Thursday, 31 October 2019

What's next?!

At the moment, I am uncertain on what discipline of cycling I would like to is the start of the Summer 2019/20 crit season yet I have signed up for a 3 hr MTB event on the 30th November called Bella Buxton and looking at the Otways Odessey in Feb (either 30 or 50km).

Since I bought my new mountain bike in March 2019, I have really enjoyed riding the mountain bike over road or track cycling.

Speaking of track cycling, I had another fall at DISC during the Women's Track Camp day and really contemplating if this is something which I am including within my cycling schedule. I have always loved track cycling at Brunswick and (knock on wood) I have not crashed. The boards are slippery and the banks are much steeper. I also have a bit of a reaction with heights. I don't know if you would call it a "fear" but when I am up high and peer down, a rush of sweat overcomes me and my visual just goes all "liquid" and my stability goes out the window. If I can, I will mix the Wednesday night Melburn Hurt session if I can over the summer months but I really can't do cold air during the winter and this is why I haven't been back for nearly a year. I will still use my track bike as a training tool, never have and never will race track.

I haven't done much road riding at all (out on the road) and have been utilising the Zwift on the smart trainer since we installed our room in June. My training has never been so consistent especially with the Zwift Academy which kept me on the ball. I have done one crit race this season but unsure about how many races I should be doing a year as my main goal is the Bella Buxton 3 hour and the Forrest race in Feb. I can't afford a cycling coach at the moment due to my payment plan with my Invisaligns which ends in 5 more months.

I haven't trained with Lead Out Cycling since April 2019 due to the winter air, the same reason why I had to put Track on hold. Due to complicated work schedule and not being able to wake up before 5am and no real road riding goals, waking up at 4:30am has not happened for over 6 months. I have been doing most of my "training" after work or at a sane time during the weekends. Events like Giro della Donna or Amy's Gran Fondo no longer interest me. The only road cycling event coming up is the Property Industry Foundation (PIF) ride which I have scheduled in on the 15th Nov. I have also signed up for a social race on the 16th Nov at Lysterfield which I am using as a training session for Bella Buxton. I guess the weeks before Bella Buxton, I should be doing more 3hr+ rides to get my body ready for Buxton. There is a social ride at Buxton on the 9th Nov which I am looking forward to ride. I really do need to ride the trails before the race. Similar to the 3hr Bendigo, without the social/skills session the week before, I don't think I could have ridden as much of is as I did.

Amongst the cycling, I have continued on with Pilates which I love. At lease one session a week is all I can budget but will do more if I can balance it out with cycling training.

That is all I say at the moment. This post is more of a brain dump of my up and coming races and what I am trying to squeeze in my life.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Zwift Academy 2019 - Finished

Yesterday, 20th Aug 2019 - I completed my first ever Zwift Academy...

Since my last post, I have completed all the necessary workouts and group rides.

Monday 12th Aug - Workout #4 
Anaerobic Power Development - After the high of Workout #3 with sprints, this one was prob one of my least favourite rides...the intervals consisted of a few rides > 90rpm hitting the high power zones. Great for 30sec - 1min but when you have to do 2 x 3min, it was hard especially as the aim is to ramp up rather than to start out too strong.

Tuesday 13th Aug - Workout #5
I have always been curious about this test as it is the means of assessing which power level you needed to work at for those spin classes I used to do at Art of Cycling. I used to base my power zones at 280W+ MMP. Having finally done this test, my MMP is 320W but this is prob not something I would use as a guide if I am to go back to Art of Cycling as 320W would be too high for the general workouts especially when I do double sessions.

Wednesday 14th Aug - Social Group Ride
This is my fave session of the week as it is like a recovery ride after two days straight of workouts. It is led my ladies who lead the AHDR Tuesday evening rides (they live in Adelaide I believe) and the pace is nice. This week, they didn't put up the fence as the glitch occurs where people who have been dropped are also kicked out of the session which is not the point of these fences - they are to keep the group together at the front. What ended up doing was a dozen or so went off the front and they were well ahead - we are talking 9min ahead of the group and were not interested in slowing down at all.

Thursday - Rest Day. I just did Pilates in the afternoon.

Friday - Rest Day. Another one....I needed it as the Pilates session was hard work.

Saturday 17th Aug - Workout #6
This one is called Chase the Breakaway and it consists of many quick sprints, surges, 10min ftp and more surges. I have a love/hate relationship with is workout as I love long sprints but I don't enjoy long durations....I have started to "count" during the sessions but it is mind numbing.

Sunday 18th Aug - Workout #7
After so many days of putting the hard yards on my legs, the VO2 Max development workout was hard. My legs didn't want to turn anymore so I tested out two modes of hitting those power zones. With ERG mode - you either hit those power zones by spinning hard or when you spin slow, the trainer will get harder so that when you turn at that speed, you will be hitting those power targets. I have noticed that my heart rate likes the slow pedals better but I could not sustain it as my muscles fatigued out. I have really started to learn how to appreciate what the ERG mode does now and will not stuff it up on my normal workouts.

Monday - Rest Day - got a massage afterwork to flush out stiffness

Tuesday 20th Aug - Workout #8
4min Power Duration - I thought I would love this session but I have underestimated how my body can sustain high power outputs. The workout started out similar to previous workouts with some intervals and ramp work before the 4min power test...I started out too strong but I am guessing that I am using my strength as I am not a ramp person....I realised that I was exerting my body over it's limit as I started to have a nosebleed half way...yikes..

Having done 8/8 Workouts and 4/4 Rides/Races, I have graduated from the Academy. I will continue with the workouts as I would like to cycle through them all to see if I am able to improve especially now I am aware of how the sessions are. I am also looking forward to do another ramp test (for ftp) to see if I have gained any strength from 163W but I will need to do this session with fresh legs and not so soon after a workout.

Here are a few interesting stats/data from Zwift Academy - downloaded from Today's Plan:

This image below shows that my strength is above the average of 30-39 females but way below the "best" within my age group - no can also see my strength is in the sprints and very much close to the average after 4min...

The second image shows the different workouts and how it helps to "fill out the power curve"....we did the Sprint and Thresehold work within week 1 and you can see where the dark green is covered within week 1. Week 3 is where the VO2 development and fills out the 1-8min curve. 

