Friday, 23 March 2007

IP Minus 2

Met with Coach last night, discussed final preparations, equipment, tactics etc. I am all set to go, except now I am not totally sure if I’ll be riding the Avanti or…. The TESCHNER!!!!!!!! Yes, a miracle could happen. I spoke with Teschner directly yesterday, and am having forks (with alloy steerer) and an offset seat post shipped to me. The plan is they should arrive today. If they do, then it will be a late night tonight building up the Teschner, so I can train on it tomorrow at DISC. If they don’t arrive then I’ll be on the Avanti on Monday and who knows on Wednesday for the TT and scratch race.

Much discussion was had last night, working out the best way to build up the Teschner, whilst keeping the Avanti as the back up. Originally the plan was take all the gear I have put on the Avanti over the last 12 or so months, and put it on the Teschner. That makes things messy and tiresome if it happens that, after building up the Teschner, it needs tweaking too much, and/or I am not comfortable or confident on it, and I need to revert to a (gearless) Avanti. So Mr Legs has offered his running gear to put on the Teschner, leaving the Avanti intact for a painless reversion if required. I don’t want to be stressing out about bike set up 1-2 days out from Nationals. It should be a straightforward set up, as I have measurements etc ready to set the Teschner up by. Let’s see if the courier can deliver the goodies to my door in time.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

State of women's track racing

Women's track racing (elite/open and masters) is "marginal" in numbers, and I think it's about time some heads from those currently racing, clubs and Cyclesport Victoria got together to start to address this, looking at what barriers exist for women to race, providing pathways into racing, and pathways to progress the racing and racing careers of those currently on the boards, for sustainability and longevity of the sport for women. Sponsorship (individual and event-based) is always a key, and addressing the male centredness and domination of the sport on the boards and organisationally are ways of helping to open access for women. Women need to be surveyed to find out what they want from track racing, what events they enjoy and which ones they don't (and why), what would make track racing more attractive, and what prevents them from racing (and what puts them off). Attitudes also need to change, and women's racing accepted for what it is. We don't race like men but we shouldn't be asked to race like Lehdeez either.

Racing women also have a responsibility to 1) event organisers 2) audiences and track fans 3) clubs including CSV, to race to the best of their ability on the day, act professionally as track racers and to find out what clubs, CSV and event organisers expect and want from them regarding racing.

CSV provides opportunities for women to come and try track, but what happens after? What avenues are made available to those women wanting to follow up and continue? What opportunities are offered to more experienced women for developing experience and skills (including workshops on gaining sponsorship, organising events etc)? Riders are expected to fend for themselves, finding a club, finding a decent coach, getting correct skills training (mainly gained by experience racing - not an effective way to learn), entering and turning up for the first time. In a male dominated sport where often the attitude can be mysoginistic, intimidating and overwhelming it can be difficult to find help and have questions answered. Buddy and mentor systems help overcome some of these issues, and the organisation of these things can be facilitated and achieved via a Women's forum or Commission (similar to the Masters Commission). Results and outcomes will not happen overnight, or within a season, and time must be given to allow achievement of positive outcomes. It will be a long hard slog, and I think the time has come to start that slog, so that women's track cycling can develop and strengthen, for the benefit of competitors, and the industry and the sport of cycling.

IP minus 5

Rolling the legs over on the trainer last night, I started thinking about the actuality of racing the IP next week. I realised I hadn't done a pursuit pace effort for a few weeks, so tried to remember what exactly that feels like, what a 17 second standing start 200m feels like (ie not fast), what it feels like to keep the cadence even and steady, to hold back and keep control for the first 2 laps. The memory was too vague, so I set the bike up, set the trainer up, and gave myself a "practice" run. I did it without blowing up, and finished with gas to spare, and was able to lift the pace over the final 30 seconds of my effort. Whilst the real thing on Monday will be different (I'll have aero gear on, be riding in circles not a going nowhere fast straight line, different resistance with boards underneath the rubber and a fixed gear not a freewheel) it gave me the mental boost and reassurance I needed. Yeeha ! bring it on!

I thought I'd be more nervous by now, but instead I am excited, when I think about gearing up, carrying the bike over to the gate, settling onto the bike and waiting for the countdown and release. I am in the very lucky position that I will do a PB (unless disaster strikes).

