Weight-loss Challenge Progress

Stage 1 - 4 kg down!

Monday, December 22, 2008

"Suffering is optional" Haruki Murakami

Where to start? I can't believe that the year is almost over, but we say that every year, right? Because the year has gone so fast I've started to think I'm already in the next one! But, as I'm about to embark on the next stage in my journey and have appeared to stall somewhat I thought I would review the year...

January: Australia Day Criteriums:
A racer is born. The Australia Day Crits were a rude awakening for me. I went in to the series with high expectations but in the end the aim was to finish with the bunch.

Birth of a coach. After getting smashed in the crits, it seemed the smartest thing to do was to move away from doing training through group rides and get a coach! So February marked the start of a structured training program.

March: Pemberton Classic.
Birth of belief? I was feeling strong after starting my training program. Stronger than I 'd ever been before. Then the race started! The pemberton classic leaves town up the main drag which is a drag. The girls were pulling a steady pace on the front that had me worried from the start. I coped ok on the power climbs but after a mix up on the highway left me chasing the group I didn't have much left when the group hit the killer climb. Needless to say I finished the race after spending a lap and a half on my own slightly devastated.

April: Tour de Perth
Birth of a blog!! I was starting to understand and appreciate what many cyclists talk about. "Pain is inevitable - suffering is optional" Murakami.

State Championships. I learnt a huge lesson in this race. Relocate head and stick it back on!

A holiday! No racing.

Back to work.

Reassessment of priorities and commitments.

Learning to ride Carbon. My first competition after a long break was the State Team Time Trial - all those that competed are happy to be alive as the conditions were horrendous. I was just glad that my new bike, which felt awesome, stayed upright.

Back on Track! Nerves had been getting there better of me with regards to racing on the track. But after remembering that it's not the olympics and learning how to clear my head things went much smoother.

A team is born. Fleet Elite made their first team appearance at the State Criterium Championships and Bec took away the win! I also stepped up in Time Trialling and had a few wins.

Melville Summer Crit #3

One word - exhausting! Racing stepped up during December, with weekly TTs, Track championships and club crits, I was often racing 3 times a week. I made my first appearance on the podium for a state championship but I still feel like I'm on a see-saw with my form. It doesn't take long to figure out that your head affects your racing much more than your legs do. There are a few phrases I hate to hear. One being - it's in your head. What to do? Find that place. I think I've gotten through all of my distractions bar one, and I know I can do it.

Excuses are gone now, and so is the option to avoid suffering.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A weekend of hotly contested racing

The weekend's racing started with the State Keirin Championships. In the U/19 female division, Teegan Morton grabbed the motorbike and swung off shortly after the motorbike did. There was a little bit of stalling and with just over a lap to go Holly Williams caught the bunch by surprise diving down the track to take the win. For me, it was my second ever Keirin race. The senior field wasn't as large as it has been for the last couple of championships which I was grateful for. Starting at the bottom of the track I had a good chance to grab the motorbike and did so. Sarah Kent was on my wheel followed by Danielle Longworth, Anna Kauffmann and finally Bec Halliday. Anna had a bit too much speed when she joined the train and swung up losing her position to Bec. I was a little bit unsure of what to do tactics wise as I didn't feel confident that I could overtake Sarah Kent and thought my best option was to try and keep in front of her. With just over a lap to go she kicked and I went with it but it didn't take her long to overtake me. I went with her acceleration and then lost her wheel. Bec passed me with half a lap to go but I held on for third.

Results State Keirin Championship
U/19 Women
1. Holly Williams (WAIS)
2. Teegan Morton (JETS)
3. Mel Hoskins (WAIS/Plan B)

Senior Women
1. Sarah Kent (WAIS/Plan B)
2. Bec Halliday (Fleet Elite)
3. Holly McClellan (Fleet Elite)

Joondalup City Classic (NDCC)

A Grade Women
A huge field of racers turned out to contest the last road race of the year. A grade women had 17 starters listed and the new B grade women division had 11 listed.
It may have been our first hot summer day - It felt like it was 35 degrees before we even started.

A Grade women were racing 8 laps of a 9km circuit that included 2 short steeper climbs and several gradual climbs. The pace was reasonable from the start with Sarah Fraser, Sue Johnstone and some others keeping it high. It didn't take long for the attacks to start with Sarah Kent having a decent crack before Josie Tomic and Sarah Fraser made it away.

