Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sweat box

Thank god I did not go to Illinbah for the 2nd National round. Rhino has described it as 'wet and cowpats'. That is pretty much what I remember from last year.

Today's ride was pretty good. It was a funny day with sun, cloud, humidity and puddles.

Therefore I sweated - and passed through a bit of body-salts!

I battled out into the headwind, saw Kylie, and chased her down. She was churning the big ring, and it took forever to catch her. We talked some crap before she hit the fireroads for home.
I went for an extra spin up the trunk trail at Stromlo and then a quick World Cup lap. It was pretty well drained out on the trails today after all the rain that has fallen in the last 3 days.
Out on the trail at various spots I saw about 4 other people on bikes. As usual I said g'day to them as we passed on the trail. No response from any of them. Must be 'mute muppets' day out.
After surfing the tailwind home..... highlights being a 80km/hr tailwind assisted descent at the arboretum after getting scoped by the security guard, 30km\hr up the bikeway at the end of the ride, and no flat tyres for a change.

Stats for the ride
time: 4 hours 12 minutes
avg HR: 147
max HR: 177
metres climbed: 1225
max speed: 80km/hr
people seen: 5
bottles of cytomax consumed: 3
bottles of Nuun consumed: 1
bottles of water consumed: 3
Energy gels consumed: 4
Clif Shots consumed: 12
bowls of pasta eaten last night: 3
bowls of pasta eaten after ride: 2
overs of cricket watched for recovery: 7

My pedals need an overhaul, they were squeaking under my immense power! Couldn't tell if it was the cleat, the pedal or the disc for ages.

Friday, November 28, 2008

More time in the car

Thursday brought about the threat of a thunderstorm. It also coincided with the weekly dirt crit, which this week was held at Tuggeranong Pines. Tuggeranong Pines is nifty. That is about it. It is contained (ie small) and there are no flat trails anywhere.
Getting to this course at peak hour is just about the most painful thing in the world. For a 5-10 kilometre stretch, it took 30 minutes in the car. I do think that riding out would have been a better option. But the colour of the clouds took that thought away. Plus the Monaro Highway is a death trap!
When I arrived, the rain was falling. I got out the rain jackets, umbrellas. towels etc. Then the rain stopped. As good as bringing mud tyres I reckon.
The course was run up a downhill track through berms and jumps on a gradient that was doable in big ring, but just hard enough not to choose to do it every lap. It then went down another downhill track. It was a bit longer than the standard offerings which is a good thing to align them a bit with the National race offerings.
With the bad weather and the fact that the 2nd National round is on this weekend, the A grade turn out was only 4. They combined the A and B classes which was a good idea with the weather looming grey.
After last week's dodgy tactic, I was motivated to pin it from the start. When the gun went I clipped in quickly and got the holeshot into the singletrack to start the ascent. After the initial fireroad there was a couple of rollers which I was able to hit up as a double jump. This gave me a nice backside pump and propelled me into the next corner. I took it reasonably easy up the first couple of climbs, as it was a long one. This turned out to be a good idea as the fatigue of the week's training started to kick in about lap 4 of 7.
Here I assessed the situation. Stuart Shaw (Drapac Porsche) was the only rider still with me, it was hard to miss the full red outfit with the lenses I had on! He was having no problem on the climb, reeling back my advantage from each lap's prior descent. I decided to soft pedal the 6th lap as a recovery option (hard for others to pass in tight singletrack), then pin the descent before the last lap. This worked out well as I then had the last lap clear up the climb. Stuart took an alternative line 2/3 of the way up to try and entice me to start my attack early. It was a good move by him, but the 2 rollers he had to go over probably took his momentum away and I was able to attack at precisely the location that suited me.
This last attack took me to the top of the climb with exactly the amount of effort I could unload before recovery was begging, and I was able to ride the downhill smoothly, and hit all the double jumps on the final lap and take the win. I was impressed with Stuart's race as it was only his 4th ride on his new MTB and in his off season after 11 months of some serious road racing. I definitely would not be able to even keep with him in a road race. I think I was able to convince him that he would be able to race the National MTB Series event at Geelong in 2 weeks time.  After the race, we just talked crap about cycling in general.
Kylie was untroubled in the Women's class and was able to take the win. She was loving the downhill section. In practice I couldn't shake her at all, and she was busting air off all the doubles.
Hopefully the weather is good this weekend and I can get in some decent long rides. And I hope it doesn't snow like last weekend. Picture is Sven Nys from Belgium winning the last Cyclocross World Cup round. This was like me riding last weekend. NOT.


