Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It has been a long time/Tour de Tablelands

As I said, it has been a while since I had the time to sit down and put a few words together on Training and Racing. Well, when I had the time, I didn't have a computer to do so. The old and reliable PC packed in a few weeks ago and a replacement wasn't part of my plans for this semester. Hopefully, some kind of miracle will happen and one will fall of the skies soon.

I did have a few days off the bike as I attended a Level 1 Cycling Coach Clinic with Cycling Queensland, our state cycling organisation. It was interesting to learn the basics of putting training programs together and to have lots of issues clarified as you can relate what is presented to you to a lot of the stuff we read in books and magazines. Now, it is time to experiment with a few programs and athletes and hopefully get some good results. And, watch out Carmichael!!!

Now, to what really matters. Training has been steady, there was an increase on the km/week and intensity (speed), getting away from the strength building exercises. I still did some hill repeats but they were in higher cadence, all out efforts to build power and anaerobic threshold endurance. Also, I replaced some of the sessions with a couple of club races. Now, it is all kind of easy as the first main event for 2008, the Tour de Tablelands, is a few days away.

The races we entered (Sandra and I) were the Anzac 25 at Lakeside, which is an yearly open event where I raced Masters A and the Soldier's Honour Handicap in which Sandra did really well. I didn't do very well at the first one as I missed being part of a break which got away with 10 or 15 min to go and had two mates in it. Every time someone did try to bridge, I jumped on their wheel but didn't help. Not how I like to race but I couldn't put a big effort and drag the rest of the field to the break away. Just the way it is...

Race Time: 1:06; Distance: 42 km; Av. Speed: 38.2 km/h; Max. Speed: 59.9 km/h;
Av.HR: 159 bpm and Max.HR: 173 bpm.

The handicap race was a little different. I was off with another five riders 3 min before the scratch bunch. Unfortunately, their bunch had ten or more riders, which means a lot more horse-power, making their chase a little easier. The 47 km course around Pine Dam was beautiful but very demanding. Undulating to start with, a little flat stretch at the back and hilly again for the last 10 kms or so... My time was 1h13min, about 8 min faster than the overall winner and 5 min slower than the fastest rider. A fairly good effort for my second handicap race ever, I think!

Race Time: 1:13; Distance: 47 km; Av. Speed: 38.6 km/h; Max. Speed: 70.9 km/h;
Av.HR: 157 bpm and Max.HR: 172 bpm.

The best thing about those races, and racing in general, is that we can always learn something. In the handicap race, I told the starters in my group that we should wait for the next group, the scratch riders as there were some Elite riders and half dozen riders that could have been in our group. Together, they had much more HP and speed enabling them to catch us without too much effort. We didn't wait and they did catch us (what was left of our group) on Km 25.

So, to win a race we need to look around and we need to be able to evaluate our competition and add that factor to our race plan. It might mean, to jump in the first km and solo ride for the rest of the race or it might be best to save your energy to the last few hundred meters where most of the races are decided.

Tour de Tablelands

We are off to Cairns on Friday so we have a couple of rides to do before that. Today, I did a few 100 m sprints and will do 50 m sprints tomorrow. Easy rides on Friday and Saturday morning and racing starts. I have started my lists of what to take, what to eat and drink and have chosen wheels and tyres for the different events. Still don't know if I will use the TT bars on my road bike, I guess I can wait for the result of the first race to make a decision.

Am I ready for it? I think so but I know that to get a good result it will be a matter of racing smart and not using just my physical abilities as I felt stronger last year and only managed a 6th overall.

Podium in 2008!!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Time Trial Efforts

The week is almost gone. Training was different this week as I had to do TT Intervals twice and one Spin Interval session.

For the TT, I chose the Nundah circuit, it is near by and car-free. I started sessions with a 45 and a 60 min ride to warm up (to Sandgate and back) and a couple of laps around the course to make sure it was all clear (we do get parents with young children on the circuit sometimes, best avoid hitting them at 40 km/h). Windy day with cross wind on the straight (15+ knots from the SW, I think) which means you don't get much of a push anywhere in the circuit.

  • 3 x 5km (4 laps + 200 m) with 6 min recovery

I did these with Stephen so it was easy to push hard as we were playing a game of catch me. Except for my front tyre which had about 60 psi...

