Saturday, October 31, 2009

Day Seventeen: Bikes & Phone calls

The last couple of weeks weren't the most exciting. There was only so much I could do around the house before I got drawn back to the computer, reading the news (cycling news that is...), looking at bikes and reading some cycling blogs. I am not into day time TV so the radio was on, tuned to Triple J all day...

On the cycling news front, the 2010 equipment revolution (post 2009 equipment revolution) got my attention. I learned, again, that every bike manufacturer is going to launch a stiffer, lighter, and faster machine for which, every other cycling related company has created a stiffer, lighter and faster piece of equipment to go with it.

Socks and jerseys are now made with carbon fibers. Hence, a humble prediction that by the end of 2010 we will be buying the same fibers to mix with our breakfast cereal or protein drinks for stronger, lighter and faster twitching muscle fibers... Now, that's a thought!

Looking at bikes and day dreaming always took a fair chunk of my spare time. Specially now when I might have to buy a new frame. It can be a bit repetitive some times but I try to look at all types. Carbon frames, steel and Al frames, track and TT bikes, Shimano and Campag groups (I can't stand that SRAM stuff) to go with them... Compact and traditional, black and black with red... The truth is I am always amazed by the beautifully designed gear.

But the more I learn, the more I believe that the reasons I had when I chose my "old" bike are still rationally valid. For one, my friend James liked the R3 (he is a scientist and should know everything). It wasn't very expensive, it was scientifically engineered, it was raced at Paris-Roubaix and at Alpe d'Huez and it was predominantely black, I couldn't have gone wrong.

However, I don't think I should ride the same bike forever, it might be time for change. After more search and price checks, I decided that if I have to, I will replace the R3 with the 2009 S2.

As far as cycling blogs go, I need to mention our friend BSNYC who has created a piece on another Canadian company (Cervelo is Canadian),
GURU Bikes, unusual marketing strategy.

The bikes do look fantastic and do fall in the category of I want one. Well, that is if I had a huge amount of cash to throw around and somehow could ignore the looks I would get from some of Snob's comment writers (the podium seekers) as I rode my new bike. That wouldn't be hard really! Although, I am not into most of the stuff he goes on about (I don't live in NYC and I don't own a fixie), Snob's comments on Contre-La-Mantra: Streamlining Your Sales Pitch are funny and would make me think twice before buying one of those frames.

Aaron's phone call

There have been many phone calls, one of them was from Aaron. It was a very unexpected call as it was the evening prior to stage ten of the
Crocodile Trophy, in the Far North.

Wasn't he supposed to be resting, or self-massaging or fixing his bike?

He sounded really happy and somehow relieved. He said the race was finished and next day's stage was just a formality. Formality? Fifty or sixty kilometers on a MTB are never a formality.

Anyhow, my friend "Jaman" did the Crocodile Trophy! What an effort, I am so impressed that I have to mention it here but I will leave it like that and wait for him to tell the stories when he gets back.

Congratulations Aaron!!!

Some stuff on Aaron's Croc Trophy adventure already on
The Jaman Files.

By the way, I believe he was having a couple of well-deserved commemorative rums when he called.

...more calls

Calls from insurance companies, work, solicitor, a team manager. Team manager? Yes, I got a call from a friend who manages a local racing team (I think he manages it). Anyhow, he asked me if I want to be part of his team for the 2010 season.

- Ah... uh...

- What do you want? He asked then...

Shit, I don't know what I want. Perhaps a whole season of racing for a change... I am now looking forward to the 2010 Road Season!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day Fourteen: ready to start training again and The 2009 Pro Season Video

Lets call it two weeks, given and taken a few hours, since my last ride. It is not certain but that could have been my last ride for 2009 as well.

Admittedly, at times like this, I wish I was a professional cyclist and would get a text, an e-mail or a phone call from the director sportif giving me orders to get on the bike, or plane, to meet the team for a training ride or race in a foreign country.

However, it's not like that. Like most, as much as I still dream of a life resembling that of a pro cyclist, it is not going to happen. I am OK with that, as long as I can keep putting the 300, and the occasional 400 kilometers in a week on the bike.

These last two weeks have been interesting to say the least. I have experienced tinglings and aches like never before. Some fairly intense, I don't mind, but some quite odd. I say odd because they don't seem to be directly related to the injuries I suffered from my bizarre encounter with the motor vehicle.

