Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hi Phil, I want a new bike... the Cervelo S5

The day after a 200+ TSS ride is pretty much set as a recovery day, the off-the-bike type I have been told a few times (yes, by Sandra). Add a couple of elucidating (and scary) blog posts on being tired (1) and TSS (2) on Joel Friel's blog and my plans for the day were all around Inbox clean-up, a few house chores, getting in touch with the family on Live Messenger and very little about cycling and bikes (perhaps cleaning them)...

Well, that was going well until I hit the tag and found the Cervelo S5 as today's tech feature. What was I supposed to do then? I am a bike rider after all!

Anyway, I don't care if Bikesnob and his followers, the keyboard podium seekers, have wasted their time calling Cervelos lawyers & dentist's bikes, I am convinced if somebody has a bit of funds and wants a pushbike (admittedly that's what they are!) to train and race, a Cervelo is the best choice. Just check the inexpensive S1 in their range, that bike has won Paris-Nice!

Why? Because that's what they are made for, going fast. That's what those tech guys are getting paid for. Although they still look good, they are not spending too much time in beautifying them, they are working on their speed on the tunnel and on the road. Like they always did!

Anyway, check this video out and tell me what you think. I am going to kick back and wait for Phil's call. Yes, I am talking about Phil White, one of the founders and CEO of Cervelo Bikes, because he will understand my need to go faster and this is such a good plug on his bikes.

Enjoy it!

PS: Back to my chores... and perhaps a little session on the rollers later, just to keep the legs happy.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Philippe Gilbert, finally and deservedly the Belgium National Champion

"Gilbert had finished second in four editions of the Belgian national championships but was unbeatable in the scorching hot conditions. He must surely be the favourite to win the uphill finish of next Saturday’s opening stage of the Tour de France."

It is not the first time I write about Philippe Gilbert (here) and won't be the last but I am now happy he is going to wear the Belgium national champion colours. Looking further in the season, I can't think of a better man to also have the Rainbow jersey.

OK, he is my favourite pro rider. But Gilbert has shown an incredible form this year again, winning some big races and his home Tour. I am convinced he can add a TdF stage win to his palmares this year.

Talking Tour de France, there is not long to go now for our sleeps to get a little shorter again...

Other National Champions (road) racing in the 2011 TdF:
  • Jose Joaquin Rojas - Spain
  • Bradley Wiggins - Britain
  • Sylvain Chavanel- France
  • Fabian Cancellara - Switzerland
  • Nick Sorensen - Denmark
All 2011 national champions here.

On training, just my modest cycling life this time, I have managed a good recovery week after the Tablelands, followed by a solid build week, after changing a couple of things.

Having struggled a bit juggling my early shifts and training this year - not very good with time management either - I changed my training plan to a nine-day block, with a recovery ride or no riding at all after my first early shift at work (I do three of those), doesn't matter what day of the week it might be. It means I get more rest and I don't get stressed with "I must get on the bike" thought haunting me when I barely have the energy to get kitted up. I get home, I eat and I sleep.

So far I am feeling better and more motivated, let's see if I can back it up with another good week...

On training still, the power meter (and the WKO software) has helped me realize that I need to train harder. I am not saying I will do 500-700 km a week - that would make me too tired to do anything else - but I need to put more stress, or TSS, into my rides. It means training harder when the program says so, naturally.

Here are some weekly numbers:

To finish off, a glimpse of my Power Profile Chart (watts/kilo) with visible improvements in the last couple of blocks but expert advise is needed for this one. (previous here).


Time for an easy ride!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A quick chat with SBS cycling expert, Mike Tomalaris

It is that time of the year, when we (and that should be most reading this blog) are getting prepared for the biggest cycling event on the calendar, the Tour de France.

Sometimes I think the Giro is a tougher race because of the lower temperatures and steeper climbs, more exciting, others affirm the Vuelta is closer to cycling roots but I dare to say La Grande Beucle is the biggest of the three Grand Tours, of any tour as a matter of fact.

In Australia, SBS Television has done a great job in bringing the Tour and everything cycling to our lounge room, and work places. We now have live coverage by an experienced crew working on location and bringing the stages live to our TV sets, PCs, Smartphones and iTablets.

This week I had the chance to chat with SBS's sports presenter and cycling expert, Michael Tomalaris who is getting ready for his trip to France.

AMR: Firstly, how did you become the face of cycling in Australia? When did the passion start? If I am right, you were into soccer before you got involved with cycling.

MT: In the early years of my career at SBS I was one of the network's football "talent" having covered the game as a reporter, commentator and producer. After covering many big tournaments including the FIFA World Cup of 1994 & 1998, my football commitments coincided with the network's expanding responsibilities to cycling. I was initally asked to cover domestic races SBS was broadcasting such as the now defunct Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic. That's when I developed a deep affection for the sport and as a visual spectacle, how it complemented television.

