to talk to people and training is no different.

 

Tri Coaches to try:

www.physical-edge.com.

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Top 5 tips to making your Ironman a reality

Racing your own First Time Ironman

The Ironman is a 3.86km swim, 180.25km bike ride and a marathon raced in that order without a break. I pondered for 10 years about entering the Ironman, but my fear of not being good enough proved to be a  great  mental block. I remember the day I made the decision to overcome my fear. It took one second and started an incredible journey all the way to the finish line of the Switzerland Ironman.

 

Since completing the Ironman I have encouraged, empowered and assisted several first time Ironman athletes to complete what they call the greatest achievement of their lives. My book, First Time Ironman was published this year www.physical-edge.com and my blog was voted Top 10 Blog by Newtotri.com.

 

Completing an Ironman is more than a physical race. I learnt how to develop an athletic body and transform my nutritional habits. I developed a strong mind-set to win and mastered how to achieve unimaginable goals. I created empowering new beliefs which changed my life forever.

 

Top 5 tips to making your Ironman dreams a reality

 

Making the decision

Nothing is worth starting until you have entered the race. Once you have entered you will feel a weight lifted off your chest, as the decision has been made. I can guarantee everything will then fall into place.

 

Team is everything

Having a team of professional coaches work for you is like having a family supporting you along every step of the way. Working with humans and not computer programs gives you better flexibility with training, as it can be adapted to what is happening in your life on a day to day basis i.e. work, family, injuries, illness. Most people like talking to people when things really matter and training is no different

 

Family, Friends and charity

Your training is your own responsibility, but when it comes to motivation, fun and inspiration  on the day of the race, family, friends and having a greater cause to race for, is everything. Hearing cheers and giving high ‘5’s will boost your spirits for another lap of the race course. People will want to support you on your challenge and a charity helps those people who cannot be at the race feel involved.

 

Passion

Let passion for your new challenge drive you to learn and enjoy your sport even more. Talk to other triathletes, buy good quality equipment and be disciplined in training. The race will become a proud part of your identity. Capture the race with photographs and video.

 

Visualisation

Successful athletes use visualisation to enhance the enjoyment and success of any race. You can work with a mental conditioning coach to visualise your entire race; from pre-race, race and post-race. You can imagine yourself getting through the tough times in the race; what you say to yourself, what you do and what it feels like to get through it.

 

Use these top 5 tips to race an Ironman successfully. Remember to enjoy the journey and if you would like help to race your first Ironman get in touch with us at www.physical-edge.com and don’t forget to read First Time Ironman also available at www.physical-edge.com. Remember: Dreams = Action = Life.

 

Interview: Rhys Chong about First Time Ironman book

First things first – completing an Ironman Challenge is no New Years Resolution. When did you suddenly realise that you wanted to become an Iron Man, after no prior training?
 
The Ironman had been a dream of mine for 10 years. The distances in an Ironman seem impossible but this made it more exciting. I saw athletes in there 70’s and 80’s complete the race, athletes with half a functioning kidney fight to the end, and amputee athletes limp over the finish line.  I keep videos of these hero’s on my website http://www.physical-edge.com They all inspired me and I decided it was time for me to step up and stop thinking about it. I had a friend who became my coach and he promised to help me. Knowing I had his support, I made the decision to do the Ironman and entered. 
 
What do you think planted the seed of the challenge in your mind?
 
I worked in a gym as a Physiotherapist and there were two personal trainers who did Ironman. I already wanted to do an Ironman, but with their coaxing and hearing their stories the idea grew more and more. The more questions I asked them the more I got excited about the idea.
 
Why did the Ironman challenge draw you in?
 
It was a challenge beyond my comprehension. It seemed totally irrational and inhuman to do, and yet by watching the youtube videos (www.physical-edge.com) I was captured by the enormity of the task. Watching  Ironman athletes cross the finish line in total euphoria was incredible. I wanted to do that and I wanted to be an Ironman.
 
You’ve had – and have – an amazing career in physiotherapy – you recently started your own physiotherapy business in 2007 Why that line of work?
 
