VLOG Episode 4. 109 Days to go. Albi 2017 #WGFC

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Just 109 days to go till France. The training is stepping up a bit but it the head down bum up kind of work. I took the TT bike out for my first run of the ATTA Calga 25km TT course. Some cool stuff turned up this week. My passport and bicistickers nameplates for my bikes.

123 days to go Albi 2017 #WGFC

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It continues to get closer, only 123 days to go. Had an odd week, raced on Monday then followed by a few days of haveing a cold before finally getting to ride outside!

Image courtesy of Micheal Flynn Photography

B2B and 132 days to go… Till France!!!

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b2b and 132 days till France! After the last 18 months of hard training Under Coach Mick Curran, I was able to qualify for not only the World Gran Fondo Championship Road Race but also the Time Trial. Going to France in 2017! I get to wear the Green and Gold! I have a lot of work now in front of me, and I have enlisted the help of Wheelscience to get me on track with the right TT tools of the trade in their sponsored athlete program. Please head over to their website and take a look at what hey have to offer.


As part of the next four months, I’m going to give you some insight into what I need to do in my training and life to prepare for this journey. Please check out my first VLOG and subscribe. Check out my social media links on the side for more info.

Tour Down Under 2017

This year I was lucky enough to get to go down and watch the Tour Down Under in Adelaide. It was an amazing experience, over 500k of riding in 5 days, met Chavez and got to ride along with Sagan. Absolutely epic can’t wait to go back and do it again!

Amy’s Gran Fondo 2016

5am is not too bad a time to get up. By 5:20 I was on the road and all full of enthusiasm and excitement. It lasted till the other side of Sydney or about 2 hours before I settled in for what turned out to be a long coffee fueled, turn left to go right, wow look at that trip to Lorne in Victoria. Nearly a year worth in training had brought me here for Amy’s Gran Fondo.

I’ve had some long-term projects before, motorbikes, photography projects

Lorne itself was great, and the locals seemed to embrace all the bike related activity. I frequented the Lorne Larder most days and would happily recommend it. Riding around the town and the great ocean road itself was an amazing experience. The road just rolls along, up and down. Every time you rest a small hill you see the next one, and you just feel compelled to continue riding. However, I was on a training regime and headed back into town after a quick exploration.

The morning of the event I felt good. Mick’s mantra of “You’ve done all the work, and there is nothing more you can do” allowed me to remain focused and calm. Having said that, I just want to get on with it. Before I knew it, I was three back from the start of the 35-39 division. We were to be motor-paced for the first 1.8k to the first timing loop.

 

The pace out to the loop felt good but when it passed by it was on! I had what I thought to be a good wheel but after a few corners realized that he was struggling and I had to do something now. I pushed him and set a solid pace up the climb. I had done a recce the day before and knew I only had another kilometer to go before I could get only the flat and gain a recovery. Oh, how wrong was I… My exploration the day before had finished on a false flat and a short downhill. I figured this was the top of the first climb and had returned to ride out along the great ocean road.

The false flat just kept going and going. I felt like I had hit my limit and I was only 15 minutes in. I watch the green bands of the 35-39 group go past me and figure I just had to head down, bum up and keep with who I could. By this stage, we had not only the 40-44 age group leaders pass but also the 45-49 group! Trying to hold the wheel as they passed proved to by just that little bit too much energy then I had to give.

We finally rolled over the top of the first KOM point and started the descent. The downhill went well, and I was able to get back onto the group I had been trying to keep up with. But after a regroup and dropping the HR the course changed direction and headed straight into purgatory. The wind here was brutal; it would smash you from the side, and there was nowhere to hide. Very quickly I would find myself being spat out the back, only to be picked up by a new group to be spat out the back, for 30 miserable kilometers.

Finally, we turned again, and the hills started. This was somewhat of a relief as I could now find my rhythm but I just watched the group I was with walk away from me up the hill. It started to rain, and the hill just kept going. The final climb ended up being 4% fro 20k. I just focused on my rhythm and watched out for people in the same age group and trying to minimize the losses. The rain was a drizzle, and everything was wet, just as I thought it could not be too much further the 500m sign came up, and I heard a whole heap of noise. Rounding the corner all I saw was orange. Wiggle had but on Dutch corner at the top. Even tired you had to smile going through it.

I crested the top, and the descent started. It was still wet, but this did not seem to make a difference to some people. My brakes don’t like the wet much and being aware I was trying to find clean lines and pre-brake to wipe off the water. However, many did not share my caution. The amount of places I lost on the descent was huge but as it dried out I got faster and losses lessened. However, the cold on the descent made the quads ache! A sharp right-hander lead to an oh crap moment than the final sharp drop away.

Finally, I turned onto the Great Ocean Road. 40km to go… I had hoped to be in a group for this section, but nobody was around. I sucked it up and started the final leg. After a few minutes, I thought, there is somebody behind me. I turned and sure enough I had a group of about ten behind me! I swung off and got on the back. I was able to sit in this group for the bulk of the return, but as we got closer the gully’s became steeper and more, and more water was across the road. With about 4k to go I was not able to get quite back on and lost the group after I hesitated to go through a sharp corner covered in water. 3 of us stayed together as we made the final kilometers home. Finally crossed the timing loop, heart rate up and pushing, I felt smashed going over the line. I got my breath back before zipping up the jersey and adjusting my hat. I crossed the line and pointed to my MCC logo on my jersey. I pulled up and lay down for a while. Then I went and found breakfast!

