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Thursday 17th September, 2009

Last Minute Training

In the past few weeks there's not been too much racing. With nothing on weekends and opting to skip the final Dirt Riders Winter Series round in favour of a big training ride which I'm still feeling the effects of, and the Kona Dirt Crits being cancelled last week, training has consisted mostly of efforts up the 1/20 which is nice and close to home.

But after Saturday being a big smashfest, with a TSS of almost 300, Leigh decided we could go for a similar effort the following day. The plan was 80km (60 for us, as it's 10km to his place from here) and 1800 vertical meters - it didn't entirely work out that way.

You see, with my legs already being smashed from the day before, climbing 450 meter individual climbs really added to the fatigue. The trip looked a little something like this:

Yeah, it turned out to be 2100m over 65km, and boy was it a long day. By the final climb up Mt Dandenong I simply couldn't turn my legs over to get up the wet tree roots, so was relegated to walking.

So that was our last-minute training for the 2009 MTBA Marathon Championships to be held in Bendigo this weekend. Of course, there's still crits tonight, for which I'm seriously putting on mud tyres for, but then it'll be all rest until Sunday morning - 105km and 2375 vertical meters. Aiming for a top 5 in Open Men.

Sunday 30th August, 2009

Dirt Riders Winter Series #3

The weird thing about Beaconsfield is that you go out there, do your race, and don't give a lot of thought to how much climbing is actually involved. Today was such a story - the track simply didn't feel all that hard physically. But at the end of five laps, it turns out we'd put in over 620m of climbing - which is a pretty significant amount by the standards of any course.

But that's all pretty normal of a Dirt Riders Winter Series race, or any at Beaconsfield for that matter. Other common themes of late are club races with small turnouts - 50 of us showing up to race today, with pretty much every A grader either on their way back from Timor, or tapering for the World Championships next week.

The result was only two A graders showing up to race, so they decided to start both B grade and A grade together. Hearing that, I decided to have a little fun - you see, my race starts are, I think I can reasonably say, pretty good. Good enough that on the starts (but starts only), I actually reckon I can hold my own - in the last six XCO races I've done, all of them have had me first into the first corner. So rather than letting Peter ride off the front and leave the rest of the bunch a long way behind catching up, I thought I'd have a bit of fun, and keep the bunch together - at least for the first km or so until we got to the fire-trail climb.

Dirt Riders Winter Series #3 start

And it worked out just as planned - holeshot to the first corner, the pace pretty high. Of course, as I knew would be the case, when we got to the climb that needed the strong legs I simply haven't had for the past 12 months, I yielded the track to let riders through. Unfortunately in the next section of singletrack a very large stray stick found my rear wheel, so I had to stop for some quick bike surgery - enough time that about seven more riders went through. It was only later after looking at the results I realied that this was the remainder of the field.

Throughout the race I then slowly picked off riders one by one, making up all those places I lost. Lap times were super consistent - in fact, all but my last (which was 20 seconds quicker) were within 8 seconds. Each lap I generally had someone within sight, so I had a pretty good reference as to whether I was making up time and how much time there was to make up.

The final laps saw me catch and pass Craig Cummings, but on the final lap he just kept himself pinned to my rear wheel, however I knew I'd make up some time on certain sections that I'd seen him walk on previous laps and that I had ridden flawlessly. I was a bit thrown though this time when both of them he rode, so rather than me making up a big gap, he was still there, putting on the pressure... but breathing heavily, which gave me a good cue to know I wasn't making it easy. That left him with nothing left on the final uphill sprint finish, where I just pinned it - and pushed my HR through the roof, which took a while to recover from :D

So while it seemed like I was passing about 2 riders per lap (except towards the end where there were a few more), I lost count, but managed to finish up inside the top 10 - all up though, I'm happy with both the recovery and the consistency in the laps. I might skip the next round though and get in some decent training for the Marathon Champs.

Wednesday 26th August, 2009

Castlemaine 6 Hour

In the past 12 months, the total number of team enduros I've done came to a massive zero. A call early in the week was to change this though, so instead of backing up six hour races two weeks in a row, I'd be pairing up with Leigh, in a team of which the name (No Clam Do) wasn't apparent to me until explained - that neither of us could ride 'the clam' at the You Yangs.