I believe people are gifted with certain natural talents which do or do not fit with his/her chosen career. If you can find out what you do best and choose a career which matches your talent, then everyday you wake up and are excited about going to work. I had wanted to be a Physiotherapist since I was 12 years old. I naturally enjoy being around people and hearing how well they are doing in life. I have good sense of touch which is important in Physiotherapy and I love sport. These Olympics are dangerous as I find myself glued to the television all day.  I enjoy helping others and having my own business allows me to be creative in how I work as a Physiotherapist. I was going to be an Artist or a Physiotherapist, so having a creative outlet is even more fulfilling. You can see a video on http://www.physical-edge.com which gives more insight into my passion for Physiotherapy.
 
How did your line of work influence your decision (and success) in completing the Switzerland Ironman?
 
I have treated professional athletes in sport and work with amateur athletes. I have a passion for endurance events like the Ironman and Tour de France. In these events there are many injuries. I like the “buzz” of having an injury to heal in a tight time schedule, as happens when an event is coming up. Endurance athletes often get injured when they are doing their longest training sessions. This can be 3-4 weeks away from a big race. This is when the pressure is on to perform as a Physiotherapist. My contact with endurance athletes excited me and increased my desire to race an Ironman.
 
 
How did you stay focused and commit to the challenge once it had been finalised? 
 
The best way to commit to anything is “burn the bridge behind you”. Once I had made the decision to enter the Ironman I entered online immediately. I made the commitment by paying £450 and registering for my first Ironman. The bridge was burned and I could not go back. Once I was committed, all I could do was look forward and find a way to make it all happen. I think the greatest driver to keeping me focussed was the fear of not finishing the Ironman.  Everytime I thought about the race it frightened me and spurred me on to train and stay focussed.
 
What drove you to complete the challenge?
 
Every Ironman believes he/she will do anything to finish the race. I was committed 100% to get to the finish line no matter what happened. The pain was bad in the last 20km of the race but I was not going to stop running. I think this belief is developed in long hours of solo training in the cold and wet months of winter. I forced myself to train hard in these conditions and if I had made this sacrifice then I was going to get to the finish line of the Ironman.
 
What were you thinking from one stage to the next?! Did your mind wonder to what you were going to have dinner, or did it focus on the pain?!
 
My mind was focussed on my race plan. I had worked with a mental conditioning coach prior to the race. I had created a visualisation of my entire race, including breakfast and celebrating at the end. It is a type of hypnosis and I knew exactly what I had to do for each stage of the race. I only focussed on what I had to do next, so very short term. If I did have a moment to relax e.g. on the bike leg, I took the opportunity to enjoy the moment and really appreciate the fact I was actually racing the Ironman. I wanted to enjoy the race and capturing the scenery in Switzerland was breath taking.
 
Your words when you crossed the finish line?
 
YES!!!!!!! I was euphoric. I sounded like I was about to charge the enemy in war. The crowds were cheering and I was ecstatic. I screamed a war cry all the way down the finishers shoot to the finish line.
 
Was there ever a moment during the challenge when you worried about the lengths you were stretching your body?
 
At one stage on the bike my left knee kept subluxing, as the muscles on the outside of my leg had got so tight it was pulling my knee cap laterally with each stroke of the pedal. It was sharp pain and I had to keep my leg moving in a straight line to control the knee cap. I was worried about running the marathon next.
 
Your book ‘First Time Ironman’ launched this month – a tick in the box, life long ambition, or did you write it ‘just because…?’ 
 
I wrote the book because I now help business men and woman, entrepreneurs and celebrities train and complete an Ironman in 1 year. The book was designed to give first time Ironman athletes an appreciation of training for the race and the race itself. I wanted to know what it was like to train and race an Ironman and I know others would to.
 
What would you like your readers to gain from it? 
 
I want readers to see that racing an Ironman is achievable even with running your own business and having relationships. If you commit to racing the Ironman the rest will fall into place. It is key to have a great team of coaches and medical staff to help you. The book gives you an insight into how I used my team not only to have a great race but also a fantastic experience. 
 
How did you find running your business whilst simultaneously writing your book?
 
It was tough at times but being super planned made all the difference. I worked with my coach on a weekly basis to get the timing right and when my work got too much we altered it. 
 