Av. Speed on best effort: 41 km/h

  • 5 x 6 min with 6 min recovery

By myself this time, much harder without the 45 sec man. Had slower heavier wheels for these ones.

Av. Speed on best effort: 40.1 km/h

There will be no more cycling this week as I am doing a Level 1 Cycling Coach Clinic with Cycling Queensland. Will miss the club race at Lakeside which I was going to use as a test before the Anzac 25 Open event next week. Well, it is going to be another surprise...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Sprint for the line

I have won races before but this is one of the best finishes I've been involved in. I must say that it wasn't planned in advance but it does look like one of those finishes where Freire comes from nowhere and beats them all to the line...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sunday in Hell - race report

Sunday, 5:00 am: Out of bed after a 5 or 6 hour sleep. Breakfast, pack the car and out of the driveway at 5:40.

Drive to Eumandi (Sunshine Coast), for the Interclub Race, takes just over an hour.

Warm up ride with Sandra, Daniel and Mark was fun. Such a nice thing, riding with my partner and friends in such a beautiful place. We were meant to ride the 19 km loop and check the hills but didn't quite make it, as we were running out of time.

The 19 km circuit

Signed up, changed wheels, pinned number and was time to line up. A few new faces plus Mick, Adam, Adrian, Warren, Mick and Richard, whom I just met. I tried to have a chat about a race plan but it was too late: on our way at 8:40.

The Sunshine Coast team was very organised and looked great in their red outfit. They had the numbers to send riders up the road often. We, HPRW, had the legs to chase and control the race when needed. A few of us had a go at some stage but the guys in red were also well drilled on chasing and getting us back.

Mick, Richard and I for HPRW

After the second lap, half way mark, I decided to rest and save for a big hit on the last hill, 5 km before the finish. With me, at the back of the bunch, there were three Sunshine Coast CC guys and Mick, slightly out of form due to sickness but still keen ready for a big jump. As we approached the hill, they started moving up the bunch but I couldn't follow.

That's when I started cramping, from my right foot, up and around my calf muscle, my quads and groin. I managed to unclip and as I tried to stretch, the pain got really bad. The worst cramp I have ever experienced, it hurt like hell. I felt like crying. I have had issues with cramps before but it hasn't been a problem for over a year now. Might have to get back on the magnesium supplements again.

I managed to keep going and was able to get back as the bunch slowed down on the last incline. But it did hurt... I moved up slowly and noticed that one of the guys who was at the back had taken off and got a 50 m gap. I ended up behind two of the guys in red, whom looked happy to keep a slow pace as the guy ahead was also from their club, even though he had an orange jersey on.

Third wheel, 500 m to go. Nice spot if there wasn't a rider up the road so I started my looooong sprint. I didn't have much of a choice, I had to get to the guy in front and was just hoping that one of our riders could find his way to my wheel.

I caught the escapee but as it happened, the guys in red started overtaking me. They were everywhere. From behind them and travelling at full speed, came Richard who took the sprint and saved the day by a couple of bikes. Very nicely done!

"Guys in Red" everywhere but

Richard too fast

At the end of the day, it was great to race with a good bunch of people and at such a fantastic location.

More photographs: and

Race time:2:03; Distance:75.2 km; Average speed:36.5 km/h; Max speed:70 km/h;Av.HR:153 bpm and MaxHR: 190 bpm.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Saturday at work, rather be riding!

That's life!

It has been a good week. The weather has been close to perfect with temperatures dropping just a couple of degrees in the mornings. Still, during the days we can ride our bikes without any base layers or arm/leg warmers.

Training has been sort of OK. I finished the training week on Wednesday with a Mixed Effort workout. Not my favourite, I must say. Firstly, I left home just before 5 pm for the ride, a little late when I had to do 50+ kms. It meant taking lights and coming back just before 7. Secondly, those workouts are always frustrating! I can't get my HR high enough (E3) and I end up feeling like if I am not training hard enough, or that this is not the right type of training for me.

