Friday, 28 September 2007

I once was a woman

Apparently, registration numbers for World Masters is 423, 3 up on last year's figures, with 24 pages of starting list. A very quick flick through shows approximately 24 entrants in my division with about 11 domestic women.

I got to the end of page 24, and realised I hadn't seen my own entry. I used the M/F column as my search flag, then date of birth for counting 40 - 49 yr olds. I flicked back through the pages, scrolling through the M surnames. Yup, there I am, listed as male. I have emailed the organisers with a polite but terse message noting that I entered the women's division, as a birthed woman, and wish to remain a woman in the women's division. Sigh....

On another note, Janet Birkmyre and Annette Hanson seem not to have entered. This will ease some pressure off Michelle King for gold in the 500m TT but I know she will still be battling for those precious 100ths of a second for a World Best time.

Weekly track race report

Racing last night was interesting. I knew I was still tired from Tuesday night’s training but felt bright. I decided to use a slightly larger gear (one that last year would have been my usual gear) for the scratch race. It gave me the extra speed I needed to keep up with the bunch, but at jump time in the last couple of laps, I had nothingin the legs to wind it up with, and was left out the back like a footy scarf hanging out the back window. The larger gear meant I also had to change the way I rode. D grade is frequently surgey, and I had to minimise my responses to those surges to save draining my legs. Not that it made that much difference.

As soon as I got off the track, I changed back down to my current usual gear for the pointscore. Much better! I had hatched a little idea pre-race, and decided that after the 1st sprint, I’d hit them for a breakaway, just for something to do. Well I did just that, but should have waited as the bunch hadn’t really slowed as much as they often do, and as I was stealthily (no laughing Coach!) rolling over the top of the bunch high in the first bend, Little Ms Bluebarger on the front of the line started swivelling her head around like a searchlight hunting out a rabbit. Crap. Nothing to do but go for it as we rolled into the back straight. But I wasn’t fully convinced, knowing the Bluebarger would be on to me quick as. Half a lap later I looked behind and the bunch weren’t as far away as I would have liked. And then I blew up. Game over, round 2.

Round 3 Motorpace time. No gear change, as my legs were rapidly becoming non-functional. I was happy enough with my positioning behind the bike, and as there were less in the bunch than lap numbers, knew we’d roll through a couple of times, so had no need to bluff my way back into the middle of the pack. The final few laps revved up into my how-much-hurt-are-you-up-for-tonight zone. I spent 2 laps thinking yes/no/yes/no/yes/no until I thought one too many no’s and dropped off the back (just as I was thinking bugger it, yes!). A strong lesson in indecision, for which I got an A, and a DNF with one lap to go.

Overall I was happy with how I performed. I know where I went wrong, and was cranky at myself for not being more assertive at times, but my endurance, strength and speed are improving, slowly but surely. It's interesting to observe how A grade race compared to us. The A graders give themselves room to move, and are steady and smooth which results in (usually) safer racing.

Last night’s D grade bunch consisted of the regulars plus 2 new gals: a handy young woman from Brunswick and the aforementioned Little Ms Bluebarger. Bluebarger was getting a bad rep very quickly for forcing people down off the track and chopping wheels out, beginning in the scratch race and continuing througout the night. I had a few words to say to her mid-race, which were met with an up yours response. Her antics across all three races made the racing antsy for all concerned, and she copped an earful several times over the night. Driving home, I realised she was a girl I had played sticky fly with during a kieren at Vodafone last season. I sat on her hip until the bike came off, sticking to her like a pesky fly. She kept swinging hooks at me, but I’d simply roll up just out of reach, then roll back down into place on her hip as she settled back down behind the derny. She was clearly unhappy with my persistence during that race, although I did give her a nice lead out in the end. Maybe it was payback time, but as I keep saying, it’s only D grade for goodness sake! Deliberately putting everyone in danger is a pathetic way to win. Sure racing is aggressive, but D grade is easy game and a soft target. You wanna play on the road, go play with the trucks and 4wds in C grade honey. Now I have an ambition to giver her a taste of her own, cos I don’t think she will like it, so after Worlds will go get me some schooling in Bitchracing 101.

A highlight last night was watching a couple of the Malaysian national team guys racing A grade. One in particular (and I wish I knew who he was) poured on the speed to win the scratch race in excellent style. It was one of the fastest finishing sprints I have seen on a Thursday night.

Road Politics

This week UCI announced that the 2010 World Road Championships would be held in Victoria. And there is a glossy brochure to prove it.

The potentialities (dontchya love that word??) for cycling locally, for cycling in general, for promoting cycling on all kinds of levels to all kinds of demographics (including feral car drivers who think we are all front grill fodder) are tremendous, not to mention the tourist revenue potential for all concerned. For me, just to be able to see very elite level competition will be real buzz and learning experience.

