Newcastle CX Cyclocross Round 3

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We are very much on baby duty now and when it came to the crunch we torn as to go to the penultimate round of Newcastle Cyclocross. the kids were desperate to go and ride their Cyclocross race aka the velodrome as they missed out the last round. So we packed up the hospital bags and the bikes and set off to Adamstown.

Course profile
Course profile

The cool and overcast day turned out to be quick bright and warm. By the time the kids where lining up to start their “citing lap” any trace of warm clothing was well and truly removed. Both kids even took the opportunity this time to do some warm up and practice. The lead out for the kids was by event organizer Shannon Lister. The course went anti clock wise around the velodrome before pulling of through the middle with a sharp left hand turn then around back onto the velodrome. The kids had to get off at this point on to the grass and get their bikes over 2 100mm high barriers. Most kids struggled to get over these, the design is probably somewhat flawed (yes I made them) in the end I had to laugh as Emily just kicked it over and walked her bike across. Both kids did great Connor was on the bike/off the bike incredibly fast and was constant throughout his laps. Emily took a bit more getting going on reach remount but to watch her take the sharp left of the track was amazing, she was regularly scraping her pedals as she stuck it in each lap. I suspect her ambition got the better of her as I turned round to find her off the bike, she stated she had tried to ride up the steep embankment that this velodrome had and come off as result. The last lap sounded and massive credit to her she got back on her bike and finished the lap out. Incredibly proud here of both my kids, who at the beginning of the year were struggling to even ride their bikes, let alone race in close quarters. (Watch out Emily will but a racing move on you to get past… ๐Ÿ™‚ )

When it came to the my race I had chosen again to compete in the Elite Mens race. I had contemplated doing the B-grade race but I did want to say that I had completed all the CXNewcastle races at this level. As we were lining up to start they widened the entry onto the course. This last-minute reshuffle had me sitting further forward in the line then I had been in the past.

On the start it was on and either I read it right or a heap of others read it wrong because I was all of a sudden at the pointer end then I am used too. I did my best through this first lap as I was well within my rights to hold my place so I thought wide thoughts and pushed on as hard as I could. Attrition showed that with in the first lap and a half I was back towards the back-end where I normally would sit however I was doing a decent job of holding my own against another rider. #111 We pushed on for a lap with him right behind me before finally catching me after going to deep into a muddy hairpin and getting my handlebars caught on the bunting on the way out. I pushed on behind him, entering part of the crit track which allowed me to have a moment to catch a slip stream and get me breath back. With in moments we hit an unridable embankment and I was able to get the better dismount and grip to run up the hill. A clean remount and clip in saw me gain a vital few meters and cleared him for the next lap. However coming out of the same point on the track only on the next lap I was unable to clip in, took a to aggressive line through the corner and was spat out wide. Problem was this is also were a ditch was located and I did my best to ease the bike back onto the road whilst maintaining traction and clip back in. This loss of momentum meant that he was right on my tail, heading up one of the fast hills with much more momentum then me. I pushed as hard as i could but the gap had blown out to about 20 meters, with time i could close it but coming into the section that I had earlier run up to over take him I elected to ride up. Got to the top I did, before not turn quite right and not unclipping. I tumbled back bike in the air before 3 rolls down the hill had me trying to get back up. Well I can proudly say that it’s the biggest cheer I have ever got racing ( that wasn’t my family). I sheepish picked my bike up and tried to catch back up but he was no longer in my sight for this part of the lap.

About this time the leaders had caught me and it happened to be on the crit section of the track again. A quick push saw me in their slipstream trying to ride their speed. Within one embankment they had gained a few meters and by the time we had crossed past my earlier discretion they had put 50m into the distance. They would pass me 2 more times before the end of the race. From this point on I focused on the technical aspects of the track, bunny hopping the logs just got better each lap, and the vertical descent with the 180 turn back up proved to be a challenge but one I was able to complete faster and with out getting off.

On the last lap call I was able to keep in frontย of the leaders by a lap of the veldorome meaning that I could do the final lap and not too far down. Well 25/26 and “22’00” of the lead.

Finally NBN news was there to catch some of the action.

