March 21, 2012
FLO Cycling - An Interview with Singapore 70.3 Champion Josh Amberger
As many of you know, Josh Amberger has helped us at FLO during our design process. We sent Josh our prototypes along the way and he helped us tweak our designs into what they are today.
Over the weekend Josh took his first 70.3 title by winning Singapore 70.3. To say we were excited would be an understatement. To be completely transparent, even Josh doesn't have the final FLO wheels yet. He like all of our other faithful follower/customers, is waiting for our first round of production wheels to arrive. It would have been nice to have Josh on our wheels for the day, but in all honesty it's simply awesome to see a great guy get a win he more than deserves. We've known Josh for over a year now and we couldn't be more proud of his accomplishment and to call him part of the FLO team. Below is an interview with Josh a few days after his big win.
Be sure to follow Josh on his social media sites and his blog (which is rather entertaining by the way)
Here is a video of the win before we get to the interview...
FLO: You just recently became Singapore 70.3 champion. First, how does it feel and second, walk us through the day.
Josh: Thanks Chris, it feels a little surreal to be a 70.3 champion considering this was only my second 70.3 competition. I was a late entry into the race, entering only 3 weeks prior. During the Australian Summer, a lot of my friends were doing very well in domestic long course races. I have been training really well and knew I had a great long course performance in me too, so just like that, I registered for the Singapore 70.3!
Race day started early, like always. I caught a taxi to race site, and the first thing to do was set up my transition. Being an unknown to this style of racing, I felt there was no pressure on me as all the pros were crammed into the racks setting up their transitions. This made me feel relaxed and ready to set out in the inner mongrel come race time. The heat and humidity in Singapore was going to be the most testing aspect of the race, so I decided to skip a cycle or run warm up, and headed down to the beach for a light swim.
Once the gun went off, there were four of us that cleared out quickly in the swim including myself, Dylan McNeice (NZL), Dennis Vasiliev (RUS) and Christian Kemp (AUS). Dylan, Dennis and I are amongst the best swimmers in the ITU style competition, so I predicted their company, but to have Christian there was a little surprising and intimidating because he was probably the best runner in the field. We swam conservatively and exited the water with a little over a 2 minute lead. Onto the bike, I was on the front from the start and pushed hard to try and abort the plans of the other athletes I swam with. Even though I went through 40km (25miles) on the bike in 55minutes flat, I couldn't drop the guys behind me. The flat course was certianly fast, but probably not challenging enough to be able to drop the weaker cyclists. We remained as a bunch the whole 90km and we put a further 6 minutes into the chase pack. I made sure to keep well hydrated because the run was where the race would be won. Onto the run, I knew Christian Kemp would be the strongest so I set about sticking with him for as long as I could. Surprisingly, I found myself surging on him and dropping him at the 1km mark. The rest of the run was on my own out front, putting further time into those behind and trying to keep hydrated and smooth to avoid getting crushed by the humidity.
FLO: How did you get your start in Triathlon?
Josh: I started training full-time Triathlon when I was 14. Before this I was a competitive swimmer for as along as I remember. While I was consistently one of the best in the country for my age in freestyle events, I was really bored with the repetition and lack of variety in swimming. My swim coach, a legend of the sport John Rogers, was also an avid Tri fan. I had been toying with the idea of Triathlon and he surprisingly supported me with my shift to Tri. He gave me a signed poster of Dave Scott addressed to him after he won the Lake Biwa Ironman in Japan in 1990, and that was my ticket. Be like Dave Scott...
FLO: Take us through a typical week of training.
Josh: Leading into Singapore I was completing some good base work. I was swimming 15km a week, cycling around 520km and running 80km. This took about 32 hours each week and was based mostly of strength aerobic work, long TT's and lots of climbing on both the cycle and run.
FLO: Do you train with power or heart rate?
Josh: I would love to train with both, but at the moment I'm just using HR zones as my guide. I used to have an SRM before it got taken off me by the federation when I got booted from the High Performance program. Now I'm high and dry, not really wanting to make the investment, I would rather be sponsored one!
FLO: Do you have a coach?
