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 turn...it 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).

Descending

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.

Spinning

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).

Monday, 11 December 2017

Post Crash Update

I thought I would update on my road to recovery and give a bit of an insight to what I have planned for the near future and beyond.


After the crash during Giro della Donna, I took the next day off work to recover, went into work on Tuesday and to also pick up my laptop as I was going to spend the rest of the week in Perth WA for work and for a wedding.


As my left arm and shoulder was still sore (contusion), I refrained from using my left arm when packing my suitcase or lifting it into the car or onto the check in belt at the airport. The gravel rash on my thigh was healing but I still avoided wearing pants of jeans as the area was still sensitive. Luckily, the weather in Perth was warm enough that I could just wear skirts and shorts.


I worked at the Perth HQ on Thursday but didn't end up walking to the office as I wasn't able to carry anything on my left shoulder and my accommodation was 6km away. On Friday, the day of the wedding, I did a 2 hour walk around the neighbourhood which covered about 9km. It was good to just be able to move around after having a stiff and sore body for the last 5 days.


The wedding was held at Chapel Farm at 4pm. The setting for the wedding was amazing and I wore a dress which had a big bubble skirt effect so I didn't get irritations on my wounds. Due to taking pain killers and the time difference of Perth to Melbourne, I was tired at 8pm Perth time, this being 11pm Melbourne time. I kept myself awake with 2 cans of coke and a coffee. I haven't drank coke since Ironman 2014.


The next day, I slept in until about 9am (12pm Melbourne time) having only gone to bed around 12:30am the night before. I did some work on my laptop before I got ready to head out to the friends and family gathering of the bride and groom for those to travelled interstate so they had time for a proper catch up.


On Sunday, I drove down to Busselton to support my friends who were participating as part of the full and half Ironman race. The drive was about 2.5 away but luckily I rented a car with Bluetooth and I was able to not only navigate but to also listen to my audiobook. The event itself was hectic. The maximum temperature was 37 degrees but it would have exceeded 40 on the bitumen. I was swooped by magpies walking into the event area as were a few competitors. The swim was cancelled due to sharks. Due to the heat, there were many exhausted athletes as well as cramps when they stopped pedalling at the dismount line. So much carnage. During the day of supporting, I noticed that I could feel small crackling and popping noises from my ribs and it was starting to get really sore, maybe from too much exertion from cheering on friends.


Onto the run, so many athletes were just cooked from the heat and lost salts. I left the event at 6:30pm and got back to Perth around 10pm. I needed to pack as I was leaving on a 9:30am flight but I also needed to return my rental car at the airport.


Surprisingly, my arm felt much better by Sunday and I felt that I was able to put weight on my left shoulder and was able to carry my bags through the airport. I think I pushed this pain barrier too hard and by Tuesday morning, my ribs were in pain and I went to The Alfred for a check up. I ended up getting a proper Xray and ECG scan to see if there was any organ damage.


Luckily, everything is ok and the fracture is not dislocated and has not punctured my lung or caused any noticeable tissue damage. I was prescribed strong pain killers which I have not bought any due to the hectic work week ahead. Wednesday I recovered at home from the pain and I taught a professional course on Thursday - on my feet and talked for 8 hours straight.


On the weekend, I did a lot of sewing - fulfilling orders as well as the ready-made stock on the online store. On Saturday, I drove to Williamstown for LOC's Christmas ride and breakfast BBQ at which I won the Best Fall award for 2017 for the most recent crash and description on how I fell. On Sunday, I headed nto the Kit Sale at Coffee Pddler to check out what they had on offer. If Lumiere had my size, I would have snapped it up but they only had smalls. I bought a few gifts as well as a backpack for commuting.


For the remainder of the year, I will take it relatively easy in cycling and will be able to try my best at the Rapha #Festive500 again which starts on the 24th Dec.


For the start of 2018, I am going to do the 70km event during the Alpine Classic which is the Mt Buffalo climb as I have rented a nice house for the whole family from Thursday 25th until Monday 29th Jan. Other than the main ride as part of the Alpine Classic, I will probably do a few flat rides and walks around the area.


I have also signed up for Giro della Donna for 2018 (25th Nov). Again, this will be the main event for the year considering the challenge and timing.


