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Update from Simon


Japan so far

Good morning everyone, I hope you are all well and keeping busy. I am preparing this race report on the Narita Express from Shinagawa where I have been staying with Athens Olympic Medalist Ngatsuka Tomohiro since my last race in Toride a few days ago.
My first race this season was in the bustling area of Keiokaku in NE Tokyo. It is a wealthy velodrome that attracts a large number of punters and has a huge fan base due to the superb infrastructure. It’s a pretty amazing place to be locked away for four days and race.

I had some sucess on the first day by winning my heat by about 20m, it was a big moral boost as the one thing I fear most in the world is to dissapoint people that support me. There’s nothing worse than hearing japanese fans yelling at you that they have bet big money on you and then not perform to their expectations… On the second day it was absolutely pissing down and I had the strongest rider at the keirin to contend with. We had a good battle fighting for wheels in the wet but he got the better of me once he got his 114in gear (55×13) cranking. I only ride around 108 so its quite interesting racing these guys on big dog gears. Only the top 3 qualify from the semi to the final so I was dissapointed when I got 5th, as were the punters, but still i got to race the next day and win the  B final in great style by the way of a massive 600m senko which the fans loved.
Between the two races I had two weeks of solid training that I throughly enjoyed because I know that the hard training in the mid season is where you make all the foundations for the future season with all the important races coming around. This is the one thing I miss when I come to Japan because I need to ‘freshen up’ for racing when I could be continuing the training block and making gains. What I get in racing it is invaluable and I need to remind myself that experiencing all the preparation and stress with the racing will benefit me in the much larger races that can crack you mentally.
My second race in May was in the most northern part of tokyo in the Ibraki prefecture near fukushima. It was a nice velodrome with extra friendly accomodation staff that went out of their way to prepare us ‘western’ food even though I throughly enjoy all Japanese food. 
Once again there was heavy rain for one of the days, this time on the first day and I was lucky to finish and qualify for the semi final the following day. After waking up on the morning of the semi I felt good and was excited to race. I had an experienced (42yrs) rider following me that knew how to protect his lead out riders very well so I decided to make a big Senko for him, and just use raw power to beat the other riders rather than special sneaky tactics. Our ‘team’ proved to work well and we went 1-2 in the semi. After watching the replay later that night I thanked him again for pretty much hooking and blocking all the other riders from passing us at the finish…
One embarrasing thing did happen during the race though, because my tactic was to lead-out for quite a distance you really do need to go deep and push yourself right to the line. As I crossed the finish I veered down to avoid the calvery lunging at the line… But being delerious and semi unconcious from the effort I forgot where i was and did not get back on the corner as we were still doing around 60 odd kph. The result was my rear tire rolling off and me crashing into a heap of lactated meat laughing at myself, along with the punters, waiting for the ambulance to come scrap me off the track. 
It was a great feeling to have made the A final so early in the season and I hope it was a reflection of my form and training I’ve done.
Over the last month I have come to realise there is a huge difference between just doing work and actually getting work done. When you are out training the efforts really do hurt but if you are not enthusiastic and making sure every pedal stroke is 100% then you are just kidding yourself and everyone around you. So for this next block of racing and training in Europe I will be making sure every day counts because as I said before, I hate letting people down.



This weekend I race here in Valencia competing for the valuable UCI points to qualify for the World Cups later in the year. Since the UCI reform we must do these smaller races during the European summer to make sure we have the points for later in the year. After Valencia we travel North for the Paris GP, and then East to Berlin for a 3 week training and racing block in Cottbus. Let’s hope we get the points needed because it isn’t cheap doing this traveling!
Next episode will be in mid july once I get back to Japan from Germany

Kind Regards – The Rhino

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World, Commonwealth and Olympic games medallist
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