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.
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.)
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.
Next stop, Poland for some training!
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.”
Sort Practitioners by Name