Monday, May 26, 2008

Criterium Championship / Avanti Classic Handicap Race and the Giro

The weekend is over, two more races under the belt and one OK result.

Club Criterium Championship

On Saturday, Sandra and I rode from home to Nundah where the club crit was held. It is only a 10 min ride and I still managed to get abused by a ute (pickup truck) driver. At 8:00 am, not the way anyone wishes to start a ride...

As we arrived, the club Elite A guys were fighting for the medal, a good race to watch. My race started at 9 something, a couple of minutes before Sandra's race and a couple of minutes again, before Elite B. So, with that timetable, I expected a bit of confusion on the track. Good in one way, the numbers were down for the club championship races. There were 8 Masters riders in my race and 2 in Sandra's event. Nevertheless, all keen to grab a few championship points.

As the course is flat with a long straight finish, the heavy sprinters were there and were certainly the guys to beat. I planned to take advantage of the cross wind and do a solo attack in the last 5 min of the race. All I had to do till then was cover the attacks, make sure I was in the break if there was one and conserve energy for the end. Simple. And I did that very well this time.


Around the 25 min mark, a break with three guys went. The five left behind, including me, talked and kept working well together for a few laps just maintaining a safe distance. Then, an attack within my group. I reacted quickly but couldn't get his wheel. The race was on to bridge across and we managed almost at the same time. My HR are at 187 bpm (96+%).

Unfortunately, the club officials made a mistake and we were given the "2 Laps" to go sign at 48 min, not at 60 min as it was announced in the brief. Small mistake, yeah, right! So, no time left for the group of six riders now. Nobody did anything until the the bell, when my friend Aaron took off dragging one of the sprinters. I was third wheel but decided to wait. On my wheel, two other sprinters and the sixth rider.

We went around the "S"s at the same speed, just 15 or 20 m behind. Not a big gap. Someone decided to chase on the last bend and I jumped on his wheel. I was feeling confident but forgot I was dragging the sprinters on my wheel. We caught the two and with 200 m to go they came flying. There was a bit of a squeeze but I managed to go around the three in front and get away for a third .


and Max Speed:56Km/h

All results:HPRW Club Criterium Championships

Best thing, lots left for the next race.


2008 Avanti Classic Handicap Race, and lots of pain

Now, that was a race. A fast, exciting and very painful event for everyone. I guess, that is what a handicap race is, specially an 80 km sort. Some interesting reports by Sandra and Daniel White, worth a read for a different perspective.

I was placed at 23 min with another 20 guys, with the Scratch group at 31 min. Most of us were Master A riders, category I will be racing most of the Open events this year.

For me, this was more of a test not a race which I thought I could win. Also, being a handicap race with 250 riders, chances are someone unknown could take the purse just for being given an incorrect start.

Our group started very hard, sign that it would be no easy ride. I cover the first few kms with my HR around 95%. Like a long, long sprint. We did settled a bit as we got organised and doing turns. The speed was high, average kept above 42.5 km/h... which is not bad for a bunch of old farts!!! At that pace, it didn't take long for riders to start missing turns and even get spat off the back. Still, there were about six of us pushing as hard as we could. We overtook a few solo riders but didn't see any groups until the sixty or so kms mark.

One feature I remember of the course in Lowood, SW of Brisbane is the Wivenhoe dam wall, which Sandra had described as a beautiful place. Basically, you crest one of the inclines ( I wouldn't call them climbs) and as you look down you see the wall. Really nice view and fast...That was where we got caught by the "27 min" and "chopping block" groups.

It was a large group but I am not sure how many because I pushed my way in really quickly as I didn't want to get stuck at the back of it. With that move I ended up taking many turns at the front, sometimes just making it as the group was flying. Good that I could keep up with them and momentarily drop most of the guys from my group.

On the down side, I didn't measure my efforts and didn't drink or eat for quite a few kms. The result: I cramped. All I remember was passing a few riders that I could recognise, riding on this beautiful tree-lined road and thinking I should slow down to take a drink and try to see where the other Masters riders were. That was it, at that point my two legs gave up and locked up as I tryed to stretch them. Probably an interesting sight for the riders behind as I was stuck on that position and could hardly turn the cranks to change gears and get out of the way.

