Monday, July 13, 2009

Building up the Ks, recovering and following the Tour de France

Monday. It's marked as an off the bike day, a rest day.

I do feel that a day off would be the right thing to do. I am tired after a solid week (my standards here!), tired after watching most of the TdF stages at night and tired from getting up too early to go to work.

The funny thing is, part of me tells me that it would be good to get on the bike. Something like an easy spin on the rollers. Another part says the contrary, that I am tired from the lack of sleep and should rest. It is hard to make this decisions sometimes, as both options have their benefits.


Some good sessions in the week that ended yesterday, including a couple of efforts at Coot-tah and a fast 83.5 km ride. I say fast because I had a nice tail wind for the first half of the ride and fast again as I raced frantically to get home and to work on time. Typical of my late morning rides before late shifts.

On the weekend, and with some assistance from friends, I managed to ride to Elimbah, north of Brisbane, race a club handicap and ride back home. All of the 155 km in a fast to very fast pace. Great riding day!

Surprisingly, I got up early on Sunday, on time for the Zupps ride (I had to get more kms in anyway!) and that's never an easy bunch ride. To top up, Sandra and I met after that and we rode to Southbank for breakfast. Another 4 hours on the saddle when I got home. Another great riding day!

Here are the graphs:

Wednesday: Mt Coot-tah for strength workouts

Saturday: Three laps, handicap race

Sunday: Zupps, 15 kms of race pace

Time: 14h 35min
Dist: 425.5 km

This week, I will drop the volume back a little as I have a couple of races coming up. Saturday, HPRW will be running the club crit championships, this year run in age groups. Then, on Sunday, I will be off to Mt Tyson for the Jon Brooks Memorial.

Plenty of recovery needed after that!


There was a lot of emphasis on recovery over the weekend as well. A good diet before and after the training, ice on the legs and a hot baths on both days. There was also a new pair of compression tights on the weekend. I truly believe on these garments, these are my third pair (I have old Skins). Perhaps not the single answer to a good recovery but certainly a great help. But you have to wear them for a long time.

More on how good these are soon.

The Tour de France

As much as I enjoy watching and reading about the Tour, the teams and the riders, what goes on in the media and with the cycling forums around here makes me wonder what people's interests really are.

When Australian riders, S. Gerrans and A. Davies got dropped from their teams, the folks in this country went completely mad. More so in Simon's case, a TdF stage winner, diffusing a harder blow which , triggering what some described (and some encouraged) as pure anger.

There were insults directed to Gerrans team mates, team managers, bike manufacturers, the Spanish population, etc... I was shocked with such a show of narrow minded nationalism, when most of us didn't even know why he was sent home.

At the time, I was afraid some Spanish restaurant in Melbourne was going to get torched. The old call for an all Australian team was again mentioned in the media. Something that hasn't been seeing in the Tour for 70 or 80 years...

OK, there is room for a bit of patriotism here but what about the Tour, what about the twenty teams and their 180 riders. Does anyone around here know that Thomas Voeckler & Mikhail Ignatiev defined all odds and beat all the teams to Perpignan? What about Brice Feillu, the 23 years-old who won a mountain stage in his first Tour de France?

I guess it doesn't make the domestic headlines.

This piece started without much bearing. Now, I feel inclined to write something witty to finish it off. But waiting for some divine light will give me time to read and re-think what I wrote and very likely stop me posting it... Ah well, nothing too serious!

Monday, July 6, 2009

An easy Recovery Week, what's next?

In my last post, I wrote that I didn't have any events to aim for this year and that I was just enjoying the riding and racing. Well, that has changed, it had to change! I have now chosen three races for this year, three A races as they call them.

They are races in which I have little chance of finishing with the top riders but I am going to enter them for the experience and the fun. By saying that, I don't mean sitting there and taking easy, just hoping to finish.

The first event is on the 12th 0f September, a 226 km race from Grafton to Inverell (NSW). It is the longest one-day race in Australia (I think!) and one of the toughest. There is a hard 17 km climb after 65 kms and an undulating terrain once you are on top of the Great Dividing Range -altitude 1000+ m. Then, it is kind of down hill all the way to Inverell as the graph shows...

