Saturday, December 19, 2009

enforced break

I knew something wasn't quite right in Tasmania. I had a good win, but it wasn't the normal feel of 'effortless elatedness'! Even the pictures that Russ Baker took of me looked like I was not feeling good.

This week has been pretty much a write off with regard to training. The lungs and the head are clogged with either a cold or really bad allergies. Phlegm is not good for cycling!

SO in the meantime, I have been watching the cricket, installing a watering system and cleaning up the garage waiting for my head to clear up. It is a good time to dial in a few of my bikes, new chains, new push rod lever kit for the Avid Juicy Ultimates. No more slop at the lever!

Monday, December 14, 2009

stats from the weekend

Well, I have said it before, but I do reckon that Glenorchy is one of the toughest courses on the circuit. Stats don't lie.

Avg HR: 175bpm
Max HR: 189bpm
Distance: 28km (so short!)
Avg Speed: 20.91 km/hr
Total vertical metres per lap: 222m (888m for the whole race)

That is like climbing from my house to the top of Majura every lap!

Short track was just as hard, same sort of numbers, just a bit more dust with a bigger pack. Just a blur of pain - especially the soggy flase flat at the top of the course -every lap 185bpm trying to get through this to the bit where it starts descending.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

in the box

The cross country event for me started in the late afternoon. After pickign up my transponder and attaching it to the fork, I went for a spin to warm everything up.There was a ferocious headwind which at one point on the flat allowed me to pedal only at 17km/hr.
Veteran Men started at 2:35, and the mood on the startline was pretty relaxed, but the heart rate was revving nicely. When the gun went off, it was the usual frenzy of bravado and effort, at the feedzone (only 150 metress up from the start) everything had pretty much settled in. I was sitting in 4th wheel, making sure that I didn't go too deep, too early. This was my plan for this particular course.
I caught up to and passed 2nd place after the first descent, then made my way up to the back wheel of first place just before the long 6 minute climb. I tried to go past him just at the base, but he also attacked back, which was fine by me as I could then see how he rode. One thing stood out and that was his descending skills, I later found out that he was a former downhiller.
After the feedzone, I made why way past him and put some pressure on. This worked a bit, but he came back before the climb to sit on my wheel. Amazingly, as I don't consider myself a pure climber by any stretch of the imagination, I made a up a fair it of time up the hill. He did manage to bring it back again on the descent into the start finish straight.
The way that this particular race panned out was that the third lap ended up being pretty crucial. I pretty much buried myself  here and was able to put 45 seconds in on him, to have a handy buffer going into the  last lap. After the final hand up at the feedzone, I just kept turning the pedals over and ensuring I made no mistakes until the finish line.
Stuart must have had a last lap resurgence as I spotted him when I was about 2 minutes from the summit, and he was bearing down on me like he meant business. At the top I just hammered the descent knowing he was going to make up some time here. By the end, there was just 8 seconds in it!
Over the same course, I managed to go 90 seconds faster than the last time I was here in March. No let up on the climbs -stats from HRM to come later on Monday. I saw a lot of 180 action!
I would have to say that this was one of the most full on races I have ever done. Never in the zone, just fully in the box.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

tassie part 2

After getting the bikes together on Thursday and having a bit of a snooze, I headed out from Austin's Ferry to the track at Tolosa Park. This is about a 30 minute ride away. The Inter City rail trail offers a gentle gradient to wake the legs up before the climb up to Tolosa Park. I got rained on a bit whilst heading up to the park, but not too much.
Having raced here earlier in the year, I knew where the course went. I decided to just do the first part and do a couple of loops of that. First impressions were: I am glad I brought some mud tyres. Slick and greasy are not the forte of the Kenda Small Block 8, which are my tyre of choice, and have been for the last 3 years. Hitting up the first descent on dusk was pretty cool, add in some slick and greasy tree roots that cross the trail at 45 degrees made it even better.
After two mini laps I was done with the recce, and started to head back. Then as I was descending into Glenorchy, it just bucketed down and soaked me to the skin. At this stage I could not wait to get back to the house and get dry and warm.
On Friday, I headed out to the race course in the morning for a wake up cruise. Rego was open and my legs were still feeling blocked and dead, so the hill up to Tolosa Park did its bit in waking them up. Rego was easy and quick having pre-entered a couple of months prior. I then cruised back home and had a bit more food before the official practice started. After lunch I headed out to the course, eager to see what sort of track was ready for us on the top half.
The second half of the Tolosa Park XC loop is probably one of the hardest climbs at any National round in Australia. AFter coming off the first climb and descent (practiced on Thursday) there is a short 30 second pinch followed by a Mt Beauty styled descent before a 'relaxing' climb for 90 seconds up to the junction again. This is where the real climbing begins. For the next 6 minutes it is just a maximum level middle ring 1st/2nd at the back slog. Lots of switchbacks that are tight and go up the fall line - no flat easy 'Stromlo' style switchies here. The hardest part is a long straight where you are still 2 minutes from the true summit. This is a long drag over rocks and logs.
After making it to the top, there is a full on descent, long fast slightly off camber straightaways, with tight root and rock ridden switchbacks. Very hard to keep a decent flow, but really challenging nonetheless. After getting through all of this it is then onto the bottom opene section which runs beside the 4X track. This has berms, drops, doubles and is one of those bits that is reasonably enjoyable. When that is all finished, it is back onto the start straight for another lap.
The hard bits about this course is that there is not a metre of flat ground anywhere. There is a lot of climbing and the descents are quite demanding and are reasonably hard to recover on. All in all a good test for a National event.
After practice, I spun the legs out cruising home. The feelings in the body were good, I had got the lungs and legs in alignment, there was no need for mud tyres, so all that is left is to wait until race time on Saturday.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

in tasmania

We left Canberra this morning, waking at 5 to catch a 6:30am flight. After being reamed $210 for excess baggage we made our way through to the Qantas club lounge for breakfast. An uneventful flight to Hobart via way of MElbourne ensued and finally we had made it overseas to the apple isle. We took a detour up to Mt Wellington which was windy and freezing. Well it was about 10 degrees up there but 22 in Hobart.
Finally we got out to our accomodation. We got a place right on the Derwent. 3 bedroom house riverfront views in a very quiet neighbourhood.The bikes have been put together and I'm going to head off for a ride into Hobart itself via the 'Intra-City Rail Trail'. We actually saw some maintenance guys giving part of it the once over with a blower to make it spotless. Awesome!

Friday, December 4, 2009


Another week of tuning\training has almost gone. Yesterday I discovered the pluses of buses. Well I already knew it as chasing buses is pretty good training. This time, I got the best draft ever and it pulled me along for about 2 km, without me having to barely pedal. Safe as!

Anyway, I rolled over to Majura on Thursday for the weekly short track racing. With the Tour of Bright being on this weekend, Brad Morton, Mark Tupalski and some others didn't show up. Dylan Cooper has been doing 30 hour weeks as of late, and I hadn't seen him since Sunday, when we chased the draft of a truck up to Stromlo on Cotter Road.

Gareth set a brute of a course (which secretly I was loving). Drag race up the 3% fireroad, hard left into singletrack, tight and twisty, then hard right to cross a fireroad and go up through some rocky rooty ultimate tech singletrack - just awesome. Now we have been climbing since the start, so this really hurts. Then a tech downhill, one foot drop off hard left onto the fireroad, then back though some twisty Majura magic before hooking back up with the main fireroad.

So, when the start call went, I made sure I got the holeshot into the first bit of singletrack, as the steep pinch halfway along was causing all sorts of havoc in B and C grades.

I made a mental effort to start 'slowly' - ie not go too deep, otherwise lap 3 would really be bad. I had Matt Rizutto nehind me for the first lap. I sprinted out of the saddle all of the way up the fireroad for the start of the 2nd lap trying to increase my lead just a little. Slowly but surely I stretched away from Matt, until by the start of the last lap I had the entire straight. I had some great support from friends at the side of the track which always goes a long way to making the pain seem normal. 2 and a half minutes late I sprinted acros the line for first place, very pleased.

Kylie pulled out a pearler on a course tailor-made for her skillset and won the female class and got 10th place in B grade against the guys.

Today, was a relaxed work day. A colleague is leaving so we went out to another colleague's house on the river and went fishing, drank some beer, watched some cricket, ate some food and talked some crap! - It may just become a standard friday afternoon 'thing'!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

stick to your story no matter how lame it is


Former Gerolsteiner and Cycle Collstrop rider David Kopp has been given a one-year suspension for cocaine use by the Flemish cycling federation. The ban was post-dated and expires on December 31 of this year.

Kopp, 30, tested positive for cocaine at a Belgian national race on September 11, 2008. The German denied having intentionally using the drug, and said that someone must have spiked his drink at a club two days earlier.

