Thursday, 22 December 2011

Cnr Barkly and Carlisle St - 6.30PM Tuesdays

This had to be the most fun I had on the bike in quite a while. After a few months of serious training for Dargo and the Tour of Bright, it was good to get back to my roots of bunch riding and just smashing it. Everyone was well behaved (no one chopping wheels like half the races I have been in recently) and besides from a few extra people wide at times, was legal and safe. After rolling down to Black Rock at a relaxed pace, it was on all the way back to the St Kilda BP. We managed to average 45km/h which was nice considering I was up the front for the start and up the KOM at Rickett's Point.

Garmin File here.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Coburg National Boluie and SKCC Crits - B Grade (Take 2)

Coburg Saturday 

Same deal as last week, ride - race - ride totaling a solid 100km for the day. Jesse (also Team Canard) was basically in every break, so I was able to just sit in near at the front and hope for a opportunity to bridge the gap. I made it half way across in one of the early breaks but the bunch caught me and also the break (I may have dragged the bunch across on my wheel). The last break was set to stick and I got in a good position for the last lap but hit the front too early and got passed around the top corner. I didn't contest the sprint and rolled through in the bunch. As usual we all rolled back to Freshman's for coffees and cakes (plural, not singular).

SKCC Sunday Pictures here
I was on the front as the first small break got reeled in and kicked straight away making it clear with 2 others. I was on full gas for the entire break and was glad when another rider joined us to reduce the workload. We had a good crack and managed to get a reasonable gap but all good things come to a end. Not too long after, I punctured mid field due to a safety pin left on the track. I was able to borrow a wheel and get back into the race thanks to BikeForce team on the sideline (they also repaired my puncture). Canard had a rider clear so I was able to sit in and get used to the feel of the new wheel around corners and this is how it stayed for the rest of the race. There was plenty of yelling but no one was working together and the break stayed clear (unfortunately our rider crashed out). 1 lap to go Eddie launched on the back straight and instantly created a massive gap. Gaps appeared everywhere as the bunch blew apart (including me) but I rounded the last corner in time to see Eddie roll over the line winning the bunch kick taking 4th overall.

P.S. Due to all the rushing around changing wheels during the race, unfortunately my clean bar tape is no longer so.

Friday, 16 December 2011

New bar tape

My bar tape had got disgusting and there was significant peer pressure from my team mates to fix it. Since image is everything in cycling and I have been rolling in my new red Sidi's, it was time to get off my arse to correct the situation.
 A quick look at You Tube, a pack of bar tape, pair of scissors and before 20mins was out, it was done. It was pretty easy and if you ask me it is not such a bad job. I must be sick because I also cleaned my chain and wiped down my bike ready for the big SKCC points race tomorrow.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Coburg National Boluie and SKCC Crits - B Grade

Saturday - Coburg National Boulevard
Saturday riding out to National Boulevard there was a strong head wind meaning a nice tail wind down the main straight and a head wind up the back. This being only my 2nd time racing the circuit and identical conditions (where a break stuck), allowed hope for a non-sprinter. Not to long in, a rider jumped clear and as I was feeling good, I jumped around the top corner making it across. As I did my turn and flicked my arm, my co-breaker mentioned he did not want to ride into the wind. ?!$@? Why did he initiate a break? Two more riders joined, giving me hope of having someone to work with, but the group would not work together and it was all over with the pack chasing up down. The rest of the race had plenty of other attempts but non stuck. On the last lap, I moved up the field but ran out of legs around the top corner finishing with the bunch.

Sunday - SKCC South Melbourne - Pics here

Numbers were significantly down today with early morning rain and wind (less than Saturday). Luckily enough the rain had cleared and the track was dry as we set off. The aim of the day was to keep the pace high and not let it come down to a bunch sprint. I got on the front early to help drive the pace before the attacks came thick and fast. With team mates up the road each time, I could sit in and hope for some shelter but due to the pace line formation and wind, it was fairly tough taking its toll on the peloton making it a short day for some riders. A decent break occurred and a number of riders started disappearing up the road. I was content sitting in the bunch until I looked around and realised that most the bunch was gone (in either direction). I tried to gun it and bridge the gap but it was too late. I fell back in with the remaining riders and started rolling turns as more riders disappeared leaving 4. This was sadly how it stayed until the end, we continued to roll steady turns but the gap remained and it was time to go home.

