Monday, 31 August 2009

One week closer

Another week done and dusted; another week closer to Worlds. This week was all training, with Thursday night racing morphing into a less strenuous training session at home. Monday night jumping crates at Marty’s took its toll, but gee I am beginning to jump well. I’ll be able to leap over my bike soon.

Saturday I rode the shorter Whittlesea Challenge, mostly into a solid headwind, but proving to myself I have strength, in case I needed reminding. I like doing the Cyclopsportifs, and this was my second Whittlesea. They are very well organised, the volunteers doing the corner marshalling, traffic control, feed stations are cheery and enthusiastic, no matter the weather. The highlight of the day was having traffic stopped for me, both ways, so I could safely turn right into the finishing stretch of the ride. Awesome!!

Seven weeks out from Worlds and how do I feel? A bit nervous; this year has been quite different from previous years, although each year has been different with its own dramas and complications. It’s like comparing a track bike to a mountain bike: the same but different. The best thing about the last 6 months, despite the guilt about the drastically reduced volume (almost 50%), are days on end of NOT feeling bone-achingly and mind-numbingly tired. I think it’s called feeling NORMAL. Energised, bright, vibrant, vervey, clear headed, keen and healthy. Those are the WOW days, that catch me by surprise, because I haven’t had them regularly since I started full on track training three or so years ago. I truly had forgotten what it was like to have days in a row feeling NORMAL. Now I seek them out, and know how to make them happen more often. Just a little thing helps, it’s called sleep.

As of last Friday, after a huge flurry of schedule changes, leave applications, changing appointments, meetings, training programs, coaching days, I am the female coach/chaperone for the State Junior Road team, as a last minute emergency replacement. We head off to Canberra next Wednesday – a bus full of teenagers, a couple of coaches and the cranky bus driver (!!), with a small entourage of support vehicles following. I plan to take 4B with me so I don’t miss out on 5 days of training (great timing!!) and plan to cut laps out at the Stromlo bike park as best I can, and take in a few hills. Apparently they have them there. Maybe I can fit in the rather large one with the communication tower on the top, that is just behind my son’s place.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Cos it's still Monday morning

and I need some


and one of my locals gets a mention: Barclays. But I actually prefer Kofi Beans in Croydon, for ambiance as well as the java.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Thurs night racing

over in a flash! But gee, my new shoes look good ;-)

Monday, 17 August 2009

Yes, that is a martini in my hand

Saturday evening, after an attempt at racing Glenaoura Schoolhouse circuit. Yes, a martini was required!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Women aren't serious cyclists, naturally

or that's the message the UCI is currently sending out via the Junior World Championships run over the weekend.

The men's TT was run over 25.8km

The women's TT was half that distance at 12.9km.

Similarly the women's road race was 2/3rds the distance of the men. Do you see women being forced to race a half marathon only while the men can race the full monty, or 50m instead of the 100m???

Did the organisers run out of road, time, money, officials and commissaires (interest and respect???) to run a full distance for the women????

Get real UCI. Such disparities make a mockery of women's cycling. Is it just me, or is women's cycling going backwards?? It seems to be a reflection of a greater revisionist/reactionary approach the UCI is taking in governing the sport. I won't even go near the ongoing portrayals of women in the media, wearing aprons and their grandmother's floral print frocks in the kitchen.

Sometimes I wonder why we even bother when we are patronised in such a way by the peak international organising body of our sport. Providing such discrepancies in international (World championships!!!!) events devalues and undermines the hard work female cyclists and their supporters/teams to to achieve the results they do, on often less resources than their male counterparts. I see it on the track all the time (500m vs the kilo, IP distances, scratch distances etc). Isn't it interesting that at club level, and even State opens, it's ok for women to race the same race against men (and sometimes even win, as per Peta Mullens win last weekend at the Rob Vernon) but once you get to national and international level it's not. Can someone please tell me the difference???? I don't see any....

Monday, 10 August 2009

Big Race Nerves

Why is it when I enter a Big Comp, as soon as I hit the send button for the online payment, I start to feel nauseous and anxious? I've done all the admin stuff for entering World Masters' Track, including entries and license. And within seconds, the nausea kicked in, as the chemical mix from my brain hit my body.

