Monday, July 28, 2008

2008 Tour de France / 2008 Grafton to Inverell

Paris, cycling capital of the world

The Tour de France ended this morning (Australian time) with the usual show down in the streets of the Champs Elysees. It was the end of the biggest sporting event in the world.

Isn't what the Tour de France is? Some do believe that and I am starting to believe it is, at least, the most dramatic, tough, exciting and vibrant sporting event on Earth. Not just for the riders and their phenomenal performances, their entourage and the caravan of cheerful sponsors, but for the million of spectators as well. They follow the event all over the place, often on bikes themselves, bringing a colourful attitude and fervour to the stunning landscapes of France.

As a youngster, and for years, I competed in surfing events and I dreamed of entering some of the major events in the international circuit. Those events took place on mind-blowing locations around the globe and often, but not always, in perfect and challenging surf conditions. I never fully reached that level and only surfed local comps and a couple of international qualifying events. At the time, my desires were based on the information I acquired from films, documentaries, magazines and stories told by friends who made it to the next level.

Like then, my opinion on cycling events like the Tour is mostly based on what I see on TV, documentaries, magazines and friends tales again. It is also definite that I won't be racing any event of that level in this life time but I will, with a little luck, witness one first hand in the near future. Yet again, comparing both environments for what they are now, it is clear to me that cycling events of that magnitude are the most dramatic, vivid and most celebrated annual affair on the planet.

I can't wait for next year!

2008 Grafton to Inverell

"The toughest one day race in Australia"

A bit late it might seem but my preparations to this event is underway. I have put together what others call a "crash training" program to bring me to the level needed, not just to finish the race but to get a top 10 result, comes September.

It is a 225 km race, in what many describe as very open to the elements region where conditions can vary from windless hot days to hours of cold and gusty cross wind on the open roads. What ever the conditions will be, to me the hardest part will be the 225 km ride itself. Not because I am yet to race that distance but because I haven't yet ridden that amount of kilometres before in a single ride...

So, in the next few weeks I will be building up slowly to a level in which I can do that amount of kms in racing mode.

The first training ride was on Sunday. It was basically a test to see how my body would cope with a long ride, after the time off the bike and sickness. I like to do these rides to test the food and liquid intake as well. I met Mark, a friend of ours and keen cyclist, around midday and started the ride by going over Samford Range and heading towards Dayboro. From the small village we climbed to Mt Mee, took the Campbells Pocket's turn off and descended to Wamuran, taking the Daguillar Hwy for our return home(Brisbane's north side) via Caboolture and Narangba.

Start of the climb to Mt Mee

It was a fantastic ride topped with beautiful weather and great views all the way. Mark, as always, was an ideal buddy for the ride as we were able to match our efforts and have a steady solid ride.

View from Campbells Pocket

We rode the 138 km loop in 4 h 50 min, climbing around 1,000 m. I felt good for most of the ride, did a bit of tempo work on the descent to Caboolture, but did start to run out of legs at the 110 km mark. Possibly caused by a low food intake during the ride and something to start payng more atention as it can ruin a ride, or race.

The numbers:

Dist: 138 km;
Time: 4'50"
AvSp: 28.5 km/h
MxSp: 72.6 km/k
AvHR: 147 bpm
MxHR: 170 bpm

Fluid intake: 2 x 750 ml EFS sport drink; 1 coke; 750 ml of water
Food intake: 1 x EFS bar; 1 x energy gel; 1 small veg. pizza

I didn't ride today as I was too tired after watching the last day of the tour and going to work at 5 am. I had a sleep in the afternoon and got on the trainer for one hour (watching CSC movie "Overcoming") for an easy spin of the legs.

Probably the same for tomorrow!

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