Monday, November 24, 2008

A big weekend of 'everything happens for a reason'...

The weekend just gone was really weird.  First off, it rained pretty much the whole time. I spent about an hour getting ready to go out. 3 layers, booties, arm warmers, heat cream on the legs. I checked the radar and the predicted temperature etc on the Internet. Really lagging here and this should have been the sign.
I went out on Saturday morning, not even 10 degrees. The first 4 minutes, I get snowed on for 30 seconds. Everything is cold, ears, hands, motivation. The bike was rolling really well. But the HR is way down due to a heavy week plus the cold. It just wasn't happening today.
I was so stoked when Kylie called me after an hour. She was laughing at me leaving the house, whilst she was spinning away warm and toasty on the wind trainer. I was done, and didn't feel bad at stopping, that's a good sign. Usually I would be itching at getting some riding in. So I had Sunday off also. I knew it was right because I felt like cleaning the house and garage. Funnily enough I spent more time tuning bikes this weekend than riding them!
Trev from Lonsdale Street Cyclery hooked me up with a bunch of Kenda Small Block 8 tyres for the next few months. These tyres rock for everything except mud.
I'll get a massage tonight and that should clean the legs up for the next 2 weeks of intensive training before the Geelong National Round.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Why the mud tyres?

We had a bucket load of rain here in Canberra in the last 24 hours - probably about 15mm. Therefore, before the Stromlo Short track on Thursday afternoon, I was wondering whether the mud tyres would be a viable solution. As we were driving out, it tried to sprinkle a little bit on the car. I even had the bikes in the back so as to keep them dry. When I got out there, Stromlo was perfect. It was as if it hadn't rained, there were 3 puddles about the size of a plate. This place is so well drained, it never fails to amaze me.
To put things into a tyre perspective, I used a Kenda small block 8 (1.95) on the front, and a Stan's Crow on the rear (2.0) -'
These thing roll fast - grip is brought to the party by low pressure and rider skill - read into that what you will!
Anyway, the racing was pretty fast today in A grade. I tried a different tactic today, and it pretty much backfired - pretty funny. I led for the first lap, then swung off to let through  Brad Morton. It was a windy afternoon so I was just going to sit on his wheel and conserve some energy. Michael Baker attacked hard and was suddenly driving the pace. He rode a strong race and was able to hold on until the end. Brad responded and got on to his wheel. I was then left yo-yoing on and off Brad's wheel - sort of in No man's land - I defintiely wasn't getting back on and around the 2 riders in front. I was left in 3rd and at Stromlo it is really difficult to overtake as the speed is really high and the power output required is massive also. Oh well, that tactic sucked - I'll shelve that one and go back to the tried and true next week for Tuggeranong Pines.
Kylie had a great race and won the women's class. As the women are grouped within B grade there is some pretty full on racing at times. On occassion, some blokes don't like it too much when they are getting pushed by a chick. One guy on a singlespeed was sort of holding up a bunch of riders. Kylie tried a low line pass through one of the berms and he went right off at her swearing his head off. This definitely wasn't a cool thing to do on his part, apart from being against MTBA racing regulations, it is just disrespectful to other racers. After her race Kylie brought this to the attention of the race organiser and also to the small person who had the loud mouth.
After racing the dirt crit I rode around talking crap with other people and even checked out the road crit that was happening down below at Stromlo.
Race Stats
laps: 7
Time: 11m:30s
Avg speed: 27km\hr
Avg HR: a bit lower today - 183
Laps led: 1
Mud tyres brought out in the car: 3
Mud tyres used for racing: 0
Bottles of NUUN drunk: 2
Two and a half men epsiodes watched whilst drinking protein drink: 3

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


After a flat out thursday, and a pretty hot saturday and a sunday spent climbing pretty much the whole day, I am pretty roasted. The legs were just empty shells today on the dog hills. No power and the HR was down about 15 beats. This is a sure sign I am tired and need some rest. So I get to sleep in tomorrow morning. This should do the trick and I'll be firing again on Thursday for the crit.
Just hope it doesn't rain. But it is ok as it probably won't because on Chris Jongewaard's advice I got some Specialized Storm Pro tyres. If I take these to every race, I can be assured that each event will not suffer from waterlogging - good in theory anyway.
I am throwing the Stan's Crow on for the Crit. We'll see if it holds the corners well. I used the most worn small block eights last week and they were ok, but the corners were a little lame - like cornering on eggshells.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Crit report plus other randoms

