Archive for November 2013
With Little Aths on hold this week for the big kids’ regionals, I had a chance to get out and ride with Neil. After last week’s ride I’d said on IM that I felt strong, but that I felt like I was selling myself short to be out on those roads and not eating stem the whole way. So when Neil asked what I wanted to get done for the day, the answer was obvious — more than 120k, more than 2,000 vertical. I knew it’d be a different ride. The fuel rules were the same — no energy drinks (although I half-cheated and used sugarless electrolyte tablets in my first two bottles), and supermarket bars only (i.e. nothing sport-specific).
The first sign that the ride would be a step up from last week when we figured we’d have time to cover the distance and grab a coffee if we met 45 min later than I met Andrew last week. When we did meet up, Neil said he’d invited an old friend along who needed to get some ks in – we were going past his place anyway. Sounds good. I was introduced to Craig as ‘the bloke who road Leadville last year’. Really? How’d you go?
‘Yeah, I was happy with my time.’
‘Did you get the belt buckle?’
‘Yeah, and the cowboy boots.’
Then Neil prompted him to drop the modesty, ‘Where’d you place?’
‘Oh, I came second in my age group, but you can’t start at the front with the pros if you’re an age group racer, and that’s a big disadvantage. I had to pass over a thousand people—’
‘Who beat you?’
Tinker Fucking Juarez.
Ok, so Craig can ride. In fact, it turns out I know Craig’s name from his exploits, probably via Jeff and John. He was 45-49 age group World Solo 24-Hour MTB Champion three times a few years ago.
The whole day was much quicker than last week. No stopping, and much more stomping. A fair tempo was set out along Mt Pleasant (I picked up a couple of PBs on the sub-segments, but not all the way from Anionette). Krueses Rd was hard. I zig-zagged.
We rode Alma as TT. It’s a sweet road to drill yourself on, and I was happy to keep sight of Craig and Neil for the first few twists and turns. Ultimately they disappeared, and I figured they were hidden in a dip up ahead. Nup. Way off.
Dave suggested we check out School Rd, so we did. It was worth the recommendation, a long, hot-mix stripe that runs up along the spine of the ridge, with a 23% kick part-way along.
We missed Flat Rock Rd last week, but today we made it our second TT. I killed my segment time by stopping for a nature break 100m in which is a shame, because I left a lot on that road. Neil and Craig did their thing and I just pushed as hard as I could. When Neil circled back behind me it was just at the right time. ‘Push! Head up! Push!’ I responded despite already burning legs and deep, hard breathing ‘Push! 200m! Push!’ He was yelling now, yelling over the inner voice that says Pace yourself. Moderato. Don’t crack. Fuck don’t crack. ‘PUUSH! GO! HARDER!’ Panic breathing now. A little ragged rasp somewhere down in my chest I wished blow out, and then we crested the hill.
The big boys lifted their foot from the gas, but I wanted to drill it hard up to the intersection. I didn’t know and had already botched the segment, the road would ended for me a the end of the road.
And, for the most part, that was the ride. Sure, there were hills and rollers on the way home but most of everything had been left back on Flat Rock Rd. I made damn sure I didn’t fall off the back as I have so many times before, heavy and hollow on the end of the leash, up Banule Rd.
It was a hard day in the saddle, but the good kind. The kind that comes not just from pushing yourself, but being pushed by faster mates who help you to wring yourself just that bit tighter. I said tighter! Better.
And what better place for it.
128.7km, 2,206m, 5:06hrs
(a full 30 min faster than last week over the same distance and elevation)
Headed out with Trev and the Willi boys for a lap of lower Essendon and a few (six) good repeats of Farnsworth St. It was a really, really nice morning for it.
27km, 320m, 1:00hrs
With a little help from GPX Reader and a cue sheet from Neil, Wilko and I set out to slay our legs. I secretly also hoped to finish the ride without reaching for a gel, or for eating more than a regular breakfast and a supermarket issue nut bar. Mission accomplished with the help of two 600mL bottles of Endura.