Shortly after their attack the bunch was starting to get organised when a split second of inattention resulted in a touching of wheels and several girls coming down. Mel Hoskins and Clare McLean had some decent cuts and bruises. Sue Johnstone and Micheala Anderson must have also acquired injuries as well as they did not rejoin the race. It took half a lap for the chase group to rejoin fully and start working to catch the break. Working to chase were Anna, Sally, Sharon Suckling, Bec and myself.

The heat was getting unbearable for me and as I've been unwell I decided to pull the pin on the race after 3 laps. Several other riders had the same idea leaving less than 10 women in the race after the crash. Sarah Kent attacked the chase group and made a good job of bridging the gap during the fourth lap. I'm unsure of whether she made it across because Josie was still out the front but on her own after the fourth lap, followed by Sarah K then Sarah F. Sally Robbins then attacked and attempted to bridge across. She passed Sarah F but never got across to the front markers. Bec H and Liz Leyden worked together and passed Sarah F and looked like they may catch Sally. In the end the order stayed the same and Bec out sprinted Liz for fourth.

B Grade Women
The B grade women's race was just as exciting as A grade and it was great to see such a large field of new faces. The bunch mainly stayed together until the second lap when Lorraine Hartland attacked, which may have seemed early to the rest of the group but proved to be the winning move. A few laps later Emma Giles and Jillan Scanlan attacked, unfortunately another touching of wheels and Jillian was down. Emma stayed away to take 2nd and there was a bunch sprint for third. It was great to see Jillian complete the race after coming down.

Results - Joondalup City Classic
A Grade Women -
1. Josie Tomic (WAIS/Plan B)
2. Sarah Kent (WAIS/Plan B)
3. Sally Robbins (WAIS/Plan B)
4. Bec Halliday (Fleet Elite)
5. Liz Leyden (Hub Racing)

B Grade Women -
1. Lorraine Hartland (South Perth Roulers)
2. Emma Giles

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

New kids on the block

Ok, so we've been around for a while but check out our new kits!! Yesterday the Fleet Women made their debut at ATTA's Early Birds TT in Champion Lakes. This course has been a favourite of mine and the shorter distance made it even more favourable.

It didn't take long to figure out that the wind was strong with the occasional gust. It took me a few kms to get into a good rhythm but the home straight with the tailwind really helped break up the effort. Overall, I was a little slower than last time and almost a minute back from Davina. Cameron Meyer must have been chasing the 50km/hr barrier because he came pretty close, averaging 49.1 km/hr for the 15km course!

Female results:
1. Davina Summers (Fleet) 0:23:02 (39.1 km/hr)
2. Holly McClellan (Fleet) 0:23:58
3. Rebecca Halliday (Fleet) 0:24:11
4. Anna Kauffmann (Fleet) 0:24:24
5. Shannon Arnott 0:26:33

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

No time to think

Track Summer Series Round 9 - 28th Nov
23 riders started the C grade 10 lap scratch and I was 2nd last off the fence. Bugger. It reminded me of the first C grade race I did with all the juniors and newbies. Scary. I decided that the back of the pack was not where I wanted to be and gathered a few people to take to the front. 3 laps later and I was in a good position however my legs were stuffed and I think I was at least 5th in the sprint.

In the Sprint Challenge I got to try out a few tactics - firstly, hold the wheel of a good sprinter. This was tough as the pace was up and down and we were going up and down the track. I lost the wheel and couldn't make up any places after that. In the second round I was up against 2 sprinters. Whilst they were eyeing each other off I took off from the top of the track (2 laps to go). I must have had a small gap at the start but because I took off so early they caught me
with half a lap to go.

NDCC Criterium - WA Newspapers circuit - 30th Nov
A circuit designed for me. Flat with long straights. We had a strong headwind coming into the home straight which may have died down a little towards the end.

Halfway through the race I had decided to get near the front and see if I could get in a breakaway. There were a few hairy moments - on my way to the front someone clipped me but we both got out of it ok. With such a large group the attacks that did go didn't last long, the wind probably didn't help that. Halfway through the race I followed Mel Hoskins as she chased an attack, shortly after the peloton rejoined there was a crash that took out a large chunk of the group. Sounds like at least one rider had a serious injury but most rejoined the race. The pace settled and before I knew it we had the bell lap. I was conscious of my position but lost a few places coming into the home straight. I picked up a few riders in the sprint and should have finished top 10.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Life out of Lycra

Keeping everything in moderation usually means a limited social life and turning into a pumpkin around 10pm. However, exceptions are made and it was good to have a night off to celebrate my birthday. There were a few special appearances:

Team Fleet:

French St Central Support Crew:
And... the flying screaming monkey:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

2008 State Criterium Championships, Armadale

It seemed like ages since I'd done a road race - was it really almost 6 months? A little out of practice. Needless to say, I was ready to race and looking forward to testing out my legs on a criterium circuit. The course was nice, but there was a small bump with a bit of a pinch which we would be tackling into the wind. We had 12 women starting - a great turnout, but with some of the top girls away at Oceanias (Davina Summers, Josie Tomic and Sarah Kent) anything could happen.