For the next week or so, I am back with Lead Out but will not push as hard in the sessions due to the pain and lack of mobility. I will try to get back onto pilates as soon as I have the strength in my arms to be able to hold up my body weight.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Giro della Donna 2017 - DNF

26th November 2017 was the day of the Cyclingtips Giro della Donna ride which was a 125km ride with over 2700m of climbing. I did the inaugural event in 2015 as part of my training for Falls Creek (3 Peaks) of 2016. In 2016, I bought a ticket and sold it to a friend due to my lack of motivation for any training post 3 and 7 Peaks and bit the bullet and entered again in 2017.


It was my own program that this was the final event for me in 2017 as I wanted the remainder of 2017 to be about fun-cycling. Since I joined Lead Out Cycling in February of this year, my skills have improved dramatically for my standards having not learnt much in skills when I was a triathlete. Now I can do track turns, rolling turns and descend with better confidence than I have ever been.


Leading up to the 26th Nov, I had done a 145km Daylesford ride (with 1800m of climbing) which took me out of my comfort zone in terms of distance on the bike as well as hours turning my legs, a 120km Rosewhite Loop around Bright which nearly killed me due to the exhaustion as well as the dreaded Tawonga climb and I started to ride to Kew Blvd for one of the Saturday long rides which made the day long and 40km more than the main set. In 2018, I will need to do more of this as I tend to drive to the training sessions more due to the need to start work early as well as the need for me to attend different sites.


On Saturday 25th, I took it very easy. I had my nails done in the morning and I went to Southland for a bit of a shop. I had pretty clean meals leading up to the weekend with salads for dinner on most nights due to the heat.


As I drove there early on Sunday morning, I needed a 4am alarm and left the house at 4:45 to get to Warburton by 6am. I made a smoothie for breakfast with avocado, banana and almond milk as my stomach can never take a full breakfast before 10am. The smoothie was filling and I also had a black coffee to keep me awake for the drive. I was busting to go to the bathroom at around 5:30am and couldn’t wait to head into Warburton.
I ended up parking at the usual spot behind the bakery and the set of shops as there is a set of public toilets there which I am familiar with. I saw a few familiar faces so I was content on leaving my car there instead of the designated parking area as the word got around that the carpark was already full. The 125km event started at 7am and the parking was already exhausted, I don’t know how the 60km gravel riders will be parking as their event started at 9am.


I packed my wind jacket for the descent the night before with a pair of gloves and a musette and placed them in the envelope provides. I couldn’t decide on what to wear for this ride. I knew that I would be wearing my Lumiere knicks as they were excellent for the long rides I did prior to Peaks. I ended up choosing one of my Maap jerseys which I bought on sale from Bike Torquay. It was a comfortable size (large), pockets large enough for me to stowe away hours of nutrition along with my wallet and phone and the fabric was made for summer cycling. During the cooler months, I tend to wear my Rapha core jerseys as they are comfortable. I opted out of wearing my new Rapha climbers as the weather was not looking great and I didn’t want to get my new shoes dirty and damaged.
I stuffed my clothing bag into my jersey and rode the 1.5km toward the event village which was at the camping grounds. I was there about 6:30am so I had time to drop off the clothing, eat a banana before I saw a friend from Lead Out with her husband and kids.

