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Archive for the ‘Planning’ Category

So far, so good

Ah, it’s good to be back. Here we are just over 3 weeks into the new year. My friends at Strava tell me I’ve logged 528km for the month. It’s been a good start, and I’ve really enjoyed being back on the bike. Long days and warm weather must have something to do with it, as well as being able to come home to my own place every night. I’ve been doing the commute to and from work, and it works out at a measly 5km each way, with only the little stint up Bridges Rd to get the hr going. I think the best thing to do will be to add in a quick loop though town of an afternoon to make up some distance. The Newy Cogheads have some early starts twice a week, but the intensity looks like it might leave me nothing to run on for the rest of the day at work, so I’ll pass on those at the moment.

Being back in the whole social networking thing has been good. As well as a monumental time-waster, it has allowed me to keep in touch with the local cycling and I’ve been out on a few of the Coghead rides. The most recent for me being the Sawmill track in the Watagans. It started off pretty hard, with a slow slog up Deadmans Gap, but from there turned into a great series of single-trails and some techy fire-road. I’d definitely go back there again. Unfortunately, after a busy week I was not keen to get up at 0500 on Saturday for the McLovin’ 1000, and by all accounts I missed a great ride. Instead, I went on two road rides over the weekend – one routine, and one epic.

Saturday was just a routine lap around town, and this 40km has quickly established itself as my favourite way to knock out a quick training ride. 40km and 400m of climbing and you’re back within 1:30 and the day’s not written off. So given my newfound mojo, I set about planning an early morning Sunday ride. I wanted about 3 hours, and about 1000m of climbing. What I ended up with was 120km, 1500m of climbing and a lesson in biting off more than you can chew.

The Twin Peaks

Sugarloaf and Deadmans. Ouch.

I set off at 0800 knowing that it was going to be a warm day. I packed two bidons and some cash for a resupply. The plan was to tackle Sugarloaf and Deadmans, and then head home. On paper it looked like two climbs followed by some flat cruising. Unfortunately, it was a bit further than I suspected and the false flats around Freeman’s Waterhole took their toll, as did the rising head wind and increasing temperatures. The two service station stops saved the day, and I came home a little sunburned and with a better understanding about my disparity between my expectations and my ability. Of both the climbs, I found Sugarloaf to be significantly harder, especially the middle section that reduced me to 6km/h. Given that, and the fact that it’s closer to me than Deadmans, I think it’s going to be my go-to hill for suffering for the time being.

I haven’t made any progress on the bike front. My new wheels are sitting in the study, in need of rim tape, valves, tyres, and rotors. They did come with some super chunky DTSwiss RWS skewers, and I’m looking forward to seeing how these go in the singlespeed frame. Reports on the internet are mixed, with people snapping levers like twigs, but time will tell.

In random news, I did pass The Unknown Doppelgänger on the Fernleigh the other day. I say this because I passed a guy hammering away on a rigid steel 29er with an Alfine rear hub. If it were the Unknown Rider, I doubt I would have caught him.

Tomorrow presents itself as a glorious public holiday, and I intend to celebrate my Australian-ness by heading out around the lake. Hope you’re planning something similar.

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So we’ve reached the end of 2010, and it’s time to note a few things. Firstly, if you’re reading this then it’s more likely that you’ve stumbled across this by pure chance, as I’ve not updated this in many months. Lots has happened in that time, not all of it good. I’ll summarise the goings-on of the last few months, then look at where I’m headed in 2011.

It’s been a quiet few months on the bike front. Tamworth, with all it’s potential, remained an untapped well. I managed to get out on only a handful of occasions. It’s such a shame, as the riding here is excellent, with long quiet backroads, and a concrete 250m velodrome. Instead of riding, I used the colder parts of the year to hit the gym with gusto. Lifting weights became a great way to get the stress out after a hard day’s work, but contributed nothing as far as cardiovascular fitness went. I also changed my diet, upping the protein, and this has meant that I’ve added over 12kg to my frame. The plus side was watching my squat and press strength improve, the downside is the fact that I’m now too heavy to safely ride those lovely 404s. As the weather has warmed and the daylight encroached on the mornings, I made it out a few times with the locals and also ventured down to the track. Alas, any form that I was carrying earlier this year has long deserted me, and I find myself back at square one (albeit a year older and a damn side heavier). So, on with the highlights and the lowlights of 2010.

Highlights

It’s been a great read going back over the earlier blog posts and seeing what I was able to achieve. In the end, I made it close to my 2010 goals.

1. The Solo Nationals. They seem like forever ago, and they were, but getting to the end of that ride in one piece and (just) making the cut for the worlds was awesome. The suffering has long since faded and I’m left with the memories of the sunrise, the last 500m,  and the post-race beers and pizza.

2. Local racing. Going from the backs of D grade to being a B grade contender on the road, track and dirt. Watching my fitness improve and learning a bit of race craft.