It’s a pretty intense life you seem to lead! Hows the social life?!
 
Social life did take a back seat but when I did go out everyone wanted to hear about my training and were inspired by my plan. They wanted to donate to the charity I supported and in some ways I met people I never would have met without doing the Ironman. My coaching team are now great friends and they all came to my wedding.
 
What do you do to unwind in the evenings, or is unwinding unnecessary?
 
I will watch television or a movie and eat good food.  I enjoy life so I actually like doing things to relax to. I find working on my business and being creative or cycling 3-4 hours relaxing.
Your Ironman team helped Diccon Driver finish his Ironman challenge despite awaiting a kidney transplant.
 
How did it feel to a part of that monumental achievement?
 
Diccon is an inspiration to us all. His story is immense. I am proud to say I trained with Diccon and I think he will be the first Ironman who has had a kidney transplant. I am honoured to help Diccon and I am excited about his future race plans.
 
What are your plans for the future? Any more challenges?!
 
I have just had a baby so my new Ironman is taking care of her. This is an Ironman for life. I still go for bike rides and race team triathlons but my days of racing long distances have to take a back seat. I would love to do another Ironman with my children one day. Maybe when I am really old I will inspire them to race an Ironman.

Toby Sullivan is planning to do an Ironman next year. Follow his route to the big race; his decisions about training, experiences and advice

My name is Toby Sullivan, I’m a Physiotherapist and as of 2012 I’m a triathlete.

I decided that 2012 was the year that I went from someone who does triathlons to ‘a triathlete’. I entered my first triathlon about 6 years ago and have probably done 10 since then but training has always been along the lines of run sometimes, cycle to work a bit and swim…if needed. It has never had any structure. The hope is that by upgrading my status to triathlete, entering a few triathlons and setting goals for this season and beyond will give me more motivation to undertake a (slightly more) specific training program.

Race 1

Paris Marathon – April

Not a triathlon I know but to run a fast marathon you need a fast 10k so it’s got to help a bit… The plan started late in 2011, a friend Tim and I who raced our first marathon in Berlin 2010, decided to enter marathon number 2. My first winter of training was surprisingly easy. Being mostly a fair weather athlete I was surprised how mild the winter was (when I was out training anyway) certainly nothing leggings, gloves and a hat didn’t resolve. It was also inspiring to see a huge number of people out running presumably preparing for their own Spring marathons.

I managed 2 months of base training in October and November building to 2-3 10k runs a week. I also managed 6 x 100k+ cycles during these 2 months as well as the usual 6 hours of weekly commuting by bike.

December was wiped out with injury, illness and Christmas so the formal 14 week marathon program started on January 9th.

In 2010 I finished Berlin in 3h19m, I ran it with no idea of pacing but fortunately I started at the back of the 4-hour group so was held up in the crowds for the first 10k. As a result I felt relatively fresh towards the end, there was no wall and I ran the second half a bit faster than the first half…. This style of pacing was definitely something to try to take to the next race.

For Paris I found a training program that was light on mileage and I made it even lighter. I settled for 3-4 runs a week. The 3 essential sessions being (in simple terms) one slow, long session, one fast session and one really fast track interval session. In technical terms this is meant to correspond to endurance building, lactate threshold pace and VO2 max.

The more I looked into training schedules the more it seemed you pick your marathon target time then work backwards to find training times and schedules (within reason). I thought 3 hours which equates to 4.15/km would be a nice round number so I began training for that.

I built the long runs up to 20 miles and completed 3 of these all within 10% of marathon pace – approx 4.30/km.

I completed weekly tempo runs which ranged from 8-15km. Generally these were to be completed at 4mins/k pace.

To see how I was doing along the way I entered a few races or 10km, 10 miles and half marathon. These gave me an accurate (looking back at my time) indication of how my training was going.

My race times were as follows:

10k 38.22
10m 1h04
HM 1h26.13

Each of these when put in to the race calculator, there are many out there, I used one called MARCO. It put me just outside the 3 hour mark and they were right!