The graph below shows where my strengths and weakneses are - great at sprints, terrible at endurance....hahhahaha....I can't believe I did two Ironman races but it makes sense that I did them so slowly!

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Zwift Academy 2019 - Within the first week

For the first time since the launch of Zwift Academy in 2016, I signed up to do this as a challenge. We finally bought a smart trainer for ourselves which we have set up in the garage. Previously, we had a mid-range smart trainer which we borrowed from the shop to use at home.

We bought the top of the range Tacx Neo2 around April but didn't set it up until the last week of June. Since then, I have been the most consistent in my training during winter since the dawn of time. I am still doing reformer Pilates but have reduced the frequency to 2-3 times a week rather than 5. I have also taken a break from Lead Out as they put training on hold during July as the coaches went to Europe for the TdF and I haven't been able to ride at high intensity outdoors due to my weak lungs and the cold/dry air. I have been doing quality indoor sessions since the trainer has been set up, riding over 5 hours (>100km) per week.

I won't go into what Zwift Academy is about here and how the 2019 differs from the previous programs but the 2019 one started on the 5th Aug and will run until for 8 weeks until the end of September. Before the program, I needed to find out what my FTP is. I have written about my FTP before and how relatively low it is but I really wanted to gauge how I am. Instead of doing the standard FTP test, I opted for the Ramp Test instead. The difference between the standard test which can be 45min from start to finish with the 20min free ride test in the middle, the ramp test is much more shorter and mentally more interesting. You start out with a warm up and then go straight into the ramp which starts out at 120W for a min and goes up 20W every minute. The average W will go up (or down) based on how high you go in the test. I stopped at the 320W mark as I couldn't push anymore for that minute and my average W was hovering around 163W - my FTP. I think my FTP was at this 163W from the test I did at SpinLabs. I adjusted it to 160W on Zwift so my workout targets will be whole numbers - I like my targets to end in 5 or 0.

For 2019, the Zwift Academy requires that you finish the 8 Workouts and 4 Rides/Races.

So far I have done 3 Workouts and 3 Rides/Races all scheduled since Monday 5th. You can do the Workouts at your own time but I am enjoying doing it during set times so I am committed to them.

Week 1 - 5th Aug - 11th Aug
Monday 5th Aug - Workout #1
This session worked on threshold and pushing above and below. I found this session relatively easy to finish but found the 10min mentally challenging. I also found the high spin challenging in not going above my target power range.

Tuesday 6th Aug - Race - TT
I raced the TT race for the first time on Zwift. It was the Bologna route which is only 8km but it took me 26 or so to finish. The first 5 km or so was pretty easy to ride. The gradient was pretty easy with a few false flats but at the 6km mark, the gradient went nuts and it took forever to ride each 1km. I was exhausted at the end and my legs were so restless overnight. I actually want to do this TT again in the future now I know what the gradients are and how much I need to pace.

Wednesday 7th - Social Ride
This ride was wonderful especially 24 hours after the TT race which ripped my legs apart. The pace was lovely and I could message as part of the chat throughout.

Thursday 8th - Workout #2
This session worked on race practise. It included intervals of surges, sprints and a 10min (below FTP) range. Once again, loved the interval work, hated the 10min endurance.

I took a break on Friday as I have been doing Zwift for 7 days straight and I am glad I did as my legs were stuffed.

Saturday 10th - Workout #3
This was one of my favourite sessions as it worked on fast twitch power muscles. Lots of sprints at power range beyond FTP with a good break and the session ended with 2 x 25sec free ride which I loved. Maximum power and trying to hold it over the 25sec period to fill out the power curve. I hit max power at 648W, my 20sec was 556W. I know I can hit a higher power range if I was to do this workout on a stable Wattbike as I have hit near 900W before as max.

Sunday 11th - Social Ride
Another social ride for the week but the pace was much higher than one I did on Wednesday. The pace is often set by the Pace Leader and this one was someone I have not ridden with before. She kept the pace at 2W/kg but I found myself pushing beyond that just to keep up as people's weight varies. Compared to the social ride I did on Wednesday at which I finished the hour ride with 32km, this one ended up being 36km. It felt like a mixed grade social ride and a race rather than a social ride. You know it was a fast paced ride if in accordance to Today's Plan, I achieved a PR in average speed for Zwift.

In summary, I have done 3/8 Workouts and 3/4 Races/Rides which is equates to 50% of the Zwift Academy.

Next week, I am planning on doing Workout #4 and #5 on Monday and Tuesday respectively and will play by ear on the rest of the week as I have two full days of meetings back to back for work. If Workout #6, #7 and #8 are scheduled for the rest of the week, I will have Zwift Academy finished in 2 weeks.

What happens after this? I will continue joining the sessions to see if I have improved compared to the previous sessions or I will go back to training with Lead Out when the weather gets better.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Bendigo Women's 3 Hour - Solo Blazers

On Sunday 26th May, I raced my first mountain bike event! It was a women’s only event hosted by the Bendigo Mountain Bike Club. They offered two distance/abilities – Blazers for beginners and Blitzers for the more intermediate riders. I signed up to Blazers and solo rather than in pairs. As I am new into this sport, I didn’t want the pressure of letting others down.

The weekend before, I joined in a mountain bike skills session by the Bendigo club which went for about 3 hours which helped me dramatically in preparing for the day ahead and understanding the terrain. Much similar to Castlemaine, the course is rocky compared to any green trails I have done in Melbourne. If it wasn’t for the skills course, I don’t think I would have ridden so much of it, I would have been walking and more nervous throughout the day.

I left the house at 6am hoping to get there around 9am. The race briefing started at 9:50am with the race start at 10am. I stopped at Woodend for a break before the turn off the highway towards Spring Gully. I arrived around 9:20am with time to collect my number plate, another toilet stop and to prepare the bike and hydration pack.

I had purchased a new hydration backpack as my Camelbak was too small to carry nutrition and a basic first aid kit. During my past rides, I have been putting my phone, keys, ID and nutrition in my jersey pockets as the small bag could only carry the 2L bladder. Due to the frequent falls, I needed to carry a basic first aid kit. I only needed some alcohol wipes and some large bandaids and hand sanitiser. The Osprey bag had a different hydration spout system where the tube hangs across your chest and held up with a magnet. During the course of the ride, the spout didn’t stay on the strap of the magnet and ended up hanging down for a lot of the day, it was a bit annoying.