I ended up on the side of the road trying a few stretches and watching riders going pass. I saw Sandra coming and close behind the "scratch" bunch. They didn't look as they were going too fast so I screamed to Sandra not to stop and try to jump on. I managed to get going again and after spinning for a while I even got back on the big chainring.

Through the township and into the straight, I overtook a few riders and saw the huge crowd on the side of the road. The best thing being, I caught up with Sandra again and finished the race with her on my wheel, just like we finished our rides so many times in the past. And only 3 min behind the top guys in my group.

Distance: 80+ km; Time:01:55:xx; Av.Speed:42+km/h; MaxSpeed:64.5 km/k and AvHR:161bpm

The Giro goes on

A few stages gone by and the rider to be remembered is: SELLA. Again, a star on the making on my old 2004 Giro dvd doing it again, and again!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Cycling and Raisin Toast / Weekend of Racing / 2008 Giro d'Italia

We finished the week with a recovery River Loop and Raisin Toast ride. Now, some might question if that is really a recovery ride... And will have a full weekend with races on Saturday and Sunday.

Before we get into the racing, I would like to say thank you to Kevin, owner of 19 Juice Bar in Southbank. He has been providing us with raisin toast and a great service every Friday for weeks now. Although, we are not bringing a lot of business to the place, he still comes out of his way to get our coffees and toasts out as soon as we get there. And most of the time with a smile and a joke.

This morning was no different. Only six of us showed up and ordered the coffees. Minutes later, the coffees started to arrive and out came a huge plate with our staple Friday diet. And delicious they are, far better than the stuff one can get in a supermarket or local bakery. Trust me, I know bread and what is presented to us is of good quality. And so is the coffee!

The good thing this morning was to have a very enthusiastic Kevin announcing that he had bought a bike and was now commuting to work three times a week. He made it clear that it is not an expensive racing bike, that it has "eight gears in the hub" and that he was really enjoying the rides to and from work, a 15 km round trip.

Hey, this is now another reason to go to 19 Juice Bar, I want to support a business where the owner/operator decides to become a cyclist himself. I just wish some more "cyclists" could feel the same way.


Tomorrow, we will have the HPRW (our club) Criterium Championship at Nundah. It is promising to be a great day of racing. That is if the changes made by one of the club committees actually works. To attract more riders, they decided to run as a graded race. There will be Elite A, B and C; Masters A, B, C, D and E and all the female riders in one race with a handicap system in place.

That means, I will race Masters A which will include any strong 34+ year old rider in the club. Tough for any 45+ who are still just hanging there when racing with those guys and with little chance of a top five finish. Well, perhaps I will prove myself wrong tomorrow by doing a Bennati style finish and surprising the sprinters by going from the front with 300 or 400 m to go.

On Sunday, we will race the biggest handicap race in the state (I think). The Avanti Classic is an open event that attracted more than 200 riders last year... all in the same race. It will be my first but Sandra raced it last year and loved it. As I am graded as Masters A, I won't start too far ahead of the scratch bunch who is lined up with local Elite riders and Elite teams. Another tough one but I will be racing for the experience.

The Giro

Well, Bennati got his third win this year, the young Cavendish only needed another 2 m to beat him, McEwen getting closer (maybe not!) but to me, Bettini is the "da man" by finishing 5th, surrounded by sprinters.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Montville Climb / Giro d'Italia

It was a good feeling to actually do something that I have planned for this week. I took advantage of the fantastic weather and day off work to drive to the Sunshine Coast. And what a nice drive it was...

I parked the "old" car near the Palmwoods High School where the race to Montville will start on the 8th of June. As the temperature was a little low because of the wind, I packed my pockets with a vest, arm warmers and spares thinking of the trip down the hill later.

From there, I went back to the township and on for a few kms to get the legs warmed up for the climb. I also wanted to take some photos for this post. Unfortunately, the "fresh" battery in the camera went flat on me. I think I managed three or four shots before that.

Just the ride on the road from the township towards the highway was worth the drive there.The road was a little busier than I thought it would be but the smooth road surface and scenery made up for that.

Back to the school, I started the Polar for the ride to Montville, not flat out but in good speed for the 1.5 km of road that takes us to the base of the climb. As the road starts to point skywards, the first thing I noticed was a traffic sign with a bike on it, brilliant. The second thing was another sign that showed: 10% gradient for next 6 km. Ugh...

