Saturday, 30 January 2010

RIP LoonyBike

Today I picked up the dead body of my beloved Bianchi Luna, and brought her home. Dr Rauol did a a thorough testing of her little frame after her too close encounter last weekend, and the verdict was: dead. No more rides for my shiny disco queen bike.

So now I am going through the process of insurance claims and sourcing another frame of equivalent standard. How you do that on a 5-6 yr old model that was a limited production, is no longer available, and where the technology and models have progressed and changed will be an interesting one to be negotiated with the insurance company.

Anyway, I now have quotes for two framesets, which in themselves are not easy to get as 1) frames tend to come these days made up as complete bikes; bike company don't actually release many frameset types for individual sale and 2) stock is limited in Australia, and the shops are currently waiting on shipment from Italy.

So, while the next step should be resolved by next week ie getting the money from the insurance company, the bit after that ie actually having a bike to ride and race, may take some time unfortunately.

People have been saying to me that it must be exciting to be shopping for a new bike. Frankly, if you are not ready for it, it's one of the crappiest experiences a cyclist can have. I am kinda excited to be possibly upgrading, but its a couple of years earlier than I anticipated, so it's heavily tinged with sadness and scraps of denial to be parting company from a much loved bike.

At least her last riding day was spent racing and then hauling my arse home, which Princess Loony was good at.  Glitter in bike heaven little bike.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Happy Oz Day

aka gratuitous winery plug. Mind you, I don't mind plugging gratuitously when I get to drink it.

This one is a chardy pinot noir bubbly and with each mouthful I think it should taste like a refined apple cider. It's very clean and fresh and reminds me of snow melt. Funny, considering where it comes from. EIther way, it really is a bloody good drop...

PS Marty, still waiting on the prosecco ;-P

Monday, 25 January 2010

A Bright Afternoon

well, kind of.

After my race, I hung around a bit, to watch the Men's B grade and catch up with a few people. The men's race was delayed with the crash in my race, and when Mr Wino retired, I decided it was time to hit the road and get myself to Bright. It was midday, and it was reasonably hot. I had fluids, I had eaten, I was ready to go!

what's with the ladder??

I took the road from Wangaratta to Everton, then after a stop for a coke and photo opportunity I hit the rail trail. I was tired, my saddle wasn't doing its supportive role as effectively as it should have (well, considering the scraping it had been through, it was actually holding up really well), my back and glutes were hurting, my brain was not in a happy place. And that was after 22km! So I decided I'd take myself off the main road, so I didn't have to contend with the  traffic, ie one less thing to worry about.

The trail is slightly uphill all the way to Myrtleford, as well as being dead and covered in tree trash, and ant nest sand. I had my race wheel up front. Probably not a good combination, but post-ride I can vouch for the durability of Euros. So I pedalled along, at bike path speed (slow!!) and saw some cows, and some other cows, and then further along, some cows. The stockhorse stud was a feature amongst all the...cows.

Then I hit Taylors Gap. 4km of  uphill. You got to be kidding me?? The road to Bright is flat!! Surely it's over soon... The only recompense was the awesome multi-km downhill section after. Until I hit the bridge. The one that was much earlier signed as "Rough Section Ahead" on the trail. Rough section? Ok, what does that mean? No sealing on the section? It's been ripped up?? Tree roots lifting.. o SHIT!!! my front wheel!! Why didn't you say BRIDGE you arsehole sign???? Thankfully it was short, but long enough to knock my eyesight out for a few metres. Triple ouch with lambs kidneys on top.

Along the way, I was very conscious of odd noises coming from the bike, in light of its experience the day before. And of course, when you listen, you hear all sorts of garglings and gurglings that you may not have otherwise noticed. So when I start to hear a clunking noise, I think ok, the saddle has finally given up (I had a brand new saddle in the backpack, just in case. Thanks  Manon from Rock and Road Cycles!!) So I stopped and checked the saddle. Nope, nothing there. I get back on and keep riding. Clunk clunk clunk. I stop again and check the bottom bracket in case there is a split or fracture or similar there. Nope, all good. I get on and keep riding. Clunk clunk clunk. Then I realise. I have the zip of my Sam Miranda jersey done all the way down, and the zip tag is hitting the large plastic buckle of the waist strap on my back pack. Doh!! (and some big relief).

