Friday, November 30, 2007

I needed a life vest today

Today is definitely not a memorable day. It started off badly when my chain snapped while riding to the track. So, I had to walk back a couple of kilometers to the hotel. Then when I eventually got to the track, freakin' team USA, who i was sharing space with, totally displaced me by moving the Philippine sign to the Porsche Aussie squad, and they in turn buried it somewhere never to be found. So I had no where to park my gear. It's the first time I felt alone here.

So I eventually just tagged along with Magnus. Then, I found out that I left my assos chamois creme at the hotel. Me and the boys just weren't comfortable from then on. And it gets more comical actually.

I got to the start line, and the chief commisaire said I had the wrong numbers on. They issued new numbers in the morning. He asked me if my team manager had them. Nope. I am the team manager, rider, mechanic, a bad one at that, massuer, and oh yeah, I'm riding too. Anyhow, this is the World Cup, the majors of track cycling, and he wasn't going to just let me in with the wrong numbers. So I ran to get the other set of numbers with my cleats on. The race was delayed 5 minutes, which pissed off the other teams.

I ran back, and 3 teams had to help me unpin, re-pin, and, oh, I needed a holder too since I was in the blue line. Japan stepped in to help me and we we're off for my first world cup race. Definitely, not an ideal start. And it went from bad to worse.

I was just spinning in squares-- must have been from all the walking, running. I don't know why but I just had no leg speed. When the attacking started, it was game over for me. Today, I felt like a Saturn car racing against Formula 1 cars. It was my worst track day ever. But, I finished and I tried with what I had today. I wasn't tired, just couldn't turn the pedals. Tomorrow is a new day and I'll try again in the Scratch and Kilo. But, I'm doing the Keirin. No sense in doing it without any leg speed. It would have been dangerous.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Points Race Heats

Gotta love my heat, the past 4 world champions are in mine - llaneras, Schep, Rybin, Newton, and toss in Magnus, to the mix for more hurt. Guess there are no easy heats at this level. Wish me luck.
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The Day before race day usually the most anxious & stressful day. And generally, the more I think about the race the worse i do. It's best just to kick it and have a lot of laughs. And that's what i did with my new composite team, Team Planet, of Lone Wolf Riders - Magnus Backstedt, 05 Paris Roubaix winner from Sweden, Kate, Commonwealth medalist from Scotland, and Louis, pro rider from Ireland. Our team manager is Martin Mcrossin, commentator for cycling TV and last yrs. Track worlds. He actually represented all of us at the managers meeting. Picked up our numbers and confirmed our entries. It's really cool to have some camaraderie with great riders I've just met.

Initially, I was worried it was going to feel a bit lonely here on my own, but not at all. It's a great community, and that's what I enjoy most about track. You really get to know many good people, cuz there's a lot of downtime b/w workouts, racing. Anyhow, I'm in a good mood since we spent the later part of dinner just telling some jokes, which I'll keep of the blog and will share in person. But one funny story Magnus said was about the Uruguay Madison team.

He said it's going to be a slaughter house for the madison heats. He couldn't believe it when he witnessed one of the Uruguay riders hanging on for dear life on the top railing between turn 1 and 2 in the steepest portion of the banking 42degrees, steep. The coach had to bail the rider from the top stands. Guess the rider was going too slow and freaked out. Can u just imagine it. I know how it must have felt for the Uruguay rider.

Sometimes I feel like I'm going to slide down the bank and take out everyone below me as though I was the bowling bowl and they were the pins. And it'll be an embarrassing strike and I'll get my butt kicked off the track. Yup, I would grab the rails too rather than slide down. Wish i had a picture of the blooper moment.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sydney - Training Session with the Russians and the French

There are over 500 athletes competing at this Sydney World cup. It is the most attended world cup ever. Everyone who rides a track bike really fast is here to qualify for Beijing. Joshiah Ng said that in 2004 it was easier to get UCI points for the Olympics. But now the field is alot bigger & the competition is tougher. That's great news for the sport. Not for me personally, but I get up for competition.

