Monday, 31 March 2008

Sunday Scratch Race

The scratch race was a combined event, with the WMAS4+ competing for medals, and the five WMAS3 competing for a different set of medals. Unfortunately Julie Coller had to make an unplanned early return home to help with her new grandchild, which left us with four contenders. I figured I was at least up for bronze, but didn’t want to repeat my (lack of) efforts in the previous day’s sprint derby – no wasting opportunities this time, particularly with strong crit rider Kerrie Howard to contend with, and the big turbo diesel of Meg Marsh. I would have to be quick and smart, and take them by surprise. My first plan was to keep them in front of me as much as possible so I could keep an eye on them. Knowing neither were experienced scratch riders (as were the rest of the field for that matter. Even though I was literally racing only 3 others, I was also racing another 3 who could easily influence my race and radically change the dymanics), I also figured the race would be fairly steady and conservative. I was right on that count.

I had a lucky break in that the officials weren’t quite ready for us and asked us to roll around. Lined up on the fence, Meg and Kerrie were 2 in front of me. Rolling around, I positioned myself better so that I could be immediately behind both of them when rolling off the fence for the real thing. Item 1 of the plan accomplished.

As I assumed, the first 15 laps of 20 were uneventful, and we all settled into a dull rhythm and routine, which was what I wanted. The next couple of laps I was anticipating a move from Kerrie particularly, or from the WMAS4+ behind me. None came and into lap 3, corner 2 I saw an opportunity, and praying my legs could cope with it and back my brain up, pulled out of my spot as 3rd wheel from behind Kerrie, and went for it. The bike felt fantastic, the pista tubs thrumming on the boards. I got some height on the banking to help my acceleration, cleared Kerrie and Meg, and realising they weren’t coming with me, broke free of the bunch. I checked as I came into the sprinter’s lane, and saw no one coming across, realised it was going to work at least for a lap, and shifted into 5th gear. Lap 3 done and dusted, leading by a fair stretch. Lap 2 and still I was alone out the front and feeling strong. Looking behind, the girls were stretched out and all over the place. Bell lap and I hear “go around her Meg” so I look and Meg is on my wheel. Brilliant! Just the tow I need to finish off the race! And she has come alone. I shift up to let her through on corner 2 and yell to her to go. Instead of going, she swings up at me, looking for all intents like a massive hook to the spectators. I realise I have given her a bit of a scare, and myself one as she hooks me, and I instinctively move up avoid a collision and in doing so, wash off some speed. Meg takes off and I lose the opportunity for her wheel. Down the back straight it’s the 2 of us, a few metres apart instead of a team working for gold and silver. Coming into corner 3, Kerrie passes me and I see my silver medal ride off. Through the bend and into corner 4, Ellen passes me as I begin to fade and I am heading for 4th overall. In the home straight, someone is coming up on me. No way am I losing my bronze medal and dig in for a final stretch and a bit of a bike sling, just making it over the line before realising it’s Shirley and my bronze was not in contention. It would have been a photo otherwise, and I am not really sure who hit the line first between Shirley and myself, but I like to think it was me.

I was disappointed with losing what was a perfect set up, but fully stoked with my ride overall, and my attacking move. I rode intelligently (apart from the interaction with Meg – that’s racing and I wasn’t upset about it) and rode strongly. I did everything right for once and worked hard for the bronze, rather than rolling around to get it, which I could have easily done. To hear people yelling their support at me, as I took 2 laps way out the front on my own was a real buzz (and a bit of a surprise), as were the many congratulations from all quarters afterwards. I think it well and truly made up for the sprint derby! A bit of redemption for the soul.

Sunday IP Final

One of the dilemmas of sprinting and pursuiting is optimising recovery between heats, in a limited time frame. We had a bit over an hour (may have been closer to 2, don’t actually remember!) between the heat and the final. Appetite is suppressed so I made up some Endura Opti (which tastes revolting for the first few mouthfuls, but works a treat), jelly dinosaurs, staminade, some dried fruit. I couldn’t stomach anything harder than that. I kept the fluids up, got in some calories and carbohydrate with a bit of protein on the side. I am never sure if it’s enough, but yesterday, it would have to do.

I started in the front straight for the final. After mentally rehearsing the start for the back straight, I had to switch views to the front straight, but once out of the gate, it’s the same, no matter what side you’re on, job is the same. I was actually a little nervous for the final, even though the job sounded pretty simple: at a minimum repeat the heat and keep Julie in sight, at best, catch her. I also wanted to slow down the first couple of laps, because I wanted to have something left for the final laps. At last year’s states, I was on the way to catching Julie halfway through, blew big time and lost. I wasn’t prepared to repeat that.

