Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Road Racing

Dear Coach

I've now entered the Country Rd Champs.

I feel sick.



Pleasant Morning Commute

First commute to work on the new shorter, quicker route, except it wasn’t that much shorter, mebbe about 6 km each way, but that’s enough. Definitely it took me half an hour less in terms of ride time. For the first time ever, I rode the loony bike to work instead of the half a tonne mtb, which probably had something to do with the decrease in saddle time. After doing weights for the first time since last year on Monday, my muscles are complaining… and they complained all the way to work this morning, combined with a backpack and the cold (4 degrees or something stupid like that) it made for a testing ride. But.. it was great to be out on the bike, riding when the plebs (and Mr Legs) would have just been tucking into their weeties.

I was pleasantly surprised with the traffic, the worst section being Mount Dandy Rd, heading west, just before the bike lane kicks in. I expected Ferntree Gully Road to be a hell ride, but the traffic was brilliant, and I had no issues for the 3 or so km I was on it. Somehow, drivers seemed to actually realise there were two other lanes to use – thank you for the space! I even managed to find a detour to avoid THAT hill on FTG Rd at Wheelers Hill. Still had some climbing to do, longer than the climb I was avoiding, but with a less savage gradient (about 4% I reckon), pseudo bike lane and less traffic. Sweet!

It will be interesting to compare the return trip this afternoon, as it will be during the 150 minutes of peak hour. I’ll take a tootle thru the burbs to avoid FTG Rd, as the volume of traffic will be greater. Sometimes safety just has to take priority, particularly when my chicken meter starts to head into the red.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Shake n Bake

Dear Coach

The online entry system is down and I’ll have to wait until the end of the week to enter the Country Rd Champs.




It’s been bugging me, that incident with Trudy VDS passing on the duckboad in my scratch race at Nationals. Reading the tech regs again today, anything below the black line ie the blue duck board, is NOT part of the racing surface. Riders may only overtake other riders by passing above them on the track, unless there is a reasonable space underneath in which to overtake safely (which does not mean you can use the duckboard). And of course, using the duck board to gain advantage is open to penalty.

Yesterday I was at DISC for the final afternoon in the latest Women’s Track Skills Program. We cannot run these programs without support of CSV, and the ongoing work and commitment of coaches such as Joe Schibeci, David James, Brad Robins, Gary Jennings, Mark Niewand. We deliberately had smaller numbers this time, and I think this made the program more effective for both riders and coaches. Yesterday we finished up the enduro group with some fun skills stuff whilst waiting for the sprint group to do their stuff on the track. Not only did it keep everyone warm in the chilly shed, but also had an immediate effect improving confidences and lighting brain bulbs for some. It also gave us coaches a bit of a giggle. I am really stoked we can provide these small opportunities for riders to practice new things, gain more self-belief and develop confidence. I’m also sure these outcomes will manifest as better (quality) women’s racing, more women racing and more opportunities for us to race.

I also had the added bonus of some great feedback, mentoring and a few tips for future scenarios from regaling my efforts in the National’s scratch race particularly, yesterday. Paul Parker saw the race and made a few comments that gave me some insight into my ride, as well as a few pointers for the future. MiniMeCoach gave me a quick fix for keeping the advantage from the bottom of the track, as well as a couple of insights as to other people’s reactions to me on the track. Sometimes you just gotta be told… and I’m glad (and lucky) that people are telling me, and things are making sense and beginning to gel. It’s all about the mojo, and the mojo is in the making …I'm learning how to shake n bake. Mrs Coach will be pleased. Maybe she'll recruit me for her basketball team?

Not Training

Well, I’ve finished reading Krabbe’s “The Rider” and I’ve started on Ron Clarke’s “The Measure of Success”. Clarke has some interesting things to say about the Mexico Olympics, that somehow ring a very loud bell in this current Olympic year. History shadowing, if not repeating. I agree with Clarke in that the Olympics are incredibly political, and organisers (IOC, AOC etc) work very hard at burying the political beneath a garden bed of sporting endeavours. And needless to say, I'm enjoying the time and lack of fatigue-induced brain fade enough to be able to read complete books.

