Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Just riding it and the Tour's second week

After waking up to a beautiful Queensland winter morning and doing the father thing that I came here to do, I set myself to do some training on the course of the race I had to cancel last week, the Calliope to Biloela, starting twenty kilometers out of Gladstone.

It was exciting riding on new roads, specially knowing little about them. Well, I knew it was going to be rough (Queensland country roads always are) and I knew there was a 5 km climb somewhere.

I managed to do the 100 km I planned but didn't get to the climb. I got to the 50 km mark without finding one place to refill my bottles and guessed there wasn't going to be one for another 50 km either. Althouh not far from the bottom of the climb, if I pushed on and turned around at the top of the climb, it was going to be 75 or 80 km with one single biddon. After having written about "bonking" not long ago and finding myself a little lonely in this open country I decided to turn around and give the climb a miss, this time.

Training got done, a TSS of 197.2 with an Intensity Factor of 0.795 classed the ride as a good solid ride, what I do need at the moment.

Also, we had the second week of Le Tour. Again, we witnessed some true solid rides.

There was Greipel's powerful bolt to the finish line, a couple of hugs from the guys, the incredible win by Hushovd, the show of toughness by Ten Dam (don't like to say it but why didn't he let the handlebars go?), the well deserved win by the new Belgium star Jelle Venendert and, of course, the coolness of the yellow jersey wearer.

These are just a few moments of this great race. Now, lets hope to see a Contador strike (or shot) in this last week of racing. I don't care who wins the Tour but I am hoping to see one shot being fired in the Alps.

Stage 10

Stage 11

Stage 12

Stage 13

Ten Dam

Stage 14


... and after Stage 15

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cycling hint #5: to get faster, practice Yoga

The practise of Iyengar Yoga kind of changed my life. At the time it took me back to surfing, a subsequent move back to living near the ocean and a healthier life on the whole.

That was a while back. In more recent years, and on an on-and-off fashion, I have used yoga to increase flexibility, alleviating hamstrings, hips, gluteus and lower back tightness. Not only that, as the practise of some types of yoga helps to enhance core strength and aid muscle development with a precise approach to body alignment through the practice of astanas (postures) and pranayama (breathing).

A few of the postures that can greatly benefit cyclists are the Reclining Pigeon Pose; the Bridge Pose; Cobbler's Pose; Head-to-Knee Forward Bend and the Warrior II.

Benefits for cyclists:
  • Improves range of motion to ride low on drops
  • Increases mobility through the pedal stroke
  • Boosts strength and stability on the bike
  • Enhances flexibility, increasing comfort on aero position
  • Boosts concentration by focusing and controlling the mind

I recommend checking a few yoga schools before committing to one, but generally yoga teaching in Australia is very good and teachers are often aware of cyclist's physical needs.

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Training and the first week of the Tour

Illness kept me away from the bike for a whole week, dragging my CTL figures (fitness) on the Perfomance Management Chart down to the level I was six or seven weeks ago. That’s the bad part, the good part is (could be) that my TSB numbers (form) have peaked to an incredible high. And, I am experiencing the lowest ATL (fatigue) number since I started training with the power meter. I should be firing like the space shuttle.

(The PMC is explained here)

I wish it worked like that. First, I will need to get on the bike and get some numbers (watts) to feed the program with so it can give me an idea of where I really am in terms of form and fitness. Second, the program doesn’t know I have been ill, it might look at my numbers and discriminately open a little message box saying: SOFT!

Because of that (illness), I now have to cancel my entry for next weekend’s open event and, again, modify my training plan for the race I have been preparing for, the Cunningham Classic in August. I will add another rest week and see how I feel before adding more intensity (TSS) into my training again .

C’est la vie! Well, shit happens I am more likely to hear from the local whizzes. It is like that but I am grateful it is only a simple illness and nothing like what we have witnessed in the pro races and in real life lately.

As crazy as it sounds, I sometimes think “one week off the bike is one more week on this planet”. However, I missed riding my bike the whole time.

So, the pros have just finished their first week of racing around France and, in my view, have delivered the goods with some bone-breaking racing and fantastic finishes. I liked all the stages (confessing here that I broke my promise and watched a few live) and most of the finishes.

I say most because stage seven's finish was a bit uninspiring, to me, with Cavendish’s easy run to the line. I wish strong-man Greipel had won the sprint with his long and amazing power burst.

And stage 9. Excuse me the win-at-any-cost-believers out there but that was the ugliest Tour stage win I have ever witnessed. For Sanchez, to ride 16 to 17% to Voeckler’s 60% plus in the break for 40 km (or longer), and sprint to the line from the 150 m mark and win was the poorest example of unfair sportsmanship. That stage belonged to Voeckler!

Back to the good moments we are witnessing this year, here are some of my favourite shots (Steephill.com):

Stage 4

Stage 4

Stage 5

Stage 6

Stage 7

Stage 8

Stage 9

Enjoy the second week!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Team Sky goes green, I go with Sky

I need to be honest. I haven't been a great supporter of mega-media conglomerates, mostly for having grown up under the corrupt and gluttonous influences of Globo, back in Brazil.