The brain/subconscious is a funny little critter at times.

Racing Calder Park

As Saturday was a regular Horse Owner’s Day (ie getting a load of hay) racing was off the schedule and replaced by some equine and house domesticity.

Sunday I ventured over to Calder Park for a Masters kermesse fest. Whilst the program had advertised for various levels of gradings for women, the women failed to show. Apparently there was a HUGE turnout at the St Kilda hosted Northern Combine on Saturday, and it seems backing up is not possible for women. Pity. In the end, I think two A grade women and 4 B grade women entered the kermesse. Not enough for quality racing into a raging headwind, so the women’s races were abandoned and we were absorbed into the general gradings with the men. No problem from me. I’d rather race 7 men than 3 women any day, just to get some decent competition (ie more bodies to hide behind and wheels to make use of).

8 of us rolled out in my race, including one other women. I had googled my opposition earlier in the week, as you do, and confirmed her as a handy crit rider. So my aim was to be ahead of her over the finish line. The conditions were pretty rugged, with a cold and determined headwind blasting along the straights of the course. Earlier in the day, racing was anti-clockwise, with a very hairy downhill entry through chicanes into a sharp double-apexed corner. During the warm up laps, each time I rode into That Corner, I was shifted a good foot sideways between the apexes, thanks to the lay of the road and the wind direction. I didn’t feel comfortable racing in those conditions, and made some comments to the commissaries. Apparently the course is usually raced the other way, by both cars and bikes, so the call was to try it the other way and report back to the commissaries. So I went for a spin, and it was immediately obvious the direction That Corner was meant to be raced: better camber, better sightlines into the chicanes and hill immediately after the corner, and the hit from the wind was not so dramatic: overall a much safer way to ride the course. It meant however, a longer ride into the beefy headwind. So the decision was made: racing was clockwise for the rest of the meet.

I managed to stay with the bunch for the first 20mins or so, and managed to stick with a small breakaway of 4, bridging a few gaps that opened up, unfortunately taking some wind getting good position and claiming wheels, making sure I was on the ball with the home straight tail wind sprints and sticking with the guys who looked the goods. By lap 3, my opposition was flagging through the faster sections, and not as strong uphill, but catching me on That Corner (that corner was my achilles unfortunately). Lap 4, Mr Daffodil plus a pursuing four finally broke away down the home straight and I was on to them. Through That Corner, I realised my opposition wasn’t with me. She wasn’t on us up the hill, and by the turn into the home straight, I realised she was gone, totally out of sight, along with one other. Job done. Next lap, I was just off the back into That Corner, not worried, thinking I could claim back distance on the hill. I was wrong- I claimed back some metres, but not enough, and as the guys hit the small downhill they broke free, leaving me to my fate.

Into the back straight headwind solo, and then through the bend into the home straight another guy was off the back. And I was on a mission, gaining on him. I needed him to get back onto the bunch. By the end of the home straight I’d about caught him up, at 48kph on flat legs. Then he did a quick left and headed for the exit. WTF???? Shit.. I’d just burnt a matchbox of matches to catch him and was dumped! A rapid change of plan was at hand: main opposition. Gone! Tow back to bunch. Gone! Another 20-30min of solo strength work. Woohoo Awesome! Maybe another one or two will crack over time with the wind and leg-sapping hill, and they’ll be mine! Bring it on!!!

At the 30 min mark, I was toying with pulling out, but for once, wasn’t in the defeated, demoralised and totally crushed box caused by being way off the back and arguing with malicious headwinds. It was just an idea, that came and went; a transitory picture in my head that I looked at momentarily and then rode right on by. At the 40min mark, I figured I only had another 2 laps to go, so made them as quality as I could, pushing the kphs up into the headwind with nothing to lose. Bell lap came and went noiselessly, thanks to a miscalculation on my part. Great! (That’s why I like track racing: there is a lap board to do the counting for you). So there was nothing for it but to pull out another lap as best I could. I finished in 5th place, with Mr Daffodil well off the front, and me half a lap behind a small bunch of 3. Interestingly enough, the small bunch of 3 gained that half a lap quite quickly in the early stages, then stayed there, failing to achieve any more distance on me, and even losing a little in the final laps.

