Thursday, June 30, 2011

Motorpacing - training report

Present:

Valkyries:
Rach
Verity
Anna
Angie
Ange

Mentors:
Brad & Simon

Awesome fun this morning, motorpacing at an undisclosed location. I'd never tried motorpacing before so i wasn't sure what to expect but it actually felt really safe.

We got some great practice at taking good lines through corners following the bike and picked up some nice speeds. It was so much fun that I was still buzzing once i got to work.

Yay for bikes.

Slight downside was getting a flat tyre on the way back towards work, fortunately Brad was my knight in shining lycra and came back to rescue me. Thanks Brad, if you hadn't i'd have been there for 40 minutes since I am so bad at changing tyres.

Motorpacing

This morning we were lucky to have Simon Niemeyer motorpace with us. We stuck to the SFP crit track and began by each of us having a turn of following Simon for a couple of laps. I found it a really great experience, you quickly learnt where your weaknesses on the track were, for me the gap between us widened around corners.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Climbing Reps - Variation

This morning was an awesome and really fun training session.

Maja showed some great gains on her hill fitness, Anna and Verity were attacking each other on Redhill then sprinting it out in the end, and I put in six efforts - most of which I was pretty proud of including one real attack that managed to surprise our brilliant mentor Brad.

New skills tried today were sprinting up a hill whilst holding the drop bars - thought it would be really shaky but actually wasnt too bad.

For me, after I had such a lame week last week - with bad weather in the first few days and then total lack of motivation the rest of the week (although our Coach did remind me I did pretty well in the ITT on sunday so not all bad), but it felt good to be training properly and with the group again today.

Post training coffee at Double Shot in Deakin was a nice catch up and we all agreed that having people to ride with makes it so much better - the dual effect of friendly company and the competitiveness of thinking "she's doing training, i'd better go too so she doesnt out pace me" are pretty beneficial!!!

There has also been a bit of Secret Janing* although we might have to rename it Secret Veritying, I did extra hill reps on Mon and Tues to make up for last week (which is why Coach is currently threatening to confiscate my bicycle unless I promise to rest on Friday) so I thought I was leading on secret hills, til Verity revealed she was doing secret BLACK MOUNTAIN reps yesterday!!!!

Super hard woman award goes to Verity attacking hills and sprinting with needles in her legs?!?!? Jens Voigt isn't even that hard.

Thanks Brad for writing a training report on Facebook for me to plagiarise.


Note:
Secret Janing*

*The not very secret practice of doing extra hill reps because you are hardcore. Usually involves inviting people along and telling everyone about it afterwards. May result in climbing hills like Lisa Keeling, who is an expert at Secret Windtraining.

Monday, June 27, 2011

My first time up Ainslie

Firstly before I start - apologies for the delay in this write-up, it has been a mad week/weekend and secondly congratulations to all the Valkyries who braved the cold on Sunday and posted some great times (and speeds!) at the ITT!!!
Ok, on with the blogging...
The beginning of last week was pretty terrible for training, both bike running and so I must admit to not being overly devastated that the planned Mt Ainslie CR's on Tuesday were cancelled late on Monday night as armageddon approached. Wednesday morning I felt similar relief, though I did manage to get out for a cold, (but fortunately sheltered from the wind) run around the lake on Wednesday night. I will be a very happy woman with not-so-sore hips as of 4 July when my half marathon running madness is over and I can concentrate on the bike.
Thursday morning was much nicer and as I had packed my bike in the car on Wednesday night, I had no excuses not to get up, get dressed (how cold was it going to be tearing down the hill? - assuming I could get up it in the first place..) and get out the door.
Driving to cycling in the wee hours of any given morning I always find myself peering at other motorists, checking to see if they too have their bike in or on the back of the car and are rugged up in their winter gear as we all make our way to our different meeting places. It's kind of a solidarity thing, as if we are all in on some big fantastic secret, why else would be be up 2 hours before sunrise in the freezing cold of another Canberra winter?
But I digress..
Arriving at the base of Mt Ainslie I was not thinking about the task ahead, I have always said 'I can't climb hills' 'I'm too big to ride up hills' and other such things and I didn't want to psych myself out. So I was just thinking about getting all my kit on, and going over to the others who were gathered in the dark.
And then we were off, Rob was riding with me and I was just concentrating on keeping a nice steady pace as the road started to wend it's way up, already Anna and Brad were about 50m in front and working their way up the road nicely. But I didn't let that worry me, I had never done this before, and I didn't even know how far we had to go, or really what the road was like. Today was not a day to worry about cadence or my speed and I had left my Garmin in the car anyway besides I knew my heart rate was up - I could feel it pounding in my chest.
I was about halfway up when I started apologising to Rob who was still patiently riding next to me, "I don't think I can do this", "I'm sorry for being so slow'", "I'm sorry for apologising so much" I said, as my legs just felt like lead, and what was worse, (I think) was that I had no real idea of how far I had to go, or what was ahead, or if it was easier or harder. I think it flattened out for a little bit and I was able to keep going, still apologising profusely for being so slow and despite my insistence that he take off and ride with the others, Rob still rode beside me. He kindly pointed out that plenty of Vikings don't make it to the top on their first time... I think I may have apologised for that too.
Then we hit the uber-steep bit just before the end, but I didn't know it was the end at that stage and about half-way up here was where it ended for me. I said to Rob that he should go on, and that I just couldn't keep riding. I unclipped and started walking up the rest of the way. As I neared the bend at the top (was it??) of the uber steep bit I noticed a yellow 50kmph sign tucked away in the scrub. I kept walking, and when I got around the bend I saw up ahead, a 40kmph sign, and then the road flattened out. I had almost made it, had I just gotten past the 50kmph sign and around the corner, I would have seen the end - damn! I kept walking to the top, meeting the others who had finished their recovery and were just starting their way down. I hopped back on my bike and followed them down the hill.
Time for round two.
This time I kept up with Anna and when I again reached the uber-steep part, I was going so slowly that when I stood up out of the saddle for a couple of seconds, my rear wheel slipped with the force of my pedalling - whoops - I really was going slow, but I was still going. I started negotiating with myself - 'if you just make it to the 50kmph sign, that's further than last time' and I passed the sign. 'okay, you're not dead yet - just make it to the 40kmph sign and you're there' and I passed the sign and I was there. I was so happy and proud and grateful to the guys who knew that I could make it, even when I didn't.
So I want to say thank you to Anna and the V-Mobile guys who were so patient with me and for not slapping me on the back of the helmet for all the apologising I was doing. I learnt a valuable lesson for future new rides, particularly hill climbs - I need to have either driven or walked them, or (if in a race) ridden them, so I know the milestones, and I can count them down. If I do this, I know I can make it without giving up on myself, even when my legs are screaming at me to stop. I was on such a high for the rest of Thursday, I never thought I could ride my bike up Mt Ainslie, after all, I'm way too heavy and I can't climb hills - or so I thought.
And so this coming Wednesday at 05:30am as I make my way to the base of Red Hill, and I see other cyclists heading into town, and all the motorists with their bikes on their cars at that crazy hour, I know why we are all there, because the feeling when you climb that hill for the first, or fifth or fiftieth time, is just so worth it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

ITT Race Report

Individual Time Trial results (30km distance)
Women's Elite:
1. Rachel Green 1.01.15
2. Anna Peterson 1.05.34
3. Verity Linehan 1.12.32
Today's race was out along the false flat in what started out as very cold and extremely foggy conditions. The race start was actually delayed by a bit just to get a bit of the fog to lift as the visibility was extremely low.

Verity gets the 'hardwoman' award for riding out to the race start from Mt Stromlo, Anna and I on the other hand, were feeling a bit soft upon hearing of the -3 (or depending on which weather app you use, -6) temperatures.

Although there were initially some plans for a team time trial approach, the exodus of all the other women from the Elite category leaving only us three, convinced us to use the ITT as a practice for the ACT championships next weekend so we decided to all do it solo.

