Tuesday, April 19, 2011

2011 Marathon Championships - Mount Joyce QLD

The 2011 Marathon championships were held over the past weekend in Queensland, inland from teh Gold Coast at the Wyaralong Dam near Mount Joyce.
The trip was made heaps easier by sourcing a straight through flight from Canberra to Brisbane. This decreased the stresses involved with things like switching planes and extra wasting time.
Luckily we had packed relatively lightweight and only got slugged for 3 kgs of excess baggage. The secret here was to just pack a lot of stuff in the carry on baggage. No difference, just playing the game!
Just as I landed in Brisbane, I eceived an email from the event organisers saying that due to the site still being a construction site, we could not do any practise laps. Ultimately this turned out to be a blessign in disguise. At the time, I was a bit bummed, as I do liek to know a course as it assists in being able to pace yourself around.
No big deal anyway, we motored off to Ipswich ( the queanbeyan of Brisbane) to book into our motel, which luckily was extremely quiet. And it had pay tv, so we could chill out and watch the golf, or football all day long.....
On Saturday afternoon, after doing a good 2 hour ride in the morning, we headed south to the race track about 40 minutes away. As I expected, there was a not a flat road to be seen. This confirmed my initial suspicions that this race would not be easy.
Later that night we ventured off to dinner at the Brothers Leagues Club at Raceview in Ipswich. Johnny Diesel is playing here in early May. I remember him being around in 1989. And that is exactly what year it felt like in this city. I hooked into some pasta carbonara and some cheesecake to top off the carbs and just sat back and enjoyed the people watching. It was quite apparent that I did not fit in as a local here.
The next morning was an early 5am wake up in order to get over to the race start with ample time to prepare for the actual start. They had wisely organised to have the women start first, about 30 minutes ahead of us. The full marathon distance had 3 laps of a 28km loop which probably had about 700metres of climbing each lap.
The start was realtively mellow with over 200 full marathon entrants clipping in and pedalling off, with no-one having seen the full course at all. Dylan Cooper attempted a good move along a spoon drain and almost flipped himself as he got shot out perpendicular to the road and almost managed to end the day in the first 100metres.
After the flattish bitumen road we hit a nice hairpin and started up towards the feedzone on a big ring fireroad (off sorts), this then led into a superlong grass section (which was longer and harder and bumpier than anything in any of the Capital Punishment events). This bit had everthing including max heart rate climbs. I pretty much settled into my 'Angry Doctor' pacing strategy. After the grass section, we finally hit the dirt, and another climb, this time up numerous singletrack switchback turns. A lot of these were actually bermed and allowed you to carry the speed around and accelerate out easily.
My Specialized renegade tyres were perfect for this course, rolling fast and olding with no real effort on the corners. After climbing for a while, we went up over the tunnel crossing and started descending for ages through bermed switchbacks that had double jumps, drops, a and b lines, and just awesome flow. This was punctuated by a short climb to the tunnel which then took us down a whole lot more technical track with less bermed corners, a wall ride, drops and again more flowing singletrack. At this point, we passed through the secondary feedzone, and climbed up more singletrack which flowed well but took a bit of effort to get up. A little steeper here, even with the switchbacks.
After this tough climb, a bit of respite was had with a wide open singletrack flow fest that took us down to the feedzone area, then swung a tight lefthander prior to the big climb on the course. This was made up of extremely loose gravel and ascended about 300 vertical metres, of which a lot of it was quite steep. Probably 15-20% pinches. This did seem to go on for a long time that's for sure. The descent that followed was worth it though but was broken up by a false flat climb which felt even hard than the main climb.
The final descent was sensational singletrack which was also quite technical and had a number of big drops, switchbacks, rock gardens and log jumps. The dirt here was almost at hero grip level and you could just rail the corners as fast as you wanted with a just a little bit of outside weighting on the pedals.
From the bottom of the descent, it was flat out fireroad that had a nice downward slope that allowed you to absolutely hammer it. This led to a short climb up a small trail before heading down some bitumen access road prior to the last climb, which was on the dreaded grass once again.
This was done 3 times, which due to the accumulated fatigue due to hills, grass, and singletrack was extremely challening for a 90km race. The amount of climbing was exactly the same as the Angry Doctor, which, is a lot. The course was made up of a huge majority of fresh singletrack which for the most part had extremly good flow and was enjoyable to ride and race on.
The climbs were really tough. everytime I looked down at the heart rate monitor, it was always in the 180s whenever I was going up. My average heart rate for the race was 170bpm for 4 hours and 44 minutes. every muscle in the legs, arms and back was used to negotiate the 3 laps and I can still feel them today 3 days after the race.
I would almost go as far to say that along with the most enjoyable race track I have raced on, this was probably the hardest race I have ever done, which is exactly what you want for a national championship event.
I finished in a time of 4 hours and 44 minutes, which put me into 1st place for Veteran Men (30-39) and 7th overall (all classes) as everyone had started together. I was totoally stoked with this result as it had been on my to do list for about 6 months. To get the XCO and Marathon titles in the one year was also a major goal of mine, so to actually achieve it was an excellent feeling of accomplishment.
I would definitely recommend the location for anyone who wanted to ride some awesome trails. I know I will definitely be back whether it be another marathon championship or even a national XCO event. The trails were some of the best that I have ridden anywhere in Australia.
The race itself was definitely hard, as the vast majority of the field was unable to make the cutoff times to complete the full 3 laps. Only about the top 23 Elite men actually got to do the full 3 laps.
Photos of the weekend to come shortly.....
Next race up on the cards is the Dirt Works 100 on the 1st of May in Sydney.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Working on the bike