This is what happens when you go out drinking with Tommeke!

Friday, November 27, 2009

rain approaching

Another Thursday, another dirt crit. In the morning I woke up and headed out for an hour and a half through the soup that was the feral humidity that was hanging around. It was almost like I had a headwind in every direction. Just really sucky.
The morning was spent in a training course for work at another building. Leaving the room for a short break, i exited the door into the hallway and was greeted by someone. It was one of those ones where they know who you are, but while you recognise the face, you are not quite sure who it actually is. I am sure that if he was in full bike kit and on a bike I would know exactly who it is.
Riding over to Majura from my place to the race start is always a sluggish affair on a split session training day. Kylie had just left 2 minutes before hand but had to turn around and wait for me because either she was flying or I was lagging.
The course was awesome. A nice length fireroad followed by fast slightly descending singletrack that rewarded smoothness and tech skills. The latter half of the track was sent backwards up a trail to the base of the fireroad. Going over tracks backwards is harsh due to the braking bumps that exist on this track. Not massive, but something to make it even harder to ride fast over.
Gazza got the race underway with an inventive countdown. 10.....4....Go! - This worked great, the 3,2,1 countdown tempts the riders to clip in way too early. I drag raceed Dylan Cooper up the fireroad searching for the holeshot. As he was on the inside and 3/4 of the way up the side, I decided it was not a good idea to chop him off, and just backed off slightly and slotted in just behind.
The first lap was pinned around at a rapid rate. Halfway through the 2nd lap Brad Morton went past me, which was good as at this stage I was happy to get through the bumpy stuff and have a small recovery. On the next lap up the fireroad I hammered past Brad and was also able to get back onto Dylan's wheel. This stayed like this for 2 laps.
On the last lap, Dylan pretended to slow down and be tired before the fireroad (I only know this because I have done it in the past also!) He then hammered up the fireroad with me right on his wheel. He then gave it a fair hit over the next bit of singletrck and the elastic stretched a little too much. a minute later the race was done.
Dylan first, me second, Mark Tupalski 3rd, Brad 4th.
Stats from the race
Time: 14:00
Laps: 6
Avg Speed: 28.6km/hr
Max HR: 188
Avg HR: 177
Kylie had an awesome race within B grade mens and got 14th. She was loving the tech singletrack at speed.
After the race it was about cruising home the long way, whilst it tried to rain on us. A pretty nice way to finish off the day.
20 minutes after getting home it poured down!
Got to love staying dry!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Stromlo West - XCO race

On Sunday, CORC ran round 7 of the XC series - this was held at the Mount Stromlo Western Carpark. Now these trails are a bit more tech, and there are some more 'hills' available out here - so all week I was wondering what sort of race course would be used.
After registering and getting ready, I headed out for a practice lap. I was not disappointed. The course took in 100m of vertical ascent each lap. This doesn't sound much - and half of it was in the Big Dog, but it was really hard! This area of stromlo is also really technical, dry and dusty at the moment, which made it a good challenge when trying to ride fast.
There was a decent turn out of Senior \ Elite riders this morning. All up there were 10. Some of the names included: Dylan Cooper, Ben Henderson, Jeremy Ross, Brad Morton, Shaun Lewis and Will Bowron. When Paul Cole got us underway, it was an absolute smash fest to try and get to the singletrack first. I managed to get there in 3rd place behind Dylan and Ben, with Jeremy and Brad right behind me.
After the first compartment of ST we headed out onto the fireroad climb in Big Dog, plus 5th on the back - pure power grinder this hill. Pretty much for the next 4 laps, Jeremy and I went back and forth. He would power away up the fireroad climbs and I would pull time back on him on the singletrack descents. Brad was still right behind us, probably less than a minute at times, but he was caught in no-man's land.
5 laps later I manged to come in 4th place, behind Ben, Dylan and Jeremy, with Brad and Will in 5th and 6th. It has been a while since a CORC clubbie has had some decent climbs. This was one of those really good races where every body has a bit out on the track that suits their particular skillsets. It was probably one of the most enjoyable races I have done, in the fact that it was a good battle with some extremely good racers. I will probably be pretty sore tomorrow!
  • 5 laps
  • 6.1km lap
  • 100m climbing per lap
  • ~31km total distance
  • Avg HR: 174bpm
  • Max HR: 187bpm
  • Avg Speed: 24.7km/hr
  • Max Speed: 63.5m/hr
  • 2 litres of EFS drunk - far out that is a lot!
  • Temperature: 25 degrees
  • Humidity: 55%
  • Oakley Radar - Retina Burn
  • Tyres: Kenda Small Block 8

This week was a recovery week of sorts. Mainly the volume was lower. Plus with the Short track on Thursday called off due to Total fire ban because of 38 degree weather, the weeek just got chopped! Now to tune out the diesel over the next 2 weeks prior to going to Hobart for the first National Round.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

long rides, belgium beer and snakes

Saturday and Sunday were both slated for 4 hour tempo rides. I was going to race the Rocky Trail Entertainment 4 hour race at Stromlo, but with a proposed start at 12:30 and a proposed temperature of 33 degrees, i decided to skip it.

So out to the West I went on Saturday. Round and round for a bit, coming back I decided to climb Stromlo to get some water and saw a really big dead snake at the side of the road - just as I had come up beside it. Scared the crap out of me. Kylie said she saw one out on the farmer plains up out of uriarra crossing.

Later that night trev and I consumed a lot of Belgian beer to see what it would feel like to be Tom Boonen. Jokes aside, the smallest one which was a Jupiler at 250mL was considered to be 1.8 standard drinks. The funniest one (which may not even be belgian) was the HoeGaarden. Ah yes, that is where I keep all my ladies!!!

Sunday, it was hot already in the morning. But I managed to smash it out to the dirt after Condor Creek in a pretty quick time. The climbing was going well, and the voices inside my head were debating whether it was good form, or a good tailwind. When I turned around, I still went fast, but climbing out of Blue Range, I found the headwind. And it was also fast down Mount MacDonald, where Kylie again managed to pedal down to the corner and exceed 70km/hr beating me by 1km/hr. Girl got skills.

After filling up at the Cotter, I pinned it up to the base of Stromlo, then slammed it into a big gear and grinded my way up Stromlo to get some more water. The snake had gone, which was weird. I wasn't complaining though.

After getting home I weighed 2 kgs lighter after drinking 3.5 litres on the ride. It was slightly hot(ish).

The weekly training objective was met, but I need to start heading out earlier I think in order to beat the heat and not do too much damage to the body. We'll see how that works out.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The second dirt crit of the season

Well, another week has passed and it was again time for the Thursday afternoon dirt crit. Again at majura, however this time the course was flat. And twisty, with majura's trademark sinuous singletrack. It also had a kick ass 1% fireroad which was plenty long for passing, and totally doable in just about the hardest gear!
Quite a few more people turned up today, including Dan McConnell, Ben Henderson, Nathan Haas, Matt Rizutto, Brad Morton, and Mark Tupalski. This was defintely going to be excellent. When Gazza got us underway it was an absolute drag race up the fireroad peaking out at 39km/hr before the first corner. I went in at 5th wheel behind ben, Nathan, Dan and Brad. On the 2nd lap Brad went through on the fireroad and slotted into 2nd and I was still in 5th behind Dan. Around the backside we were still in a single file arrangement when ben hit a stick the size of a cricket stump. It went up into the air at head height twirling in slow motion for the amount of time for 4 riders to pass. It was hysterical.
By this stage the elastic was beginning to stretch and ben was getting a slight lead from brad. On the 3rd lap I laid some power down and went past Nathan on the fireroad in search of Dan's back wheel. Brad had a mechanical and had to stop by the side of the trail to tune a front derailleur that had misaligned itself randomly!
I finally got Dan's wheel on the back side of the 5th lap, where he nicely let me through which allowed me to slot into 2nd place and essentially no man's land. ben was too far in front to get back, oh well no problem. ben 1st, Me 2nd, Tupak 3rd.
Now, it was quite apparent to me that both Dan and Nathan haven't raced since the Worlds so their motivation factor was probably pretty low for a humble clubbie. It was pretty classy Dan letting me through when he knew I was keen to go on.
Afterwards I cruised around Majura with Tupak and brad, and then did the backside of ainslie for a spin down before cruising home talking to the kangaroos!
Stats from the race.
  • It was warm and muggy
  • Race Time: 10:40
  • Avg Speed: 26.1km/hr
  • Avg HR: 173
  • max HR: 184
  • Dusty as!