3. The Dirtworks 100km. My best result at a longer race. Still need to get the foot and hand issues perfected, but now I have a benchmark to be beaten in 2011.

4. Getting the Physiology Exam. In the end I wimped out and have sat the Primary Exam in two parts. Got the first bit ticked off this year, and now I’m on the run into the Pharmacology part.

5. Buying a house. This means that I have a bit of dirt and wood to call my own. Located near the Unknown Rider and closer to all the good riding spots in town. One less excuse now.

Casa de Cortex Motore

Lowlights

1. Stopping riding. The excuses flowed all-too-readily. Cold. Dark. On-call overnight, no sleep. Raining (did it ever!). Might be busy today, so no ride this morning (yep, it got that sad). What did I learn? Once you stop it’s easy to fall into a rut. Day to day I let it slip little by little, and then all that hard work is for nought. For all the hassle of getting up early, once you’re on the bike it all disappears and you feel fine. The secret is to get into the habit of exercising so that it becomes second nature.

2. Diet. Being away from Mrs Motor Cortex and our kitchen full of wholesome foods has not gone well. Weekends back home were spent cafe-hopping and drinking nice wine. That would have been fine had I been actually exercising during the week. A high protein diet is all well and fine when you’re lifting six days a week (as I was), but all those calories have to go somewhere. Dammit why does bacon have to taste so good?

I suppose the biggest letdown was missing the Solo 24 Worlds. I had paid for my spot and had the event all mapped out, but it fell too close to the exams, so that will have to wait for another day. It was great to read The Unknown Rider’s blog and follow him lap by lap as he did so well.

So this brings us up to 2011. And it’s time to lay down the goals.

1. Training. More of it, more often. Fewer excuses and a newfound respect for getting into a routine. Again, I’ll use the blog to lay out the weeks events, discuss what went right and wrong, and perhaps throw in an entertaining tale or two. The plan will be to ride to work more often, now that I am a more respectable distance away and no longer working any on-call. I have spent money this year on cold and wet weather gear meaning that I no longer have cold and wet weather excuses. The aim will be to knock over 200km a week with time spent working on weak areas such as climbing. At least one mtb ride a week and one race a fortnight.

2. Racing. The goal will be a humble one, and that’s to get back to where I was in May 2010. I managed to win a B-grade MTB race, and place on the road, so there’s no reason why I can’t do this again. I’ve entered the DirtWorks 100km in May, and the goal will be to beat last year’s time, and move up the placings a bit.

3. Diet. Well I have to shed this winter coat and get back to my fighting weight, which is just under 80kg. The trade-off is that I want to keep the strength I’ve gained as a result of lifting weights over the last 6 months. I’ll be adding in gym sessions to the training, but not the same volume as now. Perhaps 2-3 times a week.

4. Skills. I still have alot to learn about riding over all disciplines, and the plan this year is to be a smoother rider both on and off the road. Last year I made big gains when racing by taking better lines, etc so more of that is in order. That also translates to smarter riding on the road.

5. Equipment. Not much to say here. I need to get some decent MTB shoes sorted and I’ll wait for the right pair to come along at the right price. I’m keen to get the 29er up to race spec and return the Peace 9r to it’s original config to pass on. Again, this means I’m waiting for the right pair of wheels and the right frame. I have a few things in mind, stay posted.

6. Work. I have to take care of this second exam, and the sooner the better. That means evenings in front of the books rather than the playstation. I’d rather not have it hanging over my head for the next 6 months, plus the exam costs as much as a Ti 29er frame and a set of wheels, so what other motivation do I need?

Right. There’s not much else to say. I’m back, I have a plan, and I’ve rediscovered my love of riding. No time like the present.

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Wild wild west

Writing this blog entry is no mean feat. It means that 1. I made it to Tamworth 2. I have internet access and 3. I have something to write about (well sort-of). I packed up my belongings and drove the four hours north west a week ago, after my exam. The exam went as well as physiology exams can, so let’s leave it at that. I loaded up the Rex and managed to squeeze in two bikes (road and track), all my tools, my rollers and my sexy new Zipp 404s. I drove up over the rolling green hills looking forward to the untapped potential of a new job, new place, and a new environment to train in.

That’s about where it all came unstuck. I arrived after dark, and picked up my keys from the ED office. Ominously, I was the last to arrive, and you can guess what that means. Yep, I was shafted in the fullest sense of the word. My accommodation (if you can call it that) is a single room in a shared house. Even the bed is single, if you could call the conglomeration of springs and polyester a bed. In all seriousness, it’s better served as a CIA interrogation device in Guantanamo Bay than anything else. I have to fold myself up origami-style to fit in at all. To tie it all off, the taps in the house sound like a 747 at take-off no matter how slow you run them, and all the pipes run directly over my head and through my walls (yep, they rattle and drip too – all night). My housemate is ok, just a regular dude, who happens to be married with a 20-month old cyclone of a child. The trump card: they’re staying here this weekend whist I wade through my first 48-hour on-call shift.

