Friday, November 25, 2011

2011 – The Year in Review: Numbers and ‘Best of’

I have been pretty happy with how 2011 has gone with regard to cycling. I have enjoyed the journey this year racing in South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and the ACT. I have enjoyed the atmosphere of races that I have been to – especially the 100km races.

About this time of the year, as we roll into Summer and the best opportunity to ‘re-base’ , I will go through the ‘best-of’ moments as well as the statistics of the year. I enjoy doing this as it gives me a chance to reflect on the year as well as remember why I have made the choices to ride my bike every week.

Total races: So far it is 26. By the end of the calendar year it will be 37. Out of these, there were 6 individual races that were ‘A’ races. By this, I mean that I cared about the result more than normal. This included Australian Championships for XCO and XCM, and the 4 races in the Cyclenation Real Insurance XCM series. If I was being totally honest, then I would also secretly include the Back Yamma Bigfoot race. For some reason I really like this one!

Total kilometres ridden: As of today it is 19,296km for the year. Interestingly enough, as distance doesn’t always tell much of a story, I am also pushing over 650 hours. It’s a good thing I like riding the bike. You reap what you sow.

Holidays: I took 2 weeks off in June to go to Thailand just to chill out and recharge the batteries. Bangkok was fuelled by double shot espressos. Phuket was sponsored by 7pm happy hour cocktails.

Massages: 48 so far this year. In order to ride, race and recover, massage is one of those things that I incorporate into my weekly regime in order to get the most out of my legs.

Chiropractic Adjustments: Cycling is the most ‘wrong’ thing you could do to a body. 12 adjustments in the calendar year keep things straight(ish).

Results: 6 x 1st, 6 x 2nd, 8 x 3rd, 1 x 4th, 2 x 6th, 1 x 7th, 1 x 9th , 1 x 12th on the Mountain bike over Short track, Cross Country, and Enduro Events.

Total indoor trainer days: 3. I hate the trainer. Even if it is raining, windy and cold I would prefer to be outside! However, after 2 to 3 of these in a row, it is quite hard mentally. It can also be hard on the bike if you ride in the rain a bit!

Coldest day on the bike: Minus 6 degrees. 2 pairs of gloves, 2 sets of booties. 20 minutes in the hot shower afterwards.

Hottest day on the bike: 37 degrees. Yeah well, it was hot.

Hardest day on the bike: Australian XCM nationals. Mt Joyce course. This event was a multi lap affair covering 3 x 29km on an extremely hilly course. I think that the total vertical gain (climbing) was about 3000m. I managed to get a National Title out of this (Veteran Men) as well as 7th overall on the day. It was so hard that there were only about 18 finishers (ie those who made the last lap time cutoff).

Longest day on the bike: Not overly long by some of the 24-solo dudes, but 185km on a Saturday out with Andrew Arundel in the Brindabellas was the most I have ridden in one day this year.

Most enjoyable weekend of racing: Back Yamma Bigfoot 100km. A week of Twitter trash talking with the solo 24 crew leading up to this event set the scene. Caught up with my family. Took over a local restaurant on Sunday night with the Canberra Wolfpack crew cranking Phil Tucker’s Katy Perry CD!

Best blog: Apart from mine ( of course :), I would have to rate Ed McDonald for his writing style:

Best Eyewear for cycling: Oakley Radar Path. And a few spare for apres bike.

Best Grips: ESI Racer’s Edge. Perfect size, lightweight.

Best tweet: This was in response to the new GDE route on the Saturday Morning Bakery Bunch ride. This was Bear’s response to riders letting the wheels in front go. The new route was Jeremy Ross’s brainchild, which turns out to be a much better route than the old one down Horsepark Drive. On this particular morning, which was the first occurrence, Jeremy, Jason Chalker, Shaun Lewis, Andrew Arundel, Dave Rae and myself managed to ride off the front. The bunch is wiser now!