Looking at the entry list, I pick that there will be 2 standouts and the remaining 5 of us will be around the same mark, so it should be quite competitive. Last year there were NO WMAS3 racing, so it's fantastic to see the entries this year.

Monday, 19 March 2007

1 Week to IP Day

In 7 days I will have done my heat for the IP at National Masters. With last week's training a bit of a disaster (no speed work, no Vo2max efforts, no power work, save for Wednesday night and 2 short efforts Saturday), it's time to regroup, consider what's left of this week (and include some kind of useful taper) and set up some quality training for the next 3 days. Coach is back from Junior Nationals in Sydney today, so I will catch up with him and rework my training with his guidance. Fortunately the plan has always been for Nationals to be a training run, with the serious business happening at Worlds in October, so we may even train right up to the end of the week, with a 3 day taper for Monday.

Still no aero bars. Hopefully my new LAS aero helmet will arrive this week. I might even paint my nails to match on the day.

Welcome to Vodafone

Australian Madison Champs

After feeling like a chewed up spat out bit of reject that the cat found under the fridge for the last week, I actually made it to Vodafone on Saturday for the final meet of the season (Australian Madison Champs), and my first time on the famous boards. After entering, I spent the next 2 weeks wondering what the hell I had done, but with TPG’s words of wisdom ringing in my ears (“I will see you racing”) I rocked up early, ready to settle in, warm up and have some fun.

Several colleagues told me that Vodafone was just like DISC, but faster: a sprinter’s track, with DISC being an enduro’s track. The straights are shorter and bends wider (and the bends also lack the hump that DISC has, so no nasty hills) which makes for a fast track. Apparently Dunc Grey is very similar to Vodafone. Think I’ll be enjoying that!

After checking the program – event 5 a scratch race, and event 8 a kierin, I jotted down my gearing for each in the program (nerves likely to wipe my memory and any rational thinking I may have setting up the bike), then went out for a 20 minute spin on the boards before it got too crowded. The track felt slick and smooth, with the lawnmower smell of the dernies each pass of the back straight. The tyres hummed and I settled into the bike, adjusting to the lights, checking out the empty grandstand, and letting myself relax into the vibe of the place. 45 minutes later I went out for my second warm up, on my race wheels, which are skinnier and more twitchy in the bike than my training wheels. This time there were more people on the track, but I still managed 2 wind ups to get a good feel for the track.

6.50pm and the whistle blew to clear the track. Event 1 was off and running and I felt ill, very ill, and the nerves began to paralyse my shoulders and chest. Focus, concentrate, relax, it’s just another race. Event 4 - time to get ready. Helmet on, shoes on, pick up the bike and roll around, line up on the rail. No one speaks, we all stare ahead, like gladiators preparing to battle each other. No more chitchat and jokes here on the fence, it’s down to business.

The Scratch Race

We roll up the ramp onto the apron, getting the group organised and when we hit the home straight for the second time the whistle blows and we are off, rolling around, gaining momentum, swapping half-lap turns. Lap 6 and the big guns off the front jump, everyone stands and stomps, except me. I know I have missed the jump because I stayed seated. But I am not alone off the back, and I get onto Kate Perry’s wheel. She keeps sliding up the track a little, and I follow, sticking to her like a fly to sticky paper. Then I realise she wants me to take a turn. I decide to let her drag us both back onto the bunch, finally taking the front as we near the back of the bunch, 3 laps after we were dropped. Afterwards, I realised we should have hit the bunch then, as they had slowed to recover from the attack and wouldn’t have been expecting us. I don’t remember if I had any legs at that stage, but I do remember thinking thank god they had slowed, knowing well enough there would be another attack in another lap or 2. When the girls hit again, that was race over for me, pushing the gear out as fast as I could but needing more metal to roll over. Coming off the apron onto the down ramp was as hard as the race itself – I had no legs to control the pedals and, catching my toe in the front wheel, nearly ended up down in the tunnel underneath. What a good way to start a racing career at Vodafone – crashing into the tunnel, the ultimate gumby.

