Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Leaves on the Line (Further Delays Expected)

Having changed plans to cope with my first bout of illness at the start of this term, cutting my build period for National Champs to only 14 weeks (3 blocks and 2 taper weeks), which is reasonably ok, I will do all I can in that time and get myself as fast and fit as I can be.  So I have just about hit the first block (well I'm into the second week) but the first week was pretty much written off by field trip/illness.  Once again I found myself full of a cold, thankfully this time it was an actual cold (or atleast a cold that I was very used to) and it lasted only a week, so I'm back into full training.

The worst part of the cold was the timing, not for further delaying the training, but for the fact that it hit during my field class.  This field class was a week long trip to do Geophysical surveying around Ruapehu.  The weather was by and large, grim.  Raining and cold from the gun, culmintaing in snow on the penultimate day.  However for the last day it did clear to beautiful blue skies giving us our first views of the mountain (knowing there is a girt volcano a few km away but not being able to see it is a little sad).  My group definitely lucked out and ended up doing a gravity survey up the side of Ruapehu on the Tukino Skifield Road getting up to the snow line, checking out glacial valleys, boulder rolling, snowman making, snowbal fighting and a little bit of geophysicing.

So back to Wellington, recovered, writing rubbish and riding occasionally.  House is empty, feeling a little lonely, but atleast I have heating to cope with the bitter Southerly blowing through at the moment.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How to Train Like Calum; A Comedy of Errors.

The question of 'Calum, how did you get so damn fast; I want to be like you!' has unfortunately never been posed (or at least not to me, maybe to other Calum's throughout the World) but if it did, the main gist of the answer would be to harden the f**k up.  This is advice I really should take myself, but since I managed to loose my Morvelo arm-warmers emblasoned with the letters ttfu ('Tighten The F*** Up') I seem to have forgotten. 

Today's ride was my first ride of a 'real' distance on a road bike for an awful long time.  However I say real in the loosest sense as 83km is by no means Earth shattering, and neither is the 2hours 44minutes it took me.  However I would like it to be known that this ride did include a good ~12km of unsealed road, and a series of errors on my part (hence the title). 

The ride was one I have been longing to do since I arrived in Wellington but slipped my mind until last week Stewie (mechanic at iRide; I should mention in passing that I no longer work there, university and training are taking over) went and rode most of it before I did.  This sharp reminder meant that I had to get out there and do this loop.  Now this ride isn't an amazing ride, it doesn't have Earth-shattering climbs (in fact it is mostly flat), nor does it have the blissful emptiness of some rides, but what it lacks in hills it makes up for in views. 

The loop taken can be seen below, the software used comes as part of the igotu gps kit which I have been using for a while now.  It's a really useful training tool, and pretty cheap!

Ride data from 13/04/11
The loop takes in the Hutt road followed by Petone front, out to Eastbourne and carrying on along the gravel road towards Pencarrow head before turning off onto the Wainouimata Coast road, back up to Wainoui, over the hill and back to Welly.

The ride started late (4pm, it's getting dark at 6pm now) having spent the morning spending money I don't have on luxuries, the middle of the day in class and then finally getting round to riding the bike.  As such I knew I would be hard pushed to get around the full loop and was planning to ride part way along the gravel before turning back.  However having hit the gravel and carried on riding hard with a tailwind it >35kph I felt like I should be able to make it all the way round.  This ambition was soon thwarted by my next mistake.  Riding hard with relatively low pressures soon saw me with a pinch flat in my front tyre.  Thankfully I had had the presence of mind to bring a spare tube with me and soon got myself going again.  But I found myself with a conundrum; to go on or go back?  I had taken a map with me, but in true 'errors' fashion my map did not include the small section or road I was sure I was on.  As such I was unsure of just where I was and whether it would be safer (less gravel) to go on or back.  Here the TTFU adage came to mind and on I rolled, a little slower and a little more cautiously albeit, but onwards nevertheless.