 (On the front passing D grade )

Monday, 5 December 2011

2011 Tour of Bright - C Grade

I successfully completed my first Tour of Bright last weekend and what a great event. This being my second Cycling Victoria event as I have only been racing for just over a year (and riding for less than two), I was a tad nervous the night before as I attached my transponder hoping it wouldn't move during the race (Tip #1 - always bring extra zip ties). C grade contained almost 120 riders on the original list with a only a few names I recognised and I wasn't quite sure what to expect, except that it was going to be tough. The personalised Rapha numbers and show bag were a great touch at the sign in (Tip #2 -always bring extra safety pins) which I just made it too at 8.50pm after driving up from work (never again).

The Gaps Loop Stage 1 - 91km &1040m 

As we rolled through the inflatable SRAM arches, everyone was jostling for position due to the big field and the first sprint being only 10km in. After everyone got settled, I was a back further than I would have liked but was nicely sheltered in he bunch steadily rolling along at speeds well over 40km/h. As moving up the bunch proved extremely difficult without crossing the center line, I settled into a rhythm focusing on saving energy, keeping up the fluids and staying alert for be sharp braking events that was rippling throughout the bunch. As expected, the pace kicked up going up Rosewhite gap and by the top almost 30 riders had been shelled. I too had slipped a little back the leaders crested the KOM and by the of bottom descent,  the gap had unfortunately grown. Suddenly the commisaire car had passed me and I knew I was in trouble. I worked hard with another rider and dug deep rolling turns. Finally after a eternity, we both managed to get back as the bunch sat up and the pace relaxed. From here I tried to conserve what I had left before ascending Tawonga Gap. At the feed station I grabbed a neutral drink bottle and by the time I looked up, I was already off the back. From there was nothing much I could do but ride t my threshold all the way to the finish passing an odd rider here or there, but it was too late the damage had been done. I finished 64th place in 2h48mins.

Individual Time Trial Stage 2 - 15.7km
I wasn't on till 4pm, so I refueled and watched a few of my other club members race. I am glad I went as it was a nice afternoon with temperatures in the high twenties. Suddenly I saw one rider go past wearing full head to toe skins and winter booties. The worst part was that I found out he was a fellow club member. For the rest of the trip, we renamed him CATWOMAN and at the final presentation he was presented with his own special award and checked for heat stroke. I got ready, rolled my legs out and it was finally time. I wasn't sure how I would go as my legs felt shot but I gave it everything and even passed one rider on the way out. By the halfway mark, I had thus far managed to hold of any riders passing me but it wasn't for long as Paul from Velobourne rolled on by. I held him in my sights as long as I could and finished in a time of 25m17 at a avg speed of 37.2km/h. It wasn't world record breaking, but a solid effort on a challenging undulating course moving me up a few passes on the GC.

Mount Hotham Stage 3 - 44km & 1040m (shortened due to adverse conditions)
I woke up feeling better than expected and was looking forward finishing what I had started. Due to the adverse weather conditions at the top of Hotham (wind, sleet and sub zero temperatures), the race was shortened by approx. 10km finishing just below the ticket booth. The race started very similar to yesterday, but speeds were lower due to the head wind and slight incline on the way to Harrietville. The race exploded at the second sprint as the elevantion kicked up. A couple of riders lost their chains causing a bit of havoc and by the time I had rounded the first corner, I was well back. From there, I did what I could to make up time managing to pass a number of riders but as time passed the gaps of daylight got bigger. A small grupetto formed and set a steady pace up the MEG growing larger in size with each rider we passed. At one point we were almost organised and started rolling turns, but this was short lived one rider pulling away. I had enough left in the bank to hang on and finish strongly in 1h43min finishing 53rd. 

Overall I managed to pull back a couple more GC places finishing 55th overall in a total time of 4hr56. Given that the winner of C grade and B grade had the same overall times, I was happy with my overall performance given the strong field. It was a great event that I would recommend to anyone that likes hills and multi stage races. I will definitely be back next year but perhaps arrive a day or two early instead of the late night run after work (Tip #3) and will definitely try to attend a training camp up in Bright (or two - Tip #4) to help prepare myself a little better for the larger hills.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Tour of Bright Preperation

After struggling up the last climb in Dargo and walking, the one thing to help my Tour of Bright campaign is to increase my climbing and the more, the better. This meant more time on the usual suspects in the Dandenong's and trying the two longer climbs below for the first time. Next year if I plan on doing Tour of Bright again, I definitely plan to do one of the lead up camps which unfortunately I didn't get a chance to complete this year. For great detail write up on the climbs and most importantly the official start/finish points (to help time yourself for Strava), visit the Climbing Cyclist. Always bring a warm jacket as the temperatures vary around 10-15degC from top to bottom and descent is always cool. Plus always bring plenty of food and water and spares in case something happens as there is not a huge amount of traffic at times and phone reception can be non existent.  