There were also some awesome photo opportunities on the way: a herd of steers pawing up a dust cloud around them, ochre rusted machinery in the direct midday sun, a row of rusty old bikes as a fence. But, I was on a mission, and have committed them to the memory experience instead, somewhat regretfully.

After Taylor's Gap and the Bridge From Hell, I hit Myrtleford and a lunch stop. It was 2.30. It had taken me 2.5 hrs to ride 48 km from Wang. I felt like shit. As I walked into the cafe, the owner took one look at me as I stood at the counter,  said I think you need a glass of water, and passed me one. Plump is a great cafe, the owner looks like Stuey O'Grady with hair. He's not, as I've asked him before! So a 30 minute stop there, and I was back on the bike.

Five km down the road, my phone let me know it had an sms for me. I ignored it, gritting my teeth, determined not to stop. My quads were singing the death scene from Madam Butterfly, the rest of  me ached, my butt had had a gutful of the saddle, and they were arguing like two kids in the back of the car. I had 45 min to go, and a small climb out of Porepunkah to deal with. I was on my way!. 10km later I decided to check the phone. It was Mr Flowerpants: I'm done, do you want me to come get you.

All I could think of was the river, and not doing that climb out of Porepunkah. That's how bad I was! So I said yes, put the bike down and waited. Half an hour later, I was sitting in the river, with happy legs and glutes.

Strolling through the AAC Village, I was impressed with how this has grown, and kinda wistful not to be able to stay and enjoy it. As it was, I caught up with a few long lost acquaintances. Hearing your name called out in an Audax crowd is a bit weird, you don't really believe it. We finally packed the car up, and dropped by Sam Miranda to collect the teschner, which had been babysat for me overnight. Got home by 11 pm, totally wrecked, after a stop for dinner at Milawa Pub, and feeding the mare on the way home.

The weekend was a huge whirlwind tour of cycling: track, crit and audax. Met some new people, caught up with old ones, debuted in my new kit (and made the local tv news at the front of a wheel race heat!!), trashed my guts on racing food, saw Janelle Smith's  huge dose of tonsilitis (what everyone really wants to see - giant tonsils lol), ate some really GOOD icecream, hung out with my bike buddies, had a minor heart failure with the bikes, but mostly, I had a heap of fun. That's all you can ask for: joy from doing what you love. aaaaaaaaawwwwwwww

I've been Wanged! Critorama

Mr Flowerpants left at 2am for his sub 10hrs of torture. How he did it on 2hrs sleep beats me. I got in 6.5hrs of sleep, breakfasted, suited up, and rode out to the crit course, 5 min by bianchi down the road. Not used to having to actually ride on the road to warm up, I cut laps of the course for 10km until the baby juniors started racing, then cut laps on the next block down. A few jump sprints with the backpack on is interesting!

Nine of us lined up to face the 600 odd metre rectangle, with some rather interesting corners. Corner two was at the top of a small rise, with a spoon drain and walkway pavers, requiring a careful line up each lap. Corner 3 at the end of the back straight narrows with the kerbing extending onto the roadway, and a sharp corner onto mid-road barriers to stop the supercrit-ters hanging their arses out on the wrong side of the road to become bonnet ornaments. Corner 4 was a fast roundabout with a heavily roughed up surface from heavy road traffic. It was going to be interesting.

Even more interesting was my complete inability to click my right foot in when we started. I went through the first corner unclipped and off the back. Once reconnected with the bike, I tried to make up ground over the next few laps without success, so I backed off to let my soon to be partner in arms catch up. Wendy and I worked together for the next 35 min, slowly being lapped, a few times, by the younger field. We worked well, swapping turns each lap, encouraging and supporting each other, and politely hurting each other as well.

Coming into the final lap, with a ladylike agreement in place (coff coff), we were confronted with the red flag at the end of the back straight. Four of the five girls on the front were either tangled in the barrier or with each other, bikes and bodies strewn across the road. OUCH!! "Keep going!!" I called to Wendy, it might be enough to change some places (feelings of concern were for later, post race).  We swung through the corner, with Wendy slightly ahead of me, as I had sat back to get past the carnage before the corner. Instead of wacking the chain up onto the big ring, I took it down the rear stack, and got out of the saddle. As I did, the chain skipped, and I lost a vital second or two of momentum, and in the end, just couldn't make up the lost ground. Gearing error and tired legs gave me second in the race for first masters over the line, and a  good win to Wendy returning to the road after a nasty fall a few months ago.

