Monday, May 31, 2010

The Grover Diet

So the Dukan Diet appears to be taking Australia by storm. Well forget that...introducing the latest fad diet...the Grover Diet. Simplicity is key and this one couldn't get more simple. Ride your bike as fast as you can for a few hours wearing too many clothes.
You can't physically drink enough to replace the fluids you lost and the scales will smile when you next step on them. I lost a kilogram an hour on this diet!

Round 1 of Full Gas Promotions' Chase The Sun series was held yesterday. That severe CTL rise of last week still had me a bit under the weather so I rugged up for the start. Two and a half hours later I was sweating up a storm and I finally ditched some clothes.
Alas, the damage was done. The right quad was the first to feel the effects with some minor cramps. I dropped from third to fifth. Whether it be from not having spent more than two hours on a mtb in the last ten weeks, or from the lack of quads control on my patella tracking stemming from the cramps, or a combination of the both I started to get some knee pain and pulled the pin at four hours. One hour short of the finish but with the depth of solo entrants in Victorian mtbing at the moment that dropped me from fifth to 19th. There is some serious growth going on in this sport!

Other than the result the rest of the day was all positive. A sold out event with everyone in good spirits having a ball on a TAAGO (tacky-as-all-get-out) track. The 1X10 setup was perfect gearing for the solo onslaught with a 34tooth chainring. All other Apollo riders got on the podium. My 'moto' inspired mudguards looked awesome...even if you don't say so. Get in quick for the next round as it's already 40% full!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A fine line

Training in the dark after work can get a bit eiry. The helmet hair doesn't help when you get home and a shadow is cast in the dark!

It's Sunday afternoon and a solid week on the bike is complete. The legs are tired, good, but there's a slight tickle in the throat, BAD! Cycling is becoming more and more a game of numbers. I'm still new to this training with power thing having only been at it for about 8 months. Only now am I starting to see trends and starting to understand how to use it. So what does the data have to say about that tickle in my throat?

I'm most interested in my chronic training load (CTS). From what I've gathered a rise of 1-4 in a week is an easy week, a rise of 5-8 is a moderate week and a rise of 9-12 is a hard week. The last time I got really sick was after smashing myself in and around Bright over the Christmas/New Years period. That was a CTS rise of 13. This past week has seen a rise of 10, a fine line between health and sickness. With some good sleep and nutritious food let's hope that tickle in my throat doesn't turn into anything more and there's nothing stopping me pinning a number on next Sunday for Round 1 of Chase The Sun. Five hours racing mtb's on four weeks training...should be interesting.

Enough of the boring talk though. On yesterdays ride I stopped by Albert Park for a bit of criterium viewing. A hotdog-esque course had the field whittled down pretty quickly to a group of about ten with all the usual suspects present. With three to go the moves started.

First Dan

then Eric

and finally Alex and Dan made one stick.
Alex got the maiden win for the new Search2Retain team with owner/manager (above) screaming and jumping up and down with excitement. Hats off to Apollo's newest recruit Kane Walker for winning the bunch sprint to take third.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Shut Up Legs!

We've all seen clips like this but it never gets old.

That was the theme for my weekend. After a week of rainy, dark and cold after work training sessions Saturday dawned without a drop of precipitation on the radar. Excellent! A mate had told me to meet at Mordialloc at 8.30 for a spin down to Arthur's Seat. He hadn't mentioned it was with a solid bunch comprised of VIS and Australian Road Cycling outfitted fellas. I spent 5 hours with them. A good chunk of that time north of 40 clicks chewing stem. Not to mention the threshold effort required to avoid keeping them waiting at the top of Arthur's too long for me. Add the extras required post ride to do some errands and it was a big day.

What better way to follow that up than with a mtb race on a Rohin Adams inspired course. For everyone that doesn't know that means hills. Steep hills...and lots of 'em. A grade did 2 laps of 24km. It went up for 10km, then rolled for 2km, then down for 8km, then rolled for 2km and finished with 2km of muddy/sloppy double track funness (yes, that is a word).

As you could have guessed I was popped pretty early. Funny how you think you've recovered well until you try to turn the screws a bit and the legs start crying. I rode whatever tempo I could muster up the climb and let it all hang out on the descent to roll back onto the lead group as we reached the bottom. A bunch of 10 rolled through to complete lap one together and then it was a case of deja vu. The climb started the second time around and I got popped the second time around. I settled into that tempo again hoping the time gap wouldn't be too ugly. It was. Even more sideways action was had going down this time but to no avail. The leaders stayed away by a couple of minutes. I found myself in a two up sprint for 4th and 5th, except when I tried to open it up the legs said 'no sprint for you!' (think soup nazi episode of seinfield).

Looking at the sky post race it's hard to know how the bike's got so dirty! Hopefully we get more of the same next week. Training in the dark aint so bad, it's when it's cold and raining that it gets hard to swallow.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

And so it begins...