Also this week there has been a LONG, considered and thoughtful thread on the BV forums regarding public (road user) education regarding cyclists’ use of the road. Bottom line from this thread is the questioning of what BV is/should be doing to lobby appropriate organisations/parties to work with them (eg VicRoads, local and state government) on educative processes and campaigns designed to familiarise all road users with cyclists’ rights and responsibilities, and general consideration and practice for the safety of all road users. How is this relevant to the 2010 World Road Champs? I suspect that with increased fuel prices, higher road congestion, and an increased uptake of cycling as a recreational and utilitarian activity (eg commuting) more people will pay attention to the World Champs, not just as another major sporting event, but as an inspirational event to motivate their own personal cycling. Or maybe I am just a racing tragic? Either way, gaining the World Champs shows that cycling is important to Melbourne and Victoria, and an educational campaign for all road users on cyclists as legitimate road users would be another way to tie into the World Champs, that is, the World Champs would make an excellent platform for educational campaigns. More importantly, it would indicate the social, financial, politicial, ethical and moral commitment public authorities have to community, to public health and safety, which includes safe road use and the promotion of healthy lifestyles.

PS I should note that CSV President Klaus Meuller was quoted in a recent Leader newspaper article as saying that the State Government should provide a public awareness campaign on road dangers for cyclists. CSV is stepping up to the plate.

PPS The same article quoted a VicRoads spokesperson commenting on the Share the Road Campaign: “The Share the Road campaign encourages cyclists and motorists to share the road.” No kidding. I just love insightful, hard-core journalism.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

19 training sessions to go

Entries have now closed for World Masters and there is officially less than 3 weeks 'til racing. My first event is the 500m TT on Tuesday Oct 16, sometime after 1 pm. Personally I’d prefer the IP to be up front of the schedule, as I have to work hard at controlling the start of the IP, whereas I can rip loose with the TT. So to start off with ripping loose then having to bring it back the next day will be challenging. I think I’ll be spending a lot of time in a darkened quiet room after the TT mentally rehearsing a fully controlled roll out of the IP gate and steadying into the next 4 laps.

The next 3 weeks of training is highly structured to keep the pursuit and intensity efforts going right up until the weekend before Worlds, but with increasing recovery, reduced volume and some peak workouts just before the event. I am also counting down my weights workouts, so that my final session will be 10-12 days out from Oct 16, allowing plenty of time for my legs to recover and recuperate. I am also getting (more) precious about whom I ride and socialise with and when and where, ensuring I get plenty of sleep, that my diet is spot on and my legs are well cared for. The girls at work want to get a team together for a “10 000 steps” walking program and of course asked me, knowing that I am into fitness. When I flatly refused they were understandably shocked. They didn’t quite get that an hour’s walk at lunch every day was not good for my legs! I’ve also, ironically, managed to get out of Ride to Work Day.

Revised date for Vic Masters Track 2008

CSV has released the final version of the Summer Calendar. With it comes a change of date for the Vic Masters Track champs from early January to late March, one month out from National Masters Track. I am still deciding if 1) the revised date to March is a Good Thing and 2) being one month out from Nationals is a Good Thing.

I don't mind the later date (although racing very early January off the back of the Xmas Carnivals with some rest days in between is a Useful Thing for priming for States) but I am not sure about then only having four weeks to recover, refocus and revise strategies, techniques, fitness levels for Nationals. It's going to be a long peak, with the Vic Masters Titles the final major event of the local track season. It will to take some careful management to squeeze a bit more fitness in with enough recovery and freshening up before Nationals. It means no down time after States, with States being just another race meet on the Calendar, rather than a major focus. Coach knows his stuff though, and we'll get to Sydney in April with bells on.

Summer is on its way and browsing the new Calendar, I am really looking forward to this season. Coach is discussing upcoming regular training sessions on the track and I can't wait. It will be a change from the long slog and drudge of winter training in the freezing cold and gloom. I enjoy the social aspect of track training, and immediate feedback from training buddies and Coach, and I wonder how I ever really dealt with the solitude of duathlon training and racing years ago.

The Christmas Carnivals across Horsham, Maryborough and Bendigo (Ararat has opted for a separate date this season) are great fun, with an excellent atmosphere and camaraderie. Being on the road for a few days allows you to pretend for a bit that you're a (self-sponsored) professional trackie, following the circuit, living out of a bag, a car and a borrowed or rented room/floor space. This year I hope to sneak in a side trip to the Grampians, and/or a couple of winery visits driving between towns, but I am not sure about wine-tasting the morning before a meet....

Monday, 24 September 2007

UK Masters Track Champs Results

The UK Masters Track Champs have come and gone over the weekend. Of interest to me were the 500m TT and IP in the Women's Category 2 (40 -49 yrs).

Janet Birkmyre won gold 500m TT with a 38.14. Second place was 3 seconds down, and 3rd 4.09 seconds down in 42.23. Janet was also the fastest woman across all three women’s categories for the TT.

In yesterday’s IP Janet Birkmyre again topped the Cat 2 women in 2: 46, 2nd place in 2: 55 and 3rd in 3.01.

The Brit Champs were raced on an outdoor velodrome, as were the USA Masters. Times will be quicker at Dunc Grey, so competition will be very stiff, considering these times are not dissimilar to those at the Aust Nationals ridden at DISC this year.

The Magic Reality of Frocking Up

After my disked up efforts yesterday Mr Legs made a comment: “Why don’t you ride like that all the time?”

“Like what?”

