Wednesday, October 27, 2010

DNF - the 2010 Grafton to Inverell

Can anyone overdose on electrolytes? This is my only guess because everything else for the 50th Grafton to Inverell was done very close to what I have planned.

After months and months of training (about 13,000 km on the bike), a pleasant trip to Grafton, a reasonable night sleep and my super pre-ride meal, I lined up for my second Grafton to Inverell feeling 110%!

I was perhaps a little over-confident, not thinking I could win the race but sure that if I kept to my race plan I would be finishing with the leading bunch.

Unfortunately, the surges and stops in the first fifty or so kilometers prompted me to move to the front of the 140+ riders bunch a little too early and the conserve, conserve, conserve was out of the window also a little too soon.

I had modified my food intake plan for this race because I wanted to get to the climb fully energised and avoid the cramping I experienced last year. So, gels and electrolyte drinks all the way to the bottom of the climb instead of the water and electrolyte combo I normally drink.

As we went over the timing mat (they timed the climb this year) the pace picked up a bit, at that moment I felt my core temperature rising to an almost sickening level and felt my legs starting to cramp. I started to panic, all I wanted to do was to position myself to grab a bottle of water from the neutral station, even though it would make me miss the predictable jump at the start of the climb.

I managed to grab the water bottle and poured half of its content over my head and body but lost a fair bit of time in the process. I chased hard for a kilometer or so and got on the back of the leading group but I didn't last long. I started to feel sick, I was gone!

Clearly, my body wasn't capable of digesting what I had taken in and it was trying to get rid of it somehow (sweat or vomit). Sadly, I didn't think of stopping to throw up (I would've been lighter..) and climbed the next 14 or 15 kms dealing with it, if you know what I mean.

I got over the climb alone (again!) after been caught by dozens of riders which didn't do any good for my state of mind. The next 30 km were mostly downhill and I tried to recover as much as possible. Every time a group went pass, I would jump on for a while and get dropped on the small rises.

Something went terribly wrong, my legs were only producing enough power to get me over the rises at 12 km/h. At that point, even the loud sounds of the insects in the forest were annoying me, all I wanted to do was meet Sandra at the feed station and miserably get off my bike.

Fortunately, I had the best support crew one can even imagine to have and a plan B was formed to take advantage of where we were - near one of the best climbs in Australia, the Gibraltar Range. The next day Sandra and I were descending and climbing this beautiful range.

You can check Groover's video here and Kevin Coppalotti's great photographs here.

So, that was my Grafton to Inverell, a big thank you to all the training partners this year, I had a ball! And lastly, congratulations to all the organisers, riders and handlers in this beautiful race, it was a hot one!

See you all next year!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Le Tour 2011

That's how they do it...

The Pro season has just, and I mean just ended and Christian Prudhomme is out promoting a better TdF for next July -

So, he talks of "aggressive, have-a-go heroes" stages and made changes for a more entertaining race. That equals, and very fortunately for us, to a couple of exciting old mountains and a decisive race finish on Alpe d"Huez...

Will Carlos be there to repeat his great win on 2008 - Embrum-L'Alpe d'Huez?

I hope so. Check the video and start planning your holidays, that's what I can say!

On a closer to home note, Tomalaris, of SBS, will be covering Grafton to Inverell race (Div 1, I guess) this year with moto-cams and a helicopter. Great for the race, great for cycling in this country!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Philippe Gilbert and my Grafton to Inverell training

First, Gilbert wins his second Giro di Lombardia. How good is he? And how well has he raced this year? To me, the most exciting rider in 2010.

Totally inspirational, that's how he won this Classic:

Philippe Gilbert's Palmares

In the lower ranks now, my training for Grafton to Inverell reached the end. It has been a long, sometimes painful, road that started back in January. With only a few more days before the race, I still don't have a clue how I am going to perform. There are just too many variables in road racing, especially a 228 km race.

The one thing I know is I am going to have a great time... like always!

My last four weeks:

Week Thirty Eight: Recovery
Time: 9 h
Dist: 205 km

Week Thirty Nine: Build
Time: 16 h 05 min
Dist: 344 km

Week Forty: Recovery
Time: 4 h 30 min
Dist: 120 km

Week Forty One: Taper
Time: 12 h 30 min
Dist:  315 km

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Coincidence, that's all

The training program showed 1:00h/30km (L/H), which made Sandra suggest that I got on the rollers. The H was for high intensity, hard to do on the rollers and the weather was fine. I decided to get on the road.