We started in order of registration, Anna, Verity and then me. Possibly the ride out and then the big chill waiting for the start of the race had tired Verity out a little and I passed her on the first hill. Anna took a fair bit longer to catch and I worked fairly hard up the unforgiving false flat (so named because it is just enough of a climb to be soul destroying).

I caught her somewhere around after the spot where the juniors were turning around and i was pretty pleased to hear her say 'Go Rach!' - unfortunately i didnt have a single bit of energy for speaking so i couldn't say anything at all..

My next hurdle was the hotdog turn which i knew was coming soon was the hotdog turn (around a witches hat in the middle of the road, a basic U-turn). I am really bad at these - and have gotten significantly worse since i fell over sideways recently while turning a corner at slow speed. That feeling of the bike tipping over sideways has really stuck with me :(

But I slowed right down, FORCED myself to look around the corner to where i wanted to go, and miraculously - made the corner.

And boy was that a 'turning point' the last section to the turn had actually been downhill but the headwind we were pedalling into had made it feel like a climbing repeat!!!

Once turned, even though it was uphill, I was flying. I wasn't more than 150m past the run when I passed Anna so I knew she wasn't far back. Determined to open the gap up a bit more, I tried to really put some pace on at every opportunity, and maximise my speed by staying in the drops, since I'm yet to try using any proper TT rig (for the uninitiated the key difference are TT bars which put your body into a more aerodynamic body position, shaving seconds off your time).

I kept pushing all the way back until I realised with horror that I had to do another Hotdog turn - but this time in front of a whole group of guys :(

It got pretty wobbly, but fortunately I stayed upright and began pushing back up the hill. On the final lap out I tried to keep the pace up as much as possible, never quite sure how far back Anna was. The last hotdog turn, as I flew back up the hill I was releived to find I had opened up the gap quite a bit, and all that was left was to hang on to the lead.

It was really helpful to have other Viking teammates like Brad Drew, Paddy Quiggan and Chris Drew out on the course, every time I saw them it gave me a bit of a boost and when they passed me I used them as a goal to just try and keep them in sight in order to hang on to the pace.

The final stretch I went for a sprint and clocked just over 51km/hour heading for the finish line.

Felt pretty proud to get a result after what has been a really tough week where I wasn't able to train properly.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A pink finish to the Riverina


After an unexpected result at today’s fifth and final handicap race of the Riverina tour, I was asked to write my very first race report. I don’t quite know where to begin. At the start maybe, which was an obscenely early one. 5.10 AM to be exact, when Lisa picked me and the Willier up to meet our Valkyrie and V-Mobile team mates. Four of us girls then loaded ourselves and our bikes into Steve’s van and after a well-deserved (and much-needed) coffee break we headed for Uranquinty, a sleepy town 10 k's from Wagga.
We arrived at Uranquinty’s only pub and public rest area with plenty of time for essential race preparations. First challenge: what to wear? Will it stay foggy? Will it warm up? How many layers are you wearing? Fortunately most of us had packed half our cycling wardrobe and after some careful deliberation we emerged comfortably dressed and ready to tackle the race.
Most of us had never done a handicap race before and it was only my second attempt at one. Recognising this, Rachel had written some helpful strategies for each of us. I was a bit concerned about the enormous faith she seemed to have in Lisa and me, writing: “You two have a strong chance of going for first female across the line (includes a prize)”. Yeah, right! Fortunately, she’d followed up with some helpful advice. “Stay together in the Limit bunch until faster bunches come through. When you hear them coming, accelerate before they get there and position yourself to jump on. Remember, once you jump on Scratch, you can just gatekeep.”
For the first half of the race, we did just that. We started off fabulously together with Rach, Verity, Franscesca, Anna, Linda and Cherrie. But after about fifteen minutes, the bunch started to break up and suddenly Lisa and I found ourselves riding with a handful of blokes. The pace was reasonably fast, but I soon found my rhythm and so did Lisa, who I had to ask a few times to slow down so she wouldn’t drop the guys ;)
About half way into the race, we got caught by the next bunch. This upped the speed, but we hung on. Unfortunately, I lost Lisa a bit further down the track. I later found out that the guy riding in front of her had snapped his chain and lost his rear derailleur, resulting in a gap too big for her to close. The rest of the race I contemplated gatekeeping, but the pace felt comfortable and I figured that, with eight of us left, we might just stay ahead of Scratch if we all pulled out weight. We did work as a team and wishful thinking started to turn into reality. As we got closer to the finish, one of the guys started counting down, saying we had just 4 k’s to go, then 3, then 2… then scratch was on our tails…
We’d progressively been picking up speed and I could see the finish in the distance. Then I remembered Rach’s advice: “The boys will most likely offer to lead you out at the end of the race, so when they do, be ready, jump on their wheel and then sprint around them at the last moments.” She wasn’t far off: two guys took the lead and I was right behind them. With 50 metres to go, I overtook number two and sprinted as hard as I could, almost lifting my front wheel from the bitumen, before a third rider overtook me just before I crossed the line.
Less than a minute later, Lisa finished and we proceeded to ‘claim’ our first ever handicap victories: first unplaced female for Lisa and third place overall for me. How exciting! An hour or so later at the pub came our biggest surprise – the points I’d earned that day were apparently enough to win the Tour de Riverina Female Champion 2011 as well, which came with a pretty pink sash.
Today’s race was great fun and a reminder that even if you’re not a strong rider in some areas (hills in my case), you can still find a race to suit your strengths (flat, foggy roads). But most of all it was great to share the experience with a team of motivated Valkyries and V-Mobile Vikings. Can’t wait for Riverina 2012!

Racing with the Vets

Watching those trees bend in the wind as I’m driving to Look Out Hill for another Saturday Vets race makes me groan. I really hate windy races! So as the nerves mounted I just reminded myself that everyone else in the race has the same wind to contend with and I’ll have to be strategic about where I sit in the bunch……

I’ve been racing with the Vets now for about 18months. It’s a fantastic club that really makes all newcomers feel welcome and has a great summer and winter road racing program that provides variety and good competition. The other advantage is that it has lots of different grades so that you can find which level best suits you and work up from there. It has been my intention to work up from F grade, but I’ve not yet had the confidence to make the leap. Firstly because I still feel fairly new to racing in comparison to many of the other experienced Vets, and secondly because I’ve slowly learnt the strengths and weakness of some of the regular F graders and that gives me the confidence to go back week after week to keep on having a go at racing hoping that I will get better over time.

Well this weekend’s race was 42kms and was a good one for spectators as we passed the start/finish point several times as we made our way between Point Hut and Tharwa three times (A-D grades had a longer course). I was pleased to have both my sisters there to support me. Of course Pat would also have liked to be racing, but she is recovering from her fall last week and it’ll be a while before she can ride in a bunch again.

I rode a pretty conservative race as I was keen to be with the lead bunch at the finish and it was clear from the beginning that there was a strong bloke (whom I hadn’t raced with before) that was capable of making a break and I wanted to have the legs to go with it when it happened. He made a few attempts, the first one being on the steep down hill after the start/finish point at the beginning of the second lap. I spotted it early and got on his wheel. I had to make such an effort to keep up with him (as going down hill fast is not one of my strengths) that I couldn’t help out in the break, so eventually the majority of the group closed the gap. I think with the next couple of attempts for a breakaway there was seven out of the 13 of us left. The steady rise from Point Hut to Tidbinbilla Rd threatened to blow a few more off, but by this time the strong bloke’s legs gave out and another very experienced rider made a break for it. I closed it, but at the same time led the rest of the seven to his wheel. Just as I was recovering from my effort to close the gap, I could hear three or four from the back of the group ramp it up for the final 500 metres up to the finish. I took a deep breath, looked for a gap to jump out and caught a good wheel of a lady whom I knew would keep a good pace to the finish. I tried to come around her but she was too strong so I thought I was in for second place, but low and behold who should be on my side but ‘Liz’ – our fellow Valkyrie. She pipped me on the line for a well deserved second place.

All in all a very satisfying Saturday afternoon’s work!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Club TT Champs

5 merry Valkyries took part in the Club Time Trial Champs this afternoon. And I, for one, can honestly say that I'm now well and truly shattered.

