Friday, 27 July 2007

Freshened up, Princess

It’s been a full-on week, with meetings, classes for Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, training and racing, let alone the usual stuff of bossing Mr Legs around from the trainer while he cooks dinner. Well, it was a special meal, mainly a huge wack of King Island beef, t-bone style. Man, that was some nice steak!

Tuesday night I went to the first meeting of the new CSV Women’s Committee. One of the key concerns was to have some real-world outcomes in the very near future. The response to the recent forum was strong, and so there is a commitment to those who attended to make use of their thoughts, concerns and input on the night to action some of those ideas forwarded. On the boards (literally!) is a track cycling development series, for women who have some track experience and would like to build and develop skills and confidence for racing club level and opens. This is a really exciting program, to be run over 6 or so weeks, and I expect we will have a strong response to it. There will be another Come ‘n’ Try track day – these always prove incredibly popular. Also in planning is a series of come ‘n’ try racing, criterium style, over the summer months. This is still just a concept, but hopefully it will grow wings and become a reality. Stay tuned to the CSV website.

I raced DISC last night, and although not quite the tractor drag of 2 weeks ago, I was still lacking in speed and speed endurance. Coach was there this time, so I had to pretend to race properly, like I knew what I was doing. The racing seemed less intense this week, although some silly bugger kept sprinting off the front, and managed to totally destroy the bunch before the first sprint in the point score. What made it worse was when I saw who it was, each time the pack jumped to hunt him down and bring him back, I thought Idiots!! He’s going to blow up in another 200m. Let him hang out there. And sure enough, Mr Legs blew up each time. But gees he did a good job on the field in the first two races. Serves the idiots right for being so chicken paranoid about being dropped in lap 12 of a 15 lap D grade race. I am taking bets it will be the same next week. Let’s see if anyone remembers and takes heed of the lesson.

The motorpace this week was much better, with no disintegrating leads, and I was able to slot back into the pack in a sweet spot, thanks to a gap that magically opened up for me. I didn’t see who caused it, all I saw was a bit of daylight behind a wheel and I smacked quicksmart into it before it closed back up. Seems Mr Legs’ bunch breaking skills are also useful in a motorpace. But in the end I didn’t have the speed to go with the bunch in the final laps, and I was also a bit wary of some poor bike handling skills around me, which had me backing off the pace slightly at crucial times. Coach and Mini Me Coach gave me a few pointers, particularly about making space and flicking leeches and big bullyboys off. I am looking forward to some leg work training to put it all into practice and be in the mix over the finish line.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Cycling is a Beach

What a contrast from last week’s megahell ride to yesterday’s ride in the sun. After a week of recovery and drastically reduced training, much needed with a resting HR 10 beats higher than normal, I was feeling pretty OK rolling the bike out on Sunday morning for a long ride with PowerofHourWoman, Mr Univac, and Mr Legs.

We left a bit later than usual, to avoid the early morning air chill (and inevitable asthma issues) and to maximise sleep in time for POHW. POHW was a bit underdone after partying solo in the hills on Saturday in some TT ravefest, plus limited sleep thanks to more partying in front of the tv, watching Le Tour. Well, that was her excuse and we were sticking to it; a bittersweet case of role reversal, but that’s what friends are for. We picked up Mr Univac along the way and rolled down to Beach Rd. After the last few weeks of training misery I was out to make yesterday’s ride a nice little tootle, cap-wearing, volvo-driving style. As it turned out, I was feeling pretty good and had to keep cutting the engine, until I hit the Boulie, where I had a go for gold moment or two.

It was one of those truly lovely mornings, and I enjoyed actually spending time looking at the houses along Beach Rd. Usually we are cranking it up, dodging bobbing triathletes, leap-frogging bunches, avoiding the ARTBIAD set, to actually enjoy the scenery. With the late morning sunshine, the houses looked bigger and brighter, with the cream art deco villas looking glamourous alongside the sharp, funky post-modern boxes. The other thing that struck me were the numbers of birds out on the water – great flocks of gulls, smaller groups of pelicans, white dots everywhere. I don’t recall ever seeing so many seabirds.

After copping some abuse for going too slow from some guy in a fancypants “I am an institute athlete” jersey – you know who you are :-) , great to see you! - we stopped off at Southbank for the usual carb up for the last leg of the ride, then headed back via the Boulie. After the hill rides of late, the Boulie was nearly as flat as Beach Rd, with the golf course hill giving me a chance to test myself (just to make sure, and to clear any remnant of self-doubt). I went up faster than I’ve done before. It still hurt, but in less time. There is also a nasty steep pinch on the Eastern Freeway bike path from the city coming up to Belford Rd. Again, took it at peak pace, and had the back wheel skipping and spinning with the pressure through the pedal stroke. Sweet – all was good once more in Lawrenceland.

