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2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,000 times in 2010. That’s about 7 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 64 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 66 posts. There were 28 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 17mb. That’s about 2 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was May 3rd with 98 views. The most popular post that day was DirtWorks 100km.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were pi11wizard.wordpress.com, rotorburn.com, newcastlecycling.smfnew.com, alphainventions.com, and fixedgearfever.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for the motor cortex, raw track paul craft, dirtworks 100km, dirt works 100 2010, and gefsco bicycles.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

DirtWorks 100km May 2010
2 comments

2

My Bikes December 2009

3

About Me December 2009

4

New fork February 2010
1 comment

5

Sydney Sprint Series April 2010
3 comments

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.

 

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.

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

Just a very quick update, and a break for me from reading about renal handling of glucose and other such exciting things.

As you may be aware (if you were to read a mere six inches lower on this page), I have been seconded (a fancy word for shafted) to Tamworth for the remainder of the year. Tamworth is replete with long winding roads, rolling hills, and an outdoor velodrome. However, it is bereft of any mountain biking scene. This may well present a nail in the coffin for my preparation for October’s shenanigans (let alone whether my new Masters will even allow me to leave the salt mine for the time needed to race and recover). It may indeed present an opportunity for a certain bearded single speed stalwart to take his rightful place at this event, but time will tell.

Anyway, to amuse myself on study breaks, and to complete my transition (or is that regression?) from average-mtber-to-complete-Nü-Fred-roadie-wankerdom, I present to you my latest acquisition.

They are guaranteed to make me 40 seconds faster on the Fernleigh Track, and 10% cooler when parked out the front of Estabar.

In all seriousness, I was able to spot a good deal on eBay, and was the sole interested bidder. Dutifully, I sent off my roubles and waited for them to arrive in the mail. They took their sweet time getting here, but they arrived intact. They’ve had a good life in the home of a former triathlete (I won’t hold that against him), who glued on some new Continental tubulars, and added ceramic bearings. They’re light, straight and run true. On the bike they take the weight down to 7.8kg, which is respectable come race day. On the minus side, the decals have had a harsh time in the UV light (a known problem for 2006 Zipps), so some replacement stickers are on the way. I also will have to swap in some cork brake pads on race day.

The workhorse Ksyriums will be the dedicated ‘do-everything’ wheel, and they are going as strong as ever. A recent argument with my track pump saw me chew through several tubes in the space of 20min, and I have had to source some replacements. I ended up going with some Continental Race 28 Supersonics, and boy, these suckers are light. 50g a tube is half what I was using and for $30 I’ve taken 100g off the rotating weight of my wheels. Seems like a cheap enough upgrade. Reviews of the tube suggest that it’s a weight saving that does not necessarily come with a significant increase in puncture risk. I guess we’ll wait and see about that. I also bought a new cassette, having swapped the 11-23 onto the Zipps. I now have a 12-25t, which should see me drag my sorry corpse up the New England hills in slightly better shape.

In training news, I’ve only headed out once or twice away from the books when time and weather has permitted. I have enjoyed watching the ups and downs of le Tour, and look forward to the third week when it will all be decided.

For all those out there still riding, I am envious. Hopefully I’ll join you out there soon. Stay safe.

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!

Hiatus

It’s now a mere five weeks until I sit my exams, so I will be taking a break from most things cycling. I’ll resurface some time in August.

Not much to report, just keeping the legs ticking over, and getting out when I can despite work, daylight (or lack of it), and the weather. If things go well study-wise during the week and I get lots done, then I may be tempted to head down to Sydney on Friday night for the inaugural RAW Track event.

On the bike parts front, again things are pretty quiet. I’m still looking to get some shoes sorted before the Solo Worlds, but I’m not riding enough to get the inflammation and foot pain that I was earlier. I’m also still on the lookout for a nice set of 29er wheels, so I can then rebuild all the spares in the garage into another bike. For interests sake, I’m also getting a VHOLDR helmet cam so I can record a few rides and races. There’s some nice software out there that allows a HUD-like overlay of the video so you get the cycling action and the relevant speed, hr, cadence, etc. If that comes to pass then I’ll post anything up here that may be interesting.

Well, that’s really it for the moment. Stay riding, keep warm, and I’ll catch you at a race soon.