This is my life for the next six months:

All is not lost however, as I have managed to squeeze out some nice fizzy nectar from the big lemons handed to me. Firstly, the job itself is not too bad. There’s plenty to do, and the staff seem alright. It’s not altogether an alien place as I’ve worked here before, and I sort-of know the system. The town has a few nice cafe’s and there are at least two bike shops. I know this because I was able to head out today after the rain finally stopped. It has literally been raining non-stop for a week, to the point where the river flooded and roads south were cut. Glad I was not trying to get home this weekend.

I’ve got the bikes sorted and I know of a few local training groups. Once I get the vibe of the hospital and I let them know that I won’t in fact be starting at 0730 like the rest of my non-cycling brethren, then I will join them. There are a few good hills in the area will will be inflicting pain on me shortly. I’ve joined the local gym, and it has good equipment, hardly any meatheads, and a few decent classes that I might find myself in.

So, I’m not sure how all this will pan out, but I’m not totally regretting the move up here just yet. I’ll be making regular trips back to Newcastle to see Ms Motor Cortex, enjoy some home comforts, good food, and catch up with my road and dirt brothers who appear to be training on relentlessly in my absence – Mr Pi11wizard, I’m looking at you.

“We should remember that one man is much the same as another, and that he is best who is trained in the severest school.” – Thucydides

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Pre-DirtWorks

Well it’s Friday afternoon, 5pm, and I’m parked in front of the TV with a coffee watching the Tour de Romandie (thanks oneHD). The peleton is lazily snaking its way though the picturesque Swiss countryside, and the sound from the television competes with the splashing of the passing cars. Oh yes, it’s raining, and it has been all afternoon more or less. It would ease enough for me to get my hopes up that the track would dry and that we’d be able to get out there tonight, then start up again. This pattern played itself out long enough for all hope of training to fade with the afternoon light.

I vetoed any study efforts today and instead made my way into the garage to check the bike is ready for the weekend’s racing. I topped up the sealant in the tyres, checked the pressure in the forks, and made sure that everything else was still in working order. To be honest it hasn’t seen any action since the Solo nationals, apart from a post race clean and lube.

I also took the advice of Luke (a blog reader), and adjusted the cleats on my shoes. I’m hoping that the new position (about 5mm forward) plus better socks will mean that I’ll have a more comfortable ride on Sunday.

Before all hope of track training had been dashed, I spent time making up some new steel inserts for the track bike. Hopefully these will make wheel and gear changes less of a hassle. So far the results look promising; unfortunately it will be another week before I’ll see any track time.

Other than that, I took out some miscellaneous camping gear to make sure that it’s all in order before it’s needed tomorrow afternoon. Happily, everything there checked out and it looks like we’re set to go.

Tomorrow morning – breakfast, off to the shops to grab some last minute snacks, then off to pick up the unknown rider (who has been putting in some miles lately). Looking forward to it.

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Great expectations

Morning, readers. I’m just negotiating my way through my second coffee of the morning and tending to the week’s emails, blogs, and forum posts. My two weeks of recovery from the Solo’s has been tempered with some busy shifts at work, and therefore less riding than was expected.

I’m feeling fine, both mentally and physically, with no real hangover to speak of. I have definitely shifted back a few gears (as a single speeder?) with respect to my training and diet, so I have to get back on the program this week.

I headed to the track on Friday night for the first of the winter (well, not summer) training sessions. The turnout was low and the mood was subdued, considering that during the week Newcastle cycling lost one of its legends in the form of Mick Chapman. Mick was a great rider, and as a coach he was one of the pillars that propped up track cycling here. His disciples include former Australian champion Olivia Gollan, and he was overseeing the development of the Hunter Academy of Sport Riders. A great man who will be missed. Ride on, Mick.

My first ride around the velodrome since Easter went well, all things considered. I had my ‘go fast’ wheels on, which at my level did not serve any great function other than look cool. Running a rear disc and a 49×14 gear means that the wheel is tucked right into the back of the frame, leaving little room for frame intolerances, which unsurprisingly on an entry level frame, there are a few. Damn those soft-as-butter track dropouts! Wheel alignment in a Felt frame is a trying process, and now I think I’ve got it just right, so I’ll wait and see. The other option is to go 48×14 and see if the extra 5mm of clearance on the frame means that the wheel less likely to misbehave. It meant that without complete confidence in my wheels, I was unable to give it full gas, resulting in slower than expected times. I am aiming to consistently go sub 13, which should achievable in the next month or so. (I have done a 12.8 once, but with iPhone timing it’s hard to know for sure.)