It ended up being the right decision as the remainder of the gravel road did not take too long, although it did get progressively thicker, and where it wasn't think there were some evil corrugations (think wash-board) to contend with.  The hill over to the Wainoui Coast road certainly wasn't easy either, the gravel and gradient combining to mean bottom gear and some mtb skills to get traction up there followed by some slow speed descending to avoid pinching again.

Once on the road I was in familiar territory though, having raced over this way in 2010 in my first race in the top group (and suffering like mad) at a PNP race.  So I knew that the rest of the ride was largely false flat with a headwind.  Suffer time.  Thankfully I felt reasonable and could keep tapping away at >32kph for the duration; life in the drops til the hill.  The hill being Wainoui hill, which I'm sure is a lot bigger from Wellington.  Grateful for this I spun up there, mindful of the fact that there was little shoulder, heavy traffic and steadily darkening skies.  On went the USE lights to blind any unwary drivers (dipped so as not to cause too many issues) and provide slightly more safety for me.

At the top I stopped to take a photo of 'the pretty lights', but my hands are not tri-pod steady and nothing really came out, leaving me slightly frustrated, but warm inside knowing that I was one of few people that gets that view from the bike along with the prior views of the South Island a views across to Wellington from the gravel. 

Descending was a bit hairy, I'm not a fan of that road at the best of times, let alone in the dark.  This was not helped by the wind which whipped my contact out of my eye (first time it has ever happened!) meaning I had no depth perception, making seeing objects that could cause a high speed crash difficult to say the least.  I ended up taking the last bit of it with one eye closed before taking out my remaining contact.  My mind is used to coping with both eyes being ruined, not just one.  As such I spent the rest of the ride without much vision.  Fun.

The ride along the Hutt

So the moral of this ride is:  take more tubes, TTFU, and just enjoy riding your bike!  Looking forward to training properly after my field trip next week.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


I'm finally back on the bike properly having had an enforced break after Karapoti of 2 and half weeks.  For most of this time I was asleep, getting up to 20 hours a night (although it can be hardly called a night when such a large proportion of it is spent in sunlight with the curtains fastly shut).  Uni work suffered, but more over my legs suffered.  For some reason my calves have a tendancy of maintaining their shape, but my thighs have a tendancy to atrophy so quickly it hurts, so my legs not only are under powered but look very bottom heavy; not saying that asthetics are everything, but I do get leg envy at times.

So having finally realised that I only need normal amounts of sleep, I managed to get back on the bike, and have slowly gotten back to riding once a day.  My plan, as it stands, is to be back to riding once a day and doing reasonable rides (although I feel there is no need for any over 3 hours running on my 150% race distance maximum rule), whilst working out how to use the gym and seeing if anyone actually wants to go and keep me company (read 'pick the bar up from my shoulders when I fail at squatting 20kg') and working out what training works on what days. This needs to be accomplished before I go on my Geophysics field trip on the 15th.  An easy target I feel, which is what I need whilst recovring/feeling my way back after illness.

Today's ride was just a fun mtb ride, I had no real plan, 3 hours would have been good, but there was no pressure.  As such I set off in the sun and up Mt. Vic to ride the Super D course for this Sunday's race (which I will not be racing, Owen definitely deserved to race more than me, so we switched days at work), then over to Miramar on the road to do the loop there.  From here I went round the bays to Tip-Tracks, wanting to get around fencline, down deliverence to Makara, do a loop, then up Salvation and round to home.  This, however didn't really come into being.  Having forgotten how much Tip-Tracks hurt (24minutes gate to gate today, not very fast), not fuelling properly and generally not being fit, I just went round fenceline from here to home.

The Super D track at Mt. Vic is ridiculously good fun, all ridable on the XC bike, flat out sprinting and soo good!  The Miramar trails as just as fun, but in a different way, the berms just flow so well all the way from top to bottom.  Tip Tracks hasn't gotten any easier, and the switchbacks on the fenceline should not be done post-bonk, they don't lend themselves to poor lines and braking.

Pretty sure the title of this was going to lead somewhere...