Form, Crashing Down!

It seems to be an all too familiar tale for a cyclist, you spend all summer building, finding form, peaking… Then BAM! It all comes crashing down – in quite a literal sense in this case.

Summer racing was going fantastically, and culminating with racing Master’s A the MCL Kermmese, and the GCC Criterium Champs before starting to focus on my MTB endurance season, which I was hoping to kick off at Wombat 100. Unfortunately fate wasn’t on my side! At the end of my recovery week I hit the road during an altercation with a car, the end result was 5 stitches in my knee and some ligament damage just for good measure. This has resulted in a long, painful and rather slow return to riding. Almost 4 weeks later and I am finally starting to feel like I am pedalling circles again rather than the squares I was last week.

The most frustrating thing is that all of this is the result of circumstances out of my control, placed firmly in the hands of someone in their aluminium box (read Car) obviously too distracted to notice they were 30cm into the shoulder, or even that that nearly driven over the top of me!…

Riding the Form Train, GCC Criterium Champs!
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The Good Bits?
With all this bad though, does come some good!.. I somehow managed to convince the wife I needed a 29er Hardtail to race on, so I have spent the last few weeks building up this. Again a bit of a slow process, but building bikes is a process that I enjoy.
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…and finally, I am pretty chuffed to announce that Pro4mance – Endurance Sports Nutrition will be supporting my racing endeavours this year with the supply of Hydration and Nutrition products. Check out their website and products at: http://www.pro4mance.com.au/ .

Summer Done!

One would be forgiven for thinking I had forgotten about the website – reality is I’ve just been busy, busy with work, busy with life, and of course busy riding my bike while the weather is nice! I’ve managed to clock some 3800km’s over the summer months (Dec-Feb) which includes taking it easy for a few weeks after separating my AC Joint in a racing accident – fortunately the injury although still hurts was relatively minor and didn’t keep me off the bike for long.

So what I have I been up to you ask? Racing of course, summer is Criterium season after all – so the weekends have been full of racing be it with my local Geelong Cycling Club, or with SKCC on alternate weeks. On the Criterium front the racing is going well with each race providing an opportunity to learn new things and push oneself to new limits. The results have been mixed with a number of podiums at local races, strong finishes at St Kilda; but also a number of headshakes as the realization sets in that I’d missed the break, or burnt my box of matches too early in the piece. But with that comes learning!

As does a move to A Grade – this weekend saw my first race in Masters “A” Grade at the much hyped MCL Kermesse at Caribbean Park; I won’t go into too much detail but will say it hurt but the pain soon disappeared on finishing in the front half of the field. I was chuffed, but not chuffed enough to race Elite B Grade as well as I had planned to!!!

Some pictures from summer’s fun!
MCL Kermesse 15.03.2015
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GCC Twilight Crit 10.03.2015
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GCC Eastern Gardens Crit 22.02.2015
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With the end of Summer comes the end of Criterium season, Geelong Cycling Clubs Criterium Championships and a shift in focus back to MTB XCM /Endurance Racing – so best I get out to the shed, dust off the mountain bike and pump up those tires because there is already a healthy season planned with 7 Rounds of Vic Enduro Series pencilled in, and the hope of getting to the XCM Nationals in Tasmania in May.

2014 in review!

2014 was a year of ups and downs, in terms of “life events” it was probably the biggest year to date; a change of career and working much closer to home meant more time for family, and of course the bike; not to mention being much happier with life! March saw the birth of our second child, a strong boy whom I am convinced will be riding any day now (he is already walking at 9 ½ months). The year also saw my wife rushed to hospital for emergency surgery and all my riding / MTB racing goals put on hold!..

So let’s look at the goals, what went right and what went wrong!

Goal 1) This year I want to ride 12,500km. – Done, 12,697km ridden by Dec 31st 2014… I thought it would be touch and go, but I made it ;-)

Goal 2) I want to ride down the coast, for something different! Done, but as I reported in July only as far as Anglesea, hopefully over the warmer summer months I can get down to Lorne and beyond.

Goal 3) I would like to tackle the climbs of south side of Mt Macedon, Donna Buang, Lake Mountain and Falls Creek. Partially done, managed to get up the south side of Mount Macedon, and also Mount Buller, again hopefully with the warmer weather I can get another climb or two in.

Goal 4) I would like to do well in Age Group at the 2014 XCO Nationals. No good in this instance, with the son due just after the event in Bright, Vic getting a leave pass was not going to happen, this one is on the back burner until 2015!

Goal 5) This year I want to finish strong at the Wombat 100. As above!

Goal 6) This year I want to chase the podium, and hopefully make one of the steps in the 2014 Victorian Enduro Series. Flop on this one, 2014 saw a very strong solo field in the VES add to that my limited time for training and that I only managed to get to 3 of the rounds my chances weren’t good! I am considering the 2015 season if it goes ahead.

