Friday, September 5, 2008

Carlos and Alberto will keep riding Cervelos!!

It is official, Carlos Sastre will leave CSC (Riis - Saxon Bank) to join the new Cervelo Test Team in 2009.

Read more here.

Then, click here to learn about the bikes we ride.

Cycling & Dieting and riding with Sandra

Cycling and Dieting

As far as I know, this is a constant issue in the life of a cyclist, and athletes in general. We are all trying to get stronger, faster and lighter, specially if climbing fast is what we are trying to do. There are lots of factors to be considered when training for competition but power to weight ratio is what we are always trying to improve. After all, we are trying to fight gravity...

I remember my training regime as a competition surfer, late 70's and early 80's, when all I did was surf, eat, surf and eat. The time in the surf was often to the point of exhaustion with sessions going as long as 4-5 hours without a break. Dehydration? I was half submerged in water, for half the time anyway... No, I didn't think of that.

The second part of the training was at the table where I ate as much as possible in one go. Then, a little sleep to recover from the early session and out the door for a second and third session depending on the surf conditions in the afternoon. I can still recall some late sessions when all I could see from the surf were the lights of the houses and cars going pass.

Those were the days when my competition weight was around 72-73 kg (height: 1.73 m). Today, if I step on the scales and see 69 kg I start to panic... If I ever get to 72 kg again I will probably sign up for the TV show The Biggest Loser.

Nowadays, my competition weight is 66-67 kg. Bellow that, I start to get a few flus and loose a bit of strength. With 80% of the races around here being criteriums and/or road races ending on bunch sprints, strength, or physical power, is crucial for those last decisive 100 m.

On dieting, I am not one for counting calorie input and output but I do watch what I eat in the way of choosing foods that are good for me and won't make me gain weight. Eat to train and race could be said of the way I think when preparing a meal. With that in mind, and having a very inquisitive partner, I have found great foods and recipes. More so, because we have been semi-vegetarians for many years.

Well, it might sound a bit simplistic and easy but it is not. There are lot of "delicious" foods out there and not falling for some of those well advertised chocolates and doughnut deals is a hard task. Although not heavily advertised, cheeses and breads are my most evil allies. They are good for their protein, calcium, carbohydrate, etc but pretty effective on my waistline too...

But it is all part of an interesting lifestyle and I feel great in the process. Just need to win some races now!

Dish of the week: Cauliflower Lasagna

Riding with Sandra

It has been a week like in the days we started cycling in Cairns, Sandra told me. She was right, that's what we did before we came to Brisbane and started our new jobs, 3 1/2 years ago. It has also to do with colder winters when getting out of bed just after 4 am isn't as easy...

We did an easy coffee ride on Sunday which was great for my shoulder recovery. We met some friends in town as well, which is always delightful. Tuesday was a session with friends at Nundah but I am not going to write their names as I might forget a couple. There were twelve riders on the paceline.

Then, Nebo yesterday morning. Unfortunately, the drizzle (and that is all it was for the first 3/4 of the ride) kept most in bed. Aaron showed up, as he always does, and the three of us had a real pleasant time going up Mt Nebo road.

Sandra reflects at the lookout

They were all relatively easy rides that help to determine how good (or how bad) my shoulder is. The doctors are happy that I keep cycling, it is just a matter of knowing where the limits are. And, it is so tremendously good for the mind when an injury restricts me on what I can and can not do.

Aaron in B&W

I did wake up this morning at 4:30 but the text message that came through announced heavy rain. It didn't encourage me to get on the bike (apparently Sev is good at that!!)... and I had cleaned the bike thoroughly yesterday and didn't have time to put any lube on. I thought it was a good excuse not to get out.

Tomorrow, we will head to Lakeside for a club race. It is going to be a hill top finish, good for power climbers, riders that can sprint up a short steep climb, guys like Valverde or Flessa.

The course: click here.

Weather looking good!

Monday, September 1, 2008

So much happening in cycling this week...

Tour of Ireland

Even though it is not a very publicised bike race, I needed to start with the Tour of Ireland. Or should I say with Mark Cavendish. The Manx sprinter took the first three stages in what looked like fairly easy gallops. Then his team, Team Columbia finishes off with a win in the final stage and the overall classification.

Unstoppable with 100 m to go

Vuelta de Espana

That is one of the races I would love to watch one day. That's because I always think of it as a climber's race. The 2008 edition is just that, not just a climber's race but an event for the feather-light and skillful Spanish climbers.

There are a few flat stages where I am hoping to see JJ Haedo get a win, or two, and a 17 km hill climb ITT (Stage 20).That will tell who is still strong up hill after more than 3,000 km of racing... Madness, really.

