Crazy Baby!

Babies are cute, but lack of sleep isn’t!
So the last few weeks not a lot has happened on the bike front, but plenty has happened on the life front… Our newest addition to the family is a little boy whom weighted in at a whopping 8lbs 13oz, that said he is relatively lean with strong legs and lungs so needless to say this proud dad is planning yet another collection of bikes. Hopefully we have a collection of world cup / tour trophy’s in both Men’s and Women’s categories in 20 or so years (we have a daughter also) .

Naturally with a newborn comes a host of other stressors, not so much lack of sleep but broken sleep to which end both my wife and I are coping reasonably well; it does make getting up early to sit on the bike very difficult. In addition the general lack of time also makes it hard to get out and sit on the bike as well…

Cute Baby Pic:
Aidan Hickey

Enter the pain cave.
Not wanting my recent hard work go to waste I have been spending a pretty significant amount of time on the Ergo / trainer busting my guts (nuts). Generally speaking you need to be a special kind of sick in the head to enjoy sitting on the thing, which is really only designed to cause pain and suffering and not much more!.. Maybe I am that special kind, as I don’t mind it all that much, I’ve even sat outside on it on a nice sunny day and let the mind wander a bit.

The trainer does serve a great purpose however, it is a fantastic tool for doing specific work – things like steady state “Sweet Spot”, LTHR, Vo2 Max intervals, and even just Z2 or tempo work can be done with a great amount of precision that just can’t be replicated on the road, no changes in grade, no coasting…. NO REST! To that end when I do get out on the road, the time on the trainer is then realised, all of a sudden hammering along at warp speed is done with relative ease.

Moving from Threshold focus, to Vo2Max Specificity – the year thus far has been a pretty solid dose of tempo and threshold workouts, work designed to push up the Functional Threshold Power a bulk of the work done in long format intervals painful if done right they offer a host of adaptions to both your aerobic and anaerobic systems and a world of pain for the duration of the interval. Closer to the end of June, prior to race season the focus will shift from improving FTP to working on Vo2Max / Short burst stuff more akin to mountain bike racing. These efforts will be short and sharp, generally <5mins and generally spew inducing.

Race Report… And that was the end of that!
Like usual I prepped my race gear on Friday night, filling bottles, stocking food, etc… Also sitting down and working out a strategy for food and drink. Big breakfast, pre-race snack and 290cal per hour should have me covered… On the day I slept in after a bit of an up and down night with Aidan, not to worry I still got to the course with plenty of time it would just mean my feed station and warm up wouldn’t be ideal… Though I managed to get a good feed spot anyway.

The race started at 10, with the usual mass start – determined not to get caught in traffic my plan was to hammer the first lap before settling into a race pace. I seeded myself on the second row, starting whistle went off and it was on… Straight to 180bpm where the heart rate stayed for the rest of the lap – The plan “worked” as I crossed the line for lap 2 with most of the field of 150 or so behind me. Realising that pace was going to be unsustainable, I dropped back a bit and soon settled into a rhythm of consistent laps each with only a few seconds of each other.

Attack, Attack, Attack! Despite slowing down a little I was obviously going a decent pace as I was being passed by very few, and generally using the team riders that did pass as a wheel to hang onto. Between laps 3 and 7 there was a lot of jostling for position amongst myself and a few other solo riders; Generally they were faster over the first half of the course, but I would soon eat them up over the back of the course which was more fast and flowing… On the start of lap 6 myself and a fellow solo rider crossed the line together, after a quick bottle change I managed to escape the feed zone in front.

I would soon come up on a friendly Cannondale rider also in solo, once again we tussled for position for a bulk of lap 6 and 7. On lap 7 I dug in a little more, managed to put a decent gap on the Cannondale rider before hitting the final few kms of single track for the lap. About 5 minutes later, it happened – I caught the soft edge on a turn, it spat me across the track and into the bushes, naturally I unclipped and put my leg down… Ahhhhh that twisting feeling! I didn’t pay too much attention to the pain until I got to a short pinch climb a few meters away from the incident… Sharp shooting pain up my leg as I tried to get up it, I managed to get back to the feed zone albeit in a bit of pain. I hopped off the bike for a few minutes hoping the pain would disappear but to no avail – I figured better to call it quits that do some real damage.

