Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesday's Training Session - 31/5/11

I found this morning’s session really good...its always nice to get back from a ride feeling really satisfied. It didn’t hurt that it was 5 degrees.

We started with three sprints between Old Parliament House and New Parliament House, which definitely woke me up, I felt I was pushing it harder each time. We then made our way up Melbourne Avenue to drudge up Mugga Way, doing some paceline work. When the gaps became too large due to the hills we all worked hard just to get to the end, while trying to leave some in reserve for the ride up Red Hill.

We all did one Red Hill, and everyone did really well turning their legs over. Rach and I did another 2 reps for good measure with Jeremy egging us on to sprint up the last peak.

While I don’t find hills enjoyable, I always feel like I’ve accomplished a lot at the end and know that the hard work will make me stronger.

This Thursday we continue the hill work with some laps around the embassies in Yarralumla. For those who came last week we will be adding another lap.

I hope to see everyone there.

Welcome to our new girls who joined us today and did really well.

GWS to Paddy who came off his bike on the Parliament House sprints. I hope your bike is ok!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I Won the Coolamon Classic

Short Version: Congratulations to Deciana who finished super strong as third woman overall, and awesome work to Haylee in her first road race (they can be pretty intimidating) and Pat Rooke who was an awesome team player.

My favourite part of the race was hanging out as a team.
Ok, so let me clarify my headline a bit - technically speaking, compared to all the other riders in the race, I came dead last, but I feel as if I won.

We got a great start driving to Coolamon (it's near Wagga) except perhaps for Dees who only had about 4 hours sleep.

After a moments indecision when the road to Coolamon went in a different direction to a sign that pointed to a Chocolate and Licorice Factory - we arrived in Coolamon to register at the pub and all the Valkyries were handicapped in the limit category.

For those who've never been in a handicap race, basically you can think of it as being a 'head start' race. People are grouped according to ability and the first group out gets the biggest head start, with subsequent groups leaving with different amounts of time in between.

We were feeling a little apprehensive but had gone through a bit of a race plan, which seemed to make a big difference. Our strategy was to try and stay together with our group (the first ones off the line which is called Limit) and then remember to communicate in case we were dropping off.

Haylee, recovering from being ill had some trouble breathing and dropped off the bunch, shortly after so did I. Haylee ended up a DNF, but still put in a solid effort, experienced her first handicap road race start and rode all the way to the end of the first leg, including practicing jumping on some bunches. Solid effort Haylee!

A thought too I'd like to share on DNF (did not finish). I came into cycling with some kind of idea that a DNF would be something shameful, like attempting a participation style event and 'not even' completing it. But what I have learned recently is that cyclists DNF all the time, depending on injury, illness, preparation for other events, fit with current program, mechanical issues, tyres etc and it turns out the only person looking down on you for a DNF is yourself.

I DNF'd in the Crace Nocturne Criterium race the night before and felt pretty lousy and ashamed of myself, I mean - who captains a racing squad and doesn't even finish the race?

But I think thats something we all need to practice. Remembering that DNF happens all the time, because sometimes you're in it and sometimes you're not, but the bottom line is there is pretty much always another race next week.

I could see the bunch ahead of me for a while, and after a litle bit I saw that MACT rider Pat had dropped off too and seemed to be holding an easy pace so I could catch up to her, which I did after some efforts. We rode together around the first corner and were feeling pretty strong when the next bunch came up behind us.

This was what I had been waiting for.

The Coolamon Classic is a stage of the Tour de Riverina, a series of races held by some of the country cycling clubs, and Coolamon is hosted by Tolland Cycling Club. Being handicap races the strategy, as explained by V-Mobile is to pay attention (especially if dropped) to any bunches coming up behind you, and jump on them if you can.

So when the first bunch came up behind us, we increased our pace a little, headchecked to work out when the last rider was coming through and then slotted on to the back.
Unsure if I could stay on for long, I made sure I let Pat know that if she could hang on she should rather than feeling like she should wait for me.