Commuter Olympics

I decided to figure out how many traffic lights there are on my standard 90 minute, 55km morning training run. It turns out that there are 37.
This morning I managed to get stopped at only 3 of them. This is pretty amazing, thus the post:)
On average, I would say that I would get stopped by about 10.
This is pretty much why, on weekends I take the roadie out west of Canberra towards the Brindabella Mountain ranges. No lights, not much traffic, slightly hilly.
Dirt Crit this afternoon - hot day - majura pines - shade by pinus radiata.

Friday, November 6, 2009

First dirt crit of the series

Majura Pines, hallowed grounds for many ACT riders. 5 minutes from my front door. View of Mount Majura from my dining room table!. First dirt crit round of the CORC series for 09/10.
Steve and the ONYA crew set up an absolute brute of a course for the first round of the series. The course started half way up the main fireroad from the bottom, before turning left into the singletrack, then left shortly thereafter to follow a rough old track that had doubles, drops, berms and more doubles. It then crossed the fireroad then hooked back up through the native section which twists and turns then rocks up back at the base of the main fireroad.
This fireroad is pretty long, has a grade of about 3%, pinches past the start finish spot at 5% for 10 metres then flattens back out to 3% on the run up to the singletrack. But, the real climbing starts after the double track, and includes about 200m of singletrack that has a very slight false flat.
When the start gun went, which was actually steve just counting down, I got a quickish clip in and laid some power down. I drag raced Brad Morton, Mark Tupalski and Shaun lewis up to the singletrack and got the holeshot for the entry, the descent was pretty much just a recovery for 10 seconds then it was all about the elbows absorbing the bumps and making it as smooth as possible.
On the exit onto the fireroad, I let Mark and Brad go past and promptly got onto Brad's wheel. On the next run up the fireroad, Brad's weekend of racing caught up with him a bit, and I went round him and started to get Mark in sight again. I followed around for another lap and noticed on the second last lap that he was slowing down very slightly. At the exit of the singletrack, I had got back onto his wheel. From here I was checking to see how he was trekking and figuring out when to go past him. Mark got out of the saddle for the little pinch past the start finish line, and as he was sitting back down I made the jump across on the blind side. From here I just buried myself and sprinted out of the saddle up to the singletrack. This got me a decent gap and I was able to hold on through the rest of the singeltrack and take the win, which was extremely pleasing.
After that it was just talking crap with everyone and riding back home with Kylie.
Some stats from the race.
it was freezing - well it was 15 degrees, which was half of what it was on Monday
it was actually the same temperature as my morning ride that same day.
Time: ~12 minutes
Average Speed: 26.6km/hr
Avg heart rate: 170bpm
Max Heart rate: 184bpm
Glasses: Oakley Radar black frame, Hi-Intensity persimmon pitch lens.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

year in review

The last 12 months have been pretty good with regard to racing. My season runs from the start of the Dirt Crits in November to the start of them again the following November. I usually have 6 weeks off racing in the middle of the Canberra Winter in order to freshen up mentally and keep the desire. I still train during this time, just no racing.
In the last 12 months I have entered 29 races, not including the prologue at the Scott 24 hour. Not sure how to classify this one - sort of like a race within a race. The breakdown of events enetered goes like this
  • 1 SuperD
  • 1 24 hour race (6 man team)
  • 1 100km race
  • 1 hillclimb
  • 9 cross country races
  • 16 short track races
The unique result breakdown goes a little something like this
  • Super D - 2nd
  • 24 hour race - 2nd
  • 100km race - 6th
  • Hillclimb - 7th
  • Cross country -  2 x 1st, 3 x 2nd, 1 x 3rd, 2 x 4th, 1 x 5th
  • Short track - 5 x 1st, 8 x 2nd, 2 x 3rd, 1 x 4th
Notes on specific races
100km race was first of this kind that I have done. This should be a good one to progress in the years to come. I liken these to the Classics races within the ProTour events. It does take a few years to figure out the route, the pacing, the distance etc.
SuperD was a sensational event. Top of Stromlo to bottom of Stromlo, via skyline. Hopefully there will be more of these to come.
Hillclimb - should not have raced this event! - Just came back from Geelong National round and was not even close to being fully recovered.
Cross Country - finally won a national round down in Tasmania in Vet men. Also won a local round at Stromlo. Had a good day out at the national titles to get 2nd in vet men - loved that course.
Short track - finally won a national round down in Geelong in Sport men. One of the third places was due to a flat tyre on the last lap after building up a healthy lead.
Managed to get 2nd place at the Australian National championships for both XCO and XCC. (Vets and Sport men respectively)
I also managed to win the National XCO series in Vet Men for the second year running. This year I had different objectives and actually wanted to win a race, so I did less of the series races, got the win at the last round, and as a bonus also got the series from 3 of 5 races. Sweet! I also came 3rd in the National XCC series for sport men - Sport men is essentially the fast U19 and the Vets at the National level. Again I only raced 3 out of 5 of these, So the placing was a bonus.
Locally, I finished second in the A grade Crit series to Brad Morton. Currently I am leading the Senior\Elite men standings for the CORC XCO series.
In all of these races I have had 3 mechanicals in total - 2 flat tyres and 1 bent chain. Still finished all races.
No cramps in any of the races - EFS is some good stuff for my purposes. Lots of electrolytes.
Reasons for better performance
A few things stand out.
Researched a lot of things. Never stop learning
I tightened up my nutrition. This resulted in a further loss of 6kgs. This does make a big difference. I should be able to safely lose another 2kgs over this summer, without any loss of power.
Raced a little less - not sure how, but the total amount of races is down from the previous 12 months by 10. - Not by choice!
Made sure that i focussed on making incremental, sustainable gains in training. 6 week training blocks (a'la Lemond style) definitely worked here.
Got a hardtail and made sure that the bike was never the weakest link, some stuff here that is definitely not getting mentioned - free speed!
Made a lot of 1% improvements in many areas. The incremental accumulation of small performance gains do add up - thankyou to Dave Brailsford (UK - team Sky) for that one.
Got some white shoes, white gloves, a white helmet and white parts for the bike. The white gloves only come out for special occasions!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sparrow Hill Round 6

On Sunday there was Round 6 of the CORC XC series. What a day. Hot and humid with lots of blue sky and sunshine. The day before I had spent a few hours out around the Cotter and Contador creek lapping up the sunshine. When I woke on Sunday, I was still a little tired and the muscles were telling me that I had done some good work. Kylie cruised out with me today, which was good. We talked crap for the half hour drive out to Sparrow Hill, marvelling at the massive roundabout put in for Captains Flat.
After registering I set off with Joel and Bronwyn Ryan and Kylie for a light practice lap. Joel was rolling some new SRAM XX on his 29er. Only just got it. The lap was pretty cruisy, just checking out the 7km track. Pretty much just big dog action today. When the start call came, our field of 10 senior\elite men pinned it up the fireroad at 35km/hr. The first bit of singeltrack was a fair way off. I settled into a good rythym and popped in behind Joel for the entry of the singeltrack. We caned it around uneventfully for about 17 minutes for the first lap (17:09). Then some reshuffling occurred and Brent Miller took off with Joel on his wheel. I settled in behind Mark Tupalski and we cruised around for 2 laps until the traffic started getting pretty ordinary. 225 people turned up - just amazing the pulling power of Sparrow Hill.
On the 4th lap I put the power down and Mark popped off somewhere - I later found he busted his rear derailleur, and had to DNF. I thought I had Matt Rizutto on my wheel, and was occasionally talking to him as such. On this lap, we managed to pass Joel Ryan, not sure if he blew or had a mechanical. I also ran over the ass of a snake that was slithering across the track. I thought Matt was having a good day out, and was having a lot of trouble dropping him. On the last lap, I opened it up some more (not much left to open really) and tried to get a 5 metre gap. This held for about the 3.5 kilometres and I was able to get across the line for 2nd place, behind Brent Miller.
Then I realised that it wasn't Matt, but Brad Morton, who had also nicely won the ACT club road championships on Saturday. If I had known it was Brad, I wouldn't have left it so fine. I will always back myself in a sprint, but with Brad it is a pure 50/50!
Some stats from the race.
Distance: 7km per lap  - 5 laps - 35km
Time: me, 1:27:47 (winner 1:27:27)
Avg Speed: me, 24.26km/hr, (winner 24.36km/hr)
Avg HR for race: 170bpm
Max HR within race: 184bpm (pretty close for today's relative max)
Glasses worn: Oakley Radar Retina Burn
Time on the bike this week: 13 hours
Drink: EFS - lemon lime
Gel: Gu Roctane orange on 4th lap.
So that was the last race of my 12 month season, which runs from November to November each year. The new season as such, starts on Thursday with the first local dirt crit.
Later this week I will post the yearly assessment with the finer details of races and their results.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

catching up

At the Scott 24 hour race this year, I was fortunate to catch up with an old friend from junior racing days, Ben Monroe. It was good catching up talking about bikes in general and what he was up to now as RockStar Racing strategy consultant. A film is in the works documenting the Scott 24 hour quest for the Rockstar boys. I was fortunate to be interviewed in the film, hopefully it turns out alright - it was in transition waiting for Trev to come in!