The best thing about the ride was pulling up at the end, feeling pretty neat for 4.5 or so hours in the saddle. No weak, aching, pathetic legs, no suck the fridge empty hunger, no let me lie down before I fall asleep on the spot fatigue. I felt.. well.. normal. And it felt good!

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Being a Citizen of the Road

At the rise of the hand
of policeman, stop rapidly.
Do not pass him by
or otherwise disrespect him.

When a passenger of the foot
hove in sight, tootle the horn trumpet
to him melodiously at first.
If he still obstacles your passage,
tootle him with vigour
and express by word of the mouth
the warning "Hi, Hi!"

Beware the wandering horse
that he shall not take fright
as you pass him.
Do not explode
the exhaust box at him.
Go soothingly by
or stop by the road-side
till he pass away.

Give big space
to the festive dog
that makes sport
in the road-way.
Avoid entanglement of dog
with your wheel-spokes.

Go soothingly on the grease-mud,
as there lurk the skid demon.
Press the brake of the foot
as you roll round the corners
to save the collapse
and tie-up.

Courtesy of Festive Dog at BV forums.

A found-poem by Ed Miller, derived from a Japense-English guide to motoring for foreign tourists, 1935. Apparently quoted by William Least Heat-Moon in his book River-Horse (1999).

Cheese Ride

Have been slow to post about Sunday’s ride, which was a licorce allsort of good company, great countryside, and bucketloads of suffering, mental and physical, plus a seatpost mechanical for me and drive train issues for OneHourWoman. Fortunately the mechanical didn’t turn into a full blown failure, but contained itself to an Exorcist like swivel of the seatpost head. I had visions of my lovely white specialised jett saddle falling off in front of a car and being run over. But I think I was also borderline delirious in the last quarter of the ride, and by the time it came to do the grocery shopping in the evening, was quite gone in the head, judging by the things I kept putting in the trolley. Bright, colourful shiny packets full of tasty, multicoloured treats. No real food, apart from the Shrek M&Ms; just what my mental taste buds thought would get me eating again within the hour.

I am still coming to grips with the ride. Apparently, it was a Character Building TM ride, so I tested out the character yesterday when a craving for potato chips hit me at 10 am. I hung out until 2.30pm then hoovered down those crispy salty suckers. And I didn’t feel guilty at all. That’s character. (grits teeth: grrrrrrr)

The ride took Mr Univac, OneHourWoman (also now known as PowerofHourWoman) and myself through Coldstream, Gruyere, Yellingbo, up some stupidly steep and long hill on Swales Rd, into Silvan, Mt Evelyn, Montrose and back home. AKA The Cheese Loop, where at the end you can be served up on crackers. Hills, plenty of hills: cheesy goat hills, cheesy dead road hills, cheesy not another f^#@ing hill hills.

Beach Road is looking good for next weekend. Bring back Beach Road, Beach Road is nirvana for hill-weary legs. Who said Beach Road is boring?

Friday, 13 July 2007

My Aching Legs

Last night I raced at DISC. I raced like a dead animal dragged along by a tractor, filled my lungs with asthmatic fog, trashed my legs, had many laughs and an overall good time. After waking up several times during the night thanks to my complaining, whinging, bitching legs, it got me to thinking this morning about immediately accessible strategies to help recovery. Here are my favourites:

  1. Eat. Often hard to do after a thrashfest session. It’s imperative.
  2. Drink. Can be used to effect #1 if the stomach has turned in on itself and disappeared. Not water, but carb and protein loaded bevies to rehydrate, feed the muscles and nervous system (including the brain – those 10 metre high fluffy pink kangaroos hopping down the freeway driving home after racing can get pretty ugly when they hit your car bonnet).
  3. Rest. Yeah ok, sitting down is resting. WRONG! Sleep if you can, lie down, raise the legs. Straighten the legs out to help blood flow and lymph drainage.
  4. Hydrotherapy. Can be used to incorporate 3. ie Lie in very warm (hot) mineral salted bath.
  5. Hot and cold therapy. Used in conjunction with #4. My version is to lie in a hot bath and soak the legs for a bit. Then I dangle one leg out of the bath and apply frozen esky icepacks to that leg. Ice for 10-15 seconds. Swap legs, repeat several times. Works a treat and sure beats sitting in a bath of ice cold water then running to a hot shower. Doesn’t make as much mess in the bathroom either.
  6. Compression leggings: any brand will do so long as they are TIGHT! Squeeze those quads of steel into these tubes of skinny elastic and you will be sighing with relief after the effort. Rest in them, do the vacuuming in them, clean out the horse’s paddock in them (aren’t you meant to be resting?? See #3), sleep in them.
  7. Lie on the floor with the legs up against the wall. My favourite office trick. Best done in a non-shared environment at work, but if you work in an open plan office like I do, just forewarn everyone. They’ll understand – you’re just one of those wacko cyclists. This is best for those midweek trashrides for working athletes. Wear your compression garments to work for added therapeutic effect.