For this race, I've put together a nine-week training program based primarily on information found in Joe Friel's book. The fact that I have never ridden that distance and only had done 120+ rides a few times will make it interesting, and difficult. I know someone in the club that has raced it more than a dozen times so I will be trying to find out more about the race in the next few weeks.

Then, eight weeks later, I am hoping to race in the World Masters Games in Sydney... and why not? It is going to be a huge event and I don't get a chance to race for the rainbow stripes often. I haven't decided if I will do the crits and the ITT but I aiming for the road race which will be at the Eastern Creek Raceway. That in itself will be something new and exciting.

For the third event, I am planning to return to the Victorian alpine region this year to race my third Tour of Bright. I missed out the last two because of a holiday overseas and my incident with a van last year and didn't get to try the somehow vicious climb to Mt Hotham. But I heard (and read) a bit about it and have enough madness in me to have a go.

In between those three, there are lots of club races, open events and the QLD Championships to keep me busy and the legs turning.


The first week of the training was mostly for recovery from the last few races, including the Scenic Rim the weekend before. I did add a couple of high intensity rides to a total of six sessions (including a session on the rollers).

Time: 10h 50min
Dist: 266.6 km

The training week ended on Sunday with an easy ride with Sandra. She needed to do a couple of hours as well and had asked if we could ride over the Samford Range and the back roads of Highvale . Perfect, but we left home a little late in the afternoon and been a Sunday, the speeding traffic put me off going up the range. We took the dirt track that runs parallel to the old train line and did most of the riding in this beautiful countryside, located just a few kilometers from Brisbane.

Friendly locals

A steep road revisited...

...same road

This week things will get a little harder and the rides a little longer. I am planning to race another club handicap at Elimbah, 50 kms north of Brisbane. I am just hoping to get a bit of rest in the next three weeks as well, Le Tour is on and staying away from the TV till the early hours is not an easy thing to do.

We will see.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Training and more importantly, a few races in the last 29 days...

Another interesting month, a month full of fun.

It has been a time to have fun on the bike, so no hard training. The weeks have been anything in between 145 and 260 km. I included a few TT sessions, all very short, so I wouldn't stress my body too much and used the weekend races as high-intensity sessions. All about having fun and catching up with friends.

I have a couple of reasons for that. First, I hadn't made any decisions on what events I wanted to peak for this year. Second, I want to have a different approach to training/racing this year, concentrating a lot more on recovery, diet and off the bike activities.

Training has been mostly at an easy pace, even when doing hills. I have used sessions at Nebo, Clear Mountain and Coo-tah just to work on climbing techniques, trying to go a little faster without going harder. The exception was the day I took Sandra's Powertap mounted Mavic Pro wheel for a test on Mt Nebo road.

Now, I have some idea of my power output and will be able to access any changes after doing another test in a couple of months. Another thing I learned, and that has to do with equipment, is how much softer the Mavic Pros are, compared to the Mavic Ksyrium SLs I have been training on. I noticed the difference as I climbed as well as cornering at speed on my down down the mountain... With 32 spokes perhaps the softness is on the Powertap hub.

The racing

This year, and after my stint off the bike, I have gone back to racing B Grade in club events and Masters B (or Cat 3) in Open events. I discussed the move with a club official and we agreed that it is the right decision due to my circumstances (and age!). Obviously, this decision can be re-accessed later in the year and if I ever get to the level I was 12 months ago, I might get moved up again.

The Metropolitan Championship - 69 km Road Race, Mt Alford

That was my third open event for 2009, this one in a course that I was was thought I could do well. I finished 4th in the State Championship in 2007, in 2008 I dropped a chain and never saw the bunch again. This year, I did everything right for most of the race, helping to cover a few attacks, closing gaps and saving a bit on the last lap, positioning myself close to the sprinters as the bunch reached 3 km to the finish. With 800 m to go, I took advantage of the slow pace and attacked in a solo effort but died within 200 m of the line. Made it to the Pub first, if that counts... top 15.