I finished in 3h02m25s

The running was good, next the cycling. Having managed 6 long rides in October/November subsequent cycle training consisted of commuting. So to make it useful I would incorporate interval sessions. On one commute there are 3 or sometimes 4 sections where you can blast it between lights and get an open run for up to 3 minutes so this is where my intervals come in!

What does Chrissie Wellington, four times world champion, say about her journey so far in Ironman?

Physical Edge attended a TCR exhibition (triathlon, cycling, running) to hear Chrissie Wellington speak about her life in triathlon, and where she is heading with her career. Chrissie recently released her latest book called ‘Life Without Limits – a World Champion’s Journey’ and Physical Edge was able to purchase an autographed copy. Chrissie presented for one hour and spoke on topics such as pressure; achieving new highs in ironman sport; and her early days of racing. She also gave an analysis of herself and why she was successful as a world ironman champion four times over.

It was interesting to see the psychology behind Chrissie’s success. She suffered bulimia as a teenager and was never a successful athlete until 5 years ago, when she entered an ironman contest. She does not come from a family of successful athletes, and only came to the sport of ironman after a coach saw her potential.

Chrissie may not have had the normal athletic childhood that other world champions have, but what she does have is an internal drive which is relentless. She has always wanted to be the best that she could be in everything that she does. She works hard and never gives up. She achieved high academic honours in high school and university, and achieved the highest score ever in her university for a degree of economic geography. She was a civil servant before coming to ironman, when a coach saw her and asked to her to try out for triathlon. Within a 5 -10 month period she became the world ironman champion.

Chrissie finds it very difficult to relax. She is someone who is on the go 100% of the time; this characteristic has helped her achieve great things in her life so far. She says that the key to her success is being able to better manage this incredibly insatiable hunger for self improvement. Chrissie has had 2 very different types of coaches – one coach who took control of her training and another who empowered her. She has benefitted from both these types of coaching, and recognises the importance as well of friends and family – along with other ironman athletes who are non-professionals – as major sources of inspiration and emotional support.

Chrissie describes herself with ‘a mind like a bullet’ – unable to rest, constantly analysing herself, and very self critical. In her book she describes how she has managed her natural tendancy for self control; her first coach said she would only be a success in ironman if she chopped her head off.

In the last 5 years Chrissie has achieved the most that you could achieve as an ironman athlete. She is a 4 times world champion, has set the fastest world record and broken this herself. There are very few men that can beat her in the ironman distance. Triathlon has been the axis of her life so far: this year she has decided to take a year out of competing to find balance in her life. She has completed this book, is doing work for charity and will be involved in the Olympics in some commentary form. She reports she could not continue ironman and find balance in her life because this would mean compromising her training and racing – and she was not prepared to do this. She does intend to return to ironman in a year’s time, and who knows how good she will be at this point?

The advice Chrissie has for ironman athletes is to redefine perfection:’There is no such thing as perfection – you can only be the best that you can be: learn from the bad races, as this is where you learn how to improve yourself: avoid linking all your emotional well being to your performance (in other words, just be the best you can be on the day).’ She is a great believer in overcoming fear; in fact she confronts it face on and says ‘jump through the fear’!

Her final tips on the mental side of training and pain are: visualisation; associating music with landmarks in your race (going to the race course in advance and playing the music at those points, so that you become familiar with it on race day); creating positive self images of you crossing the line, having food at the end, friends around you etc; having a positive mantra (hers is ‘never give up’); and breaking the race into chunks so that mentally it is not so daunting.

A quote that Chrissie has taken from Lance Armstrong, which enabled her to get through times of great adversity is: “Quitting will last forever, but the pain will fade.”

If you are inspired to do an ironman contest contact Physical Edge at http://www.physical-edge.com

Ex professional cyclist gives advice on Act 2 Etape de tour 2011

Stage 9: Issoire to Saint-Flour

 

I’ve written this note about the way I would do it so if I say some obvious things I apologise. The first step we would be put through would be to have ridden a couple of the highest mountains, or ones with a similar ascent and height, prior to the day. This allows you to find the right rhythm, pace and gear for that type of mountain. You probably can’t do that unfortunately but it was a huge advantage for someone like me who wasn’t a mountain climber.