Lake Mountain - 20.5km, 992m at 4.5% ( x 2)

Lake Mountain is a great ride. The first 4km's is the toughest part requiring some quite a bit out of saddle work to get the job down quickly. But once this is over, the rest of the ride is easy sitting at the 4-5% allowing a nice steady rhythm with a couple of flat areas to recover on and even a small downhill section approaching the turn off. The first half of the descent is very smooth with nice flowing corners and be careful of the last k's back in Marysville which can be very quick due to the steep gradients.

Mount Donna Buang - 16.9km, 1001m at 6.5% (x 2)

Even though it is over 3k's shorter than Lake Mountain, it climbs the same vertical height with a steeper and very constant gradient making it in my opinion harder as there is no reprieve. The last km approaching the summit is by the far the hardest at around 8% making it a tough finish that seems to go on forever and ever and ever (destroying hopes of a quick top 20 Strava time). Again, the descent is quick and flowing making it a lot of fun to come down but be careful, I came across a motorbike accident with his bike well of into the trees and he was lucky to walk away.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

2011 Stratford to Dargo Cycling Victoria Event - C Grade

This weekend I conquered a mountain, along with a few other climbs thrown in for good measure. To make it harder, the bunch was pushing it most of the way and the temperature was up in the mid to high 30's. It was my home club, the Wellington Cycling Club's annual Cycling Victoria event. Photos of the event can be found here at Aurora Photography. Some say this is the toughest event in the CV calendar and as it was my first, I would have to agree. C Grade had the largest field with 21 one registered riders competing as we rolled out at 9.40am. I am not sure everyone knew what was ahead of them with two riders breaking off the front just past race neutral. There was some discussion on weather to chase, but I said to the bunch to let them go as it was a bold move. From there it was fairly relaxed until Beverly's Road (a 15km stretch of undulating road) where the pace started to pick up as gap grew closer to 3minutes.

The first selection came on the climb just after the wooden bridge (which unfortunately took a victim whose wheel got caught in between the boards), where the race really started to heat up and a number of riders started disappearing of the back. By this point, I had already received my first cramp and consumed as much food and drink as I could before the first feed station at 60k's. This being my first CV event, as an after thought I packed a musette with food and drink which turned out to be handy as the bunch rolled through without stopping. After I reloaded, I had unfortunately got slightly off the back of the bunch and had to fight to get back on.

From there, we started descending with one great straight stretch on the Bairnsdale to Dargo Rd allowing myself to hit a top speed of 90km/h which smashed my previous personal best. Unfortunately this all came to an end with one last climb before Dargo.  The break was still clear with a gap over approaching 4mins and the hammer was down all the way up the climb. Unfortunately, I was on the verge of blowing up for quite a while and another cramp (coincidentally occurring as a rider broke off the front) saw myself lose touch with the bunch at the 85km mark just before the descent into Dargo. If only I could have held on a little further....

Riding into Dargo alone, I had backed off the pace of knowing I wouldn't catch the bunch and remembering what was ahead of me. I didn't stop at Dargo, dropping my first neutral water but I managed to hold onto the second and kept pedaling through with cheers of support from the Wellington club members volunteering on the day.  I knew this final climb was going to be tough gaining 870m over 11km with an average gradient of 8%. I climbed the first section no worry passing a few stray C graders. But it was the next part that killed me averaging 11-12% for what felt like an eternity (realistically it was around 1.5k's). There was no shade and  my Garmin was showing temperatures up to a whopping 38degC. I was starting to feel dehydrated and I may have stepped of my bike in a shady section not knowing there was respite about 300m up the road. From there on it, it was a matter of just getting to the line and as the gradient relaxed to 5-6%, I felt a little better with speeds starting to top a massive 12km/h.
(2011 A Grade Winner - Jason Spencer)