Final time 3:39.07 71/176, missed qualification by 10:08 minutes. Till next time.

fdfgdfg

 

b2b Blaney to Bathurst 2016

IMG_3169

I stood in the middle of a town I had never been to before, wearing not much and freezing. I’m about to do the Blaney to Bathurst fro the first time, this will be my longest timed event to date.
Back up to 4:30 this morning. It was even colder, 7c according to my phone and I had to get out to the buses at Mt Panorama for the transfer to the start in B We were staying on the eastern side of Bathurst and I had a short ride out to the start from here but I was torn. I had to carry what i wanted to race with and I did’nt want to lug a whole lot of cold weather gear. Opted for the leg and arm warmers but went the summer gloves. Departing it was cold, even colder with the morning air and my fingers were frozen in a matter of minutes. The trip out did take long but the tempreture never got any warmer. This got worse when I stopped to wait for the bus. It ended up being 45-50 minutes before they got my bike loaded and I was shiverring. This is about the point the sunlight finally decided to peek its head up and offer no warth what so ever.
The bus trip took about 30-40 minues, I don’t really remember, I chatted with the guy next to me but I was gratful just o be out of the cold. It at these points you reflect and go how the hell did I end up on a bus in the middle of nowhere with a large amount of middle aged men in lycra. It was 06:30 and my phone pinged to say I had a message. I opened it up to find some final words of encouragement from my coach and its these little things that just make me appreciate him more and am grateful for guidance. My goal here was pretty simple and that was finish to as close to 3 hours as possible. Tough with the 3 climbs be doable in my head.

Which brings me back to the start line, I’m still cold but have braved removing the leg warmers. Somewhere in my reasoning system I decided to go in the 45kph+ group, figuring once i got dropped the next group through would pick me up and so on. Wasn’t till the start when Crafty (who was MC’ing) made a point of saying how all the people how didn’t make the gold wave were all at the front of my group. I hung on for about 20 minutes but the pace was relentless. Dropped off the group with a couple of others and lost them within a few k’s. Felt pretty crappy here, thought I would have held on a bit longer. Took the second group another 40 minutes to catch me. I got in with them but ended up towards the back when we made the left hand turn into the first hill. Kept a good pace but just lost contact the the main bunch, tried to get back on with another rider but didn’t quite get contact. Ended up in a small group for quite while till my bottle cage cracked and I had to stop to fix it as the bottle was rubbing on the big ring. I lost my group and set back off. This was about the 52k mark. Pushed along on my own agian till I got in another group and stayed with them till the beginning of the main climb. This is where the front of the next wave caught us and everybody just splintered. Took the first k to get the gel to kick in but the hill was ok. I just paced myself and just stuck to my training all the way up trying to keep my cadence high. Came in at 19:54 which is a bit short of where I wanted to be on the climb but I didn’t have anyone over take me on the way and I passed several without going into the red. 
From the descent to the end was basically on my own. This felt the best of the day and I seemed to have more consistent power then during my earlier solo efforts. Pushed on to the end just trying to keep the cadence as high as i could and keep low in the wind. Got to the end and pushed hard to look good across the line.  Unclipped and just felt overwhelmed by it all, briefly till a kid handed me a banana, that solved it all. 3:21:58

IMG_3172

Till next year….

IMG_3216

15/16 Crit Season Review

It was the last race of the crit season. Around the back of the course the headwind just smashed whoever was on the front. It seemed like there was just no shelter and by this stage the riders in our race had just relented themselves to a single pace-line to keep what energy they could.
 Connor having a practice lap
The 2015/16 Crit season drew to a close on Friday and whilst initially the wind seemed to be nothing but a distraction in turned out to be a defining force in the race. I got a call on my arrival from Dan the Bike man, it was hammering down with rain at Ourimbah. It was however bone dry here although storms were forecast. We had already lost so many race days to rain and flooding this year, not the last one!

 

Last crit of the CCCC summer season. Equaled my PR for the final sprint so at least I was there in the end. #avanti #racing #mcc #outsideisfree #whatyoumissedthisevening #CorsaSL #cycling #critracing #crits #cycling ?? Gary White #cyclingphotos #paceline #pushygalore
Last crit of the CCCC summer season. Equaled my PR for the final sprint so at least I was there in the end. #avanti #racing #mcc #outsideisfree #whatyoumissedthisevening #CorsaSL #cycling #critracing #crits #cycling ?? Gary White #cyclingphotos #paceline #pushygalore
For me this year had been one of positive goals and achievements. I started out wanting to go up a grade and finally take a win. Last year had been so close with a number of podiums in D Grade but none on the top step. The other goal was to get Connor from training at the velodrome to finally getting out there and doing a race.
 
After a delayed start to the beginning of the crit season I lined up with the other riders I had not seen for the last month or so before making our way up to the sign on table. I had started with Mick just a month or so ago and had my shiny new Avanti Corsa SL all dialed in and ready.
 
The goals here were pretty simple, move up a grade. I went to the table to sign on to D grade only to find I was now in C grade. Well ticked that one-off before I had even turned a crank. Turned out most of last seasons D grade was now in C. The racing for the first part of the season was strong. I regularly made breakaways but they never last more than a few laps. I felt good and only seemed to get stronger each race but could just not get it done.
 
In the last race before the Christmas break I found myself sitting at the back of the bunch. Don’t really know why but we were 3/4 of the way through and I was holding a conversation with the rider next to me. I looked down and my HR was really low and it occurred to me I had not put in any efforts this race, just seemed to be floating around. As we came into the hill for the second last lap the bunch slowed and started to play with each other. They opened up a massive hole on the left side of the road just as I came into the bottom of the hill. I grabbed the bars and just thought, “NOW”. I smashed it up the hill hoping to take them by surprise. So far this year I had been able to hold them off for at least one lap before my power reduced.
 
