Robbie McEwen is a household name in the cycling world with three points classification wins of the Tour de France and 12 individual stage wins in the Giro d’Italia for starters. Now retired from professional cycling, Robbie had time to talk to EFTM about technology, fitness and the Lake Taupo Cycling Challenge.
Please tell us a little about the Lake Taupo challenge
I’m so excited to participate in The Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge, which takes place this year on the 26th November in New Zealand’s beautiful Lake Taupo in the Taupo region. The challenge is comprised of short and long course distance options, including both road and MTB events and is currently open for registration. For more info on the challenge head to the website: www.cyclechallenge.com.
What would be a usual training routine 3 months before and leading up to the event?
For me, training for an event like the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge is quite a rigorous process. In a nutshell, it involves training three times per week. It’s important to stay hydrated throughout the training process, and always carry a snack like a banana or nutrition bar to keep your energy levels up. This way, you’re able to train for longer and can achieve better results.
From a nutrition perspective, what’s the goal when training for a cycling event? More carbs, more protein?
When training for a cycling event, diet obviously plays a big part of the process. From a nutrition perspective I like to keep a healthy balance, with protein assisting to build muscle, while also consuming a lot of carbs to keep up energy levels during training. And of course a few sweet treats & glasses of wine as rewards along the way!
In your time as a cyclist on the world stage, what sort of technology aided your training?
There are a few key essentials that aided my training when I was competing.
Power meter – training has become very scientific and it’s more about the quality of training rather than the quantity. The power meter data from racing enables you to tailor your training and perform very specific intervals according to that information.
My Oakley sunglasses. Of course your eyes are essential when you’re riding, and my sunglasses protected my eyes from the wind & road debris while giving me the sharpest optics available.
Altitude – I used an altitude simulator to gain the benefits of training at altitude (increase oxygen uptake) without having to leave home.
From a technology perspective, how much of a change have you seen from your time starting out to now?
We’ve come a long way with technology since I started my career in cycling. There have been massive advances in carbon fibre technology for use in components, aerodynamic clothing & helmets, on-board cameras & the use of power meters to develop training programs. These advances in technology have certainly helped us all become better cyclists. We’re in such an exciting time and I can’t wait to see how technology advances the sport!
Travelling around the world for events competing and now as a commentator, what top travel tips do you have?
Where possible, I like to take in my surroundings, look at the architecture and get a more personal experience of the location. I like to call it a fitcation, experiencing the destination in a unique way when I travel for competitions and as a commentator. A fitcation allows you to see the place your visiting from different perspective. It’s even better from the seat of your bike as you often end up going past or through places you may not have otherwise. After completing your sporting event or activity, you can also check out what else the destination has to offer and maybe tick off some bucket list items.
What are two things you could not leave home without?
My laptop and my cycling shoes! I need to stay connected when I’m travelling so much and skype gets a real workout when I’m away so I can catch up with what my family are up to.
You can adjust a borrowed bike to fit and put up with clothing that maybe isn’t a perfect fit but I find that my own cycling shoes is a must have, especially my personal innersoles!
In Australia we’ve recently had new cycling laws come into place in the interest of safety and there has been debate around this. Some of the debate has been that a helmet isn’t actually safer for cycling, where do you stand on this and the new laws in general?
This is such an interesting topic, and one I’m quite passionate about. With regards to the new laws, I appreciate Australia has the best interests of the cyclists at heart, with safety the top priority.
I am a strong believer in wearing helmets, and can attest to how important they are in keeping you safe, especially in an accident. However, I feel the large increase in fines is unnecessary and could perhaps discourage new riders embracing cycling as their new mode of transport.
What other activities do you recommend for people travelling to Lake Taupo?
Lake Taupo is an incredible place, and perfect for your next adventure. Whether you’re a foodie or adrenalin seeker, Lake Taupo has it all. Centrally located in the middle of the North Island, Taupo it is approximately 3.5 hours drive from Auckland and 4.5 hours drive from Wellington.
While you’re there, try your hand at a volcanic wine and craft beer tour, or for the adrenalin junkies enjoy an unforgettable white water rafting trip on The Tongariro River. When you’re ready to wind down and pamper yourself, pay a visit to the geothermal waters of the Wairakei Terraces. This year, after the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge, I’m particularly keen to try trout fishing and hitting the mountain bike trails with my son. With everything in New Zealand being so easily accessible and close together, it’s great you’re able to see and do a lot in such a short time frame!
Where are your personal favourite places to cycle in New Zealand?
New Zealand is blessed with such beautiful scenery, so basically every cycle destination comes with its own unique charm and awe. Spoilt for choice, there are 21 cycle trails in New Zealand that will truly show you the raw splendor of the country. That being said, the Timber Trail through Pureora Forest Park is a beautiful adventure!