Thursday, 20 December 2007

Fountains of flowing chocolate


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

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

Bring on the ergo

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

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

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

Monday, 17 December 2007

Waste of a Weekend

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

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

Friday, 14 December 2007

Laoshan Velodrome, where times are smokin'

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

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

Resolutions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

· Keep it fun, keep it enjoyable.

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

A regular week in the office

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 10 December 2007

Drink Beer

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

Team Time Trial

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

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

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

Highlights:

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

· Motorpacing behind Mr Legs and Mdm Hr

· More food, this time in a basket

· Beer

· Funky cafes

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

Bright training weekend

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

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

Highlights:

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

Friday, 7 December 2007

Melbourne: bipolar town

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

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

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

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

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

TISM find their ROOT!


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

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

Wrong - it's ROOT!

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

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Recovering

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

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

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

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

Monday, 3 December 2007

Cheesecakery

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

Wicked Witch of the West

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

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

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

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

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

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