Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The local french bakery cafe

The most important reason for cycling on a Saturday morning, is the breakfast that follows. My favorite (and best value) cafe in Port Melbourne has to be Noisette on Bay St. It is a little French bakery that is always packed with locals ordering freshly backed products and coffees.

My favorite item on the menu has to be the ham and cheese toastie, or as the french call it croque monsieur. A cafe latte or two is always required to wash one of these bad boys down (plus half of my partners). The combination of creamy bechamel inside, grilled cheese on the outside, salty ham and two thick pieces of brioche are a winning combination.

Sometimes, if you want to get a little more fancy you can get a mini chocolate brioche stick to dip in your coffee. Plus they have the best chocolates ever and a full range of sweets including macaroons. Oh well, can't wait to the next weekend.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Gippsland Crit Championships B Grade

Pack fill: to be part of the larger pack or peloton; to participate in a bike race for the sake of participation; or to give the eventual winners someone to beat.

It wasn't this bad, but B grade had a strong field with more experienced and stronger riders. You know your in trouble when one of the competitors has a bike that matches his kit. It was a great fun though and I feel I rode strong, always with a chance no matter how slim it may have been.

I had a couple of dips without much success, but hopefully it hurt cause I was. The pace was on with a solid 39km/h average including some laps surging up to 45km/h. I unfortunately went prematurely on the last lap and was content to roll in behind the winners.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Coffee and Port Melbourne

After a good 50+km ride on a Saturday morning ride to Mordy, I enjoy nothing better than sitting around in my sweaty lycra and entering fancy cafes for a coffee (or two). After much debate, here are my coffee recommendation in Port Melbourne. I decided to use my highly stringent & patented rating system:
  • 3/3 is great tasting with great presentation (latte art is important to the taste of the coffee)
  • 2/3 is a good tasting cuppa
  • 1/3 is on par with McCafe.

I am open to others people opinions, and will update as I see fit. Cheers.

Moulin Noir
Seven Am

Salford Lads Club 

My Sisters Keeper
Velvet Bar 

I don't think is possible, otherwise they would be out of business.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Local Combine: Stratford to Dargo - B grade Winner

You have to be it to win it, and today I was. The numbers in B grade were slightly down, but I think everybody heard I was racing. Following play numero uno in my Playbook, I broke not long after race neutral riding solo for the 80 of the total 90kms. Luckily, I pulled it off and in the process pased the back end of A grade. I was even courteous not to yell out, 'B grade passing.'

This is a great ride with beautiful scenery including rivers, lakes, mountains and plentiful roadkill. My Garmin  recorded 1400 meters of climbing with a few nice pinches thrown in. By the time I got to Dargo, I softed out continuing on further opting for a cold can of scotch and coke instead at the infamous Dargo Hotel. The new cassette was a winner and I defiantly got my monies worth spending more time than I would like to admit in the 28.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Preparation for the Stratfford to Dargo - a pleasant Sunday in the country

Tomorrow is the local Stratford to Dargo, the trial race before the big one closer to the end of 2011. For a great review of last years, read Judith's write up at Cycling Tips. The main difference for me tomorrow (as local B grader) is the race stops at Dargo and doesn't climb the infamous wall, which after racing for 90+kms has reduced many great riders to bicycle pushes. But if I am feeling up for the challenge, I may attempt it anyway to see what the fuss is all about. But here is a quick summary of my preparation.

1) Upgrade my equipment
As there is some decent hills, I have decided to invest in a new rear cassette with more suitable gearing for the climbs. I swapped over the standard 12-23 which is a great flat racing cassette to a 11-28, the key being the 28 is far easier to climb the hills than the 23. This task was surprisingly easy for a pencil pusher with right tools being a Chain whip, a lockring tool and  of course a decent write up online
2) Fuel 
Just as a car requires petrol, I require energy mainly in the form of complex carbohydrates (unfortunately beer isn't complex enough, even the imported types) . Therefore tonight, I will have a massive bowl of pasta and tomorrow I will actually eat breakfast. Then just before and during the race, I will be constantly snacking on gels, bananas, sport drinks and expensive muesli bars.