The Kierin

With a sprint derby and a 10 lap scratch race between our first race and the next, there was no time to change gears and keep the body warm on the rollers, so I opted to keep the legs turning over. Mistake. Lining up for the kierin, my pusher gave me a terrific start ( many thanks!) but I hesitated momentarily, not used to the clamouring for position behind the bike. I jumped over to 3rd wheel, but looking down into the sprinter’s lane, saw that spot filled. So I decided to hang out in the breeze, snuggled alongside 3rd wheel proper, wanting to keep that spot, and interested to see how long I’d last out of the draft. The pace was slow to start, with the derny easing us up to speed. 3rd wheel wasn’t too happy about me sitting above her, and kept flicking baby hooks at me. Some I rolled up a small way from, only to come straight back down again, others I ignored. I kept a cheeky grin to myself – track racing is as much about body and space confidence as fitness. I was teaching myself to cope with the little tricks of the game, trying something new while I had the opportunity. The derny rolled off on the backstraight with 2.5 laps to go. By corner 3 I was up on the blue line, out of the saddle (at last!!) winding it up. In the middle of the bend, I reacted instinctively and jumped on the bunch, hitting the lead and winding it out. They stayed off me for a bit, but I knew I would end up towing them through the bell lap. Had I had the bigger gear on, I could have leapt away a bit harder, gained a little more space on the girls. On the back straight of the final lap, the girls swept passed me, and I rolled home, happy with my effort, frustrated by my lack of gear, and wanting more race time on the boards.

Lessons learnt: use a bigger gear! Especially if there is no time between races to change the gear. Rollers are good!! Vodafone is fun!!!. Push your limits, put yourself in where you don’t want to be and learn to pick where you should be. Be more assertive in the bunch – take ownership of where you want to be. Choose a bigger gear. The off-ramp is steeper than it looks. It’s cool when someone yells out your name from the infield bar (hmm..sounds like Carl!). Ride a bigger gear. Vodafone is cleaner than DISC. Put on a bigger gear.

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Midweek Score

Me: 1 Virus: 1

I managed to do half the Wednesday night training session quite well. Not quite up to my normal standard but not far off (I doubt anyone else could tell, to be honest). Then coming into the final lap of a 2nd, 4 lap teams pursuit effort with a couple of young speedygals up front, I drove my car into a double brick wall at full speed, and fell into a large hole that magically opened up on the boards for me. I sat down for a bit, had something to drink, felt like throwing up. I didn't recover. I missed the next effort, lay down on the bowlers green grass carpet. I was sure I was going to throw up. I didn't recover. I packed up and went home. Game over, a draw.

So the score: the first half of the evening was positive and I was nearly back to full swing. 2nd half of the evening it all fell apart and the thinks-it's-so-clever virus wrestled back control. Nothing is straightforward or black and white. If the whole session had been crap, simple. If the whole session had been good, simple. But instead it was about limits, and mine was halfway. At least I can cope with being on the bike now. Will take it easy until Saturday night - Aust Madison Champs night, and my first ever hit out on the Vodafone boards.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

What pisses Mr Legs off


When I set the alarm for anytime between 4 am and 5 am, then reset the alarm for 6am, being 1) too tired to get up and train 2) too sore to get up and train from yet another gym session or track session 3) it's too windy, too cold, too dark (can't be too wet, we are in a drought) 4) in the middle of a perfectly good dream featuring Jan Ullrich and a colnago 5) just feel like crap.

I do it nearly every working day. Why is that?

Image used without permission. Copyright David De Gama www.digitalsportsimages.com Visit it! Buy photos!

The Salt Mine

A track colleague ( a true track pixie godmother of women's masters racing) is going for the hour record in her division at World Masters this year. I had an email from her this morning, signed off with "Salt mine ahoy!".

I hadn't given much thought to the hour record before chatting with TrackPixieGodmother (TPG). So I imagine a pursuit or a kilo TT but, well, longer. More time to think, more time to for your saddle to turn into a housebrick, more time for the aero position to get nasty on you, more time to lose focus, talk to the abducting aliens and convince them to come back in about half an hour, more time to get bored. I hadn't considered that last one until TPG raised it. I get bored doing Glenvale Crit! It also means revising & renewing mental and physical training, new equipment, modifying existing equipment, to last the distance when the clock is ticking.

