Saturday, September 25, 2010
Flight VA023 left with little delay. The 8 h 45 min flight gave us the chance to watch a few movies we missed this year (Crazy Heart is a must if you haven't seen it but the new Robin Hood should be missed) and we arrived at our destination in the middle of a warm and humid afternoon. I liked it straight away.
The trip from the airport to our accommodation, 45 km, gave us a good indication that riding on main roads at that time of the day should be avoided, although the roads looked pretty smooth and inviting. The main roads have wide shoulders but are reserved for bikes and motorbikes (scooters) and there are thousands of the later. I can imagine myself doing some serious motor-pacing in the next few days.
Did I mention climbing on my last post? Well, the DS chose a perfect hotel because from the small village of Kata to its gates, there is a 200 m climb at 12%, and it is not the only one around here. But there is more to this hotel, the view from our room (and every other room... and pool... and bar) is of the Andaman sea, and a hill...
Settling in wasn't difficult, the people around here are extremely friendly and welcoming. The bikes are ready, we can't wait for the first ride.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
What are you doing for Grafton?
Are you going for the KOM again?
How do you feel, compared to last year?
I have been asked these questions more than once in the last couple of months. I thought it would be right to answer them here. First, this blog is about training and racing and secondly, because my 2009 Grafton to Inverell posts are getting a lot of hits at the moment. In fact, this blog is getting a lot of hits and numbers are going up. So, thanks to all followers out there - 760 unique visitors from fifty two countries this month alone.
Back to it, for Grafton to Inverell I have changed a bit from what I did last year, increasing the kilometres and climbing meters per ride. I have also increased my recovery time by riding an average of four rides per week. The main reason for that is that I need to be more careful with my body because I am still having problems with my neck, shoulders and upper back, product of my accident 12 months ago.
I have done more climbing so far, and I intend to do more, and will probably have a couple of longer rides (200 km plus) before the race. I haven't pushed too hard on the climbs, choosing to use harder gears - 53 chainring when possible - for strength but will start to do all out efforts in easier gears in the next couple of weeks.
On the KOM question, I don't really know. Of course, I would like to have a go at it but it will depend on what grade I will be racing in. There is a possibility of being put in Cat 2 because of my result in Cat 3 last year. That will make it hard just to hang on with the leading bunch for the 228 km. This group has what I called the Super Di2 Generation, young master riders who race for the win only and will do everything to beat everyone... And I mean everything! Not having an extreme competitive nature will make me race very conservatively in that category.
Then, there is a possibility of being left in Cat 3 because of my age. That would give me a better chance of attacking (not sure if I like that term) on the climb and finishing with the leading group, again, if lucky is on my side. Like in any race, everything has to be right at the day. One puncture, a small crash, bad positioning in the peloton, all these things might put any rider out the back in no time, no matter how well prepared he/she is or in what grade they race. It is a tough game.
Compared to last year, I feel my legs are stronger because of my base training this summer and more rested. I don't feel I am as fast as I have been in the past because I haven't done a lot of speed work and racing this season. I am not sure if these changes are going to get me there in a very competitive form but it will get me to the start line rested and with luck to the finish line with the leading group. And that would be a victory for me.
Last six rides
Time: 20 h
Dist.: 545 Km
Asc.: 6020 m
The plan this year was to race the Australian Masters in Victoria, have a little holiday with Sandra (birthday present) and watch the World Championship. It would have been a great holiday but we figured there was going to be a lot of driving around, perhaps cool weather and not enough relaxation. OK, racing the nationals would be great but going through all the effort for a 70.5 km race, I am not sure.
So, we chose to go on a holiday/training camp, somewhere we haven't been and where we don't have to drive, where there is a huge infrastructure to fulfill dietary and recovery needs in a region with lots of steep hills to get the heart pumping during every ride...
Where and when? Well, I need to keep something for tomorrow's post, don't I?
Cheers for now!
Sunday, September 19, 2010
It was a fantastic race with the relatively unknown 34 years old, Ezequiel Mosquera, racing up to the Ball of the World with a persistent Nibali fighting to keep the leader's jersey. A classic Vuelta stage.
I might have to watch the final stage tonight, a 85 km criterium around Madrid...