“With such determination and focus – I haven’t seen you ride like that since Nationals.”

I just shrugged and offered an excuse: “Dunno, maybe cos Coach is here?” I didn’t really know why it was different, or even recognised that I had ridden “differently”. I just did what I had to do.

But reading Mike’s Sunday update in the Goldie Blog this morning made me realise: getting frocked up in a party dress and wheels makes it real. Mike commented: “Doing a trial on Friday so will see where I am at but this won't change how I ride on the 16th October as the real thing brings something out in you.”

Yesterday's efforts on the race wheels were points in time when all the training I've been doing started to coalesce, become real, have substance. It was about fine-tuning technique, making mistakes and correcting them now rather than in 22 days time. It was for real, a moment of truth, so that when the real thing is finally now, I will know for real what I can do, and go and do it, for real.

22 Days and (kinda) counting

That’s what it says on the World Masters Track site. So far the nerves haven’t kicked in, but now when I begin to count down the weeks (3) and days left, thinking about missed training, fatigued legs, what I should have done, what I could have done, I get a bit edgy, a bit anxious, a bit nervy. Then I switch to thinking about setting myself in the start gate, kitted and frocked up, ready to roll, then feel the drum of the disc wheel on the boards and the echo of my breathing in the IAS aero helmet and I get excited. Fortunately I have been inside Dunc Grey, and although I haven’t ridden its boards, I am told its very similar to Vodafone. I can readily develop a strong image of the feel of the building, the layout of the infield, the smells, the curve of the boards and width of the banking and straights.

Had a Big Day in my nix yesterday. Rode to DISC taking the direct route after deciding that riding Beach Rd in the ever fattening northerly would not be a nice thing for my whinging legs to endure. So I wimped out and took the bike path. Did a 10km warm up on the boards then some lead outs with the boys, and some 500m TT runs. The group was small and friendly and everyone worked in well together – no crossing paths betweens sprinters doing flying 200s, enduros doing laps and pursuiters boring around the bottom.

After lunch, Coach rocked up with wheels bags and tool boxes and pump. Mini Coach and Coach got to work swapping wheels out, discussing pursuit talk, track business, training dates, and then Coach handed me the frocked up bike, discs front and back, 88 on the drivetrain. Rolled around to get the feel of disc up front then did a couple of standing start efforts. Too slow off the mark then too fast in the second lap – blow up scenario. I found the front disc ok but was wary of every little wobble or shimmy that sprang off it. Back onto the concrete and the Dynamic Coaching Duo did a quick swap out on the front wheel for me, and wacked in a shiny shamal. A bit of a discussion about position, technique and technical aspects and then I rolled around and instantly felt the difference – this was one wheel that I could muscle around if the bike drifted or shook its booty if I stuffed up a line. A couple of more starts, more controlled, but still too slow off the mark and too fast in the second lap, but improved on the earlier starts. So now we’ve decided on the wheel combo and I’ll train on those for the next few weekends, nailing the start and the first few laps into a controlled, contained wind up so I don’t nail my butt to a brick wall on lap 4/5.

I got off the bike, a quick drink and straight into 3 hours of Session 1 of the inaugral Women’s Track Skills Program. Joe Schibeci took the lead and his professionalism shone through and set the tone for the afternoon. There was a mixed bag of confidences and skill levels but I am sure the girls will quickly develop and become more confident on the track. Yesterday’s session was a get to know one another, get to know the DISC track and settle into the routine of the program. The afternoon went very well, finishing off with standing starts, with the girls also practicing holding one another on the line. A big thanks to Nicole Holt, David James, Brad Robins, Gary Jennings and Joe S for helping out coaching and supporting the girls. There are another 6 weeks in the program and I really looking forward to seeing the girls progress through, and hearing their thoughts on what worked and what didn’t in the final wrap up.

Friday, 21 September 2007

And some more get to suck it in

From Today's Cyclingnews:

Sydney needs asthma volunteers for study

The University of Sydney (faculty of Health Science) and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital are conducting a research study on the effect of beta 2-agonists on exercise-induced asthma (EIA) in endurance trained people, and are looking for asthmatic athletes to participate in the study.

While numerous studies have highlighted the increased prevalence of exercise-induced asthma (EIA) in endurance-trained athletes, a condition which involves the use of inhaled b2-agonists bronchodilators, several studies, as well as clinical observations, report that daily use of b2-agonists bronchodilators might lead to tolerance to the protective effects of these drugs.

Tolerance can lead to delayed recovery from broncho-constriction. In an effort to improve understanding of the effect of chronic use of inhaled b2-agonists bronchodilators in EIA in the athletic population, researchers at the University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (Sydney) are conducting a study to determine the effects of different types of inhaled beta 2-agonists on bronchial reactivity.

Interested athletes 18 years of age or older who train a minimum of three times a week, and are currently taking asthma medications, are invited to participate. Participants will have access to some fundamental data regarding their asthma, including full lung function assessment as well as results of a bronchial challenge test. This information may assist in improving the control of their asthma.

All testing will be conducted at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Department of Respiratory Medicine. Subjects will be given some financial support at the successful completion of the study.

