Thursday, 20 December 2007

Fountains of flowing chocolate


As mentioned below, today is our last day of work for the year for the uni. So of course, most departments don’t actually do any work this afternoon, but usually have a festive lunch. I’ve just peered over the balcony from my floor to the foyer 2 floors below and spied... a chocolate fountain. So far I’ve managed to avoid much of the usual seasonal eating and drinking, being the dedicated athlete that I am (which actually means my social life is very slow thanks to a training program that lurks in the back of mind all the time, and the need to get to bed early to get up predawn to do it all again the next day). But… I can hear a chocolate harpie screeching from her fountain….. And I’ll avoid thinking about smorgasboards and communal eating troughs. Hanging out with a healthcare worker is beginning to have side effects....

Image borrowed from https://www.liquid-chocolate.com/

Bring on the ergo

This week’s week training was a pivotal week – a big week for strength efforts, before the Xmas Country Track Carnivals next week. On Monday it looked like it was going to be a wipe out, but by Tuesday I was winning the virus battle and getting the schedule back on track. I was meant to race Tuesday, but took a conservative approach and just rode, which seems to have done the trick.

Last night I had SE efforts on the ergo. But of course, I forgot that Coach would be swanning around at Vodafone for the Melbourne Cup on Wheels, doing his coach and volunteer thing, and giving Mrs Coach some quality her time (well that’s what she smsed me! Oops! Got some explaining to do now!!). So that left me with doing the SE efforts on the trainer, or up the 1:20 (the only hill around home that’s long enough for the efforts). I chickened out of playing bullfighter with the Xmas drivers, who are suffering all kinds of delusion states at the moment, and stayed home.

Well, I just hate to say it, but training on a mag trainer just doesn’t rate with training on a BT ergo. My cadence was in the zone, my HR was in the zone, it was hard, but… the harder I pedalled, the easier it got, and anyone who has trained on an ergo knows that’s just plain wrong! I pined for the ergo… perhaps I am still viral…or delirious with joy as today as my last day of work until early next year, and I am keenly anticipating some sleep ins..

Monday, 17 December 2007

Waste of a Weekend

Well I guess that sums up how I feel about my weekend, which was mainly spent asleep or dozing, letting my body fight off some invading virus that I most likely picked up at work. Around the coffee machine at work this morning, there were many tales of woe of people spending the weekend the same way I did. Something in the air, or with 4 days left of work before we close shop for the year, perhaps we are all just simply over it?

The Country Track Champs were washed out on Saturday, as was my planned visit home to Boolarra to mow the lawns, so bed rest was not so bad on Saturday. Sunday I was meant to be at the CSV Women’s Committee first Coffee Crit, very ably hosted by St Kilda CC, but I couldn’t stand up without feeling dizzy. I just wasn’t fit enough to make it. Very annoyed at losing training time, PR time for the Women’s Committee and the Coffee Crits (but they didn’t really need me anyway!) and feeling like roadkill. Fortunately today, things are improving, but it’s going to be a day by day thing for the next couple of days, doing that juggle between just enough and too much. This week is a big training week with lots of strength work, and I don’t want to lose any time to some stupid bug. I’ve lost too much time this year already to illness etc, and am looking forward to a clean run through to Nationals in April, and Worlds next October. Just shows what a knife edge we run juggling full time work, domestic life, training and rest.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Laoshan Velodrome, where times are smokin'

Here is Liz Reap Carlson's account of the Good Luck Beijing World Cup event held last weekend. The pollution is obviously a major problem, not just for visiting athletes, but for the permanent residents. I couldn't begin to imagine pollution that bad. I guess the closest we've been to it is during the bushfires over the last couple of summers. Even so, the bushfire residue was not long term.

The velodrome itself sounds awesome. Just reading about it makes me want to at least see in for myself, and definately take a bike for a spin on it.

Resolutions

It’s that time of year when the seething masses make their new year resolutions. I made mine in the 2 weeks after Worlds, based on what issues and weaknesses appeared this year. In no particular order :

· Get more sleep!! I’ve been chronic this year for surviving on 6 hours sleep a night. I am a 9 -10 hour sleeper to be in top form. Now I aim for minimum of 7 and preferably 8. So far it’s pretty much working, hitting 7 – 7.5 hrs most nights. It’s amazing what a difference an extra hour of sleep can do for attitude and tolerance levels. It’s my no compromise (well, hardly ever) thing for 2008.

· HTFU. Sure, but what does this mean? I used to have a mantra when I was duathloning: Stopping is not an option. I am working on that one again. I also used to have a bit of a masochistic streak, seeing how hard I could go and tolerate it ie push out my cracking point. This one is back – it’s a bit addictive and I have the taste for it again. It’s interesting to see how it also changes your mindset, and how you ride. Now I have my good luck band to remind me: HTFU, and all that it means (which is more than I have written here – it’s also about professionalism which is another all-encompassing gloss over word, and as much about attitude as doing)

· Self belief, which includes being selective with whom I listen to regarding my efforts in my training and racing. I have chosen a couple of reliable, knowledgeable people whom I trust. No one else’s opinion matters.

· Gym: Go. Do it. Regularly. Too simple.

· Yoga: I keep thinking about it, but it hasn’t helped. So now it’s time to actually do it.

· Breathing: keep practicing! More work required to keep the Ventolin in the bag.

· Time: developing an athlete takes time. I know this – I am a coach. I just have to apply it to myself.

· Keep it fun, keep it enjoyable.

There are probably more things I could add, but I don’t want to overwhelm myself and give up ;-P

A regular week in the office

This week has been quiet on the gossip and hilarity front, which isn’t to say I’ve not heard any gossip or had me no fun! I’ve just had nothing to say really. It’s been a regular week in the office of the everturning crank, with the added bonus of actually having fun on the bike, actually enjoying training (this week!) and looking forward to it. Except when I wake up with a cracking head ache from lack of sleep, as I did this morning. Needless to say, I was mighty relieved at the 4.42 am sms from my Hourly friend who piked out on our training ride this morning. She apparently has turned into a raging party animal thanks to the Season of Giving. She obviously was too much on the receiving end of giving, and was paying for it this morning.

Last night’s racing at DISC was the final Thursday night for the year, and I really did have a good time. Obviously my ergo session the day before was either a complete success, cos I was feeling strong and fit, or a complete failure because I was feeling good, and could still walk normally. I did take the precaution of using a slightly smaller gear than normal, just in case the ergo efforts were lurking in the background. In the end it turned out a good strategy, despite running out of gear in the first two races, when I put my normal gear on for the motorpace, my legs felt fresh, not trashed.

The scratch was similar in pace to last week’s, and my plan was to just do, not think about it. Coming into Lap 7, and second wheel, I decided to pull out, hopefully create a bit of a gap and put the accelerator down. I made my attack, and kept going at 95% throttle, feeling very pleased with myself. Half a lap later, I dared look around and on the bend could see the whole train immediately behind me. Well that didn’t work! So I rolled off and continued with the bunch and saw the race out. Later on I heard that my stunt had created a few holes and hurt some legs, so my plan wasn’t a total failure. I already have in mind a modification for next time - can't wait to try it out.

The pointscore was tougher, and I lagged behind during the first sprint, just not having the speed to keep up with the bunch. I managed to get back on, but lost touch again, hooked up with a couple of more mature gentlemen for a few laps, and retired with 2 laps to go. The highlight for me was having the drive to fight back and keep at it, instead of seeing too many stars to see the track properly.

The motorpace was steady and calm, so calm in fact I was nose breathing at a normal rate until about 3-4 laps to go. The motorbike hitched up the pace many notches on lap 3, which was a bit of shock to the system after rolling around at a such a comfortable pace. My legs couldn’t handle it, and again, I finished gatekeeper, making sure the last of the little fluffy lambs were safely home.

It was the most fun I’ve had in ages. Seems like thanks to a little black rubber wrist band, in the form of a thoughtful supportive gesture, has dug up something from the deep past, and has given new life to my racing and training. Or maybe I’ve finally shrugged off a winterglum that’s been much too sticky for too long? Either way, it’s good to be a cyclist, it’s great to be training, and doing some hard work, and even better to be feeling like form is slowly improving after months of stagnating. Perhaps it’s just the festivity of the season, with thoughts of a Fainter’s dubbel tonight, and champagne cocktails next weekend keeping me keen? Who cares, as long as it keeps working!

