HomeBoy France: Meet Sim!
It’s been some time since our last Homeboy Diary and the illuminating glimpses into the lives of young riders living the dream of chasing a pro contract. Sim Green has been racing with a Bouygues Telecom feeder team in France for a couple years, and has unselfishly agreed to let us in on his racing life …
Who Am I?
Hi Everyone – My name is Simeon Green, I was born in France but am actually British. I started cycling just for fun like every kid in Europe and turned to competitive cycling as a Mountain Biker in the mid 90s. First off I raced in England with a couple of excursions over the water for a few races in France here and there, including a great race I will always remember around the Mt Blanc. In 1998 in my last year as a Junior I went to the US to try my hand at some US Mountain Bike racing and had a great time. I slowly turned to road racing initially as a form or training for MTB races and in 2001 I came to France to race for the AG2R development team, where I had possibly the worst season of my life. Things improved over the years and I have now been based racing in France for almost 7 years, and currently ride for a team linked to Bouygues Telecom called C.A.Castelsarrasin.
Racing in the south of France isn’t always idyllic…
After a couple years racing in France I returned to full time education and got my degree from a French University, while still racing at the same time. When not training and racing I work part-time as a guide and Trip Developer for Bikestyletours.com and am a contributor to publications such as the Peztastic web-site you are reading right now.
I live in a small town called Gaillac, which is near Albi in the south of France (not too far from my beloved Pyrenees, and incidentally I am the current Pyrenees Road Rave Champion). I’m 28 years old, am 1m86 tall and weigh 69kg. I hate crits with a vengeance, I like hilly and point to point races, I also like time trials and breakaways. I hate the cold and rain, love the heat and enjoy long walks in the park…
McDonalds Training Method
Like most bike riders I spent the winter training in preparation for this 2008 season, and in order to do that as best as possible, I headed over to Australia for 4 months of sun, sea and base-miles. It was my first time to Australia, and I had an absolutely fantastic time. Far from the pressures of racing, I was able to just enjoy riding, meet some truly great people and see parts of that stunningly beautiful country.
I was lucky enough to kick off my season with a race over in Australia the weekend before I left, and it was in a blisteringly hot 35C degrees. A few of us had planned to do the race and then ride home afterwards. The first race of the season is often touch and go for me, and having done no real intervals at that point, I wasn’t sure how the race would go. It turned out to be good fun and I was rewarded with a 4th place. So, the race finished, and we got together in the parking lot for our ride back home down the coast. The three of us were: Tahlia Paskin, a promising young lady who had just returned from the Geelong Women’s world cup and Tour of New Zealand; 3 or 4 times New Zealand Junior National Time Trial champ Evan Pilkinson and myself. We were in a bit of a hurry to get home as we had to get back in time for my goodbye bash of beers and pizza.
Riding home we were all totally exhausted and were creeping along at an “old-man-getting-bread-in-the-morning” pace. Add to that the strong headwind and the 3 flat tires we got on the way home (bad things do come in threes), and things were starting to look pretty ugly. Luckily there was light at the end of the tunnel in the form of the golden arches. As we rode into a town, the McDonalds sign loomed promisingly on the horizon. Tahlia was pretty keen on getting some ice-cream, and I could have murdered for a coke, Evan on the other hand just wanted to keep going. 2 against 1, so we stopped at McDonalds! All 3 of us ordered the works of burgers, drinks, fries the whole thing. Possibly the best part of the day was seeing the look on all these overweight people’s faces as they watched 3 skinny cyclists in lycra scoff down junk food like there was no tomorrow.
The rest of the ride back was still pretty slow and painful, but thanks to some joking around, we actually had a good laugh as we shared each other’s misery and pain. We eventually made it home in one very tired piece, and had a great evening of Coronas, shooting pool (very badly) and pizza. Now… about this whole McDonald’s incident. Lets just keep that between you and me…
Snowy European Kickoff
A few days later I boarded the plane to kick off the season proper back in Europe. My plan had been to get in some good base miles in Australia, then use the early season French races to get into race shape in time for a few races I want to do well in at the end of May. I guess I came back from the southern hemisphere with a little more form than expected. My first race back in Europe went ok; nothing special, though going from racing in the 35 degrees of Australia to racing in freezing rain barely above freezing was quite a shock to the system. The following weekend I raced in northern France in the snow and hail.
Usually at this time of year the weather is admittedly chilly, but snow and hale are quite unusual to say the least. My body wasn’t prepared for such a harsh change in temperatures. I managed to bridge up to the breakaway early in the race, only to get dropped from it on a climb about 10km later. Shocking! It was so cold that I couldn’t feel my hands and I had no idea if I was actually pulling the breaks or not going into corners. It was soooo cold that just before the race I had to go back to the car and pile on every item of cycling clothing I could find. Strangely enough all the clothing I had left was PEZ clothing. Luckily for me it was cold enough that the team didn’t seem too fussed that I wasn’t wearing the right clothing.
