Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

The BB and the camera arrived this week on the slow boat (plane?) from Hong Kong. The boom is really on with these cheap websites, and it shows just how hard it is for the local bike shops to keep up. I mean a ceramic CNC’d bottom bracket for $50? It’s just not going to happen. However, where bike shops will stay afloat is in expertise. There are parts to building and maintaining a bike that I cannot do myself, and I am more than happy to pay for the experience of the local mechanics (e.g. the incredible job done by the boys at Gateshead cycles getting my 29er ready for the 24h last year).

That aside I was keen to get the bits unboxed and check them out. The Unknown Rider has already had some experience with his Mini DV, but I was keen to try it on a smoother surface (albeit not that much smoother). I ended up going for the top tube, and the results are below.

The bottom bracket came nicely packaged in an original box. No way to prove the bearings are indeed ceramic (apart from the tick on the box and the printing on the cartridge), but it spins as smooth as butter. Installed as simply as you’d expect, and came with a few spacers to get the Q-factor right.

This gives you an idea of size. This has a few mounting options, but for the moment it’s on the track bike head tube. I might play with another mount for the roadie as well as a helmet mount for off-road shenanigans.

The camera mount on the head tube. Also note the race wheels, I’m sick of these gathering dust in the shed, so tonight they’re coming out to play.

So that’s it for now. More video tweaks to come; I’m keen to try to overlay the Garmin data which I’ve seen on other sites. I’m also playing with the video angle to try to catch more of the track (rather than just random sky and the riders arse in front of me). I’ll post up more as they’re edited. If the links are broken, then it’s probably just the music heavies coming down on me for reposting copyrighted songs, but it sounds alot better than the raw audio of me literally red-lining and dying.


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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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Five days and 250km into the new year and I’m starting to feel it a bit. My head has rushed headlong into training and capitalising on my newfound mojo, but the legs are not quite catching up. The last two days have seen two morning road rides with Rossco, and both times I’ve been placed in the hurt-box. The old rule of doing 10% more than the week prior falls apart when the week prior was spent on the sofa alternating beer and bacon. More-so when the last six months have followed that pattern.

I’m going to do another flat tempo ride tomorrow, and then Friday will be a day of rest. Saturday is looking good for a Coghead ride that starts with a 10km 1000m climb. Fun times ahead. I’ll also be waiting patiently by the mailbox for my belated Christmas present: a set of Stan’s Arch rims laced to a set of DT 240s. I’m inching towards my dream bike, pics to follow.

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A good start

Well I have capitalised on my New Year’s Resolution(s) and have made it out every day so far. Nothing to write home about just yet, but nice to be slowly getting back into the groove of things. A southerly change has blown through town and dropped the temperature a few degrees, but also added the element of a head wind, the upside obviously being the tail wind (when you can find it). I rolled around town on Monday and rode over a few small hills to log some Strava times and to get the ball rolling. The rides can be shared via Facebook or Twitter, so I can spare the duplicity of reproducing them here in great detail. I’ve never been a big fan of the ‘book, but it looks like I’ll have to relent as there is just so much cycling related stuff on there with regards to training rides etc, so I might give it a look.

Monday’s Ride

Not a bad 58km, going over King Edward, Scenic and Main Rd in Cardiff. Ran out of food about 10k’s from home, and paid for it.

Today’s Ride

Out to work with Rossco, in a very pleasant tail wind. Unfortunately the head wind back was not so much fun. Had a go at getting up Jesmond Hill, only to find out that I’m still off the pace. Still, all these numbers are fun.

Other stuff

I’m looking around at upgrading the 29er in preparation for DirtWorks. I’ve settled on the Lynskey Ridgeline SL (as a frameset, with the plan to transport all the upgrades from the 9r and restore it to its original spec), and I’m now waiting to scrape together the bananas to pay for such a purchase. I also note that The Unknown Rider’s mini HD camera has arrived, so I’ll be looking forward to seeing how that sub-$20 piece of magic goes and whether it’s worth me getting one too. There’s talk of a decent Watagans ride on Saturday which might be a go-er (once I get the gear lower on the 29er). Other than that, it’s just a few more road rides, then a date with the scales at the end of the week. Hopefully once I’m back from Tamworth I’ll be able to sneak in a race or two.