As I passed the 1km to go, it was just me and 'The Wall.' 500m of  road with gradients up to 19% and the the whole time you could see the finish line taunting you to keep pushing. By this point, everyone in site was walking and two simultaneous cramps didn't make it a hard decision to get off. With the pleasant walk over, it was time to get on the bike and roll the last 200m to the finish line in a time of approx. time 4hrs 10 minutes. It was over and I could not have been more relieved. Facts as per my Garmin 500 (ride details here):

Distance: 105.56 km
Time: 4:11:45 (to be updated once official results are released)
Avg Speed: 25.2 km/h
Elevation Gain: 2,282 m
Calories: 2,814 C
Avg Temperature: 31.1 °C

Overall, it was probably the single most toughest thing I have ever done and in the end finishing was an achievement in itself. Next year, I will be back with a compact group set (as a 39/28 combo made the last climb tough) and a lot more training (Inverness repeats essentially until you are forced to walk).

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Torpedo 7 Bike 2 Stand Product Review

As I run two bikes at the moment (race and training) and live in a small place, storage is key. So I browsed all of the usual online shops and found this was the cheapest and gave it a go. I ordered it on a Sunday and by Friday, it was already ready to be picked up. I unpacked it and within 20 minutes it was up holding two bikes. Since then, I have had no issues with it (except for my girlfriend complaining about having my bikes in the living room) and would recommend it to anyone want a easy unit to hold two bikes. 

Saturday, 22 October 2011

SKCC Crits - B Grade (Bike Force Race Points Series #1)

Today was the first race of the Bike Force Points Series which combined with the great weather meant there was a massive turn out of 70 riders (unlike just the hard men who raced the week before in the poor conditions). Two pre-race coffees and before I knew it I was on the starting line rearing to go. With the control lap completed, the race was on and it didn't halter all the way to the finish (normally there is lulls after 20mins after the start and one before the end). This was by far the quickest B grade race of the season with an average speed of 44km/h with one lap peaking at 49. Throughout the race there seemed to be a few issues with everyone rounding the first corner and riders being pushed out past the cones on a number of occasions.

An early break got away but with such a large field, it never had much chance and was eventually pulled in. The intermediate sprints helped mixed up the race but I was too far back and a bit cautious after a crash in the bunch. From here on in, I was on the back and working hard to keep my position while other riders dropped off. By the end, my lines in the last corner were a lot cleaner but due to the elastic band affect, I was still working very hard and content to finish another race safely in the peleton. Next time, my goal is to move up near the pointy end and make my life a lot more easier. Two more post race coffees, and I was ready to roll out a relaxed 40kms while the sun shined and my eye twitched. When I got home, I treated myself  to a nice mexican parma at the local to refuel for the week ahead.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

A beginners guide?

I have been told that I should no longer call these words of wisdom a beginners guide. Not that I consider myself highly experienced or even that good, but I have learn't most of the basics. Sunday marked my 2nd completion of Around The Bay and this year I didn't train for it but used it as training. In fact, I did 2.5 hours in the Dandenong's the day before and the day after, rolled out 60k's of recovery.
(Slightly heavier circa 2008)

A lot has changed in the 1.5 years I have been riding a road bike. For example:
- My bike and parts collection is ever growing and my mountain bike is rusting out the back balcony
- I am a little too comfortable in Lycra
- I feel the need to constantly talk to strangers about my legs
- If I don't ride my bike for more than 1 day, I get frustrated and easily upset
- I have lost 20kg, but eat more than ever
- I log my ride data religiously and share my stats with co-workers
- Did I mention my legs?
(D Grade 2010)

I like to thanks my girlfriend for understanding, coming to races, taking photos and putting up with my leg hair in the bath. I'd also like to thank anybody I have ridden with that has helped me out while I learned the basics and still while while I hone my skills further in B grade. Thanks to Shane Dove and Nick Jehu for convincing me to start racing back in 2010 and making me join the Wellington Cycling job. Also to my coach of recent months for telling it like it is, and yes maybe I should drink less and not eat a family block of snack every night. Oh well, onwards ho to my two big Cycling Victoria events (yes it is C grade still).
 (My guns, present day)

Saturday, 8 October 2011

SKCC Crits - B Grade (Wet'n'Wild)

After a couple of pre-race coffees thanks to the Soul Kitchen, I was amped for the race (pictures found here). The track was finally drying out as we rolled around for the warm up. Unfortunately, a few clouds rolled through and it began to rain lightly. The secret kind of rain (stealth rain) that doesn't appear on the radar. Blue skies were on the approach and the decision was made to start racing but under control. This lasted for 8 laps and as the track conditions got better, the race was started.