Let's set the scene: the race started at 1pm. It was about 10 degrees, although the apparent temperature was 2.2, with a fresh and fierce NW wind blowing at around 35-45kph and blackened sky (wish we'd taken some photos!). Great conditions for my (and most, if not all, of the other girls) first time trial. Brrr!

We took off in 30 seconds intervals from Casuarina Sands. It was a "held" start (where the organisers hold your bike until your time is up and then you roll away). I know a few of us were a bit nervous about this having never done it before (I was really wishing I'd attended the skills session where this was practiced!). It was a little strange when I initially took my 2nd foot off to clip in, but I trusted the nice man who was holding my bike when he said that if he let me fall he'd make sure I fell on him so my landing was well cushioned. Or something... It was actually quite good doing the "held" start as, according to my Garmin, the incline coming out of Casuarina Sands to Cotter Road is up around 20%!

From Casuarina Sands we turned left onto Cotter Road and went straight uphill. Strangely the uphill sections were the pleasurable parts of the ride! After climbing up from the Cotter we proceeded past the Mt Stromlo turn-off to Uriarra Road where we turned left. It was all good until the sweeping bend to the left before the turn-off to SFP at which time we went straight into the most massive headwind. Ouch! I was grinding those gears in a way that Simon would have been proud if it had been a hill climbing session. But it wasn't. It was a TT. :-(

Things improved a bit going down towards Uriarra Xing, thank goodness. And it was nice seeing the familiar face of Paddy, our honorary Valkyrie, riding in the opposite direction giving us all a cheer as he went by. Next time you race with us Paddy!

It was after we climbed out of Uriarra Xing that things got really tough. It was a brutal headwind the whole way along the false flat towards Uriarra Homestead. I was going slower along there than I'd been climbing out of the Cotter! I was watching the odometer pretty solidly during this stage, trying to break the distances up to make them feel more achievable, as it was really tough going.

Turning up onto Mt McDonald for the final couple of kms was welcome relief. The wind was finally behind us again and we were all travelling faster up Mt McDonald than we had been going on the false flat! Phew! The only problem I had at this stage was figuring out the finish. I'd relied on the published 31km to get me through that false flat pain, but come 32km I was still going. When was the suffering going to end?! Finally at 32.5km it was over. It was such a relief, but also a bit anti-climactic, as there was no one other than the race organisers at the finish (everyone rolled back down to Casuarina Sands rather than waiting at the finish). Finishing was a bit of a double-edged sword. Suddenly we all started to realise how cold it actually was out there. Rach asked what the "stuff was floating through the air that looked like floating rain". We decided it couldn't actually be snow as it was still technically a little too warm, but it really wouldn't have been far off. My teeth were chattering and my whole body was shaking on the descent down Mt McDonald back to Casuarina Sands. I think I actually got quite a good ab-workout today from clenching my gut while shivering so hard!

And us Valkyries dominated! There were I think 9 women racing, of which 5 of us were Valkyries (go team!). And we posted some v impressive results:
* WB - LisaK 2nd; and
* WC - Rach 1st, Anna 2nd, Cheska 3rd, LindaR 4th.

And of course half of this is because of Rach's enthusiasm and encouragement which got not just me out (which believe me is no mean feat!), but another 3 of the Valkyries too. So cheers Rach - not only club TT champ, but great ambassador to boot. :-)

And now to back-up for the Wagga handicap tomorrow...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Skillez group TTT practice

Thursday morning was team time trial practice for the Valkyrie ‘skillez’ group (as dubbed by Simon). It was a good turn out – the three fabulous helpers (as mentioned in the previous post), Eleanora, Linda H, Cherrie, Leonie and me.
After meeting at the ANU we rode off to OPH as a bunch to practice our team time trial skills, but at an intersection in Civic, one of the girls got stuck at a set of red lights with two of the V-Mobile boys. I was keen to stop and wait for them, and mentioned that to Cherrie, who signalled that to the rest of the bunch. But Milto, thinking it was just the boys we’d left behind, called out to just keep riding and that they would catch up. I wasn’t sure about this, but just went with it, and we kept riding to OPH. Eventually we all met up at OPH, but I learnt a critical lesson about being in a bunch from this experience. Being assertive and confident in your calls when you’re in a bunch is really important. If you are unsure about a decision that someone else has made – speak up! What I should have done is spoken out and made it clear that we were going to pull into the carpark and wait for them. I think for a bunch to be safe and comfortable, all its members need to be confident enough to speak up.
Once at OPH we did some drills set out by Simon. We rode twice round the circuit as a bunch, getting used to riding together and doing some one-handed drills. Then we pulled back in, split into two groups and did some TTT practice. We focused on: spacing to the wheel in front, being smooth (with use of brakes and general bike control) and pulling off the front clearly (calling out and using the elbow to signal). In the later laps we practiced using the drops.
Overall, it was a good session – it gave us the opportunity to reinforce important skills and get comfortable riding together as a bunch.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My First Blog

Okay, so I've been a bit slow on the blogging. Sorry Rach, been a bit busy organising the Vollies for the DBR Tour... ;)

We had a good turn out this morning, enough to split into two groups once we got to Old Parliament House to start our drills. We had wonderful support and guidance from Chris K, Andrew Thaller and Michael Milton.

I was happy that I improved my sklls at jumping on the end of the train this morning, although there is still some work to be done. I also felt more comfortable and capable this morning, not running out of puff until the last lap.

I'm looking forward to Wagga on Sunday. I'm just going to treat it like a training ride so I don't get too nervous about it all. If nothing else it will be a social event so should be great.

Planning on a ride Tuesday morning with Linda H and Megan so let us know if you would like to join us for a slow, social ride around the city.

Red Hill Repeats (why oh why?)

So the morning started well, I got out of bed easily (strange, but it is getting easier), it was a pretty warm morning and it was still – especially compared to the gale on Stromlo on Tuesday morning!!

Having completed 3 repeats of Stromlo on Tuesday, staying in the saddle the whole time and being chuffed I made it once let alone three times I was pretty confident this morning would be just as manageable… I was also convinced that since it was a lot shorter than Stromlo it was most likely going to be easier which is why we were down to do 6 repeats and not 3……. hmmmm.

Only three of us rolled up the hill at 6am, incidentally just as Tony Abbott was finishing his last repeat, and the other Valkyries arrived a little later. My recovering quads noticed straight away that the hill pinched up very quickly and before I new it I was dropping gears to try keep my cadence right… until I couldn’t drop them any further! Hats off to you girls that managed a harder gear! I welcomed the ‘flat section’ at the turn off half way up the mountain – didn’t feel all that flat to me! And before I knew it the hill pinched up again. I had some time out of the saddle during the last straight before the top, not sure how much it helped though! I was stoked to get there– and the view was well and truly worth it – its been a long time since I’d been up red hill at night. Brad took us around a little loop at the top of Red Hill as a bit of a recovery before we rolled back down the mountain. I’m looking forward to joining the v-mobile boys for their descending skills session on Saturday morning because it was a quick and tight descent, and sure enough, there were pedestrians and bikes everywhere.

My second lap was an effort. Had to stop on the flat at the turn off this time – surprising what a little rest does – but unfortunately was out of the saddle for the most of the ride up to the top and had to recruit every muscle and bit of heart I had… It was hard!! We passed Rach and Cheska on the way down – both in fine form I must say – and I’m sure there were other Valkyries but I called it a day there. Not sure I went home with one rep left… maybe a half… but either way, I’m stoked with my effort - sure I have a bit to go but am certain it wont be nearly as hard next time; and fingers crossed, next time I’ll be punching out three.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Time trialling on a windy Saturday morning

A belated report.

Saturday was day eight of my life as a member of the Valkyries squad
and it was time for my first time trial effort. And what a great time to
do it - I'm as unfit as I've ever been so I can only improve.


I got to Stromlo Forest Park in plenty of time to do a few warm up
laps around the crit track. I expected there would be other Valkyries
doing the same thing but instead I was all alone. At 9.25 I rode up to the
gate expecting to see someone there but still I was alone. I have to
admit it was about this time that I started to doubt myself. Had I
gone to the right place? Did I get the time right? Then I spotted
Simon. He was as perplexed as me at the lack of starters and we just
agreed to carry on when Francesca and Anna turned up. Yay, some company!