Clare McLean and Liz Leyden kept the pace high for the start of the race. However things did quiten down and somehow I found myself off the front without trying. As the pace had been slow I decided to see who was playing and pushed. The hill out the back was enough to slow me down and the group had caught me within a lap. Not long after Sarah Fraser and Bec Halliday were off the front. Not sure if it was a big attack or whether the wheel behind them couldn't hold the pace but it was enough for them to get away and proved to be the winning move. With my team-mate Bec in form out the front I wanted her to have the best chance at winning so I kept an eye on the chase group.

Big thankyou to Peter Mah for taking some great shots that tell the story much better than me (many more photos can be found here).

The break, Bec Halliday and Sarah Fraser, developing their winning gap.

The chase group:

The chase group starting to hurt, L to R; Bella King, Mel Hoskins, myself and Liz Leyden.

The sprint for the win:

The sprint for 3rd place:
Final Results:
1. Bec Halliday (Fleet Cycles)
2. Sarah-Jeanne Fraser (Eddy Holland's Bicycle Services)
3. Melissa Hoskins (Plan B)
4. Bella King (JETS)
5. Holly McClellan (Fleet Cycles)
6. Liz Leyden (TBE)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

D for Determination

Woops - sorry for the delay in the text for this post. Saturday night I had the pleasure of racing in the International Track Grand Prix. Joining us were the Dutch women Ellen van Dijk, Yvonne Hijgenaar, and Willy Kanis; Malaysia's Fatehah Mustapa, Australian champ Kaarle McCulloch and plenty of West Australian stars (Josie Tomic, Davina Summers, Sarah Kent, Melissa Hoskins...)

There was a mixture of Sprint and Endurance events. The Dutch dominated the sprint events and Josie Tomic dominated the Endurance events. However, my choice for ride of the night would have to be Davina Summers who rode with a broken arm. She managed to take out 3rd in the State Scratch Race (seated) and then led out and won the Derny, which just goes to show what you can do with some courage and determination.

I didn't place in any of the events and some I couldn't hold on to the pack but it was exciting to be out on the track with so much talent.

Fleet mechanic Jack captured some awesome pics.

Check out Davina's close win over Bella to take 3rd in the State Scratch Race

Davina in the Derny

World Scratch Race Champion Ellen van Dijk

Fleet Girls warming up, 1, 2, and in the points race 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Sunday, November 2, 2008

3 is the magic number - ATTA TT Season Opener, Freeway Joondalup

I had plenty to be excited about today although I had a bit of a hectic preparation. Today's Time Trial that was being held on the new extension of the freeway in Joondalup. Bike maintenance has never been my forte but I am quickly learning, so after arriving late last night from Sydney I got straight to work. Putting on time trial bars and changing tyres are referred to as being relatively easy, given you follow a few simple rules. Nothing is simple and I all I can say is I'm glad my housemate was not home to witness the tanty that accompanied my bike maintenance.

It was a beautiful day and there was only a hint of wind. For once I felt like I had a good warm up and my family joined me just before I took off to start. The course was fairly simple go North a few kms, do a hairpin turn and come back with another hairpin turn at the south end. It was a 7km loop that we were doing 5 laps of. Psyche.

I had been reading up on my mental training on the plane ride home so my power words were all set and ready for use. I went well mentally this time, however, I think I let the 2nd lap blues get to me a little bit too much (either that or I went out way too hot). I only lost concentration a few times (my mind can easily wander) but I quickly got myself together. Needless to say, I kept turning the wheel.

Afterwards I heard several people say it wasn't as easy as they thought it was going to be. My first reaction was - it's a time trial, surely you should make it as hard as you possibly can. But what they meant was, we were all hoping for a nice smooth flat road with a really wide turn around and no wind. When I heard about the course I thought I may have a chance of breaking that 40km+ barrier. Well, the course wasn't hilly by definition but there were some nice long uphill drags which could quickly take it out of your legs. I slowed down quite a bit at both turns (going off road once) and things were made just a little bit harder with one of the turns being at the bottom of a hill (slam on brakes, snail pace turn, climb ow ow ow). Seriously though the gradient was miniscule and I shouldn't complain so much.