The fourth round of the CORC Summer Dirt Crit series was held at Stromlo yesterday. In addition, there was the Road Super Crits plus some junior coaching going on, so the vibe was pretty good.
The Stromlo dirt crit track is a standard. In that regard it does not change. It is the same every time. And it requires a ton of power and staying power as there are no recovery sections. After doing a tyre cull from the garage, I mounted up 2 reasonably worn SB8s - it was going to be a bit sketchy in the corners for sure. The A grade riders started off reasonably slow I thought. Gareth wasn't there for the first lap honours, so being the fastest to clip in and start pedalling I put the hammer down and got the holeshot into the first bit of singletrack. Stromlo is an easy course to ride in terms of technical difficulty. In that regard it took about 3-4 laps to break the first 5 riders up. After that time Brad Morton (who had placed 2nd in the Wednesday Road Crit A Grade race) was the only one who was with me. We had managed to just get a 5 second gap over 3rd-5th.
My tactics in this race were to go out and try and lead from start to finish, but I could feel on the 6th lap that there wasn't much left. On the 'recovery' descent on the 6th lap my HR had gone to 191bpm. Seeing that I could see Brad's Crossmark front tyre under my arm for the entire lap, I knew that I would be well pushed to keep the lead. Brad made a move after the start finish line and put in a burst of speed that I could not hold. I hammered the last lap as well as I could but Brad had it by a comfortable margin. 2nd place though - not too bad. I have used the same tactics against Brad in the past - they are pretty effective! Kylie raced well to claim 3rd in the women's class - probably still recovering from the week's training.
Laps 7
Average Speed 25.7km\hr
Distance: 5 km
Average HR: 180bpm
Laps on the front: 6.25
New tyres needed: 2
On other random cycling news......
Oscar Pereiro will never forget his crash during the Tour de France this year, when he fell off the side of the road on a switchback in the mountains. And to make sure he remembers, he has had the date of the crash tattooed above the scar on his arm. (Better not do this everytime he gets a scar)
Alexander Vinokourov is hoping to ride the Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège with his Team Astana this coming spring, according to reports in the Dutch media. The Kazakhstani rider is negotiating with the UCI to allow him to start as of the beginning of next year, but the world governing body of the sport is firmly against it. (Astana will be the loaded team this year)


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Stats for the last year of racing - the year in review

My racing season pretty much goes from November to November - this is mainly due to the Local Dirt Crit season starting in November - that is as good a reason as any.
During this time I raced 40 races, Short track, Cross Country, 3 hour and 24 hour.
The stats below outline some of the achievements.
Short track
22 - short track races contested
11 - podium positions
17 - top 5 position
Cross Country
16 - cross country races contested
10 - podium positions
13 - top five positions
3 - enduros contested
1 - podium position
2 - top five positions
All events
1ST Placings: 5
2nd Placings: 12
3rd Placings: 5
All in all I was happy with all the races and pretty much only had one or two race weekend where it did not go to plan and I felt like crap - this was Mount Beauty - last round of the national series. I think I just got the timing of the peak wrong here on a really hot and humid day. I was flying at the following weekend's race which was pretty funny - really needed for a club race!. Also I had an asthma attack on the 3rd lap at Thredbo - like sucking air through a straw. Alpine weeds the culprit here - rectified.
The 08/09 season will probably see the same sort of volume with regard to racing. As long as the races are under 3 hours, the recovery is pretty easy. Only taking a day or 2 before normal training loads can resume. I am toying with the idea of a couple of 100km races, but these have to be sorted in training first to ensure I know what is going to happen in the last hour of pain.
Another objective is to turn some of those 2nd placings into 1st placings - this will be no easy task as the competition is always full on. The great this is that I never stop learning through all of the experiences thrown up.

Monday, November 10, 2008

back to reality

After spending the last 10 days not working and pretty much just eating, sleeping and riding the bike, I am back at work and really tired. I did a pretty solid set of 3 days working on the basic abilities after the first race block of the season. Stats below.....
Days: 3
Time on bike: 13 hours
Calories expended: 5324, 2456, 6000 each day
HR: 150bpm avg, 180 max
Climbing: 1200m, 560m, 1000m
Energy Gels eaten: 16
Nutbars eaten: 4
Flat tyres: 1
Thorns removed from tyres after showing off: 32
Holes that latex sealed: 32
Saturday was pretty ordinary, it had rained all night and the trails were soggy and slow, plus it was windy, so we just went over to Bruce Ridge to try and figure out some good combos of trails. No luck there, I need to get a GPS to sort these trails. No big deal though. They are just there on the way on my big rides.
After the Adelaide National Round I had a bit of a break (in intensity) as it took a good while to fully recover from the weekend. The week now leading up will pretty much entail getting back on my program and sorting the things I need to sort. There is a dirt crit out at Stromlo this Thursday so that should be good. I'll see what's left in the legs for that one.
Yesterday Kylie raced her annual road race. The Tour de Femme. She achieved her objective which was to finish roughly in the bunch and gain some good training ks for the day. The Tour de Femme was a quick little affair with the average speed being about 40km\hr for the 22 km of non-flat roads. After the race she kept riding and logged some kays with me cruising around Canberra.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Adelaidean adventure