June fondo. Mangrove Mountain Dam via Bumble Hill

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Our baby is now only a week or so away, so the opportunity for my goal of completing every fondo this year started to look a bit uncertain. However as luck would have it, the first weekend of the month here in NSW was a public holiday so it was decided that we would tackle this months 115k fondo straight out of the gate. The original plan had to been to do a repeat of a previous ride but at the last-minute we decided to head up to Mangrove Mountain Dam. The crux of this ride was Bumble Hill, a cat 3 climb that leads up to the Kulnura.

Winter has kicked in and the day started out cold with the discussion primarily centred around who had what warm gear and who needed to harden up and just wear shorts. We left Budgewoi at 0715 and wandered along the lake edge trying to get some heat into the body. Thats except for Mick, he had been on the go for the last hour already having ridden from Gosford to the meeting point. The lake edge turns off to the old pacific highway and from here we followed the roads out over the M1 motorway across to the Buttondary area. It was still cold, and stopping for toilet breaks proved a steam producing exercise.

Jye spending some quality time in the shrubs
Jye spending some quality time in the shrubs

 

From here we turned and headed south, the sun was starting to make its way where we could feel the warmth coming through. We wandered down till we hit Alison road and turned right to start the winding road out to Yarramalong. This is a classic winding country road with wooden fences, autumn leaves and some weird elephant statues. The road meanders till you reach the little Yarramalong Village and a sharp turn up the 3.5k Bumble Hill Climb. We regrouped and took a moment before embarking up this climb. 300m over the next 3.5k, talk to me in 20 minutes….

The climb started out ok, but pacing is the key. I started behind Jye and worked my way up till we were side by side, Mick had made a cracking start and the last I heard from Drew was that was going to walk up it.

 

The climb was step in section and ok in others. It was not has directly punishing as Sugarloaf but it seemed to go on for longer. Grind them out seemed to be the key. I lost Mick soon into the climb and Jye about half way up. The ride up was worth it, it’s a big hill and a good climb, got up in under 20 minutes which i was happy with. We waited at the crossroads for each other, trying to keep warm in the sun. Once done we continued through Kulnura, across the road and down to the dam. I really enjoyed this part of the ride. I had never been down there before and the hills were great. Would have liked to get closer to the dam but stupid gates were such. The way back was a dawdle, turned out on Strava to be a Cat 4 climb. We meandered up the hills before I hear a profanity from Jye behind me, my wheel got shunted and the bam! I turned around to see him laying on the ground still attached to his bike. looks like i was going to slow whilst he had his head down focusing on the climb and had clipped my back wheel. A few scratches and a banging back of the hoods later we were back on the road. We went ahead to order some lunch. This point it was a bit later than we thought so it was off back home. It was a long ride back although going down Bumble Hill was a lot faster than going up it. We made it back as the temp was dropping again. Ended up on the freeway before some slight rises and undulations.

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Complete ride profile

Newcastle CX Round 2

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The Vegan Experiment, the results

Ok, so I will admit I was not able to keep the posts running like I hoped to. Mostly due to my work commitments which just skyrocketed in the later part of the month. So here are the highlights.

Day 15
Started running again

Day 16
Freestyling my cooking, well winging it. Looked like crap but tasted good.

Day 17
Random meetings! Well work was full on trying to juggle having food was tough as I did not bring any from home today. Fruit skewers FTW!

Day 18
Saturday at home and then gym 5.89k on the bike

Day 19
Ride and feel tired got protein. Simple eh?

Day 20
Gym was the main highlight 5.92 on the bike

Day 21
We had massive storms that wiped out power. Ate a lot of trail mix.

Day 22
It really is the whole food experiment. Being vegan has really forced me to eat better. I feel that I lack the conviction that it takes to be vegan. I do believe in ethical farming and really honey????

Day 23
Conversation with Workmates. Is it all really a non event? If i eat 95% whole unprocessed food is that what its really all about from a personal health point of view

I’m note here for the ethical or conviction point of view. But what I have done is present a scientific approach to clearing my body of crap and only putting hihg quailty un proccessed naturalk foods into my body. Being vegan actually made that much easier.