Monday, 10 December 2007

Drink Beer

I am not a beer drinker: maybe 1-2 stellas a year. Shopping for some well-named Bright beer for Mr Leg’s brother-in-law at the Bright Brewery yesterday, I spied a Belgian style beer on the list, and added a couple to the shopping bag. As soon as we got home, I put the Fainter’s dubbel bier in the fridge to chill, and when the time was right, cracked one open. Yum. That’s the best way to describe it: full of chocolatey fruitcake, dark rye bread, dried fruit goodness, rich but not too rich, not bitter, not sweet, but a mouthful of refreshing, full flavours. At 8.5% it also packs a punch. I could order myself a slab (which would last half a year at least!).

Team Time Trial

Sunday we opted for a flat ride. Some of the group (a couple of whom had done Buffalo as well as Tawonga the day before) decided to do a breakfast ride. Madam Hour and I wanted a longer ride, to spin the legs out, and, well, to train! We headed out to Myrtleford, with Mr Legs in tow. The 60 odd kms was probably a bit long for Mr Legs, who had ridden very well for an anti hillclimbing, anti-training sometime track rider, but he persevered with our charge down the road towards Myrtleford. Rolling turns, we churned through the kays, making the 32km in a little under an hour. It was an excellent bit of riding, with the three of us working as a tight neat machine, in true team TT style. We got a few looks from passing drivers and cyclists going the other way, so smooth and well-tuned was our 3person engine. I realised about halfway to Myrtleford that while my left hammy was complaining, and my quads were feeling well and truly used, my HR was low and my breathing at walking pace, making for an excellent recovery ride.

We stopped at Plump Harvest Produce for a coffee (and a fruit mince tart – these were some of the best I’ve tasted). While at Plump, we browsed the back wall for goodies and Mr Legs and I decided to get a hamper for his folks for Christmas. We picked it up a few hours later on the way home, and it looked a treat. It will be difficult parting with it, and the guy who helped us with the order was lovely, and obviously passionate about food and the produce in the shop. Mr Legs was about done from the climbing on Saturday, and the motor into Myrtleford so our pace home was a bit slower, thanks also to a headwind. I had a minor crash and burn on the only hill back into town, with my pistons burning out and needing a quick oil change. I recovered after a couple of minutes at smoking engine pace and was back on pace once on the flat. Madam Lash ..er.. Hour is always on the lookout for good TT training runs, so this one has made it to her list.

What amazed us later over lunch, was how dead Bright was. Half the shops were closed (which was a pity, cos our chosen lunch venue was also closed). I know it’s not quite high season yet but I think it says something about a 10 am out the door policy for commercial accommodation. Kick your guests out early and they will hop in the car and drive, instead of hanging around town. It was a pity, as I was interested in doing some Christmas shopping.

Highlights:

· Losing Mr Legs x2 in 2days in town – almost asked the local policeman walking down the street if he’d seen a very tall, balding 4 year old

· Motorpacing behind Mr Legs and Mdm Hr

· More food, this time in a basket

· Beer

· Funky cafes

· Playing guess the song in the first 5 seconds to keep the brain awake on the drive home

Bright training weekend

A very enjoyable weekend away in Bright, with Mr Legs, Madam Hour and a few of Madam Hour’s cycling buddies. The weather was excellent (apart from the heat climbing Tawonga Gap, both sides), and the riding even better.

Saturday was Tawonga Gap day. We rode over the Gap to Mt Beauty return. Overall I was happy with my ride, stopping once only each side when heat and/or road steepness got the better of me. This was my second only attempt at Tawonga, and much improved on my 2006 Alpine effort (which was complete with a recovering back injury from a track fall 6 weeks earlier).

Highlights:

  • Cicadas, all over the road, dead, dying, mating, singing their little leg songs in the heat, in the trees and deafening. I had some weird aural sensations from the ear popping altitude and screeching cicadas.
  • Coping with the climb
  • Madam Hour presenting me with a Harden the F^ck Up wristband, which then got me back up over Tawonga Gap, plus some Madam berating about 800m from the top when I wanted to stop for a second time (I didn’t)
  • Guessing what the yellow specks were in Mr Legs’ cream (as in scones and cream) at the Mt Beauty bakery
  • Riding with Yogi Guru, who has moved from Bayswater to Harrietville to try his hand at something new. It was great to spend time with him again.
  • Madam Hour pouring water over me at the top of the climb coming back from Mt Beauty. Cool water on my head never felt so good.
  • Watching Mr Davitomon Lotto nix go up and down Tawonga so many times, I think he was actually lost. We saw him so often going both directions, particularly on the Mt Beauty side of Tawonga, I thought the cicada drone + the heat had done my head in and I was seeing things. Later I saw him in Bright riding with 4 others, so he was real.
  • Waffle cone 2 scoop ice cream at the ice cream shop immediately after the ride
  • Red Peter on his red orbea only being able to do the Mt Beauty side of Tawonga in 28 mins, unlike his friend who does it in 23 min xxseconds. See ya later dude – too fast for us when he finally shut up and shot past us at the base of the climb. Didn’t see him again, not sad.
  • The mysterious grey Tawonga panther. Coming off the front of Tawonga, a few km before the bridge, with Mdm Hr and I flying along, we both were surprised (as in SHIT!!!What the f^ck was that??) by a loud growling/hissing and a large flurry of lunging thing heading out of the roadside ditch up the embankment. I saw a flash of grey, Mdm Hr saw a large critter. My first reaction was a bird flying away from a snake, but after discussing it and comparing notes, we thought it could have been a koala (mainly due to the critterness of the critter and the noise), or a large feral cat. Later, over dinner we decided it was probably a lyre bird, as they have been coming out of the forest and foraging in the ditches thanks to the drought.
  • Food: lunch, dinner, sampling the local eateries and cafes.
  • Cooling hot tired legs in the river
  • Feeling stronger the next day for the climbing, instead just totally stuffed.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Melbourne: bipolar town

This morning at 7 am it was 29 degrees and very humid. 3 hours later it’s 19 degrees and very fresh as I walk over to my regular coffee bar for some vital body waking caffeine. This week the temperature range (form Sunday) was roughly: 32/23/24/32. Reading the BOM this morning, Mt Hotham will be 15 max over the weekend. Well, some of us have already packed, so I guess we won’t be riding up to the top of Hotham - what a pity.

DISC last night was oppressive in the heat. The numbers seemed to be down on pre-Worlds racing, but still good subscriptons in A grade (20 odd) and even better, a contingent of women. Hurrah!!! I counted about 8, but I suspect the figure may be slightly higher than that. Most of us rode D grade, with a couple in C and perhaps 1 in B grade, but I wasn’t looking that closely. It was great to be back on the track, and I was surprised at the number of hellos thrown my way as I was setting up my little camp. Nice to be home!

I expected to be more nervous for the first race than I was – instead, it was just another day in the office. I enjoyed the first race, but found myself a bit lost when I moved slightly up (to just above the red line) marking the guy in front when the woman behind me came forward to fill the gap below myself and some of the guy in front’s space. Not a good move. She wouldn’t let me back in, and the line closed ranks leaving me flying high, so there I stayed. I felt comfortable but I kept either rolling up to the front, or sliding backwards with the pace changes in the line below me, so I wasn’t able to really settle in. Lap 6 I was again sliding up to the front without any effort and I thought about hitting it and making for a getaway attempt. I thought about it enough that I suddenly didn’t like the idea, which then left me a puppet hanging on the sidelines. A little junior took the front with 4 laps to go and hammered away, and I fell off the back, pulling out with a lap to go. The gear felt heavy throughout the race, and I felt a bit flat, but I was happy with the ride, and didn’t really struggle until the tiny TFM bullet hit the front. Talking with one of the girls later, she said the pace was up on previous weeks. So either I’ve gotten fitter, or the pace has actually dropped off since I last raced. Some of the speedy regular D grade juniors have moved up to C grade (how embarrassing! 12 years old making C grade and I am still not finishing D grade races), which may explain the more sedate feeling in the race.