OK, that's history I know but I haven't been too fond of the Packers and Murdochs since coming to Australia and learning of how they contest for business themselves. That's me.

It makes it a little awkward to support a Team which is partially owned by one of those organizations. However, Sky has chosen to take the green way and I like to support that.

Sky Rainforest Rescue

In the meantime, and in a bigger picture, Australia is going through a fundamental "greening" process with the government announcing the long waited carbon pollution reduction scheme policy today.

It seems like we are all taking a greener path. That's great and it is likely to benefit all cyclists in the process.

Safe riding!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cycling hint #4: Eat and drink, or you will "bonk"

Having put a bit of thought on my ride up Mt Baw Baw early this year, and how bad I felt after the finish, I now know I had bonked, was suffering from hunger flat, had hit the wall or was very close.

Whatever term we might choose, I remember being fatigued, cold, slightly irritable and a little dased as I battled myself up the climb. Dased enough not to ask for the bag of Gummy Snakes Sandra (the DS) had in the car, or the gillet back. I didn't get to hallucinate but have been close in the past. These a few of the symptoms for hypoglycemia, or simply having an empty tank.

That's because I didn't eat enough.

I had planned my food and drink intake for the 102 km/2800m elevation race. I had a bag of nuts and dry dates and three gels. I had been training on nuts and dates for weeks by then and was happy with them. What I didn't plan was to drop the bag on the road at the 25 km mark and be left just with the gels in my pocket. Not enough!

At the feed, I was too focused on the moves ahead to remember I needed something else. I was lucky to finish that race...

To avoid the bonk:
  • Practise eating often on training rides
  • Experiment with different foods while training
  • Drink and eat before you are thirsty or hungry
  • Start your carbohydrate intake days before a long event
  • Drink sports drinks and water
  • Eat mainly carbohydrate-rich foods during the ride
  • Avoid drinking coke during and after the ride

For a comprehensive read on "bonking", visit Tuned in to Cycling

Safe cycling!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Time for recovery and the Tour de France

Definitely time for recovery, I feel, and I hope it is an earned one.

Firstly, that's how I pencil my training programs, two on and one off. Secondly, week 20 took a bit out of me, when my TSS reached 840+ (my highest so far). I decided to back off on the intensity for week twenty-one and after the ride on Wednesday it was low intensity, hoping for a good race on Saturday. After that, I became tired and even a little irritable (Sandra hinting that I needed a rest).

The criterium race at Lakeside was good. I made myself as active as possible, tried to get away a few times and finished 10th or 11th (could not go with the strong guys in the last 200m). It was way better than a couple of months ago, happy with my performance. Or was it that tyre and tube combination I am trying?

The figures weren't great but I am hoping for good ones after this Recovery week.

The Tour de France, stages one and two

Well, I promised myself that I will get more rest this July in preparation for my A event in early August. I mean no late nights watching THE race. So far (OK, only the second stage), I am happy checking the results in the morning and watching videos on-line and the SBS highlights in the evening. Let's see if I can keep my word when they get closer to the Alps.

But this far, I liked the results. In stage one, Philippe Gilbert demonstrated why I think he is the best one-day racer in the world. With the help of a great team and on an up-hill finish, he was hard to beat. Only Cadel Evans got close, taking 2nd.

Stage two was a great TTT event. A bit of a shame Phil Liggett and Team Sky are both British, it sounds like he will be talking about them for the 22 days of racing. Anyhow, Garmin-Cervelo (that's everybody involved in the running of the team) took the win and the Yellow Jersey (Hushovd), showing their passion and strength. Simple!

Lots of racing ahead.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Cycling hint #3: train on training tyres, race on racing tyres

When doing a few training miles, commuting or just riding on the mess that our roads have become with all the constructions and roadworks going on, something like what you see in the picture becomes more and more likely to happen.

Well, that WAS a new racing tyre. I made it home with one of those sleeves covering the hole from the inside but after that, it went in the rubbish bin. Yes, it is good for the manufacturers, distributors, retailers and/or on-line shop but an expensive outcome, in any case.

But lesson learned, if not racing I am riding on 25mm training tyres.

In fact, a few years back, an ex-pro racer told me the best and most economical option when starting out was to buy a good pair of wheels and fit them with a pair of robust training tyres. The evening before a race, and in ten minutes, replace the tyres with fast, lighter and, evidently, more prone to flats racing tyres and go fast. He did that, I am now doing that!

By doing that, we:
  • have less chances of getting a flat
  • have a more forgiving ride on rough roads
  • get stronger for riding heavier tyres
  • save some cash by doing most of the riding on cheaper tyres
  • help the environment by not throwing out so many tyres

Comes race day, I have a hardly worn, lighter, faster set of tyres.

And, if you want your ride to feel really fast and in reality be fast, match a good racing tyre with a latex inner tube... It felt great today!!!

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