And sure enough I couldn't stay on long because we were travelling at a pretty good pace but up some small hills which are usually my undoing.

I was pretty pleased at that point that I had managed to jump on a fast bunch though so I was already feeling the race to be a success.

Nevertheless, I kept my headchecks up because I knew that sometime soon, a bunch would come through with V-Mobile Vikings riders in it - Brad, Jeremy and Andrew.
Soon enough I heard them coming.

I really wanted another chance to practice jumping onto the back of a bunch. This is a really great skill to practice, especially for women racing road, because its rare you will get to ride a whole race in a team and often the best way to get to the end involves jumping on a bunch and drafting for a while, but gatekeeping at the back and calling out "your wheel" which signals to the bunch that you aren't participating in the paceline.
*A note - as you get stronger, and stay on a bunch longer this will start to piss people off if you arent rotating through the front, but as a novice this is ok as long as you don't muck up the paceline - but its a bit tricky which is why it takes practice.

Annnyway I heard them coming, I was in a good position (heading downhill - its almost impossible to jump on a fast bunch if its climbing faster than you can) and Lo and Behold, I jumped on.

It was The Most Exciting Bit of Cycling I have done!!!

Truly, it was one of the fastest paces I've ridden (excluding big descents) and the fastest bunch I've ever ridden in (=behind).
We were flying along and I have to admit, my chest pretty much swelled up with pride when the V-Mobile boys rotated through the back and saw me there!!!!!!!!!

I hung on for quite a few rotations through and only dropped off when the bunch hit a hill and maintained pace.

Other new things I learned from that included being careful to take really small bites of energy bars - unfortunately just as the bunch caught me i had taken a massive mouthful of a Cadel bar, which was pretty difficult to swallow while hanging on the bunch. Also, dont forget to keep drinking along the ride, trying to get a really good drink whilst not losing the bunch is *hard*!!

From there on a few more bunches came through, one on a hill that I couldnt follow, and finally the second half of the 'Scratch' bunch (Scratch is the fastest group in a Handicap race) and I was really ready to try and jump on again, but all of a sudden my gears stuck

Afraid that I'd lose my chain while trying to jump on, I didnt go for it, and with that the last bunch was gone.

Once this happens in a Handicap you're basically on your own unless you happen to come upon some dropped riders, and in today's case the bunches basically stuck together.

I stopped to play with the gears on the second corner, and stopped again at the third to ask the marshals to radio back to the start and make sure my teammate Haylee was somewhere safe, as I had seen the marshals at corner two pack up and overtake me.

It was shortly after this corner that i realised after looking at my Garmin that I had a chance to get to 60km in under two hours. I only had about 8 minutes left and a few kms to make up, but the weather was fantastic (sunny, no wing, perfect temp) and there wasnt another soul around for miles.

I gunned it, staying in the drops as much as a i could, maintaining speeds ranging between 35 and 45 km/hr.

The last km when I knew I was going to get there (to my goal) was such a mind game, my legs were complaining, my head was telling me I wasnt going to make it but I pushed on, and rolled over the imaginary 60km line at 1:57:39 or thereabouts.

Thrilled, I eased off to enjoy the sunshine and the complaining legs, until shortly over two hills (last four kms of a 64km race) I saw my team of Vikings and Valkyries riding back out to meet me (since even the marshals had packed up and left the finishing line).

I finished the race dead last. but even though for a lot of the race i was on my own, i set about setting some challenges for myself including jumping on fast bunches and working hard to stay on longer than my head told me i could, maintaining a high cadence, spending lots of time in the drops to build those muscles, and of course getting to 60km in under 2hrs.

Sometimes you have to make your own race, and today is what I call a win.

More PROD fun

It was a small contingent of Valkyries (me, Angie, Verity and our newest recruit Linda) that made it out on the PROD this morning (to join some of the regular V-mobile boys), with quite a few of the girls making the trip out to Coolaman for their first handicap race. Can't wait to hear how it went!

