Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cape Epic Campaign Postponed to 2012

After painful and careful consideration, I have decided that I won’t be in a position to race at this year’s Cape Epic in South Africa. The decision was certainly not an easy one to make and took into account a number of factors including finance, injuries and not being able to find a suitable race partner in time.

I have contacted the race organisers and they have been kind enough to arrange for my entry from this year to be transferred to next year’s race, so whilst I’m a bit disappointed I won’t be going to South Africa this March, I’m excited that I now have a whole year to prepare for next year’s race properly, with a semi-confirmed team mate and a genuine opportunity for a good result and some good coverage opportunities for sponsors instead of a whole heap of last-minute arrangements that I feel could have made for a very disappointing race for myself and also my supporters.

Plans for this year now are to spend the year training and competing in a bunch of NZ races so I will still be out and about. Keep an eye on the "upcoming races" tab to the right of my blog for what's coming up next!!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tour De Ranges 2011

Today I tripped down to Clevedon, south of Auckland to ride in a road race. Being a bit of a loner on the bike most of the time, I don't usually spend a lot of time riding in bunches, so it was to be an interesting day. I rode in the open category and left the elite category to the road riders who knew what they were doing. The distance was 110km with 3 major climbs and quite a bit of flat riding in between. There were about 900 riders there and after the elites left, we all started in one mass start.

It didn't take long to split into bunches and I found myself in a pretty good bunch where I could sit in for a rest on the flats, but gave me a good run for my money and kept me honest up the climbs. My legs have been feeling a bit heavy lately, so the first 20km was a bit of a grind, and I found some of the flats in the first part of the course to be a bit boring, which didn't help. After about 20km of riding, though, my legs freed up and I actually felt pretty good. I was climbing strongly and sticking with the bunch quite well. Around the 60km mark, I hit a bit of a wall from not eating and drinking enough. Surprisingly, I managed to hang on to the bunch and get some carbs into me and by the 65km mark, I was feeling back on top of it.

About the 70km mark, there was a climb which split the group and I ended up at the front of the back group. I decided I'd rather try and bridge the gap and get home five minutes earlier, so I set off in pursuit of the front group. For about 5km, I chased with them in my sights and caught them at the top of one of the small hills, only to lose them again on the descent. Thoughts that I entertained of just dropping back in with the bunch behind were quashed when I looked behind me to see they were nowhere in sight... I was committed to catching this bunch or I would be riding on my own (which would have sucked immensely). After axing myself and finally catching them, I sat in for a bit of a rest before we ascended the last climb (which was the KOM climb) and then a negotiated a rather gnarly descent to bring us back down along the bays. The views were amazing!

Coming in to the home stretch, there were 3 or 4 other girls in the same bunch as me. I somehow managed to position myself really well near the front of the bunch where I was still protected (believe me, this was purely by accident. I'm totally an amateur when it comes to road tactics!) and when I saw one of my competitors in the corner of my eye, I dropped the hammer to win the sprint to the finish line.

Overall, I finished in just under 3 hours 25 minutes with an average speed of just under 32km/hr. I was 19th female across the line out of 79 riders (this includes elites) and 203rd overall out of 547 riders, so I was pretty happy with that, not to mention that I had an absolutely tops training day of it. I must admit, that for a road race, I enjoyed it much more than I expected to. It was well organised, riders were generally pretty courteous and the course was really enjoyable. The climbs were enough to separate the girls from the women so to speak, but not so tough that it left you wishing for death at the top of each one. The only thing I did find disappointing was the huge disparity in the prize money presented to the male and female winners, with the females receiving half the prize money the men got. It's an ongoing battle for elite females at races, but I suppose it poses the question that if a female rider pays the same entry fee and does the same course and the same amount of training to win their race as the men do, should they be penalised for the unavoidable physiological differences they have to men? Hmm, one to ponder. Besides that, it was a great day out. If you don't do a lot of road racing (or even if you do), this is definitely one to have a look at.

Friday, January 21, 2011

NDuro Summer Series 2011 Race 1

In my usual style, this blog is a smidgen late. A weekend or two ago saw me head to Rotorua once again for one of NDuro's fine events. They really turned on the sunshine for this one and the trails were bone dry and FAST.

I did the 45km course which took us all the way up to the top of Billy T via No Brains and back down to Waipa Mill again. One of my favourite tracks, Corners, was in there, although I never feel like I ride it as fast as should be able to! It felt great to be back on the bike and whilst the legs felt a little heavy and a little slow, I generally felt pretty good. The organisers have gotten a bit creative this year with the long course and there are a couple of timed sections now... A King of the Mountain (KOM) and then a time trial section on an undulating piece of trail. To be honest, I missed the start of the time trial piece of track (I don't think I was paying attention... I was having too much fun) but might try and pay more attention at the next one for some good speed training half way through the race.