The pointscore was up next, and I had no speed at all. What’s new?? Ha! I managed to get back on after the first sprint after a few laps time trialling, just in time for the next sprint. Great timing. Again, no jump, no ability to turn the gear any faster. A couple of us were dropped, and I managed to pass some of my fellow dropees, but in the end, the heat got to me and I gave up and retired with a case of CBFs. After sucking in a large quantity of Endura, which sent my guts into a lovely flamenco dance, I pulled the pin on the motorpace. I knew I’d make it to the end but would have nothing to work with to go with the sprint to the finish. Ms Nonie Scrabulous got up for a close win, which was awesome to watch, as it was her Thursday night debut.

The racing seemed less erratic, smoother, with fewer idiotic moves being made. I felt comfortable (there’s that word again) in the pack, and really did enjoy being back out there, even though I was tired and really needed to be asleep instead. Next week is the final for the year, so my plan is to keep the analysis locked down, and act immediately on any thoughts of action in a race. ie think-do, not think/think/think/have a bit of a chat to myself about it/don’t. Let’s see if I have the guts to do it :-)

TISM find their ROOT!


Driving to the chiro yesterday, listening to the radio as you do, a C & W track came on, except it wasn't what you'd really classify as C&W, apart from the twanging guitars. Sure the lyric content was nationalistic, but reeking of anti-Americanisation of Australian jingoistic culture sentiment. Sounds like something TISM would sing...

Then I started to listen to the vocals - yup, that's gotta be TISM.

Wrong - it's ROOT!

Heard another song this morning, something about wanting to be like Tex Perkins... say no more..

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Recovering

This week is a recovery week, so that has been my focus, considering my meltdown status from last week. Apart from last night’s very late night due to a committee meeting, I think it’s working! I plan to race tonight, if I don’t fall asleep on the bench at the chiropractor’s this afternoon. I’ve not raced since Worlds, so I am looking forward to getting back to Thursday night track, seeing how my legs are, and catching up with some people, particularly MiniMe Coach.

Coach sent through my new program for the coming four weeks this morning: lots of hard work (SE efforts on my favourite: the ego demolishing Ergo) and racing coming up. I am doing 3-4 of the Christmas carnivals, plus some racing with Brunswick track and/or Sandown Tuesday nights. On paper the program looks great – lots of variety and fun. In reality I know it will be a sufferfest by the end of week 2, which has me doing 3 hours of hills after a double session of ergo that week plus a heavy duty spin around Sandown.

I’m relieved that State Masters Track are now in March, as they would otherwise be four weeks away, and I would be in a bit of a funk not having the form I’d need to be competitive. Now I can settle into summer racing and have some fun rebuilding and extending my form towards April and Nationals.

This weekend Mr Legs and I are joining a group of Madam Hour's friends for a cycling weekend in Bright. Tawonga Gap to Mt Beauty and return is on the agenda, and a flatter ride on Sunday, plus good food, good wine, some laughs and lots of lazing around. Sounds good to me. After a very hectic week at work I am looking forward to removing myself from the clammering to-do lists and associated guilt trips of not-done lists and just being a cruisy cyclist hanging out in one of my favourite places.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Cheesecakery

Mr Univac and I are Comrades in Cheesecakes (baked). Sunday morning we stopped at a bakery/cafĂ© in Richmond that surely must be a leader in baked cheesecake. Macadamia Baked Cheesecake. It looked magnificent, full of chocolately, gooey, nutty, creamy goodness. I convinced Mr Univac that, despite the early hour, he really needed to give this good looking cake a go. And he did, after a few feeble protests. I’ve never seen a cake defeat Mr Univac, but this one was a mission uncompleted. That had to be one helluva cheesecake. I am planning a future later arrival (ie at a more cheesecake eating friendly time) to give this demon baked item a go myself.

Wicked Witch of the West

I think I am the Wicked Witch of the West. I know that some people have thought this for many years, but last week, I proved it. I melted. As in melt down, not as in Brad Pitt/Keanu Reeves (am I showing my age??) melt. The heat and humidity conspired against me, leaving me physically incapable of completing my set training for the week. I hate that.

Saturday a little trio of Mr Legs, Madam Hour and myself did our usual 1:20 loop. By the time we got to Sassafras, I was melting. Literally. Bucket loads of womanly glow was pouring out of me. I was completely wrecked by the time we got home, so that all planned activities for the rest of the day were crossed out and replaced by sleeping and feeling like dog poo (which is the smelliest of the poos).

Sunday Mr Univac joined the trio and we opted for a “flat ride” down Maroondah, as I also had track training with Mr Lash aka Coach in the afternoon. I felt ok heading down the road towards the city, but by the time we turned around, the oven had been turned on and I began the Wicked Witch meltdown again, fading rapidly watching Mr Legs and Madam Hour race off into the distance over every rise and crest. How does it happen that a woman the same age as my mother, and an unfit barge arse (it’s ok, he doesn’t read my blog) drop me like that smelly dog poo up a hill?? Fortunately Mr Univac is a gentleman and rode with me.

Rather than heading back home down the highway, we took the bike path back instead. The Koonung trail stops at Mitcham Road, but our intrepid orienteer assured us she knew a way back to Ringwood that would have us staying off the highway. She neglected to say it would also entail some hill climbing, as in short, steep, nasty, and concern about where the hell we actually were ie there was some circularity in our route. But Madam Hour, despite being directionally challenged without a map, did manage to get us to some geographic point of certainty. I suspect it was a case of all roads lead to the highway. Mr Legs suggested we head back along Deep Creek Rd, which meant finding the new Eastlink path, via some cross country mtb route, courtesy of tourist guide Madam Hour. I ended up walking the steeper sections, as my brain and body fade wasn’t up to negotiating steep gravelled downhill switchbacks on the bianchi and skinny road tyres. We finally found the open bit of the new Eastlink path (which will be excellent when fully open and functional) and then hit Deep Creek Rd - a new, safer, route home that will be a regular return passage from the city, rather than straight up Maroondah.

After getting home, and an ineffective attempt at recovery, I phoned up Coach to decline track training for the afternoon. Thanks but no thanks. After laughing at me for being a softcock (they were Mr Legs words, Coach just laughed. Interestingly, he didn’t disagree….hmm ) Coach Lash did confess that he had planned some nastiness for the group. By 3pm I knew I had made the right decision, and felt very sorry for the juniors who were having their legs spun off behind the motorbike. Suffer in your nix kids.

Hopefully this weather will settle down, or I’ll acclimatise and will be able to cope with training surrounded by buckets to catch the sweat. I grew up in Queensland, and there is a reason I live in Victoria. I am seriously contemplating a move to Tasmania over summer.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Redecorating

Yes, I've given the blog a facelift. The original colours and layout were beginning to really irritate me, so time for a change. It may change again, so bear with me!

Hot Training

It’s hot. Summer is a few days away and sharing her love already. The last couple of days doing pre and post work sessions on the trainer, I don’t think I’ve sweated as much, ever. Last night I wrung out my nicks. Even this morning at 5 am, when it’s meant to be cool, I was drenched. Or it could just be me. As it was, I got to 20 km this morning and stopped. I’d had enough. I was very hot, tired, weary and plain fed up. I don’t remember being so intolerant to heat, particularly early morning warmth. Perhaps it was just lack of sleep. Normally cutting a short a morning session wouldn’t worry me, as I just make up the kms that evening, but tonight we are going to the Spicks n Specks road show at the Comedy Theatre. Another late night, another short night of sleep, another crabby training day tomorrow.

Looking at the entry list for this weekend’s Tour of Bright, the number of women entered is excellent, and from all over the country: NSW, ACT, SA, VIC. My favourite road racer Pip Read has entered, so can’t wait for her sms updates over the weekend to see how she goes.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Australian Champion

photos coming...

The hour between 5.30 -6.30 was one of the fastest hours of my life, lap by lap, watching the stopwatch, comparing lap times and to Hourof Power Woman’s body language, wondering what the hell was going through her head for those 60 minutes. All I can say was that it was very emotional sharing the final hour of Liz’s journey with her, and I was choked up with a tear in my eye for the bell lap: Coach DJ laughed when I said I think I am going to cry as she crossed the finish line.