The pace was on straight away with a number of riders letting out their frustration on the pack stringing out the bunch. Everyone was cautious around the corners, but the pace was fierce on the straights. I was starting to loose my grip on the bunch, so I had to buckle down and get back in there while a few riders disappeared off the back. As the race developed, two breakaways got off the front but it was hard to tell  from the back of the main bunch with mud and water flying in your face.

In the final 3 laps, two group remained clear with a few key riders trying to reduce the gap but to no avail. As the main bunch shattered on the last lap due to a big increase in pace, I managed to stick with them and sprint to the finish with a large gap behind me to the rest of the field. Overall I felt good and was happy with my progression finishing just out of the top 10. I can't wait till next time (no racing next week for Around the Bay, please sponsor me) and ready to give it a go up the front.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Product Review - CycleOps PowerTap Elite Plus

Last week I purchased a PowerTap Elite built into a DT Swiss wheel. Within the hour, I had changed over cassettes (which I cleaned at the same time) and had the wheel speaking with my Garmin 500 head unit. From there, it was a little fiddly trying to calibrate (the wheel kept going to sleep), but with a little bit of help from Google I was out on the road getting power accurate to within +/- 1.5%, and boy is it fun. The Powertap Elite Plus is the bottom of the range wheel, but importantly to myself it is still wireless and affordable with the same power management as the more expensive models. Basically it has everything I could want in a training wheel (strong, sturdy, reliable) and realistically, power figures are not much use in a normal race (I was putting out like 2000w but I still got dropped).
(Picture from

Giddy with excitement, I planned to complete the AIS Power Profile test at my next training session (as covered by Cycling Tips here). I gave it my all in the prescribed intervals below to help build my Critical Power Curve: 6 sec, 6 sec, 15 sec, 30 sec, 60 sec, 240 sec & 600 sec.  

This test proved extremely painful (I almost threw up after one interval), but the 10min interval was especially testing as I got my heart rate to average 180bpm. It was worth it as I got some great data to review and will definitely complete this test again in a month to measure my progress (if any). Based on a discussion with Paul from the Velbourne Giant Racing Team, I downloaded the free Golden Cheetah software (found here) to help analyse the data (in addition to Garmin Connect and Strava). I found this blog by Cycling Musings website very useful in starting to understand the variety of different functions of the program. My favorite has to the Critical Power curve, which compiles all your rides and creates a personal best curve for each interval.

Over the coming weeks, I am going to have a lot of fun adding to this curve and I will use it as a benchmark for my training. I definitely need to have a real crack at my maximum power output and a figure >1000w being my first goal.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

SKCC Crits - B Grade

Today was the first criterium of the season and also the first day in a few without rain. Photos can be found here. After my recent successes, it was also my first week riding in B grade. It was a big field with over 70 riders and everyone was looking the part; lots of nice bikes, carbon wheels and a variety of different shop team kits lining up at the start. With the sound of everyone clipping in we were off on the first lap under control.

I was fairly nervous about today and uncertain of how much it was going to be a step up. The big question was, would I get dropped? Of course the answer was no, I am a machine and have never been dropped. It took until lap 3 for the first big surge and it was on from there. It was clear today, that no one was going to be let of the front and that it was going to come down to a sprint finish.

The final ramp up started around the 50 minute mark and was gradually increasing all the way to the finish. I was content to sit in the pack and focus on perfecting my cornering and making sure I didn't loose to much ground. On the last lap I made my way slowly through the field from the back finishing happily in the mid-field knowing I had some left in the tank. Overall, the skill level in B grade was noticeably more refined from C (not surprisingly really): cornering was smoother, no one cutting anybody off and if somebody didn't hold their line they were appropriately informed. A great day out followed by a nice recovery ride down to Black Rock with Grace Phang (her blog here) with a surprise tail wind all the way home.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Casey (Windy) Fields World Championships - 1st Place C Grade