Crystal Clear Rain in Spain
Needless to say the week following the snowy race I came down with a pretty big cold. I had been feeling sick since the first wet race a couple weeks earlier, but after the race in the snow I was sick as a dog. As it happens I was asked to go and work a training camp in Spain with EuroCycler.com, which actually worked out really well, as a week and a half of long recovery rides was just what I needed to get over my cold. We averaged over 100km a day, with some of the bigger days around 160km (that’s 100 miles for you Imperial people). Talking to people was a bit difficult at training camp as I had lost my voice, but by the end of the week I was starting to feel better and could even hold a conversation.
Colin Lewis is a man with more tales than a cycling library.
I found out that the rain in Spain doesn’t fall mainly on the plain; it also falls on the Costa-Brava as we were graced with some very unusual wet weather for a couple days. But still Spain was great! It’s a beautiful place, was a really good trip and I met some great people. One of the highlights of the week was watching Tom Boonen win Paris-Roubaix on TV aboard his Specialized bike while sipping a beer with Mike Abrams, the Eastern US Regional Sales Manager for Specialized who was in Spain for a little riding of his own.
In fact Mike gave me a set of Specialized Helix-Adaptalite optics to try out. I’ve been training and racing with these glasses since and have been very impressed. You totally forget you are wearing them. No matter what the weather, be it sunny or cloudy, the glasses adapt to the light. It’s a great concept for racing! Even racing from sunshine to tree shaded roads, or if the weather turns have way through the race, you always have a crystal clear view.
I also got to meet and work with Colin Lewis while in Spain. Colin is a British Ex-Pro from the “silly era” as I call it. You know, back they used to race 400k stages. Colin was Tom Simpson’s room mate on that fatal and historic Tour back in 1967. Colin is the nicest guy, and is just full to the brim of endless fascinating stories. If you ever get the chance, buy him a beer and sit back and listen, it’ll be the best entertainment beer can buy! He’s also incredibly fit, so look out if you meet him out riding. Oh, and we also had a couple of PEZ readers with us in Spain, sporting the cool PEZ Jersey, good-on-ya boys, keep up the good work!
Returning from Spain it was time to get back to some serious racing. I’ve been training with the Power-Tap system for a few years now, and have found this to be an indispensible part of training. Having downloaded all my training rides with the Power-Tap into my software since the end of last season, I was able to look at certain graphs and see just what my fitness was.
Although the Power-tap doesn’t take into account the fact that I had been sick, it claimed that after a week and half in Spain, I was well trained and recovered and should have been ready for a good performance. This turned out to be bang on the money! I did a couple of 3-4 hour interval training rides and put out some pretty good wattage for this time of year on some of the climbs around my area. Armed with the extra confidence of being able to stare at some positive data, I went into Sunday’s race feeling pretty good. Finally we had a warm and sunny race day. A break went away very early in the race as usual. Normally you can sit back for a bit, then bridge up to the remnants of the early break with a few other guys and mix it up at the sharp end of things for the finish. However for some bizarre reason, once the break was gone the rest of the peloton seemed to admit defeat and everyone sat up letting the gap get bigger and bigger.
Spring training in Spain.. not bad at all…
In the end there was nothing left to do but try and bridge up a little earlier than I would have liked. So after chasing alone for about 30km, we finally got a bit of a chase group going, and with 20km to the finish there were 6 of us trying hard to close a 2+ minute gap. Needless to say we never got close. The gap fell to about 1 minute, and I crossed the line on the steep uphill finish in 9th place. It was a bit of a shame really, as I felt pretty good and I think I could have done better. Oh well, that’s cycling.
Next on the books are the Team Time Trial Championships tomorrow followed by a small stage race Saturday and Sunday not far from the area I live in, so that should be fun. Racing on home turf is always motivating. After that I have 3 weeks of one day races, before the Tour of the Ariege, which is an area of the Pyrenees where I hope to do well. I’ve done well in stage races in the area in the past, so… fingers crossed.
After that I have the Boucles du Tarn which is one of my favorite races. Sadly I haven’t been able to do this race for the past 3 years, so it will be great to race on the beautiful roads of Laurent Jalabert once again. I’ve raced in some stunning places in my time, from the heights of the Dolomites and the Alps to the rolling hills of Virginia, and yet this local race has to be one of the most beautiful ever. The race starts in Mazamet, home of Laurent Jalabert, and loops around the area with the snow-capped Pyrenees in the background to finish up in a bizarre area full of massive house-sized rocks known as the Sydobre. Some great riders have featured prominently in this race in the past, including the Jalaberts, Alexandre Vinokourov, Alex Botcharov, Laurent Roux, Christophe Rinero, Stephane Barthe, Frederic Moncassin, Didier Rous, Hammond and Mountain Bike world Champ Christophe Dupouey. So it’s a race with a nice little history to it. It’s often boiling hot for this race, and that suits me down to a T! The plan is to train and race myself into the ground, before a week of taking it easy in time for those end of May races. I’ll let you know how it goes in next month’s diary.
Thanks for reading, and try to avoid the rain!
Feel free to e-mail Sim directly at [email protected]