Going back a couple of years, when all I did was get on the bike and ride hard somewhere and then harder back home, race as much as possible and not do any recovery rides, I felt better and now wonder if that type of training works better for me. In fact, this type of training is recognised by some trainers as an effective way for some people to stay in race form all year around.

It did work for me, until I got burnt out and started loosing interest. I started a 12 week base training and gym in September 2006, started racing in November through to January and had a short break in February. Back racing in March, I raced over 50 races until September 2007. Then, I had enough. But I had planned a holiday overseas in October so that helped me thinking that it was OK to stop. But in reality, I was tired.

Now, I am doing this specific training program with expectations of peaking at the right time for a chosen event. Until then, it is like: is this working for me, I can't finish a race in top 5. I must admit, I also went up a grade and I am now racing the best Masters (35 +) in the SE Queensland region.

Well, too late to be having those thoughts as we have three weeks before the Tour de Tablelands, one of my main events for 2008.

I had an Easy session on the trainer last night, taking advantage of it by trying out my new shoes. I got a new pair of SIDI 5.5 with carbon soles, which has a different shape plate from my old SIDI, so fixing the cleats to them is a bit of a mission.

I still can't get into the pro look

thing and wear white shoes...

Tomorrow, we will drive to the Sunshine Coast for an Interclub road race with the local club and with the Ipswich riders. I will race A Grade on a hilly course which hopefully will give me a good indication on how my form is...

I will do an Easy ride this afternoon, perhaps have a coffee in town and then get the bike ready for tomorrow. Time to get back to work!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Sunday bunch ride and training week 11

We finished the week on Sunday with a 100+ km ride to Dayboro and the 7 km climb to Ocean View (Mt Mee road). Another early start to make it to our meeting point at 6:30 am. We almost made it on time...

At the bottom of the Samford Range, we met Petrina, Mark and Shane. Soon after, Donna and David arrived and with Sandra, Daniel and I the group started our Easy ride up the range, then Samford and to Dayboro. As we normally ride, lots of chatting and laughing for the first few kms. This time, clothing and David's new bike were the main topics. With Mark's mechanical knowledge and help, David finished building the bike a few hours before we started the ride... And there it was, with everything Record. It looked fantastic and David had the biggest smile of all. Wonder why?

Back to the ride, for the first time this year I was wearing my arm warmers and a vest. A good decision as descending on the other side of the range at that time of the morning can be a little cool. The descend is just under three kms long and has a nice gradient, allowing us to reach 50 to 60 km/h without trying... Nice! Then, the undulating road to Dayboro, about 26 kms of a rough surfaced road through the Samson Valley, a very scenic part of Brisbane's country side.

It took us under an hour, which is a good time as we slowed down a couple of times to wait for the slower members of the bunch. A quick stop at the township of Dayboro and off we went on what I consider one of my favourite climbs. It has the perfect gradient to be ridden on the saddle and at tempo, hence a chance to stay in E1 and E2 for the whole time. Well, that's what I planned and how I rode for the first half. For the second part, I changed my mind and decided to push harder to catch a couple of riders up the road and get an idea of how my climbing is at the moment. Climbing hasn't been part of my programs, except for the short hill repeats.

I let one of the riders go and went off a minute later trying to catch him before the top. I don't know how much he was pushing but I did manage to pass him with about 300 or 400 m to our stop. I was climbing comfortably with a HR around 165 bpm (85%), which is higher than what it was this time last year. Happy with my ride!

We waited for the rest of the group at Ocean View and to top up on the effort of the climb, and to stay warm, a few of us ventured up the side street which is a 500m climb at 18%, 167 bpm for me. After a few laughs and photos taken we started the "race" down hill and to the coffee shop. Again, happy to have arm warmers and a vest on. As my descending skills are a little poor, I just followed the guys for most of the time and then put my foot down with a couple of kms to go and as the road got flatter... and managed to stay away.

Have to mention David's great effort on making to the top for the first time, it must have been a Record.

Time for coffee, snacks, bathroom stops, and a chat on the ride so far. Also, have to mention Donna's bike-ride-break-snack: a steak pie!!! How does she manage to eat that, before 9 in the morning? Her reply was that it has been a tradition.... I know she has been riding for a long time but I didn't dare ask how long the tradition has been going for... It was an easy ride back for the first 15 kms, except for Sandra and Shane who decided they needed a little more of a workout. Another short stop at Samford Village then over the range again and home.

