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Epic Camp Epilogue

Wow wow wow  what an incredible camp we experienced in France. Almost everything went to plan with great weather, mind blowing scenery, scrumptious French food, high quality accommodation, hospitable motorists……and a great bunch of athletes.

After this camp we are fitter and stronger than before but the biggest arsenal for the athletes to add to their toolbox is how to better deal with adversity. Our camp athlete now need to think how they can implement these learnings into racing and potentially other aspects of life. If you listen into IMTalk with the post camp chats every athlete had to face some serious demons out there, get over those hurdles and make it to the end of the day, a lot of athletes had some very very dark moments. Then for 11 days they needed to get up again and back it up.

Our opening day climbing Mont Ventoux was the perfect wake up call for everyone on how tough our schedule was going to be. Backing that up on day 5 was the brutal day including the Col D’iseran. A number of athletes arrived at the base of a 20km+ climb completely smoked but they had to figure out a way up. Let’s remember these are Kona standard athletes not your middle or back of the pack weekend warriors. It was brilliant to see the determination and fight amongst the group which helped inspire each other. JB rolled in at 8pm that night after our day started our day at 6am!

I had a number of goals for the camp but first and foremost my objective is to ensure everyone else is having a good time and have what they need. Our awesome support crew of Julie & Ian from Pyrenees Multisport along with Oli Jenner & Tim Piggott made my life so much easier.

I tried to list what I would have changed on this camp and couldn’t come up with too much. The only change I would have made would be:


  • making it 100% mandatory to have a garmin 800/810 for the best possible mapping & guidance
  • more strongly encouraging smaller gearing. I spent a huge amount of time in my 34:28!


As far as my athletic endeavors/goals. I came home super strong in the final 4-5 days as did other athletes I coach. For me I think part of this was delayed acclimatization to the heat and altitude along with my GI tract giving me some issues. The Tri we did on day 8, the climbs of Colombiere and Ramaz along with the 10km on day 10 felt awesome which is hard to believe given what we had been through prior.  The satisfaction I got from those days, along with my birthday epic, far outweighed where I finished on the points table.

This camp was the first without Scott (last camp was Canada 2014) or Gordo (last camp length of NZ) so it is down to me to ensure standards and traditions are upheld. By and large I think I did a pretty good job leading by examples. Epic Camp is so much more than just going and riding your bike. Whilst I didn’t leave with the yellow jersey I did leave with my dignity. My birthday training extravaganza was a real highlight that there is still life in my body. If I can stay in shape and make it to Roth next year I’d like to think that my time might start with an 8.

A bit of summary of the camp crew for France 2016

Phil Paterson – for a former top junior cycling fanatic is was awesome to get Phil to Europe and experience the many Cols he has seen so many times over on TV. Much like the other athletes from Christchurch Phil came home strong towards the end of the camp. He also wins the most daring attack when he tried to go on a solo breakaway less than 1km into one of the hardest days over the Izoard and Lautaret. As a second reward Phil cracked the 100km/hr barrier on a descent which is no mean feat.

Glenn Olsen – big Glenn was a sleeping giant on this camp. In Canada we saw his brut force on the flat lands but there was next to no flat on this camp. I was impressed that Glenn kept plugging away day after day over the big climbs.

Adam Krzesinski – Adam showed us the way up many of the climbs in the first half of the camp and won the final day tri fair and square.

John Ballard – awarded by Molina as the best blogger on the camp JB looked exactly like he did in France. Those that did not know him thought he would blow up at any stage but those that were in Canada knew that looks can be deceiving. There was one day JB exploded but that seemed to be the catalyst to come home incredibly strongly in the final days with brilliant climbing and racing performances.

Lou DiGuiseppe – Lou is the heart and soul of epic camp and adds so much value to everyone’s camp without realizing it. Every day Lou would ensure he upheld his epic standards including the 100x100 on 1:45. Now into his 50’s I hope we see Lou back again.

Julian Stockwell – after sharing a room pre camp with Jules I felt somewhat responsible for him getting sick after my snoring probably kept him awake pre camp. Much like Phil, Jules lives and breaths TDF so if you wanted a question answer on TDF he would know it. He also gave out a few good lessons on how to descend properly.

Iain Wood – the sandbagger extraordinaire was humbled with some sickness but showed his metal at Alpe D’Huez with 4th place on the hill climb and I think 4th on the run too. I think we would have seen a bit more on the climbs had we had a 100% healthy Iain on board. 

Peter Mills – this 50 year old kicked my butt on a couple of climbs which was impressive to see. Sometimes I wish we had some time on these camps to check out technique because if I could do something to help Peters swim he would be a complete weapon. It was great to see Peter pushing just the right amount for the red jersey (50+) without compromising his upcoming IM.

