Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday, training week 5

It has been a good week after a not so motivating result last Sunday. That was the second race of the Summer Sizzling Series at Crestmead. I got there feeling ready and prepared to launch an attack with a couple of laps to go but didn't have the chance as I missed a break with ten strong riders, which split the field of 20+ half way through the race.
I had a few attempts to bridge the 30 sec gap but only two or three in the group were willing to help. The rest were saving their legs for the sprint for 10th or 11th place... can you believe that?
A lot of guys race that way. They miss the break, they don't help in the chase and then they sprint to beat the guys who have been doing most of the work.
I have to say, I really have to control myself not to go off at one of those guys as they go pass in the last hundred metres to the line. They show no respect for the riders who do all the work at the front. Having said that, there are riders who come to me after the race and say things like:
"Thanks for all your work, keeping us in the race. Sorry, I couldn't help!"
Back to this week's training, it has been a hard one. All the workouts got intensified and/or had the kms increased. One of the workouts I do is called MIXED EFFORTS, which is done in Zone E3.
MIXED EFFORTS: Pick out sections of undulating road in the distance. HR: E3 for the whole effort, cadence: 95 to 110 rpm. These efforts must have a combination of up and down hills and must all be different. Rest: 6 min in between efforts.
This week I had to do 5 x 5 km efforts. In fact, I like those but I do have issues getting my HR in E3. I average 157 bpm during those efforts which isn't the prescribed level but nothing I can do about it... Well, because i have this issue of not getting my heart rate high enough during my training rides, I am planning to do a Lactate Threshold test. With that test I might be able to set my training zones accurately.
Today, I should finish the week with an easy 30 km ride but I might skip that as I am feeling a little sneezy. Also, feeling a little pain in my hip. I will do some stretching instead and decide if I will race or not tomorrow. It might be an idea to have a rest tomorrow as well and save everything for Sunday's Race 3 of the Sizzling Summer Series. It is time to get a good result for a bit of motivation!!!!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Another week is goooone...

It is going so fast. I am just about to finish Week Four of the training program. Tomorrow, I will do 50 or 60 kms with a couple of Sprint Accelerations and Sunday I will race the Sizzling Summer Series, Race 2.
This will be in a shorter course with a different shape. There is no time for recovery after the climb so the sprinters might not have the legs to finish it off. I think it will suit me and I am confident that I can get on the podium this time.
I am also feeling much better on the bike and have noticed that I am getting a little faster. A test at the Nundah circuit this week showed me some improvement on speed and endurance. I completed one lap of the 1.2 km circuit in 1 min 35 sec. Still have some room for improvement but I feel that I can be more competitive soon.
The old issue with my Heart rate hasn't changed during training but I did manage to get to a Max of 193 bpm in the last race. That is a sign that I wasn't too far off with the training zones. Having said that, I will do a Lactate - HR Velocity Testing in the next two weeks. Just to make sure I am getting the most of my training. More on that soon.
OK, time to get some sleep. I will be up in a couple of hours for a ride with Sandra. We will ride to Lakeside to meet a few friends and watch some racing. Shame I can't myself, it is a great club race with lots familiar faces and hard racing... Will save everything for Sunday!!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bad end of a week...

That's all I can say... The week itself wasn't too bad. I did all the prescribed workouts (HR is still an issue during the training sessions!), had some good rest and managed the 120 km ride for the week. In the program, these long rides are on Sundays but due to work commitments I have to shuffle all the training and do what I can, when I can.

So, on Friday I started at around 4:50 with Sandra. We met a couple of friends at Velo, our bike shop in Grange, rolled slowly to town where we met another group to do an easy River Loop as a recovery ride. In fact, this was the start of a (hopefully!) regular ride when the main objective is to have fun and get to the coffee shop/juice bar for a chat before work and even plan the rides and/or races for the weekend. We want to do this ride every Friday and want to gather as many HPRW riders (and their friends!) as possible.

The Recovery and Toast Ride: We are going to meet at Doce Vita, Park Road, at 5:30 every Friday. The idea is to do a recovery ride and then stop at the Juice Bar in Southbank (Grey Street) at around 6:20. The owner is keen to get some business and offered to serve Raisin Toast and fruit to the group. All we need to do is buy our own coffees/juices. Good deal, great way to start the morning! By the way, the coffee is good and the service is better than any other place in the Southbank area.

Back to training, after I saw everyone off it was time to get into training mode and do another easy ride... 95 km of it. For a change of scenery, I headed south and east. I really wanted to get to Manly for a glimpse of the ocean that morning. And that's what I did! I must say, it was a great think to do.

