The Fondo Singularity

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From the outset i was behind, I started in Edgeworth just before 10 and the group I was riding with had set of earlier then me as I do things to attend to that morning. I was not sure how far ahead they were at the time. I found out later they were an hour and forty minutes ahead. My goal was simply to try and catchup before we got to Singleton. (Yes do the math knowing they were that far in front I was never going to make it up.

Its a 65km each way trip from the starting point to Singleton. My goal was to average 30kph, I Figured I could maintain it and it was my best bet to getting close. This journey out was great, after the first half an hour and the muscles had warmed up, the mind had gotten over the shock of starting and what lay ahead, the moments become almost zen like. Pedal strokes became a blur as I focused on keeping the cadence constant, always wondering if I would see the group ahead. I pushed as hard as I could but about 20k to go to single i was sent a text message with  picture of them standing out the front of the “Welcome to Singleton” sign. I continued along. The road surface itself is great along the highway up until you get to the golden highway turn off. There is still plenty of should just the surface itself is the large rocky asphalt. A short climb and then a roll down the hill and one narrow bridge and I had reached Singleton. It did not take long to find the pub where they crew had stopped. Lunch and watering was the order of the day.
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Jye informing my by txt that they had beat me
 After what an extended break for them and a short one for me we decided to head back. The trip out had taken me about 2 hours. I had stayed in the saddle the whole time whilst I know they did stop periodically. By the time we started to make the trip back the temperature had started to rise. We rode out two by two by when we hit the hill leading out of town we started to splinter. In the next hour we managed to get 3 flat tyres and a broken spoke. The pace slowed as the heat rose, we stopped at one of the major truck stops to rest and get more water. The road surface in he was amazing and a few of us took the opportunity to make a mini crit lap around the park. (KOM btw 🙂 )
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Stopping for puncture repairs
We continued on the way, the length of the trip starting to sink in. We undertook a long slow rise and I insisted on staying at the front. By the time we hit the top my HR was 183 and I was shattered. (Cat 3 climb?) At this point Jye informed me that the temp had risen to 45 degrees. No wonder we were starting to lag. We continued for another 15 minutes before stopping under Old Maitland Rd overpass for some shade and waiting for the rest of our group. Once we had regrouped we set off again. Due to the heat most of us were running low or had run out of water, so the next stop was the final rest area. Once we arrived in dribs and drabs again we all took the time to refresh and refill the water bottles. Much debate was held at this point has the sugarloaf towers had become visible. The days earlier enthusiasm to “do a quick lap” up sugerloaf and everyone just seemed keen to get out of the saddle for the day.
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To the dark tower!
We made our way back to the starting point and I clocked over the required 130km, not wanting to trust Strava 100%, I went around the block to add a few more km on to me total. That last lap was painful 🙂 but  #JustKeepSwimming and we made it. Time wise we had taken longer then expected, we were all tired and most peoples sunscreen had worn off and we were different shades of pink. We were all pretty proud with this being the farthest distance the majority had ridden.
Now to plan December. The things you do to get a little digital badge 🙂
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#JustKeepSwimming

 

 

 

 

Sydney to the Gong 2014

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If anybody was wondering there is now a 4 in the morning. I now know this due to my alarm going off on Sunday morning. I had packed most of my stuff the night before, made some breakfast and headed off to Sydney. We were starting at 6:30 and I didn’t have much of an idea were I was going let alone were to park. The plan was to drive to the start, do the ride and then catch the train back. Saturday had been hot and windy, Sunday started out cold and windy. Clear skies but realllllly cold at 0630.

I watched on as other groups came into the depart area. If your even remotley interested in bikes you would have seen something you liked. I was amazed that some people were undertaking the 90k on small stunt bikes, fold up bikes, weird scooter things, a unicycle and just about anything else. One guy had a chopper style bike that just looked like hard work and there was even a couple of people riding fixies! Screw that, thats why they made gears! Heaps of “vintage” bikes running modern groupsets and I even saw a set of spokie-dokies, I’m assuming they were “vintage” otherwise it would have just been lame 🙂 There were the odd tandem including one dynamic duo of Spiderman and Superman. (Marvel and DC, tsk) Just disappointed in no 3 way Goodies Trandem.

I finally met up with the people I was riding with before they decided to stop at McDonalds for coffee. Hadn’t even made 1k yet! It was a relief to get out of the cold though and take the opportunity for a toilet break as the earlier coffee had caught up with me.