Leigh baby-sitting his two kids who were still rolling around after the kids race meant I was effectively nominated for the start. Well back in the field though meant quite a slow first lap, mostly caught in traffic - a good 4 minutes off the pace Leigh would go and set on his first time out.

That remained a similar story for most of the race - both of us setting seriously consistent times until I started to fatigue on my fifth lap. It wasn't until after the race I let on to Leigh that I'd been out on the KAOS store-ride/smashfest the day before :P

Throughout the day we had a few little battles being fought, the main contenders we were keeping our eyes on to beat being Chris/Brad and Andrew/Dan - typically I'd go out, get passed by one of Andrew/Dan, then Leigh would go out and make up the gap and put them behind us again - rinse and repeat a few times short of the mechanicals they had throughout the day.

The highlight lap for me was my forth. Early in the lap, at the end of the first climb, I caught Sarah and passed her thinking she'd fall back. We chatted for a bit, but then throughout the lap she just matched my pace the whole time - and I was pushing pretty hard at that point. Thoughout the lap I'd keep trying to go quicker and quicker, but the gap remained the same 25 meters or so the entire time.

But anyhow. In the end stayed upright, no blood spilt, and was generally getting quicker over technical terrain that doesn't suit me at all. Now from somewhere I just have to find two minutes a lap to beat some (any) of Leigh's lap times :)
Sadly this time there's no great shots of me - mostly because I piked and took the B lines each lap, photographers opting to stay pointed at the A lines.

Monday 24th August, 2009

Chase The Sun round 4 - in words

After a very windy night, we all got to Lysterfield greeted by a strange sight - a transition area with no marquees, and only a few bikes and other bits and pieces lying around the glass. This made perfect sense - the few that tried to set up marquees quickly discovered they'd be going home with a snapped one in its place, and there were enough trees down around the course that it took the organisers a good hour to clear them. This resulted in a delayed start, and the race being shortened to six hours.

Sadly it remained quite blowy for the start, where we went across the dam wall - it was a task in itself just keeping the bike in a straight line, riding all the way across with a fair amount of lean on the bike. While the first two laps were reasonably uneventful, it did start to spit, but come lap three we were in for the real weather.

With rain coming down hard enough to consider stopping for mud guards at the start of the lap, I left it (a mistake), but opted to come in after lap three. Traction wasn't actually an issue at all - while it was raining, and on lap four coming down pretty heavily, it was visibility more then concern. When I eventually stop, I was struck with surprise - it was like everyone had gone home. All the equipment, bags, bikes which were across the lawn at the start of the race had disappeared - as had all my stuff. Eventually after an extended stop I got back out on the track - back in to the mud.

Brakes were the particular talking point of the day. You see, in general, people don't realize that resin brakes disintegrate in the wet. But in this case, even those who did know weren't bothered enough to change their brake pads - those people, of course, soon found themselves running into trees, of which there are plenty at Lysterfield.

The one particular section of track where I was picking up a lot of time due to good tyre choice (Maxxis ADvantage) had to be taken out as it was just getting chopped up, so that was a bit of a downer. But after that things cleared up, the track went from muddy to tacky, and lap times got quicker again.

All up a reasonably uneventful race, where I finished just on or around the top 10 mark, but finished feeling like I could have done another 6 hours due to the low heart rate through the rain. Of course at that point, I was thinking I'd be up for it all over again in a weeks time...

Sunday 16th August, 2009

Chase The Sun round 4

Photos now, words later.







Wednesday 29th July, 2009

Chase The Sun round 3

Ah yes, Sunday. Chase the Sun round 3, and the first solo enduro for me in 9 months. After only a month of decent training since being off the bike it was time to see where I was at, with a few more long distance events planned between now and the SurfCoast 6 Hour in late October.

The plan this time out wasn't anything over the top - just to ride it out for the six hours, and maybe finish top 20. It would also be used to try to pace myself - not go out too hard, don't blow up, and look after nutrition. That didn't go too bad, though I did find myself digging a bit too deep in the first lap or two.