Simon took us down to the track to do some drills. The first was one
legged pedalling. I had heard of this before but I hadn't realised how
difficult it would be. Not just the coordination element but the pain
factor - my thigh started to burn almost instantly! The second drill
was fast pedalling. We put the bike in the lowest gear and tried to
pedal without bouncing - without much success. More practice is
definitely needed.


And then it was time for the time trial. Francesca and Anna went off
first and after some nerves over Simon holding the bike for my start,
I was off too. Up until this point, my only experience of time trials
was watching Fabian Cancellara cruising along some lovely cobbled
streets or similar at about 60 kms an hour. Mine was not like that.
I struggled badly on all of those hills. Luckily the saturday morning riders where
very friendly as they overtook me. Waiting at the six km mark was a
cheering Anna and Francesca - thanks guys. We were met by Simon half
way along the ride back to the gate. And he was kind enough to give me a
little push up the hills so I could keep up with the other girls. I
could have used the help during the trial :)


We made it back to the gate and then came the bad news. We had to do
it all again! My legs were very tired and not surprisingly my time
was slower the second time around. We were even slower on the way
back riding into a horrible headwind. It was about then that I was
thankful I hadn't ridden from home and I was very happy to put the
bike in the car and head home for a nice warm shower.


Thanks again to Simon for the session and thank you to Anna and
Francesca who were happy to keep at a pace I could handle.

Training Report - Stromlo Climbing Repeats

Today definitely felt like the workout it was intended to be; my brief report:

Up at 4:55 (I must be insane)

Got every single red light along Northbourne, so i was heading into town swearing at each intersection - apologies to Tom Behrens who (it turns out) was behind me.

Rolled away from the City with LindaR and Verity at 5:33 and formed a single line out to Stromlo, with some nice pace along Adelaide Ave. Felt smooth and safe, thanks Ladies.

Arrived at Stromlo to find a bit of a party there were so many of us there -

Valkyries:
Rach
Verity
LindaR
Lisa
Maja
Anna
Angie
Liz
Jane

Mentors:
Brad
Rob

We all got in our big gears for the climbs, I was convinced Lisa was in her small ring she was climbing so fast - but alas, she was in fact in the big ring.

I then comforted myself that she probably has compact gearing, but no win there either as she's on full size cogs just like me :(

Felt pretty proud of myself climbing the whole thing, in the saddle in my big ring - haven't done that before.

I think most of us got three reps in, including Maja - huge effort on your first time climbing Stromlo so well done (and look out Lisa!!).

The descents felt SUPER sketchy thanks to a brutal cross wind and big gusts on some of the corners. Tried to work on good lines, but some 4WD morons were driving up the center line so I took it pretty easy. Tried to practice not reacting when leaning into a corner and suddenly a big gust of wind blows you upright. Not Fun.

Thanks to the blokes for coming out, and DaveP for getting us back to the City, I was feeling pretty tired and sketchy on the way back so it was nice to have you and Verity for company.

Excuse me now while i go sleep under my desk.

Quick Stats:
Time: 2:39 on the bike
Calories: 960
Hill reps: 3

Monday, June 13, 2011

Descending Skills session

Please note - this is not Mount Stromlo ;)


It was a small group of us (6) that met up on Mount Stromlo on Sunday 12th June to do a descending skills session with Michael (Doc :) ) Hanslip. Aaaah, long weekend in Canberra!

Attendees: Liz, Verity, Rach, Anna, Eleanora & Linda.

As we negotiated more traffic than I expected on Stromlo - I guess it must have been the cafe plus there was apparently a downhill MTB race next door at SFP - and a strong wind, we cycled up and down the hill (mountain?)several times learning how to descend using Michael's techniques and advice for safety and stability.

Before our first descent, Michael explained to us firstly the importance of using the drops, rather than the hoods, for descending. There are several reasons for this, including increased stability due to a lower centre of gravity, more braking power when needed (with the emphasis on when needed!) and to protect the bars and brakes when riding close to others. The idea of this was somewhat discomforting for some of us, who were used to riding the hoods mostly.

Michael also explained about the judicious use of brakes, as he said it is actually safer to brake as little as possible when descending in a bunch. He told a story of women that he recently coached in the same spot being disbelieving when he said that he set them a challenge to roll down to the bottom without using the brakes at all if possible. I was disbelieving too, and didn't quite manage to do any brake-free descents, but was using them a lot less by the end of the session.

Some techniques we learnt that help with keeping off the brakes, and maintaining stability, are looking ahead rather than down (this sounds familiar doesn't it!) as this helps with feeling more in control and a change in perception of speed, and using the front brake mostly when needed rather than the rear, 'feathering' rather than grabbing it hard.

Some other things that Michael got us to practice were following a 'good' line through the corners and keeping our feet level on the straights rather than coasting down with one foot up, one down the whole time. I think I need to do lots of work on remembering this one! Also on this point was the tip to practice with a different foot forward each time, as we tend to favour one leg over the other, which becomes the stronger one.

One final, very useful piece of advice passed on to us - if you get the 'speed wobbles', a phenomenon where the front end of the bike sometimes 'shimmies' in a very scary manner at higher speeds when descending - clamp your knees against the top tube. This dampens the vibrations that cause this to happen.

While I wouldn't say I'm now a great descender, I definitely felt more confident and safer doing descents at the end of the session, and more at ease with riding the drops, than I did at the beginning.

Thanks to Michael for running the session!

Linda H.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

DBR Team

***Entries close 26 June
http://canberratour.actcyclingevents.com.au/entries/?IntCatId=14

Please correct me if im wrong, but I think the Valkyrie Vikings DBR Team consists of:

General Classification / (racing the whole thing)
Rach
Verity
Deciana
Pat
Lisa
Jane
Liz

Road Race and Time Trial: (everything except for the B Grade Crit)
AngieW
Cheska
Anna

Time Trial racing team: (girls - you can do this, its just ride in a straight line by yourself)
LindaH
Maja
Eleanora
Shalan

Away/Injured/Potential Martials
Haylee
KateM
AngeB
Leonie
Megan

Bicycle fun on the interwebs!



Although we are all spending a lot of our free hours now training hard on our bikes, getting fit and fast, practicing those skills to perfection....we all need some down time, right?

Also, a person can never spend too much time thinking about bikes, cycling, bike gear and anything remotely cycling-related, right?

Well, in light of these two irrefutable statements - here's my pick of the best of the (cycling) interwebs....aside from this fabulous Valkyries blog and the Vikings forum, that is!!


Fat Cyclist

www.fatcyclist.com

A guy based in Utah who decided to start a blog, lose lots of kilos, talk about his cycling etc. Soon after his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and the blog changed into something bigger, and his cycling became deeply interconnected with fundraising for cancer charities and organisations, particularly Livestrong. Sadly his wife passed away the year before last, but he has continued blogging about all manner of cycling things, with a wonderful and kooky sense of humour and a strong sense of community.

Bike Snob NYC


bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com

Bike Snob, aka Eben Weiss, was for a long time a mysterious and revered character in the cycling world. Always hiding anonymously behind silly photoshopped additions to photos of himself, he was recently outed and has since written a book based on his blog. Still posting every weekday, he provides a cynical (but balanced - he roasts all cycling disciplines equally with his sarcastic humour) view on the pretensions and strange behaviours of cyclists everywhere. Can be a little rude sometimes, so careful when viewing at work - but worth checking it out for some laughs and cringes!

Ride Happy

ridehappy.com.au

A cheery, funny blog by an Australian girl, Lisa Jacobs, who rides nationally and internationally for the Victorian Institute of Sport. Lisa has a way with words and invokes an alter-ego regularly in her blog - 'Lisa's mum' - who provides hilarious words of wisdom on all sorts of strange cycling dilemmas sent in by her readers. Plus, another reason to read this one - V-mobile's own Steven C has a dilemma solved in a recent post (sent in courtesy of fellow V-mobiler Andy)!