So, having to get a medical statement from my GP (insurance business), I took the opportunity to ask him a few questions regarding the symptoms I am still experiencing. The answers, apart from the clinical terms, were pretty much in line with what I already guessed and discussed with a couple of friends:

"Mate, you were hit by a car. Your whole body is suffering the consequences of that. I am surprised you didn't break a leg and I consider you lucky for having landed on your head and not have become..."

OK, I got the picture and walked out with my piece of paper feeling relieved. I have nothing to worry about, it is going to be a matter of time, that's all! Meanwhile, I can start to put together a plan for 2010 and can even do some research on what exercises (core and legs) I can do while laying still on my back.

I am content with my short 2009 season and the results I attained with the very short preparation I had. Certainly, something to keep in mind when designing training programs, another pursuit of mine.

My training can start now!

The 2009 Pro Season

On the Pro level it has been a great year. Apart from the drug scandals and accidents, all part of the sport, we watched some great races and some great champions.

The purist, and old, will keep saying that it isn't how it used to be, or "when I was the world champion...", which is well-founded, but it is also important for us to acknowledge the champions of today and encourage the champions of tomorrow. And that is in all levels of our sport.

The video below, does just that. It does it in a uncorrupted style, which I like, as it does not distinguish riders by the bike they ride or the country they were born in.

In my view, that's pure cycling! My friend John Flynn would say:

"It's a beautiful thing!"

Keep riding!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day Twelve: better by the minute & choosing a performance frame

Another weekend recovering from the slightly surreal and, now, to some extent laughable moment.

As expected, I have had problems to get a good sleep at night. Inevitably, I spent a fraction of those hours thinking about the incident, I can't help it. I try to think of a positive aspect (when I find one) and I do make sure I don't feel sorry for myself. I can't anyway, there are zillions of people in some real terrible situations, what happened to me is nothing!

I also think of the probable outcomes. Health, cycling, work, etc... They're all things that are part of my life and somehow have been impacted by what happened. I am positive that I will heal well, will be cycling soon and back at work in a few weeks. Additionally, I am lucky to have a partner who knows me well, supports me well, knows how to get on with things and does not pamper me excessively.

She does, sometimes...

So, that leaves me with one thing to worry about: my bike!!!

If it gets repaired, will it be alright?
If it gets replaced, will I find a better bike?

It is going to be weeks, or months before I learn the answers for those questions. Meanwhile, I will spend some more of those hours searching and like most of us, fantasizing!

Well, I have done that in the past, like all of us, and in fact just before the bloody incident (let me get it out of the system here even though it wasn't bloody at all) I was looking at some top of the range frames, trying to find one that could help me getting a little bit more competitive in races. OK, faster!

And, I put together a list with some of the bikes I looked at. Forgive me if the process was a little unfair as I haven't ridden most of these brands and had to rely on my visual analyses, manufacturer's spill and my own gut feeling to come up with the results. Not very technical, I know, so if you read this and disagree, please correct me at will, I won't feel dispirited.

Bikes: would buy x would not buy

Pinarello: "...with a graphic treatment with
sparkly silver." If that's what they think a
$10k frame should look like - Not!

Eddy Merckx: with that name - Would!

Trek: my hard earned cash would go on the
paint job of one of Armstrong's bikes - Not!

Time: couldn't have two of those at home,
not cool for couples to ride around on
same brand bikes - Not!

Look: it comes with a broken top tube, or
I would break it on my next crash anyway - Not!

Giant: sure they look no frills but they
don't muck around, they build race bikes - Would!

Orbea: long story, can't elaborate on this one - Not!

Ridley: partially built in Belgium - Would!

Felt: not 100% sure on the down tube design,
starting to look like something else - Not!

Cannondale: great BB design, traditional frame - Would!

Storck: strong and fast, doesn't look like a
climber's bike, would need another bike - Not!

Cervelo: they only make road racing bikes,
all the energy is directed in building fast
bikes - Would!

So, from the five Would! my final choice is Cervelo. It is not the top of the range so it can be almost affordable. It has been ridden in some tough races, in fact it has won a couple of good ones too. It might not climb as well as the R3 but it is a faster bike... and I have no mountains around here!!

The 2009 S2

After a final touch up...

See you out there!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Day ten: time to reflect and dish out...

"... to learn from it and to pass that on to others..."