The ride started just after 7am but as we were placed at the end of the pacing, we didn’t leave the event village until 7:10am or so. I remember from 2015 that this section of the ride was probably what I could consider to be the flattest although there was a slight incline and rolling hills. The climb started along Reefton where it was timed and I knew that I was in for the start of where I would suffer.
Compared to 2015, I now weigh about 10kg more and although I am stronger on the bike and my legs are more muscular, I am carrying more weight especially around my guts and my chest. No matter how strong I am on the bike, this time around, I needed to carry an extra 10kg on the climbs and I knew that I would not be as fast as my cadence on the climbs have not improved as I have been working on my form rather than the pace.
It took me a while to climb the 20km or so along Reefton but I was lucky enough to not get any flats. The rain started when I was along this climb and it didn’t really stop. I knew that I would be riding much of this ride by myself so I listened to my iPod which I had gathered not having touched it since the training rides leading up to 3 Peaks (Feb 2016). I noticed that when I was riding along with my audiobooks or podcasts, I was not as motivated as I was riding along the pace of the narrator/speaker. The music definitely does help with the cadence and pace.
Once I reached the top of the Reefton climb, there was a feed station where I could fill up my empty bottle and prepared for the second climb of the day. The climb although short, it was steeper than Reefton and this lead to the reduced cadence of my pedals. I really do need to work on increasing the cadence (but how??)
There was a good descent after this climb but the rain had also made the roads wet and my vision unclear and this was where I applied the brakes which lead to my wheels skidding along and I lost control of the bike and slid along my left side of my body with the bike on top for a good 10-20m.
I remember checking that I hadn’t hit my head and luckily I couldn’t feel any headaches or pains. I checked my body for scratches or blood but I didn’t see any big open wounds apart from a few grazes on my elbows and pain on my left thigh and left boob/chest area. I inspected the bike and only found that my hoods were bent towards the middle with scratches along the levers and bartape. Luckily I didn’t see any breakages of the frame visible to my naked eye. I looked over my shoulder to check that no one else was coming around and got off the road to give myself a chance to process that I just had a crash.
I waited for a few minutes and when I was feeling less stressed, I hopped back on the bike and continued along. I noticed that my left shoulder was in a big of a pain but I was confident that it was not broken. I had a small climb to do and I knew that the rest of the ride was downhill towards Marysville. I have to admit, I was no longer confident at the descent as it rain continued and the roads were still very wet. I was worried for myself and how I would finish this event having just crashed and when I finally reached Marysville, I decided to pull out of the event and needed to tell someone that I was done for the day due to the crash. Luckily when I mentioned it to the event staff, they told me that the sag wagon was about 30min away. The rain continued to fall and I waited under a big tree with others who had also finished for the day. My shoulder’s pain grew stronger as well as my chest and it was starting to hurt when I breathe.
When the sag wagon finally came through, we loaded our bikes on the trailer and I gave my spare tube away to a guy who kept getting flats which left me with no spares. I didn’t need them for the day as I was finished on the bike.
The sag wagon drove slow along the course behind the lantern rouges (XXX). We ended up picking up about half a dozen more people along the way and we ended up with a pretty full mini bus along the gravel sections of Acheron Way. The sag wagon didn’t end up along the last 10km of the day up Donna Buang and proceeded to head towards the event village. We still passed several people on the side of the road due to mechanical failures of their bikes but it was not possible to stop due to a full bus and trailer.
When we got down to the event village and got our respective bikes, I headed into the event village to see if I can spot any familiar faces. My friend Cheryl whom I started the ride with, she didn’t make the cut off time up the Donna climb so she was also done for the day early. I didn’t want to wait around for 3 hours to pick up my jacket which was still on top of the mountain so I started to ride towards my car but I ended up getting a flat 100m from the event village with about 1.5km left until my car. As I had no spares at this point, I just walked my bike along the main road towards the car, I really had no choice. Looking back, even if I had a spare, I don’t think I really could be bothered changing the flat in the rain when the car is 1.5km away.
Before the drive back to Melbourne, I changed out of my cycling kit and inspected my wounds. I did get a few bleeding grazes along the thigh and elbow and I did rip several holes into my knicks. Big enough that these knicks will either be thrown away or saved for commuting. If I don’t wear them again within 2 months, they will go into the bin. My chest was starting to hurt more and I found that the movement of my left arm was very restricted.
I prepared for a bath when I got home and cleaned my gravel filled wound in the salted water which was more pleasant than when I tried to clean it with alcohol wipes in the sag wagon. I went for a quick nap after the bath but wasn’t able to fall asleep due to the pain that was in my chest due to the weight when I laid on my back. I took several pain killers that evening to subdue the pain.
Later that night, I wanted to lie on the rug in our lounge room and with sudden movements, I was in a world of pain. So much so I was whaling and howling on the floor with tears down my face. The pain was excruciating and with every small movement, the pain got worse. It felt like someone had penetrated my ribs with a knife. My partner ended up driving me to Sandringham hospital where I was seen by a medical staff which confirmed that I had cracked my ribs but I needed to wait around for an X-ray. We waited around for an hour or so but as I was sitting upright, there was no pressure on my chest and the pain subsided. There were too many emergencies that night in hospital so we ended up leaving as the people ahead of us were still being tended to.
I took more pain killers when I got home and sent a note to work to advise them that I had a small crash and cracked my ribs and would not be at work the next day. If the pain was worse, I would take myself to see the hospital again to assess the damage.
Since Monday, the chest pains are still there and I am still not able to lie on my back without pain. The movements and strength of my arms have improved but I am still not putting too much pressure on the left side. My grazes and healing as fast as they can. I have contacted the organisers of the event to arrange for a pick-up of my jacket and gloves next week when I return from Perth.
I have a chance to purchase next year’s ticket for $120 and there is a 90% chance that I will do this within the next few days. I am a bit hesitant as I don’t want to receive a number as high as I did this year (#35) but still am a hack.
I want to improve within the next 12 months so that I can ride with the main bunch and not get dropped as soon as a climb comes up. I want to also be confident again in my descents so I can make up some time there.
I am off the bike for a week or two as I attend one of my best friend’s wedding in Perth and see how the pain of my chest feels in December. I will be back in time for Lead Out’s recovery week and their Christmas ride on the 9th Dec. 