Cycling Tips

www.cyclingtipsblog.com

A little more serious and 'pro', this one, but beautiful photography and interesting interviews and articles. The author, Wade, is based in Melbourne but writes and posts photos of a mixture of local, national and international cycling topics and events. Great to look at the amazing shots of events such as the Giro d'Italia and dream of those mountains and that scenery....



I'm sure there are many other excellent sites, blogs and forums out there about cycling - these are just a few. Please add to the list if you have any favourites!

Linda :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

LK's first training session

Well, Rach was brave enough to post about her first training session, so I thought I'd have a go at describing mine. Some of you have met me, some haven't, as I'm a bit hit and miss with training at the moment, thanks to two small people (AKA kids under the age of 4), work, moving house, stupid cold, etc, but I'm hoping to rectify my slackness in getting out on the bike v soon. Anyway, enough of that...

I actually started cycling in 2006 so am soon to celebrate my 5th anniversary of road cycling. One of the guys at my work suggested that we put in a team for the Hartley Lifecare Cycle Challenge and I was one of those who put up their hand to participate. Sure I'd never been on a road bike, but surely I would be able to ride 454km over 3 days in just over 3 months time. First thing was first - I needed a bike!

After probably not enough shopping around, I settled on my first road bike. I remember the guys at the shop telling me to take it for a spin around the block to see how it felt. I couldn't figure out how to change gears, let alone use the brakes. It was pretty lucky that I managed to stay upright! Anyway, I took it home and thought I was halfway to Hartley already. Hmmm...

Next issue was kit. I had a pair of knicks and a jersey. It was August in Canberra. Yes, that's right, I didn't even own any gloves. I did a few solo rides on weekends in my knicks and jersey and got a few strange looks from passersby, including the odd comment about my level of optimism re the temperature. Yes, I was a complete gumby.

Then someone suggested that I should try some of the bunch rides with the Bilbys (local triathlon club for those that haven't come across them yet). So I turned up one Saturday morning feeling eager to get cracking as a real cyclist. I intended to do a short ride, but there were no takers for the short ride, so I joined in the slow medium-distance bunch, which (no offence to anyone who was there at the time!) seemed to be populated with people largely over the age of 60. I felt fine for the first 25km and contemplated turning around, which was what I intended, but decided to keep going with the group because, as I say, I felt fine. Little did I know that 5km further up the road I would experience bonking in a way I've never experienced since. I had nothing. I couldn't turn the pedals over. I could barely speak to the people around me. And I still had 40km of hills in front of me (yes, I chose Cotter-Uriarra as my first bunch ride!). I remember getting to Uriarra crossing after the 3 sisters descent (we did the loop counter-clockwise that time) and I had to get off my bike and walk it up the hill. I was so embarrassed. Here was I, somewhere between a third to half the age of the people in my group, and I just could not keep up. I kept trying to tell them to go on without me, but they refused to leave me out there on my own (probably good in a way as I had no idea how to change a tyre, let alone where I was!). Someone asked me what I'd had to eat, and I remember thinking what a strange question it was. I had never contemplated needing food on a 70km+ ride so certainly didn't have any on me. I guess that explains why I had bonked so badly. Still, I took it as more evidence of how terrible I actually was.

I distinctly remember limping home up Northbourne Avenue, being so relieved that the bunch ride had actually ended so that I could stop having to try and keep up. I had never and haven't since experienced such exhaustion. To give a good indication of how exhausted I actually was - a friend had given me a ticket to the Placebo concert in Canberra that night and I actually fell asleep in the middle of the concert...

I probably would have thrown it in right there and then if I hadn't already committed to doing Hartley that year. It was a bit of a rude awakening to what cycling actually entails, but I can say retrospectively it was a welcome awakening. I went on to riding solidly - got up to riding 5 times a week by the time Hartley was on. Not only did I manage to do the entire event (which was my initial goal) I ended up being one of the stronger ones in my team. I was totally chuffed each time someone commented how much stronger I was getting. Believe me, it was only another fortnight before the "slow medium-distance" bunch of the Bilbys was too slow for me! The first 2-3 weeks were the hardest but then it all started to work. Yes, I'll probably always wish I was a bit faster / stronger (and had more time to train!), but riding doesn't seem to be a struggle for me anymore. I hop on my bike and feel strong and free - it's the only time I really get to just be me in the fresh air, no airs and graces, just me pushing myself to the limits and see what I can do, not to mention the fantastic company I have on my rides (cycling is my perfect sport as I can talk and exercise at the same time!). I've spent a fair bit of time off the bike since I first started in 2006 (in fact, I've unfortunately spent more time off the bike than on), but it's been easier and easier each time to get back on.

To put this further in perspective, what I've described is the horror of my first bunch ride, which was actually not even a training session. There was no real pushing to limits or anything like the girls would have been doing this morning. To Megan and all you other ladies who chose the Thursday session to make your debut with the VVs, my hat goes off to you - the Thursday session is (from what I understand) the hardest of the VV sessions and to get out there and give it your all, well, you ladies will go far. :-)

Go Team VV!

My First Training Session

I've touched on this in a few other posts, but I thought I'd have another go. This one goes out to Megan, our newest recruit, who did an awesome two loops on her first session this morning.

...
My first training session, it was about 17 degrees, and I was really excited but had never ridden my bike at 6am before. I was sure I'd be freezing so I put on all my extra warm winter gear.

I felt like an idiot when I saw that everyone else was still in their summer riding gear, shorts and short sleeves. I had two pairs of gloves on. Fail.

Someone gave an explanation of what we were going to do - and he may as well have been speaking french for all I understood of it. There were some street names I recognised, something about two bunches and something about one bunch doing 'TTT's' whatever that meant. There was also talk of spewing?!? WTF?

Were people going to be throwing up along the way?

We rolled away and immediately it was hard, just riding near all these other people (all blokes except for two women, both of whom looked pretty professional to me and looked MUCH fitter than me).

I felt like a big ball of over-heated, over-dressed nerves compared to them.

We set off from the ANU and then got straight on the road to ride over the bridge. I was immediately terrified, I hadn't ridden on the road in a bunch more than four times in the Novice program and these guys were moving fast.

I was at my maximum heart rate just trying to keep up, and we hadn't even gotten to wherever it was we were supposed to be going.

We stopped at the New Zealand embassy and the coach gave another spiel about climbing and something to do with gears, which again made no sense to me. I felt like if I asked questions, people would realise exactly how much of a beginner I was and they would politely let me know I wasn't good enough to be riding in a squad. So I kept my mouth shut and hoped I'd be able to just copy them.

Half the group then disappeared to do whatever a TTT was, and I felt mildly relieved that I was obviously in the slow group, as we rolled away.

But shortly after we rolled away I realised we were starting to go up hill and It Was Hard.

Really Hard. Within what felt like seconds, I couldn't see anyone and my bike felt like it might tip over because I was having that much trouble just keeping the pedals turning.

I burst into tears at the realisation that not only was I slow, I was way too slow for even the slow group. Plus, I was probably going to get lost since I hadn't even understood the directions, let alone what the hell the drill was all about. Was this training? It seemed horrible.

Eventually I made it to the top of the hills after what seemed like an eternity, riding all by myself. To my horror, some of them had waited for me - I felt so embarrassed that they had seen how slow I was.

We rolled away and then, the only thing more scary than climbing hills was that now we were going down them. It was night time, and I felt totally terrified so I stayed on the brakes and again within seconds - couldn't see a soul.

I turned the corner at the bottom to head towards the lake, wondering if I was even going the right way. I sort of hoped I would get lost, so that later I could blame my lack of direction for my inability to ride as fast as the others. But there they were again blinking away up front.

As I got to the corner they were rolling away except this time there was a new horror. The Coach started yelling at me. "get on that wheel, get up there, get moving, keep it up".

It took every effort not to burst into tears again. I felt like he was just pointing out that I was really terrible. Some of the other riders said some encouraging type comments and I just thought they must really be thinking 'oh no, this girl is TOTALLY not ready for a squad'.