I was never nervous leading up to this event as I knew that my aim was to stay upright and do as best as I could. My nerves really increased when I started to prep my bike. When I rode down to the briefing, I saw a few familiar faces and chatted to them. The briefing was informative but there were a few incidences where they mixed up the blazers and blitzers requirements. The blitzers started first. The standing race start (Le Mans) meant that we stood about 100m away from our bikes which were placed on the ground. When I heard that this was the way we started, I placed my bike in a position where it was easy to pick up and facing the right way.

The blazers started about 5min after the blitzers. The run up to the bikes was not great and I didn’t take it too seriously as I didn’t want my heart rate to be sky high. As soon as I got on my bike, I rode behind some of the girls in my group and we came to a halt pretty much straight away due to a few unprepared obstacles from riders ahead of me.

After the lumpy parts of the start, we rode on the section of the course where we joined up with the blitzers and this is where the course became pretty busy with two groups and the faster riders wanting to overtake. The climbs were not too hard, the terrain was pretty rocky and I started to just trust my bike when we reached those sections. There was one part of the course where I unclipped as a girl in front of my had fallen but it became the only section of the course where I unclipped for the rest of the day. I am pretty sure I rode over it during my skills course but I just didn’t want to jeopardise my event. The descents came about half way through the event and it was not much faster than the first half as I am not great at high speeds. There were a few tricky hairpins and falls but I just rode through them at a slow and steady pace and stayed upright.

I looked down at my Garmin after I had finished the first lap and it was about 22min. Based on this timing, I knew that I was able to do 6-7 laps within 3 hours. I consumed a bit of my gel within my flask after 2 laps which was good timing as I felt tired…I had ridden at threshold for 40+min and this is about the duration of my crits. I could see the benefits of being in a team as you can have a chance to take a break. I didn’t want to stop and rest so I kept going. On the completion of my third lap, it was about 1:10. At that time, I was pretty confident that I could do 7 laps instead of 6 and that was my goal.

I couldn’t remember anything interesting from laps 2 through to 7 as it was just about riding the same laps over and over. Not like road riding, mountain biking requires constant mental concentration as you are always required to ride over obstacles. Towards the end of lap 7, I increased my pace as I wanted to finish lap 7 at 2:50 so it gave me a chance to get back out there for another lap which is what I did. I saw a lot of the ladies along the side lines, they were either done for the day or are part of a pairs team. There wasn’t many riders back out during my last lap. I started to cramp badly on my quads especially when I was contracting them.

I thought the last lap was my slowest as I couldn’t pedal hard due to the cramping and I was just tired. But as there was not many riders left, it was a lap where I didn’t have to move to the side much or having to overtake. Throughout the 8 laps ridden, I think the ratio of me pulling over so that a faster rider can overtake to me overtaking someone ahead of me was about 70-30.
I remember being really hungry at about the 2 hour mark and just craving something calorie dense like hot chips. I couldn’t wait for the 3 hours to be done.

When I was finishing my last lap (1:05pm), I was coming in with the dirt squirt (kids) and so it wasn’t the fastest lap. I crossed the line and pulled off the side. I was relieved that the 3 hours was up. The presentations was at 1:30 so I knew that I had time to put the bike in the car and put on a warm jumper. I saw a friend from Footscray CC and she told me that I had come 5th which was a massive surprise so I stayed around for the presentation so I could see if it was true.

I was very pleased with my results for my first 3 hour mtb solo event. I was proud of myself for pushing through with the aim to get as many laps in within the allowable time as I could. I have already looked into my next 3 hour race in June which is at You Yangs and the race will be on the Kurrajong trails which is very do-able for me. I really enjoyed the event as I was not out there all alone and I was able to push myself to my limit. Mountain biking is still new for me so I am really enjoying the sense of accomplishment for doing something new and out of my comfort zone.

  • Felt really accomplished for doing an event out of my comfort zone and being able to place (not last)
  • I am more confident about the descents even over rocky and loose surfaces. I don’t think I would have entered the event if I knew the terrain was what it was 3 months ago.
  • I actually can’t wait for the next race in 3 weeks time!

Negatives (to work on):
  •      Need to see what I can do about the cramping. It may be just muscle fatigue as I drank an entire bidon of electrolytes on my drive up to Bendigo.
  •      I may not be drinking enough during the event as I had plenty of fluid left in my bladder after 3 hours. I reckon I only consumed 750ml over 3 hours which may have led to the cramping as well.
  •      I need to work out a better way to carry my hydration bag as the magnet was not strong enough to maintain the tube across the chest.
  •      Still not great on cornering (on descents) and therefore I am still not flowing through the trail. 

I am still aiming to do one ride per week on the mountain bike....until the crit season starts again in October. 

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Looking forward in 2019

(EDIT: I had to re-write this as I was not in a clear state of mind)

Today is the 10th day for 2019 (10th Jan). I haven't had a chance recently to write anything about the year that was (2018) and to what goals I wanted to set for 2019. In Australia, we have also had a short holiday over Christmas and New Years and I jumped straight into work on the 7th Jan. I avoided touching my laptop over the holidays, I really needed a break.

Now I am literally killing time (in waiting room), I am taking this chance to put a few words down to what I have achieved in 2018 and what I would like to work on in 2019.

I have written a few times on what I have achieved in 2018 with regards to starting up track cycling but I have also written how I have gone backwards. Compared to previous years, I have gone backwards on travel distances and elevations on the bike due to health changes. To my credit I have not lost the love of cycling which is what I was most worried about. My furthest distance in 2018 was 95km which was one of the days I rode the Festive 500.

Over the 2018 Christmas holidays, I didn't achieve the Festive 500. I started out strong with rides of 70-95km for the first 4 days but then weather played havoc with being too hot or raining. I just couldn't be bothered putting myself through riding through heat or showers, I am no longer in the mindset of "doing things" through all weather. I had achieved the Festive500 twice (2016 and 2017) and only 342km in 2018, which included one mountain bike ride.

I still fight with motivational demons in the morning especially during the winter months but it has made it easier for me to be "active" without being forced to wear lycra and breathe in cold air on the bike since taking up Pilates on a regular basis. My motivation has helped when I have friends who have arranged to ride together as I hate breaking promises or letting people down.