I received that as a comment from a blogger-mate based on the other side of the world. Of course, he was referring to the latest in my world on two wheels. But it reminded me of one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place. I wanted to share some of my experiences with people that somehow would find this blog and somehow would change and improve something in their own lives.

Perhaps I haven't succeeded in doing so. Perhaps I never will. But I will keep trying, writing about my experiences and views, as a cyclist or not and on different topics, hoping that someone, anywhere, can one day sit back and say:

"- OK, I am learning something from this..."

Like I am!

Dish #1

On today's post, something on food. When I was growing up, everything, more or less, was related to large and delicious meals. Not the most balanced and healthy meals sometimes (too many desserts) and, as a compulsive surfer and the son of a restaurant entrepreneur, I ate too much, most of the times.

Today is a little different, and as a cyclist the subject always attracts questions on nutritional values and calorie counts. But I am not going to go into those details, I will let someone else do that and will just introduce a dish that is easy to make and, as one will find out and hopefully report on, as nutritious as it looks.

Tuna and Avocado Spaghetti

1/2 onion and 2 cloves of garlic

Broccoli (beans, snow peas or anything green)
and 1 avocado (thrown in last)

Frying with Olive oil

Tuna, spaghetti #5 and
cream (or low fat milk)

Add salt & pepper to taste,
1 x glass of Sauvignon Blanc

Bon appetite and safe riding!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day seven, wishing to be on my bike

This is the first time I have been hit by a vehicle and, so far I only have had minor car crashes as a driver or passenger. I can add to the list a few crashes on bikes; many, many wipe outs during my surfing life and last year's altercation with the van, when I was the one who hit it, putting it in a different category.

Been hit by a car is proving to be a new thing all together. Although, it was a low speed collision, and I only suffered a few injuries, my body seems to be reacting very slowly. Today is day seven and it is still aching as if the incident had happened last night.

My right thigh took the blow that sent me in the air. Luckily it wasn't snapped but it is constantly reminding me that something did happen to it. If I sit for too long, it aches as I get up and if I stand for too long, or just have it stretched in bed for a while, the ache returns as I try to bend it. The incident must have caused some damage to my nervous cells!

Moving to the next part, I have been wearing the neck brace, or cervical collar, for 99% of the time. That's not what the doctor told me to do, I am just too scared to take it off as I go to bed. I am a light sleeper and do move a fair bit during the night, the last thing I want is to make the fractures worst, doesn't matter how small they might be.

That brings me to sleep, or lack of sleep. Three continuous hours is a bonus at the moment and I have probably averaged 5 hours/day in the last week (Is it time to bring some graphs back?). The disturbed sleep is caused by wearing the brace, the intriguing leg and the fractured rib, mainly. Trying to find a position to accommodate the three is literately a work out. In fact, what I've been doing is compromising and sleeping with a bit of pain in one spot until I can't handle anymore and have to move. I then, try to sleep with a bit of pain elsewhere for a while. Hilarious to think how we can negotiate with our injured body parts...

Apart from a sore neck and shoulder, and that's from the rough landing I guess, the fractured C5 doesn't manifest itself. I wouldn't even know that there were fractures if I wasn't told so and of course, not made wear something that makes me walk around like Herman Munster.

So, it is all moving along on the physical part. The mind? Ah well, this bit goes through some not so pleasant moments but for most of the time I am staying positive and I keep telling myself that everything will be sorted and I will even be able to get on the bike and do some of the local climbs without any physical impediments.

Now, I can't forget to mention my beautiful partner, Sandra. She has been the force behind it all. She is a passionate cyclist herself but has chosen to put all her energy into what's happening to us, even putting aside her bike, her goals and her own battles. That is priceless to me!!

When I look at my bike sitting on the other side of the room, hopelessly, I tell it:

- Hey, get better! I want to go for a ride with Sandra!

Smiling all day!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Deeds, exploits and dreams - Giro di Lombardia 2009 (videos)

Here, where I collate my experiences and, sometimes, what might form the basis of future deeds, or dreams, I choose to show this great race where men on their machines endure an enormous amount of physical and mental hurt just to be able to put themselves a step closer to their goals which can be as far and as hard to reach as my dreams.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Lucky fella, this one...

It is Saturday afternoon. It has been a while since I found myself sitting at home, not thinking that I should be on the bike or planning my next training ride. It feels strange in a way but it feels relaxing also.