Ok, today I came in with a bold strategy - sit in and save myself then break 15mins to go. They said it couldn't be done, but I proved them wrong. The aim was to get on the front, pull a hard turn and ride casually away (as I have accidentally done in previous races) not alerting the group and once clear, put the hammer down. Today the field was slightly smaller than other weeks but it still contained a number of strong riders. The pace was on in the 2nd lap which was enough to split the bunch into two groups leaving 12(ish) riders in contention. Looking back over my Garmin data, judging from my heart rate there was another 4 break attempts before it all settled down into a steady rhythm. 
I was able to sit in up the back conserving myself for the big move while other riders jostled hard for position and a couple of the stronger riders continued to pull hard turns and make multiple break away attempts. Just past the 30min mark, there was a double attack (one attack followed by another) which tested my legs a little more than I would have liked, once completed I sat in and watched my heart rate reduce before making my way to the front. The key here was to pull a hard turn in the cross winds, form a gap between myself and the second rider and gradually pull clear. I was hoping for call back in the peloton to let him go, and once I had 50m I let my legs do the talking.
This was the point of no return. I just had to harden up and keep the pedals turning no matter how hard it hurt. I watched my heart rate climb to my lower VO2 zone and that's where it stayed for the remaining 15 minutes just as I have done previously at Kew Boulie ITT. There was plenty of confusion with multiple groups on the circuit passing each other, passing me and me re-passing them (including B grade). But this played to my advantage as I was unsure how far the C grade was actually behind me so I kept pushing hard. One lap to go I was joined by another solo C grade rider and we held it all the way to the finish 400m or so ahead of the remaining riders. I sat in behind the other rider approaching the line, and once he looked back around I made my move at the last minute leaving it for the judges to decide. The call fell my way and I was rewarded with my 2nd C grade win. Bring on B grade I say and crit season is only a few weeks away.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

King Lake 2011 - The worst day of riding is better than the best day of work

Today was one of those rides which was just great to finish. It was cold, windy, raining and I think it even hailed at one point. The first and major climb is designated as a Category 2 on Strava gaining 350 vertical meters over 7.3kilometers. I gave it a solid attempt averaging 19km/h but was no where near Will Walker's attempt. But, I will be back with some more training to give it another crack later in the year. Resting at the top of the first climb waiting for the bunch to regroup, I realised I was soaked through and shivering. After a quick snack and drink, it was time to get back on the bike. 

The weather didn't let up at all with the rain streaming down making for a very cautious descent on my behalf. A little further on I was thinking that we had made the wrong decision continuing with the full ride and from what I hear, quite a few of 120km riders opted out and took shortcut home. The next 40km's were uneventful with a strong wind appearing as the rain disappeared but the road remained wet. The sun finally poked its head out making the final few category 4 climbs a little more pleasant and by the time I finally started the descent into Whittlesea, I was relieved and finally starting to dry out.
Crossing the line on the four hour mark, I personally gained myself 30min over my previous and first attempt last year. From there, it was into a set of dry clothes and off to the pub for a parma and a beer. Overall, the King Lake ride was a success with the weather throwing in additional challenges making it a tough day in the saddle and I was glad to get the job done. Now to clean all the muck off the bike..........

Saturday, 10 September 2011

My prep for a big ride - King Lake

Tonight I am preparing for a big ride at King Lake early tomorrow morning. Having completed a number of larger rides and races I have got better at preparing which makes the day a lot more enjoyable and the ride a lot easier. The list is solely based on my experiences and hear say and may not contain any actual benefit:

The Day Before
  • A easy (E1) coffee ride of 40k's down Beach Rd. This helps loosen the legs without wearing them out. They key here is letting all the other riders go past and not engage in any activity that raises the heart rate too high (this is hard, I have to think about future pain I will cause my friends)
  • A big dinner of pasta with a only a can or so of scotch and coke
  • A early night 
  • A final check and clean of the bike (if my tires are old and the ride is important, I may even put a new set of rubber on and relegate the old tires to my training bike)
  • Additionally, I lay out all my kit so I can just basically get up and go in the morning 
The Day of the Ride 
  • A decent breakfast of carbs that are easily digestible and a caffeine fix to assist the early start
  • On the way there, I have bidden of sports drink and a muesli bar to top up the tank 
  • A hydration plan of 1 bidden per hour of riding. I normally carry 1 of sports drink and 1 of plain water
  • Plenty of food that you have tried before. I prefer muesli bars and the occasional gel or lollies. I have tried multiple products and there is nothing worse than a dry sports bar that is hard to get down and when the pace picks up.
  • Clothes are important and the more layers the better especially if the ride is long and there is a chance of rain. Rain jackets, arm & leg warmers, under shirt and sometimes double knicks are recommended.
After the ride 
  • I normally smash lots of food and water to assist recovery. But sometimes to celebrate I may have a beer but I do not condone this practice especially if your driving. 
  • If it is a really big ride, there is nothing better than a afternoon nap and some couch time with your legs elevated followed by more scotch and cokes 