Out of the gate, and lap one was 0.12 faster than in the heat (I didn’t find that out til later), with the hand signal the same. I didn’t panic, not wanting another 19 sec lap 2. The next 2 laps were a second slower than the heat, so I was on plan. On paper, those laps like good, but in actuality I rode them poorly. I was very twitchy, anxious to get Julie in my sights, but not wanting to literally blow my chances. I wasn’t as smooth as in the heat, and kept surging then having to pull it back fractionally. In other words, it took a long time (too long) to get into a rhythm. It wasn’t until into lap 4 that I had Julie in range. Looking at the lap splits later, it was at that time my laps settled and stayed steady until the final lap, which was 0.5 sec slower, despite my efforts to lift!

Lap 5 I began to think about lifting, but my body blocked – there was no response. I was also worried about blowing up and even though I had a bit of time up on Julie, it was still possible to lose with 3laps to go, if I hit the wall. 2 laps to go and another attempt to lift, and again nothing, no response. Final lap and my breathing began to get ragged, and I again tried to bring it home stronger than the previous lap. Nothing was happening, but it didn’t matter. I crossed the line with the first gun shot mine. I was hoping for another PB, but it wasn’t to be. But I know I am on track, the training is working, and all going well in 12months time should be hitting targets.

Sunday IP Heat

In the heat, I knew my legs would be tired after yesterday, but rather than wimping out like I normally do, and go for a smaller gear, I decided to be give the regular gear a go, and suck it and see. Despite Madam Hour’s claim I didn’t have a schedule, I actually did, but it was broken down into lap times, rather than accumulated time. In training I’ve discovered I work better physically and mentally on knowing exactly what my lap times are, and ride lap by lap working to achieve a set lap time, rather than to the big picture of the total race time. I find walking the line, and its hand signal equivalent irritating and meaningless. Down by two, up by one – unless I know my schedule by rote, it’s meaningless to me. My brain is too occupied with monitoring cadence, pace, breathing, holding the line, body position and nerves/enthusiasm to also retain a schedule and calculate what down by two actually means.

Poor Mr Legs was a bit overwhelmed by my new signal system. Yelling out lap times to me in training he could handle, but converting that to hand signals gave him stage fright. Fortunately Mdm Hr stepped in, picking up on what I wanted immediately (pursuiter’s brain and knowledge). I am very grateful for her timing, knowing she was still feeling unwell, and hoping she wouldn’t have a dizzy spell on my halfway through! So with a timer and signaller trackside, and my regular nemesis Julie Coller on the other side of the track, I was ready to go.

Last year Julie and I were evenly pegged, and I know Julie has spent some time away from focussed pursuit training over the last year, but how much so I really didn’t know. So she was an unknown quantity this year. My job in the heat was to stick to the plan, that’s all I had to do to qualify, as it would get the time I needed to be in the final four. After the heat I would worry about how to ride the final, based on our results in the heat.

Once the gate opened I rolled out, concentrating on not hitting out too hard. Lap 1, a second slower than planned, so I upped it a little and did a sub 20 second lap 2. That was also definitely not in the plan. Lap 3 I settled and coming up for Lap 4, I looked down my home straight and saw Julie. This was a bit of a surprise, although Julie likes to wind it up over the final laps. I really didn’t want to catch and then have to pass her, because I was worried that 1) I would get stuck on her hip and not be able to pass and 2) lose time if I did manage to get around her. Lap 5 I was on schedule and Julie as still in sight. Knowing I had 4 “fast” laps under my belt. I concentrated on keeping to lap times, knowing doing so would get me into the final. The last 4 laps hit target and it was job done. As I rolled off the track, I actually felt ok – a bit woozy, jellied legged and head spinning, but no nausea, no serious risk of fainting – none of the stuff I had felt last time I rode a pursuit at DISC. As I came off the boards I looked up at the times. Julie’s was first and thinking it was mine, was momentarily disappointed, but then realising my mistake and looking down the scoreboard, I saw that I’d PBed, making for one happy pursuiter.

Saturday Race Summary


I decided to be conservative and ride a 90.6, based on how I had responded to a bigger gear in training earlier the week. I felt a bit fatigued still, but hadn’t counted on 2 easy days in the saddle freshening my legs up as it did. Into the second lap, and I feel the disc wheel beginning to drive my legs, beauses they have run out of revs to keep the rpms up on the smaller gear. A bigger gear would have taken a smidge more time off, and I would have been able to hold it better. You learn. It was enough for silver, despite being 2 seconds slower than a year ago. Later I was asked if I was happy with my time. I wasn't happy with it, but I was satisfied.


Flying 200 was fun to do. I got lost during lap 2, forgetting where I was and realising at the last minute I should be climbing to the rail during turns 1 and 2. My line off the fence to the sprint line as not the best, but I wasn’t worried. It’s been at least 18months if not longer since I’ve done a proper flying 200. A very slow 14.8 seconds but I wasn’t bothered.

