Sunday, 26 June 2011

Hell on wheels - Melburn Roobaix 2011

Well after surviving Hell on wheels yesterday, I was back on the bike to spin the legs in the Melburn Roobaix run by Fyxomatosis. For more pictures, click here. People and bikes of all shapes and sizes turned up with a single goal, to have fun. Hitting the first section of cobbles gave me respect for the pro riders who undertake the Paris to Roobaix every year. It was rough going on my road bike, but for me riding a mountain bike is worse than cheating. It wasn't long before the cobbles took its first victim right behind me with calls of rider down becoming fainter as I pushed on.
The ride took us from the Hawthorn velodrome up through Kew, past Northcate, via the edge of Moonee ponds finishing with a lap on the Brunswick velodrome. Bikes varied from tried and true road bikes, mountain bikes, Melbourne share bikes, a 3 person bike and one poor sod wearing a kilt on uni cycle. Unfortunately, I now know the answer to the question of what do Scottsman's wear under their kilt. There was also a man dressed up like cat woman which I still don't quite understand, but I think it may have been a S&M thing.

Besides from the challenge of the cobbles, the other main challenge was working out where to next using the  map and finding some of the entrances to the obscure alleys. At the top of one of the crucial cobbled climbs, the feed station consisted of Hershies chocolates handed out to all riders brave enough to remove a hand from the bars while on the cobbles. I was glad the majority the ground was dry as the few wet cobbles had many similarities to ice skating. 

On the 12th and final cobbled sector, the 1km to go sign suddenly appeared and the pace kicked up a notch with the smell of the bbq nearby. As we fought our way through the crowds and onto the velodrome, the time was nearing on 3 hours for a mere 40km ride. But this was no ordinary ride conquering some of Melburn's greatest cobbled back alleys.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

CCCC Jack McGowan Handicap at Modella - 6th Overall

Today the weather was great with the sun making a rare appearance and temperature was up in the double digits. I was excited to be on the way to another race and finding my way to Modella Hall proved a challenged as I blindly followed the GPS. It took the Mazda 3 down a unsealed road which deteriorated the further we traveled, turning into a muddy 4wd track before finally disappearing into a swampy paddock. I decided to accept defeat turning back, choosing the safer but slightly more boring option. Overall it was probably lucky that we didn't get bogged which I put down to my driving abilities leaving the Mazda intact albeit being covered top to bottom in a thick layer of mud.

In total 100 riders made the drive to Modella. My bunch was the off at 16mins and was fairly large in size containing a couple of strong riders that I recognized from the Gippsland region. Straight from the get go it was on with a couple of the more experienced riders organizing the bunch from a collection of stray cats into a well oiled machine. Everyone was rolling turns and before we knew it we had caught the riders in the previous bunches. Overtime the bunch was slowly starting to whittle down but the pace was kept high and by the end of first lap, the existing 4min to the riders behind was unchanged and the bell spurred us on.

The legs were starting to feel tired and I could feel a number of cramps building but thankfully never eventuated. The group continued to work well together with everyone doing their bit to keep the dream alive. Throughout the lap, the time updates proved that the gap was slowly being whittled down but it was still possible. On the home stretch, only 10 riders remained and the closer the finish become the more disorganized the group became. Finally with the finish line in sight, a couple of the smarter riders sat back knowing the job had been completed and it was time to prepare for the final kick. I missed the initial jump but managed to pull a few places back coming 6th overall. Overall we had averaged 40km/h for the 96km and all riders looked glad to be of the bike and a number of us were already walking funny.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Back to Base-ics - building a base

After the Gippy 3DT last week, this weekend was slightly less exciting but fundamental to maintaining my  form for the upcoming weeks. I rode a relaxed 200km's over both days at my E1 and it will be followed by another 60km tomorrow morning. The one consistent thing I here from many different cyclists is the importance of keeping k's in the legs and the benefit of going on long slow endurance rides. After all the racing in recent weeks combined with ergo sessions and resistance work, I enjoyed the chance to take it easy and sit on the back of a few bunches and not feel obliged to roll any turns. For a great article on this subject by Rob Crowe, click here.  