Josh: I have a swimming coach, but no Triathlon coach. This was a conscious decision I made 18months ago after I left my coach of 5 years. Shaun is no schmuck, he's the Head coach of high performance Triathlon in Australia, but after 5 years I was looking for a change. I'm the kind of person who thrives by themselves, who doesn't need someone there every second of the day to tell them what to do and how they should do it. After well over a decade of being competitive in both swimming and triathlon, I felt as if I had adequate knowledge to move to self-coaching. David Lush is a good friend of mine, and I have him as a swimming coach because swimming as we all know, is easily the hardest discipline to train for by oneself. I also like to cross-reference sessions and ideas with other independent coaches, and sometimes pick and choose sessions to do with other athletes. While Shaun no longer coaches me, he's probably my main advisor. I'm certainly not isolating myself, but more enriching myself. You learn a lot more training by yourself than any other way, but you certianly have to be careful not to get lazy!
FLO: Last season you battled injuries and had what you considered disappointing races. What did you do over the off-season/what changes did you make to start this year off so well?
Josh: A little trivia on my injury first... I had an injury with my tibialis Posterior from December 2010 until April 2011. It was an acute achilles pain, which was getting treated as an achilles injury when it was in fact the tib-pos. This was maldiagnosed by as many as 5 physios and one physician, and I found out the real cause of the injury on google by myself. Once I found out what was happening with my tib-pos, I fixed the injury in 48hours.
I've been injury free since this, which has of course allowed uninterrupted training. I put down most of the disappointing results last year to under training (refer to my point about getting lazy in the question above), and really stepped up my training volumes and actually stepped down the instensity of some sessions. My old training was low volume with lots of intensity, now I'm working more to develop my areobic capacity. I have a high V02 max anyway, so it makes sense to drop intensity to work on aerobic economy. I think this is specific to my result on the weekend over the 70.3 distance, and hopefully also impacts well on my Olympic distance racing this year.
FLO: You've been beating the likes of Andy Potts and Cameron Dye out of the water... something very few athletes can do. What type of swimming background do you have and what are some of your greatest swimming accomplishments/times? Also, what is your favorite/most challenging swim set?
Josh: I've already spoken about my swimming background, and believe it or not I don't know many of my times. But I can give you some good sets. One of my favorites (in metric system, all on 1.15cycle)
500m- 400m moderate, 100m hard
400m- 300m Moderate. 100m hard
300m- 200m Moderate. 100m hard
200m- 100m Moderate. 100m hard
200m- 100m hard, 100m moderate
300m- 100m hard, 200m moderate
400m- 100m hard, 300m moderate
FLO: What does your diet look like? Do you follow anything special.
Josh: Nothing special at all, just good food! Although, I do buckle at the knees when my Mum or my girlfriend bake for me, that's a real weakness of mine.
FLO: Your girlfriend Ashleigh Gentle is a rising star as well. Tell us a little about her and how can people find out more about her?
Josh: Ash is amazing. Tied with my Mum, she is the most amazing lady I know. She has just turned 21 but already has an impressive resume of results. She is a 3 time ITU junior world medalist and champion, ITU World Cup champion and 2x top 10's in ITU WCS series from two attempts. She has an inkling to do some non-drafting events but for now, the ITU racing really suits her and she will go on to amazing things. She's rather quiet on the social media front but she has just started to run a blog at http://ashleighgentle.blogspot.com.au/
FLO: What is your race day strategy?
Josh: This is no secret. The swim is my strength so I like to either lead (when there's a good preme up for grabs) or sit in second or third. A good swim is the key to also breaking away on the bike, and I always try to push this agenda. The run is my weakest, but I can certainly run well enough to hold off chasers.
FLO: What is your number one race day tip for other athletes?
Josh: When I'm racing, I normally run over some quotes in my head. Lately Steve Profontaine's classic line 'to give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the give' has been going well. For me, it helps to know a few words from those who have been there before, who are well acquainted to the same pain we go through on race day. Know these words and use them!
FLO: What does the rest of your season look like for those interested in following you?
Josh: Hopefully with this win in Singapore I will have enough points to qualify for the 70.3 Worlds in Las Vegas, that race will be high on the agenda. Otherwise, I will continue to qualify for 5150 Hy-Vee and do a number fo 5150 races. My next event will be 5150 St. Anthony's followed by Rev3 Knoxville. I will also compete in some European 5150's before coming back to America for New York City 5150, Minneapolis Toyota Cup and then hopefully the Hy-Vee 5150 championship!
FLO: What FLO Wheels did you chose to ride and why?
Josh: I have chosen to ride the FLO 60 and FLO Disc combo, both with ceramic bearings. I rode the FLO 60 prototype last year and was really impressive with it's versatility as an aero wheel, and you're always going to need a disc wheel for a fast TT. I also love the dynamics ceramic components add, so I had to choose those also, it was a wise decision by FLO to include this option!
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All the best,