The derby was what the sprint was all about. Unfortunately I rode like a woosy nice girl which cost me dearly. As we rolled away, there was a hesitation in the group, then Ellen de Vries took off, grabbed the lead and began to head away from us. The others just sat there, so I lept around Shirley Amy and caught Ellen up. I left her out the front to tow me around, sitting her wheel while she kept flicking up and down the track in front of me. Coming around in the final lap, into corner 3 we were just below the blue line, me just off Ellen’s hip about a metre above her, maybe a bit less. Wendy Martin came up behind us, nudged her nose in between us, and instead of closing the door on her and holding my position, I moved up to allow her through: "Yes, of course you can have some space Wendy, come on through!" That lost me the race. As I backed off to settle in behind Ellen and Wendy, Shirley was ducking in underneath me, and called out for me to stay up. So I stayed up and also stopped any forward drive. That lost me a medal. I was pretty annoyed with myself afterwards, and am still trying to figure out why the hell I let Wendy through. Plain dumb. You learn I guess. Gotta get me one of those bitch racing brains.

Quick Tally

and reports later..

500m TT Bronze on a time 2 seconds slower than last yr. Well, I am meant to be a pursuiter!
Sprint 4th cos I rode like a gumby
IP Bronze with a PB in the heats
Scratch Bronze but not without giving it a good hard crack that could have easily paid off.

More later on the above later.

Some stand outs:

*Alan Dudderidge looking fresher and healthier than last year and this is reflected in how comfortable he looks on the bike and his final medal tally - a swag of golds.

*Mike Goldie winning his first pursuit outing. We all knew he had it in him, he was just in denial for a while

*Jess Laws also proving that you can be good at many things and bagged gold in all her events, ie everything there was to race!

* Ellen De Vries PBing in the heat of the IP then ripping another 3 seconds off in her final

*Russell Collins' tenacity and capacity to hurt himself without hesitation.

*the people who came up to me to offer advice, support and congratulations on my racing. Thanks guys, I am paying attention to what you are saying, some of which was already noted and planned, and thanks for noticing! It makes a difference

* Newcomers - plenty of them, all having a red hot go, and some with great success

Friday, 28 March 2008

Junior Nationals Day 1

The Vic team did well on Day 1 of the Junior National Champs. Our JM17 pursuit team were a blink off riding for gold in the qualifying, and then claimed bronze with the second fastest time of the finals, such is the way of pursuiting.

*Pocketrocketboy Madison Hammond was fastest in qualifying for the sprint.

*Monica Kelly and Shannon "CurlyWhirl" McCurly came in a creditable 5th for the JW17 teams sprint, with Sam Verlin and Natasha Langedyk not far behind in 8th.

*Jack Cummings scored bronze in JM15 500m TT, taking off .4 sec from his State Champs time. All four of our JM15 time triallists made it into the top 10.

* And finally, a big fat gold one for Imogen Jelabart in the JW15 500m TT. Lauretta Hanson did very well at her first national event, coming in just behind the minispeedster Antonia Abbisogni and just in front of another speedy gal, Madelaine Cardillo. These girls bettered their State Champs time by around 2 seconds, which is no mean feat in 8 weeks.

Well done team! And good luck for the next few days!

Pregnant men and smoking tortoises

And me a sprinter! These are today’s news items. Looking through the program for the weekend’s racing, for the first time ever I’ll be able to race some events in my own age category, rather than a combined category: we have 5 WMAS3s entered for the IP and Scratch race, 3 for the TT. The only event that is combined for medals is the Sprint, where the WMAS3/4/5+ are grouped together.

As I’ve mentioned before, our sprint is a bit of a joke, but this time even more so, as a lap has been added to the final derby to make it a 5 lap race. There are 5 of us racing, all 5 make it through to the final. Flying 200m seeds us up the banking for the start. If I keep smart, I could (should) medal. (I may be eating my words come Monday – don’t hold it against me!). That would be the highlight of the weekend – a sprint medal! And up there with pregnant men (only in the States) ,Chinese smoking tortoises, and a man raped by a wombat. Although, I think the wombat rape may be legitimate, as the victim did claim to being able to speak Australian after the fact, otherwise known as bullshit.

One event I won't be missing is the MAS3 sprint finals. Gary Niewand is racing, and that in itself will be something to see. His competition are no hacks with Stuart Vaughan and Paul Kennedy, both current World Masters Champs, taking the challenge to see who will be the craftiest rocket on the boards tomorrow.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

More entries

Checking the online entries this morning as I entered for Brunswick's Discorama open track meet on April 5, I see that total women entries for the weekend are 14 for the scratch, 12 for the 500m TT and a mix in between for the other events. Good stuff! Not sure if this is a record, but they are bloody good numbers and make the racing more competitive.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Then and now

It’s interesting reading over my posts from a year ago, when I was preparing for my first nationals with my new coach – excited that after a couple of years of trying to get there (with work getting in the way) I’d finally make it, nervous about making a fool of myself, not hitting target times and being a complete failure ie some fake ring-in pretend cyclist, disappointing everyone who supported me. I’ve since learnt that’s not what it’s about, not important, but being there on the day, on the boards is.