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Property Industry Foundation Ride 2017

My work received a few tickets for the Property Industry Foundation (PIF) Cycling day on the 17th December 2017.


There were two distances - 50km and 75km with the following elevations 700m and 1300m respectively. The ride is organised by the guys at TKM and so I knew that the ride would be not for the average person to complete in time for lunch. I decided that the 50km would be sufficient and I would make it back for lunch at 1pm.


The ride started at 9am and I arrived a bit later than the anticipated meeting time and parked up the top of the RACV club. I just had enough time to go to the toilet at the main club area and then get my bike ready. I thought I was late as I heard the announcements whilst I was driving up so I was in a slight panic getting ready.


When I rode down to the start, I had enough time to chat to work people, catch up with others I knew and enough time to register and put the relevant registration stickers on my helmet and seat post.








I knew that I was not going to keep up with the majority of the group so I started out the back and rode at my own pace. Within 7km, I was already riding by myself as I am not great on climbs. I didn't mind as it is something which I am used to. The ride along Maroondah hwy was not pleasant but as soon as we peeled off into the wineries from Hill Rd, the ride was pleasant and pretty scenic. The remainder of the ride was challenging with good rolling hills but there was a section of Boundary Road which I had to hop off the bike as it was 17-20%. Within the group I was riding with, only one person rode up the road but he had to ride from side to side of the road and out of the saddle. The road was so steep that everyone struggled to even push their bikes up.

There was a feed station at 35km at which everyone stopped for a feed. I stopped for 10min or so before they made the announcement that the 75km would go off first turning left and the 50km riders would be sent off 5min later turning right.


I rode with a friend of mine whom I knew from triathlon days and we chatted most of the way back to the start. As there were only 9 females within the 120 riders and we finished the ride early, we didn't have to wait for showers to be free and we had plenty of time to get ready for lunch.


During the lunch, there were a few items for auction. I only put a bid in only for a set of 302 Zipp wheels with a RRP of $2100 but my limit was $1500. I didn't end up winning the wheels (which went for $1700) but it was good to participate in the auction and exposure for the company I work for and also being one of the 9 females of the day.


This event raised over $40K for PIF House Program and the Chatterbox Youth Outreach Bus.


With this ride being on a Friday, I didn't end up riding with LOC but did a recovery ride to Studley Park and rode a few laps with friends and then a recovery ride back home which ended up being a 90km day with 1000m elevation. The plan was to ride Donna Buang on Sunday but due to fatigue, I ended up just sleeping in and caught up on housework and life.


I have Giro della Donna on Sunday 26th, really looking forward to this event. The weather forecast is not looking well but at least it is not below 10 degrees.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Long weekend in Bright and only one ride.

In Melbourne, we had a long weekend due to the Melbourne Cup. The public holidays in on the Tuesday but out work closes on the Monday as an RDO.


Our little family went to Bright (about 4 hours from Melbourne) to do some riding and I did a session with Lead Out.


As we only arrived on Saturday afternoon, I didn't end up riding with the group to Mount Buffalo and only did the ride on Sunday. The ride started at 9am and it was warm enough for no arm warmers and just the standard jersey and knicks. We rode from Bright to Porepunkah for a short coffee break. After the break, we rode along the rail trail to Myrtleford for a toilet stop before hitting the climb up Rosewhite. I stuck with the group until the turn off at Ovens as I am not as strong and just rode by myself pretty much the entire way.


