Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A welcome surprise

I'd been having so much fun hanging out at the track with the Merida crew that I was talked in to racing the short track on Sunday. I don't normally race them as I lack the raw speed and am normally busy checking out of a hotel room and running for a plane at the time the race is held.

The legs felt fairly sore from the previous days efforts and the head was fairly sore from the previous nights activities. I rode out to the course which involved a bit of climbing in the hills which seemed to help me on both counts. Just prior to our race the clouds came over, rain fell and the temperature dropped about 10 degrees. It sure makes a difference having a team tent with a roof over your head and somewhere to keep warm.

As we lined up the weather cleared and the gun went off. I got a slow start but managed to cross a gap to the main group when there was a crash right in front of me. Kath O'shea and Bec Henderson had locked bars and both were in the dirt. The race was stopped for 5 minutes as Kath was badly hurt and medical staff were called. We were restarted in the positions held at the time of the crash and Row Fry, Heather Logie, Bec, Jenni King and I formed a lead group. Row and Heather had a good lead until Heather crashed and the 3 of us passed her. I sat behind King to draft as I was unsure of my ability to maintain the pace. Bec had got the gap on us and with 3 laps to go I jumped away from King and tried to catch Bec. Unfortunately I left it a lap or 2 too late but was happy to get on the podium for 3rd place.

It was a nice surprise to end the weekend. A big thanks to the Merida Flight Centre team, SRAM, For the Riders, Mega bike (for mending my buckled road wheels courtesy of last weeks crit) and Trak Cycles for sorting me out with some new Crank Brothers Candy pedals in a hurry!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

2010 Australian MTB Champs

After flying from the heat in Melbourne to the heat in Adelaide the sanctuary of the hotel room airconditioning was a godsend. With very little to do except shop and watch television (2 things I rarely get to do at home) it seemed to take forever for the MTB champs to roll around despite it only being 6 days.

With a stunning roll through the Adelaide hills on Tuesday and some course practice on Wednesday all the riding preparation was completed. The last couple of days I spent following the AIS recommended ‘low residual’ diet – basically getting rid of all the fibre in your diet so white bread, rice, pasta; no fruit or veg although I did sneak some lettuce in! Despite my form not being that good the process of preparing for a race does not change. It’s good practice and a chance to fine-tune things like timing of meals, race food, hydration and warm-up routine.

Conditions were perfect for racing with a clear day and around 24 degrees. The course was not overly technical and did not have a lot of climbing but it was deceptively tough. Riding the flowy trails at speed meant being on the edge of washing out in the loose conditions or clipping a tree. My feeding was spot on and my bike didn’t miss a beat mechanically so there is not much to write about the actual race. I had fun and finished 5th which is my second best nationals result to date.

While we are nearing the end of our domestic season the international season kicks of in April when the northern hemisphere has thawed out. Personally I am looking forward to a good 6 months of training to aim for something in the second half of the year. For now it’s time to chill out in Adelaide with my daughter and catch a glimpse of some truly exceptional riders go around in the Tour Down Under.

Monday, January 11, 2010

'twas over quickly

The road race turned out to be quite a short event for me which is very disappointing. At 39 degrees conditions were tough and I tend to struggle in the heat despite being born and raised in Cairns. No need to warm up in those conditions just get on the bike and roll around for 15 minutes. The first lap was a bit nervous as I am not used to climbing and descending with so many other riders. I was a bit psychologically scarred from being brought down in the crit it was pretty off-putting going down a hill at 80kph with someone locking their brakes up beside me or swerving into my front wheel.

On the second lap I tried to get to the front toward the end of the climb so I could go at my own pace and then ride consistently across the top so I was toward to pointy end for the descent. The feed zone was placed on the first climb and most girls were grabbing bottles every lap then having to accelerate up the climb to catch up to the main bunch. On the third lap I took my bottle but was unable to maintain contact with the main bunch. With no hope of getting back on I was faced with the choice of 8 more lonely, hot, pointless laps or to conserve whatever fitness I had for the MTB nationals the following week by pulling out.

I made what I thought was the smart choice although a distasteful one, leaving Ballarat with 2 DNFs. The next week will no doubt be spent in the room of mirrors, having a good look at myself and in consultation with my coach to see what went wrong. Too much training? Not enough? Just a bad day in the heat?

The most important thing I learned is that it is very unwise to race without goals. My former running coach always had us set A,B and C goals for our races. I had failed to do that so when my A goal (to stay with the bunch for a chance at a good finish) was gone I lost my reason to race. A B-goal may have been to complete a set number of laps or ride with a team-mate to the end. Sometimes we know what we should do, we just need to be reminded to do it!

Friday, January 8, 2010

National Criterium Champs – Ballarat VIC

I’ve discovered the problem with crits and I...I am not nearly fast enough! To be fair it was for a national jersey so everyone had brought their best form.

After an early start with a 6am flight from Brissy to Melbourne it was into the rental car and off on the Hume highway. Then a U-turn as I was supposed to be on a different highway and it’s already taken me 15 minutes just to get away from the airport. Luckily in races they have arrows...

Arriving in Ballarat I noticed something different; something missing. Oh yeah – water wasn’t pouring from the sky as it had been for the past many weeks in Brisbane. After my eyes adjusted to the long forgotten sunlight I settled into the cabins with the ASC (Australian Sport Commission) and put my bike together. Sharing with ASC members Sally Robbins and Laura Luxford we did the menial tasks of shopping and preparing for the Criterium that night.

I can now see why daylight savings is so popular down south. Our race started at 6.15pm and the streets were full of spectators having finished work. The circuit was run in the main drag of Ballarat and the support was fantastic. A straight forward course with a gradient and 2 tight corners it certainly took its toll with only 23 riders out of the 40 starters finishing. There was a crash at around the halfway mark that I was involved in but apart from a small graze on my elbow and some new scratches to the bike paintwork there was no real harm done. After a lap out about 10 of us jumped back in which is strangely difficult once the legs have spent a couple of minutes cooling down.

The sprints out of the corner were killing me and I fell off the back of the rapidly diminishing bunch with about 8 laps to go. To be honest I was pretty happy to stay on for that long in such illustrious company. Laying in bed it was hard to wind down after racing that late in the day and my heart was still thumping in my ears. Despite this I fell asleep fairly tired after a long day.

Rolling around this morning the legs felt, well, like they’d raced a crit 14 hours before! The three of us rode easily out to the road race course for a lap and then back for some feet up time. I am looking forward to tomorrow although the 36 degree forecast is sure to be challenging.