Murray Lapworth – the holy hammer put his hammer to the other red jersey contenders. As we sat up at Alpe D’Huez pounding down burgers and pizza Murray ran up and down the street past the café clocking up a 2hr run. Not the smartest move the day before our toughest ride of the camp but he was doing exactly what I said. Just take each day one at a time and discregard what is coming up. Murray was a worthy winner of the red jersey.

Chrissie Mckinlay – starting epic camp with a cold is not good but Chrissie battled her way through and someone managed to rid herself of the sickness. It was impressive to see her running so hard at the events in the battle of the girls grupetto.

Zarnia Morrison – a new nickname was found for Zarnia on this camp l'escargot francais de la Montagne for her uncanny descending. I was gutted when Zarnia got sick and was unable to complete the final day triathlon as she had battled so bravely all camp.

Di Kaltenegger – super mom was our oldest ever epic camper but she certainly didn’t look it! Di got the Bellwether bike jersey award on day one for coming out of the freezing Mediterranean waters with a smile on her face having loved the rough start to the camp. She followed that up day after day and never showed any signs of weariness despite getting the lurgie off the other girls.

Stefan Dooney – not being able to swim due to a shoulder operation meant camp completion was off the table from day one which must have been hard to take. I enjoyed hearing how Stefan, as a financial advisor, sees the value in life experiences like epic camp and puts that into his wisdom to clients. Epic camp is more than just going training, it’s about seeing some amazing parts of the world, competing and enjoying the company of likeminded nut jobs.

Shannon Proffit – I can’t say enough about how much of a legend Shannon is going uphill (as well as dragging my sorry butt through a few swims). When I started to feel really good on the climbs towards the end of the camp she still showed me up a few times. I loved that she is now the Queen of the Mountains on Strava on the 1st category climb of Col de la Colombiere (by ~2.5mins). 

Andrew Charles – Charlsey is not in the same sort of shape he was in the good old days but his regaling of past camps and stories should be worth bonus points. It was great to see Chaelsey find his mojo in the closing days of the camp with tacks on’s galore and a strong showing in the final day tri.

Michael Turner – injuries suck and poor Titch was battling with a calf strain all the way through camp. In fine epic spirit when he couldn’t be patched up by our support crew titch would get out power walking so as to not miss any of the action.

Jen Macrow – joining her husband Titch on this camp Jen did not know quite what she was getting herself in for. Jen showed some impressive strength on the bike on many occasions and I look forward to seeing her guts when she looses her ironman virginity.

Rob Mohr – with the imtalk nickname of Rob “give me” Mohr, Rob certainly gave it more whenever a race presented itself. He drilled the runs and looked as fast as anyone I’ve ever seen running on Epic Camp – impressive!

Walter McCormack – for a big guy Walters’ climbing ability was bloody impressive. Had this camp included more flat riding I fear that Walter would have ripped us to shreds. It was a real shame that his fall at ADH meant he could not complete all the sessions. I look forward to seeing Walter tear it up in Kona.

Ben Moore – Ben had perhaps one of the most disciplined camps I’ve ever seen. He had his plan from the outset and stuck to it. That’s perhaps why he was one of the most accomplished athletes on the camp when it comes to race performances, he just gets the job done.


So where to for Epic Camp from here? I plan/hope to put on an Epic Camp every 2nd year with other camps thrown in the mix

  • 2017 – Kona Epic Camp Lite (incorporating Kona 70.3). This is still a challenging camp but is open for athletes of all abilities up to ~14hrs IM. There is usually a mix of athletes and we have a great time touring the Big Island.
  • 2017 – Camp Kia Kaha with imtalk incorporating Challenge Roth. This is going to be a bit of a tour plus smashing the race
  • 2018 – my provisional plan is a Pyrenees Traverse.
  • 2020 – I’m open to suggestions but I’ve love to head back to Italy. 


DAY 11 โ€“ the final day tri

My legs were unsurprisingly a little tender today.

To conclude the camp we were doing a mountain triathlon.

  • Swim - ~1.3km
  • Bike 28km with the Col du Joux Vert up to Avoriaz
  • Run – 3 laps of the lake ~9km

It was going to be a bit unknown how my body would react today.  That was the challenge I wanted.

Swim – pretty uneventful and I was grateful for Shannon going better than me so I had some feet to follow.

Bike – it was straight into a 10km climb. Whilst I was not on fire the further we got into the climb I seemed to get better and my power was pretty descent. I got to the top in first with a reasonable gap but could see Adam was closing in. I rate myself as a reasonable descender but not suicidal. Adam must have flown down as he caught me. Today it was good to see those decenders getting rewarded for their skills.