For further information or to be included in the study please, contact the researchers: Dr Corinne Caillaud ( or Clare Perry ( or (02) 9515 6121).

Suck it in

Well, it’s real and absolutely official – I do have exercise induced asthma. I did a bronchial challenge test yesterday afternoon in the Respiratory Lab at Royal Melbourne, and had the results analysed and interpreted this morning by my (new) sports physician who is a leading expert in exercise induced asthma.

The challenge test yesterday, very simply, was sucking treated air out of a very large balloon and breathing it back out through a meter. The more air you breathe, the more reliable the peak flow tests that are performed after you empty the balloon. The post-balloon emptying peak flow tests suggest that there is more going on than just asthma, although there is a definite indication of asthma in the tests. So whilst I can churn through a large volume of air, I don’t do it as efficiently and effectively as a fit racing cyclist should (well, that’s my understanding of what the doc said this morning).

An issue I had with the testing is that the balloon test is meant to replicate the hardest workout you’d ever do. For me, it was about 80% of the hardest workout. If I rode a pursuit at that rate, I’d be very disappointed that I didn’t ride hard enough. I did enough yesterday (after having some initial pace-setting from the test administrator) to well and truly pass the test, with an “A” on the report card for balloon emptying.

So more testing is scheduled. Week after next I am back in the Doc’s room, on my trainer, pumping out pursuit efforts so she can see what’s going on, how I actually breathe, and what happens at various stages of exercise. Hopefully, with regular use of a preventer (one I have used with only partial success in the past) and some breathing training, I can get some real control over the asthma, so it doesn’t come visiting when I need to be breathing free.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

I finally get it...

A Handicapped parking sign does not signify that this spot is for handicapped people. It is actually in fact a warning, that the spot belongs to Chuck Norris and that you will be handicapped if you park there.

Launch of Revolution Summer Track Series

Cotter Pin is launching their Revolution Summer Track Series on Monday Oct 8 over a breakfast shindig at DISC. There will be live crossovers with the Today Show, lots of media and cycling celebs in attendance, perhaps even me. Oh, and Anna Meares and Ryan Bayley. Maybe I can get them to autograph the same arm that Baden Cooke and Shane Kelly signed.

Sounds like the Cotter Pin folk have big plans for creating an entertainment package for their 4 race program. I hope they also provide some decent, accessible racing for local riders. I suspect that with the plan to get in big name, international track stars, it will be to the detriment of the local guys and gals, who will not be able to access these events as they have in the past. Rumour has it that the "regular" support races to the big name events such as Melbourne Cup on Wheels will be held outside the normal program hours ie not at the same time as the signature race. Such action will not invigorate the local racing scene and will make for some cheesed off local riders who may decide to boycott these events. These races are highlights of the racing year for trackies, so to "lose" them by holding the support races at different times to the main event is not a good move for local racing. But I am sure the food and drink will be excellent!

Beryl Burton Champion of the World

Read the book, see the movie.

I had read in vague passing about Beryl Burton earlier this year when reading about Lynne Taylor's successful Lands End to John O'Groats and 1000 mile record attempts. Then cfsmtb jogged my memory in a comment on one of my posts, and off I went, merrily googling. Beryl's cycling achievements cover more than 25 years, making her one of the legends, not just of women's cycling, but international cycling. She won 15 World Championship medals, on the track (IP) as well as road, and dominated the UK women's all rounder championship for 25 consecutive years. Beryl was awarded and MBE and OBE in the 1960s. Unfortunately, she died, whilst out riding, just a few months short of her 60th birthday, of heart failure.

Her story and longevity fascinate me and I am now tracking down her autobiography, Personal Best.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Skinsuit shopping

As you do when you are meant to be working. Hey, I am eating lunch. But I have finally found THE skinsuit: Team Bikeman.

Sunday Parking

And on another note, it was nice to see the two Paralympic team wannabes hard at work on Sunday again. Mr Wrexi just might make the team for next year’s Paralympics in Beijing if he keeps up his parking and reading skills. He’s doing pretty well so far this month. I hope the wheelies who turned up to use the track after us didn't have to go to far to get a park, as the disabled parking was already in use.

Making the grade.

Another weekend down, checked off the calendar, two less work-free training days to Worlds. Twice this week I have had conversations with acquaintances about “where I am at” in terms of readiness for Worlds, times I am crunching, in other words, preparedness and am I going to medal. One colleague directly questioned where my times sit compared to my potential competition. The other track colleague just blankly stated I don’t know where I am at and I need to focus on my training more so I am ready for Worlds. Needless to say, I was a little gob-smacked at that one. But both comments got me to thinking…

Frankly I don’t care where my times are at compared to my competition. Compared to whom? Michelle King, Julie Barnett, Janet Birkmyre?? And whom ever else may or may not show. I didn’t have those King/Birkmyre/Barnett speeds and times 4 months ago at Nationals, why would I suddenly have them now? And if I did, send my to the ASADA suits straight away!! Worlds is about me, my own race, my own times, my PBs. But thanks for asking (and that’s pretty much the answer he got, although he really couldn’t compute it).