Friday, 2 September 2011

National Boluie C Grade - 5th

Today was my first time racing at National Boulevard in Campbellfield and boy was it windy. Riding the course before the race showed that the surface was nice and smooth with nice corners and only one intersection. Winds were up to 40km/h which mean it was quick down the main street but the pace up the back was closer to a snails. Conditions were not going to be favorable for a small breakaway but it is always worth a try. Photos can be found here and yes I was going way too fast for the camera too focus.

Early on there was a man solo off the front but the pack kept him in site and slowly wound him in over a number of laps. After that it all settled down and was almost getting a little boring. I was sitting protected near the back when suddenly, a decent break was starting to form and a gap beginning to open so I put my head down and made it across. To my surprise no one was on my wheel and there was 6 of us away. I tried to work especially hard on the front as good training for future events knowing full well this would hurt me in the final sprint. Most people were working with only one or two riders sitting on and we were able to stay away.

As the bell went signaling the final lap, I was unfortunately on the front and decided I might as well have a early crack and make the others work to catch me. Suddenly another rider shot past and it was on all the way to the line. Around the last corner, I had unfortunately had already spent to much energy and there was not enough left in my legs for the final kick managing to roll over the line in 5th place. I felt strong overall and it is only a matter of time until I sort my timing and get on the podium.

Friday, 26 August 2011

The 'nongs - Round 1

Since I have committed to race two Cycling Victoria events later in the year, it was time to head to the hills to get some training in and give racing a miss for once (it was a sprint based point competition anyway). The two big events I have highlighted for myself are the Tour of Bright (ToB) and the Stratford, both contain significant climbs. As I am still recovering from illness, I was happy climbing the 1:20 twice and the Wall once with a few descents in bewteen. According to Strava, completing these 3 Cat. 3 climbs totalled 1100m vertical climbing. I have a King Lake ride planned coming up but will be back to the 'nongs in a few weeks to really attack the 1:20 with the aim for a 16min time.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Casey Fields - C Grade 6th

Today  I opted to give Casey Fields a go for the first time. I have heard mixed things about the dedicated criterium course but in general it was all positive except for the wind, I have heard it being called Windy Fields. The three main benefits of choosing the criterium today over a road race was firstly a sleep in (plus breakfast out to keep the missus happy), secondly a lot shorter drive (didn't need to drive out past woop woop for the Northern Combine) & finally it only only lasted an hour ( I am still sick with no voice). As with all criteriums, the pace was on in the first 10 minutes until it relaxed shedding any riders not ready for C grade. There was a few break away attempts through out the day (including a few by myself), but due to the windy conditions it made it extremely difficulty and the race was to be decided by a sprint.

On the second last lap I was on the front and starting to overtake B grade until they suddenly shot off like a rocket, just to be passed by us on the next lap. The last lap had a average speed of  43km/h and I was in a good position on the back of the Melbourne Uni lead out train, Unforgettably I didn't have enough closing speed to come around any body on the way to finish rolling through 6th. Overall it was a great circuit with smooth corners, smooth surface and no gutters which made it great for racing. The windy conditions made it hard work up the back so I chose to put myself consistently in the top 10 even though it meant occasional turns on the front. I will be back with the goal of setting up a breakaway for the win. Who wants to come with me?

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Kew Boulevard ITT C Grade - 1st Place