3) A quiet night

Other than that, I will limit myself to a few scotch and cokes tonight and the rest is up to my legs tomorrow.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

SKCC D Grade - Now you see me, now you don't

The hard yards over the last year has finally paid off with my first two places in cycling occurring in the same week - a 3rd place in the Wellington Cycling Club mid-week handicap & 2nd today in the St Kilda D grade crits. Last week I learned a good lesson that I was able to put into practice. I knew I was quick enough for a clean breakaway and strong enough to (hopefully) hold on, I just needed to sort my timing and for once I managed to restrain myself from sitting at the front posing for photographs and also saving energy form not chasing down the early breaks (unfortunately one stuck and that's why how I ended up with 2nd). 

When the time came, I probably went a little early but it ended up playing into my hands as no one took me seriously. I went hard sprinting from the middle of the bunch, past the front and onwards into a painful no mans land. Looking behind me, no one had made the jump and I was clear to get on with the job of inflicting pain to myself and more importantly to the others chasing me.   

At one stage I thought I was caught but it was only B grade rolling by. I managed to stick it out and reap the rewards of victory. Rewards vary for some, I was lucky that I had earlier made a pact with my biggest fan (and girlfriend) that if I placed I was finally allowed to shave my legs and finally completing the transformation from a person who rides a bike to a cyclist. I also get the pleasure of moving up a grade continuing my honorable pursuit into the word of cycling. Now I am off  to check the letter box as I am waiting for my Gillette sponsorship to arrive so can I afford to maintain my stunning pins.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

SKCC D grade - Strong and stupid

There is one thing that can be guaranteed in a race, your plan never goes to plan and today I managed to prove this theory. I was just stretching my legs at the front (not much of a surprise to see me that the front, especially with multiple camera's around the course) in order to start increasing that pace and suddenly I was off the front by myself and well clear. Checking my heart rate, I was doing alright and thought I would just steady my pace and wait for the group to catch me.

 A lap or two later, I was still out there and the gap had significantly increased. By now, I had a reasonable tempo going and thought I would keep on pushing on (why not?). Once I let B grade pass (notice I used the word let), I was still well clear and going strong. The race was over half complete and I was almost starting to think if only I could keep this going.

Every time I hit the main straight, I could just hear the roar of the crowd over my excessive breathing. By crowd, I mean my supportive girlfriend. Unfortunately at the 26 minute mark, I was very slowly captured but I wasn't overly devastated. I think my pace had starting to wain and at least I could have a rest. In the final laps while jostling for position, I made my move up the pack but it was premature and I wasted my last chance. As the pace increased on the final lap, all I could do was hang on and finish around the top 10.

Overall, it was a great learning experience filled with pain and self doubt - if only there was a most aggressive rider award. I am still waiting for the sponsorship requests to come through, but they may be confused (just like I am) of where I actually live. Looking ahead, I have the punishing Stratford to Dargo followed by the Gippsland Crit Champs at the Maffra Mardi Gras. Both with the Wellington Cycling Club.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Heavy legs and looking onwards to Friday

This week has been flat out on the bike with a few decent intervals on Monday, Tuesday & Thursday smash fests with the SEMC and finally to top it off, Wednesday night racing.  Click here to see my Link to my Garmin file.

Wednesday night was one of my hardest efforts to date with my heart averaging 174 bpm at approx. 37km/h. I spent a large amount of time at the bottom of my V02 max zone ( Great document on heart rate zones ) and hopefully like everyone else, was doing it tough. But it was great to survive and hang onto the back of A grade as they rocketed past.

Friday brings rest and more importantly after work drinks. And yes, I am aware that a good Friday night session will most likely end up in Melbourne's China town  for cheap Chinese at a place that accepts large groups and slabs. Luckily on Saturday I have a gentle coffee ride planned along Beach Rd with the hope that on Sunday I will ready to race the SKCC crits in South Melbourne.

P.S. I am reading a great book that I'd recommended to any cyclist, Bike Snob NYC (Check this out). It is very dry and surprisingly right up my alley .