Then, we have the massive 209 km Stage 13. The queen of all stages, Alto de l'Angliru. Our friend Aaron would describe it as "Awesome!". The graph below tells more.

So far, we've seen Liquigas taking the TTT, Valverde showing how he's going to win the World Championship and Boonen beating Bennatti and Erik "Nearly there" Zabel to the line, in Stage 3. Lots more to come!!!

US National Championship

And the winner is... Tyler Hamilton!

Tyler wins by 0.002 seconds

Good on him, some might say but I can't stop thinking that he is a guy who cheated for who knows how long, got caught, did his time and is now a National Champion. I wonder what sort of message gets sent across to all the kids out there.

What I know is that people will keep taking drugs if all they might get is a 2 year ban... if they get caught!

HPRW 100 Years Celebration Handicap Race

Rostered to do my sign on duties for the club, I made my way to Laydley with Adam and Stephen. Just in case I had time for a few km, and to help with the celebrations, I took my bike and race wheels with me. Ha!

Around 60 people showed up for the 100 (+8) km Handicap Race and at about 11:15 am the groups started to roll off. I had plenty of time before our start so I had a quick chat to the First Aid Officer and had my shoulder strapped and taped to avoid any pain or any more damage. He did a great job, except for covering large areas of my chest, which I don't shave...

There were eight riders of slightly different abilities in our group, the chopping block group. No need to say, the pace was on from the gun. As we reached the 2 km mark my HR was already hitting 85% of a 193 max. Not a very good thing and a sign that it was going to be a hard, hard race.

It didn't take to long and at km 10 or 12 the road started to point slightly upwards. Yes, slightly but enough to get me to the back and off the back in no time... Scary time, I was blowing up!!!!

I tried to calm down and paced myself up the hill (2+km) trying to keep the group in sight, hoping to put a big effort on the downhill and catch them before the first turn around. With the help from a bit of traffic on the road, I did just that and got to the group with enough energy left to pull a turn or two leading to the turn around point.

All good until then but as we got to the bottom of the climb, on the way back now, I realised that I just didn't have the legs. It wasn't going to be my day. With another 65-70 km to go, I decided to sit up, have a rest and wait for the "scratch" group.

Good idea, once I got picked up by the group of 4, things got a little easier but also much faster. Those guys were flying... We picked a few more and soon there were seven of us.

Of the four of us taking turns, I was doing no more than 15% of the work. Although, I was feeling good, I didn't want to blow up again, specially with the climb getting closer. At this stage, we could see lots of small groups ahead and as we hammered up the hill (and I mean: Hammered!) we dropped 3 from our group and passed everyone else in the race but one rider.

I felt good and surprised myself by getting over the hill with that selected group of riders.

On the downhill again, someone else joined us as we watched the last rider in front come pass on the other side of the road... He was wearing a yellow kit but looked like a carrot to us. Came the climb again and I found myself at the front, good as everyone says it is the best place to be.

HR at 169 bpm, I needed to back off. Someone slowed down in front of me and asked me something. "What?", trying to go around him. Real bad time, the 3 riders at the front pushed up to the top dropping us in the process. Two or three seconds, that's all it took to loose those wheels... Believe me!

I went over the hill by myself. S..t, ITT once again. That's when my mind started to play games. I wasn't sure if I had to do another 15 or 25 km. It just didn't add up and I started to get frustrated. Luckily I saw someone ahead and got focused again.

The rider had cramps and had literally stopped to do some stretching on the side of the road. Together we set off in survival mode, until we sited another rider... All right, three to go!!!

I didn't think so, the riders ahead were the strongest without a doubt and deserved their place on the podium for the work they had put in. I was totally happy with that. Now, for the minor places, it was suggested we just roll pass the finish line and share the cash. Civilised decision after 100+ km of shared pain, I thought!

We crossed the line together but the club officials decided to give me the 6th place, maybe by 0.002 sec.

The shoulder? It didn't trouble me much... Now, to peel off all that tape...

Check the course out here.

Check the results here.

Riis says goodbye to Cervelo

I wouldn't be telling the truth if I said the CSC-Cervelo five year partnership didn't have some kind of influence on my choice of bike 2 years ago. Hey, that's what advertising is all about. Now, they are breaking up. CSC finished its contract with Riis Cycling and Cervelo has set up a continental team in Europe.

To me, it is going to be strange to see Carlos Sastre or Andy Schleck riding anything else than the R3 (SL now). In fact, we don't even know if Sastre is staying with Riis or not but we now know the best team in the world will be riding Specialised bikes. Interesting!

I wouldn't mind one...

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