So that was the race, extremely disappointed it ended the way it did, looking at the results with my times, and how I was feeling I would have been good for a decent finish. Looking back at the race, both the starting and feed strategy worked really well with not even a hint of the energy levels dwindling. Body and legs felt great, bike felt great (besides the pivot bearing squeak).

On the positive side, the leg hurts over the weekend but it’s significantly better today; hopefully the rest has made it better; I will find out tonight I guess when I jump back on the bike!

Like always I try to take things away from races… So lessons learnt!
1) Don’t make silly mistakes, flat track is bullshit easy albeit fast to have an off the way I did was some real window licking retardation.
2) I need to work on recovery after efforts, notably climbs i.e. Z5 back to Z4, perhaps some threshold ladder work?
3) Nutrition strategy was spot on!
4) Despite the lack of long rides during training (> 3hrs), it didn’t seem to hurt; shorter Z2 stuff I’ve been doing obviously has similar effects.
5) I tapered a little the week of the race, by Friday I felt like I was flying!
6) For VES Rd 2 in Albury, and a few others a 28/38t front combo would be much more ideal. I didn’t drop out of the 40t at all during the race but the next few rounds have much more defined ascent and descent.
7) I really need to grease my pivot bearings.
8) 26″ isn’t dead yet!

Here is a great snap from the race, special thanks to Jason Heidrich Photography for pic! You can checkout Jason’s work at https://www.facebook.com/JasonHeidrichPhotography?ref=stream.
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More Mediocrity

So the post for week, fought night, month even is a bit of everything, what I’ve been up to and what’s to come.

Firstly what I’ve been up to! Lately struggling to find the motivation to get going in the mornings; whether it’s a result of the restless nights I’ve been having or the fact that it’s getting light just that little bit later every morning I am not sure. That said I seem to be getting in some good miles and the sessions I do manage to complete as planned (which are most of them) are always crackers!.. That said sometimes I feel the need to just ride my bike, usually on a Sunday I will head out for an hour, pedal around, hammer up a few climbs, go for a coffee and enjoy what’s left of the nice summer (now autumn) weather.

As with a bulk of the year to date I’ve been working improving my threshold POWAAARH, without giving too much away this means a steady diet of 2 x 20min intervals, often mixed up with 1 x 40min, 1 x 60min intervals, some Vo2 Max work and the odd bit of long slow distance, tempo rides and lots of other stuff. Is it working? Well I guess I will never know truly until I convince the wife I need a power meter, but if Strava segment times are anything to go by the answer is YES, having collected a fair share of top 10’s on a number of local climbs I am wrapped. I will have to go out to Mount Macedon to do my 20min test again sometime soon to gauge improvements.

Race report: Gazebo 3hr – Rd3
The first weekend in March saw the season finale of GMBC’s Gazebo 3hr series; this month’s round was the first to be held at the Stockyards end of the You Yangs. Not only is Stockyards one of my favorite places to ride, but it’s almost a home track having ridden around the You Yangs since before the MTB trails were even legal, it holds a special place.

The course was a fairly good one, fire road start entering into a long grinding single track climb before a slow technical decent, then another long single track climb, a bit more fire road and a very fast rocky and technical decent, the remainder of the course was a mixture of fast fire road, and reasonably flat single track. A good mountain bikers course!

The race got off to a fast start, I positioned myself mid pack at the start and put the hammer down from the gun; despite not being able to get my right foot clipped in I didn’t lose too much ground into the first climb. By now the field had spread a little but not enough to stop the whole concertina effect once reaching the single track, so got held up a little here. First technical decent was a little sketchy as I’d changed my setup a little and had not done a great deal of riding – not to mention I’d only ever ridden up this new section of trail. Second climb was a good one, second technical decent was FAAAAAAAAAAAAAST! In fact on every lap I’d nearly run down a few poor suckers.

The whole race was reasonably uneventful, I focused on chowing down the gels / bars and drinks and powering along, chasing the odd rider down as they come into my field of vision. As each lap progressed I seemed to get faster on the descents some of which involved the odd evasive action to avoid falling riders on rock gardens. Mid race I had a fall on a sweeping left hander in soft powder, ran a little wide and front wheel dug in… Back on and off I went! On the last lap I got held up on the first climb of the course, after passing the guy I hear “two” and the rider behind me calls out“nice bike Cul”, I give a smug “thanks” in reply knowing full well that could only be one person, I put the hammer down on the decent figuring he’d surely chew me up on the climb. I gave it some stick up the final climb making sure I stayed in front to the single track descent. I never heard from Bodin again until after crossing the line…

Once again finished mid pack in “A” Grade, happy with the result especially given the pace (20.1kph) – If I can keep that up for the 6 hour series I will be extremely happy.