It was good to read those early posts, and made me realise where I’ve been, how far along I’ve come (and haven’t) and how much closer I am to where I want to be, which might not be where I wanted to be a year ago (I haven't decided yet!). A lot has happened, some things have changed, including my attitude and approach to training (hungrier, more focused). This time the Teschner is ready and well-worn in. My IP time won’t be much different, sub 3 minutes again at least, but not much more than that; but I am more self-assured about what has to be done, more confident about racing, I am healthier, and physically stronger, and I haven’t pissed Mr Legs off totally yet. I’ll be a little nervous in Sydney next month at nationals, and perhaps even on the weekend, but that will only be about self-criticism and expectations. I’ll be happy to be there again, and looking forward to doing the best I can at the time, putting all the hard work to the test.

Big Week of Racing

World Track Champs, Junior National Track Champs and State Masters Track all this week....

State Masters Titles

The online entry lists aren’t up to date but the numbers entered for State Masters titles on the weekend are low – all the usual suspects only have entered. Numbers are good for the women in reality, as we have had a time when only 2 of us have raced. It’s a work in progress.

Coach noted that I’d not entered the sprint (well, I’m not a sprinter right??). When I thought about it, the sprint for the women is a bit of a joke – the 4 lap derby is too long to be a real sprint, but short enough to get away with not being called a scratch race. Why we do a flying 200 is beyond me – all it serves it prove we can ride along the rail at the top of the boards, and sets our place along the start line for the consequent derby ie not one on one, but up to 6 up racing for 4 laps.. So, with that in mind, I’ve entered, which means I am now walking the talk and doing all events – the more women entered the more it shows a demand by female racers to race organisers and officials. It’s something some of us have preached for a while ie just do it. I’ve just got to remember that 2nd lap in for the flying 200m I need to be winding it up high on the track for the entry on the bell – I always miscount!

Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns and Some Hills

My weekend in the hills is now a bit of a blur, as I focus on racing this weekend, getting equipment ready and final test runs on wheels, aero bars and against the stopwatch.

There really isn’t much to tell of the weekend, apart from going up seems to be easier (when I’m not tired!); going downhill at deliberately forced speed a few times over hurts the next day when chasing Mr Legs down the same hills; and head winds don’t seem to be a bother when you keep an eye on your wattage.

My only close encounter on the road was with a fox, chasing a feral cat. The cat lept full pelt onto the road, zipped across and into the bush on the other side. A few seconds later, a young fox followed suit, landing in the roadside ditch and about to launch itself onto the road, level with the middle of my front wheel. Had he not gotten tangled up in some blackberry in the ditch, he would have surely taken out my front wheel, so intent on the chase was Mr Fox. By the time the fox was free of the blackberry, I’d passed and he was behind me, across the road and into the bush in a blink.

We did the obligatory caretaking of the garden/house, slept in every day (no 4.30 am starts!), ate too many chocolate rabbits, and I ate some hot cross buns (I avoid bread usually), drank some nice wine, forgot about the world for a bit and finally found time to upgrade the firmware on my powertap, as well as do some reading on training and powermetering. I guess that’s what a holiday is all about. Now it’s back to a regulated life, taking care with what I eat, when I go to bed, getting up way too early to train before work, in preparation for States in a couple of days time.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Hunting easter eggs, er.. watts..

As of COB today, I have 4 days off work, bookended around the weekend, courtesy of Easter and some annual leave. Mr Legs and I are off to Boolarra for longer than the usual 48 hour flying visit we do. I am looking forward to sleeping in, quiet country roads to ride, and getting in some solid training without having to stress about fitting it in around work and other duties. It will be a mini training camp, with some of my favourite hills being measured under the powertap. I’ll be focusing on some long engine building efforts, some strength work and some sprint work – a mixed bag of assorted lollies to remind my body of what it’s meant to be good at (and myself as well!!) and what it should be better at. I think hill repeats up the 6kms of Foster Road Hill, sprinting over the top down onto Grand Ridge Road will do the trick. Or I can do laps of the 25km loop from my house that takes in the Foster Rd hill, Grand Ridge Road and Limonite Rd hills for a variety of hill lengths, steepnesses, and downhill runs for cadence work.

State Masters Titles are the following weekend, and I am not really sure how I’ll go. A month ago I would have said better than last year, but today, I am not so sure. A lot happens in a month…But I know I’ll be strong, courtesy of some good work last month and the Strezleckis over the Easter break. Checking the online entries, there are around 8 women entered, 7 for the 500m, to date. Entries close in 5 days so hopefully a few more (a lot more!!) will come on board. Admittedly 7 is better than the 2 we had entered in the 500m TT in 2006. But I sit here and ask myself the perennial: where are all the masters women? I know the answer, and know that it needs time, will take time, it’s a long slow road to steady development and sustainable growth.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

As Seen on EBay

Wheel Bag, grey, Campagnolo - round shape.

One would hope so.. my wheels only come in round shape..

