Monday, March 26, 2007

BHE Marathon

Well that couldn't have been planned any better. I checked my timetable last night to discover I had a day off uni today. Let's just say the legs are quite heavy and I don't plan on doing much more than eating, drinking and lazing around today. Will get out for a spin later though which will hopefully bring the legs back to life. Why you ask? The inaugural BHE marathon.

Close to 200 riders were greeted by perfect conditions, sunny and low 20's following a bit of rain the day before to dampen the trails and keep the dust down. 9.30am was race start and the gun went smack on time. Unfortunately, I'd entered the start area with only minutes to spare and had to start from the back. My plan for the day had been simply to sit on the back of the lead group as long as possible but with more than 100 riders between myself and them that was out the window. Riding in the scrub beside the starting fire roads I got to the front of the main bunch but the lead group of elite riders had already ridden away never to be seen again. So I settled into a group with World 24hr Masters Champion Craig Peacock along with fellow Master Brian John and our fixie riding friend Duncan Murray (who thankfully had decided on gears and brakes for today). I got a little gap on them in the first of the more than dampened by rain singletrack (read, extremely slippery) but ended up riding with them again after losing some time taking a wrong turn at Anderson's Garden and riding up an extremely steep fire road.

The bunch worked well until we hit the toughest climb of the day, 2km at I don't know what percent but I was glad I'd opted for the granny ring. Setting a steady pace I hit the mid climb plateau to find only Craig was with me and was quite keen for me to keep pushing as he saw an opportunity to gap his only competition in Brian. Myself, I was only happy to as I had a carrot up in front in the form of elite rider Erin Francis which meant the lead group wasn't far up the road. We crested the climb and I kept pushing, losing Craig but catching Erin. I soon learned the lead group was still a fair way ahead as Erin had lost time with a mechanical (American Classic Wheels, you know the rest). He was also able to tell me that I was either leading or 2nd in my category as there was only one person ahead that could have been riding in the 'Open Men'. We road together through the first feed zone and kept pushing, gaining a Veteran rider along the way and that was my bunch for most of the day.

Working well together we pushed through the second feed zone, and then disaster struck. We found ourselves back at a crossroads we'd already come through, yep, another wrong turn (or more correctly, a missed turn). Heads down, bums up and we'd ridden straight past the arrow. Anyway, the trusty volunteers (of whom there were plenty and all did a marvellous job) soon had the map out and we figured out were we'd gone wrong, retracing our steps we soon found the turn and set about blasting past those who hadn't missed the turn. We didn't know how many positions had been lost but we were certainly going past a few, the question was which categories they were racing. Through feed zone three to collect more of the muffins, danishes, endura gels and water that was on offer at every feed in this fully catered event and we set about section four which was billed as a tough one.

It was through this section that we lost Erin, Ashley (I think that's his name looking at results) and I with a bit more to ride for knowing that we were still in with a shot of a podium finish in our respective categories. Multiple times I thought, this climb will be the end of me, the very same thing being voiced by Ash. I'd got the early warning signs of cramp in the hamstrings and so was just concentrating on the pedalling technique (thankfully I did get through without cramping).

Feed zone four was a welcome sight - as it meant very little climbing remained. The shock though, now came a decent chunk of single track which wasn't exactly what the body was looking forward to, especially considering the damp conditions and the tyres much better suited to the majority of fire road the course had. I negotiated the crazily rutted descents very cautiously and was very impressed by Ash's skills as he road everything thinking I wouldn't see him again. Then we hit what was billed as the hundred dollar climb, that's right, $100 if you could ride it. No one could do it in the dry, and now in the wet, it was barely walkable. Eventually scrambling my way to the top (anyone want comedy, watch some lycra clad cyclists in cycling shoes try to walk up a steep muddy hill with their bikes, hilarious, unless it's you) it was back on the trusty duallie and I was on the downward run. As the first 10km of the race had been slightly uphill, the last 10km was all down, and it flew by. I caught Ash again, left him and tried to catch one more rider up ahead.

I didn't, losing out by three seconds on the line but luckily he was a Vet so didn't cost me a position. I ended up finishing in in 4 hours 15 minutes, 30 minutes down on the Elite and overall winner in John Claxton and a mere 7 minutes down on the Open winner in Elliot Long for 16th overall and 2nd in the Open category. Very happy with the ride but of course wondering just how much time I'd lost as 7 minutes would have been about right. I don't know how much distance it was but it was an extra 100 vertical metres climbing over the rolling hills after the missed turn. Props to Elliot though, as all reports had him riding extremely strong over the last climbs.