I don't have any events for 2019 lined up but will enter events when they come through. I am continuing with my training with Lead Out Cycling, participating in crits on Sundays before we lose Daylight Savings and I want to do a few off road/mountain-bike/gravel events.

I will continue track training with Melburn Hurt as well as seeing if I can fit in DISC training once in a while. I will not race track as it is not something which I have no interest in. I use track cycling purely as a training tool and up-skilling my abilities. I am going to buy a new mountain bike in the next few months as I am interested in doing a mountain bike event in February (Otways Gravel) and March (Shifty Fifty) and my current bike might not cut it anymore being more than 10 years old.

I have not signed up for Giro della Donna for 2019. I am seeing how my cycling will be during the year and how my body is adjusting to changes. I am going to continue with Pilates as I absolutely love it and something which is not weather dependent. I am currently doing a summer challenge of 20 sessions before 31st Jan and trying to fit it into my training schedule can be challenging. I am seeing improvement in my core and can see where the excess fat around my stomach area sits beyond weak and inactive core muscles.

I know that I will be sick over the winter months that I will be out of action on the bike for weeks, maybe months so will need to keep active as much as possible when I am healthy.

With regards to goals, I would like to be skilled and fit enough to finish with the main pack during crits. This has been challenging as I am still nervous about riding in groups at high speeds AND cornering at the same time.

I am really enjoying crits. They are short events and I do get a great workout and with every event, I am getting better and fitter. My heart rate is still at 165-175bpm as soon as the race is on and I just need to work at increasing my ability to work within that zone for longer. I am not 100% on road racing as the high heart rate combined with how shit I am at hills, I don't have the ability to keep up with the group. I honestly feel like I am going to have a heart attack or stop breathing.

There are crits being organised by SMCC and they continue to race over the winter months so I will continue to race them to improve my skills hopefully see an improvement for the 2019/20 season.

That's it for now. I don't have anything concrete which I am "training" towards. My main aim is to enjoy my cycling journey and just be a better cyclist.

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Property Industry Foundation Ride 2018

Again in 2018, my work scored a few tickets for this ride. Last year, I wrote about it here.

I have not done any hilly rides or preparation for this because my body has not cooperated since my surgery in February and 2 bouts of bronchitis. I opted for the short ride which was only 55km but we were in for a 950m elevation day.

I knew I could finish the ride with plenty of time to spare to get ready before the lunch session at 1pm but I was also aware that I will be in a world of hurt as I am not a climber – my legs and lungs really do give out far too quickly these days.

With the location of the ride being at Cape Schanck it was easier to get to compared to last year’s ride at Healesville. I arrived in time to get my things ready, a quick visit to the toilets and then the short ride down to the registration area to pick up the required stickers and timing information.

We took a group photo of all the Probuild riders before the 85km group set off on their ride. There were 3 others from work (whom I knew and work with on various projects) who were doing the 55km ride with me. We started the ride together and kept as a group for about 7km or so before the climbs started and my little weak muscle legs couldn’t keep up. I had let them know earlier on that if I get dropped that they are not to wait for me, I will see them at the rest stop and/or at the lunch.

The route was along Boneo Road which was great as we were in the tailwind and there was a slight descent which meant that our speed was close to 40km/hr without much pedalling and I was with the boys. 

We turned right along Browns Road and this is where I was dropped as there was an incline. There was a left turn up Purves Road which is the back way up towards Arthur’s Seat. The climb was not hard at all, it was just a good ride. I had the fast 85km group go passed me that this point along with other 85km riders along the climb. Once we reached Arthur’s Seat, it was straight down Arthurs Seat Rd which was nice and fast. We then turned right in Red Hill onto Shoreham Road which was rolling hills until I saw the rest stop at Pier 10 winery for a rest stop. I had a few glasses of juice and the group of guys I was riding with thought we could start the ride before the 85km riders arrived but we were held back as there needed to be a lead car in front of us.

We rode off as a group when we were allowed to and the descents down were very fast as my speeds reached beyond 60km/h. I was dropped again when we started the climbs and I was back being a solo rider once again. The rolling hills were great but I started to worry as I was getting a bit over confident. I really didn’t want to crash during this event especially with cars around me.

The final challenge for the day is the KOM climb which is timed. There was no chance that I was to be winning this (QOM) so I just rode it with consistent tempo and keeping my heart rate checked. My cadence went below 60rpm but I knew that I would be able to hold that rhythm longer than if I was to push beyond that.

 The final 1km was along the driveway of the RACV club. I loaded up my bike into my car and took a shower before the lunch event. 

Monday, 12 November 2018

More crit racing updates!

Since my first ever official crit race, I came down with a bout of bronchitis. This is my 2nd within 2018 but it wasn’t as severe as the episode in June. I only took 2 full weeks off the bike rather than 6.
I eased myself back on the saddle during the Melbourne Cup weekend with a ride with my friend along Beach Road. It was a good leisurely ride which we chatted the entire way through. I then picked up a session on the Wattbike on the Melbourne Cup holiday instead of a ride outside due to the hail/thunderstorm followed by a few laps around Albert Park Lake with the Lead Out Cycling crew.

Footscray Cycling Club hosted a novice crit race of 30min + 3 laps with the first 20min as controlled riding. I had never raced at VU before and because it was rest week for Lead Out, I decided to take up this opportunity to do something different.

The ride started at 12pm so it gave me a sleep in, an actual breakfast and I left the house at 10:30am to arrive in Hoppers Crossing at 11:30 ready for the 12pm start – such luxury!

I recognised a few people there which was good for the nerves and we then rode the course a few times to get ourselves familiar with the route and terrain. There is a small climb in the race which ended up being to my detriment during the actual race.

We left for the 20min controlled ride which was good and we had several marshals with us which allowed others to learn about bunch riding and rolling turns. When the signal was heard that the actual race has started, some were eager to go off and see if they could hold off others. Due to the location of the course and the terrain, it was not easy. This course is windy no matter how calm the general Melbourne area is, this course is just ridiculously windy!

I stayed on the front group for about 5 laps which included a sprint up the hill to test out the legs (and lungs) which proved to be a bad move considering my heart rate shot up too high (around 190bpm) and sadly didn’t go down as we went around the course again. I couldn’t hold on the main group and then pedaled slowly so that I could catch the next train coming through. I ended up riding with the 2nd group for another 2 laps until I found it extremely difficult to breathe and decided to call it a day. I supported the remainder of the group until the end and stuck around for the awards and photo.

