Glen Chadwick (Team Type) has had quite a season so far. The 31-year old New Zealander was hospitalized for several weeks in February after doctors discovered he had the Epstein-Barr virus in his spine. After his recovery, he went on to win two stages and the overall title at the inaugural Tour of Arkansas, in May. He then topped it off with his first participation at the Olympic Games, where he represented his country along with two teammates, Julian Dean and Tim Gudsell, in the road race.
Chadwick, or Chaddy as he is known, finished fifteen minutes and fifty-three seconds behind the winner, but finish he did.
After spending only one week in Beijing, Chaddy was back in the United States, racing at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah with his team, and that is where I caught up with him. A relaxed and joking Chaddy shared some of his memories about his Olympic experience.
Chadwick went on to a third-place finish overall at the Tour of Utah and claimed the King of the Mountain title.
When did you leave Beijing? Did you come directly to Utah?
Chaddy: My flight was like at 3 o’clock in the afternoon in Beijing, which is 3 am east Coast time, and then I got into Utah midnight, Monday night. I flew from China across America to Newark and back to Utah.
How is the jetlag? How do you handle all that traveling and time difference?
Chaddy: It was a 14 hour flight, a 12 hour time difference and then another 4 hours to Utah from the East Coast. Sleeping pills (laughs), they kind of work on airplanes. I wasn’t even on an aisle, I was in between people, I just moved when they moved.
You’re too nice (laughs) Did you wear compression leggings?
Chaddy: Yeah, I don’t like pushing out of the way. I got 2xU compression leggings, they should help.
So you’re here now, is the only way to deal with jetlag to work through it?
Chaddy: Yeah, I just have to deal with it. It wasn’t so bad, I guess, the first couple of stages were early starts, so I got to get up early and travel. I guess being on different timezones, maybe that helped, I’m not sure. I felt okay, the first stage was reasonably flat so I was pretty lucky.
What did it mean for you to represent New Zealand at the Olympics?
Chaddy: It meant a hell of a lot, it’s a great achievement to represent your country. On a sporting level, I don’t think you could aim any more higher than being at the Olympics, it’s an exclusive club. For New Zealand, we’ve only been competing at the Olympics since 1908 and this year, they had their one thousandth Olympian. I don’t know if I was it (laughs), I’ll get a letter in the mail and I’ll be like 999 or 1002 .. yeah, it’s pretty amazing that they’ve only been 1000 Olympians for New Zealand. Considering that America or Russia had 600 hundred at these games.
What was the experience like? Did it meet your expectations?
Chaddy: I had no idea what it would be like, the whole village thing, it was pretty cool, I had one week there. We were first event so I didn’t get to go to the Opening [Ceremony], it was like 5 hours on your legs, it wasn’t a good idea. It was pretty cool hanging out with the best athletes from New Zealand, they were all friendly and everyone, when you turned up at the village, everyone got a big welcome, all the guys did the Haka, it was awesome.
Chaddy: Whenever anyone would turn up, they knew when they would arrive, everyone was waiting outside and they all did the Haka.
Since you got to the village early, did you do it for other athletes?
Chaddy: We were never around but we did it for flag raising, so that was pretty cool.
What was the pollution like? Was it as bad as described in the papers here?
Chaddy: I don’t think so. I’ve raced in Asia a fair bit, you often see when you finish a race that you’re covered in black crap and dust and after the road race, there was none of that. It was a pretty hazy area but I think they did a good job trying to clean it up. You see on TV now how clear it is, I’m a bit jealous (chuckles), the humidity was the biggest thing there, it was 90 plus percent humidity, you sort grabbed a bit and chewed on it if you wanted it too, it was bloody crazy.
So how did you handle that [high humidity]?
Chaddy: You don’t, everyone has to deal with it, you could see in the results, the Colombians, the Mexicans, guys that live in that sort of environment didn’t have as big a problem as everyone else, and of course, there were the guys that finished top 10, air doesn’t affect them obviously (laughs). It’s great here, I’m breathing really good here at the moment.
Let’s talk about the race, those 6 hours that I watched streamed live.
Chaddy: 6 hours and forty minutes, that’s how long I took.
Tell me about the race experience. What about the spectators that were cheering on cue?