Day 24,
Forgot I was vegan. No I didn’t stuff up. Its just become the norm for me this last few weeks. Back to the gym 6.3k

25 cafe
Went to a vegan cafe, felt crap afterwards…

Day 26 race day and sorbet

Nailed it. 1st place i Club grade race

Day 27

Kinda like being vegan
went to the gym, did a recovery ride.

Day 28
The great milk debacle… Well my wife cooked with milk instead of almond milk. Found out after 3 mouth-fulls.

Day 29
The lollie jar. We have a lollie jar at work. It has been so easy not to touch it since i started this. My brain just says, you don’t eat that…

Day 30
Last day

Day 31?

Conclusions???

Being vegan takes some prep but is really easy. I don’t want to go back to meat and risk this great sense of wellbeing that I have…

#1!!!!!
#1!!!!!

Day 14 The Vegan Experiment. More Bread!

So for those playing along at home you will know that I have been experimenting with handmade bread for the past few days trying to make the perfect vegan bread recipe. Well I got it working in the end but it really is A LOT OF WORK. As you know I spent my birthday at the Cyclocross racing and I was lucky enough to have my wife buy me a bread maker as I gift. This is really cool. Although after my first attempt using the “Vegan” Recipe i had it din not work that well. I really like it but it ended up a bit doughy. I need to work on the cooking time I think. She manged to make a much better loaf then I did but I will be out for another go!

Day 13 The Vegan Experiment. Convictions and sweet potato

After all has settled for the past few days with racing and visitors I find myself at my local supermarket again. My wife asked to have a sweet potato and chickpea dish which she had found a recipe for. I wandered through the cold food section looking for humus (yes i know i can make it home and had the ingredients juts not the time and inclination for 1/4 cup of it) The bacon caught my eye as I had walked through the aisle. I thought to myself, “I can’t eat that”, “Why can’t you?”, “because I’m vegan.” “Why?”….

Thats when it kind of struck me. Can you be vegan or anything “extreme” without a conviction as to why you have made this choice? I have found myself asking this question at the gym and when I’m riding on the trainer at home. Why do you put yourself through this? The answer is simply to make me a better person. Mentally, physically, to feel that I’m making a difference in the world where I can and that starts with me. Is this why I’m doing this vegan experiment? Will I stay vegan after the fact? I’m not sure. It is the halfway mark. My only real gripe with being vegan so far has been the time it takes to get food prepared. The foods that I miss are more convenient things. I do miss the simplicity of chicken and I enjoyed the theater of bacon and eggs for breakfast. I have been eating my normal intake of calories and have lost about 1.5 kg’s in the week. I have done the same amount of exercise as I normally did. I’m the same person, not a “Vegan”. I guess the excitement of it has worn off and its easy to go back to what you know, time will tell…

Oh and dinner? Well that turned out pretty good. Sweet potato, roast chick peas, cherry tomatoes and a dill humus sauce. More sauce next time ๐Ÿ™‚

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Day 12 The Vegan Experiment: Cyclocross is here!

After the last few months of racing in crits and training and falling off, it was finally the day of my first Cyclocross race.

The kids were excited and we arrived at the day for registration. Emily wanted to go tin the participation event, Connor the kids race and I had elected to go into the Elite Cyclocross division. The moment I had signed up I started to regret doing it. Looking around I saw some face in the open division that I knew and had raced against before.

Emily went first in her participation event. For this the kids rode around the velodrome and out up the gate, around some cones and back in. Within a lap most kids had abandoned the push up the side of the velodrome and just rode around and around. Em went for the full ten minutes before getting upset that the event had not lasted longer.

Connor pushing is bike up on of the hills. This obstacle was what later punctured my rear
Connor pushing is bike up on of the hills. This obstacle was what later punctured my rear

After cheering his sister on Connor entered the kids race. He set off with as much enthusiasm as I have ever seen from him. However it became clear quickly that the kids twice his age were over twice as fast. Given the difficulty of the terrain he pressed on pushing his bike up and down the sections more then riding. With a great amount of confidence he rode of the dirt embankment with a flurry of pedals and speed. Halfway up the hill something happened and before anybody knew what happened he was over the side of the bike with his foot stuck under the seat. After some deliberation he decided to retire and fight again another day.