Manly is a little suburb on the coast (Moreton Bay) and has Brisbane's largest sailing club. Having spent a huge part of my life in the ocean (literately!) and good part of it around boats, that scenery does make me feel relaxed and in touch with my past. It makes me reflect on my past and doing so always helps me to realise how good my life has been, hence clearing my head of negative thoughts and giving me motivation to keep doing what I like doing and being who I am.

Manly Sailing Club, Moreton Bay
On the bike and back to town...

No kidding, you need to be a little philosophical sometimes just to stay sane while riding on Brisbane's roads. It is unbelievable what some drivers can do to scare you off purposely or just because they don't have any idea of what is happening outside their little confined air-conditioned-tinted-glassed car space. But that’s another issue.

got to town and only had 96 kms in the legs and the ride home would only give me another 11 or 13. Well, it was a beautiful morning, why not ride along the river and suck in the beauty of this city? It can’t get much better than that. 109, it was time to head home and I was getting hungry and a little dehydrated. On the way home, I noticed my average speed at 24.8 km/h… No, that’s too slow even for a recovery ride (which I did on the small ring all the way!).
Brisbane City

Time for a little more speed without getting the HR too high. Big ring fun. Have you noticed how the whole feeling of riding a bike changes when you trow on it the big ring? If your legs are still good, the ride becomes so smooth and fast. I love that feeling. I had another 7 kms to get the Av speed to 25 km/h and still had a few short steep hills before home. That was a great way to finish it off, flying home, HR nice and low and 24.8, 24.9, 25.0, 24.8. Home at 10:30 am, 120.5 kms, average 25.1 km/h!!!! The rest of the day was dedicated to sleeping, eating, re-hydrating, reading a bike mag, cleaning the bike and organising things for the start of my 6 days working week ahead.

Sign that I am back on training!!

In the evening, Sandra took me to our newly found Japanese restaurant, Oyama. We had a feast of hand-rolls, sashimi, and a couple of Japanese beers. Perfect day, perfect evening!!!

Ok, something had to give. Saturday, I woke up at 4:30 am to do an early shift at work. I was very close to staying in bed as I felt this flu coming up. It hit me really hard at mid morning and having decided to go to work, I had a terrible day. One of those conditions, sneezing six to seven times straight and having a running nose for the rest of the time. I was sick!

Sandra and I had planned a ride with a friend for the afternoon but that was the last thing I wanted to do. Lucky, she did her training before I got home. We change the ride with our friend to coffee/green tea and doughnuts for afternoon tea... Can't remember the last time we did that...

After our friend left, I jumped in bed and had a great sleep. Got up for dinner, watched a silly movie and then back to bed at 11:30 ish. Funny enough, I woke up this morning feeling much better. It has been my trick for many years. Eat, sleep, eat, sleep and chances are the flu will disappear in one or two days...

Might go for a ride after work... it is Sunday and I still have to add a few kms to complete my week.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sunday's Race

The first race of the Sizzling Summer Series and first Open Event for the 2008 Season happened this Sunday in Crestmead. What seemed to be a small event this year was in fact huge. It should've been close to 300 cyclists racing in 12 categories with Masters B reaching the 60 plus number.

I raced in a bunch of 20 Masters A, a good race where most were just watching each other and waiting for the down hill sprint. Very predictable but a very good race. I had a go on the first sprint as I managed to sit on third wheel down the straight but went too early (300 m) and run out of legs before the line, getting overtaken by two guys. With two laps to go, my friend Adam initiated an attack on the back of the course, dragging me up the hill. It was a good move as we crossed the line first getting the last lap sign and bell... shame we didn't get a bigger gap as the bunch swalled us just after.

That move could have worked if we had saved for the last lap... I think. That's when everyone is concentrating on their position and what wheel to follow. Normally, that slows the bunch down. Specially if there is a climb before the final stright.

It was a good test for me as I have just started training for this season and this race is just to see where I am at with my form and in relation to the rest of the Masters A riders. I must say, the group doesn't look as fast as last year...

In another matter, I did get my MaxHR to 193 which makes me feel better as I have been having many doubts on how to set up my HR zones for training.

The other good news was Sandra's fourth place in her race (Womans B/Masters W). She raced really well, looked strong and was just unlucky on the final sprint finishing fourth. The main thing is that she is now confident and can go harder in the next race.