Pinned on number for FCC Crit

Novice Group

Chatty crits

I had pulled a muscle on my lower back during Pilates on Friday morning and I needed that remediated before Sunday’s crit at SKCC so a massage was sorted. I originally booked for a 90min massage but the session ended up being 60min. At the start of the session the massage person asked me something but I totally didn’t understand a word he said and just said “ok” assuming that the message was passed on from the receptionist to him. I was disappointed as the massage was not hard enough and it was only 60min long. I usually will give them a heads up during the start that I would like harder pressure but when I had to say it again, I personally consider that session as not one which would remediate my needs.
Karen and I - again chatting away

I rode down to SKCC at 6:30am and arrived around 7:30am to watch the E graders off. It was an extremely small group of about half a dozen riders as most would have seeded themselves in D grade by now. I picked up my number and waited around for more familiar faces to arrive. We went around the course for our warm up laps (which ended up being 3 laps before we seeded ourselves within our grades and positions. I have never placed myself beyond the back row. I know I should but I just don’t have the confidence.

The first few laps of the race was difficult to settle into considering I was at the back and felt the brunt of the decelerations and surges. I ended up being dropped after about 6 laps but ended up riding with a friend whom I raced with the day before. As we were in our own little ride group, it was hairy when all the other grades overtook us. This included A grade which were fast enough to over take us about 3 times around the course. We ended up joining another group of womens C who were dropped from the main group and we rode together for the final lap. 
Not only was our race time shorted by 10min due to the late start by E grade but we were told we had 2 more laps when we rode passed but it was incorrect and our final lap ended up being a non-event as the checkered flag came out.
Cornering skills - still WIP
After the crit, I hung around to watch friends race, grabbed a coffee, stayed for A/C grade with the inclusion of Remembrance day and for Jonathan Cantwell followed by lunch catch up with friends at a café before the ride back home.

I was totally toasted that afternoon. DEAD.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Trying something for the first time - Crit racing

It has been a huge gap in my blogging/reflection writing. My last entry was June after I did some track cycling in a UCI velodrome.

On Sunday 14th October, I did my first crit (criterium) race at a course which I have seen many crashes occur. I have watched the SKCC crit races for about 7 years now, have done a latte lap ride (learn to crit) there 3 years ago and finally a race Sunday.

Crits do not come natural to me - you ride in close proximity to each other, you corner in a group and fast, the intensity of the races are high and you generally do all this with people who are strangers. To give a bit of context, my heart rate was > 170bpm the entire time with 190 at the final sprint.

Due to the Melbourne Marathon, there were plenty of road closures and it was near impossible to drive there and back. I decided to ride in and with the latte laps at 6am, I had to leave the house at 5am. Latte laps is a "learn the skills" sessions by Ridewiser. They teach you the skills you need for cornering and holding the line. To be honest, I didn't learn too much from the latte laps as I had been practising those cornering skills when I joined Lead Out in Jan 2017. I did pick up a few tips about where on the particular course I should aim my eyes at when entering the apex etc etc....It was also good to ride the course and be familiar with the lumps and bumps prior to the race.

We went around the course for about 10km or so from 6:15am - 7:15am. E grade were suppose to start at 7:30 but due to the high number of people from the latte laps entering the E grade race, their race didn't start until 7:45am. All the females who did the latte laps entered so Womens C grade had pretty good numbers compared to last week (8 entries).

A few of us waited around in small groups watching the E grade race. It did appear to be much faster than anticipated as all first-timers needed to race E grade first. I had a muesli bar during this time as I was getting pretty hungry with the 4:40am alarm, 30km already in the legs over 2.5 hours.

When they called for the Womens A, B and C grades, I decided to stay at the back of the group as I am not confident about riding in the middle of the pack especially for the first ever crit.

The first few laps were good and manageable. After 3 laps or so, Womens A grade overtook us but then a few of the C grade women decided to overtake that group (not a breakaway). I could hear a few disgruntle comments from the Womens A grade as well as the C grade marshall who were riding with us. He ended up riding up to them and I think eventually calmed them down to allow for Womens A to properly pass. I was at the back of the split and ended up being the beginning of the 2nd group. I just pedalled consistently and found that I was in a group of 4 and we just did rolling turns. Another rider joined us later and we worked in a group of 5 until the end.

What I thought was 35min + 3 laps ended up being more close o 35min + 1 bell lap and we were told to sprint for the final straight. I was at the back of the group of 5 and ended up sprinting and weaving past to gain places and riding across the line in front. That was a small personal win for me and I really wanted to see where I sat as I had been working on my high power sprints for a while now.

After the race ended, I ended up riding home but really feeling how tired my legs were. It ended up being a 70km day but due to the high intensity, my legs were totally spent. I ended up transferring my membership from Caulfield-Carnegie over to Hawthorn. I found that I obtained nothing from being a member of CCCC but I have seen plenty of support from other clubs. I ended up choosing Hawthorn for a change, their proximity to my house and a few of my friends being already part of the club. A few hours after joining the club I received two emails of welcome and a welcome pack for Women@HCC which was a great support. I am aiming at a Hawthorn CC crit during the season but will need to rotate it between MelburnHurt & the crits on the Wednesday evening.

I have also bought a season pass for SKCC Sunday crits and aim to do at least 5 for the year.

Friday, 22 June 2018

Doing something that scares me - Track Cycling

So I have written before about how I have been doing regular track cycling sessions at the Brunswick Velodrome under the guidance of MelburnHurt since March 2018.  These sessions have been a regular occurrence in my week unless it is raining and the sessions are cancelled. The Monday just gone (13th June), I took up an opportunity to train with Blackburn Cycling Club at 6am (Foundation skills) at DISC in Thornbury which is a 250m indoor cycling velodrome andUCI sanctioned.

I had never ridden on the boards before and wanted to try it out. Previously, my only velodrome experiences have been Hawthorn, Edithvale, Parker Park in Carnegie and Brunswick. The one is Hawthorn doesn't really have much of an embankment where as Brunswick has the steepest of the ones I have been on. These are all outdoor velodromes (free public access).