The ride was Lake George out and back and we rolled out of ANU into some rather foggy patches, but still the makings for a good day once the cloud cleared. I quite like the Lake George ride as, for one, it's really convenient (particularly for a northsider!), but also because there's enough in the ride to make it interesting: it's not flat exactly, but it's not really hilly either. Everyone did really well sticking together as a bunch on the flatter sections, but then doing the hills at their own pace. Stand out performance was Linda on her first Valkyries ride, who was obviously in the hurt locker on a few of the hills, but dug deep and soldiered through to make it all the way out to Lake George (and then hopefully enjoyed the return trip a little more than the trip out!).

There were a few tired bodies towards the end of the ride, which is understandable given the kms we ended up putting in (I ended up with just over 80km, which would have to be one of the longer rides I've done recently). The post-ride coffee incentive kicked in and got us all home, or at least back to Wilburs in Hackett.

So thanks everyone for the ride. I had a ball and am looking forward to a repeat next week already. :-)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A week of firsts

Firstly, a big thanks to Rach for getting me back on the bike after a lengthly break.
I enjoyed my first 'official' training ride on Thursday, intervals around the Embassy's and Alexandrina Dr. I was very slow but enjoyed the company of my personal 'escort' Chris as I struggled up the hills. Thanks also to Andrew and Rob. I managed three reps but when I got into work at 7:15 I thought I should have pushed through one more....next time. Was great to meet some new faces of the Valkrie squad and I was also please to see some familar faces in Liz and Kate. Was also my first chilly morning ride for the year.
Another first tonight (Sat) was the Vikings nocturne criterium. Was great rolling around a new course and getting back onto the crits track. Well done to Steven for organising and all the volunteers including Jane, Rob, Bossie and co and the Valkyrie girls at the BBQ.
So all in all has been a great week back on the bike and I look forward to next. I haven't been on the bike much in the last 12+ months, having a job that involved a lot of travel and then lacking a lot of motivation to get up and ride when I kept getting dropped. I am now in a new job and looking forward to more firsts back on the bike!

Crace Race Report

Well done to the Valkyries - race results are:
1 Emily Nicholls
2 Liz Lowe
3 Angela Wren
4 Anna Johnston
5 Verity Linehan
6 Haylee Weaver
7 Shalan Bray
8 Rachel Green DNF

It just goes to show that when it comes to Women's C - we basically are the whole field so, as we get stronger and more confident it's definitley worth showing up!

I pulled out early and DNF'd as I was just too tired and hoping to save something for Coolamon tomorrow.

It certainly looked cool as a race course although I think we were all pretty nervous that the bunch ended up being quite large with a lot of men's E graders in our race. But the girls all rode very strong!

I think one thing we did learn tonight is that we need to ride more corners - so I'm sure our coach will have us out on the crit track at Stromlo in the coming weeks before the DBR tour.

Looking forward to tomorrow!

I got Skills....

"...I got skills, they're multiplying

I'm not looooooosing control.

And the power, I'm supplying....It's Electrifying!!!"

Ok so now we have a lame theme song.

This morning was our Skills Session with ACTAS Coach Glenn Doney, and I for one, think it was fantastic.

I was fairly petrified leading up to it, just knowing I was going to work on things where I might fall off had me totally apprehensive, along with all the usual things I feel in training - that I will be slower/less skilled than the other girls.

Glenn put us at ease, beginning with some simple, easy and totally non scary drills learning how to clip in and out without looking, and how to come to a stop, resting our clipped out foot on our heels (which are less slippery and provide better stopping power).

We did some work next on wheel tapping. Wheel tapping is a Scary Thing To Avoid, so the aim of the drill then was to have it happen and practice not freaking out, over correcting, over-braking and coming off and - as promised, it turns out that when someone taps your wheel, you feel it, it makes a buzzing noise and isn't so scary.

Doing the tapping was a lot harder for me, I tend to lose wheels and fall off the bunch because I am scared of following closely - so actively trying to ride along with overlapped wheels went against my good sense which was telling me to go home and have a nap instead.