Pete Smith, Ben Monroe, Scott Finlay and myself were part of the shop team back in 88, 89. Back in Brisbane, in the late 80s there was a strong shop presence in the way of Edward Street Cycles. Laurie Cranley, who now heads up Bikestyle Tours, and Brian Johnson sponsored the local guns in the emerging MTB world.

In 1989, Ben and Scott went over to Mammoth Mountain, USA for the world championships. Ben was fortunate to win the junior downhill event thus becoming the first Australian MTB champion in the process. When he got back I rode with next at the 1989 Australian MTB titles at Pierces Creek at Stromlo. This was probably the first trip away from home for me, being 15 years old! Ben won the Cross Country and the Downhill that year, Scott got 3rd in the XC and I got 6th in the XC.

Even back then I figured that Canberra was a pretty cool place to ride. It might have been something to do with being away with a bunch of guys who loved to ride and race bikes. We drove down from brisvegas in a hired tarago, towing a trailer full of bikes. It was a week long trip and pretty much opened my mind to the big world out there!

Of course, people move on and do new things, there are still probably just a handful of people from those days that still race and ride. The longevity of these people is testament to the pull that 2 wheels has for a lot of them. I am pretty much addicted to the wheels. I currently have 4 bikes, my girlfriend currently has 6 bikes, I own 3 bike helmets, 4 pairs of cycling shoes, 10 pairs of cycling gloves, 5 team outfits, way too much Assos gear!, over 30 pairs of Oakley sunglasses and devour as much information I can in the way of books, magaizines and internet pages.

Strangely enough, I don't hark back to wanting to ride a steel, rigid, singlespeed. There is a reason why technology has advanced!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A nice recovery week

After the Scott 24 hour race, a scheduled recovery week was due. This is mainly due to the fatigue that sleep deprivation brings. At the Scott, 2 hours sleep is considered a good effort. This year the nutrition was sorted quite well. I had plenty of pasta, watermelon, cashews, protein shakes, banana muffin-cakes, cytomax, english muffins, bacon and eggs. The good combination of real food in decent proportions ensured that the early morning laps were busted out with the same intensity as the day before. Only the traffic makes them slower!
Back into the training over the weekend and it was back to back 4 hour tempo days on the roadie. Saturday, out at Contador Creek, I reckon I saw about 50 people. The great weather has brought everyone out. Sunday, it was just quiet as. Evyerone was probably cruising on the flat or something else was on that I didn't know about!
A little bit of discussion on a certain forum today ensued with some punter saying that intervals weren't required for cycling. With that in mind, the morning session today involved hard riding, and the lunch time session included some even harder riding. LT and VO2max efforts on the same day??!! No way it can't be done, it doens't need to be done!!!  --- Well I did them, and I reckon they might pay off in a few weeks time!
I also signed up to do the 4 hour Rocky Trail Entertainment Enduro at Stromlo. Well, the course is superb. Up and down the trunk, skyline and berm track for 4 hours. That should equal 7 - 8 laps. I would do 6 climbs of stromlo, majura or ainslie on any given Saturday so I decided to throw it down on dirt. The fact that it is on a Saturday means that I can also train on the Sunday --- we'll see how that one pans out.
Now I wonder if my new Cannondale Flash will arrive before xmas?????

Monday, October 12, 2009

more photos

more photos of the Scott 24 hour race

James Downing

Scott 24 hour

The weekend just past is the annual Scott 24 hour race put on by Canberra Off Road Cyclists. This year they had capped the entries (solos and teams) at 2500. By reckoning, this amounted to about 630 riders on course at any one time, which at 19km is about one rider every 28 metres.
I was fortunate to be notified during the week that I was selected to race in the prologue. The prologue is an invitational event for the fastest 20 riders to showcase their speed and race for some big money. Unfortunately, I did not win the big prize, but was stoked with catching my minute-man, and averaging over 23km per hour for a quick up and down lap at Stromlo.
For the main event this year the Lonsdale Street Cyclery team consisted of myself, trevor Rix, Will Bowron, Jon Harris, Joel Stewart and Doug McLean. We were extremely fortunate this year to have the absolute luxury of a corporate tent. This entailed a 6 x 9 metre marquee, full lighting, full electricity, patio heaters and to top it off, about 75metres from transition.
After holding the pre-race meeting the weekend before, we had the tactics sorted. After setting up on Friday morning, then going for a quick spin around the day loop, we decided to go with Plan B. This course was full on for an event like this. The fatigue would definitely kick on as the course went on, not to mention the traffic. We took time at slickrock to sort out some different line options, this came in handy in the race as Joel was able to make up 15 positions in one stylish passing move.
The course this year consisted of about 400m climbing per lap - this is pretty considerable. The course also included a lot of technical trails out the backside of Stromlo. Definitely a rider's course. The course also included a mental breaker at the end which added on a cruel little climb which took all of the mental energy (as well as physical power) to get you up. There was also a dedicated day and night lap. The night lap taking the more conservative approach down 'skyline'.
Will was the keen participant in the run and got the team off to a fantastic start. We lapped solidly for the next few hours, and in perfect timing, Trev turned up! This was great as Trev had to work the morning, but he was able to get out early and we slotted him in so that all in the team were able to do a single lap before their second. As night fell we went to the double-teamed lapping strategy to allow for everyone to get some well-deserved sleep. This went like clock work, and we rode strongly through the night.
Sometime before 8pm Kylie went to the timing tent and fond out that we weren't down as part of the 6man teams, but were with the corporate teams. Trev got this sorted and we soon found out we were in 2nd place behind Team Felt. This stayed like this until the end of the 24 hours, the felt boys putting in consistent lap times and their win was well-deserved.
Each person in the team was able to get in about 5 laps each which added up to about 100km for each rider, taking into account transition and warm up and warm down. All up the team did 513km in 24 hours.
Special thanks go out to Trev and Janie for the entry and associated management of provision of a luxury corporate tent for the team - hugely appreciated by everybody. Kylie - for sorting the timing board early on to get everyone in the transtion mindset, and also for the awesome cakes, Rachel, for volunteering and also popping in to talk - and all the friends, wives and girlfriends for poppin in and saying hi, and keeping everybody's fatigued mind stimulated with 'new' talk - it all definitely helps.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

and so it goes..

Sunday I got snowed on. It was that cold. 3 and a half hours at tempo into a biting block headwind.
However the return trip wasn't that bad as the 35km/hr northwesterly assisted me to get home. Always feels good climbing in an extra gear.
And then I find out Cadel won the worlds. Deep sigh....

Saturday, September 26, 2009

keep on top of it

Saturday - usually the perfect day for a long ride. With the weather forecast as 5 - 10 degrees and windy with showers I was fully stoked - NOT. I had already done my Wind trainer allocation for the month, so I carefully chose my riding kit. The wind was 35km/hr on average - North Westerly, so I decided that Mount Ainslie hill repeats were on the cards.

The roads were still wet from the rain last night, but I was banking on a slight tailwind up mount ainslie. Ainsle is an interesting hill. It lulls you into a false sense of grimpeur ability on the lower slopes. Then it kicks up about 3/4 of the way up to about 11-12%.

The first run was into a block headwind. The legs were blocked a bit also, could have been from the cold, the caffeine, or because yesterday was a rest day off the bike. The next 2 runs up were almost identical times, and faster than the first one - that is a new one! The fourth time up I saw an asian 'alberto' climbing up. Full yellow jersey, cycling cap (sans helmet). His enthusiasm got the better of him and he blew at the 12% point. Poor fella.

The 4th and 5th climbs were the fastest, the tailwind placebo was helping, the legs were getting unblocked and I had chased down 'alberto', classic.

The 6th run was the last one, it was 10 seconds slower than the first one, but 5.3% slower than the fastest one. I try and always use a 10% rule. That is, when doing intervals (especially climbing), stop before the intervals degrade past 10% of the fastest time. There are a few reasons for this, but the main one is that once you have gone past 10%, there are no more physiological gains to be made.

I then cruised against the wind out to Hall, where my rear derailleur cable decided to snap inappropriately and provided me with a singlespeed. I stopped and locked out the rear derailleur to about the 5th gear. With the mental tailwind, and grossly undergeared bike I cruised back towards home.

5 minutes later the front tyre decided to go low at the bottom, 2 minutes later I decideded to stop and pop a new tube in. This left me with 10k to get home - all tailwind luckily.