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The hair of the dog (track)

Well, true to my word I was up and atom on new years day. The unknown rider had mentioned that there was a group ride on organised by the local MTB mafia, aka the Newy Cogheads. These guys seem to be a great bunch of people and seem to have a mix of riders from your average weekend warrior right up to the gun XC racer. The plan was to meet at 0730 out at Edgeworth McDonalds and head out for a 2+ hour loop known as the ‘dog track’, named after one member’s local training run with his faithful canine. After doing the loop, I can imagine that it must be one fit dog, as I was firmly reminded of what six months of hibernation does to your physiology.

I met up with the unknown rider and the DanBot for the road commute out to Edgeworth and the smooth road lulled me into a false sense of security. The only concerns at this stage were the weather, which was heating up quickly, and my leaking CamelBack that had been unearthed from the unknown rider’s house the night before, and rid of any potential strains of penicillin. However, a quick lesson in physics had the leak sorted, and we were ready to hit the trails.

The dog track is a nice mixture of single and double track that has been well worn in my motorbikes in most places. A few pinchy climbs are rewarded with some lovely flowing singletrack and a tunnel shoot-though that has to be ridden to be believed. The first thing I noticed was that despite the diverse level of fitness amongst the group, they were all technically much better than me, picking the better lines and bombing descents that had me grabbing brake for dear life. After two hours and depleting water supplies, I pulled the pin and headed home whist the core riders went back in for more.

In the end it was 46km, 3 and a half hours, and I was totally spent. I got home, drank about ten thousand litres of water and then had a siesta. My kidneys didn’t spring back to life until sometime in the late afternoon, and only after I kickstarted them with a few beers.

Lessons learnt today included thinking about the ride and perhaps choosing a more appropriate gear if there’s going to be some climbing. By the end of the ride I was getting technically better but need to keep the habit going if I want the skills to stay current. I also learned that it’s foolhardy to try to keep up with the unknown rider on the descents, despite his rigid 29er. Thanks again to the Newy Cogheads for allowing me to tag along. Great to be back out with Rossco and the DanBot.

The day after

This morning I awoke to overcast and humid conditions, but felt refreshed after a good night’s sleep. I was going to go out today, by any means necessary, as DanBot had pointed me to a new website that categorised and ranked your rides, a la the grand tours! All you do is upload your gps data, and presto, you’re in Fred-heaven. So today was a test ride to log some data and give me a (suitably low) baseline from which to work on. The only way from here is up! The weather was not too overbearing and the roads were pretty quiet, so I ended up doing a pretty slow 48km that included a mandatory coffee stop at Estabar.

It took me a long time to find my rhythm this morning, and I really got the feeling of ‘pedalling squares’ until the last 30min. I got home, showered, and signed up to http://www.strava.com. I had to laugh at my meagre results, but wow, what a motivator to see how you’re fairing against the rest. DanBot, I’m looking in your direction. For someone who’s short-term goal oriented and keen on instant feedback, this is liquid gold. Time to start shedding some kg’s and hitting some cols (well, Newcastle cols).

As Eddy Merckx once said – Don’t buy upgrades; Ride up grades.


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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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An unexpected update to what was supposed to be a dormant time in the blogosphere. An opportunity has come along at work for me to advance my training and step onto the conveyor-belt to being a Boss. The cloud that makes up for the silver lining is the fact that the job is not here, it is in Tamworth – home of the Big Guitar, utes with Kenworth mudflaps, and roadsigns peppered with buckshot. Not one to stare a gift-horse in the mouth (does anyone even know what that means?) I have taken the job and I leave in a month. I’ll be gone until January 2011.

Those who know me beyond the realms of this blog know that I have spent some time there before, so I am not venturing entirely into the unknown. On a plus side, it has a pretty strong road cycling club (one of it’s progeny  – Samuel Spokes – is off to the UCI World Championships this year), and they also have a 250m outdoor velodrome. I remember going on a few training rides in the mornings (it gets really cold there), and the weekend racing was enjoyable. I’m not sure what sort of MTB scene there is in Tamworth; most of the off road riding is powered by a motor.

The downside is that I’ll most likely miss most, if not all of the RAW track series, and I’m guessing that I’ll be missing out on more than a few HMBA club rounds. I don’t know how that’s going to bode with preparation for the Solo Worlds. I guess it’s going to be a case of getting as much of a road base as I can, then getting down to ride the occasional longer race (like the Vestral) to keep my form. When I do get back home, no doubt the bikes will be coming with me.

So, I’ve got a month to sort out a house, pack my most beloved possessions (knicks, jerseys, thermals, coffee machine, laptop), decide which bikes to take (answer – all of them), and keep studying for the exam. I’m not sure what the rest of the year will bring, but I guess that’s half the fun.

So long, pardners, yee-haw!

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