My very favourite routine post trashride: make a protein/carb shake whilst running a hot bath with Radox, or Lush product if feeling really wrecked. Prepare bathroom with shake, ice packs, towels, and the weekend news papers. Make sure edge of bath is dry for the cat to sit on. Hydrotherapise! After the hydro session, bioaccelerate after squishing into compression leggings. Go to bed and sleep, or lie on couch with legs hanging over the back and read newspapers or watch TV whilst eating leftover homemade pizza.

Monday, 9 July 2007

More on new women's team

Media Release from Cycling Australia:

6 July 2007

Australian Women's Cycling Team hits the Road

Cycling Australia and partner Apis Consulting Group are delighted to announce the creation of a world class National Women’s Road Cycling Development Program supported by naming right sponsor Performgroup.

The world class program is a collaboration between Cycling Australian and Apis Consulting Group aimed at supporting the development of Australia’s most promising female road cyclists in their quest for future gold medal success.

Cycling Australia National High Performance Manager Kevin Tabotta said that Cycling Australia had identified a gap in the development of women’s road cycling as a consequence of limited opportunities for international competition.

“Until now female cyclists have not had a complete developmental pathway due to a gap between the state institute programs and AIS elite development programs, said Mr Tabotta. The ability to support Australia’s most promising women’s cyclists has long been a goal of the high performance program.”

Apis Consulting Group Managing Director, Andrew Robertson said "We are pleased to further APIS Group’s commitment to Australian Cycling through our support of Cycling Australia’s new development program.”

“Apis Consulting Group and Performgroup are proud to be working with Cycling Australia to help develop a new generation of aspiring female athletes” said Mr Robertson.

The inaugural Performgroup National Women’s Road Cycling Team was announced earlier today at a media conference in Canberra. The team will be coached during their European Tour by Paul Brosnan and Michele Vermande. Team members are Louise Kerr, Kate Mercer, Peta Mullens, Ruth Corset, Belinda Goss and Tiffany Cromwell.

National Women’s Cycling Coach, Warren McDonald said the girls had been selected based on both their performance over a number of national races earlier this year and the growth benefit that inclusion in the team would bring to each team member.

“The women will travel to our European training camp where they will compete in a number of European races and be exposed to an international training and racing environment ” said Mr McDonald.

"There is a wealth of talent between these girls and inclusion in the Peformgroup Women’s Road Cycling Development Program will provide a platform for them grow to the next level."
Before departing on 12 July for their tour of Europe, the team will undertake a specifically designed Performgroup program aimed at building an exceptional team experience. Designed to fast track healthy team function and member respect the highly interactive and experiential four day training program will also cover presentation, media and sponsorship training.
Apis Consulting Group’s commitment will fund travel, accommodation, living expenses and access to various sports science and athlete support services.

end media release.

Peta Mullens is a Gippsland gal, so it's exciting to see a talented local move on to bigger, exciting things. She has already raced in China this year, and is about to see more of the world, at speed, by bicycle, plane, car, bus, train, out hotel windows, and hopefully from the front of the peleton.

Reality Bites

On Wednesday of last week, I had some root canal treatment. It’s something I have actually been looking forward to, as the offending molar has made an unwelcome presence on my general health and overall wellbeing, and my training. So when I left the dental surgery on Wednesday lunchtime, still under the influence of anaesthetic, I felt great. Clear headed for the first time in ages, positive, energised. By 4pm it started to unravel and by 7pm I was not well.

I ended up losing 3 days of training, and am still not 100%. In the greater scheme of things, I shouldn’t complain – I can still ride my bikes, I am upright and functional. But the adverse reaction to the dental treatment got me thinking, doing maths, counting days and kilometres trained. There are 13 training weeks left until Worlds. My training to date has been inconsistent and I am not on schedule in terms of fitness. I am not worried about developing the speed and power I need to do the job, but endurance has always been a limiter. Losing hours and days of training just compounds this. I am working on my other weaknesses, on and off the bike, such as strengthening core and pelvic stability, improving pedal efficiency and cadence, being more vigilant about recovery.

