Monday, March 29, 2010

The season did get underway this weekend...

My season didn't start in one of the Classics (and how could it?) or even in a road race but it did start with what I have been calling a kermesse race. Wrongly so!

A few years back, I discovered Lakeside, a motor racing circuit which was used by the friendly HPRW for weekend races. The circuit is located in a very large open area, has a beautiful lake next to it (hence its name, I guess), and great views of fields and mountains from the top of the hill.

The hill makes the racing at Lakeside very different from the usual criterium races, run in short, flat courses around Brisbane. I started calling those races kermesse races.

This Sunday, I raced the Mt Cotton Kermesse, an official title for the race. It had more hills than Lakeside, a few more lefts and rights, great surface, bushland all around the circuit, yet I couldn't call the race a kermesse. Something was missing.

I looked up kermesse race and found this: "...general name for a bicycle race held on a short circuit of public roads, usually closed to other traffic." on my favourite Free Encyclopedia.

Don't take me wrong, it was a terrific event, a great circuit, the facilities were great and the organising club, WRRCC, did a fantastic job putting all together. There was also a small crowd yelling and clapping as bunches went past, lap after lap, which did bring a bit of life to the race. It just didn't feel very live, like a kermesse.

Perhaps, I started feeling this way after I watched the video of the final kilometres of the Gent-Wevelgem this morning. The road race went through open fields but then through streets of the city to the finish, looking so more... kermesse like.

My race was pretty much what I expected, a test and fun. I didn't have the form to contribute much and a miracle didn't happen in the 1 hour and 8 minutes that I managed to stay in touch with the bunch. One big effort up the last hill with a couple of laps to go sent me right to the back with a terrible taste in my mouth... I just cruised after that to make sure I finished in one piece.

It was great just to be racing with friends again and great to be part of the QSM team. There was a lot of support from everyone, specially from the QSM riders, irrespective of what grade you raced in. That was a live, warm atmosphere.

I can't wait for the next race!

Week Twelve (Base+race):
Time: 7 h 55 min
Dist.: 223.5 km

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tomorrow, first race of the season...

It has been a while, over five months in fact, since I raced if I don't count the club criterium a few weeks back. As it is happening before the end of my Base training, I will be using this event as a test, no more than that.

The Masters A competition has also changed since my last race at this level -
2008 Cunningham Classic. It was hard enough at that time but I believe it to be even tougher now. Firstly, there are more younger riders (Masters 2). Secondly, there are more organised teams in the competition. So, to expect to finish with the strong guys is fairly unrealistic at this stage.

I have also joined a team this season and this is going to be my first race in the team kit. I have had a bit of a taste for team racing in the past but nothing like what I have signed up for this year - QSM Racing Team.

For tomorrow's race, the Mt Cotton Kermesse, we will have a team of four, including me. The other three riders have been racing quite a bit this year so I believe they will be in good form. For me, again, it will be a matter of hanging on until the end of the 70 minutes and giving the guys as much help as possible. That will be enough for me.

It will be a good opportunity to test my bike as well. I have had some good rides with it so far but nothing like a full on race in a tough undulating circuit, as it has been described by some.

Well, I better get some sleep!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"You are OK to ride!"

These are the words we all want to hear after a few days off the bike doesn't matter what the reason was...

This time, they came from the physio who is looking after my knee, and doing a great job (it makes me think what a big job it is to look after a whole team). The only restriction was not to do hills as yet.

Easy, I could just load the car and drive to Nundah for a few laps... perhaps many laps. It is amazing how I can get excited by going for a ride around "Nundah" after training and
racing on that circuit hundreds of times.

It is an interesting circuit. It is smooth, it is wide and it is reasonably protected from wind. The pace can be fast and the race full of attacks but it can be slow with a fast last lap when crafted sprinters usually get the cash.

Breaks do succeed now and then, usually with four or more riders. Average speed on the circuit can be anything from 38 to 45 km/h, depending on the grade. My best lap in training was 1 min 35 sec (sorry, just checked my 1998 traning log) for the 1.2 km circuit... I would hate to know how fast the Elite guys can do it.

Well, this time I was excited. I even decided to make this little movie to show how good this circuit really is. Here it is, enjoy it!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Too much recovery. Is that a bad thing?

