Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stromlo XCO race - 29th January

Blue Steel pose

Me and Brad - quiet week, only raced against him twice this week

Me and Bev - she is a gun Pro Moto Trials rider

Me and Matt

Local Hitters...

Sunday race. 

Same course that is being used in upcoming national round.

5 local hitters.

Warm morning.

6 x 15 minute laps.

29er Flash Ultimate - weapon of choice.

1st place.

Awesome crew - seriously, how good is mountain biking?!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Majura dirt crit

Fast course, dry, dusty, intense.

Fighting the good fight - Adelaide 2012 - Tour Down Under

The last few days have been spent in Adelaide for the Tour Down Under. I was invited down by the awesome guys from Cannondale Australia to hang out, ride, eat and sleep. And we did a lot of these, except for the sleeping! I managed 6 hours a night maximum, but the days were filled with awesome Adelaide riding, meeting and riding with the Liquigas Cannondale team riders, checking out the expo and tour village and also chasing the race! Cannondale Australia provided awesome hospitality for my stay and they undoubtedly had the most eye-catchig team tent at the expo. A very professional set up.

The time spent on the bike was amazing. 40 degree days, awesome roads, good crew to ride with, excellent coffee. The nights were even better. Great food - Thai, Italian, wine bar, spanish beer, awesome company. When I got back to Canberra I slept for 10 hours - I was exhausted!!

3 days riding
4 hours average per day
40 degrees celsius days
300km driven on stage 1
1000s - cyclists seen every morning
$70 - sushi eaten
2 beers per night (endurance athlete!)
6 hours sleep per night
2000 vertical metres - climbed on day 2 of riding
When I will be returning to Adelaide: late February!

Goodbye bike, see you in (r)Adelaide

and we're off and taxiing

Go fast Corolla hire car - good for 200km/hr on the country roads

Royal Coach Motor Inn - pretty much only slept and showered here the whole time

warmish at night

Down Under Classic - TDU warm up crit race on Sunday night

TDU Event headquarters

Sushi Train - Gouger Street - Eel

Custom Cannondale knicks and jersey - nice work by Al Burgess to get these sorted

Cannondale HQ at the TDU bike expo. Cannondale EVO bikes in every size for demo were available for test rides.

Stage 1 feedzone at Kapunda - 40 degrees and 40+km/hr winds

Liquigas Cannondale team van

Nice beer - spanish

not sure if I would shop here

Crusing off to the Liquigas Cannondale team ride on Monday morning

At the start of the team ride

Rachel - marketing guru at Cannondale Australia

Cannondale - fighting the good fight!

See you in the last week of February Adelaide

Friday, January 13, 2012

First Dirt Crit of the year! New bike - New Psyche!