I turned the top corner and down past the finish line collecting the last lap bell in the process. My body went low and I put my head back on my trainer at home, focusing on each stroke and keeping it smooth. I rounded the next corner and pushed before finally making the turn for the last time up the hill. I afforded myself a look to the left as was amazed how much space I had put into the group. The top of the hill is always tough but I was able to dig in and get over, losing a light amount of ground but enough to keep a gap. Into the final corner and head down, not my fastest sprint but i brought it home. Once over the line a massive hoot 🙂 Got it by about 8 seconds.
Finally got it done :) Love seeing the work pay off and a massive thank you to @mickcurrancoaching I think I'm more excited to see where we are going then we have been :) Also a quick shout out to the Avanti Plus Pushy Galore #pushygalore crew for keeping everything working and this awesome machine. Thanks for your support 
Finally got it done 🙂 Love seeing the work pay off and a massive thank you to @mickcurrancoaching I think I’m more excited to see where we are going then we have been 🙂 Also a quick shout out to the Avanti Plus Pushy Galore #pushygalore crew for keeping everything working and this awesome machine. Thanks for your support
The damage was done and I was to be put up to B2 grade. On return from the Christmas break they regraded everybody and B2 got called C. So I went from C to C, but all the C’s went to D. This grade was harder and whilst i felt strong and could keep up but another visit to the podium eluded me. This was mostly due to me making big efforts of the front or trying to get into the breakaway. The sprint in this grade was stronger than what I had but I was unable to break away.
 
As we continued to circulate on this last week, any hope of trying to make a break had diminished. The preem bell went and they put down the power, my plan was to just hang in there and let them wear themselves out. I found a wheel and did my best to keep out of the wind. This seemed to work till the second last lap when everybody had the same idea. I finally got myself back into the group and found a wheel that I wanted. The last lap in this grade is always strong and the pace got higher and higher. We pushed up the last hill and I had the wheel I wanted but as we pushed hard another rider become quite aggressive with his request to have my carefully selected wheel. During this process I just lost contact and came into the final corner towards the back but I had enough to get another wheel and started my sprint. I clawed my way back up to 4th or 5th but just ran out of road.
 
Happy with the season, 1 first place and Connor with 2 3rd places. Just stoked at the progress he had made for the year. Now, bring on the road season!
 

Highland Fling 2015, well half anyway

For the past 10 years there has been a gathering of the clans in the southern highlands. The small town of Bundanoon gets overrun with mountain bikers preparing to undertake the Camelbak highland fling. This epic mountain bike rise has comprised of a 110km and 55km cross country race. These 2 races are known as the full fling and the half fling. Recent additions have included the insane 100 mile race, the shorter 23km (Some fling) and the flinging threesomes (team race).

I have some friends that have done the full fling and half flings in the past had informed of just how hard the ride actually was. Honestly how hard could it really be right? We had planned to go down the morning of but some last minutes changes meant that we went the night before. In a hastened rush to get packed I discovered that my Scott Spark had lost all the air from its rear shock. Rapidly running out of time I grabbed my CX bike (Avanti Giro AR2) and put it on the bike rack. That was plan B (or plan CX if you wanted to give it a cool code name)

#highlandfling #mtb #soocold #odie #mtb#cycling
#highlandfling #mtb #soocold #odie #mtb#cycling

We arrived on dusk to Bundanoon to what was a very busy little town full of people, bikes and a giant blue box. I went to find the shimano mechanics to regas my shock whilst Mick (who had come down with me) went to find the registration building. After 3 pumps (actual pumps, 2 were broken) the Shimano guys had my shock back and working again. Heres to hoping it would hold. We got rego done then in the falling light raced over to the pony club to setup camp. This actually proved to be quick and painless exercise. We got the bikes packed away and luggage stowed before heading back to town for something to eat. However by this stage the town had shut down. I swore I had seen a club on the way in but it turned out that the only place we could find was a small little Chinese restaurant. Quaint is the best way I can explain it, right down to the thick plastic on the table cloths. This however turned out to be in the favor of the staff as Mick and I seemed to get the bulk of the rice all over the table. We returned to camp and were asleep before long.

Camp: I hope that branch doesn't fall
Camp: I hope that branch doesn’t fall

05:42am My phone starts to go off. I see a big picture of Will on the screen. “Hello” is the sleep induced response I give him. “Were you asleep?”, “What the $^% do you think”, “HAHAHAHA, where do I register?”. Will had gotten up at some stupid hour and had just arrived. He headed to find the rego location whilst i lay there trying to come to grips with th reality of sleeping on yoga mat all night. Suddenly I hear a strange noise like a cat preparing to to die before the roar of “Scotland the Brave” being blasted through the valley by a bagpiper. Yes there was a guy in a kilt, in a paddock playing the bag pipes. Really don’t know why I bothered to set the alarm…

Don't know why I bothered setting my alarm this morning. #highlandfling #mtb
Don’t know why I bothered setting my alarm this morning. #highlandfling #mtb

We regrouped, got prepped, ok I got coffee, before getting the race plate on the bikes. We had a brief time before the start of my race, the “Half Fling” 55k. Mick and Will had entered the “Some Fling” 23k race. We wandered the exhibitions including the specialized truck and getting my free GU energy gel (pineapple for those playing at home) and rock and roll lube. The “Full Fling” and “100 Milers” set off as we were wandering around the start. Insane to think there were people out to ride 161k! Not just dirt but single track!