Wrap up on the carnage: Jo Hogan in the back of the ambulance with a suspected broken collar bone, Kate Riley also in the back of the ambulance; Sue McCarthy banged up, nasty gravel rash/road burn, two flat tyres and bent brifters; one other with nasty road burns.

A year ago I would have told you I am not a crit rider, and don't enjoy them. The last year I have made a liar of myself, and I just don't like Glenvale Crit :-) The Wang circuit is fantastic. Tight, fast, needing good lines, commitment, no fear at all. And more women to race it.

I've been Wanged! Trackage

Two days of honest racing (well, let's not talk about the repercharge of the Wang Wheelrace), and a ride to Bright with some odd sights, fireworks, "natural" blueberry icecream, tight corners and good "team" work, and the Steven Bradbury effect.

O, and nearly losing two bikes on the car roof to a lowline concrete archway entrance. It' s easy to forget things, like bikes on the roof, when you are talking about, well I can't even remember what we were talking about when the crunching noise started. We'd stopped off at the motel, and were on our way to the track. The noise wasn't splinters of carbon fibre, as I had imagined, but the roof rack denting the car roof which then crushed the rear windscreen. The car is far far worse off than the bikes. The bikes survived to be ridden the next day: mine raced hard in a crit then ridden on a rough, trashy rail trail for 80km, Mr Flowerpants' finished the 250km ACE with a ride time of 9hrs 49min. That's all that matters! Cars can be repaired.

Wang Track Carnival:

Arriving at the track frazzled, without my usual warm-up set up ie road bike on the trainer, thanks to a broken saddle, I made the best of what I had, and put the teschner on the trainer, with training wheel in the rear, race wheel on the front.  After the first race, Mr Flowerpants had sourced a saddle from elsewhere, but I couldn't sit on it. My delicate butt reacted immediately to it (fizik tundra), so it was back to the teschner, with a less than ideal warm up. Eventually the broken saddle was repaired well enough to get me through the weekend and the end of the track meet.

With the potential for 6 races, if you placed or made it through the repercharges, this meet has to be one of the better ones for women, apart from the prizemoney. Racing for $5  sprint primes in a scratch race is a little sad. We only had 12 or so girls racing, so our scratch race was always going to be a case of  A graders first over the line, with the B graders half a lap down. I wasn't worried about being at the back end of the field, and used it to finish my warm up, bridging a few gaps, and spending way too much time out on my own, friendless, moving forward up the line.

The Scratch race was shortly followed by the first of the Wang Wheelrace heats, which are mixed gender, first four through to the final, rest through to the repercharges. I don't remember much apart from being out the front for 2 1/2 laps fo 4. Once caught, I was boxed in by a halfwheeling woman, so wasn't able to come off the front for recovery. So I backed it off to let her come forward, which she did, but not for long. When she came off, she sat beside me again, so once more, I had nowhere to go but stay where I was. Not impressed. She wasn't doing either of us any favours. When she repeated the effort in a later race, she was promptly told where to go. From this heat, three of the six women in the field made it through to the finals.

Not fully understanding the repercharge process, and thinking I was out of the whole shebang (wishful thinking?? ha!) as the second heat of the repercharge was called, Mr Wino was adamant I was repercharging. So I hopped on the bike with the view of rolling over to the officials to check it out. As I rolled around, they called my mark out. Fortunately my pusher was on the ball and I cruised around to meet him. All systems go, ready to race! It was a three-quarter hearted effort, and once I realised that I was not in the running, I rolled over the line, saving something for the final race.

We finished off with a 1000m (2 lap) handicap. I was off limit. I could sit up and wait for Jess who was 5m behind, or I could just go for it, like the old days. Up and running, winding up the gear and a little voice came from the teschner: let it rip baby! So I floored the accelerator. Lap one, still winning the race, halfway through lap 2, only 250m to go, I am still winning. I can't hear anything, and there is noone around me. 100m to go,  Emy rockets through and I am in second. 60m to go and I am just overtaken for third. 40m to go and I can see money. I am in third place! I keep driving myself, forcing my legs to keep going at their limit. 30m to go and I see a bike out of the corner of my eye: one, then another, then 20m to go and bunch comes through and I am rolled at the finish, with nothing left to go with the bunch. I am pretty happy with that, but need a little lie down after the effort.

