Monthly Archives

November 2017
Posted By: Cedric On: Nov 21st, 2018 In: News Triathlon Uncategorized X-terra Comments: 0

XTERRA WORLD CHAMPS MAUI 2018

In 2009 I was a youthful and wide-eyed triathlete, landing in Maui for my first experience of the island (and my 2nd xterra ever). I’d flown in with my steel framed Kona Caldera mountain bike and aluminium wheels (must have weighted about 12 kg at least), and within a couple of days was sent out to climb the mighty Haleakala volcano alongside Julie Dibens, Paul Davis, Llewelyn Holmes and a couple of others. Of course the rear wheel exploded halfway up the climb, and -the rear brake being nonoperational- I crashed heavily on the treacherous lava rocks on the way down, rendering swimming in the Pacific for the following couple of weeks with open wounds into an absolute nightmare. Schooling days!

 

To my surprise however, I managed to blag a 30-34 World title, placing 2nd amateur and 22nd overall. Needless to say, I was hooked.

 

9 years down the line, now a newly-retired-yet-still-part-time triathlete, I still don’t have enough of the island, and so went back to Maui for the 5th time (!). Truth be told, the big aim was the long trip in Kauai afterwards, more precisely the end of the Kalalau trail where Silvia and I lost ourselves to the bowels of Mother Nature back in 2014..

 

Nevertheless I was hoping for a decent showing on race day. Having ‘qualified’ in Romania in August, that gave me two months to try to recover some decent fitness. In fact I’d started to feel like a cyclist again only just a couple of weeks before departure – prior to that, I could still pretend to be a decent swimmer/runner, but my cycling legs never got back anywhere near their vintage years like xterra Pacific islands 2012 – or even IM Barcelona 2017 for that matter. Perfect timing I thought.
Having done this race twice (DNF in 2011, 18th in 2014), I knew what to expect: tons of climbing, some twisty bits during the first and final miles of the bike, but nothing too technical. At least not when it’s dry. However, as for any mtb course, weather conditions will often have a massive influence on its technicality/ridability.
When we got there on the Wednesday, I only had time for a run and the course was already very slippery, though manageable. Doing the whole loop on the Thursday, I was able to ride about 95% of it, having to push the bike on only 2-3 occasions. But already it was a really thin line between making it and having to unclip and push bike. Any more rain and many of those ‘just abouts’ would become ‘no nos’.

 

In the meantime, Friday was an off day so we did the road to Hana, the whole loop, anti clockwise. Long and windy but oh so majestic road trip!

 

 

I didn’t bring any mud tyres with me. The local bike shops had sold all their stock. In any case those same bike shops (sharks) were charging $95 per hour for labour. So fuck that. It did rain every day though, especially at night. On the Saturday, the day before the race, the lower part of the course was absolutely unridable. Imagine having to climb 25% steeped banked hairpins covered in slippery yet sticky mud. And now try to descend that. Total joke. One of the bike mechanics in Paia told me to spray the tyres and the underneath of my bike with some PAM butter to repel the mud, and to carry a knife with me to cut through the mud if it still managed to accumulate nonetheless and prevent the wheels from turning. So that was my plan B.

 

D – 1

 

Secret Weapon?

 

On race day it wasn’t actually raining. Lono, the Hawaiian rain deity had decided to give us a day of respite I guess; however the damage was done! The surf was up and higher than I’d ever seen before on that part of the coast, and the organisers had decided to implement the “plan B” they mentioned in the race briefing: ditch the unridable first 2 miles of uphill switchbacks in the bushes in favour of hard ground golf cart tracks.