People you find lurking in the highlands. @april_pn
People you find lurking in the highlands. @april_pn

By this stage we had gotten into our riding gear and I was cold. Around me everyone had started to do some warmup rides and I elected to follow suit. A lazy wander ended at the back of the starting grid before I found the most awesome April, looking well tired and cold. We had a quick chat, selfie and wished each luck before the half fling field set off. The field for this even was huge. 503 riders set off and all tried to channel into a small chute. Yeah that was slow, but the moment we were onto the dirt it was all on. I had lost April in the mix but just set about finding a good tempo as we had a long way to go. My goal was to finish the race in 3 hours and finish high up in my age group. Mind you I had no idea at the time how many were in my age group.

#highlandfling start line for the half
#highlandfling start line for the half

We round the corner and found some riders of similar pace to mine. As we work our way forward through the group I found April and did my best to say hello and get a picture. The road started to drop away and I realized that I had not put my glasses on. At this point I also remembered I had forgotten to get more food and just had the GU gel squished into the bottom of my pocket under an inner tube. No more time to think, glasses on and up the first short hill that went through a dairy farm. This was the first slowing of the group as some rider struggled even here on the first climb. I followed another rider on the right before cresting the hill to a rapid set of grassy undulations and just as quick a second climb.

Go! @april_pn #highlandfling #mtb #cycling
Go! @april_pn #highlandfling #mtb #cycling

Now I had overheard Will say that if there was water he was not going to ride through it. At the time I thought really? I mean how much water could there be. This was answered quite quickly as about 2 km into the race I discovered what was the first of several deep creek crossing. Even if you wanted I don’t think many would have attempted to ride across it, I just didn’t want to get me feet wet but I’m precious like that. The next few kilometres was mostly fire trail and the pace was high. Heading down one of the hills i noticed that my front wheel appeared to be wobbling! Some quick onboard diagnostics revealed that the quick release had come open and I was forced to pull over and reset it. This was quick but getting back in the train of riders cost me precious seconds.

Yup that's water. #highlandfling #mtb #cycling
Yup that’s water. #highlandfling #mtb #cycling

For now the road remained basically fire road, winding up and down. We weaved through the pine forests and took on some fast descents, one of which proved to be really sketchy towards the bottom as it was all loose gravel. Our first and somewhat brief experience of single track and then on to what appeared to be a very long flat road with the most amazing views. I pulled my phone out to get a shot before realizing that the road dropped away, fast! I stuffed the phone back in to my pocket just in time to start the descent. The road ramped quickly up before turning left and into some think under growth. We were only about 15k by this stage and we hit the first of an insanely steep short climb and rough terrain. Most of the riders dismounted and I was forced to do the same, hunkering my way up the hill with my bike. Over the crest and down through some thick bush before an insane of camber left hander brought us to the bottom of a gully. Thick deep black mud awaited there and no matter which line you took it was tough. Bikes were going everywhere and you just had to keep peddling. The tires became heavy and full, the only thing left was to pick a rut and hope for the best. Thankfully I did not come off but others around me where not so lucky. Luckily for all involved we were met by another creek crossing. You would think that riders may want to get some mud off their bikes but hey…

Early days, not cactus yet
Early days, not cactus yet

At this point we entered a paddock and followed a trail winding up the left towards a farm house. This met up with some hard pack road were I was overtaken by a rider trying to catch up with his friends. I felt it best if i was to stay with him for company. By this I mean slipstream and get a tow. This work for a k or so before he caught his friends. I went around trying to make up some more time. We turned back off the road to some simple single track which wound on for a short period before arriving in the first transition area. This was a relief as in my head it was the half way point. It wasn’t really turned out I was not good at math and riding at the same time.

Hills. Lots of hills#halffling #cycling #mtb #highlandfling
Hills. Lots of hills#halffling #cycling #mtb #highlandfling

The road he was slightly down high and hard packed. I got down as low as I could, put hands in close to the bars and went into my best impression of a TT rider. What I neglected to realize was that I picked up a couple of passengers as i kept pace at 42kph. When i finally rolled off they came through and we took turns till the road turned back to the left and rolled down through a vineyard. More quick fast hills ensured before all of a sudden in the middle of a paddock everyone has stopped. It turned out a heard of cows had strayed across the course and we where being held until it was safe. I took the opportunity to go to the toilet and take a picture (Of the line and other people going to the toilet). It was a few minutes before they started letting us go again and we headed down another hill. And yet another creek crossing.

Had a break in the race. Cows. Yup cows. So pro. #tdf2015 #cowswithguns #highlandfling #mtb #cycling #halffling
Had a break in the race. Cows. Yup cows. So pro. #tdf2015 #cowswithguns #highlandfling #mtb #cycling #halffling

Coming up the other side we had about 4k of winding uphill single track. This is where it started to hurt, I could here all the people around sucking in the air as the climb just kept going. When cover finally broke we were back in the pine plantations we had visited about an hour before. The road headed up a few hills before doubling back to some long negative inclines. I was following the group here in the picture including the girl in pink, holly crap can she bunny hop! The road became tighter again before hitting single track that wound its way along the creeks. Man there must be some big wombats around here, the burrow entrances were huge. The trail run up slightly before the longest but shallowest of the river crossings. After this it was a looong climb that worked its up an too the left. I think this is were the entire field came to a grinding halt. Little did I know that this is where the hard stuff really started!