Lessons learnt:
I always try to take lessons from each race, there are a few things that are blindingly obvious.

1) I need to spend more time on the mountain bike, it will be my goal to get out on it at least once a week from now.
2) New position is great, but the 30/40 gearing up front is too big, I spent the whole race in the 40t, a 38 would have been perfect for this.
3) The 680g Maxxis Crossmark tractor tire on the back needs to go, looking for something lighter now (any recommendations, 26 x 2.2?).
4) Racing Crits have paid dividends, more intensity work needed down the track.
5) I need to spend more time on the mountain bike.
6) I need to spend more time on the mountain bike.
7) And finally, I need to spend more time on the mountain bike!

Couple of pics, cheers to James Goodall.
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Nationals:
I didn’t make it to National’s this weekend just gone, which is disappointing as I would have loved to have had a crack at the XCM event, and even the XCE would have been cool. Unfortunately racing for four hours and being four hours from home was a bit too much for the heavily pregnant support crew. Not only that being that far away from home given the circumstances probably wasn’t wise (ref below).

So what’s to come?
As mentioned in a previous post our Baby is coming out tomorrow (13th March) whether it likes it or not it’s about to turn the wife and I’s lives upside down. This will mean a steady dose of sleepless nights, interrupted life / riding / racing, and loads of time on the trainer for the next few months. It’s not such a bad thing though right?.. I mean babies are cute after all and if it’s anything like number one, it will be a cyclist in the future.

That in mind Vic Enduro Series will be a bit of a soft start for me, fortunately there is only one round before June so there is some time up my sleeve to settle in to a routine. Looking forward to what is ahead though!

This will be seeing some action for the next few months:
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What a week!

Some weeks just start off bad, and end much the same as they start – last week was probably one of those weeks!

Last week was a scheduled “rec week”, recovery week, recreational week whatever you want to call it, the aim to deload / distress from all the effort I’d been putting in lately. But as often happens it doesn’t turn out as planned due to lack of motivation a few rides were shortened and the rest of the week was very much a hodge podge of whatever riding, etc… not really an ideal lead up to the weekends Criterium in Ocean Grove.

The Race: Trying to get in a little more volume to make up for my laziness earlier in the week I’d decided I would ride to the race in Ocean Grove – it’s about a 30km trip and a reasonably easy ride. That is of course until I get out the front gate and realize there is a ripping head / head cross wind; to add to my woes I was running about 15mins later then I wanted to be so my easy ride to the race turned into a pretty solid Tempo session.

The circuit in Ocean Grove is a short flat block in an industrial estate that offers little rest…Well none actually! I didn’t expect to do well here at all, my threshold is ok at the best of times (work in progress), but my top end not so good on longer efforts. Being a mountain biker at heart I much prefer the stop / start nature of the other course we use in Geelong. Anyways enough of that.

The race got off to a furious pace once again, it was on the gas from the get go!.. For the duration of the race I was “bouncing off the limiter” with only a few short breaks. I was positioned fairly well for the duration of the race toward the front but keeping my nose out of trouble at about the 20min mark I hit the front and drove the bunch for a while giving it a crack at pulling away but only managing to get a few meters on the bunch before getting pulled back. Sensing I was going nowhere I opted to drop back just a little and save some for the last few mins then my luck changed, cornering on the outside one of the riders on the inside had a little “moment” that forced me off the racing line which scrubbed off a bunch of speed. A majority of the bunch come past and where now 10m in front by the time I got back up to speed; over the next few laps I managed to pull back the 10m but just as I caught the bunch on the second last lap they took off I just had nothing left but I gritted my teeth gave it my all and then struck a pedal in the next corner – I was off again, race over!

While getting blown out the back doesn’t bother me too much, it does serve a purpose or give a lesson – STOP PULLING TURNS!

In all seriousness the Criterium series has helped my intensity no end, it’s just a shame they only run during summer as I could do with that dose of intensity over winter closer to the Endurance series.

Other News

Vic Endurance Series dates have been announced, one round start of April the remainder running June to November, initially I was a little disappointed there was nothing Mid May, but it’s not such a bad thing given the baby is due mid-March. Maybe I can find something else at the end of April / Mid may to slot in to keep my form going (Giant Odyssey maybe?).