Once we actually got started the head wind was brutal and cold. The cold normally doesn’t bother me but due to the number of cyclists on the road we had to stick to the pace of the bunch. This meant you couldn’t really pedal hard to get the body temp up. The wind continued along the foreshore and we wound our way around the suburbs. This went on for 20k’s or so. It was a welcome sight to cross the bridge and start the climb up towards the Royal National Park. Well at least i thought so, this was the first long climb and it was like the train had ground to a halt. Halfway up quite a number of people had dismounted and had begun walking their bikes up. The first rest stop was here and I pulled in briefly and to see if I could see the others I was riding with. I became separated but was not too concerned as my plans focused around getting myself around for the day any way. Back out on the road their was another slight rise. Normally its a relief when you crest a hill but not this time, that earlier headwind was lurking there and it hit full on!

This section was slow undulating along the highway to Waterfall. I plodded along in the headwind till 3 riders blasted past me. I felt it would be rude of me to not use the large whole in the air they were creating in the headwind. They were moving fast and we covered of the next few k’s at twice the average I had been at all morning. I will give it to them, they held a fast pace in that wind till I backed off having been dropped to just out of the slipstream. From this point we had more or less arrived at Waterfall station for the beginning of the first descent.

Coming around the corner everything ground to a halt. They announced that it was the steepest part of the ride and we had to keep behind the control motorcycles and slow down. This did not stop some people from hammering down the slope. It was quite steep and tight in sections but there was a lot of bikes so even if you wanted to go fast here you would have to take some risks. I was amazed at this point the amount of people on the side of the road changing tires. The road itself was steep but the one thing about national park that I love is the road surface. Sooooo good 🙂 I got to the bottom and waited a bit before heading of again. This is the section I was looking forward to and it did not disappoint. The road was closed and the only time we had any oncoming traffic was the police returning the escort bikes back. Once again the general speed was slowish but the flow was much better. The vast majority kept to the left and it made passing easier. I wheeled along till I was passed by a group of heavily yellow clad individuals riding some very expensive looking machines, seemed like anther opportunity to tag along. I was not the only one with idea as another rider wearing a BMC kit pulled in beside me. We spent the next few k’s having a great run through the nasho. Those corners are phenomenal, tight sweeping bends with wonderful camber and to have ability to have the entire lane to yourself does not happen very often. We continued with the group until we hit a hill, stood up and started the slog only to find the vast majority of the crew we had been following drop away. I turned to the guy in the BMC kit and remarked on losing our ride, he laughed and agreed he had been along for the tow. The lunch rest stop was here and I felt it best to take some time to stop. I was pretty sure my crew were behind me so I tried phoning again. After having no luck I elected to wait for 15 minutes and with only 1 to go I got a call from them indicating that they were actually in front of me and waiting at the lookout at the end of the National Park. According to strava they passed me whilst I was waiting to use the “facilities”. He said it should take about 15 minutes or so to reach the lookout…

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Nasho 🙂

A challenge had been thrown down, I had to make it from the lunch stop to the exit as fast as I could, under the allocated 15 minute time allowance. So much for this not being a training ride! This was tough but I put on my mental hat and started the climb, pushing as hard as i could whilst trying to keep the rhythm. So many people were struggling by this stage and many had elected to walk. I pushed on and focused on breathing and must admit I got some strange looks as people heard my “errrrrrrrr” breathing coming up behind them. I finally made the top, feeling like cactus but made it to a view of the ocean and the cliff face bridge. 13 minutes 43 seconds 🙂 The sun was well out now and the day warmer then earlier. I found Dan and stopped for a picture of the view. At this point he (having had a rest) and I (having just done the climb) went on to play catchup to his wife. Holy crap I pushed as hard as I could to keep as close as my legs would let me! We got to the top of the decent were the police had stopped every body, Dan looked at me and said “that got your heart rate up”. Like crap it did, my heart rate was 175. They let us go and the descent was awesome, there was no way I could keep up with Dan but I kept him in my sights and by the time we got to the bottom we had caught up with his wife just before the cliff bridge.

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This was the other thing I wanted to tick of my list. It was unreal, we had the bridge and the cars were expected to give way to us. Nobody rushed this part, we just spun the pedals and soaked it in.