Apart from reading, I did no training over the ANZAC day long weekend. I did, however, a bike recon of the new Eastlink bike path 1) to see how much of it was now open for use (as opposed to being officially open, road included) and 2) if it really would take off some excess kms from my current commute route to work, which weighs in at a smidge under 80kms round trip. Mr Legs and I discovered that enough of the route was accessible and it should shave off about 10 km each way, making regular commutes each week more realistic. This will mean I spend less time apparently training ie during “home time”, whilst actually getting in some good road and base kms during the week ie silent kms that free up (some of ) my evenings = more sleep! Yay!!

Saturday I tested out my shiny newly installed chain on the Boulevard. Mr Legs said I needed to put some load on it to stretch it, to settle it in, meaning big chain ring riding. No problems… I only slotted into the small chain ring on the long climb back on the return leg around the golf course, and being sneaky, er tactical, on “Challenge Hill” ie the last climb before heading over the freeway bridge to return to Chandler Highway. Actually I had fun with this climb. Mr Univac decided he was up for a bit of a sprint, so I hooked onto his wheel, then jumped around him with Mr Legs on my wheel about 1/3rd of the way up. 2/3rds of the way up, sick of dragging sprintboy along, I backed off enough to force Mr Legs around me (ie I braked). As he passed I grabbed his wheel and then I just waited until he backed off, tiring from the effort. I didn’t have to wait long. I dropped a gear then hit it to go clear for my first victory over Mr Legs across the top of the hill.

But, of course, I wasn’t training cough cough. Training starts tonight. It’s in my program.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Ready to go!

It’s been 4 days since I’ve been on the bike – an enforced week off courtesy of Coach. After States I didn’t want to see the bike again for a while, but after Nationals, I just want to get back on straight away. I’ve got some work to do and I wanna have fun! But instead, I am reading Tim Krabbe’s The Rider and dreaming of being faster and stronger, imagining training hard, pushing the chronic training load marker up, smashing up nasty hills, rocketing off at traffic lights leaving everyone behind in a cloud of dust, attacking in Thursday night track racing blowing people up all over the place, and leaping tall buildings.

Reading back over my blog entries for nationals and the week prior, I realised my results last week were actually spot on for the level of residual fatigue I had. It’s easy to forget how weeks of training, working full time and just living impacts the body. I have a lot of positives to take away from Nationals, and am eager to get back into some hard work

Monday, 21 April 2008

Itching the Scratch

There are five of us in my race, and I know Trudy Van Der Straaten and Kerrie Howard are the main contenders, with Donna Meehan a close rival. Margaret Horne is an unknown quantity. I know that a sprint finish will not be good for me, as Trudy is significantly faster, and Kerrie is also quite speedy, with better endurance. I have a plan to attack as often as my body will let me, and to take any opportunities to attack as they come my way. I wasn’t concerned about the end of the race; my focus was on the middle, and not participating in yet another boring women’s race. I was pretty chuffed when a couple of people approached me before the race, asking if I would do my trademark move. I have a reputation! Good stuff – bring it on!

We roll around at a reasonable clip for the first 5 laps out of the 20 in total. Something in my head triggers at Lap 15 and I go from the back of the pack. I get stuck on someone’s hip coming out of the bend into the straight, but then manage to break clear and go. I check behind me and see Trudy on my wheel so I pull up, thinking that my attempt had been unsuccessful because I was so slow coming out of the bend. But as I climb and shed speed, I see only Trudy and Kerrie have come with me, so I a make a dash to lift and get back on, but Trudy has also slowed and the bunch comes together. I miss my re-entry onto the back of the pack, and am off the back by about 5metres. I hear the commentator say my effort has spent me and I am dropped. I don’t think so buddy, and I drag myself back on.

A few laps later and the bunch goes high. I stay low and attack again. They are too busy playing with themselves to notice until it’s nearly too late. (Un)Fortunately they have the advantage of the banking to latch onto me, but I know they have spent a few pennies. As the bunch comes over to me, Trudy rides over the top of me and pushes me off the track in the middle of the bend. I yell at her and come back up onto the track, and she moves up and out of the way. It seems she likes to move down on people, and be the town bully in general. It won’t be the only time she tries that trick on me, but it will be the only time it’s successful. The bunch slows right down again, and the commentator asks how can we be staying upright and not sliding off the track. The bunch moves up the track again, as people refuse to take turns, and I stay low. We repeat the previous manoeuvre. I am tired. In fact I am wrecked. At some point I do get dropped again, by a short distance, and manage to get myself back on: another mistimed re-entry, caused by fatigue.