But we practiced it and soon everyone was able to maintain an overlapped wheel reasonably comfortably and then tap the rider in front's back wheel with confidence.

Francesca gave it her all with some quite confident bumps and so she tested out the astroturf first (and also second and third). Being indoors on soft springy ground made it a lot easier to try the drills and not feel cold and worried. Despite some riders feeling apprehensive about wheel damage, the bumping was fairly minimal.

We were lucky too to have Bec Doolan - one of the Vikings' star A Grade women riders along to help give us pointers.

Next up was some really fun bunny hopping and manual jumping practice which I loved, having the chance to practice these on the soft ground meant i was able to try bunny hopping with much more speed than i would normally attempt on the road, thus giving me added practice and confidence.

It was at this point that a group of male athletes gathered upstairs to spectate because basically a group of chicks bunnyhopping their road bikes looked pretty fricken cool!!

We did some figure 8 drills which were hard at first, then harder still when we had to do them one handed, but funnily enough the third time when the figure 8 distance was reduced, having two hands again made it much easier.

So a little bit of practice went a long way.

We then had a discussion about descending do's and dont's - which was something all the riders were interested in, we got some great tips and I think all the girls are looking forward to a future session practicing descending positions on Mt Stromlo on June 19 with Doc Hanslip as our coach.

Our final drills included some practice breaking (using front only, back only and then both) and then the Bumping your arms and shoulders into another rider drill. Basically, in pairs we got our upper arms connected and then rode a slalom course.

This sounded terrifying but was actually reasonably comfortable once we got a good contact.

For the finale we stepped it up to riding in threes with the middle rider boxed in. This felt the most unsafe for me and really challenged me - it was during this drill that I focused on talking myself through it in my head and practicing what we had learned earlier about picking a line to ride and watching that line, looking ahead and keeping the communication going.

All in all it was a challenging session that I know I got heaps out of - I am looking forward to seeing all the women commenting below and noting:

  • how they felt before, during and after
  • what they got out of it
  • what they liked the most
  • what was most challenging

Welcome to newcomers Angie and Pat, great to have more women on board!

Lastly - team members - if you use twitter you can follow the training schedule & updates through @ValkyrieVikings

And now for a nap before tonights Crace Race!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Training Report - Thursday 25/5

A big welcome to this week's new members Kate and Shal out for their first training ride with the Valkyrie Vikings.

Thursday's session was great, personally I felt really strong up the hills, Verity was pretty close behind but she's been unwell this week.

Kate (first time) - just did one rep as she is tapering at the moment
Shalan (first time) - did three reps, slower paced


What worked well:
Giving the 'escorts' instructions that at least one of them had to gate keep and if any girls dropped off they would ride with them, so they didn't ride alone. Mr Gribble rode with Shal which was really great, meant she didnt spend her first session alone, and had some encouragement. For the last lap back Mr T and I also dropped back to cheer her on. 3 laps is very impressive for a first sessionso WELL DONE SHAL!!.

Also impressive was Kate's first time out, she targeted me on one of the hills so I think we will see her pretty strong in the bunch later in June!

I took the lead a lot more in this session, which actually made me feel a lot more comfortable about the safety of the group, by calling and explaining the drills, pointing out safety spots (gravel corner) and reminding them to work on the climbs and hydrate etc.

What didn't work so well:
There's one really sketchy and gravelly corner on that loop which im tempted to attack with a broom... I gave it a special mention so that all the girls were prepared and then still managed to skid a bit as I went around it.
One to remember to watch out for.

What's next?
Next up is our Skills session on Sat 28/5, then later in the evening a few of us are racing the Crace Nocturne Criterium http://www.vikingscyclingforum.org.au/forum/showthread.php?t=3684

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Valkyries spotted with male escorts in early hours

The ladies of the Valkyrie Women’s Novice Racing Squad were spotted in the early hours of this morning accompanied by several local male escorts from the infamous V-Mobile Gentlemen’s League, demonstrating a complete lack of the kind of behaviour, manner or style considered proper for a lady.