The second conversation I just said thanks for that and nodded politely. As I said, I was pretty gobsmacked by this observation from someone who doesn’t even know I have a coach, or my age group, let alone what training I am or am not doing. He only sees what he sees on a Sunday lunchtime, or Thursday night training, I mean, racing. I am at the Sunday session to play around with my bike set up, get used to the aerobars, support Mr Legs, and practice a few things like standing starts (controlled ones at that –so while I may be yelled at to “GO!GO!GO!” out of the blocks, I am aiming for an x seconds 250m and it doesn’t include “GO!GO!GO!”). By the time I get to the velodrome for Sunday play time, I have done anywhere between 40 – 95km. So when this same guy stridently urges me to get on the track to warm up, after being told I have ridden to the track, I just shake my head. Thanks but no thanks.

Both these guys probably mean well, but all they did was work to annoy the crap out of me by setting me up against their own standards. A little time away from their own agendas and asking about mine is all it takes. I do know where I am at. I know in the IP, that when I get to the 1km mark, if I have not let nerves and excitment take over and am sustaining the prescribed cadence, I’ll have enough juice in the tank to lift the last 2 laps and PB. Goal achieved. I know that I have the power and strength physically and mentally to PB in the TT, so long as I nail the start. And nail the start I will. I won’t crack, melt down, fail, lose the plot, give up, or do less than 110%. Goal achieved. I won’t be happy if I don’t PB, but I won’t cry about it either.

Friday, 14 September 2007

UK Masters Track in 1 week

The entries for the UK Masters track are now up. It seems that the UK suffers a similar lack of female competitors as we antipodeans (so perhaps we are not so antipodean in this regard at least). The biggest field (6) is in the 30 -34 yr olds. The average across the 10 yr age-groupings is about 8-9. The smallest fields are the 35-39 and 45 -49 groups with 3 each. 50+ has a field of 4. I am not sure if this is the norm in the motherland (well, my motherland - thanks Mum!) or if it's a result of the rescheduling of the event due to excessively inclement weather the Brits recently experienced.

Apparently World Masters entries in the women's categories (and men over 60) are precariously low. Entries close next Friday, and I can't see the internationals submitting last minute entries when there are flights & accommodation to book. Seems like this year may be a rest year for many of the northern hemisphereans. As a colleague said to me last night, perhaps it will be possible to gain a World Championship medal racing Nationals.

Animals get cancer too Lance.

From a number of news sources, this below from The Australian today (only because I thought it was a joke when I read it in the Hun):

Lance Armstrong Sues Animal Charity

from correspondents in Washington | September 14, 2007

THE Lance Armstrong Foundation set up by the former Tour de France champion to battle cancer is suing an animal charity in the US over dog and cat collars which resemble its yellow wristbands.

Armstrong, a cancer survivor, launched the yellow bands during the 2004 Tour bearing the words "Livestrong".

They became an instant success, and selling at $US1 ($1.20) each, have turned into a huge money-spinner for his foundation.

They have also become a sign of recognition for those fighting against cancer.

Armstrong always wears his, as does cancer-sufferer White House spokesman Tony Snow, along with many other personalities.

In court documents filed in Texas on Tuesday, the foundation (LAF) alleges that the Oklahoma-based Animal Charity Collar Group stole the idea in producing yellow dog and cat collars embossed with the words "Barkstrong" and "Purrstrong".

The animal collars which went on sale in 2005 "use the same colour, the same or similar materials, similar wording ... and similar fonts", the documents allege.

"Such confusion, mistake and deception are likely to cause irreparable harm to LAF," they said.

The foundation has sold some 65 million yellow "Livestrong" wristbands since they were launched three years ago and is asking for the animal charity to pay damages from the profits of the collars and to stop selling them.

Winning Legs #2

Raced at DISC again last night, with numbers slightly down overall. D grade was smaller with 2 Masters riders of renown promoting themselves to C grade (to avoid the mosquitoes I suspect!). The evening outside was beautifully balmy, even at 9.30pm. The missing chill was appreciated but didn’t stop my lungs feeling put upon and complaining about it. I was not recovered from training on Wednesday, plus last week’s virus is lingering. Ms Lisanne, a recent track convert, commented to me later in the evening that I looked tired out on the track. She was spot on. But the neat thing for me was that I actually didn’t race any worse than I have previously, which means I am improving! If I can race tired and virused up and perform at my usual levels, then that’s a positive sign. I made a few silly hesitations over the course of the night, which caused me to lose the bunch, particularly in the motorpace. It shouldn’t have happened, but by the end of the night, I was feeling quite nauseous, shaky and tired. It did make me realise that one benefit of training at the Wednesday night Carnegie Caulfield session was a more confident and aggressive approach to racing than I have now. When you train with guys who are 110% full on it’s either take it to them or go and read a book on the couch, with your pink fluffy slippers on. I think I am missing that a bit, but confidence and assertive riding is also linked to confidence in fitness levels, so it will come.