#halffling #cycling #mtb #highlandfling steeper then what it looks.
#halffling #cycling #mtb #highlandfling steeper then what it looks.

The moment we crested the hill and went past the carolers (yeah I’m confused too. If anybody knows what was going on please let me know) the trail dropped fast before a tight right. The rider in front of me hit the deck hard as his back wheel caught a root. It wound around rooty and rutted before a quick opening saw us enter a field with some rock drops, had a picture taken and then onto brokeback mountain. This climb just kept going and going. I was just about out of energy now but I couldn’t get my only energy gel out to use. Trying on the climb provided to be impossible. As I got to the top the guy in front let me past and I headed down the descent. Halfway down my back well hit something and bounced the bike in the air. No idea of how i did not crash but I became unclipped and landed on the top tube. Owwwww.

image

The track became really tight, the ups were steep and so where the downs. By this stage a lot of people were getting of their bikes to get off. Often you would not have the choice either due to the line that would form or if a creek crossing was evident. The track got tighter and more mud. This time I did fall off. Getting back up, one shoe undone i pushed on, doing ti up as i went. We crossed back through the original water crossing, dinosaur still in attendance. The final single-track beckoned on a few kms to go. By this stage everyone was exhausted, just kept pushing, over rocks, logs and bridges. People coming off, footing being lost and genitals being cupped. Finally it came out on to fire road, i don’t think I have ever been so relived riding. I pulled out the tube from my pocket, slung it over my head and enjoyed the best energy gel that has ever been created. the GU energy pineapple! With about 7 to go I pushed for what i could but with the slowing for fuel and the exhaustion a number of people passed me.

Wombat holes
Wombat holes

The trail ran past the 5k to go sign as two riders fought for the line on some fire road before coming off in the wet. I swerved to the right and got past as they started to argue with each other. We pushed on down a long hard packed road. I was pushing as hard as I could but could still not catch the rides in front. We turned and went through another vineyard before headed up a hill, 500m to go! At this point there was a free beer tent, I resisted and pushed on, under the road bridge before pushing as hard as I could with what was left up the hill and under the final banner.

Done and #cactus beer assistant? #halffling #cycling #mtb #highlandfling #odie
Done and #cactus beer assistant? #halffling #cycling #mtb #highlandfling #odie

I rolled over to find Will who took a pic before rolling slowly back to the tent for beer. The went and found my burger and cookie, then more beer. Finally we packed up and went home, the soundtrack of which was mostly me complaining about have sore quads and relegating each other with stories of how awesome we were. The real questions, would we go back. Yeah for sure, the others are already planning how many days they want to camp for next time.

Finish Time: 03:06:08.1
Overall: 135 / 503
Gender: 131 / 458 (Male)
Categ: 35 / 93 (Veteren Male)

CX gravel grind and single track

Just a couple of weeks out from the highland fling I figured I should probably put some more k’s in on the dirt.This was a pretty simple challenge. Get the Giro with some knobby CX tires and ride it up Mt Faulk Rd before my friends turned up to do a lap of Awaba. I rode out on the fire road on the CX bike, the narrow bars proved to be a bit twitchy but otherwise felt good. Turning right out from the Awaba entry saw a tared piece of road that started a steady climb up and to the right. I knew there was a bit of climbing being a Cat 2 climb, but how hard could it be right.

Mt Faulk Rd climb #gravelgrinding #Avanti #giro #cx #cyclocross
Mt Faulk Rd climb #gravelgrinding #Avanti #giro #cx #cyclocross

Turns out, hard. The first half was probably the worst. After turning that first corner the tar makes way for gravel and the incline picks up. It was at this point I regretted not having completed a decent warm-up and really my overall decision that this would be fun. The first 1.5k just stayed constant, hot and dry. After this the road eased in its gradient and the foliage offered up some coverage from the sun. The road was hard packed and I found I was able to shift back up a couple of gears.

Gravel grinding the cx #cycling #gravelgrinding #Avanti
Gravel grinding the cx #cycling #gravelgrinding #Avanti

The road turned sharply to the right in a uphill hairpin. The road here kicked up to its steepest gradient for about 200m. My heart rate picked up to its max and my saving grace was that I was over the halfway mark. Standing seemed to be the best way to balance power and traction as I just keep pushing.

The road turned back again to the left and I was now afforded the views for the 300m I had climbed thus far. This did last long as the trees became thick and the road continued on its now gruelling 8% average. Finally the last climb came up and I was greeted with a short but welcomed downhill section before another brief rise.

The road forked at a rather black looking dam and I headed down a road towards the Heaton Lookout. This was gravelly in sections but mostly hard packed. At this point I encountered a few 4wd’s who were exiting the picnic area. I arrived and was greeted with a spectacular view from Newcastle down to the top end of the Central Coast. I stopped briefly to take a pic before heading back.

The descent was sketchy at best. My cable discs did not like the descent and trying to handle a CX bike on the drops, at speed, on loose surface proved challenging. The brakes them selves required a lot of pressure to get good modulation which just lead to hand cramping.

That was an understatement. Descend on the drops hey ????????#giro #gravelgrinding #cycling #stateforest
That was an understatement. Descend on the drops hey ????????#giro #gravelgrinding #cycling #stateforest

I got to the bottom and met up with my friends before doing some single track on the CX bike. It was fun at the start but the appeal wore off pretty quickly. Mind you I set a PR up the camel back climb so must have been doing something right.