During three quick laps of the Yarralumla cycle boulevard, these ladies were seen wearing skin tight lycra, with not a single petticoat in sight!

Instead of being home, eagerly baking and cleaning these women are regularly spotted training around Canberra in the early hours of cold winter mornings.

Daily Telegraph reporter, Mr Frost, approached the Valkyrie riders for comment on their shocking behaviour, but they were moving too fast to hear anything.

Please feel free to contact your local talk back radio host in disgust.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Valkyrie Vikings have technology!

Ok! I think I have managed to configure everything correctly now so that posts on the blog will upload to the Facebook page and also the Twitter account....

In other news, we are looking forward to a Skills Session this Saturday, led by ACTAS coach Glenn Doney where we will be learning about staying upright and not panicking on the bike if we bump into other riders or touch wheels while riding in a bunch.

I know all the girls have some level of apprehension about riding in bunches so I think this will be really important for increasing our confidence and getting more of us participating in events and races.

Also on this weekend is the Crace Nocturne Criterium which will be heaps of fun for competitors, spectators and BBQ enthusiasts alike! Several of the Valkyrie's are nervously looking forward to entering the Women's C grade race.

Following that, three of us - Dees, Weaves and myself are heading to the country to compete in the Coolamon Classic! Wish us luck.

And finally - see you all at training tomorrow!

Tuesday's training session

The weather looked like it might be a bit sketchy on Wednesday night but luckily we woke on Wednesday to a balmy 4 degrees and only moderately damp roads.

What I find really great and important in this squad is our ability to stay in contact so we know who is coming, its certainly helpful for me if i know early who is coming along. Whats also good is our policy that if its unsafe or sketchy we will switch up the training plan - there's just no reason to take unnecessary risks or make training into something scary. Tuesday was a great example of that and ended up being one of the funnest sessions I have had in a while.

Riding in the bunch were: Me, Weaves, frizzle, cheska and our honorary girls for the session (read: windbreaks) hipster and gribble.

For safety we changed the session which was orignally to be repeated reps of Red Hill to a more friendly (but still hilly) route. First we rode from ANU over the bridge for two reps of the short climb between old and new Parliament House.

We then continued up Melbourne Ave with a sprint at the beginning and end (the middle got a bit slower).

Continuing along Mugga way to the end and back we worked on a rolling pacelin, communication and some efforts on the last pitch. We regrouped on the way back down Mugga and finished with one Red Hill Rep just as it was getting light, and were greeted with big smiles from Jane, Ross and Lee who were working hard on the hill when we arrived.

Looking forward to Thursday's session!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beginning a Beginner Women's Squad...How it all began

"Rach what on earth are you doing, you're just a beginner?" - that's what I kept expecting someone to say when I first came up with the idea of forming a Women novices squad to develop as riders and racers.

I first started riding road in 2009 when a combination of factors - felt too frightened on the MTB, wanted to ride more in the mornings before work and thought i should buy something nice with my first real paychek - led me to buying a fairly nice roadbike for someone who had never owned one before.

I went to every shop in Canberra at first, feeling like an idiot for not understanding the multitude of options for sizing, gearing, compact this and carbon that. Finally I found Bianca at TLC Clyces in Phillip who was great and talked me through buying my first road bike.

I was pretty stoked with mybrand new, full carbon, red Felt F5 (2.5 years on and thats still really all i know about it) and pretty soon my commute to work was taking longer and longer as I took ever increasing detours on the way because I was having so much fun.

I loved the challenge of seeing how far I could ride on weekends too - I remember feeling on top of the world the day I did my first 100km ride in about 5.5 hours and there were times I turned up to meet friends who would have to explain i wasnt really on happy gas - I was just excited from riding my bike.

I think for anyone who struggles from time to time with anxiety or issues in their life - cycling is really worth a go, the kind of buzz, energy, challenge and excitement you can get from tackling a long distance or climbing a hill and then whizzing back down it is the best kind of release I know.