Mr Legs shone again, taking out the scratch race in fine style and a good margin. Pity he couldn’t back it up and DNFed the next two races. Obviously he overtrained earlier this week walking the dogs and hadn’t fully recovered from his stick-throwing efforts.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Winning Tattslotto ticket

No, I don't have one, but would surely like to own one to do this: The Andes Trail bike ride, organised by Bike Dreams. 128 days of traversing the Andes, for a total of 11ookm across 5 countries for a cost of ~AUD13000. I'd need the winning ticket to be able to take 4 mths off work, pay my bills while I am away, and to cover the cost of getting there and doing the trip. Or I could just sell my house..... No wonder the business is called Bike Dreams ;-P. It would be an awesome journey. I guess a weekend in Bright in December will have to do....

State Masters Results

Congratulations to Helen Lawson, Pip Read and Liz Randall for winning gold at last weekend's State Masters' Road Time Trail and to Helen, Pip and Shirley Amy for their golds in the Road Race the next day. Having raced against Helen and having my arse handed to me on a plate with extra trimmings and dessert, and ridden with Pip and Liz, these women are fierce competitors and truly deserve their State titles. Well done and fantastic stuff!

I think therefore I am

A comment a few days ago from ex-pat Hippy (he has been out of the country long enough to have earned the label ex-pat) regarding visualisation, got me thinking about using visualisation and the methods/techniques involved. Visualisation is often thrown up as a “useful thing to do” but why? Google is your friend when learning about visualisation ie what it is, how to train yourself, different techniques, when to use it etc. There are many good sports psych books that talk about it and provide advice on training yourself to use it.

For me, I am not religious about it and use it a bit like some people use crash dieting. I start some weeks out from a big race, and use it in training, almost subconsciously when trying to correct or perfect a skill or performance eg using the start gates, or driving through the ‘tough spot’ in an effort, keeping a line on the track. I used it extensively when I competed in dressage, and even bought myself a Swiss ball to practice using my seat effectively whilst keeping the rest of my body still and fully stabilised. I’d feel the horse (ball) underneath me, “feel” it’s bulk and rhythm of its movement , imagine the horse’s response to my seat bones moving across the saddle (ball), even imagining an “incorrect” ie unwanted response when I knew I’d miscued or misdirected a weight shift in my position, and then “correcting” that. Sometimes I’d watch taped top level dressage competitions and mimic, very consciously, posture, arm position, leg position etc. I’d do this several times a week and think about it continually (OCD??), mentally practicing. And it worked, my dressage riding improved a great deal and become very intuitive and subconscious.

I do pretty much the same thing when I am training now, using the bike itself instead of the swiss ball, although I am not as obsessive about it. Last summer, Coach was teaching me to slow down my starts for the pursuit. You can’t come blasting out of the start in a pursuit the same way you would for a TT. You simply blow up. I know. So we’d practice over and over 100m, 150m, 200m, 300m. After each effort, Coach would provide feedback, then I’d mentally review my mistakes and visualise the correction, then visualise a perfect start effort several times over. I’d sometimes have to go slowly over some point, then repeat it at normal speed in my head, as I’d feel it on the track. Then I’d go out and do it again. When I am on the trainer or ergo doing efforts, I pretend I am on the track bike, focussing down the line, easing into a rhythm, feeling the cadence and double checking with the bike computer for some biofeedback: Ok this is what 115 rpm feels like. When I hit the black spot in the effort, that point when it begins to become too hard, when your body and brain start fighting each other, I visualise riding through it, use some magic words to quell the dispute and leave me feeling positive and strong (it doesn’t always work! But it needs to for the real thing). Then when I really start to struggle, I switch on the movie of finishing strongly, of negative splitting, of the pain that I am and will feel, of the tunnel vision and dying legs, and imagine overcoming all of that to finish strongly with the right numbers on the timing board. Sometimes it doesn’t work – the images don’t come, but that’s also part of the process. Then you think about why, and work through that so next time they do come.

Now Worlds are getting closer, I am mentally rehearsing more frequently. I do my IP starts in the car driving to work, waiting for the lights to change, counting down (not for the green light, to avoid becoming a boot ornament) the timer and hearing the blast of the gun and feeling myself launching the bike out of the gate. I compare a TT start to an IP start to remind myself of the difference and that feeling slow out of the gate for the IP is ok, it’s what I want. At lunch time I think about the sweat, that vertiginous rise in body temperature, the parching mouth, breathing deeply for vital air, the failing legs and tunnel darkness growing as I hit what I call the transition zone from comfortable to too hard I'm going to die, and rehearse controlling my thoughts against the rising panic and anxiety as I push my body into the red zone. On the way home, I imagine riding fast and strongly, creeping up on the gap between myself and the rider on the other side of the track, of accelerating home, of rocketing out the gate in a TT and smashing down 2 laps like slamming down a can of Solomandrink.

The vital thing about visualisation is that it’s got to be very specific, as detailed as possible. You have to smell, feel, breath, taste, hear and see it with every possible muscle fibre. It’s easier to do when you have felt how badly it will hurt, you know that deep struggle you will have, that point at which it all turns to hell and you have to get through. It’s also easier to do when you’ve been through that in training and come out the other end in better shape than you went in to it with. Knowing you will survive verifies the imagining of positive outcomes. But the more you visualise it, and believe those images, the more real and true it will become. There is no choice, your brain, and body, only know what you think.

