Sunday, April 29, 2007

21! and rain...and a single speed

Thanks to the rapidly approaching end of semester there's been no riding since my last update...until today. What better reason is there to take a break than your birthday, yep, today I turn 21!

Late last night I dropped in at Jimmy Maebus' house and he hooked me up with some brakes which were the finishing touches to my bitsa single speed done on the cheap. I finished building it while watching the cricket (or lack of thanks to rain in Barbados) at about 12.30 this morning, hit the hay for 9 hours and awoke to pouring rain. Could there be a better reason to take a single speed on its maiden voyage than rain and mud. Just the local trails but still good fun, how good is rain!

Yep, nice and wet!

Did I mention it's light? 8.6kg aint bad for a bitsa.

Oh, and a magic gear as well, fair to say I'm happy with the outcome.

Single speed, simple here...

...and here, just ride.

Home just before 11 to watch Stewie smash the Paris Roubaix for the win and then off to work at the bikeshop. Home to the customary birthday dinner of Mum's homemade lasagne and carrot cake and now I think an early night is on the cards.

PS. Keep an eye on Winny's blog, he's off racing in the US at NMBS #2 in Firestone today and tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Smokey Donuts

So the power at Clayton campus died a couple of days ago and I was lucky enough to have classes scheduled today in one of the two buildings still without power. What does that mean? Home at two instead of six and the perfect opportunity to get on the roadie before dark.

Went straight from home to Monstrose, feeling rubbish the whole way. It appears it's going to take take more than four days to recover from Beechworth's effort. Anyway, from Monstrose it was all up, along the tourist road, to Sky High. In the area of 400-500m ascent in 30-40 minutes and usually nice fresh air and a good view but not today.

You can usually see the bay from here but I was lucky enough to pick the day that some controlled burning was being conducted. Fair to say I got out of there ASAP with eyes stinging and throat burning, wonderful. What goes up must go down and I was quickly back in Mt Dandenong Central where a bakery that rates pretty high on the list is situated - the sensibly named Mt Dandenong Patisserie.

Something to take away the burning in my throat not to mention put some kick in the legs. A buck ten and look at the size of it. You wouldn't get that much jam by itself at Safeway for a buck ten. Then it was back on the road, a couple more ups, the back roads to Belgrave, down into Ferntree Gully and home just before dark. Never did start feeling smooth on the bike, but I wasn't working to hard and the speed was still up near normal so I can't complain.

Oh, and Ash sent me some piccies he took on Saturday.

I don't think I even got a hello before the first photo was taken. People seemed to find it funny I was carrying around a giant pot of pasta. Hey, you gotta eat something.

Nice and clean the first time through the start/finish complex and some nice big berms, only eleven more times to go.

Why was the pasta pot so giant? It was the feed post race as well as pre race. Supposedly it was funny that I took it up for presentation, either that or they were laughing at the microphone breaking on me three times mid speech.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Beechworth SHITS

Beechworth is what, 3.5 hours away? Yeah, that's what I thought as well. Left home at 5.30 on Friday, thinking I'd be there at 9 for a good nights sleep, however it wasn't to be.

Made a stop in Donnybrook for petrol, and got sucked in by some tasty looking roast beef at the truck stop kitchen, so sat down for a roast complete with potatoes, pumpkin, peas, carrot and broccoli - even got called 'love', but everyone seemed to be 'love' so nothing special.

Back on the road half an hour later and the local CFA truck went by yelling something to all the cars leaving the truck stop, didn't understand a word, wish I had though. Five minutes up the road I hit this.

The friendly CFA man had been yelling something about the highway and not getting off it until 11 o'clock. Wish I'd got the message and taken evasive action as the next 8km took about 40minutes.

Plenty of others behind got caught out as well judging by the stream of stationary lights behind me. After about 40 minutes they were nice enough to let us know there was a traffic accident ahead.

Creeping past some friendly officers 'radioactive waste' was heard over their radios, and then a sizable detour resulted. Off the highway at Wallan, way over toward Whittlesea and back on the highway at Wandong. An hour and a half lost and it was back to top speed, arrived at the race site at 10.30pm, in bed asleep (pictured below, yes it's the back of the car) at 10.50pm. It would have been a pretty good nights sleep as well had it not been for the abnormally loud ticking of the clock. Note to self: disconnect battery next time.

I rolled over, it was light, there were plenty of cars, bikes and people rushing around. 8.30am and it was time for business, two hours to race start. Breakfast, bike prep, moving the days supplies up track side to the Felt tent, changed and I was ready to go. 10.36am the gun (car horn) went and we were off, just what you want at the start of six hours, a long steep fire road climb. Take it easy you say, all good until you're caught 100th wheel in the first bit of singletrack, no cruising up this climb, the heart rate was flashing and I was straight in the box.