Run – I was about 50m doing going into the run and held that through the first lap then eased off an enjoyed the remaining 6km.

I was totally done at the finish. Now it is time to pack, relax and enjoy my last day in France. The venue for today’s race was awesome with a great climb and beautiful swim/run.

Tri results

  1. Adam – showing that being fast downhill does count.
  2. Me - beaten fair and square today. 
  3. Rob – who looked on fire again during the run
  4. Phil – on the comeback after a day of vomiting & diarrhea. Plus he banged out a sub 40min 10km before the race
  5. Peter – first over 50 year old.
  6. Shannon – 1st female on a course with downhill that does not suit her style
  7. Iain Wood – still battling sickness but coming home strong
  8. John B – hanging tough as he does every day
  9. Ben Moore – has been steady& disciplined  all camp but looked to be opening the legs on the run today
  10. Glenn Olsen – the biggest man on the camp. He is a trooper by getting his big carcass over all the mountains.
  11. Walter – not helped by the downhill today which is not his forte. Walter has battled so well since his fall.
  12. Murray the holy hammer Lapworth – showed out support crew more than they were expecting in transition…. “when in France”
  13. Andrew Charles – the sleeping giant  who has found some fitness late in the camp and was tacking on early this morning.
  14. Julian Stockwell – I think probably wet himself on the descent. He is fanatical about his descending and he is good at it!
  15. Dianne Kaltenegger – what a trooper who has been sick for a few days. She is a star
  16. Lou – the legend has completed another epic camp. He epitomizes what epic camp is all about by banging out the volume every day for camp completion
  17. Chrissie – rounded us out and looked super fast on the run. 
  18. Sadly some sickness & injury took out some. Tich who has battled bravely so couldn't run, Zarnia who can't talk but still ran and will be majorly pissed that sickness has robbed her of camp completion. Finally Stefan (can't swim due to shoulder surgery) & Jen (has been sick as a dog) who both did the bike/run


So that is a wrap for the camp.

I’m going to say that this has been the most enjoyable camp in the history of Epic. Stunning scenery, amazing weather, awesome accommodation & food plus a great bunch of athletes. It’s hard to compare the hardness of camps but the opening few days of this camp were easily as hard as any other camp.

It’s a bloody long journey home so I might well write some other thoughts. Right now I’m struggling to keep my eyes open and it’s only 3:30pm.


DAY 10 โ€“ The big one

I turn 40 today and wanted to celebrate by setting myself a personal challenge to more or less go all day long to see if I could find my breaking point. I decided to go solo all day long with the exception of the first 20x100.

Here is the run down

6:50am – kick off with a 10km run that needed to be sub 38mins for bonus points.  I thought this was going to be a huge challenge but it felt really comfortable banging it out in 36:51

Straight home for a fast breakfast before a 30km spin to loosen off the legs. That felt lousy but I needed to be done for a 9:40am departure to the pool.

Birthday swim set – 100x100 on 1:45 (long course outdoor pool) with every 20th being recovery (backstroke / breaststroke). Obviously this swim was going to take a long, long time – approximately 3hrs. It was a bit like an ironman with the end being so far away all you could do was focus on the set of 20 you were working through. The set went surprisingly well not dragging on to much. I stayed in the moment and just banged out rep after rep.

Hats off to the others who made the 100x100. I’ve got a swim background so I knew I could do it. For most of those guys this was double the distance they had ever swum combined with the fact it was day 10 of epic camp.

As soon as I was out of the swim it was straight into a pretty non descript 2hr run where I was more concerned about staying out of the sun than cracking any particular pace.

Finally I wanted to bang out 90km on the bike but I only had 3hr30 to get it done and the terrain is not flat around here. I headed down towards Thones which was supposed to be a nice town but when I started hitting traffic lights I knew I needed to turn in order to keep my average speed high enough. The final 1hr of this ride was rough and a sure fire way for me to recognize this was getting emotional thinking about my awesome family back home.

Its fair to say I was pretty spent at the end of the day but well pleased with my efforts. 


DAY 9 โ€“ last big ride

With just 3 days left on camp today was the last big ride day with our route shadowing one of the key alpine stages of this years tour. Sadly we had to cut out the Joux Plan as they are doing road works – all of the roads getting upgraded when the tour comes to town but due to strikes they are 1mth behind!