The forecast was for a 50% chance of 1-4mm of rain. It wasn’t raining when I left the house and I considered not wearing rain booties, except for that I knew there’d be puddles. I also considered leaving my rain jacket at home, but then I thought about the southerly breeze and figured that I would wear it to keep the wind off until I warmed up. It started raining about 10 minutes into the ride, and stopped about five hours later, but it closed the world in around us and brought a thick air of calm down over the little back roads.
It wasn’t the hardest I’ve ever pressed on a ride, but I set a solid pace up pretty much all the climbs and had the strength to ride more aggressively as the day wore on, pushing hard to the tops before circling back to pick up Andrew and do it again. It’s a sobering thought to think that the ACE is roughly two laps of today’s loop, but it’s not terrifying.
Happy to have this one in the bank and looking forward to racking up lot more in the lead up to January, and March.
128.6km, 2,292m, 5:41 (incl. flat tyre)
As part of the entry requirements for Chain Reaction I had to do an exercise stress test. This involves running on a rather short treadmill, which increases pitch and speed each minute until you’re going to fall off the back. Each minute they ask you to hold out your arm so that they can take your blood pressure, which is awkward at best, and the whole time you’re connected to a 12-lead ECG machine, with cables flapping around like a squid gettin’ jiggy wid it.
From about minute number three things feel hard. Much harder than they should, on account of the pace being slower than you’d think and the grade being much, much steeper. The net result is an acute perception that you’re not running all that fast but are, in fact, sucking gas like nobody’s business anyway and holy shit my legs are heavy.
In the end, I passed (the test, not out of consciousness or life), and was assured that my chances of surviving, for the next five years at least, are pretty good so far as cardiovascular disease is concerned.
What was interesting was getting my height and weight measured properly. I’m 177cm tall (3cm shorter than what I tell people most times) and weigh 78km fully clothed. 78… The last time I thought of myself as being ‘race fit’ I weighted 72. I bet a nice round 70kg would make the climbs feel gooooood man. All I have to do is drop 8kgs… So-long late night
snacks gingerbread binges.
Run: 9:00, 1,000m (perceived)
I had two options to get some miles in this morning: ride with Chain Reaction in the Dandenongs at 7, or Kinglake with Henry and Wilko at 5:30 (ouch).
I opted for the latter because decent company on long rides is worth a lot. More than a sleep in at least.
I drove to the Rosanna Safeway just so that I could sleep until 4:30 instead of big hand pointing to twelve, and we rolled out from there at 5:30. By breakfast time we had a 75k under the belt at a decent tempo, mostly on main roads up and around the foothills that lead in toward Kinglake, but nothing intimidating. H was strong for a man at the end of a 350k week and on his fourth back-to-back day, but not unholdable. Wilko worked hard to keep the rubber band from snapping and did an admirable job.
On the way back into town H and I heard what sounded like Wilko’s rear derailleur getting intimate with his rear wheel, but it turned out to be the mother of all tec-screws making an all out assault on his rim. Luckily he was rolling alloy hoops.
After breakfast, when H declared the ride over (he needed to get back for domestic commitments) Wilko and I decided to hit up Mt Pleasant for some sneaky extras. If I’m going to get up when there’s a number four on the clock, I’m not coming home with less than 1,00s and 1,000s.
109km, 1,427m, 4:08
Williamstown Friday bunch
The Friday Williamstown bunch ride is a four lap tour of Williamstown. It has all the pace and surge of a crit race, with beach views and more than its fair share of road furniture. When the bunch splits, it splits into skinnies and fatties (feel free to exchange ‘fatties’ for ‘regular folks’ if it makes you feel better).
It’s pretty much exactly what I need right now. A bunch of guys who are quicker than me, rolling every week, just 15 minutes from my front door.
40km, 87m, 1:11