Coming into the final laps, and the bunch is high again, and I am still in the sprinter’s lane. My brain is beginning to switch off from fatigue. Everything hurts and I am working on some primal level of functioning now. I hear the commentator say something about some activity at the back of the bunch. I glance up in the bend and see the look on Donna’s face as she rides the front of the bunch on the fence. I realise my mistake, understand what’s coming, and think of being dumped in big surf. I am out of the saddle in a feeble attempt to gain speed to ward off the dumping that’s about to happen. I see Donna out of the saddle and point her bike down the banking into the straight, aiming for a spot just in front of me. I go hard, as hard as my body will allow, and manage to get swept along in the bunch for a while. At some point, lap 3?? or so, I am 2nd or 3rd wheel, and someone comes underneath me on the blue and hits the front. It’s Trudy playing a sneaky hand, for which she is not penalised by the Officials. Later, discussions occur with the Chief Comm, who basically says so what? And it gets left at that.

Two laps to go and I am thoroughly trashed. I have managed to blow myself and Margaret Horne up, and given the other 3 a tough ride. I am dropped, as is Margaret, and I stop racing, brain not functioning at all apart from survival mode. I fail to realise that I could possibly pass Margaret if I keep the pressure on, and come home with another cheque. I am spent and have made the fatal error of not racing to the finish. But I am pleased with myself, having taken myself to another level in terms of leaving blood, guts, sweat on the track, and being able to recognise opportunities as the race evolved. I attacked when my body was telling me it couldn’t, and then I did it again just to further prove a point to my failing body. It will be interesting to watch the video footage of this race, to compare it to my memories of it. I know things happened but don’t quite remember when in the race. Things are a bit of a fatigued blur after my second attack. I suspect my attacks won’t look like attacks at all when reviewed, but me just picking the pace up for a bit. Afterwards there was some mention of “sacrificial lamb” by some, but lambs don’t wield mallets, they sit in the pack and wait, scared and hiding until the end. I received quite a few nods and winks of acknowledgement as I came off the track, and a couple of looks of sheer stunned-ness as well. I am not sure if that’s because what I did was considered stupid, or gutsy. I’ll be taking the latter, thanks.

Pursuing the Breeze

Thursday is the Big Day – my main event. The women are again on first, and once again, running sheets are late, and the whole thing a tad disorganised. Fortunately I am on a few heats down, so have time to ask someone who knows, to double check and be seated trackside ready to go with plenty of time to spare. The seedings are simply stupid, with nearly every heat in my age group seeing a person lapped, and lappings consistently occurring in all age categories. The impact this has for both competitors is enormous and a gross error on the part of the organisers. It’s almost as if they have seeded us for match sprints, with the slowest against the fastest. I make a complaint to one of the CA Masters Commission reps.

I am nervous, very nervous, warming up, walking up to the track, sitting and waiting for my turn. The commissaire takes my bike from Mdm Hr, and I walk behind the gate and sit. When the bike is locked in, I get on, and as I click in my cleats I know the clock starts running. I am still nervous, but it doesn’t bother me – I am not my nervousness. 10 seconds to go and I settle into the drops, and the nerves fall away to a silence. Nothing but the final beeps now and then I go, pushing against the gear to get the bike rolling, not too hard through the bend, easy through the straight. Mdm Hr gives me my first lap time – I see a 25 and think: good (It was actually a 26, not so good!). I settle in for the second lap: 20 seconds. Good.