With the racing done, Poida and I head off for our icecream arm wrestle. I am not sure who won, Poida I suspect, cos she wolfed down her icecream before me.  The rest of the racing was hard and fast and the evening finished up with some fireworks. Corny but impressive at the same time.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Long weekend

in more ways than one. But I am really pleased with my cleverness in taking Monday off, cos I now am really gunna need it!!

Being the Australia Day weekend, the place to be is Bright, home of the Audax Alpine Classic, and a bit. The place is chock full of cyclists already, thanks to a thing called the Semaine Federale. You can google that. It's an Audax thing, celebrating long rides over a week long period. As my friend Mr Flowerpants is an Audaxer, and one of the original Alpine Classickers, he is riding the new, inaugral,  soopadoopa 250km version of the Alpine Classic. Nutter.

Me, well I was originally going to be in attendance as the supporting bike chick. Then a kindly winery manager convinced me to ride Wangaratta Track Carnival on Saturday night, backing up with the Wang Crit on Sunday. This is cool, but because Mr Flowerpants has to leave Wang at 2.30am Sunday morning to get to Bright, saddled up and ready to roll out for a 4am start, it means I'll be carless on Sunday if I stay for the crit.

Now, that should be no drama. I'll ride to Bright after the crit, methinks. A cunning plan!!! The forecast for Sunday is mid 30s, as in 35 or more. Ok. Wang to Bright is about 80km. And then I realise it's a crit. That means an intense warm up is required. I can see a long hard day in the saddle coming up. I've not ridden over 80kms in, well I'm not going to say because it's embarassing.  Thank goodness there are lots of little towns on the way, because I'm going to drink stop my way to Bright!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Biscuit on a Baking Tray

in a fan-forced oven. That's what I was during yesterday's Broadie-Seymour Club weekly handicap at Strath Creek. 35 degrees, winds 40-50kph. We dealt with snakes, dead lamas, wide loads and hurt.

I was the only female racing, and fortunately, being female and having fully operational fluttering eyelashes, I was off limit with three guys: Eric the Yankee, a guy called Tubsa and, The Don, a man of advancing, wise years and therefore worthy of such a name. You get the picture! Now Tubsa worded me up on Eric, and on The Don, so I was set with my game plan and strategies, namely, hanging on for as long as I could. I was told The Don takes time to wind it up. So I found out. 13km out and back, followed by another 12 km I never saw (thankfully!!) It took The Don 13 km to wind it up, so that at the turn around, he was fully wound up into a raging headwind! Ouch.

The race started with a small climb out of Strath Creek and a call from me on the second corner of Shiiitt!! A snake!! Eric had run over a skinny but lengthy black snake, which was squirming all over the road in front of me. What?? Where?? the guys came back at me. They hadn't seen it, least of all Eric, who had made it hurt and pissed in the first place. Up the hill into a tail come cross wind, and we were sailing. Sailing so much Tubsa and I were dropping The Don and Eric on every climb. Sailing so much when I rolled through over the top for my turn on the front, when I turned to look, the guys were 10m or more off my wheel. Or maybe I am a really shit wheel to ride. Ha. Sailing so much, I crisped myself around the edges in the oven without realising it.

It was hot. Did I mention how hot it was? My semi-frozen Sukkie was warm by 10km. As we rode past the lama farm, we noticed one of them flat out on its side, looking somewhat.. well.. dead. I don't think it was, but I wouldn't blame it for acting like it was yesterday. Of course, we then made dead lama jokes to pass the next kilometre or so. As you do.

We were beginning to feel the pace, and the heat at the first turn around point. The Don lead us through, then got a small gap on us. I jumped over to him. knowing he was the deciding wheel to have. A km after the turn around point, a little bit of chaos appeared before us, as the second limit bunch encountered a wide load turning in front of them into a side road. We neutralised until the chaos rode past. Third bunch was coming, the road was flat and the headwind abated momentarily, so I rolled onto the front and drove our little bunch along, looking good for the boys as they rode past. Apparently I looked "strong". Heh my plan worked, cos not long after, I was looking anything but! But you can't let the opposition know that!