Goal 7) Start racing road more actively. Well and truly done, I’ve raced some 13 criteriums since October, looking forward to getting in more over the remainder of summer.

Crit II

Riding highlights of the year!..
Riding in the Gold Coast hinterland, just recently returned to Qld for Christmas, I managed to get in quite a few rides around the northern end of the Gold Coast hinterland while I was there for some fantastic riding, great climbs and courteous drivers. I still can’t believe I took a hiatus from riding the years we lived on the base of Mount Tamborine…

Riding in Coffs Harbour, a fantastic place to holiday, ride and hopefully soon live! I have my eyes on the Rainbow Cycles sprinters, and Phar Lap jerseys!

Racing the Shimano Supercrit support race, feeling “pro” without being “pro”… Even the “B” Grade support race had a decent crowd and atmosphere!

Riding / Racing with power, the data is mind boggling but extremely useful!

Goals for 2015 and beyond…
So as the sun sets on 2014, it rises on in 2015… What my goals will be for the year is still undecided, so stay posted to see what the year brings!

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What Happened!

Unfortunately sometimes life gets in the way; I had every intention on racing the whole Vic Enduro Series, however after suffering though a very muddy round at Officer, and then having the wife rushed to hospital in an ambulance the weekend after I was forced to take a step back from racing, the bike, work and just about everything else in life to support the family that support me though my endeavours. Everything is ok now, the wife is well and truly on the mend and the time off the bike probably did me good!

A Muddy Mess!

Early August saw Round 4 of the Vic Enduro Series take place at Officer, the weather leading up to the event was pretty good, reasonably sunny and for the most part dry however the day of the race, it rained so much so I was concerned my Fiesta wouldn’t make it up the fast flowing river that once was a road. Soon the car was in position, feed zone set up and race number zip-tied on. At the start the small number of riders that turned up were raring to go, the race would be a battle against conditions rather than an actual race against other riders.

Soon enough the race started, with a solid climb up though the feed zone, and into the single track, it soon became apparent this would be a real mud bath. The first few laps were uneventful, I found a rhythm and although not really quick was consistent lapping within seconds of the last. After 4 laps the track had deteriorated quite badly so much so pinch climbs were unclimbable, and trying to navigate the off camber corners usually resulted in ending up in the bushes. By now I was having zero fun, and it became more about trudging on than anything else – coming though the start finish area, I heard one of the marshal’s advise just over an 1hr to go, a little bemused I was unaware prior to this a decision had been made to shorten the race… I managed another two laps, although there was more running than riding happening as the course had become pretty well unpassable.

Final results, I ended up 11th in Solo (mid pack). I wasn’t particularly happy with the result given the small field and the fact I’d given it my all but come up well short of my own expectations! In addition to torture that was riding around in the mud for 4hrs made me question WTF I am doing, and why – I didn’t have fun, the amount of effort put in certainly wasn’t worth the outcome! But hey, you have good days and bad days and that’s racing I guess!

Four washes, and I am still cleaning the thing.. This is why!

Moving forward!

As I said above there were a number of life factors that severely limited my getting on the bike during late August and early September; while naturally I did lose a fair bit of fitness it was probably a good few week break that was needed. It offered the chance to gain some perspective and also just go riding for the sake of riding. My goals initially set for VES are now all but a pipedream having missed Rounds and 2, 5 and very likely to miss Round 6 as well due to family commitments; I am not overly disappointed though, Crit Season is now here, and GMBC’s Gazebo series is set to kick off again in December.

Whilst the winter season was a bit of a write off, it wasn’t a complete wreck, there are a few learnings to be had particularly around the effort required to manage cycling / racing with a newborn, and what works and doesn’t – I’ve tried a lot of new things this year both on the bike and trainer, some have worked some haven’t, but most importantly I am stronger now than when I was when I set out these endeavours.

SKCC Crit 05.10.2014

… and action!

Finally after weeks of preparation on the eve of the race at Blores Hill the wife and I packed the kids in the car, hooked up the trailer and off we went – of course this was not only for the race, but an opportunity to get away for the weekend and also the first chance we’ve had to use the camper trailer since we got it a few months ago. After arriving at the venue, and farting around with setting the thing up it would soon be time for dinner and bed. Granted it took a little longer than planned, but what does go as planned when you have a 4 month old in tow!

Race Day
The morning of race day was full of nerves as usual; fortunately there was little to do the morning of the race besides eat breakfast, and get dressed. None of the usual waking up early, packing cars, driving for miles, getting ready etc… After a short warm up we had the race briefing and then line up for the self-seeded start – Determined not to get bogged down in traffic I put myself on the second row directly behind the eventual race winner. Soon enough the bell went and we were off, about 15sec in I ran up someone’s arse; great start I thought in a mad panic I shoved the bloke out of the way and put the hammer down for the remainder of the prologue lap which would see me enter the single track in a reasonable position. I kept the pace up for the first lap with a few changes in position both up and down. After lap one I settled into a rhythm of pedalling, keeping the fluids and food up.