Chaddy: Yeah, I think there was a guy with a sign that said applause. (laughs) The Chinese got behind the event, all the events. I had a teammate Tim Gudsell, and his mom and dad were there to see him race and they saw him at the 3K mark at the start, they actually hired a taxi for the day and they saw the race one other time when we were riding on an access road and they were on the motorway and that was it, they couldn’t get to the circuit. There was at the 500 to go, the final corner, there was just a swarm of Westerners and that was it, that must have been the only point they could get to. I call them the CRAC, the Chinese Rent A Crowd.
Tell me about the course. Did you have a chance to train on it beforehand?
Chaddy: We did a couple of hot laps. You talked to a lot of guys like Julian Dean, my teammate and [Stuart] O’Grady and they said it probably one of the hardest one day courses out there, the circuit anyway. It was like a 12K climb with 2 twenty-second downhill sections and then downhill back but there was a headwind so you had to pedal. It was pretty fast, the next day there was a headwind through the climb, it was totally reverse, the temperature was as well, it was pretty cold up there apparently. It would have been nicer to have the headwind on the climb, it would have slowed the guys down a bit, it was a fierce tempo.
How did it go for you? You were working for Julian?
Chaddy: We were sort of working for Julian but there wasn’t a lot we could do, with bottles or feed. Trying to help him move up in the downhill section but on the way out, it was just ‘hang on’, do your best. I was watching my heart rate going out and it would never get below 180, 185, it was redline for 12K and try and recover.
Well, you finished.
Chaddy: Yeah, on the third last lap, the tempo was just crazy. Menchov, Sastre and Contador were all setting the tempo, three Grand Tour winners, working on the front, so what can you do? So I started going ‘hang on man, I’m in a bit of trouble here next time around’, I just hung on come around with 2 to go and the hand brake came out, but I was in a group of guys, so it wasn’t so bad and we just finished the race and it was good. I definitely wanted to finish.
How did the feeding work? How did the cars work?
Chaddy: There were countries with 5 guys, maybe 4, and 3, 2 and 1. So, the countries with 5 guys had their own car, we shared a car with Khazakstan because they have 2 guys so that made it 5 riders, I guess that’s how the system works. We used the cars in the first 80K on the flat, but in the circuits, there was a feedzone at the finish and a feedzone at the top so we just used them.
Did you have a chance to go see any of the events?
Chaddy: Sunday, we went to the swimming morning session, so we saw the great Phelps win his first gold, of the first of this Olympics. His arm span is longer than himself, I read that last night, his arm span is like 6 foot something, he’s double-jointed, he’s a bit of a freak I think (laughs). We went there and watched that, it was all right, pretty cool, that was it. We tried to get to the women’s beach volleyball but it was raining, a bit unlucky there. So that was the only thing we actually saw.
But you experienced the Olympic village.
Chaddy: Yeah. We saw Roger Federer, Nadal walk around. Kobe Bryant and guys like that, at the food hall, poor guys eating with plastic knives and forks and cardboard plates, I think it was a one night only thing for him. (laughs)
Were you impressed by anyone?
Chaddy: The night after the road race I met David Schimmer from friends (chuckles). It wasn’t at the village. One of the American sailors took us out, Austin Sperry. He took us out to the Budweiser party and David was there, and I thought ‘oh might as well meet you’, but no photos, he wasn’t doing photos. We figured it was like if one person takes a photo, there would like thousand …. I guess that was the most famous person. There was the American basketball team, familiar faces I’ve seen on TV for years.
What are the best memories from the whole experience? And do you want to do it again?
Chaddy: Oh yeah, I’d love to have another go at it, but it’s four years, who knows what’s happening in four years. Like maybe, there won’t even be cycling at the Olympics, I read that in one of the reports, but I can’t see that happening. I think the whole experience is something that will be locked in my memory forever, I really enjoyed just hanging out in our New Zealand block. they spruced it up with all sort of flavors of New Zealand and bits and pieces, it was cool just hanging out with the other athletes. I got to catch up with my sister-in-law, she rides for Australia.
Who’s your sister-in-law?
Chaddy: Anna Meares. married to my brother. She arrived the day of the road race, we were trying to catch with each other. I left Monday and she arrived Saturday and she had track sessions and stuff. Finally it was decided that she was having breakfast at 6:30am Monday morning so I had to get up and have breakfast with her, just to see her. That was cool, I hadn’t seen her since January 07, it was good to see her.
Chaddy: No worries.
And the travels are not over. After Utah, Chadwick was scheduled to fly back to his home in Belgium, where he will spend one week before heading to Ireland.