I used the rides to check my gearing, the road and to compare my HR with last year's effort. I am aware of all the variables (I've been researching power-meters also...) like wind, the weight I was carrying, shortage of adrenaline, etc, and won't elaborate too much on my performance but I found interesting to experiment with the gears and the line I was taking and control my effort a little with the HR monitor.

A few numbers:

  • Distance: 7.8 km
  • Time: 19'54"
  • Average Speed: 23.7 km/h
  • Max Speed: 53 km/h
  • Average HR: 154 bpm
  • Max HR: 166 bpm
  • Climbing: 6.0 km
  • Altitude Gained: 344 m

My times were way down from last year's race but I think on race day, I will be able to push harder and use the other riders efforts to maximise mine. I will return for a final training ride before the race and perhaps do an all out effort up the hill to see how my form really is.

One thing I almost forgot to mention: it did hurt but I really enjoyed the climbing today and I am really excited about the race in two weeks.

The 2008 Giro d'Italia

Another Italian shines. The amazing thing is, Alessandro Bertolini won his first stage ever in the Giro, after 16 years as a professional rider. How extraordinary, and how sweet it must feel!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sleep in if not feeling 100% / Giro d'Italia

Having felt less than 100% for the last three to four days, seconded by a Rest HR about 5 beats above the usual 43-45 , I decided that I would be better off staying in bed for the last two mornings. I must add, they have been fairly cold mornings also.

Believe me, it is not an easy thing to do. As you lie there trying to find excuses not to get up, thoughts of missing out on training, friend's company, the ride that makes you feel 110% for the rest of the day, the well deserved coffee after the ride and those extra kms you could be putting in your legs go through your mind like a curse. You really have to be strong, listen to your body's messages and stay in bed.Ha!

So, I missed a session. I just hope that it will pay off and tomorrow I wake up feeling better. Still, I might do an hour on the trainer tonight just to give the legs a bit of a spin and the body a little sweat.

Planned for tomorrow is a drive to the Sunshine Coast where I will do a couple of hours on the bike. The plan is to cruise around the country side for an hour or so and then do the climb to Montville a couple of times. Nothing too hard.

The climb is Stage 2 of the Sunshine Coast Tour, in just under three weeks time. I did win the stage last year, while racing Masters B, and have a great desire to repeat it this year in Masters A field

On Friday, I will do the River Loop & Raisin Toast Ride, a nice and easy ride with friends. Perhaps a couple of sprints to get the legs prepared for the busy weekend of racing.

The Giro

I need to mention Salvodeli's ride on the ITT . The guy finished fifth place (+44") after a bike change with 300 m to go.

And the Italians are still dominating...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Busy times and moving on and racing; Ricco and Hansen in the Giro d'Italia.

It has been a while I've been told. True, but I have written a fair bit. The only thing is, I have been hitting the save button instead. The result is that I have a long post which I now find a little out of date. In it, I wrote my final thoughts on the Tour de Tablelands. Mainly on the ITT and on the last stage and how I failed to achieve my goal.

A good exercise as I can draw a few conclusions and learn something. For everybody else, just another I rode so strong, did most of the work, drag the bunch and got swamped by the sprinters... story. To avoid the "every racing cyclist writes that sort of stuff" comments, I choose not to publish it now and concentrate on the next race and other Training and Racing topics.

As I mentioned previously, for the next couple of months our racing calendar is full of Open Events. It makes it hard to choose what races to enter and what races to skip. In the past, I have raced without much planning and without a structured program so I entered all the Open races in the calendar and club races. To illustrate that, from March to September 07 I raced fifty events (Open and Club races).

No doubt I had some good results, the main one been up graded to race Masters A level, which is pretty much as high as I can go. On the down side, I got burnt out! Yes, just like we read in books and specialised mags. I rode a little bit in October, went on a six weeks overseas holiday and came back without any desire to train and/or race.

Cutting the story short, I decided to try a different approach and go on a structured training regime, decided to prioritise my races and focus on getting the best results (winning!) I can on the races that meant the most to me.

It doesn't mean I won't race any other events, races are good for training. It means I have to be careful with events which are fairly demanding on my body in the weeks preceding a race marked "A" on my yearly plan.