AMR: You seem very passionate about cycling and you watch bike races all the time, when did you buy your first bike, was that after covering your first TdF, in 1996? Do you still ride?

MT: I played soccer all of my life - from the age of six to 40 when muscles and bones in my body started to seize. I bought and rode my first bike in a bunch situation around 10 years ago and have never looked back. I am the patron of the Sydney Uni Velo Club but have never raced. My average weekend morning training ride on my Colnago takes in a 90km loop door-to-door around southern Sydney. I simply enjoy the benefits of keeping fit and healthy and enjoying the companionship the sport offers.

AMR: Carbon or Titanium? Campagnolo or Shimano?

MT: I'm not technically gifted when it comes to two-wheels so as long as it gets me from point A to point B without too much stress, I'm happy. But my Colnago "Dream" machine is a carbon and fitted with a Shimano group set.

AMR: Fifteen TdF events under your belt, so far, you must have met some very interesting people. Who would you nominate as the most passionate Tour de France aficionado (rider or non-rider)? Why?

MT: A difficult question but I would say the entire, yet small, SBS crew have developed a deep passion of world cycling and the Tour de France. In the 15 years I have covered the Tour for the network, I have had different people work on the coverage. From camera operators to editors and producers each have become cycling aficionados in their own unique way. The same can be said for extended staff members. It seems everyone at the network is supportive and hooked.

AMR: If I can split the tour riders in three groups, sprinters, climbers and the rouleurs, who are/were the most exciting riders to watch, of each of the groups?

MT: Of the climbers it goes without saying that Alberto Contador will dominate. He is undoubtedly a phenomenon and his record of winning every Grand Tour he has competed at speaks for itself. If he doesn't win the yellow jersey chances are he'll take the King of the Mountain competition.

I also fancy Rabobank's Robert Gesink to challenge for the polka jersey in 2011. The sprinters is easy. Mark Cavendish, Mark Cavendish, Mark Cavendish! He prepares for the Tour and given the Aussie support he'll have through Matt Goss and Mark Renshaw, I'd be surprised if anyone came close to spoiling HTC-Highroad's celebrations.

Philippe Gilbert cleaned up at the Spring Classics so why wouldn't he do the same on the medium-mountain stages? The Belgian is the world's number one ranked rider and a joy to watch. I'm hoping he cleans up again.

AMR: Nobody really knows what would have happened last year if Andy Schleck didn’t drop the chain on stage 15, do you think he can stay with Contador on the climbs this year?

MT: I don't think Andy Schleck has done enough to convince me he can win the Tour this year. While he revolves his entire year around the one event, his performances in time-trials have been disappointing. Has he been foxing? Is he saving himself for Le Tour? I'd like to be proven wrong.

AMR: Are there other riders who could challenge those two on the mountains and for the Yellow Jersey in Paris? Is this a good year for Cadel Evans? Or Levi Leipheimer, perhaps?

MT: Cadel's meticulous preparation and easier earlier season schedule ensures he is primed for a solid showing. He is both physically and mentally ready for the "Tour of his Lifetime" and while some members of the media refuse to talk up his chances of overall victory, I'm convinced Cadel is on the right track. He has recruited a great team at BMC whose sole job is guide our boy across the line on the Champs Elysees. If they don't, team management will view it as a massive failure.

AMR: On the younger riders, Richie Porter has shown he is capable of winning a leader’s jersey. Does he have what it takes to become the first Australian to win the TdF?

MT: Richie Porte is a definite star of the future but in his maiden Tour de France appearance his main role at Saxo Bank-Sungard is to service and protect Alberto Contador. Richie's time will come, but it won't be this year.

AMR: Your favourite region to visit and watch La Grande Beucle?

MT: Whether it's in the harsh and the battled northern regions or the glamour the south has to offer, I have come to appreciate every nook and cranny that France has to offer. I love the people, the culture, the history, the scenery and of course it's a wonderful bike race. It seems so to many others - the increasing viewing numbers suggest so.

AMR: Thanks Mike, looking forward to the SBS coverage this year.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Cycling hint #2: carry 2 spare tubes

So, what are the odds of getting two flats in one ride? What would you do if you got a flat 10 km from home but only 20 min into the ride?

First, you are riding well, 30km/h for the first 20 min is good going... The odds, I don't really know but I would hate to have to turn around and head home for another tube or keep going for another hour without a spare tube.

What if you spot someone stuck on the side of the road and in need of a tube?

For this reason, I do think carrying two tubes is the way to go. As well as carrying a couple of sleeves (cuts of an old tube) in case something puts a hole on your tyre. Hey, they got me home once or twice...