At the 20km mark, we'd well and truly left Eric to contemplate his suffering by himself, and were driving it up a reasonable hill. Last 10m and I was slightly off the wheel and a gusting blast hit us head on. My legs swore a lot and my brain gave up just long enough to know that if I pushed through that gap, I'd make it back on only to be pinged again as the guys lifted the pace downhill into the headwind. 20km of hard work. I was happy with that and let Tubsa and The Don sit 500m away from me for the next 3.5km. I did have some thoughts of pushing back over to them, but in the end, decided to manage my own way home in the heavy headwind. With 2km to go to the next section (ie home!!) the second bunch came through, with the call of "Get on!!" I managed to pick up pace alongside them and hooked onto the back, to find Eric getting a tow as well. Good stuff! About 20seconds later, Eric was no longer getting a tow. We hit the bottom of the little climb into Strath Creek, 1km from home, and I couldn't hold on any longer. My legs were basket cases. I went from doing low 20s up the hills into the headwind, to 12kph on this climb. It was short, but steep. It was the end for me.

I rolled into home base, started stripping off to cool down before I had clipped out, threw down some cold fluids. And felt great! The heat was my limiting factor and once cool, felt fine. Stats showed I was at HR overthreshold for an hour. (I am yet to look at the watts) I think the heat had a fair bit to do with that figure, but I was stoked with the work out. I hadn't felt like training, so a race was the easiest way to avoid training. Even though the road itself isn't especially difficult, ie small undulations that roll along, mix in a few other ingredients such as mid 30s heat and a bolshy headwind, it becomes one tough little course. There's little shelter from either sun or wind, and lots of sneaky places to lose wheels unawares. A good place to bake biscuits.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

If Pain is

just weakness coming out of the body, then why do I feel weaker when my muscles are pained?

Yes, it's Day 2 post gym, after a 3 week hiatus. I tell myself that the pain is blocked energy and it will dissipate in time after I move away from ball and chain at the office desk. It just takes a while that's all, and I look kinda funny hobbling away down the corridor, with my work colleagues giving me knowing nods: ah yes, she's been to gym.

Apart from training, and some avoidance of training this week, I have managed to book  a bunch of open track racing into a four weekend block, starting next weekend with Wangaratta Track and Crit. I'll be in my new Sam Miranda kit, looking sparkly and fresh. Well for a few moments before racing starts anyway.

To celebrate my racing eagerness, I won't be racing tonight at Northcote's inaugral meet for the year. I am too tired and sore. O yeah, it's just weakness leaving my body.....

Monday, 11 January 2010

Well, it's Summer I guess

It's hot. The weekend was hot, today is even hotter. I think my hotometer is overly sensitive since it's exposure to the heat at Shepparton a couple of weeks back (that long ago???).

I am in heat avoidance mode. Cool and still. Movement increases core temperature, which means: heat!

That being said, I had two good training sessions on the weekend. Even the easy, social ride with a seniors' card-carrying rider yesterday had some good wattages, peak and sustained. I must be getting back on track.  I can feel a break through heading my way. Or at least a return to gym tomorrow after three weeks off. Am looking forward to that! Anticipating the stiffness and pain on Thursday, just in time for my 2010 return to Thursday night track racing. Sweet!

Thursday, 7 January 2010


111 friends on Facebook, 111 posts on my other blog, all achieved by 01.01.10

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Xmas Carnivals 2009 Shepparton

Quote of the carnivals, from the commentator in the kierin heat: Coming into the final lap, Lawrence Maskill is gritting her teeth. Either that or she is smiling!

Well, I was gritting my teeth for the pain that was about hit me as I stepped out alongside Carly McCoombe and hit the accelerator, but I was smiling as I did it. First two through to the final, and all I had to do was finish behind Carly. I was in the box seat, on her wheel, but to be honest, had no intention of going through to the final. I made that decision on the start line, and planned to see what was left in the legs in the back straight of the final lap. There was nothing, nada, zip. Three days of racing and 38 degree heat had sapped me. But I was happy: happy to have a play, have a crack, and to also not have to do a kierin against some of the strongest and fastest open women in the State in that heat. All you can do is smile, and have a laugh!

It was nastily hot, and most of us were knackered.

Unfortunately, Racerboy took a tumble, thanks to being aggressively chopped. OUCH!! He had some deep de-barkings..

But, we all know girls dig scars. I don't think he believed me when I told him! And this is a guy who has nuns in cars wolf whistle at him!

Reading over my blog entries from this time last year, and the year before (my god, is this blog that old??!) I'm glad to have made the last minute decision to go to Xmas Carnivals this year. Last year I missed them, and the gains from going this year are many, least of which was getting some quality workouts into my depleted legs. Hot, hard racing, great fun, a vitamin shot for my cycling soul. Bring on 2010!