Day 6 The Vegan experiment or how I beat the dark tower

Gran Fond0 4 2015

 

So you may remember in September I made an attempt to ride up Mt Sugarloaf near Newcastle. That day it beat me. So after months of hill climbing and repeats, today was the day to take it on again. Now going back to my vegan experiment, this was the first endurance ride I had undertaken since I started. For a normal 130k ride I would take 2-3 muesli bars, 2 bananas and we would often stop for coffee or lunch. Today It was just some Banana/Date energy bars and a banana. 
 
 
The ride itself was epic, having fuelled up with oats, cranberries and almond milk for breakfast the charge was on and we tackled sugarloaf first. Arriving at the meeting point I managed to drop and break my riding sunglasses then my Garmin Edge 500 decided it would not boot up correctly. Some quick googling and holding down 3 buttons at the same time seemed to fix it but cost 15 minutes getting it sorted. This followed by my insistence of getting pair of servo sunnies put us behind about 30 minutes on the eta. 
 
As a side note, the first round of the Newcastle Cyclocross series is starting this weekend and I decided to challenge myself to take the Avanti Giro AR2 out for this ride. I had it setup by my LBS and wanted to get some Km in the saddle to get used to the changes. Big tires will make the trip comfy but it’s not the fastest bike on the flats.
 
This first leg of our day was the toughest. We had decided to hit Sugarloaf first whilst the legs where freshest. The full climb from the start point is a Cat 3 climb. The road winds its way up through a little town before turning off the left and proceeding along the ridge line. This is where its starts to get tough. Last time we both pushed hard through this first section which I have no doubt hurt our initial attempt. This is reflected in the strava segments which shows my second best time through the first section be nearly a full minute. I just stuck here with Jye and focused on keeping my breathing steady. I was going to beat this hill. The incline started to pick up, Jye was already down to his lowest gear, I stood up to try and keep my rhythm going. We turned the corner and the hill that had beat me stood in front, taunting me again. This time I knew what was coming. I kept my pace, remembered my training and focused. It hurt and at this point Jye had started zig zagging up the road to try and minimize the incline. I made the corner where I had failed last time, HR 181, thats good it was 185 last time. I continued up the incline, legs burning. I spotted a sign up the road and kept that in my mind for a focus point, head down, push, rinse repeat. The sign came closer. I had to sit, pushed it back to my lowest gear, tired but getting there. The road eased of slightly here and actually felt like I was going to make it. Past the sign. Now its just a push through the fatigue. The last section of the road is almost as steep but the major part of the incline is on the left hand switch back. Once again, stand up, head down, drive home. Last push for 50m and I was in the top car park! I stopped for a selfie with the tower in the background and you can see I’m struggling for breath. 16:16 Minutes for the climb, 29:49 for my last attempt. Exactly 1:30 later Jye came up behind me. He too had made the climb in one go. An exhausted vague hi five was given. What a long way we had come from a few months ago.
 
Whilst Jye stopped to get his breath back  I made the final ascent with my Avanti to the top of the 412m that is Mt Sugarloaf. The view from here was unreal and I could even make out my suburb down the coastline. Stopping for another picture then down the hill we go. I was hesitant last time going down this hill and was again this time. The one short coming of the Giro AR2 is tis mechanical disc brakes. They actually work well in the cyclocross environment and slow speed stuff but put them under hard load and the front especially started to jitter and shudder quite hard. We made our way down with Jye in the lead and in a tuck almost straight away, gaining momentum quickly. I looked down and my speed said 70.2kph and Jye was pulling away from me! I made the mistake of saying hi to another rider who was going up and almost missed the left hand corner. By the time we got down to the exit he had probably 200m over me in distance. On later inspection of the data it said we hit 92kph (however I personally doubt that eek)
 
We had now covered 12 out of the planned 130k, not even 10% and I was cactus. We set out onto the Hunter expressway to loop to Kurri Kurri and back. We went from an average of 12kph for the first hour to 40kph for the second. This is where it was evident that my day on this bike was going to be hard work. On the flat trying to keep up was hard work, even in the slipstream I had to peddle quite hard to maintain the speed and just did not get a reprieve. On the long slight inclined hills I lagged however the moment we hit anything above 5% I was able to walk up with ease compared to the others.
 
We got the tail wind back after being fueled by half a banana. We found Drew lurking on a street corner and made our way through Fletcher on towards Newcastle. The foreshore itself runs forever and comprises everything from ships to boats, to well, just polluted water. The area itself was really busy and we made a quick stop at Nobbys before heading over to my favorite little coffee shop at the ocean bathes. This was a little over the halfway point and my legs were really starting to hurt. Actually it was some of the “best” fatigue I had felt riding. The trip up Sugarloaf seemed to really push everything to its max. The coffee was good and I took the opportunity to eat some of the Banana & date energy bar that I had brought. I shared it with my fellow riders, Drew quickly asking if it was vegan. No complaints about the food 🙂 Jye took the opportunity to point out how good the bacon smelt and I must agree it did smell good.
 
The break did some good but we needed to keep going. From here we went along the Newcastle board walk and meet up with the King Edward Park Hill climb. I love this climb, its short and tough. Jye dropped his chain as Drew and I set off. Stand and push. By the time I got the to pinch (23%) I put it in low gear and pushed hard, my back wheel bounced high and hard as whatever was lodged in there flew out at a rapid speed. Had a great run up and mentally after this morning this seemed pretty straight forward. Took 20 seconds of my PR but most of this seemed to lay in the middle flat section which I was able to put more speed down.
 