And this is it for racing:

Giro d'Italia

It is one of my dreams to be in Italy at this time of the year, as this race is my favourite Grand Tour. I can't really say why but it must have something to do with an old DVD I have which features, not only Petacchi and his team winning 8 stages but a huge number of attacks by single riders, all trying to elude the Saeco Team on the mountains. And making the race even more gripping, it featured an amazing contest in between Saeco team mates, Simoni and Cunego, battling for the Maglia Rosa.

In 2008, the race is just as Grand. In the first week, we have Australian Adam Hensan (best domestique in the world, Croc Man and Australian ITT National Champion) putting out a fantastic performance in the early stages and Ricardo Ricco winning two stages. I couldn't be happier!

Can't wait to get the DVD.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Back in training / Sunshine Coast Tour

Since our return from Cairns, I have spent very little time off the bike. Straight back into training as we have the Sunshine Coast Tour in less than four weeks.

We are still focusing on Strength workouts and Speed work, having introduced Time Trial efforts in low cadence and keeping the Spin intervals. With those workouts, we are also hoping to increase Anaerobic Endurance and improve pedalling efficiency. On Saturdays, if I am not working, I will do a club race.

This Saturday, it was a criterium at Murrarie. The Balmoral club has been running these races for years and it is the most popular club event in Brisbane. Because of its easy access and proximity to the city, it has become the place to go if you want a quick hit out... Known as the "Muz", it is not hard to see bunches of 60+ riders going around the short circuit and fighting for the line on the 100 m straight.

Trying to get away at Murrarie

Also, with a bit of convincing, I got my coach to agree that I should introduce some climbing into the program as one of the stages of the Tour is a 6 km Hill Climb. So, in the next few weeks, I will be heading to Dayboro to hit the Mt Mee climb a little harder. And no more Zupps for a while...

This year, with the Sunshine Coast Tour dates been changed to the first weekend of June, the road race calendar became a little packed for the May/June period. Just before the Tour, we will have four Open Events, including the Metropolitan Road Championship the weekend before. All hard races, which would take a few days to recover (at my age anyway...).

As I have chosen the Tour as a priority race for this year, I might have to skip a couple of races. This is the busy calendar for Open road racing in Queensland:

The weather has been fantastic, cold in the mornings but temperatures reaching mid-twenties during the day. As I have a few days off during the week, I can afford to get on the road at around 10, when the number of cars on the roads have also lessened.

Ok, off to Sandgate for some spin intervals along the beach, and coffee of course.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Tour de Tablelands - just a few lines...

Another Tour under our belt but firstly, I have to say that I won't go into too much race details as I don't have any stats. Somehow, my computer decided to clear itself after the last race and I didn't have anything logged.
Road up the Gillies Range, North Queensland

The Team

The racing was a bit harder this year with the inclusion of a few of teams. Their inclusion in B Grade changed the dynamics of the race and affected the results at the end as individual riders didn't form any alliances to compete against them.

Cool morning in Yungaburra (300+m)

My racing was pretty good and I felt better as the days went pass. Unfortunately, I got carried away with my good form, specially in the last two races (the crit and the 90 km road race), and did a bit too much work at the wrong time. At the end, I didn't have a lot left for the bunch finishes. My overall placing: 6th.

Most technical Crit circuit in Queensland

I (and fool, me!) still don't know how people show up for a race, sit in for 90 kms, push their way to the front with 1 km to go and still don't get top 10 in the sprint... The way I see it, these riders will never get any stronger and or faster.

For the Tour in Yangaburra, we stayed with our friends Mick, Cecily, Bruce and Shane. We had the same house as in the previous year and we were looked after amazingly well by Cecily who did the shopping, prepared meals and looked after us for the three days. A big thank you from the team.

Fun machines!

Anyway, there are good reports on the D Grade races on Sandra's Blog and here are the results of B Grade:

Nevertheless, it was a great weekend. We met Tim, Ella and their baby Max, we had dinner with Tracy and Bob, we met Dee and Kevin, we had a pizza at Donini's and snacks from Bethoven's. Still, we needed a whole week to be able to catch up with everyone.

With Max

Back in Cairns, we had time for a ride to Baron Falls, which used to be one of our regular rides. The photo bellow tells why.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Racing in Cairns

All packed!

Tomorrow, 10:00 am flight to Cairns.

Camper pick up at 13:00.

Lunch in town with old friends.

Drive up the Gillies Range (wish I could ride up).

First race starts at lunchtime, Saturday.

Last one on Monday.

Back on Tuesday!


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