Behind that final hour are many many months of hauling gourmet, regular, flaked, crystalised, iodised, sea, lake, value-added, sweated salt out of the pit, so that on the day, it looks "easy" (that one will come back to bite me I am sure!). Last night I had a salt mine ride, keeping it under the radar so that Ms Confidence Grunger stayed in her box. How many salt mine rides make a pursuit, or an hour TT? Enough so that on the day, the salt mine is a familiar old friend of a place. How do you handle a salt mine ride? Lick it and see, grind it out on chips, or bury yourself in the pit, and finish up crusty? Just don't get it in your eyes, it ruins your vision :-)


WORKING IN A COALMINE

Devo


WELL I BEEN WORKIN' IN A COAL MINE
GOIN' DOWN DOWN
WORKIN' IN A COAL MINE
WHEW ABOUT TO SLIP DOWN
FIVE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNIN'
I'M UP BEFORE THE SUN
WHEN MY WORK DAY IS OVER
I'M TOO TIRED FOR HAVIN' FUN
LORD I AM SO TIRED
HOW LONG CAN THIS GO ON
I BEEN WORKIN' GOIN' WORKIN'
WHEW ABOUT TO SLIP DOWN

Monday, 12 March 2007

Two weeks til IP Day

After some great training over the last few weeks (despite the performance at Leongatha), feeling stronger and more confident about being a pursuiter, I fell in a heap at the end of last week. I took Saturday off, and rolled around Sunday for a short, light leg spinner after trying a couple of pretty horrid efforts at the track. Two weeks out from Nationals, and the panic wants to dance around crumping on my nerves. I know what I have to do, but little Ms Confidence Grunger (you know the one – you will lose fitness, you will lose speed, you haven’t trained enough,. blah blah yeah yeah…) is trying her hardest to blow my best plans for recovery from whatever virus thing is trying to knock my wheels off. The plan now is for a couple of light days on the bike, test Wednesday to see what my body can cope with. If I hold up to Wednesday night training, then I will do some quality training through to next Wednesday, to polish up for Nationals, then taper for the IP on Monday. If not, more rest until Friday then test again. Repeat.

That’s the plan….. let’s see who wins :-)

Friday, 9 March 2007

Trackbeastie


Last night I picked up my new track bike, ordered late January -well the main part of it ie the frame and the fork. The seatpost I need is .. well .. out of stock, thanks to the frame shipping with a zero offset seatpost, which would put me in an illegal position over the bottom bracket Being vertically efficient, I could probably get away with it, but who wants to argue with Commissaires at National Champs?

I also have a set of pursuit bars coming, to match the bike. I hope these will be in the shop next week sometime. Masters Nationals are in 2 and a bit weeks and I NEED those aero bars NOW!!!!!!!!!! not having ridden on aero bars since my duathlon days, and certainly not on the track.

So, almost there but not quite. Trackbeastie is still in its protective travel clothes, lying on the kitchen table, and me practicing my inner zen qualities - patience gwasshoppa.

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Sweet machines


Image used without permission: Photo ©: James Huang/Cyclingnews.com



The latest on the North American hand Made Bicycle Show, courtesy of cyclingnews.com

Ignoring the labels of "track bike" attached to fixies with a front brake (wah!!??) there are some special bikes and plenty of bling amongst this lot:

http://www.cyclingnews.com/tech/2007/shows/nahmbs07/?id=results/nahmbs072

Check out the moo machine (see above) and the Roark gleamer - my favourites in this lot.

So I drool and admire whilst I patiently wait for my own new speed machine to be race ready.

Monday, 5 March 2007

An evening in the country

Leongatha Track Carnival

(Open track carnival and S.T.A.R. event)


The forecast for Saturday evening was a cool change and showers. The Leongatha locals know that when it’s Carnival time, it will rain that weekend, so they start spreading fertiliser, and make sure the hay is in. Although the clouds visited, they fulfilled no promises and racing was fierce and entertaining. (I hope the fertilizer doesn't blow away).

The women had 6 races (8 if you made it through to the finals of the kierin and sprint derby). This is a massive amount of racing compared to the usual 2 or 3 races offered to women at Open events.

Second race of the senior’s meet (juniors raced in the afternoon) was a 12 lap women’s handicap pointscore. Being the least performed rider, I was on 12 points. Great! All I had to do was win a sprint, according to my partner, soigny, & mech Mr Legs. Never mind the wind blowing it’s little lungs out down the home straight right at us! Or that my legs were pancaked from a heavy week of training. Or the quality of the field around me….