It was spluttering and blowing oil but it looks like the blog machine is up and running again for season 2010. I've enjoyed 6 weeks off where the only cycling involved visiting here (scroll left)

with bunches of good mates

for a few too many of these.

The result? I'm down 30 watts at threshold and 5kg heavier which means I'm operating at half a watt per kg less than 6 weeks ago. Some changes to the bike include some of those crazy rings from Rotor.

They seem to have helped maintain a smooth pedal stroke during the break but they'd need to pedal themselves to have helped me on the weekend. The race debut for 2010-11 season came on Saturday a week after returning to training. The Phillip Island Grand Prix is 25 laps totaling 111km's of wind changes and punchy climbs. It was a very good yardstick of were I'm at. 180+ riders started and approximately 50 finished. As expected I was one of the 130 DNF's. Some good race practice in a very sketchy peleton though. Being the mtber I am with limited bunch experience it was nice to find myself in the right place most of the time until I ran out of legs.

Next stop looks like being FGP's Chase The Sun series with a solo number on the front. Stay tuned for my take on this 1x10 thing everyone is raving about. The '10' part coming care of BlackCatBoneBikes and their custom 10 speed SRAM X.0 twistshift.

Yep it's got an extra click!

Dirtriders Twilight 6 Hour

With monster balls of ice bombarding Melbourne the 2010 Labour Day weekend was quite memorable for most cyclists. Tales of desperate dives for cover to avoid being battered and bruised by these giants were heard from all areas...well except Upper Beaconsfield. No hail and barely a drop of rain was seen at the Dirtriders MTB Twilight 6hour Enduro. The club decided to put the Monday Public Holiday to good use and start this 6 hour at 3pm, allowing a bit of night riding to shake up the racing.

Pete and I fronted up with mud tyres already mounted expecting the worst. One look at the track surface and it was obvious there was no need. The Michelin XCR DryII treads were quickly wrapped back around our wheels and we were ready to harness the crazy speed and deceptive grip they provide.

Unfortunately the nasty weather in surrounding suburbs had left many wrapped up on their couches as home and after lap one it was obvious the race was between two teams and a solo rider for overall honours. A few hours later we were all still within a couple of minutes of each other, the sun was setting and the most solid shower of the day came through. That was too much for our solo friend and he decided to call it a day. As the sun dimmed further the other team reallised their light setup wasn't quite up to scratch and racing at night wasn't an option. That left us unchallenged to ride out the remaining time in the lead. Eventually finishing more than two laps clear of the rest of the field on 14 laps. Not the most satisfying way to win a race, but a win's a win... preparation is crucial people.

Pete even got to do a double lap as I missed transition thinking it more important to pimp my ride glow stick style.

Special mention to ex-Apollo roadie James Mowatt. The Rollin Cycles junior team were down a rider after one of the Matt's put his teeth through his jaw by crashing in practice and was rushed to hospital. James didn't take much convincing to fill the spot on short notice and was an instrumental part in the junior team beating home the more experience senior team led by shop owner Dale on his new Apollo ArctecM. Moral of the story? Even on a rocket ship like the ArctecM the legs are what decides the winner and the juniors had that department covered. Get that training done!

Finally if you want to see what the trails were like I wore the helmet cam on my dusk lap. The lap was slightly shortened as it was just after the heaviest downpour so it also happens to be the fastest lap recorded at the event. Only the first half in this video though.

Great Ocean Sports Festival

A week after the Otway Odyssey Apollo Bay was once again swamped by outdoor adventure freaks for the Great Ocean Sports Festival. While the festival was in its fourth year, the MTB marathon was making its debut. Pete and I ventured down the Great Ocean Road to lap up the atmosphere and get some quality off-road saddle time in.

The course was simply the MTB leg of the adventure race with an added out and back loop comprised of fire road and bush track. After running, swimming and kayaking adventure racers obviously aren't too keen on the single track and so this course was faaast!

Come 8am Pete and I were lined up on the second row planning on following the early moves and seeing if we could match it with an unknown bunch of skinny racer boys...and girls which included ex-Road World Champion Judith Arndt fresh off her Odyssey win. The gun went and as per usual there were those guys that took off like a scalded cat. We were both quickly on the wheel sitting nicely in the top 10. After about 5km we found ourselves near the front on a steep, 500 metre, mossy climb. Pete turned the screws and half way up had a 30 metre gap. Looking around all I saw on faces around me was pain, I accelerated and no one followed. As Pete crested the climb I rolled up next to him, a quick nod and off we went.

At the turn around after 10km we took note of our time and as we headed 'back', the nearest chaser was heading 'out' and the gap was at 1'20". The course was rolling, although it seemed to be rolling a bit more up than down and we were both praying for that to change. My computer was telling me altitude gained was triple the altitude lost, my legs definitely concurred. The good news in that was that it was all downhill to the finish, 15km down to be precise and we pinned it! Not even the dragonfly could match our pace and I caught one...

...ok, so maybe it just flew into me but I'll claim it.