Going up "Stairway to Heaven"
Going up “Stairway to Heaven”

Finally I lined up at the very back of a 35 pack race in the Elite Cyclocross division. Matt who I met at the training session a week before lined up next to me and said hi. We joked about just finishing but I really had no idea of what was before me. The start bell went and all you could hear was the clacking if cleats and chirps of garmins. The dash up the first short hill was fine but the concertina into the first sharp bend took some work. A female rider was along side me all through these 180 degree turns before finally getting the better of me. After this was a short downhill with a sharp fast right hander into Newcastle velodrome. As we entered the velodrome the leaders were already exiting! I tucked in behind Matt and aimed to stick with him through the race. We exited the velodorme and headed through the tree section, down and around before attempting what the lead riders had deemed “the shortcut” around one of the trees. I stuck with it for the first few laps but kept getting caught up in my cleats. After this came the hardest part of the course. The aptly named “Stairway to heaven” 4 telegraph poles laid out up a step section of hill to form unridable stairs. This is really the first time you need to shoulder your bike. Run up the stairs around the top, down the hill, around a bike tree and back on the bike before returning to the crit course. A slight deviation up a steep hill with a 180 degree turn at the top before trying to control you descent back down to the crit course. This then gives you about 100 meters of tar to regroup, get a drink before going up a fast and steep embankment, down the other side then leaving the velo grounds. Into the park lands for what is effectively a 100m dash up and back on the grass. However its never that simple in cross right. Halfway along the out section was 2 x 400mm barriers. This is where the running dismount came into effect. Its an amazing hard on you body to run and hurdle whilst essentially throwing your bike into the air, land the do it again! Once back in the grounds of the velo was 2 of the shortest but steepes sections on the track. I, as most riders, chose to dismount and run up and down both parts. (I did attempt to ride up it later in the day but well fell off at the top, much to the amusement of other riders. From here it was a remount and a short dash to the start/finish before another 180 degree turn and back past the pit area up that first hill. Be the end of lap 1 my heart rate was over 180. This is basically where it stayed. I tried to set pace behind Matt where I could. Coming from the back I got to 28th position and felt that I was making slow inroads on catching Matt. Heading towards the commentary hill was sleeper buried in the ground. Most riders including me had been riding over it all day. I continued on in this fashion hitting it hard due the massive amount of speed i had coming of the last down hill section. Up around the tree before I noticed I was about to be lapped again. (I was lapped by the leaders by the start of lap 3) as we went over one of the hills i looked back to see where they were. As I did i saw that my rear tyre was now flat. It was halfway through lap 5. I returned to the pit area with the intention of retiring. Disappointed I did not get to finish but kind of relived as i was shattered, but no it was not meat to be. A kind hearted person in the pits found a spare tyre with the right disc and cassette on it. It even had air in the tyre so it was a sight better then mine. We bolted in the new unit and I was back out into the race. Desperately trying to claw back the places I had lost. By the last lap those stairs seemed huge, my legs were burning and I could barley breath. Determined I pushed on and crossed the line. 30/35. I didn’t come last and had a great time. I went back to the family, sat down and tried not to vomit for the next ten minutes before borrowing my daughters bike so that Connor and I could do some warm down laps before we headed home. Exhausted but what a way to spend your 36th birthday.

Dismount about to go up the stairs
Dismount about to go up the stairs

And did the vegan diet make a difference? I don’t know is probably the short answer. I finished the race which I am proud of. I did not eat a great deal and probably could of fulled better. I did not feel heavy and gluggy. I have raced my bike before and had an upset stomach. Being that I have a cold/flu I don’t feel its fair to look at performance. Being on a vegan diet for the last 2 weeks and succeeding at finished would say to me that there is no obvious performance deficits in being a vegan athlete.

Day 11 The Vegan Experiment: Visitors and pumpkin soup

One of the things I have found fascinating about this experiment is the social reactions you get from people. So far its been very rare that I get a positive or interested response. Most people seem to screw up their ace and say “Why?” like i have just told them I had sold everything I owned and was running away to join the circus. It does intrigue me that people can feel so strongly about something they don’t understand, but really what is it to understand. We all can eat right? Everybody has things that they like and dislike. For years I didn’t like mushrooms, why would I care that somebody else does. My wife loves them and I would happily cook them for her. (I eat them now thanks to this experiment which makes her happy as :)) Some of my family came to visit this weekend and my wonderful step mother makes the best pumpkin soup. However she does make it with chicken stock. My wife asked if she could look at making it on vegetable stock instead which she agreed, however during a potato related crisis a visit to the grocery store was in order. It was there she bought a vegan friendly chicken stock. Basically its maize, onion and a couple of other spices to give the flavour of the chicken stock but without any chicken!. Works well and tasted great. I now have lots of leftovers in the fridge.