151 laps. 3 laps off the target, but an incredibly strong effort nonetheless. 3 minutes at race pace is bad enough, so multiply that by 20 and perhaps you might glimmer what it could possibly mean to ride for an hour. I am still trying to get my brain around it, and even begin to understand why you would possibly want to. Coach DJ and I watched each lap, discussing where we thought she was at, what coaching should be offered (ie focus, steady your body, dig in, don’t bloody well give up!!!, how are you feeling?). Failure to finish was not on the agenda for any of us and when HoPW began to cramp, and swung up high to use the boards to keep up momentum, I thought she was losing it. I am not one to scream out, but that’s exactly what I did – across the infield during a well-timed lull in the music. Two precarious laps and she was back into a rhythm, driving along to gain back some precious time. The final 10 minutes were brilliant, with faster lap times, bucket loads of guts and determination.

The grandstand was loud and incredibly supportive, and the atmosphere was superb – lots of anticipation, lots of support and encouragement, with everyone well and truly behind HoPW. I noticed the difference between HoPW’s ride and Shirley Amy’s ride in terms of the atmosphere: the music and slightly larger, noisier crowd just lifted the place. The bell lap was something special, and I gave Liz my own little standing ovation on the back straight.

So it’s over, with that lull now before starting all over again for the old girl. Apparently she wants another crack at it, announcing this fact just after “giving birth” the first time! Most people would wait and think about it, but then, I thought the same thing after my first nausea-inducing, black-out threatening pursuit. Admittedly, I was surprised that HoPW was so chipper and spritely after her ride: no dribble, no vomit buckets, no quiet lie downs, but the delirium showed with that comment….

Liz, your legend status just scored some more gold stars. Congratulations on an awesome ride. I'm very proud of you, and your ride.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Hour Day

Today is Hour Day – HourofPower Woman’s attempt at the Hour record. I’ve purposefully not made any blog entries over the last couple weeks on HoPW’s efforts, as she has enough stress and pressure to deal with, without added weight from me.

Tonight I’ll be trackside, part of the support team, coaching, encouraging, hopefully steadying HoPW as she pedals at least to an Australian record, and perhaps a World record. At this stage, there will probably be four of us sharing line duties. An hour is a long time to be standing by the boards, focussing on your athlete, keeping an eye on their lap times, their body language, posture on the bike, cadence and rhythm, providing encouragement and direction.

I am not sure what to expect afterwards, none of us probably are, apart from knowing HoPW’s legs won’t work when she walks, she probably will be very untalkative, will be incoherent at times, will be terse, gruff, and snappish (well, wouldn’t you be after riding your guts out for an hour non-stop on a boring indoor circular track?), she may even dribble. She certainly won’t know which way is home (sorry old gal, had to throw that one in, one last time ;-) ). One thing is for sure, a whole bunch of people will be very proud of this tough, focussed, determined woman. She has been a tremendous ally and support to me over the last year, so it’s a privilege to be able to provide whatever support I can to help make Liz’s day a success for her. Rock on HourofPowerWoman!!

Weekend Training

Reading Mike Goldie’s blog this morning was heartening. This last week of training has been difficult – not only trying to wrestle time to do it from the vagaries of life (ie work, family commitments etc) but also physically more difficult to deal with. I spent more time on the trainer this week also, thanks to rain and a reticence to ride solo on roads at dawn O’clock, with HourofPower woman in her final week of preparation for the Big Day.

Week 2 back in the saddle and I felt great – speedy, strong, invincible. Week 3 and I felt stiff, sore, grumpy, slow, lacking ability. So Mike’s blog on his experience of Week 3 made me realise that, well, what I am feeling is probably pretty normal.

Friday I did my scheduled kms, then threw in some deadlifts and squats immediately after. Saturday Mr Legs, Mr Incognito (a buddy of Mr Legs. I can’t tell you why I call him Mr Incognito, as I’d have to then kill you) and myself did a 75km loop of Kinglake. My legs were dead from Friday’s work, but I made it readily up the main climb, practicing a new breathing technique, and without stopping on that horrid steeper section marked by the green side railing, near the top. I often stop there (don’t tell Coach) as my legs usually give out as the road pitches up. When we reached the top, Mr Incognito said that he thought my fitness has improved since the last time we rode together (over 6 mths ago), which put water on my critical self-analysis that was blossoming at the time. Mr I is a strong rider, particularly uphill, and I heard him puffing a few times up the climb. Overall the ride took 2hrs 45. Usually I pay no attention to how long the Kinglake ride takes, just how I feel doing it, but Mr Legs noted that it was the fastest he had done the course, even when he was at his absolute fittest a couple of years back (I think that was at the time I first asked him out – climbing Kinglake as a matter of fact!).

Sunday Mr Legs, Mr Univac and Mr FIGJAM (no comment) and I did our 1:20 loop. Mr Legs was suffering from the day before; Mr FIGJAM took off like a rocket even before we started, not wanting to be a LOSER by not being first to the top. If he were in a start gate, he would have dragged it up the hill. Mr Univac and I cruised up at around 15 kph, chatting away enjoying the scenery like it was a… Sunday morning drive… By the time we were within 2km of the top, Mr FIGJAM was in sight. Then he turned and saw us with about 1km to. He lept out of the saddle, hammering on the pedals, trying (unsuccessfully) to put more into the couple of hundred metres between us. Mr U and I kept chatting and pedalling, and I chuckled to myself as Mr FIGJAM kept up his race to the top, desperate not to be beaten by a woman (or, more specifically, me). He was the same after our coffee stop, hammering past me at the very start of the downhill, desperate to prove some over-testosteroned point.

Apart from having to ride with a jerk, I finally road tested my new “race” wheels I picked up at the end of the Sun Tour. I bought some new titanium skewers (thanks Steve at Le Tour) on Saturday, so decided the 1:20 would be a great test run for the Eurus. Uphill they actually didn’t feel much different from my Protons, apart from rolling slightly more smoothly. Downhill however, I felt the safest I have ever felt, taking corners more aggressively and a bit faster than I normally would ( I am a pathetic downhiller – very nervy and speed conservative. I am vertically challenged in more than one way!). So I was pretty stoked by the time we got into Montrose, and I give the Eurus a 10/10 crankscore.

I had 3 hours of track training Sunday afternoon with Coach and a bunch of elite juniors, so when I got home from the 1:20, it was into feed up and rest up mode, in preparation for the likely painfest. I was pretty tired and my legs trashed, so it was on with the Skinz, in to the Endura, eggs and spinach on toast, plenty of fluids and legs up reading the weekend papers in bed for a couple of hours.

It was really good to be back on the track bike, and back on the boards, but riding with the juniors was simply a lesson in how much work is ahead of me. My legs were totally flat from the weekend’s work so I struggled to keep up in any meaningful way. You have to wonder when you think to yourself, when I grow up I wanna be as fast as those kids. A couple of the girls had raced the Revolution series the night before (winning or placing in all their races), raced Glenvale that morning then put in a solid session on the track that afternoon. These girls are awesome, and their dedication and commitment is really proving itself now, as they continue to improve and stamp themselves on the track. I am certainly on their cheer squad.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

All Class

By the time I got home last night from the Women's Committee meeting, I was peckish but not hungry. So I opted for cheese on toast (generic white bread at that) and a glass of Passing Clouds 1990 Cab Sav. Food of champions - now that's style.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Secret Riding Spots



Finally I’ve downloaded my photos! Weekend before last, Mr Legs and I headed back “home” to Boolarra. The weather was very warm, the pastures thick and lush from the recent rains (ie floods in East Gippsland), skies blue and roads winding and hilly. Originally the plans included a ride up Loves Lane, but I decided late that week that Loves Lane might be a bit ambitious after a 2 week layoff. Instead we did a usual loop that includes Grand Ridge Rd, with views to Loy Yang Power station northside, and the ocean (just! On a clear day, which both days were) to the south. Unfortunately my phone camera couldn’t cope with the vastness of both views, so you‘ll have to miss out those happy snaps.

After the Grand Ridge loop, rather than heading back towards Churchill on the highway, we took a detour along the Morwell River, which is bitumen for about 10km before turning to gravel and heading up towards Grand Ridge Rd (all roads lead to Grand Ridge around home). I’ve not been up the road along the river much. The first time, 11 years ago, I ran up it, as part of a 10/20km fun run that is now defunct unfortunately. The 20kers started within Boolarra itself, and the 10kers (ie me) started at the now run down Apex Park, just where the bitumen ends. The run is a slow, steady climb up to the now (also) defunct Prison Farm. From memory, I think Derryn Hinch had a stay there.