I needed to pay for the session in advanced and as I am not a Blackburn CC member, it was $15 for the Foundation class. I packed my bike the night before including what to wear on track. As the session is held indoors, it wouldn't be as cold as my sessions at Brunswick so no need for 3/4 thermal bibs and long sleeves. I just had short bibs and short sleeved jersey which is similar to what I wear to spin classes.

I arrived early (as always) as I needed to drive along Punt Road and the route can take up to an hour. I ended up arriving at 5:30pm which gave me plenty of time to change into my cycling kit and waited around for the start time of 6pm. A few of the hardcore juniors started to arrive at the same time but their session starts at 7pm but they needed to have a warm up on rollers before their session starts on the boards.
Forever Early

The main coach asked me to ride around the bottom along the barriers for a few laps to get myself warmed up a bit before the foundation coach came for my session. Andrew was the coach allocated to me and we started off the session by getting my speed up so I can be more comfortable about riding up past the blue line.

So we started out with ave speeds at 25 along the black line and then for every lap we increased the speed and was in the sprinter's zone (between black and red) and along the red line (sprinter's line) and then in between the red and stayer's line (blue) for a few laps and then eventually along the stayer's line. I wasn't confident enough for the stayer's line at this point as the embankment was steeper than what I had done before and my body position on the bike was foreign.

After the warm up, the next training set was to ride on the stayer's line along the straight and then down to the black line along the turns. I was more comfortable with this as the flow of the bike seems more natural. As I was getting more comfortable about my ability to be riding along the Stayer's line, the next set we increased our speed up for 2 laps along the blue followed by a power sprint for a whole lap on the black. I got up to my highest speed of 40.3km/hr. The last session involved me riding along closer to the fence on the straights and then coming down to the stayer's line on the turns which felt more comfortable as I finally could figure out what my body needed to do to stay comfortable.

I finished the session at 7am when the normal session started for others. I stayed for a few minutes to watch and they were doing rolling turns but at a speed much higher than what I was riding at and peeling off above the stayer's line and then re-joining the back of the queue just passed the was mesmerising to watch and looking forward to the day when I can comfortably join them in this session.
Took this photo of the main session. I am not in this group, maybe one day. 

I did have a few moments of anxiety during that evening. I was totally out of my comfort zone and in no way shape or form to be able to train with the current calibre of cyclist who race. When I was doing my session, I felt eyes on me by the juniors (90% of them being boys under 18) and this made me feel insecure and intimidated. I felt my heart rate being high during those sessions, worrying about falling off the embankment, crashing and being too embarrassed to return (the reason why I don't race CX). As I was the most inexperienced rider that day, the pressure to not f&#k things up was exponential. I know in reality it may be all in my mind but these are the factors which goes through my mind when I do something I am not familiar with coupled with menopausal hot flushes, it can be overwhelming!

I have signed up for the session again on Monday 26th June. Looking forward to learning more skills even if it is about getting more comfortable at higher speeds, cadence and being able to ride up against the embankment at the turns.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Entry into the world of Road Racing

Despite being in fear and thinking that road racing is not for me, I have actually lined up to two events within the month of May.

The first being more of kermesse-style of event hosted by the Northern Combine series (Brunswick CC) on the 19th May 2018. It was an inaugural event at La Trobe Uni around their campus. Womens C grade (lowest for womens) raced for 45min around a 3km route. Due to the style of the course and the number of corners, climbs and speed humps, it ended up being more of a criterium event rather than a traditional road race.

For my usual routine, I arrived on the course too late for my liking - I was the last one who picked up my race number within Womens C and I rushed for the bathroom as I saw a few girls lining up along to head out.... The anxiety of being late and rush to pick up my race number meant that I forgot to take in any nutrition before the race start time of 10am. I essentially raced on an empty stomach and I felt hungry throughout the event. The group of girls that I saw lining up to ride the course was not the actual race but was a re-con lap which I would have liked to join but was too late.

I found a small group of SKCC women who lined up against the side of the road and I decided to walk myself over and waited with them. The WC group grew bigger closer to the start time and there were a few familiar faces. No one I am close friends with as I don't ride with SKCC nor any of the Northern Combine clubs (Blackburn, Coburg, SKCC etc). I am actually a member of Caulfield Carnegie and I chose them based on their distance from my current address and for the sake of getting a race license.

The first lap of the event was neutral but the speed was noticeably faster than what I would be comfortable with for the whole 45min. I stayed at the back of the group as the main pack were picking spaces to fill with no rolling turns which was what I was expecting for a road race. I couldn't keep up with the main group after 2 laps and ended up riding by myself with a few WC riders around.

One of the stressful factors of this event was that Mens C & D races the same time as we did so there were plenty of groups on the narrow course. Admittedly, I didn't need to slow down but it was just a reaction that I applied on the brakes when the came through and when there were sharp corners.

What I thought was the last lap as we went through withe the mens and I thought they didn't ring the bell because it would confuse them was not actually the last lap at which I placed all energy. When we came through what I thought was the finish straight ended up being the bell-lap which meant that I sprinted to be out the front and was quickly spat out the back by the small group of girls who were drafting me for about 3 laps prior. I ended up being the last of that smaller pack but I do remember passing only one person during that race so I know that I didn't come last.

The only pic of my first Northern Combine race. 
The second race was the Jim Fawcett & Mario Giramondo Handicap race at Kyneton. I ended up choosing to do the short scratch as I am quite new to road racing and they stated that this group will be marshaled and will be working on rolling turns.

I rocked up early enough to register but ended up waiting around for 1.5 hours as WC (short) left 50min after the first group. The rolling turns was not too bad on the flat but I totally lost the group when they were riding up an incline albeit very small...I just didn't have the legs to surge up the hills with the group and got spat out the back with no hope of joining....Alison who was a marshal for the day ended up riding with me. The route distance for the short race was 50km and I ended up turning around at 21km (earlier than the group) under the instruction of Alison. I rode back towards the finish line solo as Alison rolled back to the other girls heading towards me.

Out of the short scratch race, I crossed the line 4th but I turned around early so technically, I would consider that as coming DFL. I wasn't too fazed as I wanted to do this event for the sake of experience as I knew that I would not be placing or gaining points.