As is the way, the Xmas and new years block is an awesome chance to redo some mega base miles and enjoy the sun. I tried to cram in as many miles as i could over this time in order to put away some fitness as well as keep off the xmas indulgence. On New Years day I found that due to moving some heavy garden furniture the day before, I had popped out a muscle in the back near the ribs. This was excruciating to say the least. I spent the next 3 days lying flat on my back on the floor filled with muscle relaxant pharmaceutical products and self pity! I finally got into my masseuse and he sorted it a bit so I could almost function, well, i could ride my bike at least - sort of! I then got into my chiropractor and he was able to weave his magic and get the muscle to get back into place where it belongs.
Then I managed to get an awesome case of gastro!. Luckily this only really lasted about 24 hours or so. Effective weightloss strategy it is not, however, this is what happens. But with weight loss also goes strength loss. So I ate some food to get the strength back - slowly. This leads me to the Thursday. Dirt Crit at Majura. The first one for 2012. The first race on my new bike. I was really excited but anxious as to how things would go. I hadn't done any high intensity work since the Mount Taylor hillclimb 3 weeks earlier. However, I had the new bike pysche happening.
The course was a tough one. A nice fireroad drag that flowed into some twisting tight singletrack that exited onto a flat fireroad drag via an uphill rocky chute. No rest along the flat fireroad - 30km/hr + to the superfast singletrack descent that had awesome drifting turns before climbing out via another rocky chute before redescending through a flowy piece of singletrack that weaved its way through the pines. This opened up onto a fireroad that undulated back to the starting fireroad with a nasty tight right hander to funnel you through the start finish line.
In years gone by, we have raced various incarnations of this course, but not this exact one. That is the beauty of the short track racing - a new course every single time. When the start went off, I got an awesome clip in and was powering off the start with some good forward motion. Brad Morton also got a superfast clip in and we drag raced up the fireroad climb out of the saddle until about 5 metres before the left hander into the singletrack. As Brad had the left hand line, he got the holeshot into the singletrack and I got in right on his wheel and we snaked our way through the twisty, rocky, rooty trail and we were soon out on the top false flat fireroad. This was another drag race keeping the speed up over 30km/hr whilst at maximum intensity. Dropping into the singletrack descent, we had 5 seconds to drop the heart rate 2 beats to try and recover just a little bit.
At the start of the 2nd lap I put the hammer down and attacked past Brad as hard as I could. This got me a few bike lengths, but he was sticking to me pretty well still. We kept going like this for the duration of the race, I would just make sure that I kept attacking trying the get a small gap if possible. It wasn't until the last half of the last lap that the elastic finally stretched a little and I was able to get a 3-5 metre gap. After negotiating the last off camber high speed right angle turn, I headed up to the finish line, crossed it, and slammed it into the granny gear to spin slowly up the rise legs full of lactic acid, and lungs full of dust and pollen, and throat burning.
Ther is nothing quite like the first high intenity effort in a while. Your body isn't fully used to it, it burns and hurts a little more than usual, however, it builds great capability and capacity for the future. 1st race of the year, 1st race on my new bike, 1st place. That is a pretty rare thing and even for a club race it will be savored for a day. After that, it is just preparation to the next race.
I was really impressed with how the 29er went for short track. You always hear stories about the 29er being great for marathon races, and I can't see why they wouldn't be. But, short track has lots of violent accelerations and requires you to hold super high speeds whilst at really high intensities. With the requirement for the bike to hold fast speeds, the 29er had that bit coverered. I did notice the slightly sluggish (relative) acceleration out of the corner that required all the speed to be scrubbed, but you make it up a little later further up the trail. One thing I did enjoy was the 700mm wide bars. The lungs were opened up, the upper body strength was engaged better and the bike was a piece of cake to pilot around the corners. I really can't talk highly enough about this machine!!
So, bakery bunch ride in the morning followed by a few hours in the mountains tomorrow then heading of to (r)Adelaide for the Tour Down Under. The veloCanberra and team Quon dudes will be there as will Trev and Janie. Should be an awesome few days! I also get to ride with the Liquigas-Cannondale guys on Monday. I just need to practice my Italian!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Mount Stromlo Hammerhead - A and B lines

On the 29th of December, Andrew Hall and I took a bit of a tour of some Canberra MTB locations. Mount Ainslie, Bruce Ridge, Black Mountain, Arboretum, Mount Stromlo were some spots that we checked out. We also had a specific look at the Stromlo World Cup section including the infamous 'Hammerhead' drop in.

I was rolling the Cannondale Flash Ultimate 29er in its 3rd ever ride. I am slowly dialling this in to perfection with my usual tweaks in order to get it to the most perfect set up for long rides. Andrew was generous enough to offer his time filming a couple of line choices up on Hammerhead. These are the A and the B lines.

The A line actually goes over the hammerhead drop. The B line skirts around the drop. The two videos demonstrate the subtle differences in the line choice and also importantly the time difference between the 2 lines. 

Interestingly enough there is only 5 seconds difference between the 2 unique lines. This may not seem like a lot when taken in isolation, however, when you do 5-6 laps of this section in a standard XCO race, then this quickly adds up to at least 30 seconds. Again, this may not seem like much, but can be the difference between numerous placings at the end of the race.

The 29er is fun to ride over the extremely rocky terrain in this section. You get a lot of confidence that the extra stability of the 29er wheels offer. It can be a little bit of a handful in some of the tight switchbacks before the hammerhead decents, but this is something that can be checked with a stopwatch and back to back runs between a 26er and a 29er. Soon to come!

Stromlo, Hammerhead 'A' line

Stromlo, Hammerhead 'B' line