I’ve also scrapped the idea of doing the XCO National Championships, instead looking at doing the XCM National round that weekend in Bright instead.

Go Slow To Go Fast!

It’s hard sometimes to ride a bike and not go “fast”, well not even fast but slow, painfully slow!

It’s well documented that recovery rides should form part of any good training program, they serve a vital purpose increasing blood flow to the muscles fibers which helps deliver nutrients to aid muscle repair and remove metabolic waste. During training we are essentially undertaking a process of breaking down the muscle fibers, and then rebuilding during recovery / rest periods – without well thought out and planned recovery there is too much “breaking down” and not enough rebuilding… Any ways more on my point is not so much what happens during a recovery ride, but the fact that they are quite difficult.

Naturally if you spend a majority of the week riding a >30kph, when it’s time to go <20kph on the flat, with 90RPM Cadence the body just feels uncomfortable, it feels almost un-natural; hence these rides are difficult to do properly. The scenery rolls by every so slowly, your arse gets sore when it otherwise wouldn't and well you could be forgiven for being bored out of your brain.

Back up!!!… “The scenery rolls by”, these slow easy rides give us the opportunity to witness or notice stuff we wouldn't otherwise pay too much attention to… My picture for today is the sunrise from this morning; it’s something that happens every day, but also something I wouldn't pay too much attention to…

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Some Race Reports!

Ok so it has been a while since I posted my last update; like usual life gets in the way and less important things get pushed aside; new job, moving, baby on the way, etc… It all adds up! That said the riding is still happening with quite a few solid 12-13hour weeks since my last post and further focus on improving FTP, before shifting to “race prep” for the VES Rd 1 in late March and Wombat 100 in April. All the riding is obviously working as I can’t seem to find a hill I can’t beat my personal best time up buy quite a margin each time I give it some, in additional I picked up another Strava “KOM” – for someone that was never much of a climber, sprinter or anything else bar endurance rider that’s an achievement in itself.

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

GCC Crits Rd 5
25.01.2014

Only my second crit race so I wasn’t expecting too much and would have been happy not to be blown off the back like last time! I struggled a little at the start but dropped back a bit hang off the back for a few laps and then got back into the mix; felt good the second time around. A solo break shot away from the bunch… Late in the race I found myself towards the front and pushing hard which resulted in myself being well off the front for a few laps, eventually the bunch caught me but were reluctant to take turns… End result was mid pack, again burnt my matches a little early.

Road Race 1

GMBC Gazebo Rd2
31.01. 2014

The evening of the 31st say GMBC hold the second round of the Gazebo 3 x 3 series; the race occurred at the end of another very hot week fortunately the evening temperatures were nice and the race was set to be a cracker.
The 200 odd riders lined up at the start, myself in A Grade being the first bunch off… Once started the race set off at a furious pace which like last time caught me out a little, I hit the single track midpack which is where I would stay for the remainder of the race. My race was going reasonably well until I had a few problems with my light not wanting to work in high beam, combined with the dust being thrown up by riders in front made for a hairy few laps with minimal light. Like usual towards the end of the race I had timed my laps well and it would be touch and go as to whether or not I would get across the line in time to do an additional lap; I bumped up the pace a little and managed to gain a few positions approx. 3kms from the finish… Pushing hard, I noticed my light had started flashing, or warning me there was only 10mins of juice left… Sure enough I made it to the line with only 1 minute to go, but without enough light to complete another lap I had to call it quits; close to 30 seconds later the 3 A Graders I’d just passed rolled though, and completed another lap!!! FARK!

So the race didn’t go quite as planned, but there are a few lessons to be learned from it for the longer races coming up:
1) Food and drink strategy worked well, but time in the feed zone needs to be sped up.
2) Work on that hole shot, I spent more time behind people much slower than I would have liked to.
3) Pedal faster damn it!

Gazebo Night

GCC Crits Rd 6:
08.02.2014

My third Crit on what was one of many, many HOT AS HELL days in a row; luckily this race was in the evening so it had cooled off a little – still I felt a little over dressed with the sun gaurds on the arms. The race got off to a fairly steady pace and took a while to find any kind of rhythm, early in the piece two riders took off from the front which left the bunch to work out the minor placing’s. This race I felt pretty good from the get go, towards the front for most of the race I worked hard to keep my position at about 3rd wheel in the bunch. Towards the end of the race the pace hotted up a little with myself and a few others pulling turns at the front… Once again with approx. 5 laps to go I found myself at the front of the bunch; I was working hard to create gap but just couldn’t get a break… I lead the bunch into the final turn, snap… I left my sprint a second late and was swamped.