Anyway, the last few km's were sealed and I was spinning out with a slight tailwind behind us. The finish came into sight and it became apparent that Pete had a bigger chainring than me which meant he rolled me by half a wheel. End result, Apollo first and second. Third place about seven minutes back. If you haven't ridden the trails around the Otways call in sick tomorrow and get down there...they're SWEET!

Scody National MTB Series Round #1

This past weekend saw the Scody 2009-10 National Mountain Bike Series kick off. The opening round was held at Glenorchy MTB Park near Hobart. Pete and I made the trip over early Friday morning, entrusting our shiny new steeds to airline baggage handlers. Thankfully they made it through unscathed and we soon had them reassembled and ready for their National Series debut.

Short up, short down, long up, long down, no flat in sight describes the course pretty accurately, in a word 'tough'. At only five kilometres it was short, but 4.5 of it was singletrack and all of it was rough, rutted and rocky...not to mention the 200m of vertical climbing each lap.

Photo courtesy Tim Rowe
Saturday dawned and seven laps were on the cards for the ~35 rider Elite Mens field. Race time was going to be on the longer side and in the sunny, dry conditions staying hydrated would be critical. Pete and I both started from the fourth row of the grid and managed to hold position through the hectic mess that is an XCO race start. We rode wheel to wheel through the first lap in a bunch of about six. Pete then decided to show his strength to the bunch as we climbed out of the feed zone to start the second lap. He rode away and blew our bunch into single riders scattered along the track.

For the next four laps I rode my own race. Forcing myself to find time on the tight track to drink a bottle a lap and have a gel every two. At the start of the sixth lap this started to pay off as I picked up and went past riders until I caught Pete again at the start of the last lap. We climbed together, catching more riders until one had a mechanical failure just as we caught him forcing me to dismount. I gave Pete a push which allowed him to stay on the bike and get a bit of a gap on the tough rocky climb. Not wanting to puncture he rode conservatively on the final descent which allowed our little bunch to catch him. The tight nature of the course was never going to allow any overtaking though and we finished as the leading two riders in our bunch, wheel to wheel as we started, in 15th and 16th positions.

Photo courtesy Tim Rowe
What followed would have made for quite a comical little skit as riders took turns suffering excruciating cramps as we warmed down together and shared stories of magnetic trees that we'd only just managed to avoid...or not in some cases. Thanks of course to Apollo including support from Michelin, Easton and Prologo for the fancy new bikes. Mine certainly didn't miss a beat, to quote one impressed test rider...'boy, they're light!'

Surfcoast 6hour

While the roadies have been pinning a number on for a couple of months now this weekend gone saw the MTB team make our debut. PeterK and I ventured down to Anglesea for Southern Exposure's Surfcoast 6hour. This event is unique for being the only six hour event that runs into the night. The format is obviously proving quite popular with record numbers entered.

4pm came and the instructions from the race director was for solo riders to start first with a delayed start for team riders. With the relaxed vibe that goes with racing next to the beach I stood off to the side to watch the solo start. That was great, until there didn't seem to be many riders left and it became apparent that the start orders were being ignored. Everyone going on the first start! What followed was an exercise in patience as I looked for gaps to get past the 300+ riders that were in front of me.

We'd identified Felt Racing as our primary competition for the day. While we both had started at the back of the bunch Felt's rider had obviously been a little more aggressive in his passing maneuvers and I handed over to Pete almost three minutes down already. Over the next three hours lap times stayed consistent, transitions were smooth and we kept the pressure on. Felt's lead was just over four minutes as darkness fell.

This is where the tide started to turn, our conservative riding in the lap traffic appeared to be paying off. Our lap times stayed steady under lights while other teams started to slow. It was with an hour to go while I was riding our 11th lap that I spied a familiar flashing tail light up ahead. Not long later the catch came and it was race on, five hours down and we were riding wheel to wheel.

For the next 15 minutes we rode together, not wanting to put all our cards on the table, trying to gain an insight into how the other was feeling. As we cornered onto the main fire road climb I upped the tempo a little bit, got a gap and decided to go for it. I handed over to Pete around a minute clear and he ripped the track apart recording the fastest night lap of any rider for the whole race.

He came in with 10 minutes left on the clock, assuming Felt would also come through before the end of the race I headed out for lap 13. In the end it wasn't needed as Felt didn't chase, calling it a night on 12 laps. A wise move as well as it was during that lap that the rain came. Oh how I was wishing to be back under the marque clean, dry and warm. I crossed the line at 10.25pm to take the honours in the Male Pairs and the Overall. Quite satisfied to finish a lap up on the rest of the field.

Thanks to Southern Exposure for running a slick event once again, very enjoyable. Even racing at threshold is relaxing with cliff top views of the ocean as you ride. Thanks to Michelin for the excellent XC DryII tyres and latex tubes. We knew by looking at them that they'd be fast, what Pete and I were both surprised by was the amazing amount of grip they had in the loose, sandy conditions. Of course thanks also go to Apollo Bikes for allowing us the opportunity to do this mtbing thing that we both enjoy so much. See you on the trails!