 

I’d slept quite well (not a good sign) and wasn’t too stressed considering the scale of the task awaiting us on the slopes of the West Maui mountains. I was eager to get going and excited to try out the Kiwami Aquarush sleeved swinskin for the first time in a race (swimskins are banned in Europe). Things triathletes get excited about…During the warm-up swim, I mistimed a (big) wave on my way back to the shore, found myself tumbling 3-4 times and for a moment unaware of where the surface vs the ground were. When I finally found some air and my bearings, I felt somewhat disorientated and realised I had lost my timing ship in the mayhem. 10 min before the start, this wasn’t the ideal situation…Luckily I saw Trey Garman on the shore, and within 5 min Janet Clark (Xterra director) was calling out my name on the beach with a new chip in hand. Quite efficient on that one guys! I was back smiling.

 

The ensuing swim didn’t feel too difficult in comparison. I mostly led the 2nd big pack around, used the waves a lot more to my advantage (except going back IN for the 2nd lap, which felt like one step forward 2 step backward for a little while. Also diving under a wave and having to stay underwater for 10-15 seconds while already out of breath was borderline scary!). When I reached the shore for the 2nd time and was on my way up to T2, I found myself next to Josiah Middaugh and Melanie McQuaid (both ex Xterra World Champs), exactly like I did back in 2009 for my first time here. Shows that when it comes to swimming, once you reach a certain level, you don’t really improve much, but you don’t lose much either! I’m guessing I could still swim at that pace in 10 years time (what with a few months training obviously).

 

All smiles with Konstantinos Koumargialis, 30 min from the start.

 

 

SWIM START – with my mate Rife Hilgartner

 

 

XTERRA MAUI 2018 – SWIM START

 

XTERRA 2018 SWIM START

 

XTERRA MAUI 2018 – SWIM

 

XTERRA MAUI 2018 SWIM EXIT

 

XTERRA 2018 SWIM EXIT First Lap

 

XTERRA MAUI 2018 – SWIM EXIT – ONTO T1

 

Onto T1 then. My Achilles’ been sore for months, even more so right after coming out of the water, so I just cruised to T1, the legs feeling rather good otherwise. I lost my usual 30 seconds on pretty much everyone, and when I jumped on my bike I could see both Lesley Peterson and Brigitta Poor now in front of me. Luckily, as I mentioned earlier the first 2 miles were all uphill and on tarmac, my terrain of predilection!

 

 

Great pic by Silvia Gin. INTO THE LIGHT!

 

By the time we reached the lake, I had overtaken a good dozen riders and was in 20th position overall. Unfortunately this is where we hit the trails and what was bound to happen did happen, though even earlier than I expected: on pretty much the first couple of bends I was already skidding all over the place, unable to get a grip on this Maui mud. I understood right there, 10 min into the bike, that this race was already over for me (for those interested, I had a Nobby Nic as a front tyre, and a Racing Ralph at the rear. These are not mud tyres by any means. Mind you, even with mud tyres, you’d still have to get off the bike a lot on this course in these conditions, even for the most skilled riders. But without, you can’t even try.)

 

There was a crazy scene on the long uphill stretch that leads to the trademark ridge which marks the summit of this course. A file of riders were following each others, pushing bikes, sliding back, trying to step back on the saddle but inevitably failing to pedal more than a couple meters and falling over again. In some places the gradients were so steep and the mud so slippery that even pushing bike was a nightmare and you could see riders and bikes sliding backwards with a bunch of expletives as the soundtrack. One step forward, 2 steps…once again. Even the cameramen on their powerful motorbikes got stuck on some of these portions. Comical scenes for any outsider watching for sure (I hope everyone following the race on TV had a laugh), but in the heat of it, believe me, it was no fun at all. All the bits that were “just about” ridable 3 days previously were absolutely not today, and there are lots!
Only on the more exposed part of the course was it possible to ride a bit and feel part of a bike race, but as soon as we hit the (mostly man made) twisty loops of the last 5 miles of the lower slopes, it became a joke again. By that time, the wheels were not turning, gears not shifting, cables not moving, brakes not braking…a pleasure.
Somehow though, Silvia managed to hide in the bushes and catch me smiling and ON the bike!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes I would stop minutes at a time trying to remove manually the deadly mix of mud and cane leaves that forced the bike to a standstill. I must have crashed at least 10 times, including once on camera (see the video at the end of this article), and once into a tree.
Exiting this mess and reaching T2 felt like a deliverance. I had no idea of my position any more (I knew I was far), but was all too glad to finally be able to drop this bike!