Thanks must go to Rohin and Bruce of BHE, Joel and his motoX mates for trying to keep the course marked with some troublesome motorists ripping down markings, all the volunteers for their support, the local bakery for the bakery treats, Endura for the gels, the Sleeman's for timing and giving me a lift out there. Finally Shannon at MTBPrecision, the bike was flawless - no mechanicals, and it always helps to have the mental comfort that you have the most reliable, stiff and light wheels around in Industry9 and the most powerful and light brakes around in the Formula Oro Puro. Both contributed greatly to keeping me as fresh as possible all day.

A final note, latex tubes are the bomb - after packing the bike in the back of Sleeman's ute I noticed something green on my tyre. On closer inspection, it was under my tyre, the tyre had been ripped open with the green goodness of the latex tube sticking through but did not puncture. At 125 grams they're light, they ride like tubeless in terms of comfort and rolling resistance and it looks to me like puncture resistance is pretty damn good.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

M14? M14! Gah.

M14 - what are the odds of that!!

I haven't ridden the roadie for a week, why? On Friday I went to put the new bits on, and was fairly surprised to find the bottom bracket required M14 crank bolts, since when did that ever happen. Anyway, they're on their way and I'll have it back together in no time.

In the meantime though we'll call it forced tapering for Sunday's Big Hill Events Marathon. I have managed to get some decent MTB rides in though.

Let's start with Tuesday's road ride/commute to uni, feeling a tickle in the throat I decided against the stresses of the Dandenongs detour and went straight to uni. As I started later than my bag courier I left at the same time as they did which meant we really could see who got there quicker. Let's just say that from Blackburn to Frankston leaving at 8am you're 5 minutes quicker on a bike, the girls (bag couriers) where quite surprised to see me when they arrived. There is something extremely satisfying about belting past standstill traffic for kilometre after kilometre.

Now the week of MTBing. As always Wednesday night meant Fatties ride. With the car out of action I was forced to ride out, and seeing as it takes half an hour to get there in the car, I was leaving at 6.15 and the ride starts at 6.30 I didn't plan on actually making it. Satisfying again, twice in two days the bike is faster than a car and I made it but the legs where a little worse for wear after the TT effort. The bunch showed no pity though, from the gun it was on - with riders from Specialized, Felt, Giant, Kona and Scott all pushing the pace the Fatties ride was even more so the Fatties race. The dust was worse, you can't see, you can't breathe and now the ride doesn't wait and barely slows. About a third of the starting bunch finished the ride together and I then struggled home. A quick heads up to all, rain today so tomorrow's ride will hopefully be dust free!! or at least reduced so I'll see you all there.

With the road bike in pieces on Friday and a couple of M14 crank bolts short the hell ride was of the cards on Saturday, but Maebus hooked me up with a sweet MTB ride. Starting somewhere in the Upwey area at Jr. Bucky's new digs Brett, Gaz, Maebus, myself aswell as's D-Mac on the new Teschner and DH prodigy Joel H who was making a rare appearance back on the XC bike hit up a few sweet little local trails, along the way encountering the local bike bandit's playground. We were scared to walk on this stuff let alone ride it. Can anyone say sketch?

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Maebus made it too the end

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D-Mac investigating the flex - this thing was like a springboard at the bottom.

We then made our way over the notorious Wellington Road blind crossing of death and into Lysterfield. Thanks to the sprinkle of rain the previous night the trails were in prime condition, endless grip is good. Anyway, we belted around there for a while barely having to touch the brakes, 'twas a blast.

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Took a break to watch this guy thinking we were in for a show but saw about 5 seconds of hang time in 10 minutes, to quote D-Mac - he was 'tits on a bull'. Feeling like we'd never get that 10 minutes of our lives back we trundled home the most direct route which just so happened to include some decent fire road climbing (I should see plenty of that this Sunday), props to Jimmy for riding all of them on the single speed not to mention the whole Comm Games Course - yep, he cleaned the rock garden and all those annoying uphill rock ledge switchbacks on the single speed.

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Of course, I couldn't go without taking a pic of Dan's sweet new team issue Teschner. Still awaiting 2007 XTR wheels, Dan tells us it hovers between the high 8 and low 9 kg's depending on a few spec changes.

Sunday was another instalment of what appears to be becoming a habit. The post work Lysterfield ride. Unfortunately the sprinkle of rain was just that a sprinkle, the trails were dusty again, the endless grip was gone but still managed to push the legs around. MTB newbie Chris is coming along in leaps and bounds which is good to see. Below he is pictured coming up to a new Lysterfield attraction...Drop Bears!! Appearing to be courtesy of a recent orienteering event.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

We Have a Pommie

Well it appears that the red light jinx is one Ash Thomas as my riding since Saturday the third has had a lovely green theme to it. Two roadie rides last week, well actually four, but they were in two days so we'll call it two. The commute to and from uni on Tuesdays and Thursdays has been getting quicker and quicker thanks to my luck with the lights and the legs feeling good didn't hurt. The return trip on Thursday was similar to the car at around the hour and ten minute mark which just happened to be an average of just on 35 clicks an hour, when you're riding past stand still traffic for twenty minutes you know you're on the right form of transport.

