Friday, 25 April 2014

Because I'm Happy!

I am in the middle of my holidays at the moment. I am calling it a holiday as (i) I am taking a break from work but more relevant (ii) I am taking a break from triathlon training. Don't get me wrong, I love the sport of triathlon and stepping outside of my comfort zone, after doing the Ironman race in March (for the 2nd time over 12 months), I really needed a break.

I have mentioned before in my last post, I am doing some non-triathlon-training specific bike riding over the month of April. In Australia, we have Easter holidays from Friday 18th through to Monday 21st, then I took 3 days of annual leave and then we have Friday 25th April as ANZAC day public holiday. In total, I am having 10 days off work/training! WINNING! This is the first time I have had a holiday since 2011 when I went travelling in Europe for 3 weeks.

Easter Friday 18th April
My partner works for Bicycle Superstore in Mentone and he organises shop rides from the store every Friday (rain, hail or shine) at 6:45am. I haven't joined this ride due to my swim session on a Friday morning. Due to the public holiday and the bike ride starting at 7:30am instead of the usual 6:45am, I decided it was time I joined this group for a ride and meet new people. The usual ride also loops back around St Kilda (where the BP is) but due to the public holiday, we rode to Port Melbourne and then had a break (breakfast) and then back to the shop.

The average speed on this ride was around 26-30km/hr. Even though we had a few beginners with us, we still had rolling turns.

In the afternoon, we went to the Harrison St velodrome to watch the DDCX (Dirty Deeds Cyclocross) prologue races. Neither of us raced that day but we still went to support. It was (once again) such a great event. Supported by a great cycling community, who are not so caught up with egos. I had friends who had never been to a CX race there and they had such a great time, was an eye opener to the other side of the cycling sphere.
Cyclocross Prologue - C Grade.
Saturday 19th April
This was the first of the latte rides which Tri Alliance has over the month of April. I was down as a coach for the morning. From last week, I noted that one of the girls in the squad needed some attention in riding. I didn't want to leave her behind (like last week) so I decided to ride with her and took the opportunity to teach her some cycling skills.

The ride started from West End Pavilion, up to Port Melbourne and then down to Rickets' Point. There was a faster group who would ride down to Mordialloc and then meeting us at Rickets for a coffee.

There was heavy rain but was isolated around Mordialloc and we (the slower group) missed it completely.

Easter Sunday 20th April
As I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to get a MTB session before I ride with the Tri Alliance group on the 27th. Initially, I wanted to go out and do it by myself but my partner ended up coming with me which was a God-send as he taught me so much on the day.

Annie - My mountain bike
I ended up doing about 14km in total but as this is mountain biking and not just riding the fire trails, it took me nearly 2 hours to get through the course. My bike skills were still shaky. I can't do switchbacks on descents but am now able to ride them going uphills. I think it has to do with the speed of the bike. As I am riding uphill, the bike is nice and slow but you are still pedalling like crazy. Going downhill, I have no idea how to handle the bike. I guess it is hard to explain until you try it yourself.

I tried to be confident along the course so I did ride over some obstacles. There was one point on the course where I actually got myself over a set of logs. I guess I thought I had enough skills at hand, but I didn't end up getting myself over the next set of logs and went over the handlebars of the bike. My pubic bone met the head stem of the bike (hard) and I fell head first over the log. My body was tangled up and my partner had to help me out of the bike. Luckily no one was around to have witnessed it. It took a while for the pain to subside before I continued. This happened around 4km from the start and the fact that that I rode around 14km in total showed that I kept at it. It was definitely an out of comfort zone moment.

My confidence on the mountain bike definitely has increased since my last real mountain bike ride 2 years ago. I am still not 100% (not even close) but I am happy to do mountain biking again. To be honest, it was fun. All the bikers on the course are much nicer and everyone said hello. Even though I was out there for nearly 2 hours, it required plenty of mental alertness and I had to decide what to do around each path. Fingers crossed for the 27th April!
A photo of my riding up one of the switchback. 
Bruises on my left leg (day 6)
Easter Monday 21st April
As my body was a bit sorry and sore from my fall on Sunday, I decided to take it easy on the bike and rode the CX bike instead of the roadie. We decided to cruise around our area went on a little adventure. We first rode to Sandringham via the little side streets. After breakfast, we rode to Black Rock via Bluff Road (instead of Beach Road) and visited Le Knicks. The management of this famous shop close to the Black Rock clock tower has changed since late last year. Instead of stocking bargain bins of jerseys and pro-group gear, they are now stocking more quality clothing (than quantity). It was a nice change and more welcoming in my opinion. 

After chatting to the new owner for a bit, we then rode up Balcombe Rd to Watkins Bay coffee shop for another coffee break before we headed home via the side streets. 

Loved this day as we took in the sights of our neighbourhood, checked out the mansions, visited bike shops, ventured through parks, all done on our bikes (no lycra or Garmin in sight). 

Thursday 24th April
I spent my annual leave days with my parents in Geelong. I decided to take to the CX bike to Geelong as I planned on riding bike paths around my parent's place. 

The ride started around 9:30am. I initially rode around the freeway but the bike paths stopped so I decided to turn around and found some bike paths on either side of the Waurn Ponds creek. I rode this path all the way to Barwon river. Instead of riding the same path back, I decided to take different paths where I could and ventured around Deakin uni before heading back home. 

The ride was fantastic. The speed was around 12-18km/hr, relaxed and I took in the sights of the neighbourhood. I felt like a kid again, riding along the bike paths, no pressure of riding in a pack, no pressure of trying to cover certain distances of a program. 

Betty in front of the Barwon River

Swiggly map from Strava showing where I rode

ANZAC Day 25th April
This morning, I joined the Bicycle Superstore shop ride. We started at 8am to cater for people who would have joined any of the dawn services around Melbourne. We started from the shop and stopped at Port Melbourne for breakfast, then we returned to the shop again. Just shy of 50km for this morning. We noticed that even though we rode at 8am, it was still cold (7 degrees C). If you didn't have long fingered gloves, you were suffering. 

So far, I have been on bikes for 6 days out of the 8 with 2 more days remaining of my holiday. The next 2 days, I am planning on riding with the squad on Saturday (Latte Ride) to Mordi and will be returning to Lysterfield on Sunday for Sunday-Funday's mountain biking session. 

I have to say, this has been one of the best holidays I have had. We (my partner and I) didn't go anywhere exotic, we stayed at home, we spent time with each other and on our bikes. I also spent time with my family without the stress of fitting in training sessions. 

The break away from training has been great for my well being. I have enjoyed being outdoors and being on my bike(s) for the love of it. I am happy. XX

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