Monday, 8 December 2008

Re-learning Old Tricks

As a runner I learned early that I needed to wait for my body to be ready for the next hard training load.  There were times when my program called for a hard run but I just knew I wasn't up for it.  The answer was to wait.

I've never really had to do that much with my riding.  I just get on and ride.  Maybe I'm training myself harder than I have in the past. Maybe I'm just getting old. Maybe it's the need to get over my cold and the GSR.  Most likely it's all of it put together, but getting on and riding just isn't working any more.

This morning I rode to work and I quickly got the feeling it wasn't all good.  I was a bit sluggish, felt cold and had no fire.  Normally I'd just push as hard as I could, have a nothing ride and feel like crap.  Instead, I backed off, focused on cadence, keeping my heart rate down and enjoying the ride.  It was into a chill wind, but I found a pace I could maintain without hurting or draining the batteries.

On the way home I just felt my way into it.  Warmed up slowly and really stuck it to it.  I feel that my strength is coming back and I'm doing good rides when I'm ready to.  I'm starting to listen to my body and to push the pedals instead of myself.  

Because I have little natural talent at running, the only way to get anywhere was to be smart about it. Up until now I've been cycling pretty much on luck and talent while not making the most of either. It's time to add a few brains into the mix.


Saturday, 6 December 2008

Nancy Gets Naked

This week I've stripped Nancy down, taken off her guards, adjusted her brakes and gears and packed all her bearings with lovely new waterproof teflon grease. She's feeling better and so am I. The accumulated gunk of the winter is gone and everything running well. All I need now is to save up enough to replace her terribly worn (17,000km) drive train. It's so bad that I need to do chain rings and all. This is the third set of chain and cassette for these rings, so they've done better than 40,000km.

Today I finally had a good ride. I did my number one 45k training loop and totally nailed it. It's a hilly route and I rarely break 30kph for it. Today's conditions weren't ideal with a blustery north wind and fairly warm conditions. This meant I was into the wind on the highway, out in the open where I can normally make up some time and got the tailwind for the section where the road is well protected by trees. Somehow I still managed to average better than 32kph. This is by far the best ride I've done in 3 months and hopefully I can keep on an upward sweep. I managed an average heart rate of 161 for the loop which means I was kicking into it pretty hard.

I'm finding at the moment that I need two easy days between each hard workout. Normally I can manage a hard ride every second day. Hopefully adjusting to this schedule for a while is going to let me get over the cold and get back to some kind of form. Here's hoping.


Thursday, 4 December 2008

A Good Ride

Finally! I've had a good ride to work and back today. Admittedly the weather was kind and there was little wind but I rode well and felt good doing it. I managed better than 30kph both ways. While I'm still not 100% I feel like I'm just starting to come good.

I'm particularly happy with how my legs felt. I was able to grind hard into the wind and up hill today, without feeling my legs going to jelly. All that stomping up hills on Saturday must be paying off.

Yesterday by contrast, I went out early to do some hill repeats. I managed two fairly pathetic efforts before a blood nose gave me the excuse to stop. Obviously I just hadn't properly recovered by then.

This feels like the day to knock a stake in the ground to mark where I've turned a corner. We'll see what the next week or so brings.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008


Last Saturday I rode the Audax Alpine Delight ride. It was absolutely delightful. The course takes us from Bright over Mt Hotham to Omeo and back. A really special part of the world. The last time I rode this route, it covered some pretty ordinary gravel roads and required touring tyres to negotiate. Today, the roads are really very good.

We headed off from Bright at 7am. I was determined to take it easy out to Harrietville and to be very conservative all the way to Omeo. I knew I was still not well after the GSR and was really lacking any sort of form in the hills. We held a fairly tight bunch out to the start of the climbing where I bid goodbye to most of the bunch and to Steve who was climbing like a mountain goat.

Fortuitously, Jim dropped some food about 2km into the climbing, giving me a perfect excuse to stop and strip off a few layers of clothing. It was quite warm on the lower slopes and I am prone to overheating while climbing even in quite cool conditions. The initial climb was quite uneventful with me keeping my effort in check watching Jim ride away from me in the final few km to the top.
At the top Jim appeared to be attempting to give himself some kind of SPF3000 mudpack with sunscreen. It did however scare off the small children watching.

Steve and I set off in search of the General Store to get our 7 Peaks Alpine Passports stamped. A manoeuvre which cost us around 15 minutes while they found the stamp. On the road again it started drizzling out past Dinner Plain. It was enough to force the wet weather gear into use and to cause continual clothing adjustment from there until Omeo in an attempt to stay dry without overheating. At Omeo we were sweaty and tired and in need of food. The jacket had stopped me from getting to my pockets to access snacks over the last 55km so I'd let myself run a bit low. Eating was exacerbated by the need to complete a reasonable 10km climb straight out of Omeo, so it was necessary not to over-eat.

Steve stuck with me for the trip back to Hotham even though it was clear that he had a lot more speed in his legs. We stopped again to get out 7 Peaks cards stamped at Dinner Plain, again losing time while trying to find the right shop in increasing drizzle. Nearing the top of Hotham, the weather really closed in with thunder, lightning, hail, sleet and a torrential downpour which soaked us through just a km from the top.

The descent was torturous, with water and rocks on the road and a lot of discomfort from my fractured wrist and dodgy shoulders. I've never been so happy to have to pedal as I was to reach Harrietville.

The final 25km to Bright was a real delight with a slight tail wind and being downhill almost the entire way. Steve dragged me most of the way, well in excess of 30kph. After we'd finished I felt fairly ordinary. It took just over 12 hours which is the worst time I've done for 200km in 30 years.

The real delight though was the people I shared the ride with. Steve who rode most of the way with me and made me smile when I felt old and weak. Jim, who showed a clean pair of heals to everyone while keeping a wonderful sense of humour. Leigh who gave more great advice along the way. Stephen and Keith who with their long-suffering wives provided terrific support and sustenance on a hard ride. Thanks to all of you for making it so much fun.