We had just a 6km downhill roll out before hitting the Col du la Colombiere. At 11.6km with an average grade of 6% this was one of the “easier” big cols. I went straight to the front and settled into what was a good strong pace. The power numbers I was seeing were as good as back home when I’m fresh and on much shorter climbs. One by one everyone dropped off until the final km when I thought I had disposed of Shannon who had stuck to my wheel all the way up. Then in the final ~200m I heard her coming on with a sprint finish. Whilst I did not have much left in the tank I did pick up the pace but did not have the desire to go into a full on sprint. Well done to Shannon as looking at Strava I averaged 288w to place 47th overall so we rode well. She will take the Queen of the Mountain by over 3mins which is bloody impressive for a 1st category major climb like that.

On the descent we had to deal with some road works and freshly sealed tar. Whilst it sucked and compared to the road surfaces we’ve had all camp it was the worst. However compared to back home it really wasn’t that big a deal. Adam’s bad luck continued as he got a stone caught in his derailer that broke the hanger and it was ride over.

Next up was the Ramaz. I had not inspected to profile so was not sure what was in store . My plan was to just take it km by km with the great road signs that tell you what lies ahead for the next km. Again, I went straight to the front and set the tempo which was not as strong as our first climb but we were not as fresh. In total, the climb was 14km long with 968m elevation @ 7%. By halfway it was just John B and Shannon on my wheel but that was about where JB dropped off. The further we got into the climb my power started coming up but it still didn’t seem to be enough to drop Shannon. Then with maybe about 5km to go I stopped hearing the gear changes behind me and when we entered a bloody long steep tunnel (must have been easily 10%) I heard nothing but silence. When I flicked up a gear there was a huge echo so I knew that she must have dropped well behind. Out of the tunnel the grade eased off  and it would have been easy to drop off and roll to the top. I did an OK job of keeping it together reaching the summit in 120th on strava in 54:08.

The rest of the ride to Morzine was pretty rough knowing we just had to grind it out, my legs were done. Murray, Phil and myself tacked on 19km to get up to 120km.  

To finish off the day we were required to do a 10km run up and around Lac Montriod with a 3km swim. What a great place to train, a touch fresh in the swim but good for recovery. 


DAY 8 - Triathlon Day.

DAY 8 - Triathlon Day.

We’ve had a broken triathlon up ADH but today was the first of two proper tri’s

Bike 31km easy to Lake Annecy

Tri – Swim 1km (eyeballed to near perfection) / Bike 31km back to the chalet (31km with 800m elevation) / Run 6-7km.

Like yesterday my legs and body were feeling fresh as anything today. It’s hard to believe that I’ve done 50hrs training in one week and I feel better than ever on day 8! Not that I’m competitive or anything but I wanted to smash today’s race to smitherines.

I opened up well in the swim to have a bit of gap to Shannon but I nervously did some backstroke  to ensure I was on course after my recent discretions. It was bloody hard to see the buoys as a sailing school decided to set up mid way through out swim blocking our sight of the buoys. As we came past there I though they were yelling at us but apparently it was a bunch of kids and they were cheering us on.

Onto the bike and I was on fire. The power was coming so easy and the pace was fast. With the road surfaces being so smooth over here you just motor along. I really didn’t feel like I was moving out of 4th gear but my power was close to Olympic effort with plenty of wattage in the 280-300w range. I felt sure than I would have a handy lead off the bike and I’d run more than 1km before Adam and John B (who was on fire) came past in the opposite direction. The Philinator, Rob Mohr and Peter Mills came next in quick succession.

With a lead of what I figured was 7-8mins I eased off and just ran a nice gentle tempo to take line honours. The others had been held up at lights a bit which worked in my favour slightly.

  1. Me
  2. Adam
  3. Rob Mohr – who drilled the run to nab 3rd
  4. John Ballard – nice work
  5. Philinator – coming home strong

I felt invincible today, if only those days come exactly on time at our peak races rather than 8 days into Epic Camp.

I decided to let the yellow jersey slip today. I figured Adam would tack on which is all within the rules of the game. I certainly had the energy to do more but I really want to nail tomorrows ride and the final race. It’s been disappointing that I have not ridden the famous climbs as well as I would have liked and tomorrow is the last chance. I would rather crush two climbs and the race than take home the yellow jersey, who knows when I will get another chance to ride in France.

The red jersey is heating up with Peter Mills running 3hrs this arvo to put the heat on Murray, especially given Peter will pick up a couple more KOM points at the end of camp. Both Peter and Adam have IM races coming up post camp so it's descision time for them on what they really want. 

So instead of tacking on we wandered into town for ice cream and beer before another magnificent dinner with Piet & Eva at Chalet 4 (this place is AWESOME)

Tomorrow we are off to Morzine