Before the climb, the ride itself was pretty uneventful, the scenery was wonderful and I got swooped by one magpie (for about 10 attempts). I kept my cadence at 75rpm the entire climb so I was pretty impressed with myself but I know the gradient was manageable.


The group stopped on the top of Rosewhite and I could take a break before the descent down. The descent down was great and I am much more confident. The first time I did this loop was in 2015 and I remember being really tired and needed assistance in pacing by the coaches. I ended up riding by myself in between two groups at my own pace. At this stage of the ride, my feet had started to swell hurt. The group stopped for lunch at the Tawonga Gap general store and I had half a roll and a bottle of coke emptied out in my bidon.


I ended up starting early from the group towards Tawonga and climbed the route. I have always hated Tawonga, the gradient is just steep enough that I am grinding on the gears and nothing much else. I am purely just surviving at this point. Having 90km already in the legs and temperature at about 28 degrees, I had the worst climb in a long time...


This was my worst Tawonga Gap climb, it took me over an hour to climb and I stopped 2 times to rest. My feet were so swollen that I undid my boa laces completely and I could still ride. Having Coach Mick there did help for me to not give in but it was also embarrassing that I found this climb so hard to do! My cadence hovered between 40 - 55rpm and my heart rate never went below 170bpm. The break on the top of the gap was great and I had a chance to take off my shoes and rubbed my feet to relief. The descent down from Tawonga was great and I felt more confident and comfortable.


I was totally dead after the ride that I didn't do anymore rides that weekend. I was just so fatigued and couldn't pick myself up to get on the bike. I haven't been back on the bike since then but planning on doing some climbing this weekend in training for Giro della Donna. Fingers crossed I am mentally strong enough to get myself out there again.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Ride Daylesford 2017 - Breaking the comfort barrier

On the 28th October 2017, I participated in the inaugural Ride Daylesford. I entered in the 146km event, using it as a training day for Giro della Donna and this weekend's Bright training camp.


A day or two prior to the event, I started to get nervous. My previous long ride was about 100km with about 1000m of climbing and prior to that, most of the 100km rides were relatively flat (Beach road with LOC). The magnitude of this event started to surface, it is 146km, 50% more distance than my previous session and 800m more in climbing...


I arrived in Dalyesford on Friday afternoon and picked up my registration (bike and helmet stickers) along with the shit cheap event jersey. A friend from work showed me how his zipper broke when he tried it on and the same thing happened to me when I tried on the jersey back at the house. I had never had the intentions of wearing the jersey - I refuse to wear something which I have not worn before. The jersey fabric and construction was terrible and the fit even worse. Such a waste of money. I would have happily chosen to put that money towards a charity than to get a jersey made. I understand the policy of the jersey - so they could recognise who was part of the event but we were also decorated with helmet and bike stickers, it is not like they would refuse to help us if we were in trouble or refuse me to access the water at the aid stations?




On the 28th morning, I left the accommodation at 7:00am thinking that it would take me forever to ride to the start (there was a 8% climb). I ended up getting there around 7:10am and had a toilet break and spoke to a few familiar faces. I seeded myself at the 20km/h area. The ride started off being manageable. I am a lot more confident at the descents compared to where I was 12 months ago and I ended up passing many after they passed me on the climbs.


There were a few false flats and rolling hills but as I was riding by myself, I just rode at my own pace and didn't follow any groups as I knew that I was not as strong as the guys. I planned to be self sufficient on the bike and carried enough food for 10 hours and carried 2 bottles of hydration. By the guide, I knew that I wouldn't need to stop at the first aid station so I skipped it in Kyneton. I saw plenty of people who stopped so I knew that they would eventually pass me along the way.


Two of my work colleagues rode passed me and said hello so I ended up riding with them for about 15km until there was a slight climb and I couldn't manage it without being fatigued. I ended up leading a group for the next 15km until the aid station where I pulled in to fill up my empty drink bottle.


The next few km were uneventful, all I was doing was turning my legs. There was a small stretch of the road where the climb was around 15% and that's where the first of the many climbs where some hopped off their bikes. I made a promise to myself that I would not hop off the bike during this ride so I pushed myself as hard as I could, even when the speed is around 5km/hr and my cadence was as low as 30rpm.


Around the 100km mark, I really started to struggle. My arms, hands and feet were swollen and hurt and my mind started to let me down. At this point, I got out my earphones and started to listen to my audiobook to help me through.


