CSSM athlete Tom Fisher is always up to something and we love checking in with him to see where he is.

Tom was kind enough to put pen to paper and take us along for the ride on his most recent adventure in Europe.

Europe – June – The week before departure

This week was crazy! Finished off my last exams for university, finished my job with DEECA and managed to catch up with my mates and pack. (Well not so much pack as I was packing right up until a few hours before the flight.)


Belgium 4-12 June

After the long 36 hour haul across the world ‘Melbourne’ – ‘Hong Kong’ – ‘London’ – ‘Belgium’ – I touched down in Brussels airport to find out my bike was left behind somewhere on that journey. I couldn’t believe it. Being very sleep deprived I walked down the road and found a cheap hotel to crash for the night to recharge the battery.


Waking up feeling much better, I returned to the airport where they informed me they would deliver it to my accommodation if they found it. So, I crossed my fingers, made some calls to mates I met on the circuit last year, organised an emergency bike and set off to Namur where I’d race the European XTERRA Championship in 5 days. The 3rd stop of the World Cup.


Wednesday morning, I received the news I’d been hoping for – they had found my bike! Even better, it was only in London airport. It was placed on the next flight to Brussels and couriered straight to my homestay, arriving Thursday morning. I was pretty happy when I saw it. I immediately built the bike and sent it out for a lap of the course dialling in the bike and practicing the ‘A’ lines.

Before I knew it, it was race day. All the pistons were firing, and I was feeling great, keen to prove the gains I had made whilst in Australia from the previous season. I pieced together a respectable swim exiting in the front 3rd of the field. Quickly finding myself with a strong group of riders, we started picking people off moving up to the front of the race. We then arrived at the first descent; not overly technical, however very fast 50-60kph, very dusty, plenty of nasty rocks.

As I started to attack the next climb, I could feel my bike going squishy. At first I thought, ‘damm my suspension battery has gone flat or failed’ but unfortunately it was worse. My tyre was losing air faster than the sealant could do its job. I’m not a fan of carrying all the tools, replacements etc when I race – I run the best tyres with fresh sealant. Sometimes that doesn’t hold up. I quickly found myself pushing. A couple of good people threw me CO2 cannisters but the gash in the tyre was just too big – it needed a tube.

Fifteen minutes later, a good friend passed me who was carrying everything to do a full repair. He very kindly stopped and threw me everything! I did a full repair and was back on the bike about 15mins later. By then, 30mins had lapsed and these races have 1000’s of competitors. It quickly became a matter of trying to navigate the crowds of people. Before long, I was back where I’d punctured on the first lap, only to find my friend with a flat tyre. I had his tools, and his spare tube in MY wheel. I knew the right thing to do, I pulled off the track, switched wheels with him and started pushing back to race HQ. Some helpful park rangers gave me a lift back to the village. Today just wasn’t my day.

To be honest, the DNF was hard to stomach. I was devastated. But this is racing, and you can only control what’s within your control. As I was unable to finish, I was ineligible for short track.

I took away some learnings – carry tyre plugs and maybe be slightly more cautious on dusty descents….maybe.

The post-race classic, ‘XTERRA Belgium After Party’ kicked up with a bang, DJ Jay Style spinning the decks, lots of tasty Belgium beer, dancing away until the morning with friends. It was a reminder – racing, has its highs and lows. It’s not always about the result but the places this sport takes you, experiences you have along the way and the friends you make.

Off for some training Scotland 12-29 June
A good friend from XTERRA who I met last season invited me up to his home in Castle Douglas, a little country town just inside Scotland. Here I stayed for the next 17 days. Big fresh lakes, endless gravel roads, variety of terrain, MTB park after MTB park in every direction I rode. – the training was epic!
I put together an amazing block of training which included a few personal performance records towards the end. Besides the training, I spent time enjoying BBQ’s, and playing volleyball on the beach with friends from the local shop ride. Daily trips to the local bakery for fresh sourdough and espressos, plenty of rest, sleeping, stretching and the occasional movie.
Feeling sharp and ready to rumble, it was on to the next stop, XTERRA France.
XTERRA France 29th June to 2nd July
Thursday and Friday saw some easy training, a couple intervals to keep things ticking over and plenty of course practice. The course the XTERRA France team build every year in the race village is insane! Hundreds of pallets and planks. This year it consisted of a variety of ramps, berms and then spiralled us up a tree only to drop into some woods for a section of single track.
Saturday we would race a 2km lap around this in the Short Track and pass through here twice in the long course on Sunday. Every year they build a completely different course just for the race.