Adelaide is a great place - stating the obvious.......

The last week has come and gone and it was sensational. I travelled to Adelaide for the first National round of the season. A good turn out was had and the weather and the venue did not disappoint. The organisers had erected the biggest marquee ever. It was about the size of a football field (well maybe not that large, but it was pretty big) - it thus allowed for shade or shelter from rain. Great idea.

We flew in on Thursday and made our way to the Eastwood cottage that we stay in on an annual basis. This is relatively close to all things that are needed and is only about 15 minutes up the road to the race venue.

Friday was the obligatory registration and practice. 2 and a half laps was plenty in order to scope the track and check a few things. The course was pretty identical to last year, but a small section at the top was removed, no big deal. However luckily this year, it was dry, Thank god for this.

On Saturday Kylie raced first. This was her 3rd Elite race. She had a major crash the weekend before and was still sporting massive bruising to her legs and was still tending to scrapes on her arm and hip. She put in a pretty good race and finished 10th in Elite for the XC. The heat affected the women's field and Kylie suffered a bit from dehydration in this event. The main issue being that the course being almost entirely singletrack offered very little chances for drinking.

I raced later that afternoon. I noticed early in the day that Andrew Wilcher and Warren Burgess had showed up. This was going to be a hard race. From the gun, Andrew went out hard. I got on his wheel and followed him up to the top of the climb, then Warren raced past, so I swapped wheels, and andrew held onto mine. Warren always starts fast, and lead us by 12 seconds on the first lap. From here Andrew just motored and put in another 2 fast laps that sealed the race winning comfortably by a minute and a half from Warren. I finished 50 seconds back from Warren to secure the 3rd place on the podium. Ulitmately I was pretty happy with my race. I have pulled back time on Warren and Andrew. My training and taper were pretty spot on so that is good. Also, I didn't have any more to give when Andrew attacked on the 2nd lap. Things are going in the right direction so that is good.

On Sunday the short track was up. This is a cool little track that hurts you so much. The short climb requires a ton of power to overcome, then there is very little in the way of a recovery.

Due to a fast start lap in the cross country I was seeded on the front row - definitely an advantage. When the start got under way, Michael Baker and I pinned it. From the first climb though, it was apparent that Michael had some good power. His new hardtail was defintely working in his favor, and I pretty much could only just hold his pace from afar. One guy did a massive attack on the 2nd lap, which was not too wise. He blew up a lap later. After 15 minutes of flat biscuit racing, it was 3 laps to go. These were reeled off without too much drama and 2nd place was secured.

All in all, results wise the weekend went well. 2 races, 2 podiums. The training is paying off. The hardtail has been a good choice. And the desire is still very strong.

After my race, Kylie began her own short track pain session in the Elite class. She raced exceptionally smartly and finished in 5th position. Again, she did a great job, holding the intensity while still injured. And an improvement from last year, which is always pleasing.

The photos attached are a mix of personal ones plus some from Russ Baker.

We stayed on in Adelaide until Thursday. In that time we did some pretty awesome training and relaxing and recovering. We rode the rest of the trails at Eagle on the Hill. There are some pretty cool trails around here, and a million koalas everywhere.
We also spent $80 on sushi at the Sushi Train Restaurant in Chinatown. It was very good sushi. And I could have eaten more.
I ran the small block eights at this race (like I use any other tyre really) The course is exceptionally rocky - they got shredded up a bit on the back.
Kylie told Ben Henderson her hardtail weighed 6 kilos. He didn't believe her so he asked me.
Kylie rode with Ben, Trekkie and Joel down into town. Joel and Kylie missed the motorpacing that John Henderson provided to Ben and Trekkie courtesy of the Budget van 100 km/hr down the freeway.
People in Adelaide are friendly, but they drive really slowly - a shock coming from Canberra.
More tomorrow...