We regrouped at the top and made our way down to Merewather then up the scenic Drive climb, past Glenrock then onto Fernliegh Track. We wandered down till the end and this is when I started to feel it all catch up with me. I’m putting it down to a lack of food as opposed to the vegan diet. Normally I would eat more during this ride but today I had not. The hard thing came in that I could not just duck into a service station and buy anything to eat. Luckily for me there was a supermarket not too far off our path and I stopped in to purchase a round of bananas for us all and a bag of trail mix. With this on board the energy soon returned and Jye decided we should do a few more hills in a detour through Warners bay. This was hard work, whilst not as hard as Sugarloaf we now had 120k under our belts and the temp had climbed to 33c. The hills dragged and dragged but in the end we both made it to the top before some quick descending to pick Drew back up at the bottom.
 
From here it was a meander along the lake edge and back to the starting point. The trip home in the car proved long as I had forgotten about the Easter traffic returning from holidays. Not to worry I had several bananas and a bag of trail mix to keep me company. Well I did for a short while.
 
Getting home I had to go back out again and I felt fatigued. I wanted to sleep standing up. Between the bike, the climb and the food I made pretty much shattered myself. The strava suffer score was 201 which is my biggest to date and first time I have cracked the 200’s. I was asleep by 9pm and pretty sure I didn’t move for the entire night.

 

 

The elevation profile for the ride
The elevation profile for the ride

 

How to: Garmin Edge 500 + Strava + Android

How-to-upload-from-the-Garmin-Edge-500-to-Strava-with-an-Andriod-Deviceb

The Garmin Edge 500 has to be the standard GPS device out there. You can hear the familiar chirp of the “Timer Started” at the start line to any bike race. The 500 is a great piece of equipment but sadly lacks the ability to interface via blue-tooth or similar to a phone. Thats what the 510 and higher models are for. In a couple of weeks I’m heading to a family function about 100k’s away from home. Being the proverbial bike rider that I am I thought I would ride my bike up to the event before returning back in the car. At first this sounded great but then the real big issue dawned on me, if I go I won’t be able to upload my Garmin observations to Strava till the next day! I might as well just not go. Late last year I made the switch from iOS to Android with a Sony Xperia Z3 and for the most part have been pretty happy with the switch. The one thing I do think is great is the ability to use the extra ports and sockets for meaningful real world interfaces.

After a short bit of search I cam across a Micro USB OTG cable which stated it could be used to attach USB microdrive or similar. I was able to get one quickly through eBay for less the $3 and it arrived 2 days later. This served its purpose perfectly! Below are the basic instructions and I have also included d a video demonstration on how to carry it out. (Ok it was just an excuse to take my bike out for a ride to collect some observations to use in the video, for what its worth I got smashed by a summer thunderstorm about 20 seconds after the shot of me pulling up to the water)
 

1 Make sure you have the following

  • Garmin Edge 500
  • Android Device
  • Micro USB OTG cable
  • Standard USB A-Mini A cable

2 Connect the cables

Take the OTG cable and plug it in to the respective port on your Android device. Next take the USB A-mini A cable and plug that in to the OTG cable
 

3 Connecting the Garmin

Open the black rubber port on the back of you garmin and plugin the USB mini A connector. You Garmin will now power up and go through its boot sequence.
 

4 Android device and USB connection

You should now see a message pop up stating that the device is being prepared, that will disappear and then a moment later you will get a message say that the device is ready for use. Don’t touch the message at this stage as it will unmount the unit.
 

5 Open Chrome

Open Chrome and navigate to strava.com. Login if you need to.
 

6 Upload

Once there go to the orange + icon in the top left and click on it. You will be at the standard upload screen now
 

7 File upload

Select File upload on the left side, you will now be give the select file option. Click the button in the centre of the screen.
 

8 Select documents

You need to select documents to navigate through the Android file system.
 

9 Navigate to the drive

Find the Drive, you will see, internal storage, SD card if you have one and Garmin.
 

10 Select Garmin (drive)

Navigate to /Garmin then /activities
 

11 Select your .FIT file

Scroll through the list till you find the activity that matches the date of the ride or run that you have just done. Select when done
 

12 Return to Strava upload screen

Return back to the main screen for the Strava upload and fill out any details you want to change such as bike or shoes and the name of the event.
 

13 Save

click the orange “save and view” button on the right of the screen
 

14 Check Dashboard

Return to your Strava Dashboard and check to make sure your activity is there
 

15 Unmount Garmin

Pull down from the top and click on the USB device. This will unmount the drive. A message will come up when its done.
 

16 Unplug device

Unplug your Garmin and put your new OTG cable away in a safe spot
 

17 Get Kudos

Sit back and bask in the kudos that will now be bestowed upon you.

The Top 5 rules of weight loss: lose weight and keep it off

 I have recently lost the last 10kg I needed to get to my goal weight and I’m surprised by how many people ask me how I lost the weight. My uncle asked me how I did it and I replied bluntly “I ate less and exercised more”…
In hindsight of losing the weight it seems like a pretty silly question once but a friend pointed out to me that maybe it’s not so obvious when your on the other side of that excess weight. Thinking about this I have complied a list of the 5 key points that I feel will allow you or your loved one drop the weight and keep it off. They are not the nice fluffy lists that you find around but follow them and it will work. I would also point out that whilst I am a registered health professional please seek advice from your doctor before starting any type of dietary change and exercise regime.
Sarah keeps her weight in check and lean through hard work, exercise and clean eating
Sarah works hard at both diet and exercise. I have seen her diet and a credit to her for being so disciplined. 