How many days above 35 now??

5am, it’s dark, predawn. The air should have that predawn chill about it, be fresh and crisp, and bring goosebumps to the skin, but it doesn’t. I am on the trainer with sweat rolling off me. It’s 28 degrees, and the hottest March night on record. A cool change is coming through later today, bringing the temperature down to a mild 30 degrees. Somehow, I think I've woken up in an alternate reality and Victoria has become the Northern Territory. Beam me up Scotty...

Monday, 17 March 2008

Another high 30s day...

Sunday my mission was to ride to Glenvale Crits, ride the crit then take the scenic trip home. I managed most of it, despite the massive heat, incredibly hot and strong northerly headwind most of the way home, and some heat stress.

The ride down to Glenvale was mundane, with my legs whinging on some of the climbs, to the point where I was doubting my energy levels and strength to race. I met Mr Univac at Glenvale, and finally decided to race, particularly after some challenging words from Mike Eaddy, and the fact that, well, I was there! And I was really keen to get a power file from the race.

Racing was fun, apart from the boring bits (anything over 3 minutes and not on the track gets boring. Cutting laps of a 1km circuit is incredibly boring). I was happy with my cornering which is pretty average at the best of times, and usually results in me getting dropped pretty quickly. Yesterday it took a fair while before getting dropped, and was caused by a simple hesitation on corner two, alongside Springvale Rd. I hit 50 kph trying to get back on, but blew myself up instead, decided to roll a couple of laps and get back on when the bunch caught me up (which didn’t take that long. D grade kept in sight of B grade for a large part of the race).

I got back into the bunch without any hassles, but shortly after I did there was surge, and I was sucking wheel down the back. One of the marshals had a bit of a chat to me about cornering, giving me an excellent tip which worked a treat. A few more laps with the bunch and I was spent, and retired from the race. I haven’t raced Glenvale since last season, and it was much easier than I remembered, and definitely easier than Sandown. The only bad bit was being put in the gutter by B grade on corner one while rolling a lap. I said a few words which then got the rest of the bunch off me and back onto the road. They do know better than that. Looking at my PT file later, I hit some high wattage, HRs and speeds, so was pretty pleased with that.

After some socialising, and watching the end of the B grade race, Mr Univac and I headed towards home, deciding to ride back along Blackburn Rd to avoid the volume of traffic on Springvale. I was surprised at how little traffic there was on Blackburn, and we rode 2 abreast the whole way without incident. Maroondah Highways was a different story, with many drivers taking incredible offence at Mr Univac and I riding 2 abreast. I was stunned when cars still tried to squeeze past us. Plain stupid and ignorant.

The wind and heat were just as challenging as the mentality of the Maroondah motorists. On Blackburn Rd, we were down to 13kph up some hills and 15-16kph on the flat thanks to the head wind, which sucked all moisture out of us and the surrounding landscape. Stopping at traffic lights, the rising heat from the road was from the pits of hell, and it was a relief to get the green light and roll along again. I couldn’t believe how much the heat from the headwind, plus the force of the wind itself, was dragging from me. 5 km from home and I was on the pathway to ruin. If I had to ride another 30 minutes more than I did, I would have been a hospital case. I spent the afternoon cooling down, under the shower and in the in-law’s pool. I felt sorry for the poor buggers doing the Club Teams Champs at DISC yesterday. Apparently it was 40 degrees inside the JoeDrome, about what it was on the road home.

Coach 0 Me 3

Today I am recovering from a fry-your-brain hot weekend, particularly yesterday’s efforts.

Saturday Madam Hour and I set off at a humanly respectable time, instead of a cyclist time, and as the heat was rising but not hitting peak melt-down temperatures. The aim was the 1 in 20, but with an out-clause for Mdm Hour if her sicky-ness got the better of her. Personally I had my doubts, and did offer an alternate ride if she was so inclined. Stubborn as she is, Mdm Hour insisted on the Big Hill loop.

I left Hour Woman pretty quickly once we hit the rising road, sliding it up onto the big chain ring, as Mdm Hour chose to moderate her effort according to HR. I felt ok until about 2 km from the top, when I began to get stomach cramps. I’ve never had stomach cramps whilst riding before, so it was a new experience. 500 or so metres later, my brain suddenly said “Get off the bike NOW!!” and I stopped, realising I was on the verge of throwing up. After managing to control the urge, and recovering from the experience, an old guy riding past asked me if my friend was down the road? When I replied yes, he said she asked him to tell me she was still climbing. I thanked him and was much relieved. (My reply was “Awesome!” when he told me) I had fully expected the climb to be too taxing on Mdm Hour’s depleted system, so was stoked to hear she was plugging away. One gritty woman. I immediately hopped back on the bike, changed to a smaller gear and rode the hill out. We met at the top, and cruised home, keeping the HR down for recovery for both of us.