The road is extremely quiet, narrow, overhung with wild plum trees, pasture, blackwoods, with farms either side of the road cut into the hillside. Riding up, I noticed on a corner some stairs down to the river. On the way back, we stopped and coolled some tight, overheated calves and quads in the chilly water. Although it looks brown in the photos, the water was quite clear, with the rocks below providing the tint. Fox’s Hole was once a very popular picnic spot, complete with a swing rope over the river. Now it’s just a bend in the river, and my new hydrotherapy spot in summer.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Weirdest blog hit

The weirdest hit to my blog would have to be one recently received from Serbia and Montenegro: a google search on cycling morality.

Still trying to get my brain around that one...

Crap Cycle Lanes of Croydon

At least they have cycle lanes in the UK version of Croydon - we are lucky to have a wide shoulder!

http://crapcyclelanesofcroydon.blogspot.com/

The Old Chook Strikes Again

Pip Read has once again given the young gals a run for their proverbial gold coins in the Doherty Tour held over the weekend. Pip placed 3rd in Stage 1 (1:20 hill climb), 4th Stage 2 (Death Valley 60km stage race), and 5th in Stage 3 (Thomastown Crit) for consistent placings over the weekend, against a strong field of elite women.

Pip's season is just getting better and better, and she continues to prove age isn't a prohibitor to excellent performance at Opens. Rock on Pip!

Weekend riding..

What a change from one weekend to the next. I’ve been meaning to blog about the weekend before last’s riding, in sunny downtown Boolarra (complete with pics). However, I’ve been too busy to download the images from my phone, and refuse to blog without the photos. Hence the lack of riding reports. Weekend before last provided some gorgeous riding, both in scenery and weather. This weekend just gone was not so pleasant.

Saturday, Mr Legs and I ventured out on the mtbs to check out the bike path route I take to work (when I actually do ever ride to work!). It’s part of the new Eastlink bike path and has been subject to closures due to upgrades. The upgrades that affect my ride are now complete and pretty darn good! I also did a tweak on the front end of my mtb that I’ve been meaning to do for over 12 months, and wanted to test my mechanical alterations. Basically the bike, even though it’s a small frame, is too big. I finally turned over the head stem, and turned the riser bars into downer bars, for a better fit, and greater manouverability in the front end ie I can now pick it up over obstacles more easily.

The temperature at 4.30 pm was hot, but not grossly so (unlike today!). By 2/3rds of the way home, I was beginning to suffer great thirst, despite drinking enough (apparently!) and was more hot and sweaty than usual. 3/4rs of the way home, I started to feel shaky ( a bit odd on a 60km ride but I just figured it was from hammering up the hills to remind Mr Legs of who really wears the nix in the house), so stopped at a little milk bar for a Gatorade (why did I choose the dark green one??? It looked so refreshing and full of carby goodness) and a little bag of multistriped “fruit” straps. After stuffing my face with sweet and sour fruit straps, saying to Mr Legs how great they were, we rolled on home without event.

Within an hour of getting home I felt ill. Very ill. Not long after I was thankful I had cleaned the toilet that morning. Eventually things settled down enough that it was safe to go to bed, after realising that eating anything was a pointless exercise. I woke up the next day, semi-delirious, totally forgetting we had planned a Kinglake ride with Mr Univac. A quick call from Mr Legs sorted that out, and also saved him from getting wet later in the morning when the much needed (thinking of the grass in the horse’s paddock) rain fell. I spent the day totally prone recovering from whatever little gremlim (heat stress?? A bug?? Fruity strap poisoning??) came a-visiting me.

Apart from this minor glitch, the last 2 weeks of training have been very good, after my lay-off after worlds. Once I download the photos from the Boolarra training weekend, I’ll post ‘em up for a show ‘n’tell.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

The Bleeding Obvious

I work in an academic institution, I have undertaken academic research, I work with academic minds - teachers and researchers alike, but nothing brings me to tears more than "confronting, challenging new research" that basically states the bleeding obvious. I have an interest in nutrition, so keep an eye out for the latest. And here it is: a healthy diet consists of (whole) foods, not a bunch of nutrients, measured and ingested. No kidding.

There are reasons blueberries, tuna, carrots, basil, grains etc are good for you. They work inside our bodies the way pills can't, the way reconstituted foods (eg protein bars!!) can't. You don't have to be Einstein to work that one out. I just love academic research at times... illuminating.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Toshiba Pro Track Team - rant #3

After reading the teams list for the upcoming Sydney World Cup this morning, I am really pleased to say that my rants earlier this week were off the mark, and the addition of the Toshiba pro team has allowed the National team to access excellent talent that may have otherwise not been able to be accommodated. The teams set up means that more Australians are able to compete on the boards, rather than competing for a spot on the team. Now, that IS good for cycling.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Tasty


3pm munchies hit, and I had to go out of the office, so I took a detour and bought a small stash of munchie-crushers. The shop on campus has a range of "health-food" options, which include protein bars, including mini bars that are wrapped like afterdinner mints, taste like after dinnermints! At last a protein bar (9.5grams of protein per 25gram bar) that tastes bloody good! Australian made, Australian owned. Highly recommended, with the fixmawheel crank of approval.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Dawn O'clock Midweek Ride

I am 3 days back into training, and either someone is playing tricks on me or the hills have radically changed in my time off the bike – they HURT!!! Riding out this morning with HourofPowerWoman, my body turned into the anti-Little Red Engine up some of the lumps along the way. My glutes and hammies were crying out: “I don’t think I can, do you really want me to that?? I don’t think I can, don’t think I can”. Of course, they could and they did, despite the many protestations, which were overridden by my bitchbrain saying “shut up and drive you b@st@rds!!”

I don’t normally ride on the roads peri-peak hour, that hour or so before peak hour starts to hit capacity on the roads, but with two of us, flashing lights abounding, we faired well and the traffic was considerate and accommodating. We skipped off the main city-bound roads after a short stint, and headed back against the main flow, looping around some side paths for variety, and so HoPW could show me alternate bike path routes from home to Dandy Creek Path. A couple of weeks of these early morning jaunts, and my legs will find their form again and I can find some bigger hills to climb before work. It’s a satisfying feeling sitting at your work desk, 9am, knowing you’ve done your training for the day, and it’s consisted of real road kms, not just grinding it out on the trainer. Or maybe I am just enjoying being on the bike again? Best of all is the 9.15 am fresh coffee and blueberry muffin to keep me awake after a 4.30 am rise.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

New Australian Track Pro Team - instalment #2 Rant

I had a think about this overnight, and realised I probably didn't articulate properly what I meant in my post below. The double-dipping aspect still stands: how can you claim to have a "new" team when it replicates most of an existing team, that would compete the same events as the existing team? How is having a pro team composed in this way good for cycling and cyclists (apart from those in the team who gain double benefit ie as pro team members AND members of the national squad, both sponsored by the same sponsor)? IE what opportunities does it provide for other elite, or potentially elite track cyclists? That being said, the fact that an international corporation wants to provide sponsorship funds for Australian cycling truly is a good thing, and will assist the Australian team in its attempts to win medals internationally. Elite, international sport is an expensive business. That a major corporate player is interested in supporting cycling (as well as using cycling as a means to raise it's own profile - that's the way it works) is encouraging, and should be commended and supported.

Too often of late I've been hearing "It's good for cycling." In my mind "good for cycling " MUST equal "good for cyclists". If a new way of doing things doesn't, in actuality, provide more opportunities for more (racing/competitive) cyclists to compete (more often) then I ask: is it really good for cycling? In what way is it good for cycling? An argument exists about raising the profile of cycling as a Good Thing tm. If it raises the profile of cycling, will it, for example, reduce the amount of abuse and danger cyclists experience on the road? What are the benefits of simply raising the profile of cycling? What does an increase in the number of people who pay to watch cycle races as entertainment (along the lines of dog, horse and car racing) mean for cycling and cyclists? Will it increase the opportunities for competitive cyclists to race, will it increase respect for cyclists on the road, or simply make a business enterprise profitable for some?

So when you read or hear "It's good for cycling" think critically/analytically about what that might mean, for you as a competitive cyclist, for up and coming elite/international cyclists, for cyclists in general.