A protein shake followed by a bowl of pasta to ensure that I can ride again tomorrow, went down way too quickly. I think I might go have a snooze.

temperature: 6 degrees
Wind: 35km/hr
rain: a bit
distance: 80km
time: 3:00
hill repeats: 6
max speed: 85km/hr
avg HR: 145bpm
max HR: 178bpm
Vertical Metres climbed: 1700m
Clif blox consumed: 12 (2 per climb)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

what happens when it is raining and 40km/h winds

3 hours on the wind trainer......
Dedication to the cause.
The cause being optimal fitness for the desired events on the calendar.
Scott 24 hour is coming up. The Lonsdale Street Cyclery team is back to defend the 6 man team title. The course is a little different, but should still be good.
The race strategies are currently being developed and the process will unfold. Got to go do a night ride to check out the course.
Trev hooked us up a corporate tent, all I know is that it is 6 x 9m and has power and is near transition.
Bring on the caffeine!


Monday, September 14, 2009

The Angry Doctor - Mogo NSW 2009

The Angry Doctor put on by AROC sports was my first 100km race. And apart from some major rides done back as a junior with Graeme Allbon, pretty much the longest I have ridden my mountain bike in one go. As has been the (fortunate) trend over the last 2 years, I nailed the accomodation. An awesome spot, quiet, spacious and views over the beach - got to be happy!
The plan was to do some riding on Saturday, but it just got way too hot. So in true hire-car mtb tradition, we recced some of the fire trails instead. This turned out to be awesome as I reckon we would have been pre-fried before jumping into the big boiling pot that was Sunday. Checking out the trail in the safety and comfort of the Kluger was great!
The sleep Saturday night was just non-existent - not sure why, but 2 hours was probably all I got. On 'awakening' sunday morning at 5am to get some eggs down it didn't matter as it was all about getting fed before heading out to the event village.
All the bottles and race strategies were sorted during the week, so all I had to do was just get to the start line. Kylie was racing the 50km, which started about 2 and a half hours after my race, so she came down and took some photos.
When the start horn went off, it was slightly more subdued than a standard XC race, but not by much. I was pretty fresh from not riding the day before so the HR coming back at 185bpm on some of the early climbs, whilst holding back, was mainly due to adrenaline and heat. And boy was it hot! 26 degrees at the start, and 40 degrees max reading from my HRM out on course towards the end.
Pretty much the race was going to be just about survival and smart pacing strategies. Early on in, a rider smashed past a climb as if he was doing an Alberto Contador impression, 5 minutes later, alberto was blown and I never saw him again. At the 30km mark was the first of the feed stations. I topped up with water and Gu2O. And this was where the reality set in. Still 70km to go, yep long day ahead.
At the 50km mark, I had my ice bag with fresh drinks and gels plus some fresh lube for the chain. This made the bike run a bit nicer and it was good to pedal out of the feedzone with it feeling fresh. The next 15km were pretty much what I expected, and then at the 65km mark I pretty much settled into the long climb that was ahead of me. At this stage also, I started to dream of the next feed station so I could get some more water. The last bit down to the 80km feed station was the most smoothest fastest singletrack around - big berms, no brakes - just awesome.
At the feed zone, i chugged down half a bidon of water, half a bidon of Gu2O and refilled them to the top. I also managed to catch up to about 4 people that I hadn't really seen much of all race. Going out of the feedzone, I chatted with Brent Miller for a bit, then sort of felt alright, so just kept the pedals turning over smoothly. At the 85km mark, I decided to empty the tank a bit and upped the pace. Each 5km section seemed to take forever and there just seemed to be no end to the hills that sprung up out of the creeks that we had to cross.
Finally I rounded the last bend into the event village and crossed the line in 4 hours and 51 minutes. 6th place in Elite Men. I was pretty happy as all I wanted to do was break 5 hours.
I got some fresh bottles of water and Electrolyte mix and went and chilled out under a tree and waited for Kylie to come in. When she rounded the last bend, I got up and yelled some encouragement to get her to the top of the climb. She ended up coming in first place in the Elite women 50km event. Not too shabby at all!
The rest of the day was spent cruising around Bateman's Bay eating fish and chips and ice cream, and the most awesome pizza from Batehaven. Monday morning was all about coffee and a walk on the beach where a local dog, 'Boof' adopted us and cruised the sands chasing seagulls. What a life!

Monday, September 7, 2009

2 weeks gone

The last 2 weeks have seen some pretty awesome things. I was out on a standard training ride a couple of weeks ago and my gears were just not shifting right. I finally figured out that the cassette lockring had come loose (lack of smooth roads!). Luckily I had seen a set of multi-grip pliers lying at the side of the road. So I used these to tighten up the cassette and finish off my ride. Since that day I have found another set of mutli grip pliers within 10 kilometres of the first set. No real need to bring an allen key set.

Saw Sven Nys riding on the fireroad near the RSPCA a week ago. Gave him the Euro-cyclist nod, got one back.

Another 15 hour training week. My favorite ride this week was Saturday. 5 times up Mount Majura. 10% grade, 9minute climb. Every 55 seconds shift into a harder gear for 5 seconds and get out of the saddle. Last 90 seconds out of saddle to top of the climb. Saw so many people out on the mountain that day. Then went out to Stromlo to watch the Elite Men's cross country race. Awesome.

Angry doctor coming up this weekend down in Mogo. Accomodation is sorted. Fish and chips after 100km race around the state forest surrounding Mogo. Should be a good one.

Finally broke 20 minutes for my secret XC test loop at Majura. It has taken me about 63 laps over about 14 months. Good benchmarking tool also for parts, tyre pressure, pacing strategies etc. Pretty happy with that!

The sun has finally come out also and this means that summer is finally on its way. there have been many rides lately with summer weight jerseys. The Canberra winter tan will soon be abolished - well sort of, it's all relative - got to keep the suncream on!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


The last week or so has had a few big rides. Saturday was spent doing truckloads of climbing out in the Brindabellas on the road bike. This was a decent set of riding around which burnt up around 5000 calories in the space of 4 and a half hours. On Sunday there was a speed trap set up on Mount Stromlo. Essentially there was a big sign that stated your speed at a certain point of the descent. I was doing hill repeats on stromlo into the fiercest headwind, august is wind month here in Canberra. Therefore the descent had a tailwind. It was also 'old-person' day out on the road at Stromlo. This meant that I had to overtake some of the cars going down. They were cruising down at 35km/hr and with the wind I was spinning out the 53x12.
Coming down from Picadilly Circus into Condor Creek on Saturday was the same, big tailwind, sweeping corners. Cars can't keep up at over 60km/hr on these ones. Pretty much the only reason I head out here.
I have a new pair of forks on order as I am sure that the ones I have are not straight. I had a racing incident in January where I pulled a foot out straight after the start of a short track race and put it through the front wheel. The fork stopped the wheel and me from going any further, but I think that it may have done some damage, that as time passes on, is becoming a little more obvious. Of course it may be all in my mind, but the justifcation of getting the new forks makes me happy.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Super D is here

Seeing all of the hype that this type of event generates in the United States makes it all the more exciting. About 200 ish riders turned out on a random weather type of day at Stromlo to take on the Mountain. This event was being billed as the Carolyn McKinlay Memorial Gravity XC in memory of a hard working club person whose life was cut short earlier this year.
As John Tomac rightly said "you have got to do Super D - it is what you do as a mountain biker" --- This pretty much sums up what Super D is about - getting to the top and pinning it back down.
Team Lonsdale Street Cyclery was out in force with Cam, Doug, Will, Devin, Kylie and myself all sporting the orange and black. There was a lot of crap talking going on both up top and down the bottom. The format of the event was to take in the best parts of Stromlo from the top to the bottom. This meant starting at the top and going down through Magpie Rock, Skyline, secondary berm track (real berm track being closed for repair), and down through the bottom section finishing in the carpark.
The DH crew had brougt their Tag Heuer timing system out so that each and every run could be timed. A mass start was not used for this event. Each rider could have up to 8 runs if they wanted to. I am pretty sure that the most any one did was 4. The length of the run was 9:12 for the winner, Chris Tucker. I managed a 9:14, and second place overall, on my final run - which also felt the slowest due to fatigue - but it was ok it seems! Kylie did 4 runs all up and convincingly took out the Elite Women's class ahead of Claire Whiteman and Cara Smith.
The weather was so weird today. It started off sunny and still, then went overcast and windy, then rained, then went sunny and still again, then followed the same pattern for the rest of the day. The best part of the wind was the awesome tailwind down Skyline - absolutely flying. The small block eights were fantastic as usual on Stromlo - run super low for super grip. The Titus Racer X was flawless as usual. I have not ridden it since March where I used it for a few of the Short track races whilst the Scale was out of action. All I did was put on a fresh SB8 on the rear and roll it out.
Different people ran different bikes and different gear. Some were on full DH rigs with moto baggies, and there were a few on XC hardtails with full lycra. The good thing is it didn't matter what was ridden, there is no way you can not enjoy 10 minutes of descending.
Saturday was spent smashing up the hills in the Brindies for about 4 hours where the headwind out turned into a headwind home - very annoying as the payback for the hard work out never eventuated! The afternoon on saturday was a nice little recce of the Super D course, which was conveniently marked out. This also confirmed that I needed to change the Raven to a SB8 on the rear of the Titus - grip is good at Stromlo!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sutton Road XC