When I got home, I loaded the PT file, expecting it to be worse than the last time I did that challenge (a month ago), but instead was surprised to find a 10% improvement: A slightly faster time with increased power and torque output for a slightly reduced HR and decrease in energy used. All good signs, despite the blow up near the top. Plus, I managed not to throw up. One of Coach’s ambitions is to work me so hard I throw up. I’ve come close 3 or so times now, but Coach has been ultimately unsuccessful. That’s 3 to me, 0 to Coach.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Reading Graphs..

I love my PT and WKO+. A couple of days ago I loaded some ergo files from earlier this year into WKO+ , which deepened the value of the overview graphs. I am now able to see clearly an improvement in power output and fitness between January and very early March. I am also able to see a definite decline in the last two weeks, coinciding with me feeling more tired than usual, and virusy. Going back over my records, and looking at WKO+ I am able to see that the combination of too many nights of 6.5 hours of sleep or less, plus changes to my training workouts have resulted in real fatigue and reduced values in performance. That, combined with 39 degree heat yesterday, prompted me to give myself the night off from racing/training and a sleep in this morning for a total of 8hrs sleep. Today I feel the best I’ve felt in about 10 days, proving the value of rest and enough sleep!

I’ve been studying (ie concerned about!!) my 1 minute maximal power output as recorded in WKO+. It’s very low ie “untrained” in the power profiler, whilst my 5 second, 5 min and FT are much higher (and why is there no 10 min profile??). So after doing some reading and research, I;ve realised that 1 minute power output is not that significant in the greater scheme of things, being neither simply anaerobic or aerobic in mode, but a combination of the two, and when do you ever do a 1 minute sprint? Interestingly enough, however, it has increased over the last few weeks (and my 5 second neuromuscular power has decreased), even though I’ve not specifically targeted it as a “weakness” to train. What this has shown me is that the power profiler, and maximal power values will change according to what workouts an athlete is currently doing. This may sound like common sense (yeah, L, that’s obvious – of course they will change). It shows specifically the physiological changes that occur with particular workouts (and some side effects that may be surprising.. or not!). It highlights also how often do we really pay attention (or CAN pay attention) to the way particular workouts impact our bodies physiologically ie we don’t consistently improve everything, all at once. What this means is that as coaches we can use software such as WKO+ to plan when and how to train particular aspects of athlete fitness (weaknesses and strengths) to end up with the right improvements at the right time ie on race day.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Chinese take away and a bed for the night

Photo from State Library Collection

Just a quick plug for our accommodation for the weekend. Being a long weekend, I had trouble booking a motel room for a single night; nearly all I phoned wanted a 3 night booking.. The Quality Inn Colonial took my booking without any hassles. I was expecting a typical motel room ie small and then cramped once the bikes are bedded down for the night. The rooms were large – almost twice the size of some motels I’ve stayed in, and modern. I was impressed.

More impressive was the Chinese restaurant on Saturday night, who fed us despite having just closed the kitchen. We left the velodrome, me still in my racing kit, at 10pm and headed into town for take away on the way back to the motel. The lights were on, so we ventured in, and the last customers were leaving. The kitchen had just closed, but the manager said he’d organise something “just for us”, as we had been racing. The service and food were excellent at the Toi Shan Restaurant, and I thoroughly recommend it.

I enjoy visiting Bendigo. The track is fun, although I am still coming to terms with the strategy of riding a 400m track, but I’ve nailed riding its curves! Sunday after checking out of the motel, we ventured down town. I was surprised to find many cafes and restaurants open for breakfast, very cosmopolitan. After a coffee and second breakfast in a quiet cafĂ©, we headed off to the park to get away from people and to chill out under the trees. So far my only reason for going to Bendigo has been racing, but I wouldn’t mind just spending a weekend exploring. The size of the old bank buildings (massive – in terms of weight ie building materials, and design), the centre-piece fountain (Alexandra Fountain), the huge church that grows out of the hilltop, the stately homes etc all speak of the wealth that existed, in their imposing presence and display. Each time I see that fountain, I wonder what life would have been like 150 years ago when gold was the driving force behind the town. Unlike a lot of old country towns, Bendigo has managed to retain some of the flavour of its foundation era, which presents a strange juxaposition to its contemporary aspects. It's a curious town and I am growing to like it.

Women's racing - yawn

Watching the women’s A grade scratch on Sunday, it was neat, tidy and controlled with the girls single file, swapping their turns as though warming up. It was all very staid and boring. Admittedly the bunch was only small ie 8, but it’s not called racing for nothing. Maybe it’s because I’ve always been a little outside the box, or I have low level ADD (joke), but riding a prim and proper race like a bunch of well-behaved Victorian school girls not wanting to chip a nail or smudge their mascara is just tedious. When I ride like that I feel very negative and depressed about my riding and my ability to be competitive. Maybe it’s different for me, because I don’t have a strong sprint to finish and place, so I can play around inside the race to change the dynamics. I'm not racing to win, I am racing to practice racing. One thing that Coach and Mini Me Coach have repeatedly said to me is that nothing is learnt just sitting in the bunch counting laps down. I am annoyed at myself because I wasted a good racing opportunity on Saturday night, but very happy with my efforts on Sunday. I am really chuffed when the girls complain to me afterwards about the hurt I added to the race because I’ve taken off yet again. And I know, as a spectator, any kind of action is better than none, even if it's that silly woman taking off again mid-race.