Over the weekend, I prepped the bike up for the following weekend.
New Bottom bracket bearings.
New Headset Bearings.
New rear derailleur cables.
New Tyres.
Everything cleaned sorted and ready to go.
I always do all my own maintenance and have so since I started racing. I find that it definitely allows a lot of control when needing to get maintenance done on the bike. Probably the best investment is obviously good tools, but I really like my Enduro bearing pullers and installation tools. These are absolute works of art. Quite beautiful tools that look sensational and actually do a fantastic job of installing bearings squarely and precisely. In my colection I have the BB30 removal and installation combo, the standard BB removal and installation combo and the combo to install any hub bearing. No hammer and screwdrivers here for this work!!
I even took the opportunity to pack the bike and the associated stuff into the trusty Polaris bike bag.
Should be a relatively stress free week in the lead up to the Australian Marathon Championships. I fly out on friday morning, build the bike up that afternoon, have a light spin to stretch the legs out. On Saturday I intend to do a practice lap of the course. Yes, it is a multi lap event. 3 laps with a total of 87km. This to me says straight away that it has the potential to be hilly. It's a good thing then that the majority of my training has involved hills.
The course profile indicates one big hill per lap with about 260m of climbing involved. Having raced up near this area as a junior and also recently in Illinbah just down the road, this is probably not the entire story. The location is just not flat at all, so there may be some liberal use of the 27x36 each lap.
I was just looking at my training diary and noticed that I hadn't ridden the MTB since the 24th of March at the Stromlo Dirt crit!
It's obvious then what I have been working on I guess! Road miles!!
This last weekend I was stoked to use steephill.tv to source a Eurosport tv channel on the internet to stream paris Roubaix live.

Whilst I didn't pick him for the win, I did have Johan Van Summeren in my top 10. He has finished in the top 10 twice before so it wasn't that much of a stretch for him to get the top step given the right sort of circumstances.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

End of daylight savings

Daylight savings has finished. Wow. It is so easy to wake up at 5am to get ready to go and train. That is such a good thing!

Tuesday was 6 climbs of Stromlo, which was accompanied by a decent tailwind home. I also managed to get my fastest time up Stromlo ever. That's always a good thing.

I really like descending between intervals as fast as I can go. Leaning into the corners and looking beyond the exit line ensures that the brakes do not need to be touched.

Today was Stromlo, Black Mountain and Mount Ainslie. Some good fast speeds had down these ones today. 75+ km/hr down Black mountain. Pedalling then tuck, corner, repeat.

Mount Ainslie had a headwind so I could only hit about 80km/hr. Pretty much just pedal a few times, then let gravity take over and tuck. Watch out for kangaroos!

Climbing is a love / hate sort of thing on the bike. I quite enjoy the accomplishment, but the feeling it takes to get up is pretty full on. Sometimes, it is not pretty, however, like Sean Yates once said, you are better off getting up the hill as quick as you can, why prolong the agony?

Usually a good ascent will reward you with a good descent. I hardly ever coast down a hill. I like to attack it as fast as i can, linking all the corners, fingers a millimetre from the brakes. It is such a great feeling. It doesn't matter if it is on road or off road.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Weekend - what happened?

It changed from daylight savings to non-daylight savings.
I rode 5 and a half hours on Saturday, 3 and a half hours Sunday.
Slept for an hour and a half Saturday afternoon at 4pm, and still got 9 hours sleep that night.
I finally found out which bridge the first sprint actually goes for. Now I know why everyone has been sitting up there!
It was super cold on Saturday morning. Dave said there was frost on the roof of each house in Dunlop.
My mouth froze on one side at the start of Saturday's bunch ride. I couldn't pronounce my 'w' words properly.
Got a good tow behind some very tired MTB stage racers through charnwood!
New team kit arrived.
Booked flights to QLD for marathon champs.
Had dinner wth Doug, Amy, Janie, Kylie and Trev on Sunday night and watched Tour of Flanders.
Saw some people doing secret training out in the brindies and motorpacing along Gunning Road - in readiness for the Canberra Tour.
Rode the @velorepublic Sunday morning bunch. Stopped to help Ed with a broken spoke, and still got back on (yes, not a fast bunch! - it's sunday)
Drank some coffee.
Raced Will out of the Cotter on Sunday, attacked him at 35km\hr on the last hill. Was only able to get 2 bike lengths on him. He has got some good form!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Another weekend

I love it when the weekend is coming.
The week has been like this....
Tuesday - Strength Endurance - 5 x Stromlo climbs - negative splits as they went along (I love that!), hammer the descent to keep the HR up---- massage at night
Wednesday - Lactate Threshold 3 x 20min - pain and suffering on the (relative) flat.
Thursday - Stromlo, Black, Ainslie (mellow - light gears) + motorpacing session
Saturday - bakey bunch plus condor creek and suburb meander to get the hours in.
Sunday - 3-4 hours see how things roll.
Sunday night, Tour of Flanders is on live on SBS. I love the classics. All on the line for one day. Strength and tactics come into play.
I probably need to wash my bike tonight. Way too much sweat and slobber, and road grime from the week's riding. It'll make it cut through the air quicker - hopefully!
I caught Will secret training on Mount Ainslie on Thursday. This is probably why he did well at the Capital Punishment 50km.That and his new Specialized EPIC S-Works.He was just finishing off his 5th SE interval, and was riding down the mountain as I started my ascent. In true non-roadie style he threw his arms in the air. I am trying to get him to come on the bakery ride again.
The last time he did it was his first time ever, and we were close enough to the front to end up doing a pull through Charnwood and Fraser up to the highway. This is probably not where you want to be doing any work if you don't know the route. It is all false flat uphill rise. He didn't really stand a chance for the kick through Gungahlin though. Hopefully I can look after him a bit better this time. At least up to Gold Creek, after that it's every man for themselves.