Next one is this Sunday, after the 110km Tour De Ranges in Clevedon on Saturday... A weekend of fun! Here's hoping the weather is kind to us all!!!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Training With No Bike...

As some of you would be aware, the relationship between my saddle and my bottom hasn't been completely amicable since my last 24 hour race, and after being back in training for a month, it became apparent a few days ago that I would have to hang up the bike again for a few days, hook into the antibiotics and let these saddle sores sort themselves out. With the amazing weather we've been having and the fact that I finally have days off after being a slave to retail trading patterns over Christmas, I don't think words would describe how frustrating it is to be laid off the bike... I'm sure I'm not the only one, either... For many of us bike junkies, simply giving up the bike cold turkey results in many withdrawal symptoms including crankiness, loss of appetite, whinging and emptying our wallets with a bit of retail therapy at our favourite bike shop (hopefully Bike 75)

So, for those of you experiencing the same pain as me, I thought I would devise a list of awesome ways to keep bike withdrawal at bay during times of injury and illness:

1. Running... Yup, I hate it too... My legs are way too short, but it keeps me fit and is an excellent cardiovascular workout, not to mention it keeps my legs relatively strong to jump back on the bike when I can

2. Pump track... Not an option for all of us, but for me, perfect. I can play on the bike and not have to sit down and those pump tracks are a damn good workout! I highly recommend the one at Muriwai Beach on coast road near the tennis courts (if you feel like giving something back, do some weeding while you're at it) followed by a nice dip at the beach afterwards. The great thing about pump track is you can hang with your mates of all skill levels and run competitions as to how many times you can get around the track without pedalling. Guranteed to get the quads burning!

3. Weights... The gym in Summer doesn't really appeal to me much, but a great way to build strength off the bike.

4. Core stability... You would be surprised how much of an impact this has on your bike handling abilities.

5. Update your blog... Enough said.

6. Work on organising your race schedule, training plan and all associated details such as sponsorship and team mates... An excellent way to give yourself a goal to work towards when you do get back on the bike.

7. Read a good book. I just finished reading 1000 Hour Day by Chris Bray. I also highly recommend anything written by or about a cyclist... We're an intelligent and well-spoken bunch of people with some interesting stuff to write.

8. Read a good magazine... Issue 39 of Spoke has come out recently and always has some good stories and reviews to offer

9. Spend money on your bike.

10. Make sure you do the exercises/ take the medicine your doctor or physio has told you to!

With that in mind, I have plenty to go and do right now. Enjoy the sun!!!

Round Rangihoua 4 Hour - A Tops Day on Waiheke

OK, so my blogging has been very slack over this busy Christmas period (thanks to the many emails and conversations pointing this out to me) and I best thought I'll start where I left off and give you a race report of this tops little race I did before xmas.

This is the third year I have done the Round Rangihoua race and as per usual, Mother Nature turned on the weather for us, while the good folk at Waiheke Mountain Bike Club turned on a good race. The track was the same as it has been the last couple of years (without much reason to change it... Totally wicked fun!) and was for most of us, between 15-18mins long. The trail followed a solid climb up the side of the mountain before descending into sweet singletrack goodness flowing through some lovely berms, corners and kicks through native bushland. I was also quite stoked that I actually got to chase a chicken down the trail named "chicken run".

This was the longest ride I had done since World Champs and was really intended as a bit of a kick-start to my training again after a a couple of months chilling and cruising around on the bike. For the most part of the race, I felt pretty good. I drank really well, and actually felt pretty strong. I felt like I hadn't lost any base, as my legs ticked over pretty well for the full 4 hours, but I felt a little slow on the climbs and flats, which I suppose was a lack of speed and power training over the last couple of months. Being (once again) the only solo female, I took out the win and took home a lovely bottle of wine which went down rather well with Christmas lunch (Ladies take note, I'm keen to see some good competition out there next year!).

I hear a whisper the club are looking a running a more extensive race calendar this year and it would be awesome to see the club get some support. Department of Cycling (DOC) are pretty keen supporters of the event, too, so keep an eye on their website for details of how you can jump in with a group of people for a fun day out. It really is quite a sweet day out over on the island and such an easy trip over, too. You don't need a car... The distance to Onetangi Sports Park is very ridable with a backpack for your day's worth of goodies.