I had an intense week, a week that generated a lot of stress, pain and sadness. Not just to me but to people around me and people many, many kilometers away. Unfortunately, a week that will bring a series of minor and less than desirable issues into our lives.

The injuries from my accidents weren't too bad, they could have been much worst. With time, they should heal and I should have no problems going back to my normal life.

However, the thought of been exposed to those type of situations, which easily could have put me in a more critical state, is somehow scary.

Also scary for the people around me and scary for the people many, many kilometers away. Not because we are cyclists, not because we are good people but because we are people and being people we are forever vulnerable to the sorts of circumstances we have no control over.

Thus, to sit here, quietly, trying to put some words together is delightful. Really.

Thanks for all the Get Well! messages and I will see you out there, soon...


Thursday, October 15, 2009

A hot ride ends with a bang!!

During one of the many conversations with Sandra this week, I remembered what I often told my Dive Master trainees when discussing risk management, accidents and fatalities in the diving industry.

- It is a number's game. If we keep taking people underwater, three times a day, seven days a week, at some stage something bad is going to happen.

Luckily, and with lots of hard work trying to minimise the risks, I never had a fatality while instructing. But, bluntly, I had to say to Sandra that training on the roads and getting hit by a vehicle was just a matter of time.

Training and the end of it for a while

The week started with an easy flat ride on Tuesday. After what happened on the weekend, I chose the Nundah-Nudge Beach bike path and Boondal Wetlands to stay away from people and cars in general, coming home with 2 h/51km in the legs. Just what it was prescribed... well, with the exception of my three sprints at the Nundah circuit.

I still like to get on the bike in the middle of the day. The wind has been fairly strong and mostly W/NW at those times and it has been warm. Firstly, I am not an early morning person, if I can avoid getting out of bed at 4:30 AM, I will. Secondly, chances are the Tour of Bright will be run in very hot and windy conditions this year and I wanted to be prepared for that.

So, the Wednesday ride was planned as 3 hours of medium intensity, 80 to 90 Km, and I left just after 12 PM. I like to do those sessions on
Mt Nebo road, even knowing the intensity would rise too much during the first 6.5 km stretch to Mc Affees.

I take a few back streets on the 30 min ride to the bottom of Mt Nebo road, but it is too often that I observe cars going through red lights (in the middle of the day!)and/or cutting me off just to stop at a red light first. It must be the game to play, if some one drives a Ute or a V8 in this city.

This time, it happened on a section of the route I always take an additional care. Like this: driver stopped at intersection; driver gives way to the cars in front of me; driver looks at me; driver smiles and steps on the accelerator... I am not kidding and I was pissed off...

I went on. It was 36 C when I passed the green road sign, the warm head wind and dry air starting to hurt my lungs already. The combination of the two sending my HR to 86, 87 and 88% (170 bpm). I thought I was going to explode before I topped the first climb.

- Ah, well, Mt Hotham might just be like that... push it on!!!

The temperature dropped by 1 or 2 degrees as I rode up and every time I started one of the descents, I would splash myself with lots of water. I really needed to cool down. I also needed to practice my skills on the down hills, hence my max HR for the climb been on a descent (if the Polar was right).

I made it to the 300 m sign in good time but I was already too wasted and could not stay on the big chainring and sprint to the marker. By the sounds I was also making, my perceived effort numbers must have been 9 or 10... 17'19" with an average HR of 163 bpm. Huge in those conditions.

From there, it was the usual "enjoy the climb" approach, L to M intensity, again putting a bit of an effort on the descents and corners. I reached Jolly's lookout in 44'33" and the coffee shop in 48'35". Not Cat 1 times but pretty good for me.

From Mt Nebo on, the ride gets even better. A beautiful descent with lots of fast corners and another 240 m of climbing before the turn off to Samford Valley. The road then turns very steep and I had no problems keeping up with a car for most of the way.

Along Highvale, with a nice tail wind this time, I did one 12 min effort, averaging 43 km/h. It took me to Samford Village quick so a really cruise return home via Bunya would still get me home around the 3 hours/80 km target .

Distance: 71.5 km
Time: 2h54'30"
Ascent: 1630 m

The Bang

It says everything. I didn't make it home last night. A driver decided to put an end to my ride three or four kilometers from home, and on Rode Road of all roads...