Solo ride back to the finish line.....DFL

Things I need to work on are:
- Riding with effort on a climb.
- Holding onto the wheel of the rider in front
- Tempo and holding on to that effort for the race.

What is next on the racing calendar? I will do a few Casey Fields crits hosted by Southern Masters to gain some experience in speed and riding in a group. The next Northern Combine is on the 30th June which is the Alf Walker (Handicap) at Balliang. I know that I don't do well on the climbs of that race but I am confident in the descents and the gravel.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Something New!

For those who read this blog, I have mentioned that I have had surgery to remove tumours from my uterus and this has impacted on my energy levels as well as changes to my wellbeing. It has been 6 weeks and my body is still adjusting to the change in hormone levels.

I am starting to sleep better, sometimes with the aid of menopause relief medication. With improved sleep, I am also able to start training again. Post Easter, I have done the Tuesday and Thursday Lead Out Cycling sessions but didn't join the group for the long ride on Saturday due to lack of sleep and the mistake of a pretty hard massage on my back on Friday evening. I ended up doing the double session at Art of Cycling instead. I have been doing the AOC endurance session on Sundays for the last 4 weeks now and these sessions have been great. I actively work on my strokes, endurance and mental strength.

In addition to the usual cycling sessions, I have also started track cycling with the Melburn Hurt group. The session is on a Wednesday night at Brunswick velodrome 6:30 - 8pm. I travel all the way from Glen Waverly on Wednesday nights but so far I have learnt so much about track cycling that I am definitely going to make it my regular.

My first session was on 28th March as my friend Juliet wanted to try and I thought I would take this opportunity to step out of my comfort zone. I have my own bike so when the session started, I just rode around the bottom part of the velodrome. Due to my junior gearing which came with the bike (46/17 46/18), I was spinning like crazy with no abilities of going more than 30km/hr. I did have two anxiety moments when the coach (Sarah Knights) wanted me to ride towards the fence instead of stopping and unclipping to stop and riding off the fence with both legs clipped in. Doing these two actions was totally out of my comfort zone in terms of what you normally would do with cycling. My heart raced like crazy and I might even have had a little spew in my mouth. I did about 3 more of each in between sets before the end of the session which meant that I overcame the anxiety. There were a few factors which helped with this, one being that I didn't give myself a chance to think about failing or injuring others.

My second session was last week 3rd April. I was the only one there with the coach for the first 30min from 6:30pm so after the warm up, the coach had me to repeats of riding off the fence and improving on riding towards the fence. Due to the uncertainties and now knowing what the hell is going on, I was riding towards my spot too late and at too sharp of an angle. Sarah got me to ride up towards the fence earlier and riding along the fence at a more controlled speed until I got to where I needed to be. I am not sure how the change in gearing will impact on how much control I will have. I have ordered an upgrade of my sprockets and chain ring. I will be moving from a 46 to a 48 chainring which is what the bike would have come with if purchased new and a set of sprockets. I will most likely be on a 16 as it is also the sprocket which comes with the bike if purchased new. An increase of 46/17 46/18 to 48/16 will be an increase in distance of 69.1 to 86.4 inches per revolution (5.45m to 6.83m) per revolution.

Anyways, I digressed. When Kia arrived to the session, I joined her in her warm up by doing track turns for 6 laps. Slightly different from road riding track turns is that after the lead cyclist does a right shoulder check, flicks their elbow and swings off the right instead of left like on the road. It took some time to adjust but I eventually go the hang of it but I was too scared to swing too high on the embankment.

After the warm up, we did some sprint work where Sarah would blow the whistle for us to do our sprint efforts and then would back off when she blew the double but I found that even on sprint efforts, it was practically impossible for me to go more than 30km/hr. The second set of training involved working on slip streams and utilizing the draft zones for a strong acceleration. I forgot what this term is called. This is where I was more comfortable and accelerated at the highest speed of 35km/h. I left the session early at 7:30pm in order to get home at a reasonable hour to prepare for LOC the next day. I ended up doing about 13km over 53min (moving time of 33min). The graph below shows the variation of speed of the whole session.
1) Solo warm up
2) Ride off and towards the fence
3) Kia warm up (rolling turns)
4) Sprints
5) Draftzones (twice)

On the way out, I saw Kia doing laps of the velodrome out of the saddle and accelerating out of the saddle. I am yet to learn this skill, not as easy as you think as you can't coast or rest after the efforts.

I might change my saddle before the next session with one I used for triathlons. Looking forward to the next session.

Monday, 19 March 2018

A bit of a set back

It is already March but this is only my second post for 2018. The reason being is that my body has been going through some major changes which has affected my strength and endurance levels on and off the bike.

To cut through the details, I had an operation in February to remove some large fibroids from my uterus and I am till recovering from this procedure. It has been brought to my attention by a passing conversation, I am actually going through menopausal changes due to hormonal imbalances and I am only 37 years old.

Since early 2016 and my year of training for Peaks Challenge Falls Creek during 2015, my fatigue levels have overtaken my life and my strength and endurance levels have practically disappeared. I have had hot flushes now for the last year and I have always felt warm especially in my office. The overwhelming flush of heat over my whole body lasts for a few seconds and I sweat immediately and get a bit dizzy from it. I have always thought it was just my body's way of overcoming anxiety but putting all my symptoms together, it is menopause. These symptoms include insomnia, waking throughout the night, loss of hair and the number of grey hairs I have had have increased exponentially, weight gain especially around my waist and bust, dry skin and moodiness and anxiety.

I sweat through a Pilates session like I am in a Bikram class and I actually wake up several times during the night from thirst and drink close to 800ml of water each night. During training, I can't hold onto a hard strength set for a long period of time without heavy breathing. This is extremely frustrating considering the number of years I have been training for.

I have yet to join Lead Out Cycling on their long Saturday rides as I am not confident that I can get myself through the session without falling into pieces. Since the operation, I have had some long walks, a few spin classes with the Wattbike Pro bikes as well as squeezing in as much Pilates as I could. I would like to progress from the beginners to intermediate workouts so I can access to more classes at all the facilities. Static strength wise, I am good with the intermediate springs but I am finding it hard to hold my core for a lot of the workouts due to my EDS as well as from the surgery.