I don’t know the exact answer.

My guess is that if it does happen during the Base or Build part of my training, it is not going to be a huge problem. I had no choice so I will call this time off the bike a “Super Recovery Week” and make a couple of changes to the rest of the program, perhaps shortening one of the cycles or postponing my return to racing.

The knee injury has been managed by a couple of visits to the physiotherapist, ice, lots of exercises and a few short, zero resistance spins on the trainer. I was surprised with the improvement I felt after just one visit to the physio so I am sticking to it.

With the exception to the visits to the physio and a trip to work, I had no choice but to sit at home last week and try to manage my knee injury as well as possible. I needed to find things to do so a bit of time in the garage working on my bid to help the planet seemed like the right thing to do…

Twelve tubes got fixed, tested and packed... under some stringent guidance and background music by JJJ. Very therapeutic to say the least!

Heading out on Sunday (after spending some time with Sandra and doing my exercises and trainer session) I met a few of the QSM Team riders who were racing the Dutton Cycles Criterium. It made it easier to decide on what to do in relation to my program. I will be shortenning the Base phase by one week, racing with the team next Sunday (first open event since Sep 09) if the knee holds up and will start the last block of Base the following week.

Let's see how it pans out...

Week Eleven (Super Recovery):
Time: 2 h 10 min
Dist.: 40 km

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mend it like Beckham...

"All right, I will be flying to Finland tomorrow to see a specialist, Dr Sakari Orava, who will decide on what steps I might have to take for a swift and full recovery." D. Beckham

Well, I kind of had the same type of initial treatment as I applied ice to the injured area as soon as possible, which replicated the temperature I would have encountered in Finland this time of the year, or any time of the year.

The result wasn't what I hoped for as the knee didn't feel any better the next morning. Later in the afternoon, I made the trip, but to Ferny Hills where my GP (his first innitial S doesn't stand for Sakari either) carefully examined the injured knee and decided to send me to a physiotherapist for the initial management of the injury.

So, here I am. Leg up, once again unable to walk around properly or get on the bike. I will have the session with the physio early this afternoon and will then have a better idea on what sort of recovery time I should be facing this time around.

Racing? I hope to be racing much sooner than the four months that Mr Beckham might have to wait for his return to the game...

Lucky me! Enjoy the music!!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

First race of the season / Ups and Downs

I signed up for my first race this season, YEAH!!!

It will be a little early as I will still be in the Base phase of my program but it is going to be my first race with the QSM Team and in a Masters A bunch - 30 plus riders in this race - that looks more competitive than ever. So, it is not going to be about getting a result for myself, it is going to be about assisting the other riders in the team as much as possible and hopefully finishing the race.

I am really looking forward to racing my bike again!

Ups and Downs

The week was about to end with some good figures, and more importantly, with a feeling that the training I am doing is working. There were some long and strong rides, 4:20 on Wednesday with a friend to Elimbah and back and 4:00 on Saturday with friends from QSM Racing Team, which included Mt Mee road. In between, a couple of shorter rides with a little more intensity. All good fun!

Feeling a bit tired Sunday morning, I decided to sleep a bit longer and not ride before work as planned. I would have had time to get home and quickly jump on the bike for a couple of hours before dinner. But, it was not to be. At work, in the morning still, while pushing some heavy equipment, I twisted and strained my right knee.

Immediately after a sharp pain, came the thought that I wasn't going to ride after work and finish my training week. I got angry! Perhaps on the trainer if I could apply some ice straight away and put my leg up... It didn't work and I spent the rest of the shift limping around and feeling very pissed off about the whole thing.

Back to work this morning and having to stand for most of the day didn't help. I can really feel that I damaged some soft tissue on my knee and have the feeling it will take a few days to heal.

It's recovery week so I hope I can at least get on the trainer, even if I do all the training with one leg!!!

Week Ten (Base):
Time: 15 h 30 min
Dist.: 415 km

Monday, March 8, 2010

End of week nine with a huge deficit / Langkawi and Spring Classics

"Am I doing enough?"

With all the adverse weather we've had (and might still have), my training has been a little inconsistent. There was a mix of unfavourable working hours as well, which does drain a bit of energy making the simple act of getting on the bike and riding a little difficult at times.