With 65 other solo men mixed in with plenty of other riders I had no idea where anyone was though so just rolled along at a pace I was hoping I could hold all day. The first 5 laps stayed sub 30 but were slowly edging up, transitions were staying pretty smooth thanks to all the willing helpers stationed at Team Felt, another 3 laps ticked by and I came in to the news that some results had been posted and I was third, not far behind second. Alas, the box was pretty big and I was more interested in how far in front of fourth I was. The laps really blew out over the next three but I still managed to come through about 15 minutes before the six hour mark so had to go out for number 12. Knowing it was the last always makes you push a bit harder and nearing the end I started to, making that lap three minutes quicker than the previous two and crossing in third - 15 minutes down on first, 6 on second and 9 minutes clear of fourth. Dismounting the trusty steed that was faultless all day - thanks MTBPrecision, Industry9, Formula and Middleburn - and my first serious cramp for the day was well timed. When the race is over they're just funny, and all around got a laugh at me stretching the hamstrings only to have the quads cramp up, and then the hamstring go again when I stretched quads. Well done to all who competed, while the course was a blast, it was also brutal on the body. The hands took a beating and are still tingling slightly, the lower back is just sore and I'll certainly be getting on the swiss ball to get some core stability back before embarking on another solo mission anytime soon. The Polar says it was 2515 vertical metres in 6hrs 20 minutes covering about 110km consuming a tick over 28000 kilojoules. Lucky I had that pot of pasta hey Ash.

Again, thanks to MTBPrecision (Industry9 Wheels, Formula Brakes, Middleburn Components), and all stationed at the Felt Tent along with all the other competitors for being such good sports on the track and the Beechworth Chain Gang for a very well run event on an as always fun but challenging course. Although it's Sunday results are already up here. Well done Chain Gang.

Photo Credit Tony Pincan

There were plenty of photographers on course so hopefully more piccies to come. Lastly a little video, sitting at home watching the footy after a thankfully event free drive home, the beating my hands took made an appearance with some twitching, rather humorous. Don't worry about the sound, nor even watching it all, a few seconds and you get the idea but no, I'm not doing it on purpose, it's just...well happening. Didn't even catch the best of it on film, there was real party there for a while with the thumb, index and middle finger all getting going.

Monday, April 09, 2007

CTS#1 Piccies

The locals are always friendly.

The hardman story of the day. Solo on a fixie, complete with a trip to hospital for 12 stitches mid race. We're told it wasn't painful until halfway through the last lap when the anaesthetic wore off!

Chris Allen made a return to racing.

Al Douglas has entered the 21st century and is now on disc brakes - and still happy to perform for the crowd.

Young Apollo rider James Mowatt was flying, and managed 2nd overall.

All reports praise the course, and it certainly was railing.

But still littered with obstacles it wasn't a smooth ride.

Brett of Thylacine Cycles makes climbing look easy on the way to 3rd overall.

The mind couldn't take a break with log rollovers like this.

Sections of the Commonwealth Games Course were used meaning plenty of rocky uphill switchbacks to catch you out.

Chewing the stem on the main climb, more rocks to slip up on.

Jo pumping out the laps, Giant won their category like normal.

The bermed descent was a bit of fun.

Ash got 100km in on the day, but still had the legs to play up for the camera.

The pressure was off for Jack, without a partner he just did laps at his own will to get some points.

All smiles for Felt Racing with first place secured along with the $1000 for it.

Definitely duallie territory.

So I'm not the worlds greatest photographer but I think I managed to get some good ones. See them all here. Results are up here. If you want any of the photos in full res (2304x1728) leave the photo number and an email address in the comments.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


A day off today, well almost. I spun around on the unicycle a bit at Lysterfield playing the sightseeing role out at Chase The Sun #1, and did two and a half hours of walking around the course with the camera (yes, I'll post some pics up soon - I got 90odd and aint posting them all so some sorting is in order). With $1000 on the line for the overall winner some sizeable numbers would be required in order to win and those numbers where put forward by the ever flying Felt Racing team of Ash Thomas and Jason Jackson. It was only an eight hour, but in completing five laps in under five hours it appears Ash has practically mirrored the numbers of the Otway Odyssey with Jason not far behind. I bet they weren't expecting that. Eva and his new toy mapped the course (here) and at 20km a lap with close to 500m ascent 5 laps is a big day in the saddle at race pace.

But just when you thought eight hours was hard - the 24hour Solo National Champs was on this weekend with a couple of Wednesday night Fatties riders coming out first and second with Andrew Bell taking the win 25 minutes clear of John Claxton. Solid! On ya boys.