For at least a year the idea kept niggling away that maybe there were people out there who got as excited about riding as I did, but so many things held me back from joining a club.

Firstly, there was so much I didn't understand - even down to reading about the Vikings Novice program - Novice sounded to me like some sort of grade I thought I might not be ready for. I didnt know what a criterium was, although I certainly saw a few, one of my regular weekend routes took me to stop for coffee at Mt Stromlo and I would see all the roadies but felt too shy to say hello.

I was convinced I was wearing the wrong gear, looked too unfit and that people would sense I didn't know what I was doing.

Finally though, my cycling started to peter out, and I found myself losing motivation. I would spend hours riding up to 200km on the weekends alone, I wasn't getting any faster and I wasn't hanging out with friends so much...None of my friends rode bikes despite my efforts to convince them to and they continued to suggest to me that I try and find "my people".

So I bit the bullet and signed up for the Vikings Novice program - not in 2009 when I had been riding for nearly 12 months, but in 2010. I waited an entire extra year - convinced I wouldnt be good enough.

The Novice program was amazing. Suddenly, there were all these people who were just as excited as I was, and instantly my riding improved. I still spent about 90% of the time convinced I was not good, fit, fast or trendy enough, but I loved it!

Unfortunately work got in the way and only four weeks into the program, a combination of public holidays and early starts at work meant that I couldn't get to any more sessions.

I also didnt turn up to a single Novice ride at the ANU because I just thought I would be too slow and that people might laugh at me when I dropped off the back of the bunch.

Determined not to give up though, when an email arrived in early January inviting previous Novices to join the V-Mobile Development Squad I was thrilled!

I sent about 50 emails to Bean, who was organising things telling him how excited I was. I didn't know what a squad was, I was sure I wasn't really good enough but dammit, they said one of the main criteria to join was enthusiasm and I was sure I could do that.

My first training session, in February 2011 I got the time wrong and turned up half an hour late, missing the session entirely - I remember I went and rode aroune the lake on the bike paths because I didn't even know if they trained on the road or not, my second training session - unused to training early in the morning I turned up to a ride, in full winter thermals and it was 16 degrees.

(I'm pretty sure they must have thought I looked pretty silly).

My first session was incredibly difficult. I didnt know anyone, nearly cried when the coach started yelling at me, and got dropped so far and so fast off the back of the bunch when we hit hills that by the time the hour long session had finished I had made up my mind that I wasn't good enough, and wasn't coming back.

But, somehow the promise that the Wednesday session would be a little different made me reconsider, and it was a whole new world, with less hills doing something called TTT - which I had no idea stood for Team Time Trials, but it was fun and I wasn't so bad.

It turns out that my hundreds of solo kms - being unsure of routes to take - I had basically managed to completely avoid hills for two years.

Initially, the encouragement from other blokes in the Squad, and just the regular training of turning up was exactly what I needed. But after some time, I began to feel like it would be nice if there was just one or two more girls at my level.

I still had questions, and no matter how encouraging the blokes were, when we got to a race I was still riding a fair chunk of it alone.

Steve, the Race Secretary suggested I might be interested in promoting some women's activities for the Vikings and, keen as mustard I set about developing a plan.

Initially, it was never my intention to set up a womens squad. Riders get better training and improve faster if they are riding with people faster than them, and it seemed counter productive to lose the support from the blokes.

But then a wonderful thing happened, I created this dodgy survey on Survey Monkey to try and find out what other women thought - and the response was incredible!

They all said the same thing as me. They felt like they weren't good enough, they weren't sure how it all worked and they just wanted someone to say 'hey, come talk to me, ill help you work it out'.

The more I've asked women what they want to encourage them in cycling, the clearer its been that an open door is all it takes.

So thats how it happened. One day im struggling at the back of the V-Mobile Squad, then next thing I say - hey lets have a womens squad and we have 13 members.

