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.