The weekend coming will be my first trip to the Dunc Gray Velodrome, for the Sydney Sprint Series. It looks like a great event to get some track time in a fairly non-threatening manner (ie one-on-one, no bunches to contend with).

Sunday presents another fun ride with the HMBA club round. I’ll show up, have fun, and try out my new 33×19 (aka the Bellchamber Gear). Can I walk in His footsteps? Highly unlikely.

Following that is the Dirtworks 100 on the first weekend in May. Unfortunately, I won’t have the company of the Unknown Rider who has sacrificed race time for the greater good of the HMBA masses and will be constructing new trails.

Apart from that, the radar looks pretty quiet with the cooler months looking to have little on. I’ll stick to training, club rounds, and maybe the odd Friday away at the RAW track.

My blog posts will also diminish in frequency, as I change focus to my Exams, which are 14 weeks away, and cost the same as a new bike just for the privilege of sitting. So, it will be weekly entries from herein, with a few race reports or other news of note.

Keep riding.

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First of all, let me point out the amazing fact that somehow I had 70 (yes 70!) views to my humble blog over the last 24 hours. Thanks for stopping by, hope you got something out of it.

After a reasonable night at work – one laparotomy, one appendicectomy and no Caesarians, I arrived home to be greeted with passing showers and grey skies. That, combined with the desire not to overdo it too soon, meant that today was decreed a rest day. My feet are feeling better, but my hands are still pretty weak, exemplified last night trying to draw up various drugs into syringes.

Whilst the endorphins are still running I thought I’d seize the moment and register for the Worlds. Easier said than done, really. After dutifully following the online instructions I was greeted time and time again with a lack of confirmation email. I tried different email addresses, and even different web browsers, to no avail. After a few emails across the ditch to the organisers in Canada, they found a glitch in the matrix and soon my inbox was flooded with emails. The upshot – I have paid my money (albeit in Canadian dollars), and updated my profile. There is even a spot for sponsors – currently empty (don’t all rush forward at once).

Apart from that I’m trawling the online world for more bike bits. I have a Blackspire 33t front chainring on the way to give me some more gear options. Plus I read that Gee-Bus Himself prefers 33×19 on his steed, and I am keen to walk in His footsteps, unworthy though I may be.

In other news I was glad to read that most people had a great time at the Nationals, and I’m also most grateful to the photographers who have put their work online for all to see.

Not much else to say at this stage, just using the rainy day to do a bit of reading about strength training, which is a known weakness of mine. Looks like I’ll be getting a gym membership (denim shorts and fresh tattoos optional).

Get some.

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At this time in a week, I will be sitting down and reflecting on a glorious ride through the Majura pines, or contemplating what went wrong. Do or do not, there is no try. But for now, here I sit, glass of wine in hand, reflecting on what has been a pretty good few days of cycling. I have put myself back together, both physically and mentally, since my poor form from a few weeks ago, and I feel like I am back into my groove.

After Wednesday’s track hit-out, I had Thursday and Friday off. Thursday was always going to be a rest day, but then I was asked to come into work early on Friday meaning that I had no time to get up and get a ride in before I had to be back at the salt mine. Then, to make things complicated, I had previously agreed to work a one-off night over the weekend. Nonetheless, the weather was about as good as it gets this time of year so I headed out on Saturday for a nice flat 80km. I felt fine, although I wasn’t too tuned into the weather and despite the fact that I downed two bidons of water, I was still behind in fluids by Saturday night. Fortunately, the night shift wasn’t too busy and I was able to back up for another ride today. So it was a nice 120km of easy road riding that has me feeling like I might be just able to make a go of this weekend’s race.

The Unknown Rider naturally went one better, and his exploits at this weekend’s Mont make for great reading. Hopefully we will have similar form, but better luck going into next weekend.

The 29er is currently in at Gateshead cycles with B-Rad and the boys giving it the once over. On the menu is a brake overhaul and a big-wheel tweak. To take one variable out of the equation I will be running metal sintered pads for the race, meaning a slight decrease in performance but better longevity. I’ll think more this week about food and fluids and talk it over with those that have done this before to see what works and what doesn’t.

In other news, I spent the afternoon learning the ins and outs of gluing tubular tyres. It’s a messy job that suits the pedantic that’s for sure. I have the front Zipp ready to go, and the rear disc is glued up but needs a final coat of glue before the tyre can be properly fitted. The Surly Fixxer track axle should arrive tomorrow, then the disc is good to go. Expect pics of the completed bike. This is despite the fact that the track season is over in Newcastle, so these blingy wheels will make their debut at the Dunc Gray Velodrome when the RAW Track season kicks off in winter.

For the moment that’s really it. I am just glad to be in a good headspace going into this weekend’s race. I’ll roll over a couple more easy efforts this week, then start getting the kit together for the journey south.

Get some!

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