Monday, 10 September 2007

A deleted rant and 2 special workouts

I posted a bit of a rant this morning about some very poor (taste) parking and some just as bad ‘drome driving I witnessed (yet again) over the weekend, but HourofPowerWoman admonished me, and rightly so, so I took it down. It still peeves me to see such arrogance and self-centredness, but karma has her will, so I sit patiently and wait.

The weekend, apart from the FIGJAMmers, was quiet, but I finally made it onto the bike via the trainer on Sunday evening, for a light but speedy 30km spin. I felt good afterwards, no massive fatigue & need to sleep as I felt the day before after cleaning horse rugs and doing paddock duty. I still carry some symptoms but the body is functioning pretty much at normal capacity now. Fortunately this week is a designated recovery week, so I can ease back up to full load by next weekend, if the body holds up.

Coach sent through my next 4 week program. Flipping through it, there is nothing outstandingly eye-poppingly agonising in it, apart from the usual. Then I saw it. The final 2 days of the program: Saturday and Sunday, some very specific track efforts, to be done in Sydney, at Dunc Grey. It really hit home then – Worlds. 5 weeks away, with 50% of required training behind me (well, it might not be that bad, but it feels like it). We keep talking about “trial-run”, “practice for next year”, but as a colleague whom I respect a great deal said to me this morning,” if you go in like it’s a training run, then that’s all it could ever be.” He is right. I replied that if I am not near blacking out at the end of the pursuit, then I won’t be happy because I didn’t give it 110%. So now I am churning it all over – have I done enough specific training to do a technically correct pursuit, that will see me get to the finish stronger than I started? Have I done enough to nail my starts? To nail the finishes? To be bold and irritating, hurtful, in the scratch? What does 110 RPM really feel like, without watching the readout? Can I count it in my sleep? Where is my mind at? Four weeks gives me plenty of time to correct and hone sharp some of those technical issues, to get my brain in solid working order for the jobs at hand, for many mental practices out the gate, to become so comfortable on the aerobars that the sprint bars feel weird. No more worrying about what ifs or what shoulds but what is. This is how it is, do the best with it, maximise it over the next five weeks, and bring it home bold and bolshy on the day.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Here Comes the Sun (and the Summer Track Season)

Five days and still no training. But I am too brain dead and weakbodied to care. I have moments of full cognitive functionality, probably 10 minutes worth every hour, so I am still productive at work. State titles tomorrow and Sunday are now a no-go, and my care factor is minus zip. I just want to go to sleep! LurgyVirus please leave the building.

The Summer track season is imminent and talk of the newly released program, the new Revolution series, Trek sprint series, Christmas carnival, opens, state and national titles is sparking me up and once this viral fog lifts, and Winter truly fades, will have me keen and sharp training with renewed vitality. I have waited all winter for the moment the new track season begins. I feel sorry for the roadies who race in the cold and the wet (when it really does rain) and the wind, slogging it out in the Victorian wintery gloom. They’ve worked all summer to battle it out against each other and the cold and wet and permacloud cover, only to just miss out on a place, and drive hours home cold, wet, dirty and hungry, as bleak and dejected as the skies and landscapes around them, hankering for a hot shower, warm clothes, warm food and a warm house.

Training over winter for a summer season is about clandestine workouts under the cloak of predawn darkness and frosts and the incandescent glow of street lamps; surreptitious ergo and trainer sessions, in a garage, shed, back room, behind closed doors and drawn curtains; concealing winter fat er strength training under layers of thermal wool, nylon, lycra, thinsulate, brushed lycra, booties, full gloves, skull caps, neck warmers, ear warmers, clear sunglass lenses, jackets, leggings, polar fleece linings, and energising up on hot soups, thick stews, roasts, cheesy pastas, steaming coffee and carb-rich cake. Time blows solid air out of your lungs pumping up icy slick hills, counting heart beats and watts whilst grimacing at the frost bite setting into fingers and toes and lips. Drivetrains get wet,dirty and grit encrusted, cleaning is more thorough but harder to do by porch light after work. All work is done out of sight, by dim artificial light pooling in the darkness, and public rides are long and leisurely, in slow motion (mainly due to the amount of clothing to keep you warm). The opposition cannot know the trackie’s true form until Summer, unlike the roadie who splashes it across the Winter roads for all to see.

Spring arrives, the Summer program is released, the sun is shining, the arms and legs are white and o crap, the scales are still showing a few kgs over race weight. The winter slog fest in the back room turns into speed acquisition efforts in the sunshine, honing and tuning technique and skill, putting the spike into the brew that’s been lovingly, painfully been bubbling away out of sight over Winter. It makes sense to race over Summer and train through Winter. The body is tuned into churning out the kms and building a necessary base and aerobic capacity during those darker shorter days, ready for the burst of Spring energy for sharpening the body and the brain for the task of racing concrete and boards in warming speed of Summer. Winter is to be endured, Summer celebrated, and raced.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Women's Skills Series - Track

After much discussion and planning, it's launched!