The last 20km of the ride was really hard. There were climbs where the gradients were 10%+. Mentally, I was so tired. Physically, my body changed so much from the start of the ride with swollen limbs and bloated belly. Luckily there was an aid station around Hephburn Springs where I could catch a breath before the final climb from Hephburn Spring to Daylesford.


The final climb into the event village was a relief. I knew that I would finish the event close to 3pm but I had not prepared for how uncomfortable I would be. I have to admit that I haven't done anything this intense since I did my long rides leading up to 3 peaks (Feb 2016).


Here are a few comments regarding the event from my point of view:
  • I might have to see if I need to increase the calorie intake for big rides like this. For Ride Daylesford, I ate 100cal/hour.
  • I need to see what I can do about the swollen limbs. From what I have read online, it comes from too much salt and I did use Hydralyte throughout the ride so I could help with the cramping. The other reason for the swollen limbs is being dehydrated too as it is your body's way of storing fluids.
  • As I am buying new cycling shoes, I will need to keep it with the Boa laces so I can release loosen the shoes when my feet swell. 



For Giro della Donna, it is 125km with 2800m of climbing so I will need to do more climbing training. I know I will not be as bike fit as 2015 as I now weigh 10kg more but I am confident that my descending has improved.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Spring cycling and up and coming events

It is now mid October and the weather certainly has picked up and made it more bearable to ride outdoors.


October and November will be a couple of busy months for me with regards to cycling commitments and events.


I have the Ride Daylesford on the 28th October and it is a 146km ride (with over 1700m of climbing, most of it done on the last 50km) so I will need to get some distance/stress in my legs in order to get myself through comfortably. So for this week's long ride (21st Oct), I will ride from my house to Heidelberg (30km) for the 7am start and then ride home. I will be a > 100km day with hopefully over 1500m of climbing. I will be writing off the remainder of the day as I will be in a deep recovery sleep to recover.


I will be heading to Bright over the long weekend for some training with Lead Out 4th through to 7th November. I am looking forward to being back in the Alpine region and to see how I have improved (if any) especially in the descents.


Work has entered me in the Property Industry Foundation charity ride on the 17th November which is a 50 or 75km ride from Healesville. I am suspecting that this ride will be a hilly one but it is fully supported and catered for. Depending on how hectic this ride is, I may or may not ride again on the Saturday.


The week after, it will be my main event for 2017 which is the Giro della Donna on the 26th November. My main aim for this ride is to be stronger on the climbs and more comfortable on the descents. My weight to power ratio will not be great since I have put on weight compared to 2015. The ride is 125km with 2750m elevation. I have not ridden Donna Buang since 2015 so ideally, I should ride up that climb before the 26th November but with so many social and work events coming up, it will look like it may only be done on the event day.


I have done two Mt Pleasant rides within the last few weeks. The sessions were not too dramatic and I didn't tear up after the sessions from exhaustion and defeat. Compared to my first ride with LOC out that way, I am feeling much stronger. Last week was recovery week for Lead Out and I completed the two mid week training sessions but didn't end up riding on Saturday as I wanted to do a long session with the Point Cook Cycling Group (PCCG) riding from Point Cook towards You Yangs and some hill repeats.


The pace towards You Yangs was fairly comfortable with speeds < 25km/hr. Because I was feeling relatively OK, I pushed myself on the hill repeats as the loop is 3km with a climb of 100m over 1.2km. The ride back towards Point Cook was also fairy comfortable for me and I didn't feel too exhausted by the end of the ride which was good feedback for me and how I will get through Ride Daylesford.






Wednesday, 27 September 2017

I have no endurance....my recent FTP Test

Since forever, I have never been great at endurance. Since being able to put a label to my body's performance - Ehlers Dandlos Syndrome (EDS), it does explain my abilities in term of being stupidly flexible for practically all my joints from my fingers, toes, knees, neck, shoulders (joint weakness) as well as it's inabilities of performance over a long period of time due to muscle fatigue. I have trained for years in endurance sports but my strength and speed has not improved. When I started with LOC and we would do individual TT along Beach Road or in Altona, I would start out great and then the muscles would just stop working.


In terms of the 20min FTP tests - they are not my friend. I can push the power for a short period of time, I can sprint at very high power (close to 1000W for 3 sec) but when it comes to endurance, my body just won't cooperate. Mentally, I can put myself through 20min FTP test but my body just doesn't want to keep up. The 20min FTP test works on the Maximal Lactate Steady State (MLSS).