About the race:

Some photos:

Another week of training ahead.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Saturday - day before first open event

The week didn't end very well. First, there was the crazy weather in SE Queensland. I call it "crazy" because we are very spoiled down here. A bit of rain, a bit of wind and we are all hiding in our homes and getting on wind trainers. SE Queensland must have one of the best climates for cycling. The hottest of the summer days will raise the temperature to mid to high 30s and in winter it might get as low as 5 degrees. Yes, 5 above zero... And not for very long as our winter days are usually clear and sunny so at around 9:30 am we are all taking our arm warmers off. Some of us have no idea how it is to leave and ride in Europe or North America...

The other issue was an injury that showed up after the ride on Wednesday. As the muscles cooled down, a painful sensation starting from my butt and travelling all the way to my foot appeared on my left leg. Just what I need and three days before my first Open Event for the season.

No panic, it is just the beginning of the season and this is not an important event for me. Anyhow, I called our massage therapist and got an appointment for the evening. Alex, from Race Elements, is a very knowledgeable guy and is always there when you need some assistance. He must have spent more than 30 min working on my leg.

The result was: injured hamstring sending signals to other muscles to work harder so things wouldn’t get worse. That’s good but what about my calf and my foot, they were hurting! Never mind, off the bike for two days, a bit of a self massage before bed and I am almost good.

Today is Sandra’s birthday and I promised to do what she wanted for the day. She had to do one of her hill TT tests so off we went to Mt Gravatt in the south side. It was a pleasant 20 km ride there and after sending her off I started the 2 km climb myself. Very, very slowly and on the easiest gear. I just wanted to get to do top as riding all the way there and waiting at the bottom would make me feel a bit stupid. It was nice to do the climb at a slow pace, having time to study it and look around as it is a beautiful place.

We did the climb twice and headed back via the city where we wanted to have something to drink and stop by the 2XU Performance Centre. Sandra wanted to find new sunnies and I wanted to get a pair of bibs. I have been wearing the 2XU jerseys for almost a year now and I find them to be the best we have in Australia by a mile. So, time to try the bib…

Yes, tomorrow is the first race of the Sizzling Summer Series,
an annual event organised by the Logan City Cycling Club on Brisbane’s south side.

Last year I raced in the Masters B event and finished the Series in equal third but they managed to put me in fourth after some very doubtful rule … This year I am racing in the Masters A event with a bunch of very experienced riders and some of the strongest in the 34+ age group. I am not sure how I am going to perform as I haven’t been training much but it will tell me where I am in relation to the other guys… I think that is the idea.

Time for some preparation as I am taking Sandra out for dinner and won’t have much time later. Bike, uniform, helmet, shoes, spares, licence, directions, I wish that was all I needed. I normally make a list with everything. Never forgot anything!

More tomorrow!
..., pump, sunnies, gloves,...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Wednesday - Another workout and much more...

Started the morning with a light breakfast as I was still full from the Thai dinner we had last night. Sandra and I have a couple of favourite Thai restaurants and last night we went to the one on Caxton Street. In fact, that might be one of the first restaurants we visited when we first moved to Brisbane. It was a great find and we've been there so many times.

Anyway. Breakfast, e-mails,,, a couple of calls and it was 9 am. Lucky it was a day off work.

On the bike and off to Samson Valley for some training. Living on the north side of Brisbane, I normally take the Jinker Track and Bunya Road to get there. Bunya Road is one of my favourites. The surface is not the best at places but the terrain suits me. It is a good place for a warm up and views are just beautiful. Trees, pastures, mountains, a creek, it is like being in the country.

Then, I turned left into Eatons Crossing and Mt Samsom Road where the hard work started... I did the prescribed workout for the day, 4 X 4 km efforts in E3. It is a hilly road in the beggining so it isn't hard to get the HR up at the start. E3 for me is 167 t0 180 bpm. I got it to 167 in the first minute, it made me all happy as I have a problem getting to E3 during training rides. But that was it... again my HR started dropping instead of climbing. I kept pushing to keep it as high as possible but that was it for the first effort - a AvHR of 163 bpm.

I had the 6 min rest and got into it again... Not easier, average down to 161. Then, 159 on the third effort and 155 on the last. Obviously getting tired and not been able to crank it up. It is not the first time, in fact I always have problems with this workout, I just can't get to my E3.

That brings the issue of what is my MaxHR. I am basing all the zones on a Max of 195 which does not match with results when using the age based formulas. I have been told that they are too simplistic anyway... I base my Max on a test (on a trainer) I did four years ago (195) and on a MaxHR I reached during a sprint two years ago - 193.

So, where am I going wrong? Perhaps I am just out of shape, having had a long break from training or I am getting older and my Max is getting lower... I might have to do another test.

