Archive for December 2013
This whole Festive 500 thing has got me in a funk. I didn’t ‘officially’ commit myself to it, but I thought I’d get enough riding in through the normal course of things and hanging onto that idea has had me trying to build an unplanned, unannounced 500km week into a post-Christmas week that includes a 1-year-old birthday in Benalla and painting the house. Things started off well, but the days have been slipping away. I’d have thought better of it and let it go, but I did that last year, and for extra motivation the 250km Alpine Classic is a mere 30 days away. And of course with CHain Reaction in March there’s no lack of reasons to go long.
So I woke up this morning at 5:30 not wanting to ride, and not wanting to not ride. Wanting to go long, and wanting to roll over and curl back into Fee and Mae. I got up and got out the door slowly and rolled out along Kilfera Rd in a sour mood. With shit legs I thought about turning around or just cutting a lap of the Emu Bridge circuit, but then I thought of a better lie to tell myself: I’d take a short-cut home from Wangaratta and cut out the extra work through the Warby Ranges.
The medium-length route out through the Myrrhee and Moyhu King Valley vineyards was pretty as hell, well worth it the ride, and the elevation slowly gained over about 20km of false flat was paid back with a long descent onto the Oxley plain into Wangaratta. When I took that left turn, the road smoothed out and the wind came around to the 3/4 rear. I made good time and was in Wangaratta by 9:30. Before 10 and I’d push for the longer loop (est. 180km) was the deal I’d made myself when the scenery picked my spirits up. With some pace in the legs I was feeling happy and pressing on sounded like a good idea. I might even get some extras in.
It started heating up properly on the climb out of Wangaratta (the day topped out at 38ºC) , but the tempo was enjoyable. Down the other side was where the mind games begin. The roads there are arrow-straight, endless, narrow and chip-sealed with extra chunky chips. I missed a crucial left turn to Glenrowan. Crucial because I’d made this other deal with myself — roll right through Wang and pick up a Coke and fresh bottles in Glenrowan. So it was with just half a bottle of optimizer-type drink and a Gu that I tried to keep the tempo quick and steady along a rough, shadeless strip of grit that stretched out to infinity ahead and behind me.
When I reached the Benalla turn-in I already knew I’d pull up 30km short of my target 180. In Wang I’d felt like I could go for 200, but at Benalla I could feel that fuckin’ chip-seal in my hands and feet, shoulders and other places. With 155 on the clock I was more than ready to pull the pin and swap a cool shower for the north-eastern heat.
When Fee took the Claire and Emma to the pool, I put Maesy down for a nap, lay down on the couch, closed my eyes and listened to the test cricket.
157km 5:24h (29km/h) 806m
A brisk start to the Festive 500, but nothing on Saturday’s good form.
Solo riding is a whole different kettle of fish. It’s just you, the chip-seal and the wind. The long straight roads aren’t chit-chat, they’re just long, sometimes almost endless. Two laps of the Nationals circuit and once up Mt Bunninyong before crossing town and heading out for a lap around the wind farm.
With just an hour left to go I opened the get-out-of-jail Gu.
149km 5:13h 1,280m
In advice from Nick on IF increasing mitochondrial density. An our or so’s light riding is optional (not today).
Met Jimmy at Safeway at 6:00, which perversely felt like a sleep in. It was his first ride back after a pretty horrendous crash and we met Brian, the old killer, responsible for at least a couple of my worst-ever days in the saddle, who was also de-trained after buying a new house and the chaos that goes with that.
I felt good all day long. Temo out to Safeway was easy as pie. At the turn off onto Antoinette I chatted with Jim until the top of the twisties, and when he dropped behind I decided to have a crack at the old PR. To have put nearly a minute into that persistent benchmark, last set two years ago almost to the day, was very satisfying indeed. Figuring that was my ‘effort’ done, I waited for Jim and we rolled out to meet BJ in Warrandyte. From there it was loads of pretty back roads. Pidgeon Bank / Menzies Road melted away under quick cadence. At the start of the year, in the middle of a brutal line of business planning period, I asked Neil to take me out and make me forget. That was my first encounter with PB/M. I still remember grinding it out with leaden legs and shallow lungs, a full 4:01 slower than today.
