Dan Wilson on the spot
Written by: Sal Farruggia
Date: Tue Sep 25 2012
Slowtwitch: You finally have returned to racing. What happened to you the last year?
Dan Wilson: Iíve had a pretty wretched 18 months with injury. At the end of 2010, I crashed my bike, which gave me a Ďnigglyí sort of knee injury, which didnít seem like much at the time, but prevented me from running or riding for 4 months, and eventually led to surgery. After that, we tried to get back in shape as quickly as possible to give myself a chance in the Olympic selection races in 2011. I raced my only race of the year in Hamburg with a paltry 4 weeks training under the belt, and soon after gave myself a stressy in my Inferior Pubic Ramus (If you donít know where that is, think literal and metaphorical, pain in the ass!). That took care of me for the rest of that year, however the door was still slightly ajar in term of Olympic selection, as long as I hit the start of 2012 with aplomb, however we pushed a little hard again in trying to achieve this, and I gave myself another Pubic Ramus stress (different side this time!) in March, which took care of me for the first half of this year.
ST: How did the crash happen?
Dan: We were on a training camp just before Christmas, doing a long ride in pretty biblical rain. My mate Jimmy Seear hit a snake on the road and came down, breaking his collar bone, and I was right behind him and launched a swan dive onto the bitumen. I thought I was ok, and finished the ride, but by that night I could barely walk, and didnít see a pair of running shoes for another 4 months.
ST: Was it painstaking to be injured during an Olympic qualifying year?
Dan: Yeah, it wasnít easy. I could have lived with giving my best effort and coming up short, but sitting at home doing glute exercises while everyone else was racing was frustrating. Apparently though, Iím not the first athlete to deal with injuries, and more surprisingly, there are people more worried about where their next meal is coming from, rather than their next injury. So although it is frustrating because the sport means so much to you, remembering some people would love to have my troubles helps. Sometimes.
Dan: I did what most athletes do when they are injured, and built myself an electric guitar from scratch and moved in with some civilians (i.e. non-athletes). Aside from that, I tried to apply myself as much as I could to my rehab and training. When I couldnít ride or run, I started training with Australiaís best open water swim squad, and found out what 80kmís a week in the pool feels like (Chloriney Hell!). When I could ride as well, I immersed myself in critís and road races - even a 3 day bike race, which satisfied an overwhelming yearning for competition of any sorts.
ST: Were you able to represent triathletes with honor among roadies?
Dan: Yeah, I think I earned my stripes with the roadies, they were pretty impressed with how I climbed over the hills during the tour - it was nice to give back a bit of hurt up the hills to the bigger guys that demolish me in the sprints. Itís become clear that Iím no Cavendish though - I think Iíd still struggle to win a sprint in a solo breakaway. Sometimes triathletes get a bad rap from the cyclists, but I seem to have been accepted in to the cycling fraternity, so Iíll wear that as a badge of honor.
ST: Do the chops youíre rocking symbolize your return in anyway?
Dan: Haha, the chops were inaugurated when I arrived in France in June, fellow Aussie Pete Kerr had some impressive side levers underway, and as soon as I saw them, I said ĎIím in!í So we grew them to form ĎTeam Chopsí for the Tizzie World Cup. Peteís girlfriend visited him soon after, so he Ďchoseí to shave his, but, as daggy as they look, I havenít been able to bring myself to get rid of mine. Weíve accepted Brad Wiggins as an honorary member of Team Chops, which Iím pretty sure he is stoked about.
ST: How did you enjoy the new format at the Tiszaujvaros World Cup?
Dan: Loved it. Could be the future of the sport right there. Brings a whole new dynamic and tactics to the races, and I feel like the spectators are treated to a lot more intrigue and excitement. Especially on the Tissie course, with 115m to the first swim buoy, the desperation on the pontoon was almost palpable. Iíve enjoyed the change, and I think that is the direction the sport is heading. Weíre such a young sport.
Dan: Iím not sure, the smaller fields definitely create a different dynamic. In Tizzie, the swim broke up the race so it was a battle of two packs during most of the heats and final. There was a lot more commitment up front, especially in the heats, where you could earn yourself an easy run if you worked the bike hard. In my heat we pushed the bike, but then got to tell jokes and throw water at spectators on the run because we had that buffer. At a WTS level, the depth of ability would be higher again, and change the dynamic further, but I think that commitment to go on the bike would still be huge, as a sub-maximal run will be a very benevolent advantage when you have to toe the start line again with 24 hours recovery.
ST: What was the feeling like to be racing in a WTS event again, especially one as well attended as Hamburg?
Dan: Thereís no better place to race than Hamburg, especially after Iíd been off the scene for a while. There are spectators en mass, and they are passionate and knowledgeable as well - things like bringing photos of you they have taken from previous years and asking you to sign them makes you feel like a rock star! If you can tag onto a German on the run course, the noise they make is amazing, especially if you can convince yourself they are saying ĎWilsoní instead of ĎPetzoldí.
ST: How fast was the bike at Hamburg?
Dan: It was pretty quick. Iím not sure what the splits were, but you have to slow down for so many corners, so itís the accelerations that kill you getting back up to pace.
ST: How tough was it to break away and build an advantage on the bike? Looking back do you think you could have made the 30 seconds anywhere? (Editorís Note: Dan would have earned $2,500 from the new Specialized bike prime had his group had a 30 second advantage, they had 26)
Dan: I think we just needed a little more distance. The pace was pretty fast, so I think given a bit longer, that main pack would have started to get sick of hurting and started to look at each other a bit more and slow down a little. Or maybe I needed a more aerodynamic pair of wheels or something. Iím trying to outsource the blame on anything but the reality of the situation, which was that my legs weren't quite strong enough on the day!
Dan: For sure, the dude bridged the gap to the three of us by himself, and didnít shirk a turn for even a second, it was impressive. Itís easy to see why he goes well across many distances, the guy has got a cannon in each quad.
ST: What was it like being during France for Le Tour?
Dan: Itís great! I liken it to when test match cricket is on back in Australia, youíve got it running on the TV all day, checking in every now and again, and then always sitting in for the excitement over the last hour. I didnít get to see it this year because of Tizzie, which is a shame as they rode the Grand Colombier, which is a huge col just near us that weíve ridden a few times this year. They usually come near our base in Aix Les Bains each year, and some of the teams even stayed across the road from us once - Moffy was more excited when they drove past than when she won world champs!
ST: What will it take you to get your run back on track?
Dan: At the moment, I just need time. I havenít had an uninterrupted stretch of running for 18 months now, so I need that base to get the strength back in the legs that you need before you can work in the intensity required to compete at the top level. Iím hoping to get back in half decent shape by the end of the season, but getting to the end of the season healthy is paramount. Itís hard to try and piece together a year with such big holes in the running training, so Iím going to do myself a favor and make sure Iím healthy to race the first and the last race in 2013. And obviously, many in between, for those who have spotted the flaws in my aspirations.
Dan Wilson records his humorous observations at: http://danwilsontriathlete.blogspot.com/
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