Tuesday, October 18, 2011

We made it!

Not without a little drama as the gentleman at Sao Paulo´s airport Federal Police insisted that I opened the bike box.

- How long have you had this bicycle?

- Mate, I´ve been travelling for the last 36 hours. I got here and had to wait almost one hour to have my Brazilian passport looked at by a trainee and didn´t even get a stamp on it. I declared the goods I was bringing into the country weren`t valued more than US3,000 (OK, I lied!), which is kind of OK and I am taking everything back home with me. And I have less than one hour to get on my flight to Rio. Two years.

- Where is home than?

- Sir, have you had the coffee airlines serve in those plastic cups during the flights? Brisbane, Australia.

- When was the last time you came to Brazil? How long are you staying? Who are you staying with?

- Mate, get me a Stanley... a knife, please!

I made the domestic flight. But as the doors were about to close, the captain announced that due to adverse weather conditions we were going to land at Galeao, Rio´s international airport, not Santos Dummont Airport where my family was going to be waiting.

No worries, the friendly woman next to me insisted I used her mobile to let my folks know. All good, I would be seeing them soon.

Well, not that soon, 45 minutes later the First Officer made a final announcement:

- Senhoras e senhores, we are starting our descent and will be landing at Santos Dummont Airport in 5 minutes. We hope you had a...

- Hey officer, you got it wrong and my family is waiting at... Never mind, I will call them again to let them know and look for a bar to have a cafezinho. That´s what they do in Rio.

And I am in Rio and I am going to ride my bike.

Monday, October 17, 2011

11,973 km done, 13,000 to go...

No, it is not my training program and don't ask me what day it is because right now I am in the middle of a triangular time zone reckoning.

Never mind. I am kind of half way to my destination, sitting at Costa Coffee (since 1971, they advertise), at the very same spot I sat ten months ago when returning home after a few weeks in Rio. I don't see many options and the coffee is still good.

It's all going well. The only thing bothering me is the fact that my bike sits somewhere in this huge airport with a tag that says Sao Paulo attached to it. Is it going to make all the way there?

I never had a problem with luggage when travelling but this time I feel I am pushing my luck a little. The reason being I will only have 2 hours in Sao Paulo before I board my third flight (in -1, 1 or 2 days), which will take me to my final destination. Not much time to sort things out if my luggage doesn't arrive on the same flight.

It is all part of the fun and excitement. She'll be right!!

Ate mais!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Nationals road race report... and packing for the season.

A disappointing result, I must say.

The preparation for the Nationals road race was adequate, I believed. Perhaps I got to Ballarat a bit under-done but certainly not over-trained or tired. So, what went wrong?

At dinner, the night before and after having driven the course, Brian and I agreed a break had little chance of succeeding on the flat open course around Lake Learmonth, unless a group of six or more strong riders got together. We predicted a bunch sprint with at least half of the field.

I have worked on my finishes lately but mentioned that if it was going to be a full on bunch sprint, he could sit in and wait to get dragged to the line because I was planing to jump with 1.5 or 2 km to go.

Well, a break of three riders did get away early (20 km). I thought it could have been a good move and jumped to bridge (no, I never learn) but hoped that a handful would have followed. It didn't happen that way but Brian came across and the small grupetto kept riding.

We worked for about three laps (45 km) but didn't manage a gap greater than 45 sec, I think. It didn't look very promising at times but we kept pushing. I had a tough time hanging on after 30 kms but recovered a bit after skipping a few turns. When we got caught, I had no problems staying at the front and even helped to chase small groups trying to get away.

With 5 kms to go, and unsurprisingly, the scenario was set for a bunch sprint. The 33 bunched up riders travelling very slow. With 2.5 km to go we were doing 37.5 km/h. I felt the urge to go but waited a little longer because of a head wind.

Finally, with 1100 m to the line, I took off and hoped that the S bends ahead would help me getting a gap. They helped but the legs didn't and I faded with 400 m to go, crawling as the bunch went past and finishing last.

Race stats:
Dist: 78 km
Time: 1:58:52
Av. Speed: 39.6 km/h
TSS: 162.8
I.F.: 0.909
Av. Power: 231 W
Norm. Power: 273 W

Last shot at it:
Dist: 665 m
Time: 45 sec
Av. Speed: 53.4 km/h
Av. Power: 543 w
Max. Power: 956 w

In a good note, Brian, after riding strong the whole race, did position himself well, jumped on the back of the chasers and crossed the line in 7th place, a really good result.

It wasn't all that bad. Later in the evening, and back in Brisbane, I attended the club champions presentation night and collected my beautiful little prizes. I had a good year at club level and will now wear a 2011 masters 5 champion jersey.

That's the end of the season for me, it is time to pack for a holiday without the bike. Perhaps...

And what went wrong in Ballarat? Well, I just have a lot to learn... and an abscence of a good coffee that morning!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Nundah for a workout and Murarrie for inspiration...

Again, I ended my week on Saturday, and again with a criterium at our local circuit. It was my last chance to put a really hard effort and, with a bit of luck, get a good result to boost my confidence going into the Nationals.

The effort wasn't record breaking but the numbers were good enough. My TSS was 85.9 and my NP (Normalized Power) was 274W for the 1h02min race.

Our team had the strongest sprinter in the field and was successful bringing him to the line. My unofficial role was to cover moves and try to get away, hopefully prompting other riders to chase leaving our sprinter fresh for his effort to the line. No rewards for that, however...

Looking for a few more kilometers, I rode to the gym (work) in the afternoon. It seemed like a good idea until I had to get on the bike eight hours later and ride home against a massive head wind. Good training! (366kJ just to get home!) - I had to keep telling myself.

The Sunday ride was a no go after the weeks effort and a very early start at the gym again. Still, with bike racing in my mind, I drove to Murarrie to watch the final race of a local competition (Queensland Team Series).

I am glad I did because watching some of those guys racing can be really inspirational. They race really hard. And they try many moves to be at the front end of the race. There is no sitting in...

And that's how they finished it...

It was also a pleasant afternoon, catching up with the team bosses...

Next? Not much planned, I have four days to stay in shape and rest. I just know it is going to be a great race!

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