The Ada Tree

With a few cancellations Saturday turned into a three man show with only Eva, Winny and Myself loading up the SRAMvan for the adventure out to Ada Tree from Warburton. We ran into Ash out doing some race prep aka camping and tried our best to convince him to come along but he wasn't having a bar of it (a smart move in hindsight after what was required of him today). Rob's new toy was on board in all its GPS glory (I need to get one) and even told us straight off that the ride started at Big Pat's Creek, I wouldn't have known that if I didn't read the street sign so how the hell did it know, amazing.

Anyway, we started out and immediately acquired a fourth riding partner in Yukon (so the tag said), a very fit and very smelly dog. It was straight into the good stuff, and although it was climbing, the trail was good fun, the decomposing undergrowth of bark and ferns that doesn't look too quick but tends to provide endless grip. Of course it didn't hurt that I'd mounted the Schwalbe Nobby Nic's for the day. One thing that those unkept trails tend to bring is carnage to the bikes, and while we got through flat free, we nearly lost a derailleur ten minutes in. Winny managed to spear the X.0 goodness bolted to the back of his bike with a log about three centimetres in diameter. Thinking the ride was over, we did some bending, got rid of the broken bits and it was good to go, shifting well all day. Not only do they work better in mud, but they also work when broken!

Yukon has a break...

...and a bath.

An hour in we hit the fire road and palmed Yukon off to some 4WDers to take back to Warby. A few k's of open climbing BHE marathon style and we hit the wonderful world of Ada Tree single track where you just can't go fast enough.

Winny tearing up the Ada Tree trails just like he'll destroy those NORBA's in three weeks.

Taking in the sights at the Ada Tree - the thing is like three times the size of the Tower of Pisa.


Then it was the homeward run, an unreal descent that was nice and loose thanks to those guys with motors but was just plain old sticky anyway. You wouldn't be able to stop if you wanted to but you still never feel out of control. Some more untamed forest trail where the wheels were bouncing all over the place, debris was flying everywhere, ferns were ripping your arms and slapping your face, and yet you still don't have any gears left to go faster nor can you wipe the grin off your face. That continued for an age before popping out onto a fire road two hundred metres from the SRAMvan. This GPS stuff is good when you can do that. No where near the 6-8 hours I'd been expecting after Ash tried to scare me on Thursday night but still an awesome day out. Check out the details here.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Same Old Same Old

Got a couple more spins on the knobbies this week.

Wednesday night was the first full black ride of '07 for me and it's fair to say the night skills are lacking. At one stage I had about 4 semi-offs in about a hundred metres. The fatties bunch that night started out a sizeable one but the black must have been getting to people and many were peeling off early. It came down to only six after two hours, JD took line honours.

With news that the Eva Epic at Buller was cancelled due to lack of accommodation availability I ventured out to DirtCrits last night for the first time in what appears to be a while considering it was round 9, and I hadn't previously raced a round of that series. 50 riders came out, with 15 of those on the start line in A grade for five laps. After doing the TT thing from home to get there the legs are never in good condition but I managed to get a decent start. The Felt boys of Ash and Jack were straight off the front and looking good for Chase The Sun this weekend, and with Thylacine's Erin Francis in tow the placings were gone. I settled into a bunch that hovered between five and nine riders for a couple of laps, finding myself on the front nearing the end of the second, I then proceeded to clip the bars in some tight trees at the start of the third and had to watch as they all went past. From then on it was head down, bum up and chase. Caught all but two before the lap traffic started wreaking havoc on my progress and I had to settle for sixth, unable to bridge up to Duncan and Stuart. Results here.

Once again it is confirmed that they are too much hurt and I was close to losing my muesli (the afternoon snack pre-ride) for a good half hour with the stomach churning. The Polar tells me it was an average of 92% maxHR for 50 minutes, a recipe for pain.

May still get out for some decent S.H.I.T.S preparation with a planned ride to Ada Tree tomorrow, a good 6-8 hours on the knobbies.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Rain = Railing

Not much on the riding front this week, one burn around Lysterfield on Saturday morning with a bunch of the ex-Bikenow crew and that was it. A few sore heads from Norris' shindig the night before but the trails were in prime condition thanks to the rain, absolutely railing, so a good day was had. I'm not racing Chase The Sun next Sunday but for those who are, you're in for a good one if similar conditions are replicated.

The lack of riding is due to next week's mid-semester break from uni, and the rush to get work done before it. That's pretty much over now, so it's time to catch up on some sleep (it's hovered between 3 and 6 hours a night since the marathon 9 days ago), and get some riding done which will hopefully include an Eva epic up around Mt. Buller over Easter. Either way, chamois time is required before the S.H.I.T.S in Beechworth on the 14th.

Now that the Uni rush is over for the moment I finally got around to downloading the data from the Polar - if anyone's interested the Altitude Profile from the BHE Marathon 90km course is below. I thought the first 20km was hard, now I know it was.

Lastly, if anyone has a 16 tooth cassette style single speed cog lying around give me a bell, I need one.