Monday, March 28, 2011

Up down across up down.

My biggest mistake on Sunday was saying to Nick earlier in the week that I thought it was time I put a bit of hurt on myself for the next couple of rides. Now although he says things like "I don't feel great" or "We'll just take it easy" or that crowd favourite "It's just a cruisey ride" I pretty much know that each time we go out he somehow tricks me into going harder than I thought I would. I'm a stooge! This time I employed the technique of reverse psychology in an attempt to trick him into going easy on me. The result? 60 kilometers, 2000m of climbing and about 150 gels to get through it.
I do make this sound unpleasant don't I? The truth is it was a great ride. The plan changed a bit along the way, the hills got a bit longer and steeper but all in all I had a top day riding around with a top bloke. We started out with the climb over Camp Mountain the short way. It's a climb that has consistant pinches of over 20% gradient and goes for about 2.2km. It has also suffered pretty badly with the rains here and is broken up and loose most of the way. Nick sat just behind me and we chatted for most of the climb. Occasionally I had to stop talking and concentrate my energies on making the particular section and then get my breath and only be able to speak in short bursts. I employed the Dale Garvey method for this climb. Don't look up, just keep pedalling and don't give up. I was even surprised when the summit appeared and although I had worked hard to clean the climb I never felt like I wasn't going to make it. I do have to admit to taking a really long time to warm up though. I reckon Nick must have heard enough of me whining to last a life time in the first part of the ride. Sorry mate.
Before long we were ripping down the tarmac to start the short haul up Nebo Road and the start of Scrub Road. I still wasn't feeling great or even normal. Dr Nick prescribed a caffeine gel as I admitted to no coffee before leaving on the ride. Half way up the climb on Scrub Road it hit me like a train! Legs felt better, head felt better, now I actually feel like riding. Alright! So up past the shelter on South Boundary and turn left towards Creek Road. The descent down to the valley floor was awesome with the usual double track four wheel drive trails reduced to a single file ribbon of dirt. It was tacky, red and swept clean of the gravel that makes the surface slippery and treacherous usually.
At the turn off to Augies Nick suggested we go further down to the very base of Creek Road and take Lightline Road back up to Nebo Village. The vallet floor had 9 creek crossings. It was beautiful to see the creek flowing clear and deep and it was pretty hard to not stop, break out a bar and have an impromptu picnic there and then.
About crossing number 6.
 Lightline is about a 12km climb with a section about 8km to start with and then a short respite before the final 4km grind to the top. It has been somewhat of a favourite of mine since the first time I made it to the top without stopping a couple of years ago. There were heaps of walkers out training for the Oxfam 100km walk. an old riding buddy of Nicks was amongst them and we stopped for a chat and a bite to eat. A pair of horse riders further up were very appreciative when Nick and I pulled over to let them pass on a steep hill. We really didn't want to spook the horses. As they passed us they stopped and asked where we had come from and told us of the conditions on Branch Creek Road where they had come from. Up we go now with the smell of coffee starting to invade my senses. it was like a ghost, just there and yet not quite. I was stoked to cross the gate at the top of the climb and hit the short tarmac traverse into Nebo Village and Boombana Cafe.
Coffee Nick style ensued. Long black, milk on the side and a panini with leg ham, swiss cheese  and tomato with just a smear of dijon mustard. Heaven. On. Earth. We stayed heaps longer than we should have but the conversation was easy and the surrounds perfect. It's always times like that where the best planning for epic rides happens. Nick and I have a couple of crackers planned now.....

Refueling and planning. Oh, and a little sponsor placement!