I have only signed up to one event so far for the year and that it is November but looking at my strengths and weaknesses, I am aiming to improve on my endurance and power to be able to do road races and some crits well. Feedback from the coaches is that I will do well in crits due to my strength in sprints but I will need to work on my endurance to hold a relatively high power range over a long period of time - read I will need to improve on my FTP throughout the year.

Some challenges I have is that I get sick easily during the winter months, last year I had a cold virus over 4 months straight which meant that I was not able to do a lot of training with Lead Out during the cold mornings but I committed myself to spin classes when I could.

I don't have much to report in terms of cycling, just getting through as many session as I can.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

I want to be a better cyclist - Goal for 2018

"I want to be a better cyclist" is easier said than done. I have always had the best intentions to commit myself to training, body maintenance as well as strength and core training, but life gets in the way.
I know that setting a goal like “Tour of Bright” will be out of the question as I am not at the calibre of a cyclist and will not be able to cope of that type of racing – TT, (hilly) road race and finishing off with a Mt Hotham climb, an event where each stage is held one day after the other. My capacity is to put all my eggs in a basket for one event and then recover for days after it.

With my Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) – my body is not able to perform and recover the way most people can. I get DOMS after a short walk, pilates or massages. My goals for 2018 is to improve on different areas of my cycling, accumulating into being able to finish the Giro della Donna in November in a respective time of 4:30 (ave speed 16km/hr).


My descending skills (along with cornering) had improved within 2017 but unfortunately the fall of last year’s GdD has put a large hole in my confidence. I will work on this for the next few months to gain my confidence back again to be able to descend comfortably to make up for the decrease of speed when I am climbing. Climbing at my current weight is hard work.

Power to Weight

There is no hiding the fact that my power to weight ratio is low. My FTP is low as I lack the endurance, tend to burn much of my fuel early and my weight has increased >10kg since 2015 when I stopped running due to the increase frequency and severity of my injuries and also due to hormonal imbalances from having severe fibroids.

I do have the capabilities to lose fat % but the issue I have is to find the balance between fuelling my body for cycling and being tired from the lack of energy. At my lowest weight during the height of Ironman training, I found myself without strength. I also don’t want to be an food-obsessed-Nazi-elitist, life is too short.

Strength & Core

I will need to see what I can do with regards to working on strength in the gym along with my Pilates core sessions. I started to do Pilates on Monday mornings and I find this day to be the best as it gives my body a chance to recover sufficiently before the Tuesday morning Lead Out sessions. There is no need for me to wake up too early as the Pilates session starts at 6am and it only takes me 15-20min to drive to South Melbourne for the Beginners class. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I have to get out of bed at 4:30am to get to training sessions around Melbourne.


I have never been good at spinning (high cadence). I used to climb Benwerrin and 1in20 on the large chain ring but at a low cadence. Low cadence = lower heart rate. I also don’t have fast-twitch muscles so even if I am able to increase my cadence, I don’t hold it for more than a few minutes. I will need to work on high power and high cadence work during my spin classes and if I use wattbikes I will opt for the Pro versions if I have a choice.
These are some of the factors I will need to work on as part of my cycling training towards being a better cyclist and being able to complete events at a respectable time. I will continue training and improve with Lead Out Cycling, their guidance and support have had a major contribution to the improvements I had in 2017.

Monday, 8 January 2018

#Festive500 for 2017

Apologies for the delay of this post related to the #Festive500, I avoided my laptop for the holidays. For the 2nd year in a row, I finished the 500km and I completed it over 6 days. The Festive500 is a challenge to ride 500km between Christmas Eve and New Years Eve (8 days). In 2016, I finished this over 7 days with an average of 70km per day but this year, I stepped it up to an average of 80km per day and finished in 6 days.

Day 1
The first day was Christmas Eve (24th Dec) which was a Sunday. I did a solo ride towards Frankston then up to Café Racer and then back home. This was a 85km day but as it was my first long ride since the Giro crash, I took it relatively easy and manageable.  There was a Southerly so the ride down to Frankston was a bit of a tough one. I was mostly in the small chain ring and tried to spin out >80rpm as much as I could.

Day 2
I have been riding on Christmas Day for many years. I have not celebrated Christmas for years and years. The roads was not surprisingly quiet. I rode up to Sharon & Pete's house in Port Melbourne after riding a lap of Albert Park and the group ride went down to Black Rock and back to Port Melbourne. I had a small break at their house and then I ended up riding about 30 or so more around the neighbourhood, relatively relaxed which made up the shortest ride of 80km for the challenge.

Day 3
I didn't get a chance to do many laps of Albert Park Lake on Christmas Day so this day was dedicated to doing laps of the park, incorporating sprints and some skill work. As this ride was done by myself, I could practice on my no-hands on handlebars skills as much as I could. I got up to 6 pedal strokes but I find that my position on the saddle needs to be adjusted so I can remain balanced. I worked on sprint efforts along the pit straight too. I need to find the balance between higher cadence and heavy gears. After doing 30km or so around the lake, I rode down to Mordialloc and then back home which resulted in my longest day of 95km.

Day 4
The 27th Dec was my bday and also a day where strong gusts of hot Northerly winds were present. I decided to stay away from Beach Road and rode towards Studley Park instead. The ride towards Studley Park from home is already 20km. My plan was to ride both Studley Park and Richmond Blvd for 40km and then ride home. I bumped into Nat (from LOC) and we ended up riding together which alleviated my boredom. The ride home was enjoyable as I had a great northerly tailwind. The total ride for the day 83km.

Day 5
I slept in a bit more than the previous days and my friend Dayna messaged me whilst I was getting ready for the ride. We rode together, doing the same route as Day 1 but I had 2km extra as we ended up the ride at her house so I could visit her 10month old daughter.

Day 6
I only needed to do 70km for the day to finish the challenge. Dayna and I planned on doing the same route as Day 1 and 5 so I was sure that I was going to finish the #Festive500 on this day. We ended up bumping into friends and we chatted along the way through and even stopped at Café Racer for a coffee/tea break.

I was so glad I finished the challenge and I slept in for the remainder of the days of the challenge. My glutes really needed a break and I wanted the remainder of the holidays to be dedicated to cleaning my car and my house.

It is too early to plan for #Festive500 for 2018 as I don't know if I will be able to ride during the holidays or not but I will definitely look into either increasing the distance or try and complete the challenge over 5 days (ave 100km per day).