Overall, I was really happy with my race, and was let down only by my lack of confidence/aggression through that corner. I finished (always a good move), rode hard, my speed is returning and Race Brain is becoming a more regular visitor. Sweet.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Weekly Racing Report

Whilst there was probably dog, horse, horse ‘n’ cart, pigeon and guinea pig racing on last Thursday, there was no track racing at DISC, thanks to a little drip. The drip was well-placed, on the very edge of the duck board in corner one, which lead the race organisers to deem the track too unsafe for racing (good call) but still safe enough for everyone to ride around on for an hour or so afterwards, as they saw fit (ie a dogs breakfast) (bad call). Me, I sat on the rollers for a bit, after a good warm up session on the boards (prior to the No Racing call) then headed home for an early bed time.

Saturday, Coach and I headed off to my home club for some friendly racing. The change to the start times from after lunch to after breakfast is one that I fully appreciate, as it doesn’t take up the whole day to go racing. Unfortunately, only a small number turned up, mainly A and B graders, as it seems that the change of time slipped a lot of people’s mind. Oops.

The weather was typical winter Gippsland: grey, very windy, wet. Coach and I did some warm up laps, then the racing group of 8 did a lap together while the race signage was put out (Thanks to Chris for kicking off his slippers and donning his boots to do a quick run around the circuit in his truck). A bit of discussion about format, distances etc, and the group headed out for a 4km mass start. LCCC ring-in, Tunksy and I were the official C grade and stayed together, swapping turns over the gusty and rolling Fontera circuit. We pushed ourselves over the first two laps, then decided such punishment wasn’t sustainable for the next two laps. Seven times over the climb to Fontera was too much for my trackie legs, and as Tunksy passed me in the final 500m, giving me a nod for the previous 1km leadout, I urged him on for a decisive, well-deserved win, while I slowly collapsed in a heap, dragging my sorry legs up towards the finish line. It’s not often I enjoy road racing, but I do have a heap of fun when I get to do with it with my club.

Sunday I backed up at the Altona Crits. Interestingly, none of the 7-8 women who raced Sunday wanted to race in a women’s only race. Besides the shortened race time offered for women (30minutes) most want to ride against those of a similar ability, and the disparity between the women is too great in such a small field to make it enjoyable and meaningful for all concerned. The racing is either too easy or too hard, with no happy medium for all concerned. But it also says to me that women are not afraid to race when they want to. Pitting yourself against the guys means some tough racing at times, which should result in improved fitness and skills (I hope!!!) for those women who do step up to race with the guys.

Anyway, I raced D grade, keen for the extra 20 minutes of racing, and the mentoring offered by Footscray members to that group. The first 20 minutes were “under control” and we sat in the low 30’s on the shorter circuit, constantly getting blasted head on and side on (both sides) with a too short span of tail wind. During the 50min of racing, the wind picked up, so that each lap in the last 10min progressively got worse in the battle of the block headwind. I stayed up the front of the bunch for the first 25min, watching my positioning, hunting for wheels, claiming wheels off guys, and losing a few metres each corner (oops, need to work on that; but not as many metres as I used to) only to regain those metres with some sprint efforts out of each corner, reclaiming my pre-corner position. I’ve not raced a crit since May 17, so was happy with how I handled the race overall.

Once the control was removed, racing was on, and I managed to hang in for a couple of laps until the jump went in corner 2. I was at the front, well positioned, but was crowded by some guys who had moved forward to take the corner. I hesitated as I felt the pressure of proximity, and in that hesitation, missed the jump through the corner, and was decisively spat out the back. The bunch was slowly ripped apart by three strong riders and the heavy wind, over the next 25min of racing, with a lot of ITT going on, including myself. Once spat, my aim was to see how long I could hang in before the wind and hammy pain beat me in to submission. I stuck it out until the laps were called and my left glute finally called it quits. I was happy with that, and am really looking forward to the next crit to get my cornering back in order and well nailed.