Unfortunately I had a time constraint on the morning and it was fast running out. A combination of the longer route to the top and the slower traverse across the valley floor had left me tight for time to get back home and meet my familial obligations. The tough decision was made to stomp back down the bitumen to Camp Mountain and then take the steep, brutal and boring climb over the summit and take the short track back down to the start point for the ride. I was sad to cut it short as we were travelling well and could have pumped out a reasonably epic ride. Nick was happy enough to oblige me and not make me feel guilty about the shortening of the ride. It was still a really satisfying ride and has left me wanting to get out that way again soon. I think that this winter is going to hold some truly epic endeavours and I can't wait to get into them.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Mount Coot-tha Challenge.

So what else do you do on a rainy Sunday morning after throwing up for two hours the night before? The answer is ride 110km with some friends and have a to day!
I was shady when I got up. I had a wedding the night before and was careful not to drink too much. I ate heartily but not to excess but boy did I feel crook about midnight. So two hours of fun ensued and well, I was not happy.
In the last few months I have pulled the pin on quite a few rides with Nick. As he and Annick, his wife, were my riding partners for the day I knew if I bailed out from this ride and wasn't dead or missing a limb there would be merciless ragging. I got out of bed and struggled through the last of my preparations and rode over to the meeting spot, losing my breakfast along the way. Not looking good. Of course Nick coaxed me into cruising into the start line with the words"If you still feel crappy you can sit at the finish line and have a coffee while we ride." Yeah, I can see that working. Might even be fun. I got to the line and felt a whole lot better!
 I didn't think I could eat anything so I drank sparingly of my energy drink and water and vowed to take it easy and just cruise along. The plan worked great as we rolled off the start and through the city streets. The first fun bit came when we got to ride through the Clem 7 tunnel. It is usually off limits to cyclists and has a long steady descent to the bottom of the tunnel where you can really crank it out. There were a few pace lines forming and I got on one or two and even made a couple of my own. It was cool to fly down the tunnel and then start the long steady climb back out into the rain. Did I mention it rained all day?
After that it was over to the hill for the timed ascent. I had no illusions about a good time as I am a reasonable climber at best. I managed a 11:06 while Nick nailed it in 8:35. He got second in his category! All this and he was complaining of not feeling great before the climb. Just to put my effort into perspective the overall winner did  the climb in about 6:30. He could have done it twice in my time...... Once we were at the top it was awesome. There was mist! We never get mist here. The top of the hill was shrouded in cloud and you seriously could not see the other riders 50 meters in front of you. It felt like I was riding in the Swiss Alps or some other mist shrouded and exotic place. Cool.
Down the other side. It was really frustrating that everyone was on the brakes heaps. I hate that. It is much more dangerous trying to keep the speed down so much that you loose the rear wheel all the time. If you just ride through the corners and use the brakes sparingly the traction is much better. Oh well, I passed a lot of people. I also went really fast!
So there we were. Annick, Nick and I had all met up again and we were rolling along chatting and generally having a nice time. We met up with two other riders we knew in Troy and Tony at the first feed station and enjoyed some fruit and Winners Bars while chatting. The five of us set out from there and had a great ride swapping the front and trucking along at a very respectable pace. Troy has done some amazing rides around the area and is really into Audax style events and he and I chatted about some plans I have been formulating for a while. He is strong too. He held us no problems on his touring bike with mud guards and racks fitted. Tony is a laugh and we kept the banter going for ever. We just kept on trucking. With the ride over to the start and back it was about 110km.
We crossed the finish line, we had a coffee. It really wasn't much more than that. It was the company and the vibe that made it awesome. We were able to chat for the whole ride. Sure we all had a punt on the timed climb but even at the top we regrouped and rode along together again. Nice. There could only be one way to top off a perfect ride and that was with gourmet hamburgers at Nick and Annicks with my wifes lime syrup cake for desert with macadamia honey ice cream. The cup of Zambian single origin coffee, well there aren't words.
Not bad for a guy with a dodgy stomach.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Some shots from the Super Series 4 Hour. Check out the mud. It's really just proof that I do ride my bike sometimes and not spend all my time blogging and sitting around.