Total: 104 kms; Av. speed: 26.7 km/h; and Av. HR: 121 bpm

Week 11 starts

Monday was another easy recovery ride, again with John and Stephen, through some new country roads at Samford Valley. A relatively flat ride, highlighted by a very fast stretch of road starting at Mt O'Reilly Road, along Gibbons Road and finishing at Mt Samson Road. I sat on Stephen's wheel for a few kms as he grinded those cranks at 50 km/h. Dream run!!

Time: 2:09; Distance: 52.8 kms; Av. speed: 24.5 km/h; Max. speed: 62.9 km/h; Av. HR: 106 bpm and Max HR: ?

Today was back with Hill Repeats, this time a little different. I still had to do the 4 X 3 min efforts but this time with higher cadence (85-95 rpm), on and off the saddle and a gear that suited the climb. Again, the three of us headed to Clear Mountain road, a choice that proved not to be the best one (I will listen to John next time). It was too steep, only allowing me to turn a 39x25 at 65 rpm for the last two repeats. It was incredibly painful! On the last one, I had John and Stephen waiting near the top to encourage me to finish. It made a big difference as I managed to reach the furthest point of the four repeats. Good news! The bad news, I had forgotten that the road kept going up after that with two equally steep sections, one with a 20% sign posted on the side of the road.

Time: 2:25; Distance: 61.7 kms; Av. speed: 24 km/h; Max. speed: 82.2 km/h; Av. HR: 120 bpm and Max HR: 165 bpm

Coffee and french pastry at a french patisserie was the reward at the end.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Bike Week Criterium - Nundah

HPRW Cycling Club and Bike Queensland have again put a great morning of racing at Nundah. It was all part of Bike Week which started on the 29th March and will end tomorrow with the Mt Coot-tha challenge.

My morning and race were well planned today. With a 9:30 am start, I was able to sleep till 7ish, have a light breakfast, a large latte, organised a "musette", pump the tubulars and leave home around 8:15. It is a 15 min ride to the circuit so I chose a nice stretch of undulating road and spent 30 min going up and down. A few efforts, a little sweat and I was feeling ready for the race.

At Nundah, the Elite guys were going around. There was a break with three riders and a bunch "sitting up" 400 or 500 m back. That's something I think it can make bike racing a little boring sometimes. So, I got my number, spoke to a few people and got out of there, I wanted to stay warm as there was a cool SE wind cutting across the circuit. Bad news!

I raced in B1, a combination of categories forming a 40+ bunch. There was a good number of strong guys and a couple of teams. My club had its team but I wasn't part of it. At the moment, I prefer to race solo as all my main events this year will be contested without a team. Still, I always try to help or get help from a racing friend. Adam is a typical case, everytime he goes I try to go with him, and vice-versa.

The race was pretty interesting, there was a few of us trying to bring the speed up and even try an early break away but the bunch was pretty strong and had no problems bringing us back each time. In one of the atempts, Adam, two other guys and myself even managed to get a considerable gap. The windy condition wasn't helping much.

Half way trough the 45 min + 2 laps race we got the wistle for a prime sprint. I decided to wait for the attack that usually follows it. But nothing... So, up to the front and try to get rid of the sprinters was the next option. That didn't work either as they have team mates doing the work when needed.

2008 Bike Week Criterium, Nundah

My last atempt came in the last lap. I didn't feel particular fast but was hoping that some confusion would be created or the bunch would have a late reaction. Went from the first corner, got a gap, don't ask me by how much, got the speed to 49+ km/h through the Ss and last corner but slowly faded and watched the bunch coming around me with 250 or 300 m to go. The WHOLE bunch.

That is racing!

Time: 47+ min; Dist: 33.5 km; Av. speed: 42.8 Km/h; Max. Speed: 51.4 km/h; Av. HR: 158 and Max. HR:171

Story on Cycle Sport News:

Friday, April 4, 2008

I can't believe it...Friday again!

It was an unusual training week as I had company for most of my training rides. That does help a lot when I am a little tired and lacking a bit of motivation.

