Thursday, January 27, 2011

Specialized test the best

Have you ever wondered if a $10,000 bike actually feels better than a $2000 bike

Then go out to stromlo and test an s-works specialized mtb or road bike and put your mind to ease.

Then contact the bank and get an extension on the credit card!

Dirt Crits are back

The dirt crits finally made their way back to Stromlo after about 3 races were cancelled due to rain. This was the 3rd time I had been on the mountain bike since the last one way back in early December. So, I saddled up and rode over to Stromlo which took about an hour via way of Bruce Ridge, Black Mountain and some bikepath thrashing.
 
Stromlo was dry and dusty, exactly how it should be. My new XTR 10 speed was shifting flawlessly, and the Specialized Renegade tyres were gripping like they were designed to at super speeds.
 
The course was an old standard which started on the bitumen, went up and over the tunnel, chucked a right before the 4X track then another hard right before going back through the tunnel. From here it went down through the nicely washed away singeltrack back down to the bitumen.
 
The race was 6 laps and all up took about 10 minutes, so the laps were really short. There was a slight tailwind fromt he bitumen to the top of the tunnel, which was perfect.
 
My objectives for this race were to see where my fitness was at. After not racing for a while it is always interesting how things will go. From the gun, I managed to get a quick clip in and was able to ramp up the speed pretty quickly, taking the holeshot into the first corner and successfully leading for the 1st lap prime of $1000. (fully self funded!) The next 3 laps, I continued to smash out some pretty high intensity efforts, hovering between 176 and 183 bpm for the whole time. Pretty much 95% of max HR.
 
I had Ben Henderson and Brad Morton on my wheel for the first 4 laps, before Brad was able to sneak by on the top straight. I immediately got onto his wheel and held that position for 1 full lap before the elastic snapped and he got a 20 metre gap on me. From here it was just a matter of finishing the race with the same 20m gap. Ben Henderson finished 3rd with Ben Cory in 4th. 2nd place for the first crit of the year and reasonably happy with the form.
 
The spin home was welcome as I had gone reasonably deep and was able to successfully spin out the crap in my legs, talk some crap and enjoy the fresh oxygen.
 
I am headed back to Stromlo today for another Dirt Crit, probably on another course, which is always a good thing. I Can't wait!
 
Thansk to Russ Baker for the photos.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Australia day

Australia day - bbq, beer, cricket. That's all she wrote!

Specialized - test the best, demo day at stromlo

Lonsdale St Cyclery: More info on our 'Test-The-Best' Demo day at Mt Stromlo; Times are 8am to 4pm, models available include; Epic 26 & 29er, Stumpjumper FSR, Enduro, Era, Safire, Tarmac, Roubaix, Amira and Ruby. Also the guys form the Lonsdale St Roasters will be on hand to keep you going all day!

Original Facebook Status: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/profile.php?id=144195712269527&v=wall&story_fbid=127761323955729

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

can of worms

SO as of late I have been vigorusly involved in the relative debate as to whether 26" wheels are better than 29" wheels on a mountain bike.
 
Opinions are as summarised below
 
Curious - wish to try
 
Have tried and really like
 
Have tried and can't see the point
 
26" for going fast
 
29" for stability
 
29"ers are theoretically better in 100km races
 
All the cool kids are using them
 
You have to question your sexuality if you use one.
 
Little people trying to compensate with the bigger wheels
 
29ers are for those who ride the bike and don't work the bike enough to notice the difference
 
 
The one thing that was discussed off line was "what are the people who are actually winning races actually using?"
 
24hr - 26"
100km - 26"
SuperD - 26"
Cross Country - 26"
Short track - 26"
 
So therefore that comparison is now null and void. Stop kidding yourself people!!
 
But as they say, each to their own and I would definitely encourage people to try the large wheels and see for themselves the relative merits.
 
 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Specialized BG Fit

I am always looking to improve my cycling in different ways. Ceramic bearings, Rotor chainrings, kick-ass interval sets, light wheels, light bikes, 20 hour weeks and other things that give me those elusive 1% gains. I was intrigued when Trev from Lonsdale St Cyclery said that he and Jim were getting BG fit certified by Dr Andy Pruitt.
 
BG is Body Geometry, and Andy Pruitt fits cyclists like Fabian Cancellara and a few others who ride for money.
 
Now my fit on the road bike was pretty ordinary. I could get through long sessions, hard sessions, anything really, as the body will learn to cope with anything. I had a few things that I wasn't happy with and that I wanted sorted.
 
So Trev got me to block out a 2 hour session in my calendar to receive a BG fit. All I needed to bring was my bike, shoes, knicks and jersey. Jim got my bike up on the windtrainer and took all of the current measurements as a baseline, and also in case I wanted to go back to these. Next up, he ran a number of measurements and assesments of things like flexibility, length discrepancy and other things relating to posture and physiology. Next up he asked me about my riding and what I did, style of riding, goals and other associated things.
 
The next hour or so was spent going through a number of fitting assesments including using the goniometer to measure the leg angle. Andy Pruitt recommends between 25 and 35 degrees for optimum power output, and injury prevention. It was no surprise when my measurement came back at 52 degrees. Will and Trev had a bet going as to how much angle I would have. Will thought at least 45 degrees. This is not why Bjarne Riis was known as Mr 60.
 
So going from that extreme to one that actually works (appropriately) obviously was going to take in some extreme changes. The initial modification was to move the cleats back in the shoe, put a wedge inside the shoe underneath new Blue BG footbeds, move the seat back one centimeter, raise the stem, lengthen the stem by 2 centimetres and finally raise the seat 6 centimetres........ Just small changes obviously. So relatively speaking this was a small shock to my muscles spinning on the wind trainer.
 