I feel calm, settled, almost peaceful after the pre-race nerves. Lap 3 and I realise I feel a deliciously fresh cooling breeze against my skin. How nice is that breeze? Lap 4, no time given, a minor glitch, no drama. I enjoy the breeze and the rhythm of my breathing and of the cranks turning over. I feel a part of the bike, and enjoy it. My pacing feels steady and even – there are no changes to my rhythm. I tell myself Lap 5 I will start to lift, but when I look again it’s Lap 6. What happened to Lap 5?? I just lost a lap! Bugger! I have one less lap to play with. Pick it up now I say. And as I come into corner 1 of Lap 6, I am two pedal strokes into lifting when I suddenly glance over my right shoulder to see the black suit of NZ’s Fiona Southern. I had heard nothing, absolutely nothing. So far my race had been very quiet apart from my breathing and the wind cooling my ears. So I hold, not panicking, concentrating on not losing any momentum, but not accelerating just yet. I wait until she is 2 bike lengths in front then I have something to chase. And I start to chase. Laps 6 and 7 still on the pace but my breathing begins to labour, and I am beginning to hurt. I am happy with that – 2 laps to go I can make it hurt some more. And I do. Fiona glides away from me easily (she is faster than me and medalled at last year’s Nationals) and I keep pressure on myself til I push the bike over the timing strip.

I look at my time and am a little disappointed – 2 seconds slower than States. I was hoping to PB, and I felt good, calm, in control during the ride. Later going over the lap splits, I see my first lap was a second too slow, I lost a second on Lap 5, and the final lap was a second slower. 3 seconds lost over 3 laps – there was my PB buried in those times, particularly Lap 1 and Lap5. I wasn’t worried about it. My ride felt good – mentally I was in a very good place: “Old Hat” is an expression they use training horses Make something old hat, so that that it becomes normalised, familiar and habituated. The horse then thinks “O, that old thing”, is no longer fazed by it. This was my first Old Hat IP. Now I just need to get faster.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Time trial quick result

Using mobile phone 2post this. If it looks ugly that's why. 4th in time trial by 0.4seconds with a bonus of prize money! Not a pb but over a second faster than states. A bigger gear will do that. Meg Marsh won gold on 40.9 i think it was. There are about 10 of us in pursuit tomorrow and I'll use the same gear as today chasing a pb. I don't expect to make the final so will leave it all on the track during the heat. And if by chance I DO make the final, I'll deal with that then!

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Tapping the power

I’ve not spoken much about training with the PowerTap, despite having consistently using it now since Feb 2. I’ve not had much to report, apart from new PBs in wattage outputs, thanks to limited accumulated data. But now I have a small bank of data that allows the Performance Manager Chart to be more meaningful. I’ve been playing around with it for a few weeks, trying to work out if a Training Stress Balance (TSB) of -10 is really how I feel today, or do I feel more like a -20. And .. trying to work out what does -10 really mean in terms of fatigue????

After pumping in my data from the weekend rides, my TSB yesterday was -30. And I reckon that’s about how my legs felt. So I think I’ve finally got it about right. -30 is probably not an ideal number to be sitting on at the start of Nationals week*, but even today it’s lifted 9 points. I reckon by Thursday it should be around -10 (that’s including carlag after around 10 hrs of driving), although still not ideal (positive numbers please!) . At States the TSB was on -5, and I was able to do some hard efforts on that figure, so am I not worried. For Worlds it will definitely be in the positive though.

I have a week off the bike after nationals, so I plan to do some Functional Threshold Power testing that weekend, when I’ll be fresh as, with a drop in the chronic training load (which is about 80 now), and a rise in the magic yellow TSB line. I am also toying with racing at Lang Lang on the Sunday for a similar reason ie I’ll be fresh and can use Lang Lang for the testing. It’s been a couple of years (3??) since I raced that course and all I remember is being dropped very early on, and the long slog home over the many hills, with Mr Legs looking after me. It would be good to see how my memory matches up with a fitter, current experience of it. I also haven’t done a road race since June last year. Some things need to change!

I probably won’t post again til next week, unless I get the urge to find an internet cafĂ© in Sydney. My goals are to ride with a racing brain at all times, to ride to the plan, control the 1st 2 laps of the pursuit, PB in the pursuit and hit 41 sec for the TT, get the gearing right for my legs, keep relaxed, calm and focused, and have fun! Nerves haven’t really hit me yet, and probably won’t until I ride the boards at Dunc Grey tomorrow afternoon in training. Hopefully I won’t have an attempt on my riding life this time by some kamikaze guy from the western state launching himself high off the fence at me! Better add “stay upright” to my goals.