Whats amazing is that every email I get from a new woman, interested in joining says the same thing:

I'm sure I'm not good enough/fit enough/fast enough - to which I reply:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sunday PROD

Firstly, ditto to everything LisaK posted. Cheers to rachel for organising, Sunday PROD was an enjoyable ride and as promised, they didn't leave us behind.

Due to Sunday commitments I had to leave at the gravel pit, but thanks to Lisa and MM my trip back to town was exceptionally quick! Apologies to Lisa for not assisting with the flat but it sounds like MM was much more capable than me anyway.

My background is a social cyclist for many years but more often than not, played soccer most winters and half the summer, and steadily worked my way down the divisions to the Masters level. In a move to save the remnants of my knees, I got into cycling, initially through triathlon and then the Vikings 'Come and Try' evening criteriums and was hooked immediately.

So up to now I have treated the sport of cycling as my summer activity. I haven't done the "team" thing or the "training" thing to any great degree as time has always been an issue and I never considered myself good enough to join a squad.

So this year will be my first winter of cycling and training. Number one goal is to get better at climbing hills and number two goal is to discover how a team works in cycling.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


First things first - Rach is awesome.
Massive thanks to Rach for taking so much time in setting up the Valkyries and all of her associated efforts to increase women participating in cycling. I'm a "fringe competitive cyclist", having dabbled in it occasionally, but through a range of circumstances have never fully committed to it. Hopefully that will change over coming months. :-)

Second things second - the PROD was heaps of fun!
I went of my first Valkyries ride this morning, which was part of the PROD (Vikings Permitted Ride of Delight for those that are less into acronyms than, well, the average Canberran). I finally met Rach in person and met a few of the new Valkyries recruits (Liz and Anna), as well as some of the regular Vikings boys, and it was great to put a few faces to names. The bunch was a good size with maybe 15(?) of us rolling out of ANU into perfect Autumn / Winter conditions with practically no wind and moderate - warm temps (a sharp contrast from yesterday!). Everyone was really friendly and it didn't feel like my first ride with the group for long. The outcome is that I'm super inspired for more. Yay!

Third things third - I need to learn how to change a tyre.
A few of us had to turn around early for a variety of reasons so didn't get to finish the ride with the group. Given the fantastic conditions, we had a quick trip back into Canberra from Shingle Hill Road and were flying down the last hill on the Fed Hwy when I realised my back tyre was completely flat. I tried to call out to Milto and Liz that I had a flat, but they didn't hear me with the wind rushing through their ears. So I pulled over on my own and attempted to change my tyre. I know how to change a tyre in theory. How hard could it be in practice?! Apparently very. :-( It took me a second to even figure out how to get my back wheel off (!), and then it took prob 5 minutes to get the tyre levers in and then get the tyre off to be able to get the tube out. At this point a very nice passerby stopped to help me and I could see Milto riding back up the hill to check that I was OK (sorry for making you do that Milto!). Other than showing me how unbelievably amazing Milto is at fixing a flat it did indicate that I really need to learn to fix my own flats. Apparently theory isn't enough - I need practice! So this week, after the kids are asleep, I intend to sit in front of the TV and practice fixing a flat (work permitting). Funny that Rach was talking about the "changing the tyre time trial" at the start of the PROD...

Thanks again to everyone for today's ride. Hopefully I'll get to meet the rest of the Valkyries over coming weeks and we'll have a lot more stunning Canberra Autumn / Winter weather like we had today to ride in. :-)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Valkyrie's first training session - 17/5/11

Training for the newly formed Valkyrie began yesterday (Tuesday)...on a not too cold morning of 0 degrees Celsius. Our turnout of four girls was matched by our four mentors Andrew, Rob, Jeremy and Brad. If only we will continue to be that lucky!

Our training route was the usual Friday Normans “sprinters loop” with some pace line and a great sprint past TGA. Jeremy’s wording up along Mugga Way with some great riding on his part put me in a great position to take out the flag. I’m sure the competitiveness in the bunch will continue to drive some great sessions in the future.