So, a quick ride to Clear Mountain, where high intensity can be easily reached (even if you don't mean to) and a ride back on the lumpy Bunya road was again the plan. How many times have I done this loop?

I love it everytime. It is such a beautiful area once we get off the main roads and plunge into the picturesque setting of Australian bush... and so close to home. We are so lucky!

And it was good but there was a chance the bridge on Bunya road could've been damaged, or underwater with all the rain we had in the last two weeks. Or would that be three weeks of rain? However, I felt inclined to have a close look and to a degree, make sure it was alright.



The wooden bridge was fine, battered but still holding its composure in a weather-beaten environment. I was relieved and content.

From there, there are a couple of more efforts if I feel like, even the Mailman's track if I am really keen, or just a quiet ride for another 20 or 30 minutes before getting back on the busy roads again.

I did half-efforts and used the time to think about my training for Grafton to Inverell. I thought about last year's training and how it all ended up. And I try to guess how it will be this year, not knowing if I will even be able to handle it at all.

These days, when coming back from the Clear Mountain/Bunya Road ride, I have a choice of how to get home. Admittedly, in the last twelve months I have been avoiding Rode road, where I had my accident. Most of the time, I have been taking a longer (no harm there), less stressful route home.

Today, like always, I had the debate in my head but chose the old route without any logical rationale, I just went. And with no more rationalization than that, today I decided to stop and photograph the intersection where I got hit.

Perhaps, I should stop carrying my camera in my back pocket.

But there I was, photographing and trying to visualize how it happened and trying to figure out how and where I landed. What part of the road was I laying on? It was all so quick and somehow so long ago, about a year.

Why did I stop there anyway?

I was trying to work that out as I rode home when something came to my mind - what is today's date. Is it the 14th? I had to check when I got home. It is the 14th and I checked when I had the accident. It happened on the 14th of October, one year ago.

Exactly! Coincidently!



Monday, October 11, 2010

Postcards from Phuket (Part 2)

Training Camp

Our time in Phuket was partly a holiday and partly a Training Camp, or was it the other way around? I needed to get a bit more intensity into my training for Grafton and thought the heat and hilly terrain would help with that. Sandra was also keen to get a few rides in after some time off the bike.

Add the excitment of riding on an exotic territory, lots of time to relax, fantastic food and massages, the trip to Phuket sounded perfect. We did imagine a few short, steep climbs by looking at a couple of maps before we left, but nothing like we actually encountered on this small island. We also didn't imagine to find so kind and friendly road users, we did, lots of them! And someone reminded me afterwards: "it is part of the culture".

The following are illustrations of our rides. They were leisure rides and training rides with a bit of a sting, or spice, in the legs now and then. I hope they tell a story of how crazily good it was riding in Phuket. I can't wait to go back, some day.

Day One: Kata Noi Beach - Sai Yuan Village - Nai Harn Beach

Time: 1h 46min
Dist: 31 km
Asce: 620 m

Day Two: Patong - Paradise Beach

Time: 2 h 21 min
Dist: 37 km
Asce: 715 m

Day Three (1): Big Buddah - Chalong - Sai Yuan Village

Time:1 h 39 min
Dist: 42 km
Asce: 695 m

Day Three (2): Phromthep Cape - Nawai Beach - Say Yuan Village

Time: 1 h 13 min
Dist: 26 km
Asce: 575

Day Four: Patong - Bang Tao and Naithon Beach

Time: 3 h 30 min
Dist: 90 km
Asce: 1140 m

Day Five: Patong - Naithon Beach - Nai Yang Road - Thalang - Kathu

Time: 4 h 30 min
Dist: 95 km
Asce: 1035 m

Day Seven:  Chalong - Nawai Beach - Cape Phromthep

Time: 1 h 05 min
Dist: 24 km
Asce: 450 m

Day Eight: Patong - Kathu Village - Bang Wad Dam - Vichit Village - Chalong

Time: 2 h 40 min
Dist: 45 km
Asce: 530 m

Day Nine: Chalong - Big Buddha - Sai Yuan Village

Time: 1 h 31 min
Dist: 32 km
Asce: 675 m

Total Time: 20 h 15 min
Total Dist: 423 km
Total Asc: 6435 m

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