Monday, 14 April 2008

Final big rides before Nationals

I am in the final days of preparation for Nationals now. Just checked the BOM for Sydney forecasts: showers and 21 nearly every day… it won’t be a fast track and riding the crit circuit for recovery will be unpleasant if they are like the showers we are getting here at the moment.

So now I have to seriously think about packing, food etc. I leave very early Wednesday morning, and being tied up at work for the next 2 days limits my time frames for pottering around making piles of stuff to take. At least it’s only Sydney where they still speak English (mostly) and the currency is still the same.

I had a good weekend of riding, even though I “ failed” my IP dress rehearsal yesterday, where I hit out too hard in the first two laps and cooked myself. You’d think I’d know by now, but the pressure was on to get off the track for the next booking, and I wasn’t paying attention to me and the plan (more to the point). At least it happened in training and not during competition. I’ve been mentally rehearsing slowing it down the 1st lap back straight component since, as well as repeating the mantra: “stick to the plan”. I’ve not hurt that much in a pursuit effort since last year. I was tired, so expected it to be ugly, but not that ugly, from a stupid mistake I should no longer be making. I still need to seriously work on that initial control stage and get it really nailed 100% of the time, no matter what. I know I will on the day, and I’d much rather have too slow a first lap than too fast so I can finish off the race strongly.

Saturday I rode with Mr Univac into the city. A 3.5 hr ride turned into a 6 hr outing for a number of reasons, all social, but it was great just to cruise around all day on the bike. I smashed a few hills on the way in, and then one or two more on the way back, which was probably not really a good idea after my efforts on Friday ie my legs were hurting by the halfway mark! Sometimes you just got to prove a point to guys on flash carbon fibre TT bikes riding the bike path… There is a very steep but short (thank god) hill on the Eastern bike path, near the golf course. I normally roll up at a reasonable but steady pace, but Saturday this guy set off my trigger and I decided to attack on this climb to close the gap between us. I succeeded (which did surprise me) and was about to go again on the second part of the hill to drive the point home when I heard a cry of hill-induced anguish from Mr Univac, so pulled off Mr Stockland’s wheel and waited up. Mr Stockland had turned to see I was onto him, and tried to ride off but was unsuccessful. Point proven, ego slightly bloated, job done.

On Sunday Mr Univac and I opted for a shorter, slower and easier ride so I could get in some track time later in the day, and he a load of wood from some felled trees in our backyard. It was clear skies and good weather when we left, but 40 km and a coffee and raisin toast later, we were soaked through with the rain fronts coming over. When we finally got back to my place, Mr Legs asked if I got his sms. What sms? I checked my phone: do you want me to pick you up? Never mind, I’ll take a rain check on that!

Friday, 11 April 2008

Women's (Cycling) Information Workshop

The Cycling Promotion Fund is running a Women's Information Workshop on Saturday April 19 in Middle Park. Discussions will include lights, winter riding and clothing.

Check it out!

Londre a Paris Cyclosportif

Bonjour toute mes amis qui sont fana du velo! The launch of the new route for this year's London 2 Paris cyclosportif was reported in yesterday's Cyclingnews. Why am I interested in this? Because The Hipshtar is doing this event, and is currently training hard (nod your head Stu!) to finish the event in style and up the front of which ever bunch he is in, and of course to be fit enough to enjoy it!

This event fascinates me, being a multistage/multiday event, crossing 2 countries and a stretch of water, and covering parts of some of France's most famous races, namely the TDF and the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix. It sounds very romantic to the cycling buff in me, full of history, significant sections of road, and of course, finishing in Paris after taking in some of France.

Here is the text of the media release as published in Cyclingnews:

New route for London to Paris Cyclosportive

By Ben Atkins in London

Event organiser Sven Thiele
Photo ©: Ben Atkins
(Click for larger image)

Chelsea Football Club's Stamford Bridge stadium was the venue for a presentation of the 2008 route for the London to Paris Cyclosportive (L2P) event. Billed as "the professional event for amateurs", the L2P will be divided into three stages of around 200km on its journey between the two capitals from June 26-29.

Previous editions headed southwest to cross the English Channel from Portsmouth. This year's British stage however, will start from the grounds of Henry VIII's Hampton Court Palace and run in a south easterly direction to Dover; taking in the climb of Goudhurst Hill that featured in stage one of the 2007 Tour de France. The race will head for northern France via an overnight ferry to Calais.

