Monday, May 25, 2009

Global Ride DVDs - a humble review

Last week, I was openly told about my time management skills: "They aren't the best!". Well, I have known that for a long time and chose to take it as a personal characteristic and not as a modern day calamity. It is a less stressful approach to life, I reckon, and might just be a healthier one too.
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Now that I mentioned that, I can confess that the USPS parcel with the Global Ride DVDs arrived a "few weeks" ago. Not that I just put them aside - I was too excited about getting them to do that - so I did opened the package quickly and started playing the first DVD straight away. Then, there was a trip overseas, a bit of training, a couple of races, etc...

My first impression: I liked them! And from the week I received them, I started doing the Yoga sessions two to three times a week. Now, after going through them, I can write a little review and hope that it will assist someone wishing to purchase training DVDs. I wish I had received them six months ago...

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The GlobalRide DVDs - Hawaii Rides


Let me start by saying that I haven't been overly keen to use training DVDs in the past and I have only tried a couple of them, made by some big manufacturer of wind trainers. The Global Ride DVDs, having been produced by a small production house and featuring a couple of familiar voices (let me surprise you there if you are in Brisbane), made me more interested. Another point of interest to me is the location where the rides took place - Hawaii. I am still a surfer by heart and the dream of surfing in Hawaii still comes up now and then.

At first, I didn't set up the bike on the trainer to try the DVDs. I had just returned to riding on the road after months and months of training on the wind-trainer and spinning on the rollers. So every chance I had, I just got on the road. Nevertheless, I chose to sit in the front of the TV set and watch them while doing my basic stretches and/or having my post-ride meals.

The first thing I liked about this three DVD set is the inclusion of the Strength, Pilates and Yoga training. They are a huge bonus! The sessions are well presented and easy to follow. The Pilates training is fairly new to me and I haven't done a lot of strength work in the past but I have done lots of Yoga and I can tell this session in the Maui Rollers DVD is what we, as cyclists, need after every training session on the bike.

It's also a plus to have the choices of trainers (voice-overs) in all of the DVDs. In fact, there are lots of choices when playing the DVDs and surely everyone will find something they like. Or even, no voice-over at all. While on the subject of sound, the music is good, motivating.

I found Italian coach Marzia Cozzolino the best as she guides through the sessions. Funny enough, I was expecting to learn a bit of Italian but Marzia only speaks English on the DVDs. With a lovely accent, I must add. Surely, some ladies could enjoy listening to coach Massimiliano. That's if they could find him, sorry, I couldn't. Something to be looked at by the folks at Global Ride.

Back with the music, I am not a music buff so there is a lot of stuff that I didn't know. So good, I can just play one of the DVDs and pump the volume a little to have nice music in the house.



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View of my TV set

Another good feature on the three DVDs is the slide-show set up for the warm-up so you don't get thrown into the hard part straight away. The photographs are beautiful and get you in the right mood for the training, or packing and buying a ticket to Hawaii.




Photo of my TV set


Kissed by Morning Rain is one of my favourite sessions but I would prefer not to have the rain drops on the lens. For the purist, it makes it very realistic, so "grab your light weight rain jacket"... The scenery is beautiful.

As they come in a package of three, there are lots of choices and great rides to keep anyone motivated during the winter months and rainy days. Not just that, for those days that we don't have the time, the DVDs will make a quick session on the rollers more fun.

Now, for my next holiday, I won't just take my surfboards to Hawaii, I will be taking my bike as well!!

Thanks to the folks at Global Ride!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tour of California, April-May 2009

Here I am, finally writing and adding a few pictures of our Tour of California to this blog. "Ours" because I did the trip with Sandra. Without her this Tour wouldn't have taken off...

There is so much to write about and around 200 pictures that I would consider posting here but that's realistically too much. So, I will put together a slide show soon and put a link to it so anyone interested can have a look at it at some stage. Also, Sandra is putting together a cute little movie, it is going to be posted here soon.

This is my "Six-Stage Tour of California 2009".



Stage One - Los Angeles River Bikeway ITT, Long Beach to somewhere and back (35 km)

A flat ride along what I wouldn't call a river. A smell of concrete filled the cool air. Still, it was fast, had no signs of LA's crazy traffic and seemed to go forever.


... that's in miles


Long, long bikeway


The bikeway goes under many Highways


Not the nicest river I've seen...


Time: 1h 20min
Ascent: 92m
Temp: 23 C

Fantastic post-race meal of scrambled eggs,
vegetarian chorizo and spicy fries


Stage Two - Kelbaker Road ITT, Mojave National Park (36 km)

After a night at a truck/RV stop in the middle of nowhere, a ride into the desert. An amazing first ride in the desert.

Off on the Trek 1400
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Kelbaker Road, Mojave NP
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Searching for the Joshua Tree
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First sight...
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With a Joshua Tree
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Time: 1h 26min
Ascent: 816m
Temp.: 33 C

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Stage Three: Furnace Creek to Zabriskie Point and back, Death Valley (40 km)

Sandra rode into the village the day before and loved the ride. I felt I had to experience it as the the road looked so smooth, fast and the surrounds so... awesome.
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The road from Zabriskie Point
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Awesome landscape
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Getting greener when approaching the valley
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Very smooth road all the way in
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That's below sea level
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Time: 48min
Ascent: 428m
Temp: 28 C
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Post ride meal at 49ers, Furnace Creek

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Stage Four: Kern River ITT, Johnstone, Sequoia National Park (30 km)

An early start for another little discovery ride, this time along a river and surrounded by alpine trees and rocky mountains. Huge contrast from the previous day.
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Bike and the Kern River
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Generals Highway, Sequoia National Park
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Population: 1 1/2, Elevation: 4720 ft
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Almost at the turn around...
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Time: 1h 8min
Ascent: 516 m
Temp: 21 C
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Stage Five: Convict Flat ITT, Kings Canyon (26km)

Sandra did the morning ride into the valley. After a nice walk (cross-training), we decided to head towards the coast. To do that, we had to drive over 6,000 ft high mountains of the Sierra Nevada. Sandra insisted I did a portion of it by bike - best ride ever!
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Usual pre-race meal
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Kings River and the twisting road
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Kings Canyon Scenic Byway
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1,000 feet to go
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Time: 1h 10min
Ascent: 973 m
Temp: 22 to 31 C
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Stage Six: Solvang ITT, Solvang (29 + 4 km)
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The folks at Lonely Planet wrote it was kitschy but a friend said we should stop. I am glad we did! Firstly, we had a fantastic lunch in this Danish look alike town. Secondly, Sandra found a beautiful bracellet with a little road bike hanging of it. Lastly, I did part of the Tour of California ITT course... and was about to beat Levy's time when I missed a turn and kept riding on Hwy One for a few more miles.
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Shopping for a new bike... maybe!
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Perfect spot for a pre-race meal
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Best pre-race meal ever!!
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Tour of California TT course
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One of the chardonnay producers in Solvang
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Time: 1h 04min
Ascent: 231 m
Temp: 31 to 36 C
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As I mentioned before, there is so much to write and so many images... I might post a few, now and then, as memories of this great holiday reappear. I feel so lucky to have experienced all that with Sandra, the best travelling partner in the world, and hope to be able to go back one day to see a bit more and ride a few more miles of this vast country. As my friend Aaron said, we just got to the edge of where all the good places are... Of course, he is not from California.

I will finish with two of my best photos of this holiday.
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Sandra riding into a backdrop of colours, Death Valley

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At Elephant Seal Colony, San Simeon

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America, thank you!

 
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