WOW - how freakin cold was it? Well when I woke up and checked the Elder's weather site, it said it was minus 5 degrees centigrade. That is nice and fresh. Kylie got the car going early so when I hopped in it was nice and warm. That was a good start. I also had about 4 layers on of the new Lonsdale Street Cyclery winter gear. Nice work with this lot Janie and Trev!
After racing out to Sutton Road, I entered and proceeded to do a lap. I have only ridden here twice before about 3 years ago, and never raced here so it was on the to do list. The course had some secret 'rake sections' that were being bedded in for the first time in this race. I am not a fan of this but everyone has to ride it. After doing a lap, I figured it was pretty bumpy, so lowered the rear tyre pressure by about 2psi and dropped the saddle about 0.5 of  a millmetre - mainly just placebo fixes!
I spotted an ACTAS power meter on Michael Baker's bike and asked him about it, but he got a bit shy!
The XC coordinator called everyone down to the start line and got the race off underway on time which was fantastic. When the gun went off, I got a decent clip in and looked over and saw that Andy Blair was on a mission. He was bringing good form back from his last 4 months in Europe and Canada and was flying. I hit the singletrack in second place, but Andy was in and going. After a few of the fireroad sections Ben Henderson (back from Japan) went past also, which was no surprise. I settled in and was going nicely halfway through the first lap when I went to pedal out of a corner and heard some interesting noises.
Devastated, I looked down and saw my chain totally wrapped around the bottom bracket area near the frame AND around the outside of the crank down near the pedal. I tried to backpedal, forward pedal and totally use the force to sort it but it wasn't happening. I apologised to whoever was on my wheel and pulled over to sort it. All the hard work went down the drain as once again, all of the class went past me. It took quite a while to figure out what the chain had actually down. It was also an absolute miracle I didn't pull the derailleur off trying to sort the mess. When I got the chain in a normal location, I was floored by the biggest kink I have ever seen in a chain. One of my links was bent at about 70 degrees to the other one.
A few thoughts went through my head. I absolutely despise DNF options, but even that option went through my head, especially after the first try at trying to straighten the chain. I then got creative and used the leverage of the other links to bend it back. Yes, it was working! I got back on the bike and tried to stay calm. As I pedalled around I could feel the imperfection still in the chain. As the race wore on the chain would occasionally skip a little under pressure, which was pretty slight compared with the alternatives.
I lost about 40 seconds to a minute trying to sort the chain, and it took ages to get everyone back in sight. then it was a matter of trying to get through the pack back up to the pointy end somewhat. In addition, by the time we came through for the 2nd lap, we were already hitting traffic - they must have only just started these classes! Over the first 2 laps I pretty much worked my way back into 4th place.  But that was pretty much where things were going to stay for the day as Andy, Ben and Nick were lapping consistently faster and even more laps wouldn't have made any difference. Oh well, doesn't matter, could have been way worse.
Interestingly enough, this was a really fast course. Andy averaged 25.7 km/hr and I managed 24.9 km/hr. It was really cold - I even raced in arm warmers for the whole race. Haven't done that before. The Qoleum embrocation (number 1) was used on the legs and they didn't even break a sweat - Belgian style. I also didn't feel shattered after the race for the rest of the day. Might have been the cold weather, or might have been some other forces at play.
Socks - assos winter plus, arm warmers, 661 Raji gloves, Oakley Radar Path Blue Iridium, normal jersey and shorts, Qoleum No1 embrocation, EFS drink - lemon
The pictures attached are courtesy of Russ Baker. I threw out a slayer the first time I saw him, but he just missed it. As is the case, I had to get the hand back on the handlebar in the bumpy singletrack.
Next on the race list is the SuperD at Stromlo next weekend - this should be about 10 minutes of pure awesomeness. Ii will probably bring out the Titus for this one. Just a bit of extra speed!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

fresh mornings

Out this morning for an hour and a half down to Woden, then back up to the windy badlands of Gungahlin. The third early morning start in a row is always a killer and the second cup of coffee whilst recovering sitting down at work is pretty much the best.
The MTB is prepped and polished for the weekend's race. I have it on good authority that the race will be held in the clockwise direction at Sutton, as the motos have chopped it up a bit in certain quarters.
Hopefully the traffic will be a bit easier to deal with this weekend after the XC coordinator posted a bit of a warning on the CORC website. I liked the part - 'Don't ride around in your own bubble' and 'don't ride along for ages looking for the most perfect place to pull over'. But knowing how things go, and it is only a handful of certain people, it will be a good challenge as always!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

the last 7 days

In the last 7 days I have done the following.....
  •  gone to Mogo to do a recce of the Angry Doctor course
  • ate fish and chips at Bateman's Bay
  • had an icecream at Bateman's Bay
  • done a 15 hour training week
  • got a new Polar HRM - RS800CX
  • done a 4.5 hour ride in the wind in the brindies
  • frozen my ass off doing stromlo hills in the big dog
  • done the 4th fastest majura lap on my secret test loop
  • done the 2nd fastest twin peaks loop up Ainslie and Majura
  • had the best Italian wine with Kylie, Janie, and Trev
  • watched Boogie Nights and Studio 54
  • frozen my ass off in the morning on the road bike
In the next 7 days I hope to do the following
  • Have a strong race at the Sutton Rd XC clubbie
  • experience some warmer weather
  • do some cool stromlo singletrack
  • receive a postcard from Trev from italy
  • have a lighter week
  • in all reality do a bigger build week
  • have some good times!!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

great weekends

This weekend was awesome. Good weather (it's relative of course), not much wind. An open slate to ride. Saturday was spent hammering out to Condor Creek and back. This is a bit of a standard, but I haven't been out here for a while since I busted a spoke deep in Condor cat territory. Luckily on my return, the black ice had disappeared on the Mt McDonald descent. This is a 70km/hr + descent. Kylie hit 74.3km/hr on Sunday which is pretty quick, especially seeing as though it preceeds a hard left hander that requires at least 30 of those km/hr to be scrubbed.
Sunday was Stromlo repeats after watching the Mt Ventoux tour stage drinking coffee. 6 of these big gear efforts were done. I then cruised out to the Cotter to meet Kylie. All up today I saw Michael Baker doing the Stromlo hills - in hardest gear, Michael Brice and Brad Morton were cruising back from Cotter on the MTBs from some EPIC and a whole bunch of other people riding around the hills.
On the way back from the Cotter, it tried to rain on us. With the temperature at 9 degrees celcius and wind chill making it feel like 5, ending up drenched was not looking like a great idea. Amazingly we kept in front of the rain and stayed dry. We were pretty toasted though. After getting home and cleaning up and refuelling a sleep was on the cards.
This week will involve a nice little road trip down to Mogo to check out some of the Angry Doctor bits in readiness for the Enduro in early September. Should be good to check out some new trails.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

a few things

First Ride:
Temperature this morning's ride: -1 degrees celcius
Socks: Assos Winter Plus
Glasses: Oakley Radar Hi Intensity Persimmon
Bike: roadie - Cannondale
other items: assos windstopper vest, booties, leg warmers, arm warmers, robocap, layered gloves system, Giro Atmos helmet,
Second Ride:
Temperature this afternoon's ride: 15 degrees celcius
Socks: Assos Skinweb (summer weight)
Glasses: Oakley Radar Blue Iridium
Bike: MTB - Scott
other items: 661 Raji gloves, Specialized D2 helmet