The result is: a couple of small fractures on C5, a fractured rib and a very sore right leg, as it took all the impact that sent me up in the air.

It is all a bit unbelievable at this stage so I won't go into details but I am off the bike for a while, ten to twelve weeks, and will not be doing the Tour of Bright this year
(again!) .

"say you will, say you won't
say you'll do what i don't
say your true, say to me
C'est la vie"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The training week that just gone was a...

A good week, in terms of training. I did manage to do the planned hours and almost got the kilometers done, even though, a broken seat collar bolt prevented me from riding on Wednesday.

On Tuesday I did an easy ride to Sandgate, throwing in a few long sprints at the Nundah criterium circuit on the way home. It's a recommendation by Mr Cavendish (
great video here). I must say, I always liked throwing a couple of those when returning home via Rode rd, there are a few little hills which are perfect for that but they never made me a good sprinter...

Usual way home: Rode rd

Wednesday: running around fixing bike.

To catch up, I went out Thursday afternoon on a mission to do a hard, long ride with lots of climbing. I even drew the route on the day before (just made it public!) and almost followed it the whole way. At the end of the ride, I changed the route and took Youngs Crossing rd, intending to stay away from the afternoon traffic and ended up doing a few more hills.

The highlight was finally getting to ride Ocean View Road, which I only knew by looking at the 18% road sign on Mt Mee road. I have looked at that sign dozens of times in the last four years but never had the audacity to actually go up.

Of course, it is just a road sign and I didn't find anything close to the 18% I was hoping for (the Polar said so!). Nevertheless, it is a hard climb with a few 9 to 10% sections and great views, if one can be bother to stop and look. I just wanted to get to the top.

Distance: 134.5 km
Time: 4h 35min
Ascent: 2250 m

Friday, a day for another recovery ride and socialising. Sandra and I rode to town, had coffee with friends, rode home and went out again for a little loop. She had to do a few efforts so I thought it would be nice to hang around. I got home with 60+ km in the legs.

I had planned for a Saturday with lots of kilometers, including a criterium race in the morning and a time trial in the afternoon, thinking that it's what I will be doing on the first day of racing in Bright. Might as well get used to it...

Sandra was doing her
CycleSkill Coach Course . We road together to Murrarie where she took a turn, heading for a day at Chandlers.

The race wasn't what I wanted. The bunch (B grade) was ridiculously big, my number being 65 and the legs weren't quite there. I should've saved my money or entered the B1 race a little later, just to avoid witnessing the chaos that it was. I ended up getting a puncture and getting out anyway, perhaps for the best.

Coffee in town with friends took almost the rest of the morning. From there, I paired up with a mate, and headed home for a refill and an intended ride to Lakeside where HPRW was having the end of the year trophy presentation.

We didn't make it to the presentation due to a grotesquely and absurd encounter with fate. Nevertheless, the two of us managed to get the kilometers, some very fast, my computer showing 93 km, in nine hours...

Sunday is a day for long rides. I would've done the Zupps if working in the afternoon but having the whole day to ride, another excursion to Mt Mee with Sandra and a friend sounded like the right thing to do.

I went up Ocean View road again, this time concentrating on technique on the sections that I have to focus on. For those who are like me and enjoy looking at graphs and values, the climb is like this:

Distance: 4.5 km Ascent: 297 m
Gradient: 5.5% (surprised?)

The sections:

- 1.5 km at 10%
- 0.2 km at 6.5%
- 0.2 km at 10%
- 0.4 km at 10%
- 0.3 km at 9%

Good for a work out, but for week three I am planning to do it twice on the same ride. Just to make it feel like the Mt Hotham ascent.

Week 2: 17h 35min; 467 km (5,000m)

A bit of recovery now, more hard ks from tomorrow.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Magda Szubanski's achievement?

Lots have been said and written about Magda Szubanski's shameful episode a few weeks ago. I decided not to put anything here at the time, thinking that it would just get more attention and promote more negative behaviour in between drivers and cyclists.

For me, the whole thing was just a perfect example of cheap television, lack of taste and a large amount of stupidity, while performing (lets just call it that) on television in what I always considered to be a very silly segment of the GNW show, anyway.

But that's their concern and if the number of viewers are up for that time slot, the TV station won't care if they look like idiots or not. On the other side, it is us, the viewers, who can be blamed for what is shown.