 

Once on 2 feet it felt more like a race, even though there were times were the only way to move forward was to pull yourself from trees and branches and whatever you could grab. The best off road shoes were slipping like on ice, but I’m sure a good old pair of cross country spikes (15mm) would have been a massive advantage on this course – I believe only Bradley Weiss (2nd place finisher and fastest runner on the day by 2 minutes) had the idea/luck to wear some. I must have overtaken a dozen guys or so on that run, without especially trying hard as I wasn’t really in it mentally, but still I felt like I finished on a good note, with even a sprint finish to boot (!).

 

Glad it’s over?

 

 

Bikes in T2

 

 

 

RACE HIGHLIGHTS (check out my skills at 3:15!):

 

 

RESULTS

 

That would be 39th then. By far the furthest I’ve ever finished, not only in Maui, but in any triathlon! Not that it mattered too much, the most important was to finish, in one piece. What really mattered was…the Kauai holiday afterwards. And that didn’t happen! We flew there the morning after the race. Perfect sunny day in Maui, the best we’d had so far. Less than one hour flight to neighbouring Kauai and it’s pouring down and overcast like crazy. As we collected our hire car, we learned that the road to Haena (not Hana), where the trailhead to the Kalalau trail (the very reason why we came here in the first place) had been closed since April due to heavy flooding, and only opened for residents…Furthermore the weather forecast was heavy rain and flash floods for the next week. Not ideal when our plan was to camp here the whole time…It took us only a couple of hours to decide to switch plans and head off to dry and sunny California instead…Kauai we’ll have to come back!

 

Badwater Basin, Death Valley…as far from the rain as can be!

 

Zabriskie Point!

 

San Francisco!

 

Golden Gate

 

California Style

 

Big Sur

 

Dream Car, Santa Cruz

 

Big Sur

 

Big Trees! (Sequoia National Park)

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A Car Road/Whoops/A Road Trip in California and Maui with @cedwoo and John. Soundtrack by Percy Mayfield

A post shared by Silvia Gin (@ginsilvia) on

Posted By: Cedric On: Nov 4th, 2017 In: Blog Music Comments: 2

Boiler Room Debut

Following on to a Live Resident Advisor appearance earlier this year (note that I wore the same T-shirt!), I was recently invited to appear in a Boiler Room session for the first time, for what was dubbed a ‘psychedelic special’ session where I would play after The Flamingods and before cult Colombian cumbia band The Meridian Brothers. 

We all have our own opinions about BR, some praising the exposure it gives to DJs while others (myself included) moan about its objectivisation of the DJ art form where, because of the cameras, a set becomes more a performance than about the music itself. It is indeed hard to stay still and let the music play when there are 3 cameras permanently in your face. However I took this as an opportunity to reach a wider audience and show what a typical (albeit very condensed) Cedric Woo set would sound like. + more

Posted By: Cedric On: Nov 27th, 2016 In: Blog Music Comments: 4

David Mancuso – Music Is My Way Of Life

For my inner circle of music friends, there isn’t a lot that hasn’t been said about David already, especially since his passing on Monday the 14th of November, but for my ‘triathlon friends’ I thought this little tribute would be much welcome as I believe most wouldn’t even have heard of him.