Rider briefing.
This carnage was after just lap one. I did fall off but hey, you get the idea.
The go fast berms. I loved this bit. The mud started just after though.
Spencer. Game face on.
Me still cackling maniacally
How's my form?
Yeah, almost over it. Almost.
Massive thanks to my wife for not chucking me out of the house when I brought my riding clothes home! Love you darling!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Classic Nebo, classic mates.

I got a real treat on Sunday. It's a little run from Gap Creek up South Boundary Road to the Boombana Cafe for a coffee and muffin. It's the same ride I have done many times and it always makes me smile when I think about it. The difference was I got to do it with soem really ace people. I've ridden alone alot lately and while I enjoy that, the social part of this ride was the highlight. I also got to ride with some quite inspirational people.
It was a big group, 12 in total. The usual suspects, Nick, Pete, Meg, and Gaz and then there was John, Rob, Bruce, Brad, Hal, Ross and Tim. Now Nick, Pete, Brad, Gaz and myself are all over 40, Tim and Hal I think are in their thirties, Ross in his late twenties and the rest were all over 50. If anyone is thinking that this meant the pace would be slow they could not be more wrong. Right from when we set off to do a bit of single track to start the ride it was on like Donkey Kong. Man they were pushing it. We blasted out of Death Adder to start the first part of the climb up South Boundary and I thought my lungs were going to jump out of my throat. I had John breathing down my neck the whole way through the single track and it was only when I cleaned a tricky little pinch obstacle that I got away. He blew it.
The best was yet to come though. The climb up South Boundary started and the pace settled a bit for the first hill or two. We hit a long fast descent and I let it go and flew through overtaking a couple of the bunch as I went and started the grind up a long incline relaxed and feeling pretty good. That's when the train hit me. Three guys, all over 50, in a pace line up a 14% gradient. Wow. I tried to grab on and managed to cling by a thread sticking out of my gloves to the back of the line. What's even worse is they were goading each other on! "C'mon JT what are ya doin'?! Pick it up a bit. It's not an afternoon in the country!" No JT, don't. Just stay where you are. Please god no. Ahhhh! Sorry, that bit was me.
Now it is about 25km to the cafe up South Boundary and this kept up all the way. I might get past a couple of them on the descent and then it was grind and groan to try and stay with them. There were a couple of short stops to regroup and let the back markers catch up. The group was pretty evenly matched so these were short, and Bruce made sure they were. "C'mon, lets go. I'm cooling down here." Apparently Bruce is 60. I don't believe it.
Finally it was time for a coffee. Sitting there and thinking how lucky I am to do what I do, I thought also of how lucky I am that I can continue to do it for a long time yet. Bikes are good. We all shot the breeze and enjoyed a very lively conversation about bikes and life. Very nice.
Time for a leisurely cruise back down the hill. Well it was leisurely if you call smashing every climb and then sprinting on the descents  as hard as possible leisurely. There is 890m of climbing to the top of Mt Nebo from Gap Creek in 25km. There is also 500m of climbing on the way "down". Not bad hey. It wasn't until the very last bit of single track that the legs fell off the old boys. I got to run riot over them and even managed to catch up with Nick and Ross. We cruised back along the last of the single track and down to Gap Creek and the cars.
So there we were, 50+km with over 1300m of climbing and an average of over 18km/h. Damn those old boys were fast! I am trying to be that fast now consistently. Great to think I could still be that fast in 15 to 20 years time. When I think of it I smile, a lot.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Oh yeah!
Some where along the lines I got an extra place. I made the top ten! Well in my old fart category anyway. I am well pleased with this as my training has consisted of sitting at my desk working or drinking beer. Lets see what happens when I put a bit of effort in shall we. Still no photos though, sorry.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The 4 hour facial.

