Weight-loss Challenge Progress

Stage 1 - 4 kg down!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Craving Carbon

Excuses - we all have them. Some of us have them all, but we all have some. I'm ready to get rid of my biggest (and heaviest) excuse (my bike) so that I can move on to bigger and faster excuses. The problem with getting a new bike - made from carbon not aluminium - is which one to get? I hear Specialised is all the craze, can dream of Pinarellos, Trek, Look, Cervelo but you are limited by your bank balance. Having never held a full-time job, mine is measly (excuse 673), but I'm working on it! After choosing the frame you have to consider groupset, the wheels and anything else you fancy, like the fashion! I've heard a rumour that Cannondale make pink frames, and the Orbea Diva is pretty swanky but do I need pink to go fast? I'm still convinced, unfortunately, that it's the engine that counts the most. Spending $12,000 on a bike doesn't guarantee you victory.

So, can you upgrade the engine? The problem with bike engines is that they are powered ultimately by the brain and there is terrible feedback from the legs to the brain - pain - attempting to switch off the motor. Apparently, you need mental toughness and the strength to suffer to race, because at the end of the day you aren't the only one suffering, just the first one to pop. This is my biggest downfall and something I hope my friends, the hills, will smash out of me soon.

Whilst the overall attitudes presented in the following blog don't totally concur with my own racing attitudes, I think BikeSnob NYC explains racing somewhat accurately in a
Pass/Fail system.

BTW according to BikeSnob I failed both races in Albany. Hence the carbon envy...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Dreaming up pyramid schemes

I have found training this last week quite hard. One of our regular sessions is pyramids - this involves going flat out for a set period of time (1 minute or lap) and then resting before gradually increasing the length of the effort. You keep increasing the length of the efforts to a maximum and gradually reduce the efforts to your start point. Basically, a lot of suffering.

What I find the worst about these efforts is my timing - there must be quite a few people in Perth wondering what the hell is wrong with that girl in lycra - as I normally ONLY pass people on the cycleway right after I've finished an effort. Did they see how far or how fast I was pushing to get in that state? No, they only see me crawling along, drooling, wheezing and in tears. You almost want to stop and explain that you're not really unfit, only slightly unfit and actually, I have just been flogging my guts out.

These sessions must be really getting to me as I've now started to do efforts in my dreams. I wonder whether or not my legs are moving, could I be getting stronger in my sleep? One can only hope - or dream...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ready for Round 2

Why is it that a rest/recovery week goes so fast? At the end of our week off we met with our coach - you should always be worried if the coach has a smirk on her face when handing you the next round of training!! There are some intense sessions and long weeks ahead of us. It's also 'funny' that my work deadlines seem to coincide with major races, resulting in me being flat out at work and on the bike at the same time - not an ideal situation. Next big race - State Champs and that night I fly to the US to give various presentations. It's not all bad because I'll be holidaying afterwards!

Sunday we entered the Peter Clark Memorial race in Wangara, a bit of a pot luck race, only 1 week after the TdP. But, most of the girls who entered had also had light weeks and sore legs as they too had entered the TdP. Our main concern was the late registrant, Sarah Fraser. I think she may have been opting for the, I'll wait and see who enters or I'll wait and see if it rains, before committing. Well, committment is probably the wrong word because she pulled out in the first half of the race by jumping onto the back of B grade. After that there were a few attacks that got hauled in. Cherie Bonasera dragged the bunch around for the second half of the race and put a few surges in on the last lap. It wasn't enough to shake up the group and the race finished in a bunch sprint. I attacked at the bottom of the hill and got away for the win!!!

Monday, April 7, 2008

I survived the Tour dee Perth

WAs premier cycling event "Tour dee Perth" was held on the weekend and after much consideration, stressing and dare I say it training, I registered. Saturday was to be the easy day - in the morning we rode out and back on the undulating Brookton Hwy, returning to Roleystone with a sprint finish up Raeburn Rd (ha!!). Much to my surprise I survived with the bunch! The weather was awful from the start. Our start was delayed 20 mins which left us sitting in the pouring rain while we waited. The rain didn't stop - I haven't ridden in such appalling conditions ever. This meant there were a few hairy moments with brakes not working as efficient as expected and hands slipping on brakes?