Monday, July 13, 2009

mixed emotions

Sunday saw a little over 200 people descend upon Sparrow Hill for the standard Sunday morning Sparrow world championships (unofficial title)
After registering I cruised out for a quick practice lap. The course utilised some fireroads which had the added benefit of taking advantage of the prevailing tailwind - which was huge.
Most of the course was do-able in the big chainring which pretty much indicates how flat it was. There were some hills. But they weren't hard to ride, just hard to ride fast.
We had about 18 riders in the combined Elite\Sport A category. There were quite a few quick guys here too. Brendan Johnston - top 3 junior in Australia, Mark Tupalski - top 5 junior and winner of last 8 hour race (solo), Matt Rizutto, Joel Ryan, Brad Morton and a few others.
When the gun (metaphorically speaking) went off, I got my patented supefast clip in and roared off in the big ring searching for the holeshot into the singletrack which was about 400m up the fireroad. Brendan also got a fast start and we drag raced up the widetrack at about 45 km/hr thanks to the tailwind. The first lap went by with Brendan and I swapping turns at the front trying to break the rest of the crew. We got the lead group down to 4 and had about a 30-45 second lead over the next group of riders. The second lap was going really well with a train of 4 of us crusing along at a nice fast pace, until about the last 2 minutes of the lap, when my front tyre decided it wanted to go a bit low. I stayed calm and stopped and put a tube in it. This put me in about last place. However after having 3 minutes to recover and fix my flat, I was able to light it up and try and get through some traffic.
After the next 3 laps, the finish line appeared and I had managed to claw back to 5th place. I was 30 seconds behind 3rd place and 3 minutes behind first. I checked the lap times and saw that the flat had cost me exactly 3 minutes based on the 2nd lap splits. I don't think I had enough in me to beat Brendan or Mark, but it was good to know that it wouldn't have been too far off. Brendan will definitely take good form with him overseas as he heads over to Canada to race the World Cups at Mont St Anne and Bromont.
Next race is possibly the NSW state titles followed by the Sutton Road Club race and a SuperD at Stromlo - the next 4 weeks are looking good!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


The weekend involved some good rides. I knew I was pushing a bit hard last week becuase the muscles started to hurt a bit and felt a little depleted on the Thursday ride.
On Saturday I was super fresh after a full day off on Friday. I started off with an ascent up Mount Majura on the road. This climb is a steady 9-10% on a realtively rough road that winds through the trees of majura. The road is fairly narrow - but the upshot of it is that you will never see a car on it as there is a locked gate that stops them - awesome. This climb just puts you at LT and you suffer for a good while. On key days I might use this climb to also perform some sprints - to every powerpole - over about 15 metres. This is the good stuff! The view at the top is pretty good - I can see my house from the top here! The descent is 70km/hr and fully wicked as the road is rough, narrow and covered in she-oak leaves and nuts. There is also the risk of a kangaroo hopping across. Plus you have to throw out the anchors to avoid slamming the gate.
From there it was over to Stromlo which is about 45 minutes away. Stromlo is a 5% grade which is not difficult. Again this puts you at LT after about 90 seconds in. The cars give you a fair bit of room because a lot of cyclists use this hill for power training. The view at the top is pretty good - you can see the trails of Stromlo due to the distinct lack of trees. The descent is about 50km/hr and you pedal the whole way (just about!). Another bonus of Stromlo is that there is a tap at the top. Good opportunity for a refill.
Next on the list was Black Mountain. This is back near the city so about 15km from Stromlo. Black Mountain is a brute. It starts out at about 15% and feels like you hit a wall about 35 seconds in. After that it is really hard to get a good rhythym going - as it varies at around 10-ish%. As I was going up, I saw Sean Lewis going down - smiling - bastard! Black Mountain feels the longest of all the mountains - but funnily enough they are all pretty similar in times - it just hurts the most. There is no view at the top (due to trees) - but on the way up if you look sideways, whilst suffering you can see the lake. It doesn't help at all though. The descent is pretty awesome. The road is nice and smooth and the corners are tight - 60-70km/hr all the way down. On my way down, I saw Sean heading up for another one - the smile had gone as he had gone into the pain cave.
From here i dissected the City and made my way over to Mount Ainslie. I can say that I almost enjoy climbing Mount Ainslie. Even last on the list. It starts off reasonably mellow and only kicks up to 10-12% at the top in the last 2 minutes. It almost always feels like it has a tailwind! At the top I can see my house - which is pretty cool again! This climb takes you into LT territory at about 1/3 of the way up. The view again is really cool from the top. The descent is awesome - 80km/hr+ fully tucked. There is the slight possibility of ramming a roo, but you don't think about that! After the descent it is about 10-15 to get home all uphill unfortunately, but that the secret training part!
So that was Saturday's 3 hour ride. This was followed up with a protein shake and a massage. Pretty good after ripping up 1000 calories per hour. So Sunday rolled around, and I was doing some Big Dog slogs up Stromlo. After 3 of these I got a call from Kylie, and I flew off down to the Cotter to meet her for a bit of a spin. Climbing out of the Cotter, I started to feel the onset of a fringale. A fringale is the worst hunger knock you can get. I pretty much shoved down all the food I had in my pockets. 2 powerbars, 1 clif bar, 1 packet of clif shots. 10 minutes later I started to feel a bit better, but all the power had gone! Spin smoothly was my mantra to get home. I was toasted - and a pretty good sign that my flirt with overtraining was working! Time to just kick back and eat now in readiness for the weekend's race at the Sparrow Hill Sunday World Championships!


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

almost as good as winning lotto

I cruised off early for today's training. Deep down inside I was hoping that I would find my light that I lost yesterday. Cruising around Parliament House I looked over to where my flat occurred, and there was a small glow eminating from the grass. YES!!!!! My light was still there, still on and I was stoked.
Apart from that, the ride was full of headwinds that hurt. These are the ones where it is a struggle to go 30km/hr down a hill into the wind. However, as long as you can put up with the pain long enough, the tailwind is a 50km/hr ripper!!!
Picture today is about FAIL! As they say a picture says a 1000 words.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

in threes I guess

Sometimes it just rains heaps...... I got a flat this morning cruising around Parliament House. No big deal, just whack a tube in and off I go. Going up Northbourne avenue a bus driver went past me extra slow. So I pedalled a little faster and caught the lead out for about a kilometre from Macarthur House to Antill Street Dickson - and as a super bonus got through the lights (this never happens). After this intersection the bus turned off and I just recovered a little before heading up to the badlands of Gungahlin. Going past the Kaleen turnoff, I felt as though I was floating a bit - yep, flat tyre. I managed to get up to a spot where I could get off the road and fix it. Again no biggie - I carry 2 tubes and was only 10 minutes from home.
Because the first flat had cost me 2 CO2 cartridges I was slumming it with the hand pump. At about 80psi, the tube valve snaps off and my tyre goes flat at the bottom. Mobile phone gets a work out. I have to be (dis)content with 40 kilometres for the morning in a little over an hour. When I put a new tyre and tube on a lunchtime I managed to blow 2 tubes up because the tyre wouldn't hold the bead - this has never happened to me before and if you have ever blown a tube up (literally) when inflating it inside an enclosed room - you know how the ringing in the ears sounds!!
Anyway, I also managed to stick some new Crank Bros Egg beater 4ti pedals on the MTB also. My other set 'wore out'. By this I mean they got worn down over the course of the year - but I can pretty much pinpoint it to one race weekend at the Geelong National Round. They had pretty much gotten so loose that I was pulling the cleat out at really inopportune times. The difference in substantial metal between the two is, well, substantial!
I also managed to install my new 'Pine Scented' Kenda Small Block 8 tyres - I will be able to smell the serenity as I cruise through key Stromlo locations. Almost nothing better than new tyres - maybe new chain, cassette and chainrings.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Randomness of it all

The last 2 weeks has seen a lot of riding go down. Obviously it all has a purpose. That is, to get faster. The winter so far has been reasonably mild during the days which has allowed for some decent riding. Today was not one of them. Saturday was spent on a training ride that I would rate up there in the top 10 of all time. It was one of those days when you climb in one extra harder gear, and you can punch it out of the saddle, it hurts but you can still go hard anyway.
It started off by cruising over the back of Mt Ainslie on the MTB to do some dog hills. 3 minute hills - VO2max style - 6 times, all within 2 seconds of each other. Straight after those it was the standard loop up to the top of Mt Ainslie, then over the saddle, and the standard loop up to the top of Mt Majura. I have done this climb heaps of times and know exactly how each minute feels! It is a great feeling when the form is allowing you to push 1 gear harder even when going up the steep stuff, and when the ground is moist.
Anyway, after the Majura ascent, I bombed back down the water bar fireroad, and pinned it back home to refill the bottles. I then made my way out to Stromlo via the way of Bruce Ridge, Black Mountain, the Cork plantation and the arboretum. It was just sensational riding through all of these places. The trails were grippy and the legs were strong.
By the end of the day, I had clocked up my allotted hours and was pretty happy with how things went.
Sunday - different story. I woke up. The alarm hadn't gone off. No big deal. The coffee was good. The roads were still wet from the small amount of rain last night. I cruised out, aiming for 4 hours. 30 minutes into the ride, had readjusted that back to 3:15. Was feeling good when I got to the 1 hour mark. A slow wake up I guess. Started climbing out of the Cotter. Again the extra gear was being used. Cool. Climbing out to Blue Range descent - yep extra gear and feeling comfortable out of saddle. Descent into Blue Range, then up the riser out of the saddle, snap - spoke goes on my Dura Ace carbon 1380 rear wheel.
Ok so at this spot I am about almost the furthest spot away from home possible on bitumen. The rear wheel is rubbing on the chainstay badly and not allowing it to rotate, and I am over it! Luckily I always carry my Crank Bros multi tool and was able to fashion a straight wheel thanks to the integrated spoke keys. However, there was the biggest hop in the wheel, that almost hit the seat tube every rotation. So it was then very carefully back to Stromlo, where Kylie had so graciously accepted my call for technical support and a lift home!
And then to top it off - I had to go into work to rebuild a database that was somehow linked to the soul of Michael Jackson and had crashed badly on Thursday. Oh well, not to worry.
Stats for the weekend
Hours ridden: 7
MTB / Roadie ratio: 75/25
Ascent: 2700m
Clif Shots consumed: 8 packets
EFS energy drink: 4 bidons
Spokes consumed: 1
Cost of shimano spoke: reamed
Hours spent fixing database: 5
V02max minutes: 33
Lens Saturday: Positive Red iridium
Lens Sunday: Blue Iridium
Birthday parties for 1 year olds: 1 - happy birthday Angus!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bring out the sun

