Josh Amberger - Star on The Rise
· Please tell us your name and where you are from, and where you are currently living.
- My name is Josh Amberger, I’m 24, from and living in Brisbane Australia
· What sports did participate in while you were growing up?
- I was a pool rat, competing from the age of 6 until I moved into triathlon at 14. Some cross country and athletics was mixed in between the unfortunate long hours in the pool (swimming is just not as fun as pushbikes & running!).
· Tell us about Josh outside of triathlon.
- Josh outside of triathlon is a low key but very adventurous Josh. I don’t like to make a fuss about myself or what I do, and have a small group of friends and a very dedicated girlfriend. I am hugely into the outdoors and inspired by the landscapes and wilderness around me. I’m passionate about music, specifically the underground metal scene and I have hundreds of vinyl records to embody the obsession. Meticulous coffee brewing is also steadily tamping down on my spare down.
· In other interviews we have read, it is obvious that you are very well spoken/written. What is your academic background?
- Thanks Dave! I’m just a humble undergraduate Arts student. I study history and international relations. My area of study is focused more on an interest rather than a definite career path, and my immediate future is focused on triathlon, but I’ll keep studying for the near future and see where it takes me.
· 2013 seemed to mark a strong switch from Olympic distance to long course. Will you stay or go back?
- 70.3 racing has captured my interest in a big way. I did two 70.3’s in 2012, and now I’m coming up to my sixth in 2013 (Shepparton was the last 70.3 of the year, and Josh took a strong second place to Terenzo). Last year there was a passion, but this year it’s an obsession. It’s unlikely I’ll return to a dedicated Olympic distance path, but I’ll still race in the format for the near future. I wouldn’t call myself a ‘long course’ athlete yet, it’s more middle distance for now, and Ironman later!
· You are known as one of the fastest swimmers in long course triathlon, how did you discover that, and do you work at it to stay there?
- I probably haven’t improved at swimming since I was 16-17, in fact, I’ve steadily been getting worse since then! Because of my swimming background, the ability has always been there, and I don’t have to work on it a huge amount to keep it where it needs to be. However if for example, I dedicate more than four long sessions a week to swimming, I can get quicker in a very short amount of time. Before Hy-Vee in 2011, I trained for three weeks and beat Andy Potts out of the water by 56 seconds. But that was for a $15,450 incentive…
· What is your race bike set up for this year?
- This was my first year as an official Sram/Zipp athlete, though I have been riding Sram & Zipp for years. This year I chose to set up on carbon clinchers, with either a 404 or 808 front wheel and Super9 disc on the rear. I chose clinchers for number of reasons, with convenience being a priority here. Being from Australia, I travel the world to compete for up to six months each year. Last year I travelled with five wheels, this year I travelled with three. Clinchers give me the freedom to train and race on the same wheel by easily swapping over the tires. The Zipp hubs are also so easy to work on that I can maintain the bearings and parts very easily after training in unavoidable weather conditions. I can also take the axles out for more compact travel, and still put them together again with only a small allen key on the other end. In addition, I’m not a techo but the difference in feeling on carbon clinchers is very attractive, and I can certainly feel the well documented advantages of them when both training and racing. I also chose to set up with a Zipp VukaBull basebar and VukaShift extensions for superior comfort and integration.
· How do you use your Quarq for training and racing.
- This year I reacquainted myself with power. I had used a power meter back in 2010 when I was racing ITU, but this was more to please the bureaucrats than for my actual benefit, I was never taught how to use it. This year I have been using the Quarq instruments for the first time and I have noticed tangible gains in bike strength and speed by simply using the tools to gauge my efforts. Using the Quarq stops me from going out to hard at the beginning of the race, and helps me know when I’m soft pedaling in training. It helps me understand the differences and outcomes for being fresh for some sessions, and tired for others. I’m learning more about this device every week, and can’t wait to make more calculated strategies with my power meter next year as I start working with a new coach.
· Your success most recently, at last week’s Shepparton 70.3 and leading a large portion of the race in your debut at Vegas 70.3 World Championships have you marked as one to watch. Have these successes changed how you race?
- Thanks Dave! I don’t think my small success has changed my strategy in any way. The reality is that middle and long course racing is only going to get faster, which means faster swims, fast rides and faster runs. I’ve already got my swim world-class, my bike is already better than average, and my run will improve when I dedicate myself entirely to it, as is such with my cycling at the moment. Those athletes who can’t keep up will be obsolete, racing from behind from the beginning. My strategy moving forward will remain swimming & biking as fast as I can, while steadily improving my run.
· You have a very fast partner in Ashleigh. Is she also a training partner, or is that too much for you guys?
- Indeed she is very fast! I’m okay training with Ash, it’s great motivation having her outrun me once in a while, & I stress ‘once in a while’! For now I don’t have to worry about her beating me up on the swim & bike, but I’ve got a problem when I do. Maybe then that’s when I’ll know to throw in the towel.
· How did Noosa go this year, for you and Ashleigh?
· - Noosa was a small disappointment for me, but it was a great result for Ash. I finished 9th while Ash was 2nd to Emma Moffatt. I led the swim and bike, but the rules here are not favorable for a real non-drafting race and I was outpaced on the run by a handful of ITU athletes who were able to sit in formation, and also run down by some old hats like Greg Bennett. I wouldn’t have won regardless because I’m running like a dog’s breakfast at the moment, but it’s effectively a 5 meter draft rule in Noosa. I hate talking about the race in this way, but it’s unavoidable because it inarguably affects the outcome and takes away my advantage immediately. It’s such a good event & in the most beautiful location, but the rules need to be brought up to a modern standard. To win here in the future I’ll have to of course improve my run, but also be more tactical.
· What does 2014 look like for you?
- 2014 looks like it will be another year of hard fought & exciting racing on the 70.3 & Olympic distance circuit. It will undoubtedly be another year of training endless compulsive hours and brewing a heavy amount of coffee. I’d probably like to travel a little less next year than I did this year to keep myself fresh and motivated, but I’ll definitely be racing in the Asia-Pacific region and in North America at championship & regional events. I’m thankful to be moving forward with support from the best brands in the business; Sram, Felt, TYR, Rudy Project, FuelBelt and Shotz, with the guidance of Evan Gallagher from BPM athlete management and a new coach which I will be announcing soon. I look forward to meeting and spinning a yarn with many passionate triathletes out there, and winning many races on my Felt IA & Sram RED 22 gruppo!