Me crossing the bridge
Me crossing the bridge

The last 3rd of the ride comprised of lots of short sharp hills, and this is were I saw the most carnage. The hill pinches hit and people were getting off the bikes left right and centre. It was a challenge to stay on the bike and get around them. One rider went the almighty change down under load and with an massive crunch off came his chain. He free pedaled for a moment before unclipping at the last moment to get his foot down and not crash over in front of me. The hills came and went before we went onto the cycle path past the ocean. The slow back streets of fairy meadow were now full of a lot of very tired and slow moving bikes. The final run into the finish saw what must have been a kilometre long line up but nobody was complaining.

We went up the chute, smiled for the media then stopped for a minute before riding back out. All done. I made my way down to Wollongong itself, passing the small harbor and its lighthouses. It was great just to spin and cruise, before saying goodbye to the guys I had ridden with. I rode through Wollongong itself to find the train station and making the ride back by 4 minutes.

I thought I would have had the train trip to myself but once we got to Fairy Meadow station the train filled to the brim with sweaty smelly riders (like me). By this stage there was no conversation, everybody seemed very happy, just tired. The guy next to me fell asleep several times and I rested my head on my bikes seat whilst I gave it a cuddle.

The train stopped and St Peters and I figured I would follow the bulk of the riders back to Sydney Park. Turns out its right near the exit. That worked well! A short ride down the hill, through a round about and a left turn had me back at my car. Packed up my stuff, took a pic of my awesome Cr1 and made my way home. Very tired but satisfied as what can simply be put as an adventure.

Big thanks to Dan at Pushy Galore for the invite, check them out for awesome bikes (like my Scott) and second to none in after sales service!

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Dan and his wife on the bridge behind me

To the Dark Tower we came; Mt Sugerloaf and The Scott CR1 s20

Some time ago I read story by Alastair Reynolds, that whilst not being scary it showed the depths of obsession a man can go to. It was an odd book that even as a grown man put the wind up me. I’m not sure why but I think that was that I could not understand how an individual would push themselves, their bodies and families beyond breaking point because they could not let go.

This story has always stuck in my head but the premise lies back to Shakespeare. To the tower darkly is ones mans obsession with something even he does not understand.

I have been training and riding hard for the last few weeks. Motivated heavily be the arrival of my Scott CR1 and my recent entry into the Central Coast Cycling Club Crituriem Season 14/15. I have never done any road racing before and this seemed like a good place to start.

My local climbs at home were steep but reasonably short. I have been working them as much as I could but I wanted to go and do some more climbing. Watching a lot of cycling on TV and online show some fantastic climbs but around here their is not a great deal of big challenges.

Or so I thought, I mean how hard could it be? We set of from Edgeworth to take a scenic tour out through fletcher to see if we could find the start of the old hexham swamp train line. According to reports a large tunnel still exists in the middle of nowhere along this line. We where able to locate the start and scope the access point to take the bikes in. This was not an adventure for the day, our bikes were not exactly setup to be ridden through a swamp.

The ride continued through mur de minimi and across the expressway to Seaforth. This were the climb started. I was still feeling strong by this stage. We had ridden about 20km but Jye was very much starting to regret his decision of pizza and beer the night before watching the NRL grand final. We got the the Sugarloaf turnoff and stopped for a brief break before the ascent.

Let me take a moment to discuss the Scott CR1. The model in question is the s20, 2014. This is my bike, there are many other like it but this one is mine. Its my second road bike, the previous being the Scott Speedster s20 (2013). Both run Shimano 105 throughout (more or less) but primary difference is the frameset. The speedster has the new 6061 alloy aero frame, whilst the CR1 is a full carbon framset and is approximately 1kg lighter.

Stock, both bikes are equipped with a 12-30 tiagra cassette however my Speedster came with a 11-25 105 cassette. I was actually quite happy with it and plan to change the CR1 over as i did miss the 11 and rarely used the 30, even on my local climbs.

Leading up to this, I had put about 500km on the CR1. One of the biggest things to note over the Speedster was the way the back end of the bike felt. I wondered initially what the difference would be, would it be worth parting with the cash for the bike other than bragging rights about having a carbon bike? In short, yes. The first test ride, the second corner the bike just tracked so well through the corner, the back did not move or skip at all. I should point out that this was never a problem with the speedster, just this was better. It was very impressed with the bike but after a few rides I must admit I was not “blown away” by the step up, however I blame myself for this and not the CR1. I took the bike into the store I purchased it from and they took the time to do a bike fit for me. I’m 177cm and 61kg, riding a large frame. Within moments of getting the video working they found my seat was 25mm too high! Some more adjustments to the seat rails and the handlebar height had my bike in a very different position to what I had been.

