Tuesday, November 30, 2010

about being PRO

Sometimes you have to work hard to be PRO. This doesn't mean that you get paid to ride your bike, though that could be a nice option. Most amateurs over the age of 30 probably make more money than all real pros except the top 25 in the world.
As a cyclist it can consume your every waking hour. Things like ensuring that your sock height is just right, there is a good amount of white highlights on the bike, matching sunglasses - helmet - gloves and shoes. Making sure that you don't get a chainring mark on your inner calf. The right amount of head nod acknowledgement to a fellow cyclist.
So in my small way in addition to the aforementioned colour coding, there are 3 ways I enhance the PROness.
PRO food. Now I can be PRO on the inside.
PRO Oakley. Options are always good when it comes to eye protection.
PRO grip spares. Just in case the ones you have get dirty or something like that.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thursday night Dirt Crit Racing

Over to Majura for another dirt crit. 3 days back into training and the dirt crits beckon. Thankfully it was just about fully dry over in the forest and the Onya guys had set a brutally tough course for a dirt crit.

A full max effort up the main fireroad followed by a hard left into some serpentine, subtly climbing, but still allowing for a bit of recovery. A hard hairpin put us out onto the top fireroad which was crossed hastily before climbing up some rocky technical singletrack in some low gears, before bombing back down to the top fireroad. This then fed into an awesomely fast bit of singletrack that was a pure gravity feed before rounding back to the start.

A grade was up last on the evening and there was a good vibe among the crew. A few of the B graders had been coaxed into moving up to the extra lap offered in the higher grade.

As soon as the start order was given, it was a full on drag race to the singletrack, I slotted in behind Garreth "the chicks only remember who won the first lap" Paton, and bided my time whilst he smashed out the first lap. On the 2nd lap I smashed the pedals hard whilst out of the saddle to see who was able to respond. Not surprisingly, Brad Morton was able to get on.

The next couple of laps continued in this form, smashing it up the fireroads putting copious amounts of time into the rest of the field, whilst recovering slightly in the singletrack before the next bit of climbing. Brad was able to get through on the 4th lap (of five) and get a 5 metre lead which was hard to reel back. He was able to hold this until the end. I finished in 2nd with a huge gap back to 3rd place.

I was really happy with that 2nd place after a week off down the coast. All the good sensations were apparent which is a good sign in the final build up to xmas.

One thing that I know for sure is that I have finally got my handlebars sorted. In the last 3 weeks I have gone through about 4 sets of handlebars trying to find a new set. The limiter was that I had put a 90mm stem on the bike, and the lefty fork top was the limiting feature. The bulge of certain bars was too great and would not allow for a straight set of bars (with the 31.8mm diameter).

I finally found my perfect solution with the Syntace Duraflite carbon bars. These are 630mm wide with a 9 degree sweep. When riding, these are sensational, mad power when out of the saddle, great handling in the rough technical stuff, perfect width (620mm with the sweep taken into account).

The renegade tyre continued to impress, allowing me to run it at 26 psi for the crit on rocky technical trails. I will have to get my hands on a front one soon!

The weekend is back to the road bike, rebuilding some endurance in the legs and lungs in order for the summer ahead. Let's hope the rain stays away!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A good break

Last week I did something that I have not done for quite a while. I took an extended break off the bike. I had 5 days off the bike in total. This is pretty much the longest I have had totally off the bike since 2006.

So, why.... I have done 30+ races in the last 12 months, which included some excellent results and consistency, plus I also have the Australian Cross Country Mountain Bike championships coming up in late February of 2011. Having a break at this stage will allow me to dedicate the next 3 months to ensuring everything is where I need it to be for that particular race.

My break was spent down the coast at Bateman's Bay laying on the beach, swimming, driving, walking and playing golf. The golf was pretty enjoyable actually as it gave me a good outlet to think about things other than the bike.

I also ate a lot of pizza, fish and chips, ice-cream and Thai food in that time. By the end of it though, I was a little over eating the dodgy food, and was craving salads again - mainly to detox my insides!!

The last 2 days have felt great on the bike. Fresh as can be and wanting to do more. This is always a good sign. Tomorrow is another 70km on the morning followed by an afternoon back to Majura to race some more crit action. Can't wait!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thursday Majura Muddy Dirt Crits

About 4 weeks ago I updated my facebook status stating that due to the bronchitis and hay fever, that some racing speed would be 2 weeks away. I wasn't too far off. Last week I felt pretty good, but an excursion over the bars put paid to that. Yesterday, Garreth Paton set a tough little course on probably the only dry(ish) bit of Majura available after a week of daily thunderstorms.
The morning started on the wind trainer doing some Coach Troy hill intervals. Not the same as the real thing, but makes an hour go by fairly quickly. Later that day Kylie and I rode over to Majura pines dodging puddles. After a few laps of the course, there was no mojo for anyone at practice pace.This was echoed by everyone after the race. So I went in search of some fireroad to open up the tempo. Then I just stopped worrying about trying to dodge the puddles and just rode through them. I must be over my Capital Punishment mud worrying. Obviously a good thing, because it looks like being a wet summer.
The start was good, until about the 10 pedal stroke where I pulled my right foot out. Luckily I didn't miss a beat and had it back in by the next pedal stroke. However I did go from 1st to 4th in this heartbeat (or 5). No hassle, just got back on and in the flow. On the 2nd lap I got back to 3rd and caught back up to Ben Henderson and Brad Morton. I had Ben Cory on my wheel and through the singletrack we got back to the leaders. On the 4th lap, I saw Ben Hendeson twitching to get past Brad, so I matched his movements and we were able to gt past Brad just before the largest puddle and we entered the singletrack in hot pursuit of the last 2 laps.
We managed to gap both Brad and Ben Cory a little on the next lap, but I could feel that Ben was starting to ramp it up a little. The last lap came around and I was just making sure that I kept smooth lines and kept all my flow. Across the line I finished about 10 seconds down from Ben H covered in mud but happy with how the race went. Brad and Ben C rounded out the top 4, with daylight to 5th and beyond.
One thing I did try out was some new bars. Last week I put on a -20 degree stem on the lefty fork, to  but the 6 degree x 620mm bars I had were hitting the lefty top leg. So I put on a set of 600mm bars with a 5 degree sweep. I also tried a set of 3T XIDA bars with a 3.5 degree sweep at 620mm, but these were too agressively forward for my liking. I found the 600mm a bit too narrow,and they left me feeling cramped a little in the cockpit. Anyway, I'll do some more experimenting to dial in the perfect fit.
Up next is a solid 5 day block of getting is as much riding as possible. After that it is an early summer holiday down at the Bay relaxing for 6 days (hopefully in the sun). A few rounds of golf, fish and chips and chillaxing! Awesome.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The price of racing