Day 10 The Vegan Experiment. Almond Butter

Still have cold and feel like crap. Ended up coming home from work and sleeping. Not very exciting I know. Whilst in the kitchen I thought I would make some Almond Butter with the almonds i got a few days ago. Its something that is called for in recipes and I have not been able to find it. Turns out its pretty easy to make , it just took and hour of my time at the food processor and ended up with 450g of the stuff. Tastes good on bread!959874709106170087_1777533

Day 9 The Vegan Experiment. #cracking

Well it felt like it. I seem to have caught a cold and feel like crap. I had to go to the local super market to get some items for dinner and there was a few moments where I thought I will just eat it. Seriously, contains traces of xxx…. But no I persisted with it got home eat pretty much the same thing as I have for the last 3 nights, had a shower then slept for 11.5 hours.
 

Ok we have bread but its a process. Might just see if I can get a bread-maker…. However I can now tick off “Make bread by hand” from the list.

Connor and i headed out to do some Cyclocross practice.

Nothing more to see here move along.

Day 8 The Vegan Experiment A week in recap

Day 8 One week in, so what have we learnt so far?

Weight has stayed the same
Pretty sure soy gives me wind
Don’t seem as tired in the afternoon
I feel “lighter”
Pooing is a bit different
Static Bike has shown no decline but I need to do more testing
People feel entitled to give you their opinion on why your vegan

Food is good and tasty but takes some prepwork
 
One of the most interesting I discovered was about my Carbs/Protein/Fats mix. The goal I was looking for was 70/15/15 (Based on the data from No Meat Athlete interview with Robert Cheeke) Up till this point my goal had been 50 /20/30 (Carb/Pro/Fat). My average for the baseline data was 60/20/20. The first week my carbs had tayed similar but my proteins had reduced and my fats increased. On analysis of the data it look as though this increase had been through consumption of Mono-saturated and polyunsaturated fats. Both coming on days when I had consumed a lot of nuts/trail mix.  
 
However I am feeling a bit flat today, late night cooking bread and a sudden cold change seemed to have taken its toll. Symptoms are very cold like. I have picked up some multivitamins with B12 and Iron so it should cover anything I’m short for the moment.

Day 7 the vegan experiment. Doh!

IMG_20150408_080841Back to work today after the 4 day break.

 
Toast for breakfast and lunch was pretty much the same thing. I’m wondering if soy gives me wind…
 
My wife suggested we have a Vegan meatloaf for dinner, but we got home late and I was missing one ingredient that I needed. This left me in a dilemma of trying to figure out what to have. I had also been to the gym tonight and to be honest was exhausted. My ride yesterday had zapped any strength that I had. I spent the day eating as much as I could but still seemed lacking. I did the best I could at the gym and went home to find some food. However we need to to stop at the grocery store and there was no bread. Well I will make it i thought. How hard could it be, I mean I have been nailing this vegan stuff so far.
 

Attempt 1 was a fail. didn’t add quite enough water and ended up with a big glupy mess. Attempt 2 went much better and Connor decided to help me out. He was so excited when the alarm went off for the bread to finish rising. The bread itself turned out nice, however it was a little dense. Not sure if it was the recipe or my skills at making it by hand. I’m taking it as a win and it will be tomorrows breakfast and probably lunch.
 

Yesterday I mentioned about how good the fos talking to stated “If you put as much effort  into cooking non vegan food it would be just as good” Fair point. However two things. So far being vegan I have been forced to cook in certain ways, other wise I would have nothing. In the past I would have cheated and eaten something easy, or bought something ready made. Secondly I find the vegan cooking actually pretty straight forward and I have always struggled to cook meat well. So far I’m loving the food and I’m full. Anyway off to eat hot bread.
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