After seeing the boys sprint up the hill on Carnegie I think we all have something to aim for. The rest of the ride was a good pace, but Jane showed she still had far too much energy left climbing the hills in Yarralumla in record speed.

The tips and guidance from the guys on the ride were really helpful and I am sure that weekly training with the mentors will see huge improvements by the end of our 8 week training program culminating in the DBR Women’s and Junior’s tour. Thanks mentors.

Breakfast at Purple Pickle, where we were joined by 2 other Valkyrie’s who weren’t able to join us for training, was well deserved and a good opportunity to discuss plans for training. Rachel also had the opportunity to tell us about some great deals that our sponsors are offering including gym passes, fitness assessments and discounts on bike setup at Sportscare and Physiotherapy O’Connor.

Also, welcome to Ange who has just joined Valkyrie, this was her first ride with Vikings. I hope she enjoyed the training session.

I hope to see everyone at training tomorrow morning (Thursday 19/5/11) – 6am ANU – TTT to Stromlo, followed by hill repeats.

Valkyrie - Team members - current as of 5 August 2011

Current Valkyrie team members:

14. Leonie
15. LindaH
16. LindaR
17. Maja
18. Eleanora

I'm looking forward to each of you posting a bit of a profile about yourself, where you are at, what you are hoping to get out of Valkyrie and a pic!

I'm pleased to announce that Sportscare and Physiotherapy O'Connor are supporting the Valkyrie Vikings by with discounts for our squad members to get properly fitted on their road bikes! This is really important for cyclists just starting out and can prevent injuy and increase comfort on the bike. Especially good for women novices, is that you will get a bike fit from qualified sports physiotherapists who also cycle competitively (in fact for me when I had my bike fit the other day - I actually learned a whole lot since I am still learning about bike fit/components/measurements etc.

So not only do I feel better on my bke, I know more about it and how the sublte chages in measurement affect me, and next time I buy a bike I will know more about what to look for.

They are also supporting the Vikings Cycling Club by offering to return $5 back to the club from the fee per patient, per visit to patients who show their CA card listing VCC as their club!

Sportscare and Physiotherapy O'Connor

tel. 6247 0912

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Seeking new squad members!

Ok Women cyclists - if you've ever wanted to try road racing and wished for a squad that's just right for you - then here it is.

Set up and run by and for women novice racers (beginners) Valkyrie Vikings are a sponsored Women's Novice Racing squad, supported by the Canberra based Vikings Cycling Club which is looking for new members.

If you:

  • Own a road bike (doesn't need to be the fanciest)

  • Are a member of (or would consider joining) the Vikings Cycling Club

  • Are keen to train at twice a week (at least one session with the squad, other activity eg. triathlon training may count)

  • Are enthusiastic about contributing to and working as a team

  • Are brave enough to train through winter

  • Are willing to have a go in a race (there are a few to choose from, we will be right next to you, and you'll learn the skills you need to participate)

...then contact women (at) vikingscycling.org.au with the following details:

  1. Name

  2. Age

  3. Current level of cycling (how much, how often)

  4. Current level of experience in racing

  5. Interest in racing

  6. Current availability for training

  7. Club membership details if applicable

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Cycling racing is still a sport heavily dominated by men. Even at a local level, while many women enjoy cycling, few compete in local races and miss out on the benefits to their cycling, health & fitness that a little friendly local competition can provide.

The Vikings Cycling Club ACT aims to become the number one Canberra cycling club for novices and is actively working to increase women's participation in the sport, firstly by appointing a Women's Development Officer, and by secondly by establishing the Valkyrie Women's Novice Racing Squad.

The Valkyrie Vikings Squad's philosophy is to encourage women who are passionate about cycling but new to racing to work together and support one another.

We will be running activities for women, by women, to provide an entry point into the sport of racing, including by developing partnerships with other groups.

Our focus is on participation, inclusion, safety, setting and reaching our goals and getting into racing at our own pace - and most importantly having fun in an environment that is supportive for women novices.