My list:

- two tubes
- two tyre levers
- two rubber sleeves
- mini pump
- pre-glued patches
 (not in the picture, click here)

What's on your list?

Have a good weekend!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Enjoy your bike.

I always enjoyed watching the Rapha guys having a great time on their bikes. I even (and often) felt a bit of jealously watching those near perfectly shot B&W images, often in slow-motion, of their rides in those exotic locations. Those videos are pieces of cycling art, I dare.

But then, Sandra showed me the video shot in the Victorian Alps. Same style, same music, this time shot on roads that we have had some of our best riding experiences. Some good and some bad, but all unforgettable. And I felt different. Not jealous but privileged to have raced on those roads, to have, to a point, suffered and to have succeeded on those roads.

I saw myself in this video.

Enjoy your bike!
Rapha Rides the Victorian Alps from RAPHA on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Cycling hint #1: wear gloves

This is not the most important advice for riding a bike but as I see more and more people riding in bunches and racing without gloves (even in winter), I thought it was a good idea to start with it.

Wear gloves because they:

- provide a non-slip grip
- allow you to wipe sting off your eyes
- enable you to brush debris off the tires
- cushion your hands against road shock
- protect your palms should you hit the deck
- can be used to wipe your nose when a bit snotty

And if you are worried about your tan line, forget it, we already have panda-like markings around our eyes.

Safe riding!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tablelands and am I ever going to win a race again?

Like Bozic in the Tour de Suisse, I would be ecstatic by crossing the line ahead of the bunch again. And, I thought the 2011 Tour de Tablelands was going to be it...

I felt a bit tired by the end of week seventeen, the recovery week before the tour. I thought it might have been that I found hard to get the recomended eight hours plus sleep that we need or, perhaps, because I did a little more than I should have... But came race week, everything seemed to fall into place. I felt ready for it.

Anyhow, I went to the Far North planning to get at least one win, perhaps on stage two which we were told was made for climbers. More like for non-sprinters, I felt.

Well, I tried everything on stage one, two and three (the TT) and I even sat in for a good part of stage four saving my legs for the last 3 or 4 km of the tour where I planned to get away and leave the sprinters behind. I tried four times just to be reeled in again and again, and had only enough juice left to finish behind the sprinters AGAIN.

So, it was a hard weekend of racing but it was fantastic to be back in the Far North, racing the Tour de Tablelands and catching up with old Cairns friends. To finish it off, I did one of my favourite rides as a recovery ride, which is on the Cairns to Port Douglas road. Very tropical, very picturesque part of this country...

And the numbers after the tour looked like this:

It must be time to start training hard.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Russian beats men in black in Luxembourg and my second FTP Test

I must say, I like when someone isn't in that ideal position but with a huge amount of talent ends up taking the purse. Like Australian Peter McDonald in the 2009 Australian Road Championship, when he took Gold over HighRoad team mates Michael Roger and Adam Hansen.

Same story but in a Pro event this time, Russian Galimzyanov finished first in the Tour of Luxembourg, taking the win from two Sky riders, including super lead-out man, Greg Henderson.

Does it take an enourmous amount of talent to do that or is it just a bit of luck? I wish I knew...

Second FTP Test

Almost six weeks since the first test, it was time for another one!

This time, I planned to do it right and do a 30 min run to get the best 20 min out of it but when I got to Nundah (Albert Bishop Park) and felt the wind I knew it was going to be no more than what I needed: TWENTY MINUTES!

Conditions on the track weren't quite the same, the wind was twice as strong and slightly more to the West (more head wind on the straight and a bigger push at the back). Besides that I felt rested and good on the bike, ready to go.

The warm-up wasn't done by the book because I had limited time, and lets face it, I didn't feel like delaying the pain for too long. Like when you want to get in a pool and you know the water is cold, the quicker the better. So, after a few laps I was into it.

Here are the results of the two FTP tests:

Sun, 24th April (4 PM)
Duration: 20 min
Distance: 13.38 km
TSS: 36.6
IF: 1.047
NormP: 314
AvgP: 311
AvgHR: 158
Avg Cadence: 94

Wed, 2nd June (9 AM)
Duration: 20 min
Distance: 13.31 km
TSS: 38.2
IF: 1.071
NormP: 321
AvgP: 317
AvgHR: 161
Avg Cadence: 83

OK, I am not going to beat Galimzyanov, ever, or get a job as a lead-out man for SKY but it looks like there are small gains in those numbers and that's a good thing.

Or did I just pushed a little harder?

PS: I did end up reaching my best 30' also, at 275 W.

Power Profile

Then, comes the Power Profile Chart (previous one here), which also shows a few changes. Great! Of course, these a relative to the type of work I have been concentrating on and includes race efforts as well. In my view, they are showing changes and I just hope they are for the better.

Have a great weekend!

Blogged Blog Directory