I decided that once we got around to the embassy again, I would go home. This obviously wasn't for me. I was getting yelled at, I was having a horrible time and I very clearly wasn't good enough.

Unfortunately, when I got to the roundabout, ready to sneak away and go home, they'd slowed down again. DAMMIT. I figured they'd probably laugh at me extra hard if I didn't even finish the session. So around we went and the same thing happened all over again, within two seconds everyone was gone, except the coach who this time had hung back to yell at me, and I was again battling to keep the crying and swearing under wraps.

Around we went again and this time I was shattered, and determined never to come back to training again.

I think what saved me though, is that right at the end, there was discussion of the next training session as being along a flat course rather than one with hills.

I went away, feeling totally defeated, but over the next two days wondered if perhaps I shouldn't try just one more time, at least on the flat session. We'd been told that on our second session for the week we would switch and the coach would do the hilly loop with the fast bunch, and the slow bunch would just ride out along a flat course - without the coach. I reasoned that at least it might be slightly better if I wasn't getting yelled at.

I turned up on the Wednesday, and again the explanation of the drill was all nonsense to me except for one thing - the drill included an instruction that the thing we were doing was in groups of four and there was a rule, we could drop one rider, but not two. THAT part I understood, if I could just hang on, they wouldn't be allowed to drop me. I was determined not to be the first rider to drop.

Somehow, the rider behind me dropped off first and I realised that meant the other two guys had to wait for me! I was partly thrilled and partly felt really embarrassed that they were having to ride so slowly. I spent the whole ride apologising.

Now here's my key points:
One of those riders was Chris K - a committed mentor to the Valkyrie Vikings, and less than a month or so later, I beat him to the finish of a 105km ride, the Amy Gillett Ride, which included two laps of the Cotter / Uriarra loop including real hills.

Regular training involving hills was hard, but I saw incredible improvement in two to three weeks. The reason I was able to see that improvement, was because I was in a squad and it was really clear. First I could still see them at the top as I was climbing, then I was getting to the top still able to see them, and finally I started actually climbing with them.

To be clear, this first training session was in late February, 2011.

It's now June. My average speed has increased from around 18km/h to 30 km/h. I can ride up Mt Stromlo in 12:15 and (somehow) I am the Captain of a 20-women strong Novice Racing Squad.

The sense of achievement I got the first time (and really every time) I notice an improvement like beating Verity up a hill, or making Chris bust a gut to beat me to the finish at Bathurst is really, truly incredible.

I've since learned that the Vikings Cycling Club is chock full of people who are all super encouraging. I realised since that they weren't laughing at me on my first session, they were just glad that another chick had shown up! I LOVE riding my bike with people from my bike club, and with other riders in the Valkyrie and V-Mobile squads.

I'm so glad I gave it one more go and didn't give up, and I only wish I'd joined sooner - I rode my road bike for two years by myself before joining up because I never thought I'd be good enough.

What surprised me then (and still does):
  • Everyone gets dropped, all the time, on every ride someone falls off the back. Don't feel bad - we're all doing it.
  • You always assume when you've been dropped, that you're the only one. The more you ride (and get to talk to other riders at a post ride coffee) - the more you realise that people are dropping off all over the place, you just can't see them.
People drop off and then the next time they try to just hang on a bit longer. If that didn't happen, we'd all be the exact same pace and there would be no racing and no way to improve.
  • It's ok to say "This is more than I've got today". Tell someone, and go home. The key is to keep coming back and doing as much as you can and you'll improve. I find that once I've given myself permission to only do a little more, I can usually then do a lot more.
  • You'll improve SO much faster than you think you will. I think you'll only really believe this one when it happens to you. But I swear, in three weeks of regular training you wont know yourself.
  • Everybody feels like they are wearing the wrong gear/don't quite have a flashy enough bike/might not have the look. (That's how the industry makes so much money).
And the big one:
  • Everyone has days, rides and races where they feel lousy. If you stop or drop off - no one is looking at you, no one is laughing at you.
They are all looking at themselves, guaranteed and may have no idea that you're struggling - because they're struggling too.

I've seen A Graders fall off the bunch in races and burst into tears, riders who I thought were a bit superhuman.

I've seen A Graders DNF (did not finish) out of a race because they just didn't have the stuff. Or didn't want to. Or whatever. I see that and just assume they are doing what's right for them. I never look at them and think 'oh they're so terrible'. And its the same, they're not looking at you either.

What I really respect, are the beginners who get out of bed at 5am, turn up to a training session in the cold of winter and give it a go.

Because that's pretty fricken hardcore.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

OM NOM NOM NOM NOM!

So I went to see a dietitian this week, first time I've ever been to one, because I wanted to know more about what to eat.

When I first began training with a Squad, I had expected to quickly embody a lithe, cyclists frame - but was surprised to find instead of trimming down, I actually put on 3 or 4 kgs.

Part of this was due to suddenly finding myself at a lot of post ride breakfasts. Initially, I held out since I was used to my muesli at my work desk, post ride but gradually coffee became toast, which became eggs and toast, then progressed to pancakes and finally french toast. Mmmmmmm SO yummy, but sadly - way more calories each week than i was burning.

Another thing that tripped me up was getting confused about 'sport nutrition' - all those energy powders and energy bars.

Other cyclists (blokes) were telling me they always had energy powder in their drink bottles (both for training and racing), that they ate before and during training and favoured energy bars. So I followed suit.

But this again helped me pile on the kgs. It's a really easy trap to fall into, and I think especially so if you are training into winter. It's cold, and every fibre of your being says 'stay in bed, it's warm here', so a little sugary drink and a chocolate & peanut bar followed by a yummy brekkie and two coffees seems like a good reward.

Two tips I've learned recently:

  1. Exercise under 90 minutes doesn't require you to take on fuel while you are doing it - provided you are getting the right amount of energy and nutrition from your regular eating.
  2. You don't need nearly as much protein as you think, and protein comes from a lot of sources - including all those coffees.
  3. During a race (over 90 minutes) you will need to take on fuel. Unless you've practiced this, it will be difficult to do quickly. (as i learned recently during the Coolamon Classic when i tried to catch a passing bunch and also chew at the same time)
So, based on the advice of my dietitian, I am testing out for the next couple of weeks - not putting any energy drink in my bottle, and having one breakfast instead of two.

It might be difficult or require a bit of adjustment - i'll report back on how i go!


Monday, June 6, 2011

Volunteers required for DBR Tour

This year’s DBR Australia 2011 Junior & Women's Tour will run from Friday 8th – Sunday 10th July, and they’re looking for help. There is quite a range of jobs on offer for this Tour so a spot can be found for everyone.

Contact Cherrie:
Cherrie (dot) kneebone (at) team.telstra.com

The following are required:
• Marshals
• Lead Car Drivers
• Commissaire assistants
• Mechanically minded Spares Car Drivers
• Radio handset distribution
• Signage assistance
• Setup, Packup
• Etc….

This means that you can volunteer for a few hours or for a whole day. Hartley volunteers will again receive a $50 donation to their Team fundraising for every session they assist with. So it could be a lucrative weekend for a busy team.

Below are the estimated race times for each session:
• Friday 8th July (11:00 – 17:00): SFP and Uriarra Rd – Individual Time Trial,
• Saturday 9th July (08:00 – 13:00): SFP, Uriarra Rd and Coppins Crossing Rd – Road Race
• Saturday 9th July (13:00 – 17:00): SFP, Uriarra Rd – Individual Time Trial
• Sunday 10th July (08:00 – 13:00) – SFP, Uriarra Rd and Coppins Crossing Rd – Road Race
• Sunday 10th July (13:00 – 16:00) – SFP, Criterium Circuit – Criterium.

I have a work commitment around the same time so I am working to fill all of the roles now and take the pressure off. Preference will be given to early requests.