Once again not un happy with the result at all, working hard will get the results I am after eventually! It was a great race unfortunately my game plan was a little off this time.

Looking forward to the next round of crits, and hanging out for some LONGER MTB races!

Last Week In Review & A Race Report!

Last week was a horrible one; not because of anything in particular other than the fact that it was hotter then HELL – 40c and above for a majority of the week meant getting out on the bike at bullshit o’clock was the only option if one wanted to get a ride in; even then it was still hot. Now I don’t mind the heat, but 32c at 5am is just a little too much!

This week was planned to be a shorter week anyways with only 10hrs of riding on the cards; but just because it was short doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard and fast with quick rides on Wednesday, with the group on Thursday and Crit racing on Saturday. If I could figure out how to post my Training Peaks “time in zone” chart I would – but in summary 82mins ABOVE lactate threshold in a week is… Well working hard!

Out before the heat sets in!
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Race Report: As I mentioned above, I raced on the weekend it was my first of hopefully many Criterium races I had a blast and here is a little race report!

I’d been meaning to do Geelong Cycling Club’s summer crit series all summer unfortunately due to other commitments I missed the first half of the series before Christmas – finally on Friday I decided to get my CA license so I could race on Saturday. I tossed and turned all night wondering if I should be racing B-Grade or C-Grade as this would be only my first crit (second road race)… I rode 20km from home to the race to warm up and see how I felt – the scene was set, B grade it was.

The race was fairly uneventful, it started at a steady but reasonably quick pace and the bunch of about 25 or so stayed together for a majority of the race with only a few one man breaks from time to time which the bunch would soon dispose of. With the mountain bike experience in mind I tried to position myself nearest the front as possible but found myself naturally rotating through the bunch a little, front one lap, back next, then front again. I felt good as the race progressed despite my HR being well above LTHR! Soon we got the “3 Laps” board, I was excited and feeling good – until midway though the 3rd last lap, I come down the decent to the back of the course much faster then the bunch as I had most laps; soon I found myself closing the gap to the single man break in front of me, but also with a gap the bunch behind me… I look back only to see the bunch winding up “fark” I thought to myself!!! It felt like the whole bunch had just hit warp speed and flew past, I hammered up the climb to the start finish area trying my arse off not to get dropped from the bunch, doing my best just to grab a wheel, I didn’t care who’s at this point but the gap got bigger, and bigger, and bigger…. I finished the race circulating by myself, with only sight of a few other riders that got blown out the back a few minutes after I did.

So that’s it first Crit race done, I probably could have done better but I think my lack of experience probably let me down a little (little hard early on). Still I had a blast riding with GCC and B-Grade so naturally I will be back next week to do it all again!

I was neither happy nor disappointed with the result, the race offered a great opportunity to add some decent intensity to my riding; not too dissimilar to an XCO event. Hopefully the Crits pay off leading into the run to XCO nationals, and later the XCM and Endurance events I’ve planned for the year!

Long & Easy!

For most longer rides are reserved for the weekends; I guess I am lucky enough to have reasonably flexible working arrangements
coupled with the fact that I am a stupidly early riser, midweek brings a good opportunity to get in some KM’s without impacting on family life “too” much.

So this morning I get dressed and head to the shed without much of a clue of where I was going,  only knowing that it would be a relatively easy Z1/Z2 ride. This morning I opted for something a little different and set off towards the coast and Cadel country hoping for a decent ride. The wind was a little more then I had bargained for with the first hour of riding completed at 23kph, fortunately once I reached Ocean Grove the wind was at my back along the beach all the way to Torquay and a lovely cross wind back home.  Ended up riding a solid 96kms in 3:24:30 (28k avg), most of the ride completed in Z1 (2:05) and Z2 (1:07), with a little fluff when pushing into the wind, and the odd climb.

This is the second time I’ve headed down the coast in the space of a week; it offers something different to the farmland around my home. As I said to another local rider on the way home on the weekend “there is only so many times you can see the same tree and still be interested”. The change of scenery has renewed my interest in doing longer rides – I feel an epic one coming up.

Didn’t spot Cadel, but it was a great ride all the same!