My ambitions for this year’s Worlds may have to be scaled back a notch or two, but that’s ok. This year isn’t about wining gold or even stepping onto the podium. Not this year. It is about setting out to do the best I can, and being competitive, being in the mix, being a contender, hitting PBs. So while the ambitions may have to be doused in reality, the goals remain the same. A lot can be achieved in 13 weeks, but already I am looking beyond Worlds to a successful season of local open track racing. So while the ambition remains, the hunger and drive keeps me pedalling.

So what happens when the ambitions and goals have been met? For myself, I am not worried about that part of the story, but there is an element of sadness when a great athlete retires, apparently prematurely. Masters cyclist Darren King, on Friday night, did just that. After receiving CSV’s Male Masters Cyclist of the Year, Darren announced his retirement, after 2 years back in the sport. In the last 10 months or so, Darren achieved two World Masters Champion titles (Mas2) and in March this year, set a new World Best time in the Mas 3 750m TT. I was one of the many witnesses to Darren’s World Best time. It was an amazing effort to watch, and to be a part of the audience that realised pretty early on something special was happening. I felt for Stuart Vaughan who was on the track at the same time, and whose effort was just as impressive (he won silver in that event). But it was Darren’s race that day, and I learnt a lot as a witness to it. On a personal level, I have always found Darren to be positive, helpful and friendly, one of the nice guys of the sport. It is sad to lose such a competitor from the sport, but I know the sport has not lost a keen supporter, and I am sure we will see him around the traps supporting son Jake in his fledgling career as a track cyclist.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

A New Australian Women's Road Team

Courtesy of

New Australian women's cycling team debuts

A new Australian women's road cycling development team and innovative training program will be officially launched by Cycling Australia in Canberra tomorrow, July 5. The development team's new Australian jersey will also be unveiled at a media conference from 11:00 at Stromlo Forest Park, Australia's newest purpose-built cycling facility featuring an excellent criterium cycling circuit and dedicated mountain bike tracks.

Women's cycling is experiencing widespread growth and the new development program will support Australia's most promising female road cyclists and provide international racing experience underlining the existing Cycling Australia/AIS High Performance Program.

More information on the team and its members is expected soon.

It's too soon for this new team to be connected to the latest talent ID search being run by Tammie Ebert/ACF/AIS. Is this a re-invention of the former road team (like Howard's Workchoices) or an additional road team? I am looking forward to more details - stay posted to (now owned by Future PL, which has also recently acquired Sounds like a megalith cycling site is in store...)

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Beach Rd Hill Change

I have been hitting Beach Rd fairly regularly for my long rides on the weekends. Frankly, I am Beach Roaded-out, but it’s an easy ride – I know how it goes, what to expect, how to pace myself, how I am going to feel at the 95km mark with 20km to go. But I am bored as well. With this in mind OneHourWoman and I headed for the hills, and some quiet country roads out Coldstream/Gruyere/Woori Yallock way. While the sky remained dark, the rain stayed away leaving the countryside heavy with damp, dripping trees, soggy dark green pasture and roads slicked with mud. Very gothic, very Strezlecki Ranges.

I was looking forward to the ride, and doing some work in the hills, but I was still very underdone after an unsuccessful attempt at the Macedon Ranges Reg Bradley Memorial Handicap on Saturday, where I was handicapped at limit, not just by race officials but by asthma as well, and ended up DNF. Every hill on Sunday drained my legs and made my muscles feel like dried crumbling mud. In the end we cut short our planned route, headed for some flat road and downhills to get us closer to home.

It made me realise that it’s too easy to underestimate the impact of asthma, even exercise-induced asthma. I have always been a little dismissive of having asthma, because it’s ‘self-induced’ ie if I didn’t cycle and train as I do, it wouldn’t be an issue, I wouldn’t even know I have it (which is kind of ironic). I have never been hospitalised because of asthma, and was diagnosed at around age 30, after realising that my running was getting worse not because of lack of ability, but because I wasn’t getting in enough oxygen. In my head, I just don’t fit the stereotype of an asthmatic (whatever that is). But I am asthmatic, and at the end of last year decided to take it a bit more seriously, as it often (but not always, and not predictably) impacts on my ability to perform at peak output. I fatigue more quickly than I should, and cannot hold high speeds for any distance, if I can get up to max speed at all.

So with each rise in the Gruyere roads, I struggled with an inner spitspat between the mindgremlins, rebuking myself that my legs were trashed from racing and asthma the previous day and was probably being ambitious with this ride. Two days later, with some intense TLC, the legs are improving, and we are planning another ride asap on this little gem of a route. It’s a great little find, so close to home, and yet far removed from the hectic pace of Springvale Road/Beach Road/Whitehorse Road/Maroondah Highway. Even the 1/20 and Dandenongs have become Bourke St Mall on a post-Christmas sale day, so it's great to find an alternative to keep the motivation engaged.