I got the new program from my coach, Iain Bowman, who had it ramped up at first. I then, reminded him that my first "A" event for 2008 was coming up quickly so he made a few minor changes... The Tour de Tablelands starts on the 3rd May and I feel that I should be ready by then. In fact, I feel ready now!

On this post, I will mention a few names (some very famous), people who are not just riding partners but also good friends so the rides are always fun as well.

On Monday, the ride started with coffee first (pretty good, hey!). Kris came over and after our home-made Latte, we headed off for an easy ride. We rode along Wynn Road and came back via Bunya Road, perhaps my favourite stretch of road in Brisbane. Kris is a friend from our days in Cairns, we met at the bike shop where he worked and he has now moved to Brisbane with his young family and is working at our local bike shop, Velo Cycles.

We had the usual chat about things in general but the subject always returned to racing, bikes, training. It amazes me that Kris still doesn't mind talking bikes after racing and working in the industry for so many years. Lucky me as I am always learning something from him.

Total: 59 km; Average speed: 25.7 km/h; HR Max: 148 bpm and HR Av: 113 bpm

Next day was back to strength training with some hill repeats. I met John Flynn (yes, the TdF reporter!!!) and Stephen Lowe, a mate from work and "new cycling fanatic" (We also met John in Cairns and he has since moved down here to set up his business). Being originally from the North side of Brisbane, John knows a lot of the good roads in the area and yesterday he took us to the back of Ferny Grove. He introduced us to a new "hairy"climb, Lochivar Road.

The climb is about 800 m long which is a good for the repeats but it does get a little steep at the end. I had to get off the saddle at the end of the last two repeats to get up on the big chainring. And they did hurt!!!

Total: 48 km; Average speed: 24.3 km/h; HR Max: 166 bpm and HR Av: 125 bpm

Rode to work on Wednesday which was great with exception of the mud on Airport Drive created by the trucks coming into and from the new road development site. After work, I met Stephen at Nundah for a ride to Nudge Beach on the bike path and some "spin intervals" with a couple of sprints added to test the legs. All good fun.

Total: 70 km; Average speed: 26.5 km/h; HR Max: 166 bpm and HR Av: 112 bpm

A lot of cleaning up after that!

Thursday, I rode again to work, this time on my old bike, the 370 Trek without minding the mud too much.

Got home around 3:45 pm with the intention of heading out for the last workout of the week. Guess what? I could not get myself motivated to ride. The workout was going to be really hard and I was feeling my legs sore from the previous days. A good excuse, I thought. I bought the Feb issue of ProCycling, got in a warm bath with it and dreamed of riding some of the 50 rides they featured in the special edition of the magazine.

Total: 27 km and Average speed: 26 km/h

Today, it was River Loop & Raisin Toast recovery ride. This time in fantastic weather. Unfortunately I couldn't get Sandra out of bed as I wanted her to enjoy the beautiful morning. I met Adam and Daniel "Whitey" at Velo, around 5:05, and we headed to town straight away. This time a little faster than normal. Fun, apart from my rear derailleur playing up which ended up being a bent drop out. Nothing that I couldn't fix with a little force... (already ordered a Ti one with Kris).

In town, we met Petrina, her friend Sueanne, Shaun and Scott (Sev) for our easy recovery River Loop. Again, the pace was a little higher than normal but without any attacks or sprints up the hill on Fairfew Road. It was a good ride and we ended up at the 19 Juice Bar a little earlier than usual. Good, time for lots of laughs and a couple of coffees (and the raisin toast).

Mark was a late show, coming straight from home. As I didn't have to get to work till late, I decided to join him for a few more kms after the others left for work. A stop at Velo Cycles and I was home at around 9:45, with another few kms in the odometer.

Total: 68 km ; Average speed: 26 km/h; HR Max: 146 bpm and HR Av: 108 bpm

At home, not much time for a rest. I had to prepare the bike for tomorrow's race, the Bike Week Open, which I will race in B1. It will be a criterium event on the Nundah circuit (45 min + 2 laps) and they have combined Elite B and Masters A, with a total of 40 riders. Unfortunately, we will be racing at the same time as B2 (Masters B and Elite C combined) which has around 60 riders, it might be messy!

We will see!

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