Please use the following details to provide, Day, Time, Job and preferred Location if appropriate and I will do what I can to accommodate.
Availability Job Preference
Friday Setup
Friday PM ITT Race
Saturday AM Road Race
Saturday PM ITT
Sunday AM Road Race
Sunday PM Crits/Packup

If you have not volunteered for me before or your details have changed please fill out the table below and contact me via this email address. I will get back to you with more details.
Volunteer Name
Email
Alternate Email
(If applicable)
Address1
Address2
Town/Suburb
State
Postcode
Phone Home
Work Phone
Mobile
Club eg. VIKINGS: Valkyrie Vikings Team
2010 Traffic Marshal Assessment completed
(Yes/No)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Valkyrie - team member photo shoot





Special thanks to honorary Valkyrie, Paddy for his photography skills!

Pro Tip



Here's a tip:

When your bike makes a funny noise, stop, turn it upside-down and have a look.

Mine started making a noise when i tried to switch to the big ring shortly before I dropped off the back of the Norman bunch ride on Friday. Unsure what it might be I just avoided using the big ring for the rest of the ride, and again today.

Assuming it would be something technical beyond my expertise I was all ready to phone a mechanic friend, Sir Callahan of 'Carbon Y Cuban' bike workshop ACT, when I thought I'd have a quick look.

Within thirty seconds of winding the pedals over in the big ring, I discovered my Garmin cadence sensor (small magnet that is meant to be attached to the pedal arm) had come loose, magnetically latched on to the chain, and was wedged inside the derailleur.

It came right out again, but I shudder to think that it could have easily made me come off the bike if it had decided to magnetise itself to the inside of the chain rather than the outside.

Moral of the story is - even if you're a beginner lady, any weird new sounds that you haven't heard before - stop and have a look!

Now if I can just fix my neck before tomorrows training ride...

Bike Fit

Found this great article about the challenges of fitting bikes for women. Interestingly, I've only recently discovered that my top tube (the one you stand over) is too long for me. Because it's too long, I have a really super short stem so I can reach the handlebars but as described in this article, that short stem makes the steering very twitchy which is why I struggle on the downhill and have to use a lot of force to hold still as every little movement with my arms, translates into a big turn of the front wheel (bad news when flying down a hill).

So I have money and friends who can build bikes, and want to either a) buy a new frame and gradually get nice components to go with it or b) buy a new bike if this ends up being cheaper - but the range of choice out there is overwhelming. Where do I start on choosing a frame?

First step was to get properly measured, and now i know that my height is 165cm, my inside leg measurement is 78cm and according to this website I should be riding a 53cm bike, whereas my recent bike measurement at Sportscare has me looking for a 50cm.

..complicated. It seems that the smartest thing to do is research well and work out a range of frames that are the right size, then go for some test rides and try to calculate whether its better value to buy a frame or a whole new bike...

I'll post another update as I go along.


Valkyries - show us your mad skillz!!


It was a cold and windy morning that greeted us today for our skills session at Stromlo Forest Park crit circuit. As the ominous clouds loomed and intermittently gave us a sprinkling, we staved off the chill by concentrating on our tasks at hand - bike handling and bunch riding skills.

The lovely Simon D was our coach, and led us in a whole lot of useful and slightly challenging exercises, including the proper way to start off a bunch ride or race (no looking down at pedals, make sure to squish up shoulder to shoulder at the start line!!) and slalom/figure of eight courses.

We then started practicing pacelining, with the less confident of us starting off with single pacelines before moving to doubles after a little while. I found it quite surprising how quickly I got more comfortable with riding close to others, and was even able to eventually put my hand on Rhiannon, my riding partner's shoulder with only a few wobbles!

We finished off with a great couple or so laps round the circuit in one bigger bunch, and it was fantastic to see how much more confident and smooth we were riding as a bunch. Before and after photos to come - thanks Paddy!

Thanks so much Simon for your expert guidance, and cheers to all the ladies who came today - it was fab to ride and learn with you all :)

P.S - I'm doing this crazy ride tomorrow called 100 Miles of Nowhere: http://www.fatcyclist.com/2011/04/10/register-now-for-the-4th-annual-100-miles-of-nowhere/

So, it's 160 mindless kms up and down Dairy Flat Road near Fyshwick for me tomorrow. If you feel like swinging by at any stage and riding with me for a bit, donating $$ (money raised to go to Eden Monaro Cancer Support Group) or just hangin' (probably not for too long - cold and windy tomorrow too!) and keeping me sane, that would be really cool!

See you all soon,

Linda H.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Amy’s Gran Fondo - Great Ocean Road - 18 Sep 2011

http://www.amygillett.org.au/event-details

Amy’s Gran Fondo – What’s it all about?
Gran fondo means long distance or great endurance. Gran Fondo is a 500+ year old tradition that originated in Italy as a walking event, which then progressed to bicycles, and continues to be held in idyllic regions throughout the world. The excitement and anticipation of this Italian tradition is now on its way to Australia.

Australia has never staged a mass participation road riding event with an absolute focus on safety, whilst offering a competitive element to cater for Australia's rapidly growing population of recreational riders.......until now!

Some ride for the satisfaction and pride of just making it to the finish line. Others want to improve upon their previous times or to challenge themselves, their friends and their team mates. And some ride to win!

This is a timed event, with prize money for age group and team placegetters. With only 3000 places available for Amy's Gran Fondo, register early for the first ever Gran Fondo held in Australia.

Events:
Amy's Gran Fondo - 120kms Lorne via the Great Ocean Road, Forrest, and Deans Marsh finishing at Benwerrin.

Date:
Sunday 18 September 2011

Check out the website for full details

=======
I am doing this with my daughter, Bec. It is a great opportunity to cycle the Great Ocean Road without cars. A life experience!

You can race it if you wish but as my daughter is a photographer we will be enjoying the scenery and, I am sure, having many stops along the way.

Any interest?



Synchronised Cycling

Well, I thought we all did really well at last week's bike skills course. But I've just seen this clip (on the Ride Happy blog) and am now convinced that we have a long way to go until we become... synchronised cyclists! Check it out - it's amazing!

http://wimp.com/bicycleskill/

Wow! I guess that's what we'll be learning at the follow-up skills course? ;-)

Anyway, hope everyone is well and looking forward to a fun-filled weekend of riding. I'm unfortunately not going to be able to make the skills session tomorrow but hope to see a full flight of Valkyries at the PROD on Sunday.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Newbie : )

WOW! I had such a great time this morning! Such a friendly bunch you all are! And it is really great that you have a couple of the blokes riding with you to encourage, hone your skills and push you through the harder parts.

I think it also helped that it wasn’t too cold this morning... probably not warm enough remove leg and arm warmers like I saw some crazy cats do... but was still really nice. As I said in my other post it was my first ever bunch ride and it was really good to get the down-low of dos and don’ts of bunch riding from Michael on the warm up to Yarralumla and then talk them through again with Rach and Brett during one of the recoveries... (it is Brett right? I am so bad with names – apologies if its Luke.... or Graham..... or Bob! ; )

I found the circuit itself was really good... got harder each time but a really good combination of effort and recovery. Think I will need to work on my pacing though – felt pretty strong on the first lap (mind you I honestly don’t know how I got to be beside Rach at the front of the group for part of the first lap) but boy did I feel it in the second lap..... and third lap...... and fourth lap.

Although the third was probably hardest for me – lucky I had both Brett and Michael by my side for one of the longer climbs! Tell you I could feel the power draining out of my legs with each stroke.... but it was still a really relaxed and fun atmosphere (go figure!). And funnily enough the group was never really spread too far apart which was excellent. I am really surprised I ended up doing a fourth lap – bit of encouragement I think did it - and I guess if you’re rolling along at the start and so is the rest of the group you’re kinda in it. I think I was carried a bit by Michael on this lap as I followed his line a few times– thank you!

All in all a great morning and not as bad as I thought. Was challenging – but not so hard I will be dreading getting out of bed next week! Thanks again! See you all at the skill session on Saturday (will be kind to my legs and bail on tomorrow :)

Maja

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Other upcoming races

18/06 CCC Time Trial (TT)
19/06 Wagga Handicap (Stage 5 of Tour de Riverina)
25/06 VCC TT Uriarra Long TT
02/07 VCC TT ACT TT Championship
09/07 DBR Jr & Womens Tour
16/07 VCC Handicap Secret Handicap
23/07 CCC Handicap, NSW U19, Senior and Masters ITT champs

Remember that in a Time Trial (TT) you are riding alone, so its a safe option for newbies getting into racing.