I felt surprisingly strong after yesterday's 96km handicap rolling around the streets of Kew before the race. I had made the last minute purchase of a set of TT bars at the The Freedom Machine in Port Melbourne with the goal of setting myself a new PB. I have never ridden with TT bars before and it felt a little weird but the position was at least comfortable. I decided on the Vision mini clip on bars with the help of the friendly staff with the basis that I didn't have to change my riding position between stages in the Tour of Bright and I can't justify a shiny new TT bike (well just yet).
I had slight issues with the chain slipping at the start but this wasn't going to be an issue as I had planned to leave it in the big ring for the entire race (by the way I had a over generous 28 on the back. On the line, I was off like a shot working my way into the 53 x 11 on the downhill hitting 60km/h with fresh legs. I was flying  past the Sunday riders and felt pro using TT bars. By the end of the first lap, I had passed the first three riders ahead of me and I was on target for a PB. At one point I was starting to over cook it a little and used the downhills to recover. At mid point of my second lap, I had a minor scare with my back wheel slipping out while going around the roundabout. But I kept the rubber side down and my composure ready for an all out 5km ride to the finish. The plan was to use up everything I had left and then roll over the finish line destroyed but satisfied I had given it my all. In the last two k's I kept the pedal down and was deep in the hurt locker driven by the clock slowly ticking over with the finish line in site. I had smashed my previous time from two weeks ago with a lot of the credit going to the new TT bars, some to the extra experience riding on the boulevard (my 3rd outing) and a little to myself as I had managed to go marginally harder according to my average heart rate.

CCCC Les O’Mara Handicap

After having success at the last Modella handicap, I decided to give it another go. As always I wasn't highly confident as my legs were still store after ripping apart the Thursday night bunch ride in Sale. There was large numbers all round and my bunch off at 12min was exceptionally big. Conditions were great with no wind and for once it wasn't even that cold (Garmin showed 14degC). The group worked fairly well together given the size with large rest times between efforts which assisted recovery. It didn't take too long for us to catch the 16min group which had some strong riders including the infamous hard man Tommo from Warragul (Geoff Thomson) who won the Gippsland 3 Day Tour back in 1977. He was riding his stealth black Parlee which was easily one of the nicest bikes there. The now combined 12 & 16 min group continued on rolling consistent turns but it wasn't to the 2nd lap where we picked up the last remaining riders becoming the front of the race.

Entering the final 20km's we were told that there was only a 60sec gap on the bunch behind. A few k's down the road, the gap was down to 40secs and a majority of riders decided it was time to sit up and recover before being caught. Once caught, the large Lycra train of men (and one woman) steamed forward towards the finish line. With 5km's to go, the pace was high and the road was full riders making it hard to move towards the pointy end of the bunch. 1km to go, the pace had increased to near on 50km/h and was starting to turn into mayhem with a few riders slowing down mid bunch. I was too far back and content to roll though in the winning bunch. I had felt surprisingly strong and had made a big improvement over my race there previously. Overall the 12min bunch averaged just over 41km/h with Tommo taking out 2nd. Now time to focus on my recovery in preparation for another ITT tomorrow at Kew Boulevard.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

The race of truth - Kew Boulevard ITT C Grade - 3rd Place

The say the individual time trial is the race of truth, but sometimes the truth hurts. Today I had the aim of bettering my time from my previous attempt a couple of months ago given all the dedicated training and racing I have completed. Conditions were great besides from a wet road with a light breeze going out and the sun was shining.

I had a few simple ideas: keep my heart rate at my anerobic threshold (AT), attack the climbs and just hurt the whole way. On the way out and passed my first rider ahead of me and I had my sights on the next. Unfortunately this wasn't to be but I am hoping that I may have gained some time on him, but it is hard to tell. By the stage, the A grade were unleashed on the track and these guys rode past me like I was standing still. The sound of a full rear disc is a unique sound and it was one I heard constantly heard passing me.
I rode hard and to my plan managing to beat my old time. Unfortunately this was only by 10-20 seconds which was a little disappointing but I was content there as wasn't a huge amount left (it took me a little while to recover). I am looking forward to seeing the results as unfortunately I couldn't stick around afterwards.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

What hurts more than cycling?

The answer is 2 days of snowboarding. I spent the weekend up at Mt Hotham learning to board for the first time. By the end of the first day and the beginners lesson, I was able to complete the beginners Summit run doing falling leaf all the way to the bottom without falling over. I thought this was good progress and that the pain so far was worthwhile.
The second's day lesson was far harder learning to complete turns which meant a lot of falling and besides from completing a few right turns, lefts turns alluded me. Lunch time beers at Swindlers bar were the perfect form of carbohydrate to keep me firing for the afternoon. With the combination of fresh air, sun and snow these beers went down a treat. I finished the day with a few more runs of Summit practicing falling leaf before giving up as I could barely lift myself up of the ground. Today I woke up and I could barely walk, I had massive issues with stairs and it took a lot of effort just to climb out of the car. Perhaps I should stick to cycling and leave the snow to the rich. Next time I climb Mt Hotham it will be on my bike and hopefully a bit warmer..............