Apparently the judges were scratching their heads wondering what had happened to us as we weren't back at their predicted time! The race was also slower than I expected - I had decided to sit on and not do any work so I am the last one to complain about the pace - but, there was a lot of braking, heads were turning looking for people to work and roll through and the few attacks that were tried were short lived. Needless to say, the pace did pick up at the KOM with the group split up and a few never regained contact. I worked with Clare McLean to regroup and we did just in time for the last climb before Roleystone. At this point I aimed to 'spin my legs out' in preparation for the final sprint which meant my HR and breathing skyrocketed. I sat and wheezed next to Josie who was doing about the same cadence as me but you would never have guessed that she was even riding a bike from her demeanor and she looked extremely comfortable. After turning into Chevin Rd there were only short surges in pace which I kept up with. I lost touch briefly when we turned onto Raeburn Rd. The gradient of the road also deceived a few people who hadn't changed down gears. I regrouped at the round-about and then the sprint started from about 500m. I was really surprised at how early it went - the road really kicks at 200-300m to go. This is where the sprint died - I'm not sure how it exactly played out, but Davina Summers, who is very experienced with this course, eventually took the win. I rode my own finish and picked up quite a few of the people who had gone with the sprint and consequently used up their legs. I'm not sure of my exact placing but I came in just after Camille - possibly 8th.

Stage 2: Time Trial
I had practiced this course quite a few times in training and it was also the finish to Stage 1. I had signed and checked my time before lunch so that I could come back fueled and warmed up in time to start. However, on my return we soon discovered that the times were wrong and there would be a 40 min delay. This confused quite a few of the support men who ended up missing their start time. More confused support men missed the first turn of the course which must have added at least 20s to their times :(

Before sunset I took off and was happy with my start. I'm not very experienced with time trials but my general impression is that you go flat out for the entire length. I wanted to vomit before the second turn. It didn't help when someone yelled out - "sharp turn". Cornering is not my forte! Half of the course is down hill so i got a brief rest and spotted my 30s marker climbing - giving me something to aim for. I didn't catch her until we turned on to Raeburn Rd. I knew that when i did pass her i would have to keep the pace up. A danger of aiming for someone and giving everything you have is that you soon die after passing them. The climb is something I have really worked on in training and had been progressively improving my time. I had forgotten to start my clock so I didn't have a clue how I'd gone. I saw Josie start her lap so i had a vague idea that i'd gone sub 10 mins. I'd aimed for this time in training but never accomplished it. Later that night I found out i did it in 9:14 - 1:12 off the winner, placing me in 11th place overall (Times thanks to ATTA). This was also over a minute off my PB! I also saw Josie finish - she can really motor. Her win in this stage gave her overall GC lead.

Stage 3:
I had been dreading this stage since I started training for the tour. We were to do 4 laps of the pickering brook circuit with major climbs on Glen Isla and Patterson Rd. Like cornering, hills are not my forte and something i really need to focus on. The pace was slow at the start which I was very thankful for. However, KOM points were on offer on lap 1 and i lost contact with the group shortly after the sprint. I worked with Cherie Bonasera, we got back on before the turn off to Patterson Rd. However my legs felt like lead and shortly into the climb i dropped from the group. I stayed with Cherie for a short while longer. She really encouraged me to stay with her but I couldn't push any harder. I could still see Cherie on Glen Isla Rd but not for long. With 2 laps to go I was really suffering physically and mentally. I got through - I am still waiting to see how much time i lost on the stage. Apparently, while I was gone Liz Young and Bec Armstrong had attacked but were caught before Josie and Carly Hibberd got away - they stayed away with Josie taking the stage win. Davina won the bunch sprint but Carly's attack meant that she gained enough time to overtake D in the GC.

Stage 4: Criterium.
Not the most organised Criterium that I've competed in. The judges couldn't decide where they wanted spares and then a riders briefing was to announce that time bonuses would only be awarded for the finish (contrary to the program). This effectively meant that the QLD team could only win if they lapped Josie - and even then it wasn't entirely clear. We were once again - you guessed it - delayed by about 20 mins whilst they finished closing the circuit and diverting traffic, a concept that I'm not sure was fully considered by officials until the police arrived. I knew that everyone must be hurting from the previous stages but the pace was on from the start! I wanted to cry. QLD's MB cycles team were constantly attacking and not before long i was in a splinter group. Clare and one of the MB cycles team were really working hard to keep us in touch with the front bunch. I think a few long turns at the front left Cherie with very little in the tank. It took a few goes but we got back onto the group and survived the final attacks. Like Stage 1, Davina took the sprint and the video footage on her blog shows how well she executed it. She was never in trouble for the win and Josie celebrated her overall win as she crossed the line.