CTS3 Berms

By the third lap I founds myself finding a pretty decent pace, pinning it through the berms and physically holding up fine, but the forth lap was a big problem with knee problems creeping in. That lasted a lap or two, but after adjusting my pedalling style slightly I got on with it, albeit a little slower.

Around that time was when a bit of competition kicked in - I found myself basically trading laps and riding the whole time with one other rider, occasionally passing each other through various sections. With two laps to go I had the suspicion it was going to be a race to the finish, so arranged a quick bottle change for the last lap.

That's about where it all went south. On the final lap I passed him through transition, and picked up the pace a bit through Blair Witch, but he simply just matched everything I put in and kept himself pinned to my rear wheel. I knew he would end up dropping me on the Trig Point climb as he did in the previous lap, so let him through having conceded defeat already, but as soon as I did that my body basically just went "okay, that's it - you're done"... and it was a very slow ride from there.

By the time I got to the M2006 course my lap was as at a point where on other laps I'd already be climbing Trig Point - and I was so empty I couldn't walk the M2006 rock garden or any of Trig Point - in fact, I could barely walk the bike up Trig Point. Basically, I'd completely hunger flat, and put myself further into the ground than I'd ever done before.

Oops.

So yeah. Next enduro is the next round of Chase The Sun, followed by Castlemaine - which happens to be one of only two 6 hours I've ever not completed, so the aim is to actually finish this time.

Sunday 5th July, 2009

Cancelled rides all round

In theory, I was up for another big week on the bike, but with rain almost every day of the week, there was much more piking than biking. Tuesday's ride home involved a flat tyre while riding through the rain; Thursdays ride home was an even longer ride through the rain after crits.

Unfortunately I didn't pay perhaps as much attention as I should have to the steam coming off my front disc rotor on Tuesday on the same bike that was to be used today at Beaconsfield, where my 5 lap race came to a very quick conclusion on lap 1 with the absense of brakes. Turns out that horribly loud nouse wasn't without meaning, and I was riding metal-on-metal around a wet and muddy track involving 125 meters of descending every 4km lap.

So with so many rides cancelled (including yesterday), 7 hours has been all that was managed this week, down on 11 last week and 15 the week before. Next week is the start of 'proper' training though, which will be something of a requirement with Chase The Sun now only three weeks away.

Plans for this week:
Westgate XC crit on Thursday;
Casey Fields road crit on Saturday
Harkaway XCO race on Sunday. This time I'm hoping it's either much drier than the same event last year, or I'm taking a much smaller gear.

Sunday 21st June, 2009

Some semblence of training - Blackburn crits

At some point I guess it'll be time to start updating again - after results I just wasn't happy with throughout the Nationals series I felt better saying nothing than anything negative, so decided to leave any updates until the new season.

Since March I've taken time off the bike and now started working back in to things, but the time out of the saddle certainly has killed my fitness off - and though I'm now putting in plenty of hours at nice easy intensities, nothing is really being done at the high end currently. Helpful if I decide to ride from Melbourne to Canberra, not so useful if I want to do anything longer than a flying 200m.

Last months total riding amounted to 35 hours in the saddle, only 810km; this month, with still 9 days to go, I'm at 37 hours and 910km, and it's all marked 'Prep'. July 6th marks the start of my Base 1 block, with only really base training before the first major race - somewhat necessary as I have goals in September, October and January - a bit too spread out to be ideal. For those wondering, the three big events for me will be the 2009 Australian Marathon Championships, the SurfCoast 6 hour, and the Australian Mountain Bike Championships, with everything else being just icing on the cake.

Shortly you'll see a little report of what we came across yesterday later on, but todays hit out was the first of any real intensity for a while, not helped by the 270km I'd already done throughout the week and not recovered from. Rather than riding the Rock Hop, I decided to ride 45km to Casey Fields, race the crit, then ride to the Rock Hop to finish the day taking photos. Nothing worth really reporting other than that I'm now rather tired ;D

Anyhow - I'll be trying to get back into a more normal rythym, however more frequent smaller updates will come via twitter.com/tjsr

More soon.
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