I just did a short analysis of the price of racing. Now this is the financial cost of racing as opposed to the mental or physical costs.

In order to race a MTBA National series round where I would race a Cross Country race on Saturday and a Short track race on Sunday the cost per kilometre is $15.18.

In order to race a standard 100km event from most promotors is $4.50 per kilometre.

These costs take into account travel, accomodation, car hire and race entries. It does not include food, as I have to eat. This is not-negotiable.

Now to be fair, I usually fly to the National Rounds, but the cost would be identical in both $$ and time in the long run.

Is it any wonder why the 100km events are so popular?

Specialized S-Works Renegade 2.1 review

So this year has been one where I trial different tyres. Next set off the rank are the Specialized S-Works Renegade. I first saw these on Sid Taberlay's bike at the Australian Titles in Radelaide in January this year. He got an Australian Title in the short track that weekend, but I didn't really think about the tyres, except that they looked massive and fast.

It's funny how things go. I went for a ride last Thursday morning on the MTB. I never usually ride MTB in the morning, nor mid week for that matter. 3 minutes into the ride, whilst on singletrack, I got a bent rusty nail through my favorite longest lasting Race King 2.2. I have had this tyre on since the 1st of June (which is a very long time for me and a single tyre). I went home and patched it up, but it didn't fully sort it. I think the tyre had had its day.

Luckily like most cyclists, I have truck loads of spares. There are at least 10 brand new tyres hanging up in the garage, and those of you who know the saga with the Race King supersonic, these can take weeks to fully seal. So I popped this one (3 weeks into full sealing - 450grams) on the wheel. I personally think that the heavier Race Kings seal up better. I think that this one is too light with not enough rubber on the sidewalls.

Anyway, I went into Lonsdale Street Cyclery during my lunch break and got a spare tyre. A Specialized S-Works Renegade was put on the digital scales and recorded a 460 grams with associated plastic merchandising. When I got home, I put this on the race wheel (rear) to air up as a spare - probably had a slight premonition.

Later that afternoon as I headed over to Majura for the dirt crits, my rear tyre with the fresh RK on it got a little low. I headed home and swapped out the wheel for the one with the Renegade.

Back to the dirt crit, and a nice little warm up to get me going. I was really impressed with how smoothly the tyre rolled. Grip was not a problem, as it never usually is on a track that has a bit of moisture in it. I have used super light weight tyre (under 500 grams) pretty much for the last 5 years, so I know the trade offs. These ones tick my latest boxes with the huge volume (very similar to the Race King SS 2.2 in fact).

Executive Summary: The racing went well, the tyre was fast, no problems with grip. So what's next - a twin peaks loop of course to see how the tyres go against the clock. The other thing is, I need a front one, as I bought up the entire stock of 3 that LSC had, and 2 of those are going on Kylie's Scale for her to demo (for the 2nd time - she rode them on a Specialized EPIC demo bike at the Scott and had good things to say about them)

More of a report to come in due course.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dirt Crits!

Finally feeling good again at the dirt crits!! Wheelie good! 3rd place in A grade with an 'over the bars' incident on the 3rd lap of 4.

Tried out a Specialized Renegade 2.1 tyre on the rear. Wow! what a fast tyre with superb grip.

Looking forward to some good form coming back in the not too distant future. Hopefully some sun and warm weather will join it!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

So, what's happening

The short summary is as follows.....
After the Scott 24 hour race, I managed to contract an annoying case of bronchitis mixed with the hayfever due to the insane amount of rain and subsequent weed growth. Note to self, ensure that team mates' sick babies are not allowed in the team tent for future 24 hour events!
So after only 2 weeks of the symptoms going away, I was feeling like a super diesel. Not exactly the best thing for short track or cross country. I decided to not race the NSW state titles. I believe that this was the correct decision as I knew I wasn't 100% - probably only 85%.
This has been reflected also in the first 2 weeks of Short track racing. Can go around, but no strong kick. It's all relative of course, but I can feel it.
My philosphy of racing is that I would rather do lots of races at 95% across the year than hit up key races and try to be 100%. This allows for quite a few races to be done, with the most amount of enjoyment. Well, that's how I take it anyway!
Like most cyclists, I have a 'tester' which allows me to gauge how things are going at anytime of the year. I have a few actually. My twin peaks loop, the majura fast lap, Stromlo road climbs, and the Woden to City 10.45km on the road.
The tester's have indicated what I thought, that there is something lagging, The good thing is that it's on the way back up. It is taking a bit longer than I fully expected, which is quite frustrating, and one which requires me to be patient, however, that is life. No point rushing it and getting sick or injured again.