The stage is 208km and has 8 mountain climbs, with 3 being a level 2. The two longest climbs come at 91.7km and 146km. The good news is that the mountains at 116km, 127.5km and 139.5km are tough but short climbs, as you are already up the mountain range somewhat.

Prior to the first climb (at 40.1km) focus your mind on getting the rhythm right, get yourself to be absorbed by the bike – you and the bike are one. You are not on the bike, you and the bike are the same – a machine that can go all day.

There is an initial climb of 3.4km at 40.1km (753m). Stay with the bunch but keep well in the middle. It is unlikely that the bunch will split at this point.  If it does it is likely to be a small breakaway: the peloton will almost certainly stay together. Keep within a bunch so you have riders on both sides, in front and behind.  This gives some protection if there is a wind and also provides a measure as to how you are doing. Use this first ‘hill’ to get your position right for climbing, test your legs and test the gear combinations that seem right. Move in and out of the saddle and let your body and legs get used to the traction. The rhythm for the climb is within your whole body – arms, back head, legs etc. The whole body has a rhythm that keeps the legs turning despite the pain.

Keep within a bunch through to the start of the first nasty one – the Col du Pas de Peyrol (1589 m and a 7.7km climb to 6.2%.) You aren’t out to win this race and you must keep at the back of your mind that the last big climb starts at 146km – a long way away and you must be in shape when you arrive at that one.. The Col du Pas starts at 90.8km: make sure you have got yourself into a mindset of pain acceptance but knowing you will come through it. [I found this invaluable.] You have about 30 kms after the Cote de Massiac to ensure you have a smooth rhythm. Don’t talk unless you really have to, don’t socialise, just focus on the task ahead. Visualise the climb and how you are going to make it up as easy as possible (not easy but easy as possible;) visualise your legs moving in a steady rhythm; embed the feeling that you’re a part of the bike, not riding it but part of one machine, you and the bike.

When the climb starts keep within a bunch for as long as you can. Do not share the lead unless you really have to. Swing in towards the rear but not at the very end of the bunch. Keep adjusting your gears to ensure you have a steady rhythm in the legs. Focus on the rhythm of your movements. Do not look up; focus your eyes on the immediate road ahead (I used around 10 metres); do not think about how far you have come or to go. Get into an almost robotic rhythm – get your mind into a state where it excludes all thoughts of the end of the climb and is fixed on the immediate bit of road you are on (say 10 metres ahead.).  Think of each 10 metres as a success as you move through it. When you turn a corner do not look ahead to the next unless it is within your immediate sight line of 10 metres.

If you can’t stay with the bunch do not give up or cease the rhythm. Try and find a rhythm that still keeps you moving up the mountain. Form your own bunch and work together if possible.

Once at the top (and you will make it) DO NOT use energy in chasing those who might have got ahead. You have 3 smaller climbs over 40 km. and two are at 7.9% so do not under rate them Descend in a way that allows you to reset your legs, get your breathing under control, drink and eat if necessary, Follow the same approach on the shorter climbs. The critical issues are rhythm and mind set – do not allow the thought of giving up even enter your mind. Focus on the immediate road. I used to say to myself “That’s another ten; that’s another ten” all the way up.

You need to prepare for the last big climb. You come off the Cote de la Chevade at 139.5km and start climbing again around 148km so you have only 8.5km to get in shape. This is an 8km climb at 6.1% – nasty. Now start to move your mindset to the finish. When you cross over this one you have a nice long decline with a few bumps and then a couple of hills to climb. Although you still have 54km  to go from the top of Col de Prat de Bouc the worst is over. You can afford to really suffer on this one if you have to. If you are struggling, and the legs are in pain, try and find a rhythm that maintains but doesn’t increase the pain – mindset again is vital. Tell yourself that your legs can make it; they have made it to here. “Another ten behind me; and another ten. And another ten…” Don’t try and keep up with anyone on this mountain if it is draining your energy. Set your pace, your rhythm and focus on the10 metres ahead. Do not look up – 10 metres at a time is all you have to cover at any point. Keep in your mind the worst is over once you cover the top of this mountain – then it is downhill mainly and home.