To accompany those two road rides there were two outings on the mtb aswell. The weekly Fatties ride is still in full swing and soon to experience a name change to Flatties ride, it's dry out there with some rather sharp rocks protruding all over the place. Another couple this week brought the flat total to five in two weeks. But it's getting dark, which means it's getting cooler, which means some rain is coming doesn't it? Let's hope so, not just so those rocks get swallowed in some mud, but because if it stays this dusty it's going to be hell for two hours with the HID's illuminating it every Wednesday, anyone thinking Scott 24hr flashbacks every week? I finished off last week with about twenty minutes of Vicious Power goodness showing the way, yeah, it was bright but a bright dust cloud is just as bad as a dark dust cloud, couldn't see a thing.

The other mtb outing for the week was following the hell ride misadventure, I headed out to Lysterfield on Sunday evening with the shop boys, got a new bike owner out with us so was a bit slow, but better than nothing. The theme is continuing though, rain please! There really is nothing that drought doesn't affect is there. Sucking down dust is getting all to common in the mtb world. Just to illustrate how dry it's getting, we came around a corner to find this poor guy.

Anyway, that was it for my riding last week - no ride Saturday as I spent it with big sis who jetted back home to England that night, or was she home and is now going away again, I'm not sure anymore but still think she's one of us, she does like soccer though which is a bit scary. Anyway we did the Soul Mama's for lunch thing, the 7apples Gelati thing and the general Port Melbourne/St. Kilda beach stuff. Once again I have to recommend Soul Mama's, a good feed.

Now to bed for the Tuesday commute to Uni via the Dandenongs, 120 clicks with some hills, a solid warm-up for b'ball at night indeed.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Damn Roadies - Do Some Work

Stemming from Wednesday night's Fatties ride today I embarked on another eventful hell ride experience. Jim and Neil told me they were doing it so I headed out aswell (Jimmy and Neil didn't show). The alarmed buzzed nice and early at 5.15am after 5 hours sleep following a few overtime games at basketball last night. I very nearly rolled over but as I'd convinced Damage to come the night before and had to ride out with him I figured I'd better go. Afterall, he'd taken some convincing, his original reply to my message asking him had been, 'maybe, it's just so f***** early', and he's right. I wouldn't have heard the end of it if I had've softed out. Note to self: pay Jimmy and Neil out big time for not showing, extremely soft. While we're on the subject of Neil I will take this chance to mention that he's managed to better his effort of running into a sign on the fatties ride - last weekend at Mount Hotham he hit a cow!! Yep, your read right, a cow! Don't back to today's ride.

Rolled out the door at 5 to 6, arrived at Damage's at 25 past in what was already a sweltering heat and we rolled onto Black Rock. A decent bunch was out including one Ash Thomas of Felt Racing Fame fresh of the plane from NZ at 8 the night before. And so the epic began.

Fast but still cruising in a bunch that size all the way along Beach Road, onto Nepean Highway, halfway to Frankston and the fun began, a red light and the bunch is split, and of course it's at a time when I'm in the back half. Green and it's on, Ash winds it up, I roll through, a couple of other guys roll through, another red light. Red must be the Autumn fashion because it continued like that, saying we got 70% red would be generous, and that's for the whole day, seriously, it wasn't funny. Anyway, the roadie's quickly lost interest in the chase, content for Ash and I to bury ourselves chasing, we got to within metres of the first bunch only to get red at the last lights out of Frankston and it was all over, no chance.

The police decided that we weren't going to ride up Oliver's anymore now diverting us up Hope's rise, a passing comment from someone in the bunch went something along the lines of, 'a great way to spend tax-payer money', to which we received the reply of 'up your arse' from the police officer, quite humerous I thought - talk about professionalism. For some reason the bunch decided they wanted to do some work now that there was no chance of catching the main group, go figure. Anyway, Ash and I decided to make a day of it and left them, continuing to Mornington where the highlight of the day occurred - riding through the main street we passed a parked car only to receive a blast of the horn - with a glance behind it went from 'what the hell' to simply 'what the ...', the horn happy musician was a dog left in the car. Genius.