Saturday Short Track
The short course race was the day before the main race Sunday, mandatory for all professionals. Consisting of 3 rounds of 200m swim, 2km bike, 1km run, back-to-back. This year there was a twist as some athletes were accused of coasting last year. (Saving themselves for the main race which has greater prize money).
This year, the time gap you finished behind the winner, was the penalty start you had to take on Sunday! And if you fell two minutes behind the leader you were eliminated, taking a two minute penalty into day two. Thus, with this rule, everyone was on full gas from the start. The gun went and the washing machine started! I put together a strong first swim which I was stoked about as usually I get run over a bit and struggle to hold my water up against the big boys when the swims are this short and quick. Having a dialled transition after much practice we made up some good time in T1.
Before I knew it, I was back in the water for swim two in a nice little pack. Forissier and Maxim were pushing the pace up front, and athletes started getting eliminated quickly. My fuel tank was running out, I started to take some risky lines on the MTB and they paid off earning me a few seconds.
I entered the last run with 1.50 on the clock (1.50 behind the leader) and crossed the line in 6th. I was stoked with this result!! It’s pretty rare more than 5-6 athletes finish without being eliminated and P6 from P19 (eliminated on 3rd swim) last year was a big improvement for me.
My focus quickly turned to recovery, prepping the engine for tomorrow’s main race. The Main Race started at 13:30 which meant a nice sleep-in, big breakfast and 30min spin on the bike for some fresh baguettes and coffee while spending some time running mentally through each step of the race. I was feeling dialled and physically strong. It was going to be a big day; 1500m swim, 44km MTB with 1200m vert, 10km trail run with 600m vert. The focus was patience, ensure correct fuelling, and slowly knocking off my competitors.
After a 30min warm up all the professionals were assembled and about 10 mins prior to calling us up by name, introducing which county we represent. I love this part. The adrenaline pumping, the crowds of people, the atmosphere. Chun the commentator has a nickname for most of us now too which the spectators love to get around. Mine ‘The Torpedo’ after so many crazy overtakes last season!
Not being a mass start, with the pursuit-based start format I assessed my competitors, and I knew Jens who placed 5th yesterday was starting 10 seconds before me. The plan was to swim up and sit on his hip and work together in the swim. This plan worked; we came out 8/9th respectively. A couple of strong swimmers had come past but I knew we would catch them soon on the MTB. Played a bit of cat and mouse on the MTB with a few of the boys. I was finding myself putting in some good time on the descents then sitting on wheels during the climbs, coming off the bike in P7. I quickly ran into P6 in the first 1km I was then caught by a strong runner moving back into P7, I wasn’t letting him get away, I could tell he was suffering.

P5 was quite a while in front so I sat about 10metres behind waiting for my opportunity. At the 7km mark I saw he had starting cramping, I attacked and bridged a good gap. I didn’t want to let him see how much I was hurting also. At this point of the race, it’s just whoever is the mentally strongest and has the most mental energy to execute the finish. I didn’t look back and ran hard to the end finishing in 6th place. This result meant a lot to me; not just the improvement from last season but 4 months ago being bed ridden after my close encounter with a car. It was payment for my hard work, discipline, and belief I could do it.
This result bumped me up to 40th in the World Rankings which is huge as one of the youngest professional athletes on the circuit.

Next stop, Poland for some training!


About the author

CSSM Athlete Tom Fisher specialises in off-road triathlons and says that he has learnt many valuable life skills as a triathlete including time management, communication skills and discipline. “You can’t execute every training session perfectly and not every race goes to plan but persistence sees results.”

Tom spends around 25-30 hours a week swimming, riding, running, and gym work. This will be the level of dedication required to achieve his future goals, which include; winning an ITU World Cross Triathlon Championship and a XTERRA World Championship.