Today was my third ATTA time trial, I was going for a third 'win' and a third 'course record'. Although for this course a record isn't really applicable as we won't be riding it again.

Needless to say - I was very happy with the results, taking out fastest female. But take a look at the numbers - ie general place, bib and standard place. Freaky considering my own milestones.

The rest of the results can be found on ATTA's website.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Relocate head

Motto for the moment - relocate head and stick it back on!!

I ventured back on to the track to race the women's omnium Friday night with a star studded field. We had almost 20 women racing and calculated that there weren't many missing. Davina is out with a broken arm and two others were MIA. I was taught quite a few lessons during my races. First race points scratch, sprint every other lap. Then we had Keirin, 30 lap points and finally elimination. My nerves were getting the better of me and I wasn't racing very smart. My legs were hurting but I wasn't taking them to their limits. I had a great position in the keirin, 2nd wheel (no nudging required) but started the sprint too early and really raced like a novice.

On the plus side I am reminded of how big the gap is between me and the top which is good motivation for training. I just have to remember that.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Grand Prix des 'Gents'

After experiencing my first serious solo TT last weekend I was psyched up for the 2up Time Trial run by ATTA down at Mundijong. i learned before the race that Davina had broken her arm the day before and would not be competing. I am really sorry for her and Bec and was looking forward to the challenge of racing them.

Again, before I knew it we were off. I took the lead at the start but when Bella pulled through I got a little bit worried that I wouldn't be able to hold her wheel. The mental games were tough. I found it difficult to find a rhythm tand only really felt good on the back straight. The wind felt pretty dreadful on the home straight but was ok. There were also a few interesting moments bouncing around on the bumpy road. The finish line didn't seem to come quick enough and I was totally wrecked at the end. Anna and Sally came back beaming from their effort after a few hiccups before the race resulting in Anna having to borrow a rear wheel. It was a close call but Bella and I took the win from Anna and Sally with both teams breaking the previous record.

Two time trials and two course records to defend? I have never done well under pressure so I guess I have to work on that after I make friends with the hills.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What wind?

At the moment I am celebrating any small win on the bike. Today I celebrate a full week of training, I'm getting back on track. My form has been in question since getting back from holiday. Today I got to test to my form in the 20km time trial at Champion Lakes. This is a new course and it's excellent. The first half of the course was a little bit tricky with a few bends and a headwind. However, this meant that the back straight was heaps of fun with a tailwind. I was a little unsure of etiquette with passing etc and lost a little of bit time at the end of one lap when I got caught up behind someone. I have very little experience with time trials so I still have a lot to learn. A couple of strategies though
- keep the heart rate up
- make sure every pedal stroke hurts
- don't slow down

A few problems though - speedo is not wired up just yet and either my HR monitor is broken or I have a new max HR of 225. Again strategies to maintain the pain weren't in place. It's always impressed me when people maintain a constant speed throughout the TT. Today was 4 laps of a 5km course and after half a lap I'd already had a little vomit and was questioning whether I'd cooked myself a little too early. This is where you have to remember that your mind will play tricks on you. Mine especially. I kept going (of course). After the second lap I realised that I was averaging close to 40km/hr (no speedo remember). I got excited but my legs were killing me. The wind had picked up. I felt like I was losing heaps of time. During the fourth lap I got my second wind and really was chasing the 30 minute mark, ambitious I know. I didn't quite get there, but considering I was aiming for 8 minute laps I was really happy with the ride.

Seeing the results is really interesting considering how I felt during each lap. I was certain that I had lost so much more time during the third lap and I felt like I flew in the last lap. But there was only 14s difference between the laps.

Despite the drool and the pain it was heaps of fun, mainly because of the feeling you get when you're finished. ATTA are a really organised club and super friendly, I look forward to supporting their future events.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Congratulations Mr Keenan

My long weekend started with celebrations for my best friend, Adrian, who is now a teacher. Saturday was therefore, a day off the bike which worked out well :)

For the first time in a long time I was excited about a hills ride. Sunday morning I met up again with SPR who always manage a good turnout. We headed down Albany Hwy to revisit Carawatha, last time I thought I was going to have to get off the bike and this time I was actually looking forward to testing my legs. I managed much better. After that we headed up Carradine - the neverending dead road which still gets to me. I think I had the most fun on Churchman's Brook Rd, where there are quite a few fast downhill sections. I had fun on the power climbs and even managed to steal the win for first to the top, just.