As I've mentioned in a previous post, the best women's race I've watched was my own race at Worlds last year. It was thoroughly aggressive and relentless, and exciting to watch. Even the (male) commentator got excited, and that's saying something.

Barbie VS Wile E Coyote Part 2

After feeling really annoyed with myself, and thoroughly disheartened with riding like a total Barbie, I gave myself a good talking to overnight, and determined to be more proactive in my 2 scratch races on Sunday. Race 1, 2 laps in, the girls were just rolling looking for a shady spot to have a picnic. This kind of racing annoys the crap out of me, because it’s so negative, and the stop-go hurts my legs. I found myself rolling around the bunch during their go-slow.As I neared the front, I thought bugger it, I’m going! A couple of calls came from the bunch as I rolled past (I felt like a hawk spotting pigeons), but reaction was very minimal, and I put some distance into them for a lap. The bunch did catch me, so I rolled up off the front to let them come through. I settled in down the back to recover, jumping from wheel to wheel to keep myself out of trouble, recover quickly, and stay out of any box I may get shoved in to. About 2 laps later, the pace eased off again, but this time as I found myself rolling towards the front again, I put a bit more heart into it and jumped again. I didn’t get as far this time, with the girls more observant and reactive., and the first attack sucking more power out of me than I realised. Again I slotted down the back, finding myself hanging around Nicole Holt. I had the potential to box her in the final 2 laps, but wasn’t prepared to take one of her hooks, so when it was time for her to go, opened up a door for her. At this point, an astute, thinking rider would have then latched onto her wheel and been towed to the front, but I’d fried the brain by that time with the attacks and was happy to roll around for the finish and a big grin on my face.

The second scratch race saw a similar performance. 2 Laps in, I was in 4th wheel on someone’s hip, and I realised Nicole Holt was coming up to take her turn at the front, I knew she wouldn’t come with me when I attacked, because she knows me too well!, As the wind hit her face, I hit the front out of the saddle and going for it. Nicole came out of her saddle to go with the attack, saw it was me and sat down. I ripped about 60 m into the bunch pretty quickly, then was left to dry out the front for a lap and a bit. I slowed up when I saw there was no reaction at all. The track is too big to gain a lap, and I am not fit enough to pull 5 laps on my own, even if I got half a lap on them. So I eased the pace and let the bunch roll up to me. I stayed on the front for a lap to try and keep the pace low key so I could recover, but the faster girls started to get impatient 3 laps out and started to come over the top of me. I tried to hang on but was spent with too much time out the front in the heat (35 degrees yesterday!) and rolled home off the back, getting a nod and wink from one of the comissaires as I came through the front straight.

During that final lap, I had a very strong image of Wile E Coyote running off into the distance, over hill and down dale, until finally a small cloud of coyote puffs up on the horizon, as the Coyote blows himself up on yet another Acme product.

Barbie VS Wile E Coyote Part 1

This weekend Mr Legs and I drove the 2 hrs to Bendigo for a double bill of track racing, as part of the Bendigo International Madison.

Saturday’s racing started late afternoon, with 3 races on the bill for the women: a Scratch race, pursuit scratch, and a handicap. The racing was messy and scrappy, with girls not holding their lines as the track threw them up the bank. There was a lot of lateral movement, surging, chopping of wheels etc. Not very pleasant and I did my bad trick of hanging around the back trying to stay out of it. Coach kept calling out to me from the fence to get up the front, but each time I tried to get around I was unsuccessful – the distance was too far and the pace would pick up. There was plenty of space underneath as the riders fanned up the track, but I was very reluctant to move forward into the empty space for fear of being chopped out by someone fighting back against the pitch of the track. And of course, I just don’t have the top end speed for the final burst in the last lap.

The second race was a pursuit scratch where A grade has to catch B grade, then it’s an all out scratch race from that point for the remaining laps. The speed was on front the start and I was spat out after 3 laps. As I came off the track, Coach asked what gear I was on. I didn’t need to reply – it clicked straight away why I struggled to keep up with the bunch. I had put it down to my ability (or lack of it), but simply, my 88 was too small. It was a warm, still night and the track was fast, too fast for my gearing. Doh! It just never occurred to me. So we upped the gear for the handicap, particularly as I always end up time trialling it for the first couple of laps

So, with a bigger gear, the handicap had potential to be a better race, with myself and newcomer Karen Wiggins off limit. I got a terrific push from Mr Legs, felt great winding out the gear and went for it. I put a good deal of distance between myself and the girls behind and held it for a couple of laps. The group was beginning to close, so I swung up to the blue and waited. Mistake number 1: I should have just kept going! As the group came through, I anticipated about 5 of them, but instead, most of the field had come together to form a long, large bunch. Rather than push my way in I waited politely for the end, then mistimed my re-entry and lost the group. Mistake number 2: don’t be polite and get the re-entry right! Or is that two mistakes, not one? With 2 laps to go, I was fading fast, and lost sight of the bunch as they charged away on the big track. On the final lap, I saw someone rolling in, so I made it my mission to pass her, and not come last. No red lanterns for me.