No it isn't some kind of crazy beauty treatment. It was the first race in the Super Series here in Queensland. It's run by Tailwind Promotions and is new for this year. There are a 4 hour, 6 hour, 24 hour and an 8 hour race in that order all about 5 weeks apart. Nice idea, lots of racing.
I'll get the praise for the event out of the way now so I can get down to tin tacks in the race report. It was a well run event on a great course with a really good vibe. There was a lot of mud. A lot of mud. Even with all the mud it was a top day and a real challenge. The post race burgers were a highlight too!
Spencer had decided to do the race as well. He was even more under done than I was but it was a fun course and we were with fun people. We caught up with each other a couple of times and even lapped for a while together. It's great to shoot the breeze and take the mick out of each other while passing quite a few riders. It's also cool to have someone to have a coffee with on the way out to the race and a coldie on the way home with.
Right, to the pain and suffering. I got a good start although there was a lot of traffic and basically once we hit the first bottleneck it all turned to poo. Down through the first section of course looked really promising with fast corners and tacky dirt. Unfortunately once you were through that it turned into the first of the mud sections. It went on with little let up for about 2 kilometers and included a climb up a fire road that became the equivalent of having teeth pulled without anesthetic. I had little or no traction and it culminated in a spectacular 180 degree spin where I didn't even have time to unclip or put a hand out. One second the bike was tracking along nicely and then it started to let go and suddenly I was in the mud, fully clipped in and facing the wrong way back down the trail. No damage was done and all I could do was cackle maniacally as all the people I had passed so far rode through. That pretty much set the mood for the rest of the day. I was going to try my butt off to do well but was fully prepared to have fun and laugh my way through the race. What else can you do when half the time your bike is going where it wants and not where you point it?
I knocked out a couple of reasonably quick laps for the next two laps and all was cruising along fine. The mud was pretty sapping though and I didn't really factor that in too well to my race plan. More on that later though. As I came through the last of the mud sections on lap 4 I heard a strange noise that was like having a leaf of small stick caught somewhere in the drivetrain. As it turns out I had a slash in my rear tyre that was bleeding air for a minute or two until the sealant kicked in and after that it was smooth sailing again. I had felt a bit squirrelly in a couple of the fast descents and only realised I had a problem when another rider commented on how low my rear tyre looked. I have been well impressed with the Maxxis Aspen tyres and the Caffe Latex tubeless sealant I use. This is the first flat I have had in 10 months. Not bad.
Lap 5 probably cost me my goal of a top ten in my category. I had some shocking stomach cramps brought on by too much carb in my bottles. It came on fast and doubled me up on the side of the trail in a matter of minutes. I got off and tried to walk to complete the lap but found it getting worse. I decided to do the only thing I thought may sort me out and headed off into the bush and empty my stomach. After nearly 20 minutes of suffering and hurling my guts out I felt much better. I got back on the bike and finished the lap with just 5 minutes left on the clock. There was a lot of back slapping and "well dones" going around but I soon put the brakes on that! If I start the lap before the 4 hours elapses it counts. I wanted the 6 laps as my goal and the mud had made that a much bigger challenge than I first thought it would be. Suddenly I had bottles being changed, the bike getting a spray to clear the drivetrain and gels being slipped in my jersey pocket. A slap on the arse from some "helper" and I was off for my last lap. It's a good feeling even though it was close to the time limit to head back out on the track and know that you couldn't have given more than what you are doing right now. I chatted to a couple of riders on the last lap but still pushed a little up each of the hills. I was flat by then with the stomach emptying of the previous lap really stamping it's mark and no gel was going to dig me out of the hole I had dug through my own lack of understanding. It wasn't going to get me down though as with little training I had gotten to my goal in some less than ideal conditions. I love a tough race as it sorts out who really wants to be there. I slid, I ground, I groaned. But I got there.
I was stoked when I crossed the line. I gained what I consider high praise from Nick, he said it was gutsy. That will do for now. Stay tuned for race two. The game face is on! A big thanks to the rocking sponsors I have in Cyc'd for Bikes and of course the boys at Giant for the race van, the tent and all the other cool stuff. Cheers lads!