Av Speed: 35 km/h
Av HR: 153 bpm

HPRW Club Race - Hill Finish (1 hour), Lakeside

Another one of my favourites, this time with a hard up hill finish. Worked hard, felt good, chose a good wheel for the finish... but got stuck on the inside without room to go anywhere. Too late when I found a gap, finishing 6th!

(last 39 min)

Av Speed: 38.6 km/h
Av HR: 153 bpm

HPRW Club Race - Handicap Race (40 km), Somerset Dam

The idea to do this race was to go out to give the legs a spin and have fun before the Avanti Classic, next morning. It is an area of Brisbane that Sandra and I didn't know so even driving there was already a bonus. The course was out and back on a hilly terrain. Starting 3min before Scratch, our group got reduced to 3 riders in the first 4 km (I think). Unfortunately, it did become a hard race after the turn around as we spotted a solo rider trying to get to us... Check this video of the race.

Av Speed: 35.9 km/h
Av HR: 159 bpm

Avanti Classic - Open Handicap (80 km), Lowood

With a 11 min advantage and five or six strong riders in the group, I did think we had a chance of staying away. I changed my mind after someone told me in the first 5 km that I was going to fast for the group... It is hard to change my mind sometimes. I kept going, taking long turns, trying to talk others to do the same. Some did, some just sat there. I didn't mind, it was all training for me. That was my second Avanti Classic, last year I cramped badly when going really strong, so this year I tried to drink as much as possible but ended up getting dropped in the beginning of the second lap as I struggled to get one of my biddons... Silly really, perhaps I was wasted anyway. I did join other groups, including the Scratch but failed to hang on, riding the last 10 or 15 km with another three riders and finishing in just over 2 hours - 67th place.

Av Speed: 40 km/h
Av HR: 152 bpm

HPRW Club Race - Criterium (50min + 2 laps), Nundah Circuit

Legs were feeling fresh with only two rides for the week, including a few intervals at Jinker and a recovery ride with a few folks from work and the V Australia Team. Nundah is always a good place to catch up with friends, the warm up laps being perfect for pre-race chatting. The race turned out to be fast, I managed to get away from the bunch with three other riders after 30 min. We kept the speed high, with a 35 sec gap at some stage. At the end, I lead out the sprint to finish 3rd.

Av Speed: 41.1 km/h
Av HR: 155 bpm

Tour of Scenic Rim - Road Race, ITT and Kermesse Races, Boonah

The RR was 45 kms on a really, really hilly course (16 km of climbing). The "highlight" been a 450 m climb at 9% at the end of each lap. It was a course which suited me well, a top 3 finish was truly in reach. That was not to happen as I spend too much energy fighting for the KOM points with a U17 rider and had little left for the last lap - 10th place.

Av Speed: 32.5 km/h
Av HR: 154 bpm
The 12 km Time Trial from pub to pub was on a down hill course and the later groups had a nice SW wind helping for most of the way - 15:57.67 for 9th place. Aero bars next time!

Av Speed: 45.4 km/h
Av HR: 158 bpm

The Kermesse was a 7 km loop which included a few hills as well. Nice! I was well prepared for it and had planned to get away at some stage, only way to steel a few seconds. I knew I was going to be one of the marked riders but had no other choices. I tried my luck twice but didn't have what it takes to get away and stay away that morning. Still, quick change of plans and I was hanging on to some strong finishers wheels for a couple of kms and rough corners... Battled on and finished 3rd.

Av Speed: 37.9 km/h
Av HR: 149 bpm

The overall result was a bit of a mess and after a lot of rightful and unrightful changes, they gave me a 6th place. I guess we just have to be thankful for having events like that in our backyard...

I am now in the middle of a recovery week. As I have now set some goals for 2009, next week I will start an eight-week (crash) program in preparation for the Grafton to Inverell, my first A race for this year. More on that and my other events next time.

Safe riding!

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