Women's Track Skills Program - that's a wrap

Last Sunday saw the final of the 7 week track skills program run by CSV. The women who participated have improved in confidence and skills tremendously, and as a coach (and Women's Committee Chair, with the program being an initiative of the Committee) it was fantastic to see this progression, as well as the smiling faces all round.

CSV'S Luke Mason wrapped it up in this review, doing a far better job than I can manage this morning (it's a public holiday in Melbourne but some of us are at work..). Unfortunately, in amongst all the thank yous, one person keeps being left off the list, and that is Luke. Without Luke, the program would have been more difficult to get up and running, as he booked the venue, the coaches, managed enrolment of participants, organised equipment as needed, organised the goody bags, food, room hire, coaches' gifts, participation and appreciation certificates. There were many small things that Luke saw to, which made the 7 week program run very smoothly. The office staff at CSV are often at the front of the battle lines and usually take more hits than bouquets. So Luke, sending you a bouquet! Thank you.

Monday, 5 November 2007

New Australian Pro Track Team

From Cycling Australia:

5 November 2007

Media Release
Toshiba and Cycling Australia - The Perfect Team

The gold medal hopes of Australian track cycling have been boosted by the announcement today that Toshiba (Australia) Information Systems Division (ISD) is now an official sponsor of Cycling Australia.

The partnership will involve the formation of Team Toshiba, an Australian professional track cycling team, and sponsorship of the 'The Cyclones' - the National Team. Toshiba's sponsorship provides an exciting opportunity for more of Australia's talented track stars to compete in world class events.

Team Toshiba will debut at the Sydney round of the 2007-08 UCI World Cup Classics commencing 30 November 2007. The Sydney World Cup will bring together more than 400 riders from 48 nations to contest 17 events. ‘The Cyclones’, as well as contesting the World Cup Classics, will also compete at the World Championships in March 2008 in Manchester, England.

“The pure intensity of Toshiba’s full product range aligns perfectly with the speed, skill and excitement of the cycling sport,” said Mark Whittard, General Manager, Toshiba Information Systems Division. “As a company, we feel an enormous sense of pride to be able to assist Australian cyclists further their careers and attempt to secure gold around the globe.”

Cycling is a worldwide phenomenon enjoying enormous popularity, as four out of ten Australians own a bicycle. The Toshiba sponsorship allows Australian cyclists to have an increased presence on the international cycling circuit.

“Toshiba’s support will provide extra pedalling power for our athletes and give more of our talented cyclists an opportunity to shine,” said Graham Fredericks, Chief Executive Officer of Cycling Australia. “As an organisation we feel Australia’s chances heading towards the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing are heightened dramatically with Toshiba’s support.”

Team Toshiba will boast a stellar line up of Australian talent including dual Olympic gold medallist, Ryan Bayley and reigning Olympic and World Champion, Anna Meares, who says she is delighted to be given the opportunity to race with the team.

“It’s fabulous that Toshiba is backing the track program and I know the support they give us will be crucial in our bid for gold,” said Meares. “Team Toshiba has an outstanding roster of experienced performers and some promising young talent and I expect we’ll post some great results during the season.”

The complete team roster is: Ryan Bayley, Jack Bobridge, Peter Dawson, Zakkari Dempster, Daniel Ellis, Mark Jamieson, Shane Kelly, Anna Meares, Cameron Meyer and Scott Sunderland.

Following the sponsorship of the Soccer World Cup in 2006 and Rugby World Cup in early 2007, Toshiba continues its commitment to outstanding Australian sportspeople by supporting Cycling Australia. As part of the exclusive sponsorship, Toshiba will have advertising and signage rights for both Team Toshiba and ‘The Cyclones’ as well as access to the nation’s top cyclists.

Please visit www.cycling.org.au for more information.

*********************************************************
So basically, it means that some (most??) of the national team riders are now also in the professional team, rather than 2 separate teams existing. I think it's called double dipping, but if it means more opportunities for track racing (am wondering how that might work with 2 teams created from one group of [the same] riders), then that must surely be a Good ThingTM.?


Bike tweaks and training plans

So ends my cycling/training hiatus. Now we start all over again, building on what we began earlier this year. This week has easy ~50km rides this week, with some big volume kms in store for me in the coming weeks, as promised yesterday by Coach. Well, that was on the cards: a good pursuiter has a very high aerobic capacity and high anaerobic threshold. There is only one way to achieve those: lots of km and intervals (ok! that’s two). My strength endurance and speed endurance also need lots of work, so you can bet that there will be monster hill repeats, SE efforts on the ergo and cadence work in the not too distant future. Brysons Ave loop and 1:20 will be my new best friends. My goal for 2008, apart from hitting new PBs is to stay healthy, minimise stressors, get more sleep each night – sounds easy on paper…

This weekend Mr Legs and I finally got around to tweaking his track bike, which is, essentially, too short for him. In the drops, he looks cramped, and rides cramped, with nowhere to slot his mega quads but out past his elbows, like a frog with huge testes. Ultimately, he needs a bigger (longer) frame, but that won’t happen until next year. After some experimenting with his riding technique with the bike locked into the trainer, we swapped a longer headstem onto the bike, and flipped it so the handlebars sat higher. This seemed to help a little, but the stem was still too short, so we put an even longer stem on, which did the trick within the parameters in which we were working. The longer stem raised a new concern: flex. The stem used a 2 bolt arrangement to hold the handlebars and seemed to flex under pressure. Some more rummaging in the spare parts box, and out comes a heavy duty mtb stem of the same length.

Next issue was with the handlebar width. Mr Legs’ current track bars are 40cm wide –waaaaaaaaaay to narrow for his manly, broad shoulders. We measured his Alpine Classic bike, which was custom built, and the handlebars are 46 cm across. A quick search online and it seems the majority of track bars are around 40 – 42 cm with the occasional 44 cm. We had some 44cm road bars and put those on, and again, a small improvement was made in riding position and the frog leg position. Added to the shopping list: 46 cm road bars with shallow drop and cut away tops, for wrist/forearm clearance. This is going to be a tall order but if we can get some criterium bars (as recommended by Coach) then they should do the trick. Hopefully now some of the issues Mr Legs has had putting power through the bike will be minimised (skipping rear and front wheels for example) and his track riding and racing a little more comfortable and enjoyable.

As for me, I’ve decided my new hobby for 2008 is collecting wheels. I picked up an almost new pair of Campag Eurus at the end of the Herald Sun Tour, and an old shamal road wheel on Saturday, which will be converted to a track wheel over time. On my wish list: rear disc, front shamal, corima 4 spoke front wheel, powertap, win tattslotto.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Because there is an election happening soon


http://www.subversivegames.com/portal/games/scumbag07/index.php

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Metro Masters Champs NSW


Food for thought for the Southerners?

It seems likely that the MoToR series run at Dunc Grey as a lead up to the Worlds will continue. Is there a demand (read: numbers) for regular masters track racing in Melbourne? And if so, where and when would it be held? DISC is booked solidly for some months, so a metro outdoor venue would be likely. Interested anyone?

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Dreaming of a long hilll

I have been off the bike now for 12 days, and am beginning to yearn for hills: Kinglake, 1:20, Brysons Rd, Yarra Valley, Dandenongs, Loves Lane in the Mirboo hills. This is what boredom does to a unfettered, unfatigued mind and freshening legs, clear lungs. It's a form of mental sickness.....

Bikes on the Big Screen


Yet another Bicycle Film Festival is hitting our shores: this one is THE Bicycle Film Festival that journeys across the northern hemisphere anually. It will hit Melbourne 6 - 9 December with a variety of activities in Melbourne across the 4 days. From the Facebook BFF Group:

Thursday 6th Dec07 - Opening Night BIKES ROCK! Gig A ride-in event with bicycle valet parking at the heritage-listed Meat market in North Melbourne, local and international bands will entertain 500+ guests at this once-in-a-lifetime gig.

Friday 7th - Sunday 9th Dec07 - Screenings at RMIT Capitol Theatre The historic and glorious Capitol plays home to 13 screening sessions over 3 days. A foyer bar and lounge sustain the devoted bike masses through marathon screenings.

Art Show
Some of Australia's best artists & photographers join together under one roof to lionize and venerate the bicycle. Venue and artists will announced in September.