1 Stop the victim mentality

Huh? That’s not nice. No it’s not but this isn’t going to be one of those little fluffy articles that list some little changes and steps to shed massive kilos. Weather you like it or not this all comes back to you (ok I will point out something here. There are some medical issues and some medications that will make you gain weight but if your reading this and you think this might be you, please go and see your Doctor. If they say your fine read the rest of this article and take note. If they find issues, thankfully you went and saw your doctor!)

But it is so easy and we are all guilty of allow these mental state to happen. “I had to go out for dinner that night”, “My partner brought me that cake as a surprise”, “I had a bad day and needed a pizza to make me feel better”. This cycle has to stop. Nobody else is responsible for you or the decisions you make in your life. Nobody. If you don’t agree, don’t bother with the rest of this article.

Ok so how do I stop? The first step is to reflect upon yourself and ask if this is a behaviour that you consciously or unconsciously follow. “I’m not fit enough”, “I just can’t do it”, “I’m not making any progress so why bother”. I want to be blunt and write “At the end of the day nobody cares” but that may be a bit mean. The reality is though they may care but they can’t be responsible and that is the insight you need to take. “I like eating bad food”, that’s fine I accept that you can make that decision in your life and won’t judge you but you are responsible for that and the side effects that will come. If you want to make this change and want to make it stick you need to reflect on yourself and stop the victim mentality.

2 Be accountable to yourself

This really does lead on from point 1. You are accountable for the food you put in your mouth. I could really leave it there but I extend this to say that nobody will know what you do or don’t eat at any given point in time. If you sneak food and don’t record it in your diary it still counts. It’s very easy to fall into the little traps and just say “I’ll eat this, it wont matter”. It all matters and part of the process of effective weight loss is the learning about making informed food choices. You can push this element more by making yourself accountable to others. IE if you plan to lose 5kg then tell your friends or family, want to run a 5k then put it on Facebook or Twitter. By making yourself publicly accountable, you “need to succeed”. Weather you admit it or not the only person that can achieve this goal is you so how do you explain to yourself why you did not make it? Are you happy with that reason? We all fail, the ones that succeed are the ones that pick themselves back up and do it again.

Lost more weight then me
My friend Jye, be accountable to himself for the last 100k we rode together. Still had another 37 to go at this point. #JyeShagged

 

 

3 Use tools such as MyFitnessPal (aka Keep a food diary)

There are a ton of free and paid tools available that will help you to record your food an activity. Weight Watchers and Michelle Bridges 12wbt both have some great paid tools and support processes in place to help but remember, just because you pay for something does not make it their responsibility to make you lose weight (See point 1). My tool of choice is MyFitnessPal (MFP). Its free and available on both iPhone and Android. The brilliant thing about this tool is that it uses the camera on your phone as a bar code scanner, making it super easy to record everything. It sends you a reminder if you haven’t logged your food and gives you a clear sign if you are in or out side of your daily goal. It even gives an estimate at the end of the day to help keep you focused on your goals. One silly little thing that helped me here is that MFP has the “streak”. Its how many days in a row you have logged and recorded your food. I set a goal to make it to a year. I was desperate to keep my streak running and be ahead of my friends that also used the app.

I credit MyFitnessPal for the core reason I was able to get the weight off and keep it off.
I credit MyFitnessPal for the core reason I was able to get the weight off and keep it off.

4 Don’t use gimmicks and weight loss supplements

I worked with a person for several years who was desperate to lose weight. Every other Monday she would come into work and show me her latest weight loss tool, fad diet, supplement or gimmick. After all her time on the “5/2 diet”, “the only green diet” the “mono-oxy something or rather diet” and drug store of powders and pills she kept in her draw she still has not lost any weight.

They don’t work for a reason and that’s because you have not accepted point 1 and 2.What do you mean? The mental state of the supplement is a quick fix. Most weight loss supplement are not tested well their clinical effectiveness, let alone to a rigorous scientific standard and nearly all of them recommended they be used in conjunction with a calorie controlled diet and exercise regime. I remember when the craze hit for some shoes that did not have the flat soles, the tag line being that you could lose weight through micro instabilities caused from the shoes whilst moving and walking. Wow, shoes that help you lose weight whilst walking! Brilliant! We see these sales promises all the time from online to infomercials. I cite the Dr Oz Green Coffee bean incident here. And whilst the video below is making fun of the situation, think about it next time you see a TV infomercial.

 

5 Find something you love to do.

This could have been “find and set goals” and stuff but in keeping with this post and brining to back to reality, find something you want to do and work you goals into that. For me I started riding my old bike in the shed. My original goal was to lose 5kg for motorcycle road racing. However as the weight started to go I set myself some harder goals, I entered a local triathlon, then I started trying to ride further distances. I used an app called strava (also links to MFP) that really helped me to be competitive with myself and offers fun challenges to push you. Some days I feel that I’m cheating a bit because I enjoy riding and it doesn’t seem like exercise at all. Running on the other hand is effing hard work, not my cup of tea but is for some although I do partake in it as part of my gym routine. I would still like to complete the city to surf. Maybe I need to take my own advise there set a goal.
Cycling will burn a lot of weight
@oliverhiggins during a local crit race

Keep finding goals in the things you do enjoy, get out with friends or your kids. Find ways to incorporate aspects of exercise into your daily life, got little kids? Do all the Wiggles dances next time you put on the DVD. I could probably easily do another 5 or even 10 points to help people lose weight, keep it off and have a better life. Find a friend, have goals but… don’t rush it, stay on target, pick yourself back up, avoid fads, Heart rate zones, don’t give up everything, know your BMR. Maybe these more complex items are for the another list in the near future. And if anybody owns a tug toner please let me know.