Speaking of competition, I was chillin in the hotel lobby with Magnus Backstedt. He too is riding solo for Sweden. There 6 other solo riders here. Ireland, Scotland, Finland, Sweden, China Taipei, and the Philippines, and we all share the same locker. Good to know i'm not the only lone wolf. Nonetheless, I'm proud to represent the Philippines. And a lot of the other federations I've talked too find it pretty cool that I'm here trying. Go Philippines they yell out loud. Guess they never seen a Filipino ride this fast or be as tall =).

I followed Mikel Bourgain on his flying 200. All I can say is that he is soo smooth. He doesn't look like he's trying but he's flyin. Not that big of a guy. Actually, most of the really fast sprinters aren't as big as the video makes them out to be. I have a photo of the Bos and I, and honestly, i looked bigger up top. And yes, my legs r bigger too. But i am waaaay slower. Size doesn't matter.

I almost got killed by the russian sprinter. I was getting started on my flying kilo and he was diving in for his 200 sprint and we barely missed. He said something in russian. And I said probably the same thing in English, fx@#. Then i also dropped in behind Ignatiev during the russian team pursuit, double disc and all. They were flyin, but i went around them on my last lap of my kilo effort. I think i may post a new kilo pr if i'm not too tired after the pts, keirin, scratch, then kilo. My starts are rockin. I did my first lap in 19.3 about 2 secs faster than my LA start at Natz. Hopefully, i'll do a 105+. The speed is coming back, finally, after all the weight session.

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My Olympic Dreams for the Children

As a member of the Philippine National Cycling team, I will be competing around the world in Sydney, Korat, Thailand, Los Angeles, Denmark, and Manchester to qualify for the '08 Beijing Olympics in track cycling. I am dedicating my Olympic pursuit to a charity serving poor children in the Philippines, and I need your help.

I am currently in Sydney, where I am getting ready for the 1st rnd of the World cup. I''ll be on the road, racing and promoting the charity for a month. It's already difficult and lonely being away from my family especially during the Holidays. Before I left home, my son, Payton, reminded me of the true purpose of my trip when he said, "Dad, you're leaving us to help the poor children, right?" I replied, "I hope so."

What I'm trying to achieve is more than just about biking. Hopefully, at the end of it all, whether I make it to the Olympics or not, we will have made a difference in the lives of poor children in the Philippines. Then, all the hard work and sacrifices will truly be meaningful.

Please support me along the way by donating to the charity. To donate and learn more about what I'm doing, simply go to:

Thank You!

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If I had one day in Sydney...

Where should i go? Well, that was the ? I asked my driver. Figured I might have Sunday to tour after the racing.

She said that I should definitely check out the Opera and alot of places are within walking distance from there. OR "Do u want to see Bush?" Ahhhh, i don't know what u mean. Even in Thailand they aren't that blalant about it. They ask if u want a massage first. So i figured it meant something else. She meant outback. But i told her what i iniatially thought she meant and we started cracking up. She then was nice enough to give me a brief aussie slang crash course.

I've also had a busy day with getting setup with my bikes and the workout for today. The coolest thing is that I worked out with the Dutch and Chinese teams today. And i did a couple of laps behind the Bos. Gotta eat now and catch the team bus back to the hotel and snooze! Long 2 days.
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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sink or Swim

I've always jumped into the deep end with alot of the things I've done in life. This Olympic pursuit is just another challenge I hope to rise up to.

One thing is for sure, i couldn't have done this on my own. There are so many people i'm forever grateful for their suppoprt and generosity. Robbie, Brian, Matias, Bill, Tim, Altamarano have all hooked me up with the equipment I need so i don't look so ghetto against the competition. Then there's Taylor, my chiropractor; Jay, head of IO-USA, altitide simulation, Mark, massage therapist and Vlad, my Olympic gold medalist Belarusan coach, who make sure I'm firing on all cyclinders. They make sure I'm physically in top shape.