The efforts were done in E2, I could still talk (to myself) and I was breathing fast but not heavily. So, I was pushing but wasn't really going for it which is the idea anyway... more like a TT effort.

In a better note, the ride was great. Perfect weather, even a few drops of rain to cool things down. Everything is so green. Too good to be doing it by myself.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

It has been a few days....

After an Easy ride on Thursday and another hard session on Friday morning, the week ended with a lot of rest. I did go out for the prescribed Easy ride on Saturday morning but it got cut short as I watched Sandra getting involved in a crash while racing. On Sunday, the rain kept me in bed in the morning. It was so relaxing, at one point I did a RestHR count and managed 42 bpm. It was also good to spend a bit of time with sandra, after her crash. Work in the afternoon.
It all equalled to a long rest of the bike!
Monday, I started with a workout. I rode to my new training ground (Nerangba and Burpengary roads) for a Tempo workout. Basically, 4 X 10 min efforts in E2. The ride ended up been 70 km without any problems. It did make me very tired for the rest of the day though... Perhaps, a sign that my fitness level is very low at the moment.
I did a bit of stretching in the evening and that helped. It is amazing how 1/2 hour of easy stretching exercises changes my mood and brings a little burst of energy at the end of the day... Just enough to get me in the kitchen to start cooking dinner.
For the rest of the training week, is pretty much the same with a little longer workouts and some sprints on Saturday as I will be racing an Open Event on Sunday. The event is called the Sizzling Summer Series, a series of 4 races in a large industrial park at Crestmead, south of Brisbane. The organising club does a great job organising the series every year.
This year, I will be racing in Masters A. It will be a step up from last year, a step that concerns me at the moment as I am not very confident with my present form. We will see...
It is time to get on the bike for an easy spin.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Wednesday Training and Racing

The day started with a light breakfast and coffee with Sandra. I must write something about nutrition one day, it is such an important part of training and racing... Then, a little bit of computer work, answering a couple of e-mails and finally on the road at 9. Just a little late but the traffic happens to be better as most are at work already and the kids have been dropped at school.

I was meant to do 55 km with 3 efforts which were 15 min in E2 with 6 min rest in between. I chose a ondulating road in the North side of town and was lucky not to see many cars. That went really well, I enjoyed the exercises and had some good speed. It was just on my way back that i took a wrong turn, adding a few more Kms to the ride. Finish the morning with 80 Kms in the clock - 2 h 50 min.

After a good lunch and a bit of stretching I decided to have an afternoon nap... It became a 3 hours sleep and I just managed to get out of bed. I wanted to go to the race track and watch Sandra racing in the evening. Well, if I felt good riding there, racing was also a possibility. It always is... so I change my wheels.

The legs felt very heavy on the hilly route to the Nundah track so I decided to race but not to do too much work and try a sprint or two.

There were around thirty riders in B grade. The race started fairly slow with a couple of the young guys doing their little attacks in the first few laps. They were all been unsucessful as one at time they got brought back by the more experienced guys. At about 15 min we got the wistle for the first sprint lap. I was feeling good at the time, had the chance to move up the bunch and get to the wheel of a friend. He could have been a good lead out... But someone decided to jump early and not knowing dragged one of the strong sprinters with him. When we got into the streight, my lead man decided to sit as he thought the two were too far ahead. Well, I was there for the sprints and that is what I did. 53/12 then 11, light cross wind but couldn't catch them.

I crossed the line third, not too far behind those two and with the speed I picked up I decided to keep going. But I didn't last long...
A bunch of guys were glued to my wheel in no time. Cool, time to rest for the finish.

A couple of more attacks, a couple of fast laps with some dangerous moves happening - as in riders changing lines without looking, and off we went for the bell lap. I did think there was a lot of erratic riding in the bunch and had to break as I came out of the last corner to come around a young female rider. No wheels to follow, I chose to take the outside line and see what I could do by myself.

Well, I didn't see it at first but I did hear this horrible noise of bikes hitting the tarmac and bodies flying. That slowed me down for a moment as I didn't want to run into any flying debris... Back to the twelve but too late... crossed fifth again - 61.9 km/h!!!!

Just glad not to be involved in the crash. I rode pass later and saw a couple of guys down in a lot of pain. No good, I thought.
  • Time: 37:30
  • E2: 28:51
  • E3: 05:44
  • Av HR: 157 bpm
  • Max HR: 178 bpm
  • Max Speed: 61.9 km/h

That was my day of Training and Racing, I will have an easy day on Thursday and another training session on Friday. No racing for me on the wekend either.

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