The next few laps were fairly uneventful; just cruising along stringing together corner after corner of fantastic single track. Blores Hill is a great place to ride, fast flowing trails nothing overly technical with the exception to the run up to, and from Trigg Point which is loose, rocky and steep in sections… It’s also in a bit of a rain shadow, so despite the recent rain in Melbourne / Geelong the place was near on bone dry.

After the 4th lap I stopped to take on more food and bottles before heading back out; unfortunately my timing couldn’t have been worse the 3hr riders had started only a few minutes earlier, their race joined the course a few kms into the lap right before the technical climb up to Trigg point and minefield of rock gardens on the descent. I must have caught every slow 3hr rider there was, none of which would heed to my constant (but polite) calls for “track” on the climb. I was stoked when I got to the fire road section of the climb and managed to pass a few, only to come across more on the descent!

After a few spills, including running straight over the top of one of the slower 3hr guys when he fell in front of me I was finally in some clear track, and ready to power back on! I was still feeling good but I was struggling on the climb up to Trigg Point which seemed to get harder and harder every lap. I started really feeling it on Lap 6, the effort was still the same but the speed just wasn’t; I couldn’t find a happy gear and I was getting slower! On the last lap I dug deep hoping to get to the line before cut off enabling me to do another lap but it soon become apparent that I would need to pull out my fastest lap of the race to get there – No hope! In the end I crossed the line 6hr 16mins having done 8laps (113kms) and finishing 17th of 40 or so in Solo open.

At the time I was a little disappointed with the result, I really thought I would be closer to the top 10 but then the realisation that this was the biggest week on the bike since Aidan was born! I felt good on the bike, I ate well and kept the fluids up in all I had ridden a pretty good race despite the mishap with the falling 3hr rider. I had fun and it’s great to be back racing.

A few things to take away from the race!
1) Go hard at the start to avoid the pile up once the single track starts.
2) Do some more work on climbing on the MTB.
3) Admit your 26” is old tech, and buy a 650b / 29er dually already! (the 29er riders made the techy Trigg Point look easy)
4) Try as you might, there probably isn’t a real substitute for volume when it comes to endurance racing.
5) Als you can do is all you can do!

Hell, sure was on a 26’er!

Rocky Descent:

Special thanks to the wife and little ones for their support at Blores Hill their cheers every lap made the race that much easier! Next race is at Officer on the 10th of August; another race to look forward to!

Self Validation!

I have had a quite uneventful month or so since the last update; the planned trip to Albury for VES Rd2 was a “No Go” due to a house full of sick children and a subsequently grumpy wife… Granted it was cold, wet and windy and the race was a slop fest but missing the race was quite a psychological blow having not raced the MTB since April it made me start wondering just why I was doing this again!…

Every now and then when the chips are down, I find it helps to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of sorts. I sat down the other week and thought I would do a bit of validation of my goals I set at the start of the year; some of these were pretty simple goals but goals non the less. Sometimes I think we lose sight of what we originally set out to achieve and get caught up in what we are doing, improving or whatever else to care to much…

Goal 1) This year I want to ride 12,500km. – Well on the way having ridden 7432kms thus far, my current weekly average will get me exactly 12550kms by years end, but more volume will be added when it warms up a little.

Goal 2) I want to ride down the coast, for something different! Done, but only as far as Anglesea, will have to head down when the weather warms up, there are a few climbs I’d like to hit up.

Goal 3) I would like to tackle the climbs of south side of Mt Macedon, Donna Buang, Lake Mountain and Falls Creek.
South side of Macedon done, also climbed Mt Buller which said to be more difficult than Lake Mountain and Donna Buang. More climbs to come when the snow disappears.

Goal 4) I would like to do well in Age Group at the 2014 XCO Nationals. Having kids got in the way of that one, always next year!

Goal 5) This year I want to finish strong at the Wombat 100. As above!

Goal 6) This year I want to chase the podium, and hopefully make one of the steps in the 2014 Victorian Enduro Series. Still working on this one, 5 rounds to go!

Goal 7) Start racing road more actively. Done, when I can – Not racing as much as I would like but there is some good ones coming up! I am looking forward to Summer and Crit season that’s for sure.

So that’s my own self validation for now. In all not a bad effort, with some clear goals to shoot for in the next few months.

Let’s Go Racing!
This weekend is VES Rd3, entries in, accommodation booked so LETS GO RACING! I am really looking forward to this event, it was a good one last year until I crashed out destroying my helmet and bruising my ego.