There's my national coach, Jomel, who's taken care of my racing logistics and has warmly welcomed me into the National team. Then there's my great business partner, Ray, who's a great moral and financial support to this exciting adventure. As he says "Its just another validation that we have still not seen the best that life can offer." To do this at my not so young age, married, 2 children, a business to run, a mortgage to pay, well, it's all a bonus and proves that life does get better with age.

And most of all, i could not do this without my family's support. My aunts, cousins, my mom, and brothers have all given me so incredible support. I owe so much to them. And most of all, I owe everything to Jenna and the kids. They give me the courage and strenght to pursue this dream.

Sink or swim? Well with all the help i've been fortunate enough to receive, i feel like i'm already floating. Thank you everyone!

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Philippine Trip - Training with the National Cycling Team

Here's a quick recap of my 15 day trip

Day 1: 20 hr flight to the PI, where I sat uncomfortably in coach watching some bad movies and ate some not so good food. But I was excited about the trip and the time flew by, I actually was lucky enough to sleep most of the way. When I finally got to Manila, I was greeted by my aunt, grandpa, and the suffocating heat and pollution. But my aunt reminds me that this weather is actually cool for this time of the year. But coming from San Francisco, well this mild weather is like an inferno. Later that night, I went out to a cool bar to see TJ, the son of my host family, play with his band. I drank a few rounds of vodka tonic with the hope that it will knock me out for the night.

Day2: The vodka loading didn't work. I woke up at 3am with a hangover instead. And my jetlag was pretty bad since there's a 15 hr time difference b/w SF and Manila. I tried very hard to force myself back to sleep - blinders, ear piece, nothing worked. It was impossible. Later in the day, I met up with the team and coaches. Got the grand tour of the velodrome and housing facilities of the team. The velodrome was actually packed with people praying. It turns out that the team shares the velodrome with worshipers every Wed and the weekends. This means that we can only train during certain days/hours. Wouldn't want to upset God by interrupting a prayer vigil =)

Day 3 - 6: Hard Training behind a moto. We were doing 2 a day training sessions in the heat and smog. I was exhausted everyday. And the jetlag was killing me. My teammates are really strong, and I'm honored to be able to join this team of dedicated and talented riders. Most of my teammates, have ridden for the National team for a few years and have represented the Philippines in many prestigious international events like the Asian Games, Tour of Taiwan, Tour of Langkawi, SEA Games, etc. This year will be my first and I hope to make the most of it by qualifying myself and the team for the '08 Beijing Olympics and winning gold at the SEA Games.

Day 7: Day off. I spend the time visiting the charity that I'm helping out, The Philippine Childrens Fund of America PCFA. They have built a ranch 2 hrs from Manila in the outskirts of Clark, the former US Airforce Base. The ranch is a a unique biopreserve and a sanctuary for abandoned animals. It's a beautiful ranch located in the ancestral grounds of the Aeta community, who are the aboriginal people of the Philippines. The goal of the ranch is to create a sustainable community to help fund educational and feeding programs for the Aeta children and also the orphaned children in Clark. It's a great charity that I'm happy to be helping out.
To donate visit:

Day 8: Sick. The fatigue, hard training, and the pollution have finally caught up to me. I spend the day resting/sleeping and just eating fresh philippine fruits, like Atis, Mango, Lansones. Yum.

Day 9: Press Conference time. I was invited along with the coach and the team captains on a press conference that was attended by the Philippine sports writers for the major papers. The press conference was also on live radio and taped for TV. It was the cool. I fielded alot of questions about my background, results and chances for the winning a medal at the SEA GAMES. I answered the questions in Tagalog, which surprised alot of the journalist. But they were pleasantly surprised and i think b/c of it, they were more interested in what I had to say. I was working the press with the hope that they create good exposure that will help me land a corporate sponsor for the charity. Anyhow, it's good to be bilingual. Now I have to teach my kids to speak tagalog.