At the gun I was jockeying for position at the back of the pack, when a touch of wheels sent a shockwave through the pack as we went through corner 1. We hadn’t done a lap and adrenaline was sparking. Fortunately I managed to pull my front wheel out of the way of one of the Malaysian girl’s back wheel as she pulled up the track clear of the girl in front of her.

I managed to stay with the bunch for the first sprint, falling off the back a little, but working my way back on. 3 more laps and then the big accelerators hit the juice and it was game over for me, lap 6. I and a few others time trialled, watching the main bunch from the other side of the paddock for the next 5 laps, whilst fighting an increasing headwind. Race over, and I wondered how the hell I was going to make it through another 5 races.

Next up was an 8 lap B grade scratch race, followed one race later by an 800m handicap. Great! Less than 10 minutes recovery between races. Tie me up and beat me with a dead, warm jellyfish. The B grade scratch was nothing to write home about. Once again, the girls hit the metal, and I fell off the back of the bus. Had the torque but not the jump to keep up with them. Came in a close last. The only redemption was that the Chief Handicapper reduced it to a 6 lapper for us.

The 800m handicap was my only chance at a place. I was off limit at 120m, with the next girl 20m behind. I would gun it like a 500m TT with an extra 300m for pure pursuiting pleasure. At the gun I hammered it for most of the lap, sitting down when the gear was well and truly running. One lap down and I was still in front, with no idea of where the girls were behind me. I wasn’t game to waste time looking. Halfway through the second lap, I was still on my own. About to hit corner 3 before the home straight for the finish line and I realised, I am winning this bloody thing! Seconds later I saw the first of the girls come past. Ah, here they come I think. But I tell myself not to back off (I am notorious for backing off when I am passed), so I kept the legs churning. There were only 3 of them –middlemarkers. Fourth was mine, as I entered the home straight. Then the legs lost all power and the only thing turning the cranks over is pure momentum. Out of the corner of my right eye I see a wheel, so I demand my legs to keep turning. The wheel slipped past mine and over the finish line. I get 5th by fractions of a wheel. I was totally spent, and I have no idea how I walked the 3 metres from the track gate to the “grandstand” seats. Eventually I crawled to the car, wondering if I would ever recover in time for the next race, the 2000m handicap.

About 40 minutes (thanks to a tea break!) we were up for the 2000m handicap. Again I was off limit at 260m, with the next girl 40m behind me. I still hadn’t recovered from the 800m but at least the alien visitors had moved camp and weren’t bugging me any more. I didn’t go out as hard, but still spent a fair bit of time being solo bunny out the front. After a couple of laps, the girls started to catch me, in small bunches, gathering together into a larger bunch. I let them pass, knowing I had 2 more races to deal with.

The Kierin was fun, but again, when the derny pulled off, and the Formula 1 girls put it into 6th gear, I was stuck in 5th not able to jump. Last race was Heat 2 of a 4 up sprint derby. This event was new to me, and I was against some very fast contenders. My only "chance" was to go early. Three of us were lined up coming out of Corner 2, lap 1. Jessica Berry looked like she was about to wind it up, and 3 pairs of eyes were watching her. Suddenly a little voice said stuff it, go now! So with eyes on the other 2 front runners, I got out of the seat and floored it. I don’t think they were too pleased hehe. It didn’t take long for them to catch me and settle in on my wheel, letting me drive the bus for the next lap. I was happy to set the pace, knowing I wouldn’t have the revs to go with them to the finish. Down the back straight of the final lap, they took off, Jess Berry claiming first place with one of my training buddies Liv “Glucko” Gluckowski in second. It was the fastest heat of the women’s sprint derbies.

It was a great carnival, lots of atmosphere, with a small fan club banging on the rails for me each time I rode round, with another cheer squad from Warragul CC on the other side of the track. The men’s racing was hard and fast, with the highlight for me seeing the 3 guys, Masahiro Watanabe, Ken Ichiyama and Kazuya Nagae, from Japan having a total ball. Their over the top enthusiasm and excitement is what track racing is all about; not winning or losing but having a good hard crack and finishing with a grin dialled across your face despite the pain and oxygen depletion.