There were a couple of nasty crashes during the night, one happening after we left for the night. A few guys ended up in hospital, with a Japanese rider in a bad way and airlifted to Melbourne. The graphic photo is on Cyclingnews, and I won’t put it here. I hope all recover quickly and without complication.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Woman Buys Dress

Yes, I've bought a dress! Now for people who know me, this may seem a complete oddity and form of mental breakdown or personality disorder. But I've been spotted at work wearing a skirt every now and then, so it does happen. The dress is actually for a Special Occasion TM. ie the Annual CSV Awards night, which is tomorrow week. Mr Legs is boycotting, so I've organised a Hot Date. I'm looking forward to the gossip and rumour-mongering that will succeed the night. The Austral is the next day, as is the Preston Junior Carnival, so perfect opportunities for gossip to germinate and flower. I just hope he finds a nice tie, and one without novelty or cartoon characters on it.

Anyway, the dress. It's kinda cute, and I had a very hard time deciding between it and a more sophisticated/elegant strapless number, but being paranoid about exposure accidents as I am, I chose the cute 50's style number: sleeveless, plunging neckline, big skirt. Both were on sale, which made me feel very clever for saving several hundred dollars. Or rather, I wouldn't have paid the original price in a pink fit. I still may return and buy the other dress anyway, because you never know when you will need a little black strapless dress.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Give me data!!!

For the last couple of weeks, Coach and I have been trying to figure out how to export csv files out of his ancient version of Poweragent (for Powertap) so I can load them into WKO+. At the moment I am losing 2 meat and potato sessions a week that would have a major influence on my performance manager chart (PMC), amongst others. Last night as I watched Coach download the file, I realised how to do it – save the file to a specified destination before loading it into Poweragent. It worked a treat and now I can load my ergo sessions into WKO+ for a more complete picture of my gains and training loads.

At the moment I am doing 10 minute speed endurance (well, cadence endurance really) efforts on the ergo. Give me a 30 second strength effort any day, even a 5minute effort. I break down the 10 minutes into the first 5 minutes (yeah no problem but getting difficult), next 2-3 minutes (start to hit struggle town as the energy pathways start to lose efficiency and the brain starts to get worried about it), last 2 minutes broken down into 1 minute efforts, because that’s the largest small unit I can cope with at that stage ie just one minute to get through, then another one, hanging on to the figures on the PT head, trying to not let them slip too far down the scale.

So today my PMC has changed to reflect the work I did yesterday, with last night’s session fattening out the Mean Maximal Power Curve, and the 2 sessions for the day dropping my training stress balance further into the negative. I am happy now the WKO+ more accurately reflects the training I’ve done, and provides more valid data about training loads.

Monday, 3 March 2008


for a pleasant Sunday morning ride.

Mr Univac, Madam Hour and I headed for the beach – Beach Road that is. We had a 100km mission, and it’s been a while since at least 2 of us have done 100km. That combined with coming off a crash and burn week, I was wondering how I would cope. Cope I did, and with ease. Around the 65km mark I began to get hungry, but after a fuel stop, I was back firing away again.

Early in the ride, heading up the hills of Springvale Rd around Glen Waverly, I hear a cry of “314 watts!” from behind me. I reply “240 watts” and Mr Univac is left rolling around, laughing at Madam Hour and I comparing watts, then cadence readings, as we discuss the nuances of our respective PTs. I keep getting some wildly inaccurate cadence readings off the hub (244 tops for Sunday), so will move to a crank-based reading once I get the appropriate bits and pieces. Interestingly, Coach’s PT on his ergo has decided to also offer up some wacky cadence readings lately, which makes it difficult when doing a cadence-based effort. Back to using the Cat-Eye on the ergo for those workouts.

Once we hit Beach Rd, the oestrogen flew a little, with Mdm Hr and I having a few face-offs up hill, making Mr Univac work a bit harder than I think he would have preferred. In the end he was happy to sit back and let the fluff fly. Both Mdm Hr and I were really testing out our recovery from respective rest weeks, derived from Type A personality paranoia about losing fitness and strength if one is not training full bore, and a bit under the weather. It’s interesting to watch the athlete in me, as the coach in me knows it’s bullocks, but the athletic ego does become paranoid, after all the hours and energy that is spent building fitness. Fortunately for my ego, I passed the test with legs whilst not fresh, are at least very functional. It's nice to be back on track..