The lead up to the race has been a bit all over the place with a few sleepless nights, and missed riding days due to poor weather (call me soft, but riding in 70km winds and driving rain is not fun). Like always I always come into the event wondering if I’ve done enough, but also knowing I’ve done all I can!

Getting fast(er) on limited time…

Of late I’ve been asked more frequently what I’ve been doing with my limited time; I seem to be getting faster every time I head out if the local bunch, my average speeds and Strava “trophies” count for anything. So I figured I would detail some of what I do on an average week and share a few of my favourite shorter workouts – there is nothing new or ground breaking here just hard work!

As most with children know having a new born is a challenge in itself, they demand 110% of your time and often falling into bed immediately after they do is the most eagerly anticipated part of the day; on top of that there is work – got to pay the bills, other family commitments – can’t forget the wife and daughter too and finally at the bottom of the list comes riding. All of this means often getting out at “dark o’clock”, a short trainer session while bub is asleep or even just staying in bed / lazing on the couch (recovery) are the only options.

“Dark O’clock”
Admittedly I am a bit of an early riser anyways, so getting up early to head out the door for a ride has never really fazed me. If I am up at 5 o’clock and out the door at it means I can get in a solid 2 hours of riding before needing to race home and get ready for work. I usually use this time to get in some much needed actual riding and respite from the brain drain that is spending a lot of time on the trainer. These rides usually have some purposeful training but nothing too regimented, I will often take the opportunity to make these either easy or hard rides, easy being much needed Z1/Z2 work, the hard rides being either fast bunch rides or longer (20min) FTP intervals, I generally aim to get out for one of each (easy / hard) once a week.

“Short & Sweet”
The other portion of my little riding time is spent on the ergo / trainer, usually this short period of time is spent focusing on specific training zones aimed at forcing specific adaptions; a lot of the work on the trainer is designed to be short and sweet; with a high to very high intensity working predominately Vo2 Max, Anaerobic and Neuromuscular though intervals of varying length from 8mins down to 15sec respectively. These intervals are painful but very effective at increasing anaerobic capacity and highly specific to mountain bike racing. The hardest part is hitting the required power output, over and over and over again, followed by trying not to fall off the trainer!

I’ve outlined below a couple of workouts I am loving at the moment, maximal effort minimal time.

Vo2 Max Lung Buster.
This workout albeit pretty short is solid, a lot of time spent at Vo2 Max with very short rest periods (1:30min) to induce some pretty serious oxygen debt. The hardest part is just going again, and again, and again; it’s tough not just on the legs / lungs but also psychologically as well. Intervals should be done at 106% to 120% of FTP (Z5) or >120% in the case of the Z6 intervals (very hard to achieve by now). If you don’t fall off the trainer at the end, or collapse in the shower shortly after you are not going hard enough!

5 to 10mins Warm Up
3 x 3min Z5 Intervals w/ 1:30 Rest
2 x 2min Z5 Intervals w/1:30 Rest
3 x 1min Z6 Intervals w/1:30 Rest
2 x 2min Z5 Intervals w/ 1:30 Rest
3 x 3min Z5 Intervals w/ 1:30 Rest
5 to 10mins Cool Down.
Hit the shower, then slam down 500ml; of chocolate milk or your favorite recovery drink / foods.

OUCH!!!
Lungbust

Under/Over – Over/Under Intervals
This is a workout I have been doing for a long time, I am pretty sure it was originally featured in one of Lynda Wallenfels training plans I did years and years ago – I think it was originally devised by Chris Carmichael and has done the rounds in most “Time Crunched” type training plans; most recently it’s been brought to attention by Team Sky who claim it has been one of their keys to success on the mountains in the TDF. The interval consists of a an interval of riding at 95% FTP (or just below LTHR) followed by 105% FTP (or just above LTHR), repeated a few times. The durations can be whatever durations you like, I like to mix them up a little just to ease the boredom on the trainer. It’s a solid threshold workout, your legs should be burning by the end of it but your lungs should be fine.

5 to 10min Warm Up
8mins x [1min @ 95% FTP / 1min 105% FTP, repeat]
5min Easy Spin
8mins x [30sec @95% FTP / 1min 105%FTP, repeat] (alternatively try 2mins/2mins)
5miins Easy Spin
8mins x [1min @ 95% FTP / 1min 105% FTP, repeat]
5 to 10min cool down

Over/unders!
Overunder

So that’s it…

Well not really! I have a large pool of workouts I can do on the trainer – most of which hurt! The even scarier part is the coach has an even BIGGER list of workouts he can draw on if he is feeling particularly nasty. But a single workout WILL NOT make you fast, hell even a heap of workouts won’t make you fast; there is a significant amount of planning that goes into how I spend my limited time; the above are just very limited examples that might be applicable to this week, but not necessarily the next. It’s all a juggling act of consistency and balancing stress / recovery!

Anyways that’s all for now, happy riding!