It was a good day to be on the bike, and although you don’t measure your progress against others, and although they’re both out of shape right at a time when I’m beginning to see perhaps the best form in many years, I can’t say it wasn’t a little bit cool to be able to jump off the wheels of BJ and Jimmy for once. I can count the number of times that’s happened on fingers that can’t be unclenched from foetal-position fists. Zero.
But most of all, it was good to be on real small, real pretty back roads with good people; old friends.
I resolved to keep the pace up on the way back, and two things helped to add some spice. The first was running into the returning Chain Reaction crew, which was cool. Even cooler was trying to chase a small attack by Jason Blankfield (of Soigneur ) and James Hines up to the end of Banule Flats. Also cool was holding Jase in the sprint to Red Rooster. Not so cool (but cool in its own way) was Fee calling me at Clifton Hill to ask if I’d be home 15 minutes earlier than planned. 10 minutes maybe, but either way it was a head-down ITT all the way from there to Footscray to finish off.
133km 5:00h 2,140m
PRs on Mt Pleasant (by 54s) and Pidgeon Bank / Menzies (43s).
20:00 Quickening tempo w/various efforts incl. sprint finish
20:00 Quickening tempo w/various efforts
10 DB rows in ‘on the drops’ position
10 1H Swings
10 LC C&J
50 Clean, Jerk, Lunge (alternating)
all @ 16kg KB, es
10 Bastards @ 12.5kg DBs
15 Swings @ 24kg KB
5 LC C&J @ 24kg KB
10 DB rows in ‘on the drops’ position
5 TGU es @ 16kg KB
After a pretty light week, I was itching to get out for a half-decent ride. When H extended the invitation for a long, tempo-paced ‘could get epic’ I was definitely in. With a scheduled meeting time of 5:30 at Safeway I put everything out, got the bike ready to load onto the car and set the alarm early. Lying in bed, trying to drift off to sleep I redid the mental calculation of what time I’d need to be out the door by in order to be there. After discounting five minutes each side for loading and unloading, I decided to say ‘fuck it’ and ride to Heidelburg. It was an appealing idea on two fronts: One, it wouldn’t matter which return route we took back into the city. Two, provided we rolled together back to the inner north, it’d ensure that I’d finish at least 20-40 km up on H. If we played our cards right for a 160k day, I might even crack the magical 200. Boom!
I went to sleep smiling.
Up at 4 and out the door at half past felt surprisingly ok with the help of a little espresso. The air was warmer than cool and the sky clear. All green lights on the way to Safeway for an on-the-minute arrival.
Henry’s crew are a nice bunch. I spent some time off the front with Jeff, an ex-ironman school principle, and off the back pacing Mark (?), a church mister who was having a rough day. Humevale Rd was a highlight. It’s an easy (as you like), steady climb that follows the contour line. Any flatter and it’d be a false flat. But spank it and it’d be a hell of a good ITT test, or half-wheel-a-thon.
When we stopped for breakfast at 9:00, with 100k on the clock and four hours in the saddle (including up the back and a ripping descent of the usual Kinglake climb), it felt like any other ride. That’s a Pretty Good Thing. It was here, over a double espresso and a apple and cinnamon muffin that H revealed his plan to ride back over the Kinglake summit and back home the way we’d come. The projected 3:00 finish time was risky, but the lure of uploading a 200k day to Strava was too tempting not to make a try for. I phoned home and pushed my luck, but no dice.
We split after breakfast and I rolled with the Rev back to Greensborough where he gave me directions home via Lower Plenty Rd. I wasn’t so keen on that plan, so when I saw a sign that pointed to Eltham I followed it’s pointy little arrow until I hit Main Rd. From there it was a golden roll back along Old Eltham, Bonds and through Banule Flats, good legs the whole way. Good enough that a green arrow at the paper mill was all it took to tempt me into a roll along the Boulevard, and good enough that I still managed to make it home before noon.
I bought Fee a coffee from the newly opened Little Man café in Seddon, which opened with the bold proclaimation of ‘the best coffee in Seddon’, and they may actually have taken the crown, but when I got home the girls were out. My keys were inside, but the carport was full of Cirsten and Reid’s back yard, including the mower so I took the opportunity…
I’m starting to feel like the base is building. It won’t take an awful lot more long days, just need to keep it consistent, but it’s almost time to turn up the intensity a bit I methinks. It won’t hurt to push the threshold a little higher on those long, steady climbs.
162.3km 1,920m 5:50hrs