The rest of the ride was a little bit of a blur. Pete took us around Pickering Brook for a few bonus climbs on our way to coffee and swapped Mundairing Weir Rd for something a little steeper. I tried to stay with Davina on her efforts but didn't quite manage it.

After coffee we made our way down Welshpool Rd. I tested my power at the top and was almost immediately sorry for doing so, made my best recovery and was sitting on Blake's wheel when Pete made his move. I couldn't go with Blake and he took the win.

It was a good day - you know you've worked hard when you experience the post flog glazed eyes, slurred speech and brain drain (also described very well by Davina on her blog).

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Me likey

I have been watching way too much sex and the city...

My re-introduction to racing was going to be the State Team Time Trial Championships. My training has been a bit hit-and-miss lately so I was a little concerned about staying with the team. The weather was not the sunshine and blue skies that I was hoping for but the rain did hold off for most of the race.

My warm up time seemed to disappear way too quickly and before I knew it I was on the start line. A quick tactic check; short turns, use the road for the best drafting ability and have fun. We were off.

Well, the wind almost knocked my socks off from the start, it was unbelievable. I had warmed up on the trainer and didn't realise how bad it was. I had been training in the wind all week but this was horrendo. If it wasn't in your face it was across you. If you thought you'd got a handle on it, whoosh, a huge gust would remind you exactly who was boss. Plans and strategies were slowly going out the door as we just wanted to stay alive. I half expected the race to be cancelled with the conditions at the turn around point. It wasn't until we turned around that we gained any advantage from the wind. Even then because the course had us turning every 7 kms the advantage didn't last long. I had a great time coming back with the wind. I really got to wind the bike up and felt like I could have powered along all day. I don't know if I was delirious at this point but it was the first time I'd felt like I really loved the new bike and I couldn't help but tell the other guys. I was having fun.

We made it home as a team and in one piece. I hear quite a few of the other teams were blown off the road during the race with a few people having to pull out. Unfortunately for the juniors the wind was at it's worst just as they were starting.

For my first longer TT it was a good learning experience. We weren't on the podium but I felt like I had won in my own way. Looking forward to next time!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

All the gear and no idea...

Today I tested my new ride. I was excited, nervous and hopeful that I would be able to feel the difference so that I wouldn't feel guilty about my bank balance. Straight away I could feel the difference in the handling. Much more responsive, which is dangerous if you are unco like me.

It was another windy day which meant that I got to really test my handling skills. My cornering skills are lacking and I was a little bit concerned about turning into the wind.

I did what any good beginner would do. Unclip. Except I couldn't unclip. Shit. The last time I couldn't unclip I was lucky because I was on grass and escaped injury. The time before that I had stopped unexpectedly at an intersection for a truck and a car and toppled over with the bike on top of me. Everyone was super concerned for me, they probably thought I'd had a heart attack rather than a lack of skill. Both times I jumped straight back up, embarrassed, so I don't really know why I'm spilling these stories to the world. In my defense, I am yet to meet someone who doesn't have an embarrassing story about an unclipping accident.

Luckily I had tried to unclip before I had come to a complete stop. I was on my new bike, with new shoes and new pedals. So, a tip for beginners: test out your gear before you test out your gear on the road. I didn't even think about checking the tension required to unclip. A few options went through my mind. Keep riding. Try and find a wall or a tree or something to lean against. Undo my shoes while riding. I kept trying my shoes and eventually unclipped my left shoe. I thought if I can do it once I can do it again. So I clipped in again and kept going.

The other aim of the ride was to try out my time trial bars. I couldn't believe the difference they made. Huge! Apart from getting used to the position and steering, my main problem is I am slightly allergic to the pads - my arms turn red and itch. I''ll have to find a solution to this problem so that I'm not driven crazy by itching next weekend.

My right shoe is still attached to the bike.

PS. I borrowed the title from the Triwa forum.

It was not entirely my fault although maybe I could have figured it out a little earlier. I got the shop to put my cleats on the new shoes and being speedplays, they aren't seen very often in the shop. Turns out the left cleat was put on the right shoe and vice versa. This meant that the shoe could be unclipped relatively easy by turning the foot inward and not in the usual fashion. Doh!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Goodbye old faithful

A special request for a blog on today's efforts from anonymous - you'll have to introduce yourself next time...

I was dreading the morning training ride that I had booked with my Time Trial team mates. I was restless all night and could hear the storm. My legs ached. I was not looking forward to it. The alarm went off much earlier than I have been accustomed to but my preparations for the day went smoothly.