The second stage will head east along the coast before turning southwards to take in some of the cobbles featured in the legendary Paris-Roubaix. It will continue to finish in the Somme department capital of Amiens. Stage three, the next day, heads almost due south to Paris; passing the Arc de Triomphe to finish under the Eiffel Tower.

As a cyclosportive ride, the L2P is not a race, but will feature rolling road closures in the French stages and the peloton will be escorted by outriders from the National Events Group in Britain. Nevertheless, there will be jerseys awarded for best climber, best sprinter and an overall classification, although the overall competition will only begin once the event has crossed the channel. There will be four different groups on the road, divided by ability and experience, but only those in the front will be able to challenge for the jerseys.

After managing to attract classics legends Sean Kelly and Johan Museeuw, this year's event also boasts a bevy of stars. Steven Roche, the 1987 Giro, Tour and World champion leads an all-star cast that will also include former single-day specialist Max Sciandri and former British champion turned TV-pundit Brian Smith. As well as these names from cycling, Olympic champion rower James Cracknell – who since retiring has taken part in a number of cycling and other endurance challenges – will be riding.

What was that blur that just went by?

Well it wasn't me, cos I was stationary! But I was pumping out some new PB figures this morning doing sprint efforts on a 53 x 15 (95.4"). I managed a new max land speed/trainer record and a pb in rpms. Average watts per effort were also up, but the higher cadence, and bigger gear (= more speed) account for that. When I saw 170 rpm in WKO, I figured the PT had done one of it's funny quirk data recordings, but when I checked the raw data, it was in the middle of some 160's, so I am claiming it.

So, asks Coach, why were you doing sprint efforts this morning, when you have ergo tonight???! I was meant to do them Wednesday, but my legs were dead. Any rpm figure over 90 was a stint in the dungeon with a rotting cadaver (but gees I climbed ok!). Yesterday my legs were trashed from the myotherapy session on Wednesday night, so it was an easy rollover session, but this morning, they were a smokin'!

Thursday, 10 April 2008

The fully employed, point 8 athlete

I had a bit of a chuckle reading Mdm Hr's latest post, apart from the hideous reference to running (I think senility may be finally making an appearance, as we all know how evil running is, and being an ex duathlete myself), it reminded me of my own weekly antics. In particular, after my ride yesterday morning, I was at the computer, brushing my teeth and downloading my PT data into PowerAgent to transfer to my usb stick to take to work to put into WKO+. While the machine was booting up and preparing itself for the arduous task of downloading, and then actually downloading (it's a slow aging beastie) I was flying around getting work clothes and lunch ready, all with toothbrush in mouth. Let's just call it multi-tasking.

And so it goes.. the life of a working "elite" (masters) athlete. A non-stop festorama of timelines, schedules, juggling work demands, domestic demands (partners, animals, dustbugs, whose turn it is to cook, o crap mine!), training and racing demands (including preparation of equipment, food, clothing, lights [!!] etc) coach demands (don't be so soft, you need to do more kms, hills, strength work, speed work, core work and clean that bike!!), blah blah blah. We all do it. Well most of us do it. Those masters competitors who are lucky enough to be self-employed, employed part-time or with flexible work arrangements, and those ultra lucky enough to be retired or kept are not that common but the subjects of great envy. The rest of us muddle along, some more successfully than others. Every now and then we crack it, buck up against the demands we place on ourselves living such a life, or begin to crack under the pressure of subtle underminings by put-upon, disaffected friends, family and partners, or plain lack of sleep/rest/recovery.

When that next PB comes along, it makes all the shit worthwhile.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

What's the Pukesville Score

Me: 4, Coach: 0

This morning was positively balmy at predawn o’clock, so I decided to head for the bitumen instead of the back yard and the dogs and the trainer, with Coach’s words from the previous night about more kilometres and needing to ride in the dark banging around in my head. After sorting out some lights for the bike and my helmet, (hmm, Mr Legs darling, these old lights are way too dim, I need some AYUPs, for my birthday, please!), and reflective clothing, I headed out in the dark depths, looking to do some downhills sprints, depending on how the legs felt.