A 7 week program, Sept 23 - Nov 4 2.30 - 4.30pm at DISC, covering a variety of track racing, and the culture of track cycling, with the aim of building confidence and skill in women interested in racing track. We have a wide variety of coaches (club, state and national level) and guest cyclists, with a goodie bag and certificate of completion at the end.

I can't wait!

Contact CSV for more details and to register.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Because I can, and because you will...

Nice bike Mike. Don't forget this image. This year Bordeaux, next year Beijing. Live the dream young man :-). BTW, you are short a few inches off that start line. Ripped off.

Blast from the past

Richard Vesty, you can stop searching my blog for gossip. You won't find any.

You have SMS

Reading PowerofHourWoman’s blog this morning reminded me of a funny incident at Masters Training on Sunday. One of the guys has a very special identifier when he receives an sms. The phone very politely starts out stating : “message”. If this is not responded to, then very quickly the polite call of message becomes a strident, abusive call of


As someone noted the first time it shrieked, all the phone needs is to be picked up, given a quick cuddle and a gentle rock and put back to sleep. However, said owner of phone had it in his jersey pocket whilst up on the boards, doing a team workout. In the middle of the 15 minute session, the phone awakens, and quickly becomes incredibly demanding. As the official whistleblower for each effort in the session, I was on the apron, pissing myself laughing, whilst the guys in the 3 person team rolling around on the blue line where looking around thinking “What the??” The poor phone owner was Very Red, and I think not really wanting to ‘fess up that it was his phone.

On another note, I am still sick with round 2 of the Winter Lurgy, which showed itself on Sunday morning. This one presents as a full blown headcold, with sloshing of mucky fluids in the ear canals and consequent dizzyiness and nausea, bone-draining tiredness, sinus pain at a level that makes ergo feel pleasant, plus all the usual blockages and drainage. The sick guys in the office are sharing their love and those who had so far avoided this version are now all down with it. That’s a 100% success rate for the Lurgy. Having had the flu earlier this Winter, I thought I’d be immune. Silly me. All the usual symptom remedies are bouncing off me like bullets off Batfink’s wings. Today is Day 4 of no training, and with State Masters Road Titles on the weekend, it’s not looking good.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Winner shoes

And, to top things off, I just won a pair of Nike Altea 11 Plus road shoes. I never win anything, so am pretty stoked, particularly as I am in the market for a new pair of road shoes and some track shoes. That's the road shoes taken care of - too good! Many thanks to Omara Cycles.

Weekend in the sun, under cover, in a velodrome

Day One of the new season was brilliant, apart from the bloody freezing start at Hurstbridge for a ride of the Kinglake loop, with Mr Legs and Mr Univac in tow. It took about 25 minutes for my hands to defrost, for my toes to freeze up and unfreeze. It’s been some months since we have done this circuit, so I was really interested to see how I’d match up against it, as a barometer (power meter??) of training effectiveness. Asthma Hill (from the speed sign on the very first pinch of the Kinglake climb, to the corner where it turns downward ie the taster climb) wasn’t so hard, although I did get leg/muscle failure rather than my usual asthma attack. A quick stop and a stretch, and a mandotary suck on some Ventolin, just in case, and we hit the real climb. I wore my HR monitor for once, to see what my little pumper actually does on a long steady climb. It plateaued at 174/ 95%max for Asthma Hill, and hung around a steady but comfortable 158 bpm for the remainder of the climb. I was very comfortable for the majority of the ride, and many of the hills were a lot flatter and shorter than I recall. Sweet! What I did find amazing was the number of cyclists coming back down the hill, and not just singular riders but packs of them. Usually get you half a dozen over the course of the ride, but on Saturday the hordes were out. Obviously the secret of Kinglake is out, but then, it is only 6 weeks til Around the Bay. Coming out of Kinglake West, we smelt a new bakery and tossed up whether to stop there instead of our usual spot in Whittlesea. With all that sugary sweetness in the air, it was tempting, but we opted to burn some more calories before putting any in, but we have marked it for our next Kingy ride.

I am getting into a not ideal habit of eating less on long rides, simply out of lack of hunger and not feeling depleted ie no perceived need. But I think today I am paying the price for undercarbing, having woken up Sunday morning with a massive, achey head cold. So my plans to repeat my training from last Sunday (95km Beach Rd to DISC, masters track session) were snotted to bits. At first, I thought maybe I could do an hour on the trainer before DISC. After 5 minutes I laid that little thought to rest, and I probably should have done the same for myself. Once we got to DISC, I rolled around 5 laps and then retired for the day, flaking around wanting to be back home asleep. The Women’s Come N Try track was on after the masters session, and as an organiser, I hung around for that, with a pedal spanner in one pocket and tristar allen key in the other. We had a fantastic turn out for the two sessions, and after a quick debrief from Rick Leonard, and a bike fit from myself and a couple of others, the girls were up on the track in no time. Classic moments came when a woman who was saying “SHIT!SHIT!SHIT!SHIT!” as she sped up the blue line to avoid another below her (and survived), to another woman who had the hugest grin and was saying “I did it!”. That’s what it’s all about. A huge thank you to Rick Leonard, Caroline, Nonie, Liz, Nicole, Suzanne and Jessica for helping out on the day, and to Luke for organising it.