I drove up to Duncraig to meet Bryce and the Symmetry Cycle Coaching crew and the weather wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. We headed down towards the coast to do some time trial efforts of a short loop. I then remembered that my pedal was basically hanging together by a thread. I had bought new pedals but was reluctant to put them on my bike because my shoes needed replacing as well. And I forgot!

Here we take a side step back in time...

This weekend I kinda said thankyou and goodbye to another girl in my life this week - La bambola.
She will still be out and about but I have welcomed another girl into my life. The last time I bought a new bike it was because I had got a flat tyre and didn't have any tubes. This time my pedal broke, my stem was loose and I needed a pick me up. She's black and white, maybe a lil silver but about half the weight. Yes folks, I have managed to get some more carbon in my diet!! I won't be competing with the other guys at the coffee shop for honours on bike glam. I have bought a TBE Amiata, which was an incredible bargain and the only carbon bike remotely in my budget. I also needed new shoes, I've managed to crack my current pair and well, I need some TT bars for the race next weekend. I have learnt recently (ha!) how to shop. Boy, have I learnt how to shop!

So - look out for me on the road with my new ride coz I'm going to need some pics to put up!!

Back to this morning, it was incredibly windy. Cherie was playing with her zips, and was not having a fun time. I think most of her day was spent ensuring that she stayed on the road. Me and bambola were coping ok. I was enjoying the efforts, well except for the one into the wind when I really thought I was going to crack. It was good to practice because cornering and rolling through can easily loose you time.

After the training I enjoyed a lovely afternoon with some friends at Little Creatures. We discussed fluff and mastered winking. Creatures make some really awesome pizzas and salads - I highly recommend, sadly no tiger prawns today but they are great as well.

Will let you know how I go in the hills, fingers crossed!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Defeating self-sabotage

Guilt for not training properly is terrible. Haven't had the best start to the week. Monday I headed out for Darryl's track session again. I lasted longer behind the motorbike and I think when I change my gear ratio could last til the end. Afterwards I was completely wrecked. I guess it could have been the lack of sleep on the weekend and bad food intake but I cut the session short and drove myself home.

Tuesday sucked as well with my hills session in the morning not going so well. I decided to "save myself" for the track that night but a combination of teaching going late and the car battery going flat kept me away from the track.

It took some psyching up and some bad morning television to get me on the bike this morning. The session went well despite the sprinkling from the skies. I like TT efforts and the refreshing feeling that you are left with when you're finished.

Get on the bike!!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Be careful what you wish for

Make a wish.

What did you wish for? I was presented with this opportunity this morning and the series of answers that popped through my head were very interesting. I have to admit the cycling-related wishes took a lil longer to come to mind than everything else. It brought me back to previous posts and my struggles to stay motivated on the bike long enough to really hurt myself.

In some ways this week has been easier than the last and in other ways harder. I have had a much better week on the bike, a full week of training completed with a focus on sprinting. Monday night I attended my first track session with Darryl and D's "handsome girls." The girls were very welcoming and made me work hard. Saturday I caught up with my old group one more time before I venture with the fast paced SPR next week.

Sunday hills ride - my hardest and most dreaded ride. I got up early and had enough time for some long needed bike maintenance before I headed out. We were to go up Greenmount, through Parkerville and across to Mundairing Weir. All the way out to Midland my legs were aching. I wasn't really feeling the love for the bike this morning. I didn't snap out of this thought pattern and my climbing really suffered. A couple of the girls managed to do SE efforts up Greenmount which encouraged me to get out of granny gear. Just before Parkerville, Bec told me about her knee niggles and wasn't sure if she should continue on the ride. We had been going for a while now and I had wanted to go home from the bottom of Greenmount. So I kindly offered (hahaha) to join Bec on the way home. Almost immediately I regretted wimping out but I was happy that I had completed the time scheduled any extra would have been a training bonus. I know I need the hills but I also have to sort out the clouds in my head.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Captured in my fatty gear

Thanks to Pete for taking a pic of me in my fat cyclist gear. It was just after we'd climbed Kahuna and I was wishing that I had a fat cyclist pint glass.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

A challenging end to a challenging week...

I have not had one of the best weeks on the bike. It's been a pretty tough week all round - but it's another week down.

I felt like some company and some flogging - I really had to get on the bike and do some k's - so I got myself out of bed just in time to meet the South Perth Rouleurs. I have only been living in Tuart Hill for a week now and I still haven't perfected the leave with 5s to spare routine. Luckily for me, SPR are not like my old group and were still chin-wagging when I had got my breath back from the sprint to get there.