Saturday 8th December - Bike Parade & Street Party
Watch in amazement as the cyclists of Melbourne converge on Federation Square. Bike swaps, Demonstrations, Bicycle Beauty Pageants and more will entertain the crowds while the big screen shows highlights of the BFF over the past seven years.

Sunday 9th December - Final Screening & Closing Party at Rooftop Cinema
As the sun sets over Melbourne, a VIP Bicycle Film Festival crowd will enjoy a final screening and very special party on top of the world.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Old Girls Rock

Whilst I was in Sydney, I received an excited sms from cycling buddy Pip Read. She raced the bookend women’s crits for the Jayco Herald Sun Tour and came in 2nd for the opening crit at Bendigo, against a strong field of world class riders. As she said to me, “Not bad for an old girl”. It’s a bloody fantastic result, and proves that age is as much in the mind as is winning races. Pip races WMAS5, and is getting stronger and stronger each season. She has a full program of crit and road racing over summer, and will give the young guns a run for their money, keeping them honest and well and truly in the hurt zone. Pip is a terrific role model not just for masters riders, but all women, young and not so young, who want to give racing a go, or take their racing to another level. It takes a fair bit of guts to put yourself on the line against the best in the state and the country, let alone finish at the pointy end with them. Pip has persevered and her hard work is paying off.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Worlds: Final Thoughts

Accommodation: Bass Hill Tourist Park is very close to the velodrome, supermarket etc,so very handy in that regard. Our cabin was also very cramped, dirty, the sofabed lounge was broken (ie you were trapped once you sat in it), noisy, the highway is smelly and bad for asthma and hay fever, and did I say cramped? Not staying there again, now I know how everything runs at the velodrome during World champs.

Eating out: limited in Bass Hill. The Handlebar Tavern couldn't cope with its regular customers and another 400 odd new regulars.

The Velodrome: cool, easy to get into and out of, the track is a treat to ride on, toilets within easy distance, plus there is a bar and crit circuit to roll the legs out on.

The Event: overall very well run, despite every effort to make me male. The commissaires/organisers and volunteers were helpful, supportive and worked hard and long to create a successful event. There were no dramas, no hassles, no fuss. My only criticisms would be to do with women's racing and the way age groups were combined, plus losing the team sprints and nearly losing the pointscore. Expect some political lobbying in the near future from some active Americans.

The Competition: fierce and professional. Excellent comraderie, fantastic to meet new people from all over the globe (well, the States mainly for me). I felt welcomed and accepted by the old hands who made my first Worlds easier and more enjoyable, less stressful than it otherwise could have been. It was excellent to see familiar faces from home - it was a DISC reunion in many ways. It was also excellent to see those familiar faces do extremely well, and to see tears of relief, joy, shock, overwhelmnedness as people medalled. Inspirational, motivational, bloody hard work, challenging, and absolutely worth it.







Worlds in Review: Scratching around for a Race

Womens 30 -44 Scratch: Trudy Van Der Straaten upfront, being hunted down by Megan Blatchford-Peck. One guess where I am, thanks to a fatal misjudgement before the race started.


With the high quality field for our race (30 – 44 yr olds eg Michelle Ferris, Megan Blatchford-Peck, Julie Barnett, Michelle King, Michelle Crawford, Amanda O’Connor, Mandy Collis, Kerrie Howard….. I could keep going!) I thought it might end up being a cat and mouse game. I was so far from being right it hurt! Our neutral first lap was totally non-existent, with the girls throttling through as soon as we hit the duck board (and straight onto the track proper – the commissaires should have pulled us up before we made the back straight). I wasn’t too worried, figuring everyone would settle down on the back straight….. nope.. well maybe next lap… oops missed that and I am way off the back… Ok, I settle into a pace that will see me not being dropped further, and eventually getting back on. I managed to hold my gap but never really gained on it. Lap 5 and still no let up, and the pace is winding up. A couple of girls have made the break and are hammering, another one takes off and bridges to them – all pursuit medallists. Lap 8, they will sit up in a minute and I will get back on. Wrong. Lap 10 and I am seriously looking like being lapped, as the pace increases lap by lap, unrelenting. Lap 11 the front runners hit me and I roll off the track, according to the rules. I am pleased in a way, because this is one exciting race and one of the best women’s races I have ever ridden in, and I now get to watch it in full. The pursuiters do not let up at all and are grinding the sprinters into powder. Michelle King catches a wheel to move forward in the final 2 laps; John Kennedy is yelling at Darren King to tell Michelle to go – she has to go now! he screams. But it’s too late and Michelle Ferris is on Michelle King’s wheel, just cruising up to rev past her in the final bend and over the finish line.

Two of the three pursuiters make first and second, Ferris lifting tempo to roll into third. Special mention to Trudy Van Der Straaten who made the initial jump and drove much of the pace, and did an awesome amount of work to set the race up and never letting the pace drop.

I rolled into the infield fully fired up for the upcoming track season, and the Vic Country Christmas Carnivals. It was excellent therapy after the IP. This race set the tone for racing for the rest of the evening, with some incredibly fast and tenacious performances from the men. Several events had guys lapping their fields. Tim Decker’s performance was a stand out – not only did he lap the field early in the piece, he then kept attacking, and sprinted over the finish line to keep the level of hurt up on the rest of the field. I see he made 78 points in the pointscore on Sunday, so he obviously repeated his performance. That night’s racing made last night’s club racing at DISC look very tame and sedate. To be honest, it was boring after seeing racing of that calibre the previous week. Anyone who says Masters racing is not worth it is simply showing their ignorance, or fear of being a flogboy for an over 30 year old.

Worlds in Review: Time for some Tourism

photo by Mr Legs, or me, I can't remember.

The scratch race on Thursday was my last event for the Champs. We were due to leave for Canberra on Friday morning, and as Mr Legs had not been to Sydney before, we decided to catch a train (of the double decker variety) into the city and wander around playing tourist. It was a last minute change of plans for me, as I had intended resting up for what would be a fast and furious scratch race. In the end I decided that Mr Legs probably wouldn’t go into the city solo, and my legs had been crap all week, so I had nothing to lose by trashing them some more on the pavement.

HourofPowerWoman had ventured into the city to test her legs and nerve walking over, as in up the span of, the Harbour Bridge. As it turned out, Mr Legs and I made it to the Rocks in time to see groups of people walking along the arch peak, so I shot off an sms, declaring “I can see you! I can see you!” to HoPW. Well, I thought it was funny. After several hours of walking, a tasty lunch in a cool, quiet bistro, some cake in the magnificent QVB (we missed out on the Lindt shop!! Misery!!) we made it back on the train (which trainline?? which platform?? too many to choose from) to the shoebox in time to load the car up and get over to the velodrome in time for a warm up before the scratch race.

PS. It's been some years since I last visited Sydney's CBD, and it is a very different place to Melbourne: more energetic and vivacious, brash, busy, congested, very Paris Hilton. Sydney creates reasons for people to go into the CBD, Melbourne doesn't. Sydney's historic architecture has a greater sense of history than Melbourne's, but there is less of it, which perhaps increases its import. Overall, I prefer Melbourne, and its decentralised cafe and shopping culture, which rests in the inner suburbs rather than the CBD itself. I think Melbourne is more quietly self-assured, and whilst Sydney is older, it acts like a younger, attention-seeking sibling. And to clarify for those who think I may be biased: I was born in Sydney, raised in Brisbane.

Worlds in Reivew: Pursuit of Lost Seconds


Where do I start with the IP? I can give a bunch of excuses eg, upset tummy early in the week, legs tired, flat and heavy, self-generated mental pressure, misplaced focus during the race etc but I won’t (although.. I just did!). The bottom line is I didn’t pull a PB, but close to PW (personal worst). I felt ok in the first half of the race, controlled and steady with breathing in good shape, but the seconds were sliding away from me by the middle laps, and although I tried to lift in the final 2 laps, nothing happened, my legs failed to respond and I was shot. The only positive thing I can say is that asthma didn’t hit me, although my breathing was overextended in the final 2laps, and I had that classic metallic/bloodied taste in mouth and throat afterwards (and struggled to walk for several minutes after). I made my breathing a focus during the whole 8 laps, but perhaps (likely) to the detriment of watching my cadence. I just wasn’t up to it on the day, probably chose the wrong (too small) gear and lost my cadence by focusing too much on my breathing.