With the chuckling driving us the turn around point was not to be and we continued to Mount Martha. A few close calls with wayward Tri-athletes using tri bars as jousting sticks while trying to ride in a straight line, seriously, it's not that hard, and we arrived where randomly I discovered a girl from uni works at the cafe. The wind was swinging so after a brief chat it was definitely time to head home and with my bottom bracket loud enough to disturb the wildlife it was probably better not to continue into the middle of no where. A few more wayward tri-athletes avoided, a flooded toilet negotiated and we found our way back into Mornington, onto Nepean Highway and into familiar territory. We continued the standard hell ride route with no more real highlights, got plenty more red lights - why a road running parallel to a railway line has a red light when the boom gates are down I'll never know, there aint gonna be any cars going the other way, but we got them, two of which stayed red the longest I've ever experienced a red light stay (three minutes would be generous), we even had a motorist crack the sads and run the red to the applause of all around.

Hit up the Mordialloc Bakery - who would have thought I couldn't get a ham & pineapple roll and a can of coke for under $5!! Suffered into the wind to North Road, managed to keep the legs turning up North Road, Ash was home at Carnegie and I was jealous, managed to get some rain just after this and so I decided some low-level cyclocross time was called for. Partly because it was wet therefore fun, partly because doing the offroad thing means avoiding the extremely annoying rolling bergs from Chadstone to home.

No accurate data from today though - leaving home with the hours still reading five in the am you're brain just isn't functioning, and I forgot to start the Polar. Only noticed at the turn around in Mount Martha so only have half the ride on the clock, the slow half. All I know is that I had somewhere between five and five and a half hours and the legs are nice and heavy again, damn, six days to the next hydrotherapy prac.

Oh, no pictures 'cause quite frankly I couldn't be stuffed, some good scenery between Mornington and Mount Martha so if you want to see it go for a ride. Biggest Stones/Stupidity/Smartass award for the day goes to Jonny Clarke who through a major hook at a police car and won getting out in front of it to go around the bunch.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

A Solid Week

Right now the legs are pretty heavy. Uni's in full swing and tomorrow we have a hydrotherapy prac which just happens to coincide with my day off the bike, perfect for a bit of recovery. But why are the legs heavy?

Last Saturday I'd woken up at 5am to get in a bit of hell riding, rain had me rolling over and back to sleep though. So after posting later that day I decided a ride was required. Leaving home at 5.30pm I managed 3 hours in the Dandenongs, almost 2000m high of climbing. Devil's Elbow with a One Tree Hill continuation, The Wall with a continuation up to Skyhigh Lookout, thought I'd snap a piccie to keep the blog pretty while I munched down a banana - thank goodness they're nearing a respectable price - pure Gold.
Skyhigh Lookout at 7.45pm on Saturday

21st Saturday night so no early ride on Sunday, and work in the afternoon meant no riding then either. A full first day back at uni kept me off the bike aswell and I wasn't happy - so I decided Tuesday would be a ride to uni day, a good plan considering I only started at 11am.

Leaving home at 8am I headed to the Dandenongs, an SE up the 1in20 which also happened to be as fast I can remember going up the 1in20 in my life!! Across to Belgrave and then down down down to Narre Warren, Cranbourne and finally Frankston. An 80km commute is pretty good I reckon. Then came the end of the day, straight home was the plan - 10km along the beach was pretty cruisy but that all changed at my turnoff.
I turn right at those flags and have another 30km to go to home, check out the wind, not cool. Anyway, I made it - turned into a rather big day really - haven't done 120km including a couple of decent climbs in a while.

It's fair to say the legs were pretty heavy on Wednesday, but Wednesday is fatties ride day and you can't say no to some fat tyre action. Thanks to the late finish at uni I missed the start and had to play catch up, I eventually caught them thanks to Jack's flat holding them up. Could barely push a gear though and just managed to hold on all night - thanks to Jack, Brian and Tim for flatting - fair to say the stops were much appreciated. Just to note: I did remember lights this week, but didn't have time to put them on, fingers crossed next week works out.

I decided to really make a good week out of it today and did the commute to uni again. No Dandenongs this morning though - just straight there and straight back - 80km - check out the flags for the return trip today, that's what we like to see! Much appreciated. Average speed about 4km/h higher than Tuesday's return trip.

So there we have it, I think the legs have the right to be pretty heavy right now and can't wait to hydrotherapy tomorrow for some magical water recovery, oh so good. 3 weeks to the 'Big Hill Events' Marathon out Whittlesea way - 90kms - looking forward to seeing if this training thing makes me go faster.

Finally, I just can't help myself - with no MTB purchases required at the moment I've decided to throw some cash at the roadie, first purchase was today - some FSA Carbon Pro Elite Compact cranks coming in at 526 grams. Target is to have the roadie below 7.4kg with the Polars S725x and speed/cadence sensors, bottle cages and clincher wheels. Pretty happy if I reach that with the 1.5kg frame. Stay tuned, will have pics once it's done.