We were to be riding several challenging hills today and I had been actively avoiding at least 2 of them during my climbing career. Melvyn set a cracking pace down Albany Hwy and pulled off just when I was about to have a heart attack. I don't know how I managed to do it, but everytime I pulled off the front I ended up in second or third wheel, which meant I was on the front for way too long. Straight to the back next time!

Clare met us at the bottom of Kahuna (1st hill avoided), apparently having waited so long she thought she'd missed us. I reassured her that we hadn't been slacking on the way there, but getting every red light didn't seem to help. Psyche - I was ready. Kahuna wasn't too bad but I very quickly found myself at the back of the group. About half way up I started to pull in a few people in front of me. One down.

Then we headed across to the highschool, down Urch and up Peet (2nd hill avoided). I think I started this climb well but faded towards the end. I have ridden Raeburn Rd so many times that I knew how to tackle it. I was also challenging Bec a bit and I don't think she was expecting the pace I managed to pull off at the end. Needless to say, heart attack number 2 occured at the top.

We then had a pleasant spin down Brookton Hwy to come up Canning Mills Rd. I had never ridden or heard much about this hill. horrible. What got me on this hill (which I rename the neverending story) was the decieving twists. Every time there was a curve in the road my heart wished it was over but it wasn't. It never ended. Well it did but not for a long time. Obviously one I need to practice a few more times. I really did finish this one last.

We were to head over to Kalamunda for coffee - one last series of climbs ending with Mundairing Weir Rd. I had decided that I was dead and was going to avoid the climbs by going the long way. Pete announced my decision to the group and there went my chance to slack off. Bec wouldn't let me go so I climbed. No taxi required just a tissue. Still some work to do...

Monday, August 25, 2008

A surprising honour...

As a PhD student it is an honour to speak at a conference, let alone be invited. So you can imagine my surprise and delight when I realised I was advertised as a Keynote speaker for the conference.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Anything can happen

Sometimes life moves at warp speed - so fast you can't see the path you are travelling until you arrive at your destination. Well I have arrived at my short-term destination and it is cozy. Anything can happen tomorrow and I look forward to the challenge...

the challenges continued...

Recent events have shaken me up a little so for a while I may be philosophical and ramble to help myself get through each day. It seems good timing that my aunt sent me some "Instructions for Life," and I want to share the first three instructions...

1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

2. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

3. Follow the three R's:
-respect for self,
-respect for others, and
-responsibility for all your actions.

And I have to add, trust your instincts.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Last night I watched the first episode of America's Next Top Model Cycle 10. Hilarious. But apart from the usual goofiness, bitching and fashion tips (ha!), I was reminded...

"If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything,"
Robin, ANTM Cycle 1.

This is very true in more ways than one. Most of my training is done in the morning on the way to work. So my first problem is getting out of bed. My brain likes to play tricks on me, 'no, you don't need to go now,' 'you can do it tomorrow,' 'it's too cold/wet/dark.' So my point is, if I lose contact with my goals i will fall for (and have fallen for) any tricks my brain plays on me. BTW. I am not the only one who can sleep through a fire alarm.

I'm sure Robin's statement applies to all kinds of situations and it first made me think of tactics, innuendo, gossip, politics etc that people have fallen for while stumbling through a race/life. But on the positive side - how awesome were Sally McLellan, Emma Pooley and Anna Meares - girls with their eyes on the prize.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Touching the void

The south perth rouleurs were going to be riding pretty close to my front door for their Sunday hills ride so there would be no excuses for me missing the ride, although getting to bed at 1am made things a lil harder. Last week I had a terrible hills ride, but I am proud to say I made it up Carawatha without getting off my bike!

This week the temp must have been at least 10° warmer and I had timed my exit much better so I wasn't a frozen icicle like last week. After trying to jump onto the wrong group I found SPR and we headed up Welshpool Rd. I started the climb well but I am still suffering at the petrol station, but I managed to pick up Heiko and was working with Bec to stay strong until the top. We then went down Glen Isla and up Walnut Rd- a road that feels like a rollercoaster on the way down and looks like a wall to go up. I had never even contemplated riding up this road. I thought pete was a bit crazy but looked forward to the challenge. Bec chose to do Walnut as an SE effort - in the big chain ring - and then thought better of it. I didn't manage to catch Heiko this time but came close. I was feeling good about my climbing when we started to head towards Mundairing Weir Rd. Bec came flying past me at the bottom of the climb. I went with her for a few metres before I lost it. I think when i realised I was suddenly the last climber in the group pride got the better of me and I came home strong.