Day 10 - 11: 2 days of Medical checkups. The full workup, piss into a cup, draw blood, pushup and situp tests, xray, VO2 max testing, flexibility and strength test. I even took a psych test. Also, I had a dental checkup, cleaning. The dentist says that they want to make sure the athletes have a nice white smile for when we win gold at the SEA Games. It's all a big deal in the Philippines. I'm starting to feel the pressure, well, I'm looking forward to winning gold. One of the cool benefits of being on the National Team is that I get full dental/medical coverage in the Philippines and anywhere I compete overseas. Just so the movie Sicko about Healthcare problem in the US, and it made me appreciate this benefit all the more.

Day 12-13: We weren't able to ride for the past 2 days because it was raining and the velodrome is unrideable. They used shiny paint for the pavement and it feels like riding on ice when there's a little bit of water on the track. So I've been riding the rollers a few hours a day instead. When the rain finally cleared up, the coaches double checked the track, wiped it down by getting down on their hands and knees. Then we did some speed drills and a timed attack. I did a 500m tt and flying 200. My times were slow for me since I've been sick, but I was still able to post the fastest times.

Day 14: Got the greenlight from the coaches to take the the team out to a comedy club where we stayed out til 3 Am. This is probably the teams last relaxing day before the hard training push for the SEA Games in December. So everyone was really up for partying that night. It was a lot of fun hanging with the guys, and cracking up while I embarrassed myself on stage by singing karaoke to Sexy back and doing a dance off. Beer, well lots of it, gives you stupid courage.

Day 15: Fly Back to San Francisco. But not before, I was detained in the airport for having an overweight oversized bike case. They were going to charge me $750. That got me all stressed out and I had to unpack my bike and unload some extra gear. I finally got the weight down so I only had to shell out $150. Still, it sucked and got me all stressed out for my 20 hr flight back to SF. Not good. In the end, I got sick again and finally, had to take antibiotics to get over the bacterial infection. It was a fun trip, but I'm happy to be back home with my family. I really missed Jenna, Payton, and Aria. It was hard being away. I can't believe I'll be away for a month in Nov.-Dec while I compete in the Track World Cup Events in Sydney & Beijing, and the SEA Games in Thailand, and back to Manila to meet with the president. It's a hectic but exciting time.

The Child is Father to the Man

...I understand that it means that Payton's childhood helps shape the man that he will become. But it's also literal for me since Payton told me today that I should not eat treats in front of him since he's not allowed to eat treats everyday, only once a week. And I make it hard for him not to stick to this rule, when I eat junk food. "OK, dad?" "Yes, Payton."

Thursday, November 8, 2007

"You're a good dad too"

I woke up today feeling like crap. It's now the 3rd day of my antibiotic medication and I think my body just feels worn down from battling the sickness and the general fatigue from the training and jet lag. I seriously just wanted to stay in bed all day. Read a good book and have breakfast brought to me in bed. Reason #10 to move back to the Philippines, where this would be possible. Still trying to sell Jenna on this living in the Philippines concept. Anyhow, I slowly got my self up and helped get the kids ready for their busy day - pre-school for Payton and gymnastics for Aria.

Then I got on the trainer since it was relatively cold outside to ride while I'm still suffering from bronchitis. Being sick really sucks. I feel so out of shape. How the heck am I suppose to be competing at the World Cup in 3 weeks? My coach says we have time, but we need to speed things up. I just gotta be careful not to get too eager with getting my training back on track. Also, today I started the IO altitude simulation program at Chiro Medical. The IO program is suppose to help increase my natural levels of EPO by exposing me to hypoxic air for a total of 15 hrs. Today, I simulated oxygen levels at 13,000+ feet for 1.5 hr. Tomorrow, I'm getting brought up to 14-15K feet. But I'm tired, even though I just sat in a nice comfy leather chair while I sucked in hypoxic air.

The best part of the day was when I was hugging Payton good night. I gave him a nice big hug and told him that he was such a good boy. His response "You're a good dad too, daddy" He made my day.