So I had reached base of the climb with my bike. Since the bike fit I had been sore but the bike was running beautifully and I had been pushing myself to “learn” the new body position. Fatigue was there but nothing out of the norm.

After a 10 minute break to allow Jye time to contemplate his food regrets we started the climb. It was a gentle climb up, passing a clearing for the powerlines which not only allowed a view back to the ocean, it showed just how steep the ridge we were on. The road twisted and wounds its away around, the gradient ever increasing as if it were goading the unknowingly rider into a sense that it was nothing they could not do. Jye who was a head of me started to decrease is speed as we started the steeper ascent about 1500m into the climb. I passed him, already in a low gear but felt good and strong.

The road flattened ever so slightly as it twisted around 2 more bends. As i rounded the last one i was greeted by what is known on strava as “300m of spew” the road went straight up! In the middle it kicked up to 25%. I gritted my teeth, but my head down and focused on my breathing trying to get my already high heart rate down to a manageable level. Pedal, breathe, pedal, breathe, pedal, breathe, look up. Rinse and repeat. The road got steeper, I’m on the incline, heart rate is 181, I’m flagging, trying to sit, stand and just keep moving. I was almost to the top, head down, a bit further, almost there, head up, what the %&#$. The road turned and keep going at the same gradient! That was it, I had to admit defeat, I was gutted. I unclipped and got my breath back. I turned to see Jye down the hill in a similar state. I had been able to get quite a climb in and I was now ever grateful for my 12-30 cassette on the back. Jye by contrast had a 11-25 and just ran out of steam.

I waited for him to catchup before we continued on our way. The road flattened out for a bit before kicking up again to the summit. At this point I was determined to get as high as I could and went further up the road, Jye decided to sit. However this was short lived as I was not able to get any further the way I had and decided to do a 3 point turn whilst half clipped in. This resulted in me with one hand on the fence, one on the break and the wrong foot jammed under the pedal. Yelling out to Jye he came to my rescue, laughing of course.

I went a bit higher till I hit some stairs before wandering down to find Jye and take a break. At this point I actually looked how high we had actually climbed. We were still proud to have made the top. The trip down was incredibly faster then the climb up. We wandered our way back to Jyes place to finish up.

Conclusion is I was stuffed and defeated, went out the next day and climb my local hills, just to prove i could. I will see you again Mt Sugarloaf….

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Disclosure: The CR1 in question brought my me and not provided by any company or group. The opinions in here are that of my own. I bought my bike from Dan at Pushy Galore (Avanti Plus) Wyoming NSW. I would highly recommend taking the time to give them a call.

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Undertaking a Triathlon, a beginners experience.

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A beginners guide to triathlons Well not sure if its a guide so much as, this is my experiences undertaking my first triathlon

6 months ago I would have never even thought about entering a triathlon. I was not the most active person, I hated running but had just discovered cycling. As luck would have it I blew my rear tire out whilst cycling with friends in the Ourimbah state forest. This was early January, it was only the November before that I had a friend ask me to come out and try the course. I must have been 1500m in to it before I hit the first hill and sat half way up trying to vomit for 15 minutes.

I was standing out the front of a local bike shop waiting in earnest for it to open so I could buy a new tube. Whilst I waited another customer turned up and joined me in waiting for them to open. We ended up talking whilst we waited and the conversion was surrounding bikes and he asked if I did anything else. I said just mountain biking but would like to try road. He mentioned that amongst other things he did was triathlons. Now this was something I had always wanted to do but they always seemed to be longer then I felt capable of.

He then told me about CCTRI and how they offered shorter locally based triathlons and did the “try a tri”. After waiting for nearly an hour to no avail, I drove around till I found an open bike shop and was finally able to replace my tire. However this did give me more time to think about doing this…

When I got home I looked up their website and low, just as he said they did offer the try a tri option to give you a go. 200m swim, 10k bike and 2km run. I thought, “I can do that”. I was unable to make the next one but this gave me about 7 weeks to train. I had been cycling quite hard for the last couple of months and felt that 10k would be straight forward. The run would take some work, but how hard would a 200m swim be right?

I had planned on doing it on my mountain bike but was lucky enough to secure a Scott Speedster s20. This made a massive difference to my training but took some time to get used to the position, riding style and lycra. But before I knew it within a few weeks I was pushing out regular 30k rides. Even did 50 on one day.