Best half wheeler: Without a doubt this has to be Andrew Hall. Whenever we do a turn on the front he is half wheeling me for the first 2 – 3 minutes of our mandatory 10 minute block. Kylie Webb is a mentionable runner up also. Since she got her new S-Works Amira she likes to rub it in that it is faster than my bike!

Best Event (overall): Again, the Back Yamma Bigfoot brought a smile to my face for the entire weekend. The Highland Fling definitely had the best atmosphere.

Most #PRO statement: Jason McAvoy stating that he doesn’t even get on the bike for less than two hours.

Most #PRO tan: Dylan Cooper.

Favourite Pasta Dish: as a cyclist, pasta is just one of those things that often tends to work pretty well as far as fuel goes. Pasta Carbonara is one that I regularly do up. Prosciutto, bacon, parmesan cheese, condensed milk and fettucine is what goes into this one!

Best bike: Once again this has to go to my Cannondale Carbon Flash. Apart from the occasional pilot error that pops up every now and then, it has been bullet proof, dependable, and most importantly, fast over the course of the year. The frame and forks are coming up to 2 years old and are not looking at wearing out anytime soon. This is a great testament to the bike and the value you gain by selecting a superb model such as this. I would definitely recommend this to anyone, (except my closest competitors!)

Cannondale Flash on Hammerhead at Stromlo

Best tyres: This one is always subjective, but for me this year I have relied on 2 sets. Specialized Renegade S-Works and Schwalbe Racing Ralph Snakeskin. Horses for courses as they say....

Best ‘closer’ of a race: Jason English without doubt. He can drill home the last 3rd of a race better than anyone.

Best wake up call: Adelaide National Champs in February. Riding into the X-Trail that Kylie had parked at the side of the road whilst looking down at my gears. The day before the XCO race.

Best waterbottle cages: King titanium. I have had a set (2) since 2006. They weigh 28grams each and never drop bottles. Priceless in any MTB event.

Best ‘I don’t belong here’ moment: Raceview Leagues Club, Ipswich. Door staff wouldn’t let me in with my white ‘Globe’ thongs, whilst locals with double pluggers and blue singlets just strolled through.

Fastest Postcode in Australia: 2602. I have gone through this before in a previous post. It does not look to be changing anytime soon. 4 out of the top 7 at the recent Highland Fling 100km, 2nd place in the 100mile version, and 3rd in the Half Fling (female) support this purely scientific fact!

Best mountain bike promotion: Cyclenation and Real Insurance hands down. Raised the profile of Marathon MTB events. It’s pretty cool when workmates mentioned that they saw me on TV!

Best ‘in-joke’: One of my ‘mates’ set up a fake twitter account @Fake_jdowning26 in response to another fake account @fake_Jeebus . Purely satirical content within and not to be taken seriously. Scarily close to reality at times though.

Best team mate: Will Bowron. Got me back up to the front bunch at the Fling after a ‘ground’ moment. Training partner for climbing in the mountains.

Best clueless moment: Will Bowron not realising that there was a half marathon XCM series with truckloads of prize-money for the winner. Which, he actually ended up being.

Best mis-interpretation of a request: I asked for 3 sugars in my espresso, but the barista though I said ‘three shots’. Needless to say, I was in a great mood that afternoon! Garden City Shopping Centre, Brisbane after XCM nationals.

Best race course: Capital Punishment. This event takes in all the best parts of Canberra and links them together in a true point to point race. It also happens to pass by my house during the untimed section. Fresh bottles, sunglasses, gloves are pure luxuries that I was happy to take advantage of.

Best socks: De Feet. Black. Appropriate height of course.

Best crew: Jason McAvoy, Andrew Hall, Brett Bellchambers, Ed McDonald, Kylie Webb, Brad Morton, Dylan Cooper, Greg Collis, Trent Smyth, Phil Tucker, Carmel and Michelle Ainsworth, Mark Tupalski, Lachlan Paton, William Bowron.

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