Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sunday crawling.

How's this for commitment. Spencer and I organised a ride for 6:30am on Sunday and at 6:00am he called to tell me he had slept in and I should just cancel the ride. I said no, lets just go later. So we rescheduled for 7:00am, and then 7:15am, and then finally 7:30am. Commitment. I reckoned we would both need a little help to get going so I left a bit earlier and grabbed 2 coffees from my favourite coffee shop. Spencer thought I was pretty cool.
We had a fun ride. All the usual trails and even a bit of pace here and there. We were stomping along at one point when Spencer asked"Are we going fast or am I just out of practice?" The answer was a little of both. So then we slowed down a bit and chatted about the last couple of weeks. Spencer has just gotten back from New York and I have been stupidly busy. It was funny to hear him say he was only really out for the ride to catch up. It was made funnier because it was exactly the reason I had said we should reschedule rather than cancel our ride. He did struggle a bit towards the end so I offered to drop him home rather than have him ride as he usually does. The only proviso for him accepting the offer was that I had to stay for a coffee. I was happy to agree to those terms and we sat and shot the breeze with coffees in hand. Very relaxing.
In the end there are no events to train for, no massive miles to have to achieve at the moment. The chance to catch up with my mates and shoot the breeze while doing something we love is just as important as the training. It  refreshes your mind and reminds you what the point of the riding is in the first place. All the racing and stuff is just the icing on the cake. I hope to knock over a few more rides just for fun over summer and keep that connection with my real reason for riding.
I'll be calling you all soon.........

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sneaky Gap Creeky.....

Last night I snuck in an unexpected night ride. I haven't been able to plan anything lately due to a crazy work load and when the opportunity arose last night I just chucked the bike in the truck and bolted. I didn't even check the lights but just grabbed some spare batteries.
The car park was empty which had me a little worried as I was riding alone. Not the best idea but I had told Alison where I was riding and that I would ring her at 9pm to let her know where I was and ow I was travelling. She would have called out the search party if it got too late. Five minutes in and I had lost any concerns and was in the zone. Riding at night is such a cool experience. It totally changes your perspective on a ride as you just get that little isolated view in your beam of light. You really focus on that light. Its magically quiet and there were only the odd toad and an errant wallaby for company. I did see a couple of groups of riders who were surprised to see me out on my own and I had a chat to one group at a trail head. I was ripping along Rocket Frog when I heard a "Hey Graham!" as Rupert came whizzing past. How he knew it was me I don't know but we stopped and had a catchup right there on the trail. The mozzies were ferocious though! I reckon a few minutes more and the first group would have arrived back with some friends and carried us all away. Nasty.
Back to pedaling though. I tried the climb up Dingo. I love this trail. The climb is a good workout with some difficult technical sections both up and down and a nice steady grade for the most part. The view from the top was pretty cool too. Looking out over The Gap it reminds you that you're not in the middle of nowhere but just 10k from the city. I am a lucky man. Going back down was cool too. I did decide to walk the worst section as on my own a crash here would be painful and may leave me stuck there for a while. I was happy with that though.
Now it was through the lantana and up into the last of the single track before the car. I was feeling awesome. Rolling down to the car I thought I needed to finish off with the two short sections over the road. Dirt Girls and Pony Express are cool fun. Dirt Girls is a nice little climb and pops out on a fire road. It's pretty loose with some nasty little gravel sections and off camber corners to keep you guessing. Not hard on a normal day but in the dark it seemed harder and more fun! I got to the top of Pony Express and promptly gunned it. This was my normal approach to the trail but perhaps not the best idea in the dark. I almost binned it a number of times but managed to cling on with my butt cheeks and make it to the end. Rolling back down the fire road and the biggest surprise of all came along. A really big goanna! It must have been 7 feet long. The nice warm nights mean that they stay active well after dark. No harm done as he bolted in one direction and I bolted in the other.
When I stopped at the car to pack the bike it was quiet. Really quiet. There was a sliver of moon and not many stars. I just sat on the tail gate and took my shoes off and enjoyed the feeling post ride satisfaction. Bliss.
I'm glad I can't plan.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Round we go again.....

Well another race run and done. I must say that I really enjoyed the Matrix 6 Hour. It was a great course and a very nice vibe around the course. With mostly singletrack through some very pretty areas I was quite happy to keep plugging away at the laps. I really enjoyed the fast descents around the back of the course and even the switchback climbs were enjoyable in that masochistic kind of way. At least once I got a rhythm going on them I could pass quite a few riders on the way up.
I started the day with the attitude of no training, no chance of a result. I was just enjoying riding and chatting to the other competitors. I smashed out 4 quick laps and stopped for a few minutes to get some food and bottles and went out again. Jack and Rohan were pretty helpful and changed the bottles over for me and Rohan gave my bike a squirt with the cleaner. I took off again and was really just rolling along. After 2 more laps I pulled in and had a bit of time for the kids. I really wasn't phased by not going out for any more laps at that stage but Alison assured me I would be really disappointed with my efforts if I called it quits there. It wasn't that I didn't feel like riding, I was just having a nice day andrelaxing while watching bikes go around and playing with the kids was at the front of my mind. I went out for another two laps and got through to the 5 hour mark. Instead of stopping I just went straight back out. I passed Alison and the kids at the creek where the boys had been playing most of the day. This was at 9 laps and I felt one more would be good. I got around to the creek again after having a few small cramps and yelled out that it would be my last lap. I got over the line with time to spare and thought "hang it, I've got one more in me."  That's when the disappointment set in.
I rode past Hopey in the transition area and asked if he would tell Alison that I decided to go out again. He was really encouraging and kept saying how well I had been doing. He then told me when he had checked on the leader board I had been in second! While it was hours ago there was no reason for me to have not kept going as I felt OK. I could have been sitting in as podium position! Ah well, smash the lap and be happy.
So overall it ended with up that I did 11 laps. The winner in my category got 15 laps. That averages out at about 15km/hour and is totally achievable for me with a little training. Don't get me wrong, that is a great effort in singletrack and I am pretty sure I wouldn't have managed that yesterday but I could have done much better than I did. I lapped really consistently at under 30 minutes wehn I was riding. I was smooth and relaxed around the whole course and I was having a pretty good time. Maybe next race I might have a look at the results board before I decidie to treat it as a picnic.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Reset button, engage.

Sunday looks like it could be wet and pretty muddy. Very muddy if you are racing in the Matrix 6 Hour Challenge at Canungra. I can't wait for the chance to slop around for 6 hours on my mountain bike with my family as my support crew. The boys are fired up about the kids race and the chance to mess around in pit lane and Alison is just happy to come along for the hijinx.
I do have a race plan if you could call it that. Smash a couple of fast laps and then grab some food. Smash another couple of laps and probably collapse. not much of a plan I know but it should still be a hoot. There are quite a few people I know racing and that always means a heap of friendly trash talk and "encouragement". I have a seacret weapon too. The last few weeks have been pretty intense and with that my heart rate has been sitting at about 120bpm for most of that time. Now that's endurance. I call it stress training.
My only intention for this weekend is to race hard, relax heaps and get the head straight. It's been a long couple of months.
Woohoo! Lets race some!