One good thing was that when I was asked to pedal on the wind trainer, it was at a pretty decent hard pace. I was pleased with this as being a racer you aren't just cruising around. The extra intensity indicates the particular stresses placed on the body of the actual activity being performed.
 
At the end of the session I received my documentation with my before and after measurements, and recommendations, which included a shallower drop set of handlebars. With Specialized adopting the whole Body Geometry principles with their fit system, the range of parts and accessories that compliment the perfect marriage of rider to bicycle is quite awesome being able to sort any issue that you have on the bike.
 
Now the BG fit is not cheap. You are probably looking at $350 for a 2 hour session, and you might be up for some more dollars with regard to parts and accessories. However, your fit is always on the bike with you, and the huge number of Protour teams and individuals that are sponsored by Specialized is not a coincidence. A lot of cyclists including myself will not baulk (too much) at spending $1000 on getting a single part that might make the bike lighter or faster, but neglect the correct fit. However from now on, it will not be neglected.
 
Now the proof is always in the pudding, and the pudding this case is how the ride goes. This morning (first ride) I was able to do a nice 85km at 35.5km\hr by myself around Canberra. My heart rate was noticably lower, my legs hurt less during and after, and the sustainability felt awesome. I am also on a recovery week so was not smashing it up anywhere. I am really happy with this sort of change in my cycling, and it will be interesting to see how I can improve over the next season with the new fit. Early days but two thumbs up for the BG fit.
 
Big thanks to Trev and Jim from Lonsdale St Cyclery for spending a long time getting this sorted for me, it is hugely appreciated.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Roadie for a day...

Saturday was a bit of a turning point in my cycling career. I decided to do a road bunch ride. I chose the Canberra standard bakery ride in order to introduce myself to a) bunch riding, b) and the interesting things that go along with that. Yes, it is the first time I have ever done a road bunch ride!

During the week I studied the bikely.com gps plots of the route trying to figure out where it went through Dunlop. The rest of the route was fairly straightforward as I have either driven or ridden on those particular roads (except Horse Park drive).

So at 5am on Saturday morning I woke up and hit the coffee, eggs and muffin, before leaving at 5:50 to make it to Phillip by 6:25am. When cruising through Phillip, I thought I had a flat so stopped to check. Nothing, just my imagination!

So then I just cruised down to the Bike Shed and waited with the others until someone took the reins and got it rolling. Andrew Lumley and another dude got on the front, a la squadra rider and a velo rider were in second wheel and Ben Carmody and I were in 3rd wheel. With the Australian road race championships being on, there weren't as many people there, but I reckon there was at least 60 people in the peloton.

 The 2 guys at the front were driving hard and they took us down Adelaide ave, northbourne ave and all the way up the short rise of Ginninderra drive before peeling off, the next 2 guys took us all the way to the last roundabout along this particular road in Dunlop.

Ben had mentioned that due to our proximity to the front we may have to do our time on the front. Being at the lowest point of Dunlop, the portion that we had to do was full of nice little false flats, and annoying little risers. I'll keep that in mind for next time.

After we did our 12 minutes on the front, we peeled off and slotted back into the peloton for a recovery. We cruised up to Barton Highway, where I had read that the pace picked up a bit. Luckily I knew how the roads meandered through this part so could go with the flow a bit here.

We got caught at the lights prior to turning onto Horse Park drive for a little bit of recovery. Being at the front of the pack at this stage, me and another dude started the procession down this road. The paceline got pretty full on down here with some intense pace being driven down the rough chip seal of Horse Park drive.

I didn't really have any idea where they ended their efforts, whether there was a sprint or what the go was. (if anyone does know, please let me know!) I actually thought that the sprint was at the top of the climb, prior to turning right onto Federal highway.  So then I am climbing the rise behind Andrew just wondering what the hell is going on, it just seems that everyone switched off!! That was probably the sprint, who knows?!

The rest of the ride was totally mellow, and by the time I got back to town I had done a nice 85km. My next trick was to head out to Condor creek and back for a nice long ride for the day. 170km and 5 hours 40 minutes after leaving at 5:50am I was back home chilling with a protein drink and eating all I could, that's always a pleasing thing.

So, would I do some more of these? You bet! The training stimuli, provided I am giving it some, is quite a different power curve than that used for mountain biking, but this will definitely help my racing in the long term. Where I think it will help immensely is in the XCO (cross country) and the XCM (marathon) races, for different reasons.  I will also probably get slight assistance in the short track races also.

After doing a nice3 week  build up to that 21 hour week, I am looking forward to a nice recovery week over the next 5 days. Fortune has it that it is also meant to rain this week, therefore there is no battling the elements. I reckon that is the first time I have lucked it like that!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Endless Summer

WOW! Summer has finally arrived. I have had a good break from work over the xmas and new year block and was able to get a truck load of riding in. Pretty much every day was at least 3 hours and a good mix of riding was done in order to enjoy the bike and also get all bases covered with regard to what needs doing.

For the new year of 2011 there are a good amount of races on. First off will be the local Thursday night short track racing up until the end of daylight savings. February has a local club race 2 weeks before the Australian Titles to use as a tune up.

In March there is a race every weekend. The one on my must do list is the Capital Punishment 100km race. This is basically all the trails in the ACT linked up.

In April there is the Marathon Championships up in QLD, held over a tough 80km course. You know that the course will probably not be flat when the distance is greatly reduced!

Follow these up with the Angry Doctor, Scott 24 hour, Back Yamma Bigfoot and the Highland Fling and my 100km race diet is set. If I need others, there are at least 5 others on my list if I want to hit them up.

The most important thing I am wishing for is dry weather and good form. If I don't get these, then so be it, I will still enjoy riding the bike. That is still pretty much what it is all about.