Newbie : /

Hi,
My name is Maja (or Mya.... or Myer – like Grace Brothers...) and I’m joining Valkyrie Vikings for a training session for the first time tomorrow morning. Rach has asked me to put a few lines together re my previous experience with cycling and what I’m expecting or nervous about.
Well I’ve never been part of a cycling squad and only took to the road bike after breaking my arm coming off my mountain bike late last year. My first ride on the roadie after getting some range/strength back into my shoulder was the Big Canberra Bike ride – so have only really been on a road bike since then. I’m mainly riding alone – although occasionally I can pull some of my girlfriends or collegues out. I’ve never done a group or bunch ride and have been doing a bit of a mix of path and road.
I initially enquired with the club as I was finding it difficult to find someone else who was interested in regularly riding, training, setting goals and possibly competing with me... (one of the (many) goals I set while wasting away in a shoulder immobiliser after the break, was completing either the 50 or 100km ride in the Fitz’s in October) - big hopes especially when the sound of hill repeats as we do laps around Yarralumla tomorrow makes me SOOOO nervous about joining you girls!!!
I’m mainly worried that I’m going to run out of steam, or fall way behind. One of the benefits (if not the only benefit) of riding alone is that you set your own pace (the downside of which is not pushing yourself)... so riding alongside girls that train all the time and participate in club events/races... makes me a little queasy – let’s hope the intensity doesn’t make me feel queasy tomorrow too!!
I was worried that it would clicky and hard to fit in, but I must say is that I am impressed with is the level of support I have already received from members of the squad. I haven’t met anyone but have received so much encouragement over so many emails that I feel like I kind of know you already. I got a response right away after I enquired which was great as it’s gotten me really pumped to start and is making me think that maybe I will be able to make some of these goals happen... So yeah... guess I’m excited and nervous at the same time!! : /
Will see you all tomorrow morning, am sure it’s going to wake up my legs!
Maja

19 June Wagga Handicap

Sunday 19 Jun 2011 - Wagga Wagga 56km Handicap
Hosted by Wagga Wagga Cycling Club (at Uranquinty)

Registration/Sign on at the gravel pit/car park on Oxley Bridge road, Uranquinty.
Registrations from 9am.
Race starts @ 10am.
Race Distance 56km, two loops of an out and back circuit.
Presentations at the Uranquinty Hotel.
Entry Fee $20
Race Entry
Entry is now open - you will need a licence for this one. Talk to Jane if you aren't sure about day licences.

Here's how it works for Valkyries:

We organise to car pool and drive there with time to register and ride out along the course for a bit of a warmup.

It's sensible to look at the Race Map prior to the race so you feel comfortable you can make the right turns on the course, there will be marshalls at each corner but its nice to feel prepared - that way you can tell yourself if you drop off the back its just a training ride for you.

...Although that's less relevant for this race, since its 2 loops of a 28km circuit.

When you register, we will talk to the club and make sure all our Valkyries are in Limit since we are all beginners.

Everyone warms up and then gathers for the start of the race. As we are in Limit, we will be at the front of the bunch and get going first. There is usually a countdown and people roll away - it isnt instant breakneck speed as everyone needs to clip in.

The bunch will form fairly quickly though, so your job is just to get in it/on the back of it.
Once it looks like a bunch, people will start pacelining. You'll have to watch to see if its a right lane paceline or a left lane paceline, at Coolamon it was the left whereas we often paceline on the right in Canberra bunches.

The pace will be fast, a bit faster than in training but shouldn't be breakneck - because its a handicap race all the riders in the Limit group should have a similar ability.

You'll need to communicate. When you are coming up the paceline and get near the front you'll need to talk to the rider you will move over in front of to know that its clear, and they should tell you.

Similarly, when you're at the back of the slow lane, the last rider behind you should say 'last rider' to you as they move into the paceline. That's how you know its your turn to move to the other lane again.

Don't surge on the front. Maintain a steady pace. If people surge a lot, it will eventually bust up the bunch.

If someone else is really surging (and you think they don't realise), you need to tell them not to, especially if its one of us girls.

Its quite common for us sitting on the front to feel like we don't know how they are going behind us (and don't turn your head around to look) so we assume we must be going too slow and everyone is getting cranky at us. They're not. Stay steady. Don't surge.

Surging is different to an attack when someone is really trying to get away off the front of the bunch (happens nearer the end of the race and sometimes on hills if there is another bunch close by in front they are hoping to get on to).

Stick with the bunch as long as you can. If you are struggling, remember everyone else is struggling too. The longer you stay on the better, so if its a bit hard but you reckon you can hang on another five, DO. Set yourself little goals. A good trick is try and hang on for one or two more rotations of the paceline. And then one or two more.

But do tell your teammates that you're struggling.

If you are about to drop off, its very good tactics to know if there is another teammate in the bunch with a similar ability to you who can drop off too. They need to make a choice whether they are strong enough to hang in that bunch for a good while, or only a little bit longer.

If its only a little bit longer then you are both better off dropping off the bunch together, and then riding together. You'll travel faster than if you drop off 500m apart and then spend the rest of the race riding solo. In this situation, one of you might be a bit faster than the other. The faster one will need to ride easier to avoid dropping the slightly slower one. You're both still better working together. If there are a few dropped riders, talk to them, make them work together. In this situation you should definitely be telling people to ease up a bit if they are busting up a small bunch again. They won't get anywhere by themselves.

Communicate!

Meanwhile, sometime after your limit group took off from the start, the next group gets to go. Your headstart will be in the order of minutes. It will take a while for that bunch to catch your bunch.

Now here's where the tactics start, if you're still in the Limit bunch, one option is for the Limit riders to try and jump on to the next bunch. If enough of them do, then they'll get pulled along at a faster pace for a while and if they are smart, can jump off again together and still have a bunch going.

Thats a tricky thing to do, so most likely, some people will go for it, others wont.

What's really important is that if (and when, expect to get dropped) you fall off a bunch in a race, you should pay attention to when you hear a bunch coming through.

Position is important - you'll struggle jumping on if you're climbing. But if youre on the flat or descending, when you hear them (and you will - all that communication sounds like shouting in a road race) speed up, keep left and be ready. You'll need to move over and jump on the back only when its their last rider.

You have two choices now, if you've jumped on. If its the 2nd bunch that left right after Limit, you'll be expected to rotate through the paceline. If you are really struggling though (or its a faster bunch) you can try gatekeeping for a bit.

Gatekeeping is sitting on the back of the bunch and not taking a turn through the paceline. You HAVE To communicate here, so that the last rider in front of you will know to move over and that you aren't in the paceline by calling out your wheel, over and over as they roll through.

Jumping on a bunch is very useful if you get dropped. This is because if you jump on and hang on for a bit they will sort of help you hitchhike your way up to the next few dropped riders.

You can jump off again and then you have a pair. If these people aren't your team mates you'll need to make friends. Say hello. Generally at this point neither of you are going to win, but you can both work together to achieve some goals and have a good ride.

That's kind of it for a handicap race, jump on where you can, work together when you can and make friends with other people once you're dropped together.

Expect all the shouting in the bunch, they are trying to keep it together.

Bunches will keep coming through, just like its sensible to know the course, its also sensible to know how many bunches there are in that particular race, so that as each one comes through you know how many are still to come.

The fastest group are called Scratch and once they come through (note that if they've split up a bit there might be two groups) after that there are no more bunches coming.

Thats when you have fun and enjoy the ride.

It should take a few of these races to get your head around how it all works - but doing it is the best way to practice.

If at anytime you feel unsafe, just get off the bunch safely when you are at the back - and ride it by yourself. Theres no shame in that. Similarly if something goes wrong you can DNF. Be careful about turning back, stopping where there is a marshall is a good idea.

Carry powerbars, energy in your drink bottle, and a repair kit for your tyres in case you get stuck.

Who's in?
If you're coming, please enter and then post a comment saying that you've entered.