I was completely devastated when I saw my time. One of my (novice) fellow competitors tried to make me feel better as I staggered back to my seat by saying “O! but you’re a sprinter Lawrence.” Hmm, that’s news to me! Her timing was bad, her comment terribly misjudged and grossly inaccurate – I won’t say what I thought when she said it. I must have looked bad, because very few people came near me. HourofPowerWoman summed it up well in noting it wasn’t a time I was after, but her delivery indicated she understood how I felt, and ... what the hell can you say to someone who just failed themselves miserably and is demolished by it?

That evening Coach and I had an excellent debrief, proving how much quality coaching is about communication and empathy. The following day I received some very supportive sms, and words directly, that helped me out of my bucket of self-pity and back into a forward-looking, positive frame of mind. It’s a seriously good feeling to know that people do believe in what you are doing, even if, momentarily, you seriously doubt it yourself. Thanks guys :-)

Worlds In Review: Weighty Issues









Day One of racing had some people perplexed and a little put out about their racing machines and their relationships with the commissaires’ scales. Bikes that in their current configuration had made weight quite readily at previous World Championships were suddenly underweight. My own bike that had weighed in at home at 8kg with aerobars and training wheels, but when stripped down to bullhorns only, Shamal up front and disc wheel rear, just made minimum weight by 180grams. The next day, with carbon fibre aero sticks and cups back on, it gained 900 odd grams.

The venerable Max Read, Gentleman of the Track, was in the above category. His bike has never weighed under, and Max has ridden on the same equipment for several years. This year, he as half a kilo under. So with some lateral thinking and deft application, a strategy was taped into place to get him through the commissaires’ scrutiny, and onto the boards at race time. I am not 100% sure what is under all that duct tape, but I was told it was a heavy bike pump. Obviously duct tape must weigh a bit, and I think a large portion of a roll was dumped onto the top tube.


Worlds in Review: 500m TT




I enjoyed gating up for the TT, but was severely disappointed with my final time of 42.7 something - 1 second slower than Nationals. The time screwed with my head for some time, and probably didn't add anything to my pursuit performance the next day. By the evening I had got my brain back in order, after realising that speed work had not been on the training agenda, and I had not trained in anyway for the TT. My start was slow, a pursuit start not a TT start., which is what I've been training. I like racing the TT, and am keen to score a sub 40 second 500m one day (ie before I go up an age category). Not this year tho'. Interestingly enough, my time on the Communique and in Cyclingnews later was recorded as a second faster than the scoreboard and Mr Leg's timing. The only difference it made was to the finishing order.

A funny thing happened on the way to the gate. Sitting in the chair waiting to load the bike up, a commissaire fairly well-known to me looked at his start sheet,looked at me, then looked at his start sheet again,then looked at my number and pronounced "YOU'RE Lawrence Maskill" "Yes, Bronco, it's me". He then showed me his start sheet. The judges had drawn a big fat line through my name, and in bold capital letters beside it, written MALE. Poor Bronco: me out of context, fully suited and helmeted up, him in commissaire mode, and following his running sheet, didn't register who I was, and that I should actually be racing Women's 40-44 TT.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

World Masters in Review: Sunday and Monday.

Sunday and Monday: hitting the boards to familiarise myself with the track saw a test of nerves, assertiveness and confidence just trying to get on to the track with so many riders rolling around. Once the men finally got off the boards, leaving the track for the women and men 70+, peak hour settled down and traffic was easier to navigate. Unfortunately there were still too many on the boards to do effective multi-lap efforts. HourofPowerWoman had a crack at it, weaving around riders, but wasn't able to get a true indication of times for her work, nor a decent run at pacing over several laps. Falls were commonplace over these two days, either from lack of speed on the boards, not looking!!! and running into people, poor tyre choice, or poor bike handling skills. I came close to well and truly getting cleaned up by some silly bugger who was hanging off the fence near the bend in the home straight. I started a half-lap effort out of the gate and had to rapidly bail before corner 1, and head for the hills, as this idiot decided to drop in on me and cut me off. Fortunately I was aware he was there and was half-expecting the idiot to do something. Impressed?? Not!!! Angry - pissed off to put it mildly. Mr Legs pulled him up once he was on the apron and told him to pack up and go home. I think I was not the only rider to be on the receiving end of sheer stupidity that day.

After training on Sunday, about 20 women from the States, NZ and Australia headed for the Handlebar Tavern for some food and an informal meeting on the state of women's masters racing courtesy of the UCI. There were many disillusioned, angry and disappointed voices, expressing concern of the UCI's lack of engagement with women's master's racing: the pointscore had been on the verge being cancelled and the team sprints were cancelled. The outcome was agreement on organising voices into a unified cohesive squeaky wheel, and gaining the ear of a women's friendly UCI member to champion women's masters racing. It's a numbers game, and the bottom line is that we need more women to enter and to race, to demonstrate a demand for competition.

One more day of holidays.

So what do you do when you're on holidays and having an enforced (by Coach) 2 week break off the bike? Bake cakes of course! And spend quality time with the cat, catch up on a week's worth of paddock duties, and catch up on blogging. It was neat having the mobile phone to read email etc but it's not the easiest way to post a blog entry! I wrote a post last Friday regarding the scratch race, and realised when I went to save it, that there is no broadband access south of Sydney along the Hume, and isn't for the majority of the length of the Hume across NSW. So much for Telstra's roaming combi.

On Sunday, Mr Legs and I ventured into the city to watch the final stage of the Herald Sun Tour, check out any bargains going from the teams/riders dumping end of season goodies in preparation for next year's kit, and perhaps meet some of our buddies doing the annual Around the Bay ride. This year apparently 15 000 riders participated, and Mr Univac himself did the 250km.

After a bit of spot the celebrity cyclist (Katie McTier, Olivia Gollan) I came across a pair of Eurus that the Drapac Porsche team were offloading. After a bit of thought, some quick movement of money between accounts, and some advice-seeking from Coach, I picked myself up a pair of almost new campag race wheels, with brand new rubber on them. Unfortunately I now have to wait until the weekend after next to ride them, thanks to my riding curfew.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Devastated

42.7 sec for the time trial and 3.04min for the pursuit. I totally missed the nail head and hammered my thumb instead. Ouch. Let's leave it at that. Scratch race tonight with the 30 and 40 somethings together ie I am racing Michelle Ferris and the medallists from the last 2days.It will b interesting to see how the race settles in and who does what. My guess is that everyone will be watching everyone else to see who makes the first move. My legs are very flat so it may just be me to get it over and done with. Or maybe someone else will get edgy and have a crack. Bets are on as to how many laps it will take for the first move. I am thinking 12 to go of our 20 laps.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

worlds: day 1

iToday is day 1 of racing:500m time trial. I am using my mobile phone to write this blog and the couple of hours I have before heading off round the corner will be taken up trying to get this post up. The weather today is hot..30 degrees and windy. The track ip built into the ground so the ramps into the in field are cool.But you still sweat buckets warming up on the trainer. There are 14 women in my age division ie 40-44. Racing starts at 1pm with the older guys then the women. Last night we stripped the aero bars down to the base and the t bike is now looking mean and super fast.the track itself feels fast, and as long as you can keep your bike on the boards some good times will be had. I am feeling positive and looking forward to a pb.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Enjoy the experience

I am in my final hour at work, doing those last minute things you do when you are about to go on holidays for a couple of weeks. For me it means I can now walk away from the bunfight that has been work over the last week, filling in for someone else as well as doing my own work, and concentrate on being a competitive cyclist, and focus on competing next week.

Tomorrow I have a workout at DISC, then packing, shopping, getting the Aussie flag painted on my thumbnails and other such important activities. Saturday we set out in the big red car, megagig ipod plugged into the stereo, listening to Mr Leg’s crap 80’s American big hair rock music, and my fantastic punk and post punk indie intellegensia stuff. I am getting excited about going to my first Worlds, and as my favourite allwheeldrive cyclist emailed me today: enjoy the experience. I will Mike! Rock on!

I won’t be blogging much while I am away, but I’ll post results, impressions, gossip and incriminating photos as soon as I can. I want to thank everyone who has supported me over this year, who has offered encouragement, advice, wise words and competition experience. Every little bit has helped to get me here, and I am gunna race my little heart and lungs out next week, and have a ball while doing it.