I started my running training on the treadmill. I think this gave me some false hopes but either way it did allow me to believe I could run the 2k. As I got closer to the event I ran outside more which was hard at first but got better as the days went on.

I was silly to think the swim would be straight forward. I knew I would not excel but I figured I would be ok. So I took myself down to the local pool and didn’t even make one lap! I only needed to do 4! I think my pitfall here was that even though my overall fitness had increased, I had (and still do) have poor technique. I was only able to do swimming training twice more but I elected to do “dry” training. That is focused upper body training on land similar to what I would undertake swimming. For this I used a TRX

Leading up to race day I just decided to ride one day and TRX and run the next. On the weekends when I had some more time I went on a 30km+ ride. A couple of times I did all 3 in the weeks leading up, ie TRX then bike 10k and then ran 2k. Whilst it was tough, mentally I knew I could do it. Even if I had do breast stroke or walk for parts of the run.

I had read varied ideas surrounding nutrition when it came to the race. As it was short I did not want to overdo it, nor did I see the need for any food whilst I was out. I did have some breakfast 2 hours before the race, a banana/choc smoothie and some peanut butter on toast. I then got everything prepped and set of with the family in tow.

We arrived at the event with a friend and his son that had agreed to join me for our first Triathlon. His son was in juniors and we were in B-grade which had 22 competitors.

After the juniors had completed thier short swim we ventured out into the lake. It was 100m to the buoy, go around an then swim 100 back. Sounds easy right? The water temp turned out to be great and we all lined up along the markers. As the sirens went I had a brief hesitation but it was more that I did not want to get in the other competitors way. After a few moments and some bumping into the nearby swimmers I was  feeling ok. It suddenly dawned on me that we had a slight current towing us along, so when we passed the marker buoy we were heading back into the current and the wind. This did become somewhat harder and I must admit to swimming a good part of the return leg doing breast stroke. There was a noticeable loss of time doing this, but I was here to complete, not compete. A rogue wave caught me as I came up for breath and I copped a lungful of salty lake water, thankful I was very close to the marker and could start to walk.

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I made my way from the water tired yet glad to have completed the stage that from the outset I knew would be the hardest. I emerged from the swim 19/22. Not the best but was just glad to be out. The transition to the bike went smoothly. I have not purchased any “clipin” shoes so I just used the ones I would be running in, this would also save some time later. Donned my helmet and race number then walked the bike out to the area in which I could now start the next leg.

I passed my friend almost straight away, even though he had over a minute on me coming out of the swim he had lost time during the transition. It took a longer time then I expected to find me groove with the bike. Primarily due to some straining in my quads/glutes. I’m putting this down to the lack of kicking in the swimming training and my workouts not having squats. I was able to work through it but the hills were tough. Normally I would try to get out of the saddle but my legs just did not want to help!

However I was able to set a good pace and got past a number of competitors of my field. I sucked it up and pushed the last hill as much as I could. By this stage the “A grade” and “Sprint grade” competitors had caught me and were overtaking at a fast regular pace. I completed my 3 laps of the circuit and return to the transition area. I was really stoked here by the encouragement given to me by all of the officials. I was really starting to feel like I was going to finish. I came out of the cycle much further up the field in 4th spot!
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I racked my bike and dropped my helmet. As I turned to run down to the timing area I heard cheers from my wife and children. Nice to have some support! I got about 500m into the run when both my legs started to cramp up, but I was able to push. The run itself felt slow and was difficult to muster the energy I needed but I pushed on slowly. The turn around mark was a very welcome sight and did feel a renewed energy knowing that I only had 1k to go. Now I must admit at this I figured out that I was further ahead then I thought and my “complete not compete” mentality did go out the door. I knew to kids in my grade had passed my and whilst I was very tired I was determined to not let the 2 people behind me past.

I tried to set a regular pace just to keep 50m or so in front. I started to catch the competitor in front and as we approached the line he too picked up his pace and we finished within side a second of each other.

I finished with my family cheering on, well expect my 4yo daughter who had the poops because she wanted to go and play on the swings!

I had come in 6/22 and the 4th in mens. Overall very happy with it and very tired.

Whilst I had initially undertaken this to see if I could do it, I actually had quite a bit of fun and found the training to be quite varied. There is one more race for the summer season, I think I just might become a member.