1 Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 4:45:28
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:00:01
3 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:23
4 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:00:35
5 Xavier Tondo (Spa) Cervélo Test Team 0:00:39
6 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Ag2R-La Mondiale 0:00:42
7 Mikel Nieve (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:00:50
8 Peter Velits (Svk) Team HTC-Columbia 0:00:52
9 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) FDJ 0:00:55
10 Remy Di Gregorio (Fra) FDJ 0:01:00
11 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Cervélo Test Team 0:01:27
12 Oscar Pujol (Spa) Cervélo Test Team 0:01:30
Week Thirty Seven: Build
Time: 15 h 30 min
Dist.: 412 km
Saturday, September 18, 2010
I just had a look at the profile for tonight's 20th stage of the Vuelta. It's another mountain finish, the Bola del Mundo, noted as "Very hard" by Contador, who trained in the region for his TdF title defence this year.
The possibility of watching the last 50 km or so on TV will certainly keep me awake when I should be asleep and resting for an early start at work on Sunday.
Nowadays, and thanks to SBS TV, we get to watch finishes of this kind but it's amazingly rare to have one ourselves, in SE Queensland. I don't know why, but with so many accessible climbs in the region this year we had one race with a hill top finish.
But that's another story. Tonight, I wish to see Carlos Sastre conquering the Bola del Mundo, although the youngsters, like Schleck and Mosquera, might steal the show. What ever the result, it is going to be terrific.
Stay up and dream, I will!
Thursday, September 16, 2010
This time, the plan was to add this loop to last week's ride. One reason was to add a few more kilometers and get home early without having to ride to the Bay. But rightly, the main aspiration was the 4 km climb, which is known for being one of the toughest in SE Queensland. So we did and I will call it the Bellthorpe Range climb.
I am glad we did it and yes, it is a tough little climb with an average of 9.5% for 3.85 km, going by my Polar. The scenery is fantastic as it is surrounded by State Forest and when you get to the top the view is just astonishing.
Because I said we and because this was such a special treat, I will mention and thank PJ, PK and Darryl (all QSM Team members) for this great ride. Our friend Brian couldn't make it but we will certainly be doing this little loop again.
One thing to remember on the Bellthorpe Range climb, when you think you are at the top, you will find another 200 m of climbing in the next 7 km with some nasty little pinches before you descend to the main road.
It was a tougher ride this time. A strong westerly wind blew during the whole ride and we didn't seem to ride in many protected areas. We worked hard for the seven hours in the saddle and averaged close to 30 km/h for the 200 km ride.
I have to say, it was tough and I was feeling fairly ordinary at some point. The wind and the heat were taking a lot of energy out of me and I only managed by pouring a lot of water over my head and splashing my face with it. In my mind, the thought that the BIG RACE could be just like that in a few weeks time.
All good preparation then!
And the Vuelta? Well, another inspiring finish here, love it!
Monday, September 13, 2010
In less than six weeks, we will be at the start of the 2010 Grafton to Inverell race, my second start.
Last year's race was more like an experiment because it was my first one, I wanted to finish it. It turned out that I got the KOM at the Gilbraltar Range climb and finished with the leading bunch. This year is going to be different and tougher, I think. But that's the beauty of bike racing.
I am starting to get into gear with my training, perhaps a little late but not too different from my training last year. I ended up back at Dayboro this Sunday for a couple of Mt Mee repeats (I wasn't the only one either..).
The weather was perfect, the repeats... well, hard but fun.
- 22'13", 20.5 km/h, AvHR 151
- 21'25"; 20.9 km/h; AvHR 150
- 25'10"; 18.0 km/h; AvHR 138
After the training and after work, watching a stage of the Vuelta was very inspirational. I can watch a solo win on mountain stage like this one again and again...
Week Thirty Six: Build
Time: 17 h 15 min
Dist: 475 km
Thursday, September 9, 2010
The celebration started the night before. People like me, born on one side of the world and living in the other, have the capability of celebrating birthdays twice. I was lucky to celebrate my 50th (What? How did I get here?) on Tuesday evening by being taken to one of my favourite restaurants by Sandra, the Taj Mahal, and having a delicious meal.