Rhys,

This might sound a bit ‘new age’ but it is how I did it.  I studied the route of each stage well before the event. The night before a mountain stage I looked at a map of the route, thought about each mountain, thought about the pain I would suffer based on previous mountain climbs that were similar. I visualised what I would seek to do on each based on the length of the climb and the gradient. I also made sure I had a plan in mind if I stayed with a bunch and one if I was dropped. I was a very good descender but did not burn energy doing so (unless it was essential in terms of race position and the team.) You will burn a huge amount of energy on each mountain so conserve all you can off the climb. For the first 20kms or so focus on rhythm, on becoming part of the bike. Avoid distractions and keep your mind focused on those things alone. Do not think about the length of the stage at this point nor how long to go. Get yourself in a state that says “this is how I will ride, can ride, for as long as I need to – even if it is all day,”

Hope that helps.  That’s how I did it and hope there is something there that you can use. See you before the event anyway. Give me a call if you want to chat about anything in this. If it is crap then throw it away – I won’t be upset.

Regards,

Alan

Last 1.5 weeks of training before the Etape de tour 2011

The last week of training was a killer. My coach had me train 4 days in the week and a combination of long rides, time trials and medium distance rides in big gears to make my legs work harder. I then travelled to Switzerland to watch the Ironman and have come back to another 2 hour bike session.

I certainly hit my biggest weeks of training on the last two weeks and with cycling there really isn’t such a thing as an easy week. My coach had me ride 2 hours this week to keep my legs going and the day before the race there will be another 1 hour ride. I was tired at the end of last week and still feeling the affects of travelling to Zurich and getting up at 3am for the race preparation and race day.

It was good to get back on the bike with my riding partner yesterday and push hard. My body seemed to forget what pushing hard on the bike felt like.

I still need rest before the race and I have been crabo loading. My appetite has increased significantly with the amount of training I have been doing. I am eating pasta and rice with simple toppings to keep it easy on my digestive system. There will be a pasta pasty the day before the race and I am looking forward to eating well from here on in.

My racing bike is now in transit to France. My riding partner is taking it on the back of his 4×4 vehicle as he has a house in France. I am packing tonight and then off early to get to the airport on time. I have made a list of everything I need to take. It is vitally important to remember my medical certificate otherwise I would not get my race number to ride. I also arranged travel insurance with Snow Card. There are few companies providing full medical cover for bike races.

In the last three weeks I have been having problems with a loud noise coming from my bike when I ride up hill. I had my bike mechanic come to my house twice to sort it out and to change my gearing to a 34 on the front and 28 on the back. He changed the chain and also gave the bike a new pedal bracket. I tested the bike yesterday morning and it was still making a noise so I took it to Sigma sports where my bike mechanic works to have another look.

The noise was not coming from the pedal bracket it was somewhere around the steering column. He chose to lube the entire headset and we thought it was sorted but then I tested it and again the noise was present. This was getting frustrating and I was worried as I was giving my bike over for transportation to France that day.

I was testing the bike and then another Sigma bike mechanic heard the noise. He said it had to be the front wheel axle. He lubed the entire area around the axle including the connection with the front forks. Magic, the noise was gone. It showed me how difficult it can be to judge where noise is coming from on a bike and to lube the bike if it has been in the rain or not been serviced for a long time.

I am relaxed mentally and I am looking forward to the entire experience. I will be with 5000-6000 other riders and having a riding partner makes all the difference as it will be along day. I am expecting to do it in 9-10 hours. The professionals rode stage 9 on the weekend and there were some serious accidents. The wet road can be dangerous on the hairpin turns so braking carefully and slowing down is important.

This is it I am about to do the Etape de tour 2011. It has been tough training as the rides have been so long and I have worked at the same time. I am glad training is over and now I am ready to race. On my website I am posting the entire Act II guidance booklet from my tour company. It contains everything a rider needs to know. On the following blog I am also putting the analysis of the Etape stage by an ex-pro cyclist. I asked him to break the race down as if he was doing it and his insights have been extremely valuable.

I will read over advice from cycle fit, look at the course and then watch the Tour de France to prepare. It is surreal knowing I am about to take on a stage of the current Tour de France.