Well, the legs felt like dull wooden blocks, so I opted for the usual prework loop taking in Heathmont and its captivating climb. Frankly, this climb hurts, no matter how you take it on. It’s not long, only about 800metres, but it sucks you in and then mauls you like a dog with a bone. Last time I rode it, I PBed my speed up it, but it was a messy and humiliating affair, in part thanks to Mr Tri-like me-athlete. This morning, I managed the same speeds but this time thoroughly avoided looking completely feral, thanks to improved power outputs, consistent pacing and not dying in the final 100 metres or so. But as is the way of improvements, it came at a small cost: in the final 100 metres, where I was not dying, I was instead enjoying the pleasure of little vomity burps. Now in my books, this still constitutes a win to me to as no spew hit the pavement. I know what Coach’s call will be, and one he will be quite happy about I think, but he is also biased and competitive. Perhaps I should post a poll to let the readers decide??

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Looking towards Nationals

Scanning the entries for National Masters Track, it looks like we may have enough entries for WMAS2 and WMAS3 to compete within their own age categories, rather than in combined divisions, which is the norm. Hopefully the organisers will see the light and support women’s racing by keeping to the age categories wherever possible, as happened at States. In my own category, we have 7-8 depending on the event, with similar numbers in WMAS2. Numbers are down in the scratch/points which is usually the case, so I suspect we’ll be allocated divisions for this event.

At the beginning of last week, straight off the back of States, I was mentally flat and drained and physically tired, trying to keep a lurgy at bay. I had anticipated being keen and eager to smash through the fortnight of training between States and Nationals, but last week if someone had given me an out ticket for Nationals, I would have taken it. This week however, looking at the entries I am excited again, having spent some time last week reminding myself of my goals, what I want to achieve at this meet, as well as sorting myself out mentally in preparation for hitting the boards with a quiet determined confidence.

Monday, 7 April 2008

It's London in the Spring!

I'm complaining about an autumnal 5 degrees at 5 am. Hippy has to contend with snow in Spring! He sent me a weather forecast for yesterday (today??): a mild zero degrees, rising to 2 degrees later in the day. Think I need to HTFU when it comes to dawn o'clock rides.....

How fast am I going?

After discovering the joys of Sheffield Rd, I headed off to DISC to help out with the latest edition of our track skills program for women. This one is to take what we’ve done before a little bit further, with more focus on specific disciplines. Four weeks is still not enough, but will give the women an idea of what to focus on.

I put a new wireless speedo on the track bike (and pursuit bars) Saturday night, and managed to get in a couple of flying kilos in on Sunday afternoon. It really made a huge difference being able to glance down to check speed (I have a target speed I’m aiming to achieve over the next 12 mths. I’m not far off it, but far enough off it that it will take some hard work to hit it consistently without needing a vomit bag and/or coffin at the end). Coming off the bank at 47 kph and knowing that I wouldn’t be able to hold it for 4 laps, allowing the bike to roll down to my current IP race speed, then hold that for lap 2, then lift to the target speed for the final 2 laps was much easier with a readout in front of me ie instant feedback on whether I was actually doing what I thought I was doing and what I wanted to achieve. I should have done it last year, but then, I’ve learnt a great deal in that time, that I am glad I didn’t have it. Now I can use it and my powertap to fine tune my training sessions on the track and road. Such a simple thing, that provides so much detail/feedback in real time, I do feel like a bit of a dill for not putting one on sooner.


This weekend, I had planned a new route around and over the 1:20 on Saturday, but anti-training gremlins put that one to rest, as well as me, for the day. That didn’t stop me arranging a ride for Sunday with Madam Hour, in the fervent hope that I would be feeling ok after a day off. Fortunately that fervent hope (and rest) paid off.