However, I finished the week on Sunday with a nice ride before heading to work. Sandra and I got up fairly early but somehow managed to leave home late to meet the bunch at Zupps. I didn't mind as we don't get to ride together often. Because of all the different training schedules and my weekend work, it is rare that we head out for an easy spin and coffee.

We rode together for almost one hour when Sandra realised the pace was a little hard for her scheduled training and the ride was going to be too long if she followed me. I had my training plan and needed to stick to it to be able to get home, have brunch and head off to work so after reluctantly saying "See you at home!", I put my head down and went to complete my much-loved Zupps loop alone, again.

So, before my Season starts, I better put in more time on the bike and ride more often with Sandra.

Week Nine (Base): 
Time: 13 h 05 min
Dist.: 364 km

On another level, the world of professional cycling is in full swing. There are great events happening already leading to the European Classics. One of my favourites, Le Tour de Langkawi, finished yesterday with a great result for 32-year-old Stuart Shaw, from Australia, who won Stage 7.

One of the reasons I favour this event is the Genting Highlands climb. Considered one of the toughest climbs in the Pro circuit, mostly for the Feb/March intense heat and near-100 per cent humidity, this climb rises from sea level to 1700 m and features sweeping hairpins in dense jungle.


This year, the Genting climb stage did decide the general classification as Venezuela's 48 kg climber, Jose Rujano, reached the finish line with a two minutes plus lead. Australian Peter MacDonald finished fourth on the day.

As I wrote earlier, the Classics are here. We are about to see some great races and hopefully hear of great riders who focus on those hard events year after year.

Check Belgium Knee Warmers for a great read on the Spring Classics.

Have a great week!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Timing it right and getting it wrong... 127 km ride on a wet afternoon.

It took me almost two hours to get out of the house. The weather forecast said showers and showers we got. Every fifteen or twenty minutes, a shower came through... More than a shower, it bucketed down for four or five minutes and in between, it drizzled, it cleared and it drizzled again.

Why was it going to be any different during a four hour ride? It wasn't.

At least I had plenty of time to prepare myself. Food, spares, lights, camera, I.D. and a bit of cash. A coffee and a snack somewhere on the coast was necessary.

There was a fine drizzle when I finally got on the road. I had checked the Radar Image on BOM and it promised a fairly dry ride if I went north and if I timed it right. I did go north but I didn't time it right and within ten minutes of my optimistic launch, it poured down.

I got soaked straight away but apart from the poor visibility and slippery white markings on the road, I enjoyed myself. It felt like I was riding in one of the Classics, but warm.

From the Brisbane northern suburbs, I rode past our old race circuit, Lakeside, and followed Narangba and Oakey Flat roads to Morayfield. These roads have easy rolling hills and great surface for a fast tempo. I turned around at the township and rode back to Lakeside.

There, I got on the Zupps ride course. Doing the Zupps ride without the other seventy plus riders is always a bit of a challenge, specially when I hit the coast where it always seems to be blowing a head wind. It was no different this time, just wetter.

Then, the one-point-something km "Pave" of the Hornibrook Bridge, which might hurt a little but always gives me the feeling of achievement and being on the way home.

I guess, this would only make sense to Brisbane riders but here is the
map on in case someone wants to do this ride.

And here, some photographs of the ride and the fine roads we have around Brisbane.

Time to give the bike a good wash, happly!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Heading to the garage soon...

Sandra could be right when she said I was dreaming when I heard no rain falling in the middle of the night.

Checking the Brisbane weather stats, it looks like we got over 58 mm of rain since midnight. That doesn't seem to be a lot but when I look at the radar picture for this morning...

It is all light stuff though!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Lots of time on the trainer... need to do the work.

Last week was a bit like that due to the huge amount of rain we have been getting around here. Almost one third of my training time spent on the wind trainer. Pretty tough sometimes as the mind drifts and questions on the point of doing it at all comes to mind.

At times like that, I try to focus on the season and races ahead and tell myself that I need to do the work if I want to do well.

It is as simple as that.

Week Eight (Base):
Time: 14 h 45 min
Dist.: 400 km

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