But, as you can see, I changed my mind. Simply, and without going into too many details, because I was the subject of an assault (yes, a physical attack) by a passenger of a vehicle forty-eight hours ago. Having gone through all the post incident procedures, one thing came to my mind later: would that have occurred if Magda & colleagues hadn't done the show?

So, Magda, it was like this:

- riding my bike on the road with a friend;

- behind and slightly on his right, not two abreast;

- at a stop, behind three cars on a red light;

- one foot on the ground and one clipped in;

- person gets out of the car and starts abusing us;

- my explanation of cyclist's rights to be on the road were not processed by the person; and

- distracted for a second I got king hit by the person.


My guess is that the person who attacked me, might have watched the program that evening, or might have heard and discussed with friends what they should do to cyclists on the roads from that day on. It's just my guess!

Luckily, the driver didn't take me off, as it has been suggested but I have a friend who has suffered terrific injuries because a driver (intentionally or not) did open the door on him. And there are hundreds of cases, even some fatal ones.

So, what's next Magda?

Your low key apology and attempt to ride on
Ride to Work Day is not enough. I suggest that you and your colleagues, your employers and the rich TV stations in this country get together and start to air commercials aiming at drivers and cyclists education. Dreaming, yes I am but that's the only way we will see less violence on the roads.

Hey, it is all for a better world!

Ciao, for now.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Do I buy the new Ultegra 6700?

I don't like to see myself as one of those people who go around buying everything they put their eyes on. In fact, I am not. Some of the manufacturers of cycling gear could have a hard time paying their bills if they were to rely on my consumer habits.

Don't take me wrong, I do buy stuff when I need to, not because it is the newest thing in the shop. My friend BSNYC wrote:

"...people love stuff that is exciting and new, so in the absence of revolution we've been selling the concept of revolution. For example, we have now figured out how to charge people more than $2,000 for a pair of wheels".

I agree but I don't allow myself to be like that and I don't buy something because it is going to make me 0.03 km/h faster either.

Last time I walked into a shop, one of the mechanics was quick and helpful, telling me to have a look at the new Ultegra groupset (6700). I had already glanced over the one fitted to a sharp looking middle of the range Colnago and I had, also, made my mind on what I thought of it.

The Ultegra 6700

The new group set looked cheap... I mean 'cheaply made"! To be honest, the new STI shifters made of carbon looked good but the rest failed to look robust and durable, or even high performance as Shimano claims.

Perhaps, I failed to move on with times and to appreciate the duetone silver finish and aerodynamic improvements on the new Ultegra parts. The Ultegra group on my bike is over three years old and has done a few miles now. It does has a few scratches and the shifting isn't as crisp as it used to be but it does work, it looks robust and surely will last another year or two.

OK. The new group is 151 grams lighter. Does 151 g really matter? It might for a few but for 99% of us, that can shed those grams in a couple of days before a hilly race or KOM competition, the answer is no.

As I said before, my STI levers are getting a bit sloppy. The kind of sloppiness that I am now used to but perhaps, an investment on new levers could well be on the cards. The new Ultegra carbon levers with internal cable routing might even be a good option.

- And it is only thirteen hundred bucks! He yelled as I was making my way out.

Good old tyres

I have been riding on Michelin Pro2s for a while now, training or racing. They have been reliable and they roll well. And they have also lasted many, many kilometers.

A few weeks ago, returning home from a very long ride, I noticed something odd on one of them. I have seen tyres with a small worn patch or two before but I had never seen a whole tyre worn like this one...

Obviously, I have replaced that tyre but only with another semi-used Pro2 for training. For racing crits I bought a pair of Continental 4000S. I figured I should try something new now and then...

Just glad I made home that day!

For a professional review on Ultegra 6700, click here.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

End of Week 1, nine to go...

I had a good break. Now, it is time to start preparing for the Tour of Bright in December.

In the two weeks I had off, I rode my bike four or five times and didn't even wear my HR monitor once. They were all easy, social/family rides. Just one weak moment when I couldn't resist and entered one short club criterium.

My son Toby, who lives in Gladstone, came down and stayed with us for a few days during that time. To my surprise, he agreed to get on a road bike (he's a cool avid BMX rider) for a couple of rides. I haven't managed to get him into racing any of his bikes but he is a skilled young rider and does have a bit of passion for cycling and that's cool enough for me.

