Monday, June 1, 2009

The week: The Giro and Clear Mountain, old training ground revisited

What a great week!

First, the Giro d'Italia '09

I didn't stay up to watch the highlights this year. Really, and if that's possible, I had more important things to do. Did I miss the Giro highlights? Not really. I just read and watch the final kms on youtube every morning. Also, found the Italian commentators, which included Bettini more entertaining!

Happy with the race? Absolutely! I find the Giro to be a great race, with great climbs and great riders. It is not portrayed to be the greatest race but it might even be just that. A hat trick by Cavendish, a win by Petacchi, the strong finish by Gerran and a great show of professionalism by Pauwels. He is certainly someone who can replace young Andy Schleck on Sastre's quest to win the TdF again. And on the man himself, Sastre climbing of Monte Petrano and the Vesuvius is what I like to watch.

Simon's great winning smile

Win number one, Mount Petrano

Win number two, The Vesuvio

I can't forget to mention Danilo "The killer" Di Luca as the big fighter of the Giro '09. He just tried everything but ended up dragging and leading Menchov, The Shadow, to the highest spot on the podium. That's racing!

Di Luca and Menchov

The winner is... Menchov!

My riding week was a good one also. I didn't win the Wednesday bunch ride to Jolly's and I didn't get on the podium yesterday but, apart from the hurt, I had a bloody good time having a go on both.

As I haven't sat down to seriously jot down my 2009 training program, I chose to get out there and have fun. Using the rides as tests to find out where I am at the moment is important and will help to design my program and follow my progress later on .

With that in mind, I started by revisiting an old favourite, Clear Mountain. Those short pinches always let me know where my strength level is... First, there is an undulating route via Eatons Crossing then a 6 km stretch to the climbs which I normally use to psych myself for the hurt.

Eaton's Crossing for a warm up

Turn right and start getting ready...

This time I didn't aim to go flat out. I don't need to do that to measure my fitness and strength. I just need to observe my heart rate and how my body behaves when going up. Still, it did cause a little hurt.

The second climb, aiming for the resort

350m, averaging 11%

My route to Clear Mountain (front)

Then, there was the Wednesday ride to Jolly's Lookout, with Adam. It can also be called "Wednesday hurtfest", even when you set out to take it easy because you have a hilly race on the weekend.
With that in mind, I met Stephen and rolled at an easy pace towards the bottom of Nebo. A small group gathered in the dark, chatty but surely aware of each other and trying to foresee the amount of pain that was about to be generated. The word "F..k" came to my mind as I realised I was the weakest of the five...

The Nebo climb is not for the pure climber (none in our group) as there are ups and downs. So, if you want to do a good time, you need to speed down the descents in the dark. It is a demanding, risk taking exercise at times. Even more, if you rely on your mate's powerful lights to illuminate the corners. In daylight is safer and that's when you can set some really good times.

Home to Jolly's

An easy solo ride on Thursday as I really needed to recover. Lovely, it feels good just riding the bike sometimes... With training in mind, I added some high cadence efforts, to start getting some speed on the untrained legs.

180m at 176, 183, 177, 184 and 186 RPM

Day off the bike on Friday as I started work at 4 am, after a sleepless night. It meant getting home early, true, but I was in no condition to go anywhere or doing any form of exercise. In times like that, it just stresses my immune system. Yoga stretches was the best I could do.

Saturday, an early-enough shift again, a 40 min spin on the rollers and a Yoga session with Sandra before heading to the Gold Coast for a party. Perfect prep for the race on Sunday.

The Metro's at Mt Alford is a tough little race if you are racing Masters B. I say little because of the relatively short distance, 69 km. I raced it with the Masters A lot last year, dropped a chain before the top of the last hill on lap two and never saw them again... I chased them on the downhill for a few minutes at 80 km/h and still watched the small group ride away... I did one more lap on my own and decided to stop. A fourth lap on that windy loop would be a killer.

Yesterday's race wasn't much easier but it was fun. My present form didn't allow me to have an easy ride. I did have to conserve when I could and go fairly hard when I saw myself drifting back. I needed to be at the front all the time. I felt the lack of power on the steep little hills and had to do them on my lowest gear (39/23), with difficulties.

A felt pretty fresh in the last kms, held my position in the middle of the bunch and stayed out of the wind and in touch with the sprinters. As the bunch cought a couple of scapees I took my chance hoping that the reaction was going to be slow. It was, but it was with 1 km, or thereabout, to go. Too far. In the process, I dragged a rider to the 300 m mark before fading (at the pub!!). I think he finished well.

I dragged myself across the line behind a bunch of 12-15 riders (just a guess here) so top twenty. How do I feel? I wish I had Stage 2 this morning...

The tree 23 km loops

Picture and dish of the week. It just looked so good that I had to photograph it and post it here. I did taste good too.

Vegetable Frittata


Blogged Blog Directory