I made mention to Madam Hour that she was in for a treat, with this new leg of our 1:20 loop, as recommended by Coach. He did warn me that I would be cursing him, and after a very sad ergo session on Friday, I was keen to disprove his assessment of “soft”. As we rolled onto Sheffield Rd, I hung back a little, waiting for this little treat, knowing it wasn’t too far in off the intersection onto Sheffield. If you check out the Melways, it says “steep” in small red print. So you get the idea. When I heard the cry of “O shit!” I knew we had arrived, and I shifted the chain up the back stack, hit the accelerator and got me a handy run up to the beastie. I passed Mdm Hour (evil chuckle), and then hit a patch of about 5 metres in length, where I did seriously think I was going to stall – the black hole of Sheffield Rd sucking in unsuspecting cyclists, never to make the top. I realised stopping wasn’t an option, as hitting the deck was a likely outcome, the road was that steep. So I put the brain to work, with legs following, cleared the steepest patch with back wheeling skipping, and broke free to finish off the climb.

Unfortunately, just after I cleared the dreaded black hole in the road, I heard a clutter behind. Mdm Hour was down, inspecting the road surface, after dabbing a foot and finding the road surface held no traction. When I stopped, I began to walk back down to her and realised that was a really silly idea – walking would have ended up in skating down. Bugger that. Mdm Hr was up by then, all ok, making her way up to me. Unfortunately what goes up must come down, and the back side of the hill was worse than the front – one of those fat, peaking crests where you can’t see the road underneath it, a bit like sucky wave when surfing. You just have to throw yourself off. Well, I am not into throwing myself off roads, so I walked over the crest until I could see road, then tentatively climbed back on and rolled down the hill, white knuckled and HR hitting new maxes, and yes, cursing Coach but for the wrong side of the hill. I am not good with very steep downhills, to put it mildly. But having done it once, I’ll be ok next time (promise!).

The rest of the ride was a mixture of feeling really strong and fit, feeling really weak and crap, and recovering to feel really strong and fit again, several times over. The pair of us managed to pass quite a few men up the 1:20 (suck on this, fellas), with me towing the time triallist up the hill until the final kilometre, when I blew and let Mdm Hr’s steady diesel finish off the ride strongly. I quite enjoyed cruising past one guy on a bianchi luna, saying “nice bike” as I passed on my own luna, cool as a cucumber, smiling sweetly, finally being the one to make it look soo easy, rather than the groveller humiliated by passing traffic. I think we even negative split the final 3-4 kms of the climb, getting faster until I hit the wall, sending Mdm Hour on her way.

We also did a recon ride of Inverness Rd, heading down instead of up. The surface is excellent, and I am keen to give this one a go after Nationals. I am working on a route that will take in Inverness, Sheffield (both ways) and the 1:20 for a pleasant outing of strength and character building climbing.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Bend and Stretch

It’s been a while (ie too long) since I had a massage, and I’ve also been incredibly slack looking after my body apart from training on the bike, and some limited core/upper body work. So when my piriformis, ITB, knee and ankle in my left leg started complaining a couple of weeks back, I thought I’d better do something about it. I’ve also been losing power intermittently to my left leg, ie basically I need to focus on it to consciously make it move round at the same capacity as my right leg. It’s not serious, and only happens every now and then, but it’s there and needs to be dealt with. So, I started stretching again and that’s had some benefit (ie less pain in the butt!!) But I knew, deep down, that this wasn’t really enough, so I took myself off last night to my local body shop where I visit my chiro each month, and did a session with the resident myotherapist.

Kylie was great! She rubbed, pushed, dug, poked, rolled tendon and muscle and chastised me for not looking after my legs. Checking out my hip flexors she tut-tutted and reminded me that the femoral artery runs down the left leg, underneath the flexors. Tight hip flexors place a fair amount of pressure on this artery, and you can imagine what the reduced blood flow does for muscle function and training/racing outcomes. It’s not surprising so many elite/pro cyclists have surgery to improve blood flow to their left leg.

So I now have a self prescribed regime of stretching again, and some more visits to Kylie before Nationals to help “normalise” my leg, and will be seeing her alongside Tracey regularly from now on as part of my off-the-bike training. I’ve been reminded that improvements on the bike are not just a case of get on and ride, but are also in the finer details that must be consistently monitored, reviewed and actioned: Do your weights and stretches!!Put down that muffin! eat your spinach! Go to bed early....

Sometimes, though, it's nice to be a bourbon-drinking, pizza eating late night couch slob.

Check out the weave on this baby

The World's Slowest Teschner TM, resting after the IP.

To the TeschMobile, Dobbin!

Funny Bike

One of the sights from State Titles on the weekend. It looks almost painful.