We rode with
Sandra one day, manly on bike paths, and did the Nundah/Nudge/Boondal Wetlands course, 55 km of fun.

The second ride was to Sandgate, via the Bundall Wetlands and back (65 km) which had the almost 15 year old BMX rider struggling a little. Still, he managed to show a bit of a talent on the steep, short hills leading to our house. All good fun!!

Training started: week one

Build one started with some easy repeats at the back of Mt Coot-tha, nothing too hard. I used a lower gear on the first one to try to build a bit of strength. After that was easy, spinning up the two-point-something km climb.

Coot-tha Reps: 9'00"; 11'02" and 11'07"

A couple of punctures that morning called for a drastic measure... The next day, I went out with an extra layer of rubber ( a cut off tube) in each wheel. The bike felt a bit heavier on the inclines and an increase on the rolling resistance was also evident. I didn't care, I just didn't want any more punctures.

The ride was a little longer and a little faster. Medium Intensity I call it.

Bunya Rd; Samford Valley; Bunya Rd and a Jinker lap

For Thursday, I had planned repeats on Mt Mee road. I changed my mind after the first one and kept going towards Mt Mee village. The day was too nice to turn around and miss out on all those views (and hills). That resulted on a longer than expected ride for this stage of my training and I felt fairly exhausted when I reached the 4 h mark.

Mt Mee (537 m)

Friday saw me commuting to work as a recovery day. I have decided to ride my bike to work as often as possible. As long as I don't have to start work at 5 am or finish after 10 pm, I will be doing the 26 km round trip as recovery/help the environment/save money rides.

I couldn't race on Saturday because of an early, early shift so the training was to be done in the afternoon. Now, that's hard for me. I get home, I feel tired, Sandra is home... I find it hard to get motivated but I managed to leave at 4 PM for a planned 2.5 hours, High Intensity session on
Mt Nebo road.

The ride out was the difficult part. Committed but unmotivated still, I started off against a strong head wind and feeling stupid for having added weight and resistance to my wheels. A couple of
Magpie attacks on the way helped. They pissed me off but did make me hit the climb to Mac Affees with a bit of hunger... I did it in 17'04", which is not my best but it gave me the High Intensity work out I needed!!

Mt Nebo Village (563 m)

Another commute to work and the week on the bike ended. Lots more to come!

Week 1: 14h30min/380km (5,200m)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

2009 World Championship videos & Cadel Evans for Pope

Another road world championship race. It feels like the end of the year is creeping up on us. Here, it comes with a very positive note because the new world champion is an Australian. Without going into a patriotic mode, simply because I can not, the significant fact here is: Mr Cadel Evans is the 2009 Road World Champion.

Now, that was a surprise. Best known for his second places on the TdF and a series of freak incidents during races, post race interviews and love for his wife and dog, Cadel did what very few expected him to do, last Sunday.

Sure, it was in his training grounds. Sure, he was due for a big win. And sure, he is a bloody good pro cyclist and climber. But, attacking on the bottom of the climb like he did is so un-Cadel... I am glad he did though as it is the kind of win I like to watch.

It was a great race which I will watch again, and again. For now, I will keep replaying these two videos. The first one highlights Fabian Cancellara's determination to get the double in the championship (he won gold in the ITT). To see him driving on the flats and downhills was one thing (that's his specialty) but seeing him breaking up the bunch on the climbs was something else.

At the time, I wasn't sure where Cadel or Simon Gerrans were. So, backing the Swiss became instinctive. He was fighting hard for that second medal. It was heart breaking to see him missing out... I thought he deserved the win!

But predictably, it wasn't to be. As in most races, even at my Nundah Racer level, those forms of strategy rarely pay off. What Cancellara did was drag a bunch of guys closer to the finish. And Cadel was one of them, rested enough to be able to follow wheels, smart enough to bridge across the Kolobnev/Rodriguez duet and extremely strong on the last climb. Brilliant!!!

Cadel Evans salute

A lot of those high profile sportsmen, not so much the women, are fairly religious. It is common to see riders kissing crucifixes when crossing the line, or raising their arms to salute some entity in the skies, or heaven.

Cadel seems to be fairly religious himself and, judging by the photographs of his victory salute in Mendrisio, he has some pontifical aspirations. I am not sure if there are any hills around the Vatican so it might be something for the future...

Congratulations and good luck, Cadel!

BTW, all you need to know about salutes here.

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