Monday, 13 June 2011

Gippsland 3 Day Tour - B Grade

The Gippsland 3 Day tour was a great event and B grade was tough with the largest field including the winner of the A grade Gippsland Crit Championships. Pictures can be found here. Here is a quick summary of the stages for myself:

Stage 1 - This stage was tough with a average speed faster than A grade. Each time we passed over the KOM, the bunch grew smaller which gave me hope. I took part in the final sprint with no results but at least I looked the part for the home crowd.

Stage 2 - I was keen to hit time trial hard. For some reason, the road chosen had more pot holes and ruts than a 4wd track. Given that my average speed was 40km/h, it wasn't fun when my glasses fogged up. I managed to pass the two riders ahead of me which secured me 9th overall and gave me 6 points towards the GC. 

Stage 3 - The longest stage of the tour and a decent KOM. I took 5th place in the first two KOMs with a large gap behind me to the bunch. On my 3rd attempt, I was clear with another strong rider but cramped 100m from the top. Overall, I managed to finish with the bunch after struggling with cramps on the last lap. My points total rocketed to 8.

Stage 4 -In the first KOM, a rider came off in front of me and I was happy to roll around and remain upright. I had a go in the 2nd KOM but after leading out too early, I died before the top. Coming into the final sprint I had a great position in the top 5 but was slowed down by another rider and finished mid bunch. 

Overall I was happy to finish in the top half of the field (just) and finish all 4 stages (over 200kms+ including warm ups) without being dropped. My legs are feeling it now and I am glad tomorrow is a rest day off the bike.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Getting ready for the Gippsland 3 day tour

Today I have been readying myself for the Gippsland 3 Day Tour. I restrained myself to a vary gentle coffee ride down Beach Rd with a stop at Cafe Racer. This will will be my first multi-day race and racing in B grade will be tough with a total of 190kms over 3 days. 

Stage 1  2 laps (total 51km) with KOM and sprints on laps 1 & 2.
Stage 2  8.77km Individual Time Trial:
Stage 3  4 laps (total 68km) with KOM on laps 2, 3 & 4 and sprints on laps 1, 2 & 3
Stage 4  2 laps (Total 60km) with KOM and sprint on laps 1 & 2.

 Here is my check list:
- Avanti Quantum with a rear cassette suitable for the conditions
- Garmin 500 bike computer fully charged 
- Kurt Kinetic fluid trainer to warm up on for the time trial
- Spares include tyres, tubes, cassette & a few basic tools (pumps, allen keys etc)
- Clean cycling kit (s) including cold/wet weather gear 
- Freshly shaved legs (I feel this is the most important item)
- Food products include sports drinks, gels, muesli bars and protein powders
- Chamois cream provided by Aussie Butt Cream
- And Most importantly the camera to take photos off the race 

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

My trip to Perth

Well, I thought I might escape for a few days to a warmer climate.  I even hired a bike to get me around and boy what a dream it was to ride. The 9 speed Shimano Sora gear set changed like a manual Holden Commodore being driven without using the clutch. After riding the beach road equivalents in Melbourne, Adelaide and now Perth, the best views were easily in Perth. It is too bad the roads aren't very bike friendly with more glass on the road than after a Saturday night in Frankston and cyclists being few and far between. I unfortunately didn't join one was the big bunch rides, as I had prior commitments drinking in the Swan Valley and spending time catching up with family and friends. Feral Brewery is always good for a quiet ale with some quality brews & bar snacks. The perfect way to unwind after a stressful day tasting wine. By the way, I recommend the Sittella Cab Sav.
On visiting the real Little Creatures in Fremantle (my favorite brewery), unfortunately I tripped up the stairs (while I was sober) breaking two toes which meant a weekend off the bike for me. It looked a lot worse than it was as it took me till the next day to realise what I had done.
Now it is time to ready myself for the 3 day Tour (the Gippsland version) over the long Queen's birthday  weekend and brace myself for the sub zero temperatures in Victoria. On a side note, my new ergo training sessions which include 30s intervals at 100% effort almost caused me to throw up at the gym. I was even at the point of looking for an escape route which means I probably had the intensity levels spot on.