A little unlucky for having had one of the worse neck pains I have had since my accident eleven months ago. Only a second Kingfisher helped as a sedative and the evening turned out lovely. That was my birthday, local time.
In real time, or Rio time, and based on Greenwich's Time Zones, I celebrated my 50th with a 200 kilometers ride with friends. Very lucky again, as that was on a weekday. How many people get to do that on their birthdays?
Saying it was a great ride would be in fact an understatement. The weather was perfect, and I mean perfect. The company was terrific and the country we road through was just spectacular.
Making it short this time, it looks like the Grafton to Inverell preparation has started, once again with Brian (EM) like last year. A good start!
Monday, September 6, 2010
I love the old English expression, it makes me laugh.
If the phenomenon was ever going to happen, Sunday would have been the day. It poured down as we were getting ready for our race. At one point, I thought the organisers would pull the pin or perhaps make rear lights compulsory for the race. They didn't and they run a fine, welcoming event under some terrible weather conditions. So a big thank you to all!
Also, a especial Thank You! to Jack and John (on crutches and smiling as always), HPRW commissaries who came out to help in the event. Without them, HPRW members would have not been allowed to race (another rule).
My race was good. I could have been more time efficient and got a good warm up but I don't know how much better I would have gone. I was very pumped for the event, a little too confident perhaps and thought 15 minutes would've done the job - most of the time riders wait on the line for a long time and get cold.
No waiting this time, when I got to the start my minute man was getting held by the starter. That got my heart pumping a bit faster. Good, I thought! Behind me, the guy who won the championship's road race. In my head, the thought that if I could beat him I would have a podium finish.
- Ride strong! I heard.
My run was somehow conservative, I didn't want to cramp or blow up on the way back and I couldn't read the wind very well. That might have led to two or three gear changes too many. I also chose not to wear glasses and struggled with the rain in my eyes for a while.
Not a clean run and apart from a couple of funny taste in my throat moments I didn't leave everything on the course as I was told to do. But I felt good about my run and I did sprint and passed the line - more like in slow motion - guessing a 26' plus. I then turned around and tried to spot my chaser, counting the seconds. I guessed around sixty.
It was the usual long wait but my name was called through the PA indicating that I had won a place on the podium or I had done something wrong... I ended up receiving the bronze medal, a really great result I feel. And my chaser? He was .32 of a second slower.
Next year I will have a TT bike...
... and will race like Anna!
Queensland Road Championship - ITT Results
Week Thirty Five: Race
Time: 6 h 10 min
Dist.: 166.5 Km
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Week Thirty Four: Build
Time: 12 h 34 min
Dist.: 366 km
That is about sixty five percent of what I was supposed to do that week. I was too tired to ride after an early shift, my N&B injuries didn't allow me out or I let something else get in the way... Simple!
What ever the reason might have been at the time, I didn't ride enough and not doing so made me feel terrible. I can see the weeks fade away and before I know, the big race will be right in front of me.
I raced on the weekend and won the club Road Race Championship. Sadly, most of the riders in the Masters 5 category didn't show up and only three of us lined up for the 50 km race.
My win wasn't a sweet one, I must say. I had a good preparation throughout the year, I won the club ITT championship convincingly but I had no fun in this race. I don't want to be disrespectful here but I used it as training to get some kilometers in.
Yes, I needed to win to get maximum points for this year's Masters 5 competition but that, also, didn't matter as much as last year's - my last one in Masters 4 - the one I wanted and did everything right to win as the oldest rider in the category. I won but was denied the champion's jersey because of an incongruent decision by the club committee.
"Rules are made to be broken..." I learned.
In racing still, I decided to give the Australian Masters a miss and try to get my training up to speed, focusing on Grafton to Inverell. The trip to Victoria was going to be a combination of racing, holidaying and watching the Worlds for Sandra and I. We have now changed it to holidaying, training and discovering, something we have decided to do more of.
And talking racing, now on a pro level, here we have two wins by two great champions in the 2010 Vuelta a Espana, Gilbert and Hushovd. No need for words, the lifting photography by Graham Watson tells everything...
Tomorrow, the QLD ITT Championship will take place. I am not feeling great at the moment but will be racing for a third medal in the discipline. That will bring the motivation I need.