Sunday, June 15, 2008

Landed in Suisse

I’ve made it to Leysin and after a few sick days, I’m getting my wheels under me. I guess doing Alcatraz then flying SF/SD/Phi/Zurich and riding trains with three transfers including a missed one) and a trolley will knock you a little sideways.

The town is tiny, built on a hillside, and is very quiet. There has been some grey, cold and sometimes rainy weather these first few days here to remind me of Seattle. I’m bunking in a little room of a chateau in Leysin with my wife and getting accquainated with the place, replacing my “howdys” with “bonjours.” I knew most of Donna’s teammates and were glad to see them after having seen them in the Philippines, but got a chance to meet Andrew Johns and Chrissie Wellington for the first time, both of them are very nice. They’ve now gotten used to seeing me reclined in a beach chair, pulling down a wireless signal from my laptop at the pool as they churn out 5,000 meters for their their morning workout. Or in the case of yesterday, 10,000 meters. That’s right, six miles of swimming. The guys were given 4,000 or so meters of swimming, and a long ride, and shook their heads after they got out, looking on as Chrissie, Erika, Donna, Belinda, Rebecca, and Hillary cranked their arms over to the tune of 100 100s. And Hillary did half the workout with band on, no paddles.

The boys would come up and chat as they headed home after their swim. Justin and I quipped that he could get home, grab a bite, kit up and do his long ride, and still have time to come back to pick up Belinda. Brett came up and gave me a bit of insight and analysis of each of the women as they swam, their strengths and weakness and how he organized their training to their morphologies, genetics, strengths, limitations and desires. While every one of the women in that lane are long-course pros, each has a different regime. All are built and trained for endurance, but some have speed that would be counterproductive to the others. And those with speed would have issues with the higher volume of the ones absent the top-end speed. And watching his charges, Brett can discern the difference, and can thus structure the program to the athlete. There’s no one-size-fits-all program in a binder that Brett goes by. He knows his athletes so well, he knows how to best set them up for races, and what races to focus on. I'm so glad Donna's under his watch. I can't name another coach with this much day-to-day interaction. No emailed programs here.

And Brett made another point: it’s all quite simple. He has a limited amount of age groupers he coaches for a fee, and they can’t believe they’re not doing 5 x whatever intervals at VO2max, or doing wattage intervals on the bike. Training is as simple as getting the right workout—for you—and doing the miles. There’s a lot of quantity here, but there’s a lot of quality too.

And the focus here is second to none. I thought the Philippines was isolated. This trumps it. There is nothing here to distract, so the team simply trains, eats and sleeps. The food at the grocery is pretty simple and wholesome, lots of fruits, veggies. The only downside is all the smoking by the locals in the cafes and restaurants.

Back in the water, all I heard was the drone of water splashed all through the workout, but was startled when I heard a “woo-hoo” at the end of the pool—it was Belinda and some of the rest of the girls cheering their finish of their marathon swim. Brett’s attempt at quieting Belinda by wearing her out failed miserably. You can read about their intrasquad escapades and chatter (and even chime in with the athletes) this link.

Today I rode with Donna down the mountain to Aigle as she did her run for the day, and I kicked around town. Glad I’m feeling better, as I am excited to do some rides on my own and explore. Friday I’m riding down the mountain and south along the valley for a few hours to a town called Verbier to catch the finish of the sixth stage at the Tour de Suisse. Sunday I’ve been invited to a press camp at Von Rutte Gut by Schwalbe tires and DT Swiss. I hope to perhaps visit with Morgan Nicol with Oval Concepts while here as well. It’s amazing how much bike business originates out of this country—Schwalbe, Oval Concepts, DT Swiss, Cervelo, BMC and Canyon all have bases here.

As I wind down for the evening, all Donna can think about is tomorrow hitting the bakery for the fresh, hot bread tomorrow, her one vice while here. I’m waiting to have my first crepe, but there’s lots of time to get into the cuisine.

1 comment:

Sugar said...

Thanks goodness for tax right offs! lots of business for you to do. race press, company party's.
Sounds like a good time you are having.

Whata treat to have one of the best coaches in the world chatting to you. bloody priceless!

enjoy ur time! soak it all up!