Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bid for Beijing : the Big News....



Ok, so here it is...the big goal for 2008 I was holding out on: Matt King and I will be vying for a spot on the US team for the Paralympics in Beijing this coming September.
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Matt is a blind cyclist from Colorado Springs and has been to 3 Paralympic games. He claims he is a track specialist, but I would argue that he seems to be a great "all around" rider. He found me to be his "endurance" pilot....so the events he will focus on with me are the pursuit and the road time trial. Of course I sure would like to do the road race as well.
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So Matt arrived here in Asheville last wednesday night. I picked him up at the airport in Charlotte....complete with 2, yes 2 tandems (one road, one track). We started riding on thursday of last week and it immediately felt great. We hit the track for the first time on monday and had some good speed as well. This weekend we headed down to the Tundra TT near Atlanta GA to give ourselves a real full on performance test. We rode early in the rotation and did the 9.5 miles in 20:28. Not bad at all. I went out about an hour later solo and pulled a 20:07....but I was beaten for the win by just one tenth of a second! The conditions were perfect for fast times and my power for my solo run was about 4% lower than last year for a time almost 50 seconds faster! Not sure how much time doing that first effort on the tandem cost me, but I don't care, it was a great day all around...Cara had a great ride too, for the fastest women's time of the day.
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Back to the Paralympics subject: So Matt will have been here for 2 weeks by this wednesday when he heads home. We know we have some serious training to do, but I think the prognosis for making the team for the games is pretty good. The qualification process is a little complicated and confusing....but there are time standards that need to be met regardless. I think we can smoke the road TT time standard, and I hope we can get the pursuit standard as well. I will need to do a lot more anaerobic work this spring.
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So that is the latest....and for me this is really an exciting prospect. I have already learned so much working with Matt. Honestly I can't say that I had ever had much interaction with anyone who is blind before. I was a little nervous at first, now of course I have no idea why, and the riding part was soo much easier than I thought it was going to be. Heck, I have to give Cara as much information while she is stoking the tandem as I do for Matt.....and Matt doesn't yell at me to slow down on fast winding descents :)
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I will post much more about our quest and what we need to do to get to Beijing. This is really just the beginning of what will probably be to say the least, an interesting adventure.....
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Chack out more info on the Paralympics here: http://www.usparalympics.org/

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Andy, A Dutch friend of mine who now lives in Andrews, has been to (several?) Olympics as a Tandem captain for a blind rider as well. He races cyclocross with the old men in NC as well.
Good luck, Martin

process improvement said...

Thanks alot for a fine read. I love reading about the Olympics and various aspects of these amazing athletes.

Hall of Fame Producer said...

Andy,

Great story. Say hello to Matt for me. I was with him and the rest of the Paralympians in 1996 as a pilot with Stephen Aukward.

Andy, I met and talked with you in Southern Pines, NC at a recent cross race. I coach as well. However, I specialize in rider/bike positioning. Maybe someday we can collaborate and do a clinic. I am all about helping the coach and the athlete. My fulltime gig is being a college prof, so I only have time to coach a few athletes at one time. But, I will do as many rider analysis sessions as possible. My website is: www.velosmart.com, phone is (910) 528-4365.

My Best to you, Matt, and your clients this year.

Sincerely,
Greg Combs