I remember doing an FTP test about a year ago and my FTP was about 160W over 20min. I try to start out in a gear and cadence which is comfortable and I "think" I can hold for 20min. No matter what strategy I use, the end results is about 160-165W.


This morning was no different. The session this morning at Spin Labs was an FTP test. I started out at 190W for 5min, then worked up to 200W for the next 5min with an rpm of 85+ then the last 7min of the FTP test, I started to fatigue with my body shaking and the average went down to 165W. Frustrating. Towards the end when the instructor was pushing us to go hard for the last 2min or so, I just had nothing left...zero energy in the legs.


When the session is based on various % of the FTP, I can work with a benchmark of 180-200W as it is sometimes the lowest FTP chart available at the venues. I am comfortable when I use those benchmarks in the session as I can hold high power for a short period of time. For example, on Monday (25th Sept), the session was 4 x (1.5min 95% @ 85-95rpm, 30 easy, 1min 110% @ 85-95rpm, 30 easy, 2min 85% @ 100rpm, 1min easy, 3min 100% @ 60-65rpm, 30 sec out of the saddle, 3min recovery). I used FTP of 180W in the session and I was fine and hitting those power benchmarks or above the whole session.


My goal for the next 6 months will be to work on my endurance and increase by FTP towards 180W over 20min but work out a strategy. Do I break it down to 5min intervals where I increase and decrease my efforts over that 5min, start out strong and watch the power decrease over time or start out low and see if I can increase the power as I go along. I will have the manage my muscle fatigue and heart rate as it hovers around 175rpm during the FTP tests.


I have also heard of the short 8min FTP test which is 8-minute Power at VO2max (pVO2max) efforts. They say that the 8min test is suitable for the more experienced riders but doing the 20min FTP sets better benchmarks.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Stepping into Spring

The last 3 months has not been great in terms of "off season training". I had a bad virus around Queens bday weekend and my cough has lingered on and off since.


Ol'Dirty really took it out of me and I got sick about 4 days after the ride. Not sure if it was a combination of fatigue and riding in the rain for about 30min or my body has just been exposed to the various virus elements.


In order I maintain my cycling fitness when I can't ride outdoors, I am increasing my indoor cycling sessions. Recently I have bought passes for SpinLabs in Hampton. It is conveniently located about 1km from my house and they use Wattbike Pro bikes. I am also choosing to get on Wattbike Pro machines when I am at Art of Cycling as well so I can work to improve. The non-pro versions allows you to free spin, good for recovery and high cadence work where as the Pro versions, I am hitting just below 100W on the lowest gear possible.


With regards to the Zwift sessions, as much as they are fun, I find that I don't push myself as hard as I would on the Wattbike sessions. I had a go on a direct drive smart trainer on the weekend and I found myself on a higher power range compared to the skewer version I have at home. Maybe when I see myself performing at a higher power range, it will encourage me more? It is all psychological.


So Amy's Gran Fondo was on the weekend and I didn't end up doing the event. I didn't want to pay full price for the ticket especially when I feel that my training hasn't been great leading up to it. It was too inconsistent due to illness and I didn't want to suffer so much on the bike that I am put off it. Compared to the first time I did the event in 2015, I want to be able to do this event without stopping and within a reasonable time.


The only event I have paid within the remainder of 2017 is Giro della Donna in November and it will be a few weeks after the LOC training weekend in Bright which I am excited about. We have booked accommodation for the long weekend and it will be our mini-family holiday.


I am utilising the Wattbike sessions to work on my strength on the bike as well as working at the whole "not recovering" after each hard effort but lowering the intensity.


For Lead Out this month, the main sessions will be TTT at Albert Park lake on Tuesdays, Aerobic Strength around Kew blvd on Thursdays and we are riding to Mt Pleasant and beyond (from Heidelberg). This morning, I didn't turn up to the TTT session as I didn't get home from work in Sydney until late. Fingers crossed that the rest of the week goes smoothly with work how my body recovers from the sessions so I don't die (and cry) from exhaustion during the long hilly ride. So far, I have had two bad rides and one good one with the Mount Pleasant loop.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Ol'Dirty 2017 - The Unrideable Ride

So on Saturday 2nd Sept, I can say that I have just done my 2nd and last Ol'Dirty event. I am just not cut out for it. This is my personal reflection on the event and does not reflect the efforts the organisers put towards improving the event from last year not does it portray the remainder of the participants, some had a great day out.