Luckily for me Pete cut the ride short (something about Collie-Donneybrook) and I didn't have to admit that I was about to go home and could enjoy a coffee with the group instead. Clare missed the start of the ride and arrived at the coffee shop just in time to spot our slackness - she went and road Kalamunda on her own.

Going down Welshpool I decided that I wasn't going to be scared this time. Having a larger group around me eased some of my visibility worries as well. I lost touch of the front markers at the start of the descent but it didn't take me long to realise that I had a slight weight advantage. I had caught everyone by the time we got to the bottom and pushed to the lights - my finish line. An enjoyable ride, let's hope this sunshine hangs around!

Friday, July 25, 2008

How much is too much?

I have just finished reading about how Kim Kirchen commemorated wearing the yellow jersey and it's amazing how quick Giant put together a new bike for him complete with yellow decals everywhere. But you may remember Alberto Contador's style at the Giro which I think really has set the bar for jersey winners.

Did you know that SRAM even provided him with pink brake hoods? I personally thought this was really cool and did my own little search to find out what I could get. Collectors have to set rules for themselves otherwise their garages would be full and their pockets empty. My rules are quite simple, it has to be the right pink and the right price (Hey, I'm a student and I'm not that insane!) So far, I've spray painted my bike hot pink (ok, Dad did) and have the shirts, sunnies, helmet, socks to match. I also have a bag full of pink gear ready to go on my next bike: bar tape, nipples (not what you're thinking!! They're for the spokes apparently), bottle cages, pedals but how much is too much?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Inspired by the Tour

Like everyone, watching the Tour de France fires me up and inspires me to do greater things. I have to make one small admission here though, I am usually asleep before the Tour starts! I am a sleeper and suffer without it so I really have trouble keeping my eyes open late at night. I do wake up for the crashes - not the most inspiring moments! I guess for me, the most memorable moments have been watching Jens Voigt smash all of the climbers on the Tourmalet in the Hautacam stage, and gives hope to the rest of us, "non-climbers." Watching the Tour has brought back memories of my experiences of seeing a Tour live - last year at the Tour Down Under in Adelaide.

Clare with last nights Stage winner, Cyril Dessel, who shared some climbing tips with us...

After gaining hill climbing expertise, Clare wanted some race-winning tactics, so she spoke to Bjarne Riis.

He may not have been that impressed by my photography skills but was keen to let us in on some secrets.

We thought we better double check what we had learnt with the two people who have probably seen more cycling than anyone else I know, Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin.

The crowd favorite was definitely Robbie McEwen and we saw him suffer a bit on Old Willunga Hill
he then went on to win the final stage
Adelaide was heaps of fun and given that I can never get my timing right for Classics or Tours when overseas, I would love to go back and watch the Tour Down Under again.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Coastal California

I can't say I'm a huge fan of LA but I guess I could be biased. We stayed in Venice Beach and the local boardwalk was referred to as a freak show by our Lonely Planet. They weren't wrong. Sorry no pics.

The main aim of California was to enjoy the scenery, swim and drive up the coast to San Francisco. It was amazing even if the driving was stressful, thanks Clare.

Obviously the beaches were no where near as beautiful as here in Perth. We visited the beach ready to swim after exploring the beautiful Hearst Castle (below);
We were really keen to go swimming until we went in. I think I would have died had I gone in deeper than 10cm. It was freezing, painfully freezing.
The elephant seals were mesmorising. There were so many of them just laying on the beach like driftwood. After watching for a minute we noticed some of the boys fighting and the other lazy ones would flick sand on themselves to keep cool.

A bridge famous for being really tall

We hired bikes in Monterey, on what seemed to be another beautiful sunny day. The photo below is of the Lone tree near Carmel.
On the way back the weather quickly turned to s**t as you can see. The bike hire guys were pretty surprised to see me when I got back. I had been sitting on Clare's wheel the entire time it was raining (my excuse was she was on a road bike and I was on a hybrid). Anyway, I was spotted black the whole way down. No pics thank god.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Chicago highlights

I'll keep it brief again, but in 3 days we managed to:

Get central seats in the second row of the Broadway show, Wicked, for $25; eat a deep dish pizza; meet Darth Vadar and his friends at the Lego shop;
Explore Millenium Park (My fav The Bean);
Ride a tandem by the river;
Drink cocktails on the 95th floor of the Hancock Tower at sunset;

eat a fantastic Mexican meal;
and squeeze some shopping before heading to California.