After a week of freezing temperatures, the weekend was totally kick-ass. The sun was out and there was some good amount of riding to be had. Saturday morning was spent at the bmx track watching Kylie hit the rhythm section over and over manualling, pumping and jumping her BMX. She was having a blast throwing in X-ups over her favorite doubles. After that, and the sun and blue sky coming out, I headed out on the road bike for the longest ride I have probably ever done. I might have done longer when I was younger, but I can't remember. On my way out of the Cotter past Stromlo, I saw Bec Henderson and Dan McConnell crossing the road. I stopped and talked some crap with them before embarking on part 2 pf the ride.
Towards the end of the ride, I stopped in to see Trev at the bike shop. I was asked why I was running a 23 on the back. I said it was a 25. No it looks like a 23. Both Jim and Trev were adamant. No I am sure it is a 25. Trev cleaned up the cassette and confirmed that it indeed was a 23. Now that explains why those 10% grades of Black, Ainslie and Majura were so hard on Monday. That is just hilarious. I could have sworn it was a 25 - should have looked - I have been running this cassette for at least 6 months. Funny.
On Sunday, I ventured out off road. No racing this weekend. I usually take a 6 week break from racing to just freshen the mind, and keep the hunger. Kylie and I rode out to Stromlo on the dirt. Along the way we climbed 'one tree hill' which probably has a real name, but we call it 'oth'. A massive sculpture of a giant bird and a nest made out of old farm tools welded together has been put in place.  This is pretty wild and probably the best bit of art I have ever seen.
Kylie and I sprinted each other home up every rise and were absolutely hammered by the end. always a good way to finish a ride and the weekend. Some good stats for the week were put down and the winter build is going very nicely. The outlook is for more good riding this week, and a bit of a team bonus should be arriving from Canada also.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


WOW! that is some cold weather we have. I woke up this morning and the trusty Elder's weather site stated that it was -4.7 degrees Celsius. Finally my Assos fetish has paid off! I was nice and warm venturing out this morning at 6am. At 6:40am (I found out later) it had dropped to -5.9 degrees. Maybe Kylie was right suggesting that I join her in the living room at 17 degrees on the wind trainer. When the sun finally came out some time after 7am it was a beautiful day and I was glad to be outside. I try to only revert to the trainer if it is raining before I head out.
I am sure that this weather is nothing compared to what people in 'real' cold places experience. One thing I do notice when it is cold is that there is a bit more ice on the roads and that some drivers have their brain freeze also.
Some inside gossip for the National Series for 2009/2010 has just come to hand. Apparently they will only run Elite, U23, U19 and U17. Personally, I do think that this is a good idea. If it is subscribed well it could mean that the Elite ranks swell up and there could be some decent numbers that start. This means that doing well will mean a whole lot more. The Australian Titles will still cater for the other 'support' classes, but not the National rounds. Only time will tell.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Fog, rain, sunshine, wind - what else do you want?

That pretty much sums it up. On Saturday, I cruised out to Picadilly Circus via the Cotter. 2 hours of fog later, I crested the hill before blue range and it was the best brightest sunniest day you could think of, unreal. Up through Condor creek, then kept going once I hit the dirt and spun up to Picadilly circus - it is a different world out here - haven't been out this far since 1993-ish - But I wouldn't recognise it anyway. Last time I rode it was back from an epic that turned bad. We had to ride home from Picadilly Circus to Canberra in the dark! - that is about 55km - mega fringale!

When I cruised back (on saturday) after the awesome descent, I hit the fog again - and it was thick - I could barely see about 50m in front of me. It lasted all the way back home. I even took a slight detour back up Mount Stromlo to see if it had lifted. Not really.

Today I looked out the window early and saw potential blue sky. A quick check on the Elders weather site said 'go climb some hills' A bit of snow in Thredbo has made it cold here. 4.4 degrees C windchill. 20km/hr winds. Time for some Assos windstopper and I was good to go.

A nice cruise up Majura, Black and Ainslie was only punctuated by 1 flat tyre and a punter trying to use my draft in the side wind. I stepped it up and flicked him off my wheel so I didn't have to worry about anything else. I don't do lead outs for muppets!!!

The hills were hard today with all of them having some form of headwind - as if they weren't hard enough. The descents were great though even with the wet roads. As a bonus 3 minutes after I got home it started raining - that has to be good.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Long weekend coming up

The bruises are coming out very nicely now, great shades of yellow and purple. The knee is feeling great. And as a bonus there is a long weekend coming up. Thanks Queen for your birthday.
This week the inside/outside balance fell in favour of the trainer. On wednesday I actually felt pretty good for 2 hours on the trainer. On Thursday I was just about over it! It does build mental toughness though.
I also managed to acquire 2 new pairs of Oakley Radars this week from my connection at Oakley South Pacific - thanks Rob! I got my paws on a set of pro white with positive red iridium lens, and also a set of Retina Burn radars.
These retina burn glasses are a sweet throwback to 1990 when I got my first set of Oakley sunglasses. This was a set of Oakley razor blades in exactly the same colour combo. Hopefully I will get a chance to wear them this weekend, even if it is forecast for cloud and rain!
Apparently Oakley have limited these to a run of 1000 worldwide (500 in path and pitch lens types) and australia has 100. They will be treated like white gloves - only brought out for special occasions!

Monday, June 1, 2009

flats and crashes

Funny old weekend. As is the way, I haven't had a flat on my road bike for ages. Descending down to Blue Range, my front tyre felt a bit soft. Yep, flat. Going back past Parliament House the rear felt a bit soft. Yep, flat. Lucky I carry 2 spare tubes, that got me home with a bit of a loss of rhythm, but not too bad for the 4 hours.
It was so cold down at the Cotter River when I stopped for some water, I mean, the morning was cold anyway, I left home at 7 to try and beat the wind as it was forecast to be picking up a bit in the day. Climbing Mt McDonald and also up to Condor Creek and Piccadilly circus definitely warmed me up.
By the time I was cruisng back past stromlo to head home, I decided to climb Stromlo to get some water and check out the weather. Parliament house flag, upright all the way home, just had to get to adelaide ave for the tailwind.
On Sunday, I decided to take the MTB out as it had rained a bit overnight and was forecast for drizzle. It all started well, riding from home out to Bruce Ridge, then through Black Mountain and the cork plantation before the first hour had passed. Hammering through the arboretum and then along the superhighway I was then pinning it up to the start of Stromlo. The see-saw was good, then around a few more corners and across a rock armoured water crossing. Here my chain decided to jump off and when I went to pedal I just went over the bars and splat. OK, dust off everything and get pedalling again. The knee had been hammered in that one - not sure if stem or ground, but it freakin hurt. Better keep it warm though, so up to the top of stromlo via the trunk trail in the big dog - probably had a tailwind.
After the ascent I was pinning it down the berm track and lining up for the small gully jump, when the front wheel washed through a nice erosion drain leading into the small take off ramp. Somehow I was spat off at 45 degree to the take off line and heading towards the inners of the gully nowhere near the take off ramp. Somehow I got into and out of the gully, did a somersault and landed on my feet, and as a bonus, the bike was fine and I was fine.
Well sort of anyway, I copped a seat in the groin, and may need a new helmet, and some new skin for my elbow, but I was OK enough to keep going down, and then do a run up the World Cup climb - no dabs of course, then cruise back home.
That night my knee blew up a bit, but the ice kept it in check. My neck feels about a centimetre shorter - It'll lengthen out over the week though! But most of all ,the bike is OK.
But I think I have drunk too much coffee - I need some food now - starting to shake!