 
My write up of Ol'Dirty 2016 is here.....and after seeing a few posts from the organisers, promising that this year's course will be more rideable and not as nut-so, I decided to do this event again in 2017 along with some others from the cycling group who had also entered to prove to myself that last year's event was due to the change of course and not because I am a hopeless cyclist.


I had decided to use the CX bike based on the feedback of the organisers as well as the photos and videos of the previous few Ol'Dirty events prior to 2016. I wanted it to be a good day out on the gravel road - I was very mistaken.

On Friday 1st, I had a work awards night so I really didn't have a good night's sleep even when I had prepared most of my kit during the day. The alarm went off at 6am as I had planned on leaving the house around 6:45am to get to Marysville at 8:30am.

The temperature around Melbourne hovered around 15 but went down to 5 when I reached Marysville. I decided against knee warmers and I do heat up very quickly. I started off with knicks, sleeveless base layer, jersey, arm warmers, gilet and gloves, I quickly removed the gloves and unzipped the gilet around 5km into the ride after the first climb. I still had the gilet around as I needed to carry extra food for the ride. There were already some part of the climb which was tough, especially as I was only riding 36-46T, 11-28T.

Due to my lack of skills and confidence and riding my CX, I walked down the majority of the 5 - 10km descent rather than riding. I was in the way of cyclist who were confident so my legs are scratched to bits as I walked to the side of the road into the ferns to stay out of ppl's way. If I had the mountain bike, I would have had a go. I am pretty sure I rode most of the 10 - 18km only stopping to walk through mud puddles and sharp and hectic descents.

From about 18km - 20k was the SRAM Scramble which gradients got to 35% and it was impossible to ride and I actually found it hard to even walk through.

Looking at my Strava file, I can see this is the section where I had to hop off the bike to walk through the clay mud puddles and where I could hop back on the bike for a few pedal strokes. My riding through mud stopped when I reached Acheron Way. I had stopped there to get the mud off the bike and my cleats and I saw a few riders went along the road. A few went South and I followed for about 2km until I realised that I was travelling South towards Warburton. I quickly turned around and rode along until I saw a couple of other rides who had as much trouble riding through the course as I did. I had met them previously on other rides within the last 12 months.


We all rode as group until we hit the climbs on Marysville Road where my power/weight ratio, more because I weighed about twice as much as they did, slowed me straight down to the point where I hopped off the bike and walked about 2km as my legs gave up. It also started to rain when we reached Marysville Road so my bike go a bit of a clean before I finished the event.


I got back to my car before 3pm. I wasn't sorry that I turned off early and missed out on lunch. I never eat half way through a ride due to my sensitive stomach. I survived with gels and a couple of dates for the 5 or so hours. I didn't burn too many calories either as I had walked probable 60% of the route. Luckily I had an empty bike box in the car and I placed it in the back of the car before I placed my muddy bike in. I also had enough towels in the car which I used to cover the muddy tires so I didn't spread mud everywhere.


I guess I didn't "enjoy" this ride like others as I had the expectation that it was a rideable event....maybe if I had my mountain bike with me I would have had a better day but at the end of the day, I made the decision to use the CX and was expecting a gravel ride and not one through crater sized clay mud roads, steep rocky descents and for a person with anxiety and hates falling, my mood was just not positive.


Although I had a chat with a few old friends and met a few new faces, I am just not made for this type of adventure. In terms of training for up and coming events, I felt that I would have had better improvements if I stayed in Melbourne and trained with Lead Out and did the Mount Pleasant loop to improve on my climbing strength, this is just my personal view.


My body ached the next day and I think I have strained my calve due to so much walking on steep angles. I am too afraid to get a massage at this point as I need to continue with my training throughout the week.


Do I recommend this event? Yes of course, if you like eventful routes, mud slides and don't mind not riding along bitumen.


Amy's GF is in 2 weeks and I am yet to sign up for the event. I will make a decision soon as I can...I will also decide if I will do the 120km road ride or the 65km gravel option. I am keen on both however the gravel ride is at Apollo bay and not Lorne.