 

I won’t do a full biography/music history here, as others are much more qualified and have even done so eloquently already, starting with this exceptional interview of David done by my friend Tim Lawrence, author of the dance music bible Loves Saves the Day (whose title itself comes from an invitation at David’s Loft party in 1970). Rather I will keep these reflections quite personal and link all the relevant tributes along the way.


love-saves-the-day-by-tim-lawrence + more

Posted By: Cedric On: Nov 21st, 2015 In: Blog Music News Comments: 1

Soundspecies – Balafon Jam (Beauty & the Beat 001)

Here we are, finally, after years of procrastination and a couple of false starts: the first Beauty & the Beat release has landed, just in time to help celebrate the 10th year anniversary of the party. The track “Balafon Jam” by our mates Soundspecies has been a firm favourite since its release on a Boglewaltz comp a few years back, but sadly was never released on vinyl.

 

After asking John Talabot for a remix a couple years ago, and having him agreeing but not failing to deliver, we’ve asked ‘man of the moment’ Wolf Müller to step in…and that turned out to be the right move indeed. The resulting remix is a belter of a tune, deep, tribal, cosmic, a perfect match to the ethos of the party.

+ more

Posted By: cedric On: Nov 12th, 2014 In: Blog Photos X-terra Comments: 0

Xterra Maui 2014

I may have done only one xterra this year (not very successful at that, see my report on xterra Italy) but thanks to some AA flight vouchers I’ve known since February that come October I’d be back in Maui to give this race a (possibly last) shot. My last attempt was in 2011 when I took a wrong turn on the bike and went off course, never to reappear…Someone’s got some unfinished business you see. Admittedly the appeal of a return to Kauai and especially to the majestic Kalalau trail has helped equally to keep my motivation levels pretty (very) high.

 

This time the plan was to stay a week on Maui, to be followed by a week on Kauai straight after the race. I aimed to arrive on race day as relaxed as I could without getting caught up into some unnecessary pressure, and this involved not staying or hanging out with my fellow triathletes. I chose instead to be all cozy with my girlfriend and acclimatise nicely to the tropics, while showing her some of the best spots of the island along the way. Easy. + more

Posted By: Cedric On: Nov 8th, 2013 In: Blog Music Comments: 0

Brilliant Corners

It’s been a long time coming but it is finally here, Brilliant Corners, our new hub for music, food, poetry, wine, and whatever else we fancy. Looking great, sounding amazing, the space is a blank canvas as Amit loves to say, nothing is definite, only quality.

 

For the time being I will be hosting SARAVA ! every Saturday night until the end of the year with members of the Extended Beauty & the Beat family – we’re throwing ‘construction parties’ inna Paradise Garage style every week-end to fund the missing bits such as tables, chairs etc. Very exciting project to say the least ! + more

Posted By: Cedric On: Nov 27th, 2012 In: Blog News Photos Comments: 0

who’s the wildest?

 

Last week-end I was faced with the choice between flying out to Thailand for 70.3 Phuket or…drive down to Surrey for the Wildman duathlon. Guess what I chose… + more

Posted By: Cedric On: Nov 22nd, 2012 In: Blog News Comments: 0

Now I’m a VET…and still running…

…the path is infinite!

 

It was admittedly a bit of a shock to see my name followed by V35 in the category section. Really? Am I already a VETERAN? Didn’t see that one coming at all!, but heh there is still some life in the old dog. At least the winner was also a VET, so things are not that grim Wink

+ more

Posted By: Cedric On: Nov 16th, 2012 In: Blog News Uncategorized Comments: 0

Knees and Elbows Deep in Deadly Mud Bog

First tentative ride of the autumn in Epping forest and it didn’t disappoint. The trails are customary muddy, not a surprise, but the fallen leaves covering the tracks allow for some nice little surprises…like this deadly bog I dove in head first. Invisible until I got right on it, front wheel got stuck right in and next thing I knew I was knees and elbows deep in it…and sinking. + more

Posted By: Cedric On: Nov 6th, 2012 In: Music News Uncategorized Comments: 0

Try To Be Sure Right From the Start…

Truth be told this is not exactly the most ecstatic period in my life. Short cut story in 7 blissfully melancholic tunes

+ more