Sunday, May 22, 2011

Spoke Issue 41 Articles - Have a read

This issue features my crazy adventure cycle touring through the Wanganui national park... Whenever I read it back to myself, I feel so stoked on what an awesome adventure it was. Also in this issue is my article on how to motivate oneself and my product review on some wicked Icebreaker stuff. Click on the image and zoom to have a read.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Spoke Articles by Yours Truly (published pre-April 2011)

I figured that I really should get these articles up on here for you all to read. Must say I'm quite proud to be published on a regular basis in a mag as awesome as Spoke... I'll do my best to post these articles as the issues are released from now on... But for now, here's all my published articles before issue 41 dating all the way back to my first 24 Hour Solo World Champs in 2008! You can click on each page as an image and zoom in to read... ENJOY!!!

Issue 40

Issue 39

Issue 37

Issue 35

Issue 34

Issue 32

Issue 30

Monday, May 16, 2011

Doing it in a Team - Moonride 12 Hour

I was asked several times on Saturday to explain myself... As I lounged around between laps and punched out lap times that even I couldn't explain given my ultra-endurance roots. The decision to do a 12 hour event in a team was partly because I wanted to take part and experience a different side of these races, but was also an excellent opportunity to hone some skills and work on some speed training.

I was part of Team DOC Smoking Butt Loaf (the origins of this team name are a story in themselves best shared over a beer or a bottle of wine) which comprised of myself, Adrienne Hooper, Charlotte Clouston (my formidable next-door neighbour), Sophie Tyas and Nat Retief. Deciding who was to do the first lap is apparently always a bone of contention for teams at these events and I decided that, having been a solo rider all this time and always doing my own first lap anyway, that I may as well volunteer for this arduous task which involves staying in one piece off the start line, negotiating hoardes of traffic on the trail and trying to put in a reasonable lap time for fear of being berated by your fellow team mates. There had been a huge amount of rain the night before (I felt exceedingly sorry for the 24 hour riders who were out riding in it) and once we gunned it off the start line, down the road and off into the forest, it became apparent that the trails had taken a huge battering in the weather. It reminded me of the Moonride that I won solo three years ago... Just a complete sloshfest of mud and sideways drifting around corners (YEEEOOW!!!)... It was great fun, but for the less experienced riders, probably quite terrifying, and I learned my lesson early on in the lap after crashing into the back of another rider (sorry!) that I needed to maintain a safe working distance from riders in from of me until it was safe to pass.

My first lap wasn't really all that great in terms of my time, but I hadn't really expected anything too spectacular... I am an endurance rider, after all! My bike and I were absolutely covered in a thick layer of mud when I came back in, but as the day wore on and the weather stayed relatively kind, the trails dried out and nice, tacky lines developed that your wheels hugged like a three year old with a teddy bear. I must admit I was a bit lost as to what to do between laps... I wandered around, quite obviously not too sure of what I was doing and feeling exceedingly guilty that I wasn't out riding at any given time, especially when solo riders came through with expressions of pain on their faces... I yearned to be one of them. The second lap I went out on was an absolute blinder and I smashed it in 28 minutes and 50 seconds... An average of nearly 17km/hr!! I couldn't believe it... Noone else could either... Since when did Megan ride a bike that fast???!!! This put the challenge out there for Chip (Adrienne) who then smashed out her next lap in 28:30. Ma Clouston commented that maybe we would see a competittive trend bring us both down to 26minutes a lap and she wasn't too far from the truth... I smashed out my next lap in 27:50 followed by a 27:30 by Chip. Our friendly rivals, also part of the DOC (Department of Cycling/Avantiplus) crew were only 7 minutes ahead of us moving into darkness and had it not being for some unfortunate team mechanical luck, we may have been nipping right at their heels.

As the day wore on, it started getting cold and I started feeling less enthused to be up for my next lap. The thing with solo riding is that you are already out there, constantly moving and constantly staying warm. I struggled immensely with stopping and starting and putting in fast laps then getting cold and stiff. The only savior for me was my Icebreaker leggings and 320 weight shell. My first lap with lights was right on dusk. Dusk has always been a tough lap for me, even in solo rides... Your eyes have to adjust to a new type of light and it's getting cold, so it didn't surprise me that my lap time dropped to over 30minutes for this lap, which I found a bit disappointing. On the plus side, I'd received my new Ayup lights the day before (the new super-bright ones) and had been really looking forward to giving them a whirl... They worked a treat and made that dusk lap a real treat as night descended into the forest in it's entirety.

It became apparent as the twelve hour mark loomed that there would be one spare lap left to do... So I was lucky enough to pull first lap honors AND last lap honors... I admit that in a "soft" moment, I attempted to fob this off onto one of my teammates, but with no success. We had 40minutes left, so I probably could have gotten away with a super-cruisy lap. Instead, I gunned it and pulled out a sub-thirty minute night lap which I was quite stoked with.

Team Smoking Butt Loaf finished in second place, 20minutes behind first and a lap and half ahead of third. It was a great result for the team, and on a personal level, a really cool experience and a really good training day. Thanks to my awesome team mates and the crew at Department of Cycling for making it such an awesome gathering!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

We're Going to Cape Epic!!!

Megan Dimozantos and John Randal are pleased to announce they will be racing together at the 2012 Absa Cape Epic, an eight-day mountain bike stage race in the Western Cape region of South Africa. The event, starting on 25th March, 2012, will see this Australia and New Zealand mixed duo pit their skills and endurance against nearly 2400 riders from around the world. The course will be 800km and includes a time trial stage. The organisers promise "approximately 16,000m of climbing over some of the most magnificent passes in South Africa."

We are no strangers to tough events. Megan has raced the World 24 Hour Solo Championships, placing 7th in 2008, and with strong finishes in 2009 and 2010. She has also won the women's team division of the 2009 Alpine Epic, a four day stage race in New Zealand and the overall women’s category of Mountains to Beach, a five day individual stage race in Australia. John rode in the inaugural Kiwi Brevet in 2010, finishing the gruelling 1100km, unsupported event in 4 1/2 days. He was a member of the winning 3-man team at the 2007 Day Night Thriller, and is a four-time winner of the Akatarawa Attack, an 8-hour mountain bike orienteering event in the hills of Wellington.

We are seeking sponsorship for our Cape Epic assault. We will race as a team at the Taupo Day Night Thriller in September, beginning a long summer of promoting our sponsors locally, before heading to South Africa in mid-March. A race as formidable as the Cape Epic requires modern technology and huge training hours. Financial support is essential to ensure we are both able to perform to our potential. We both actively maintain blogs sharing our riding exploits with others, and between that and a busy racing schedule, we can guarantee excellent exposure for sponsors.

We are both very excited about the next 10 months, culminating in one of the world's toughest mountain bike events. We are both committed to being in excellent shape for the race, and giving it our absolute all. We look forward to your support.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

T42 - Pipped off the Podium on the Line

The thing I'm loving so much about racing lately is that there never seems to be a dull moment. The weather for this week's race had been looking less than ideal the entire week. I packed up Friday afternoon and headed down with Duane and Bruce and as we approached National Park, the rain became more and more torrential... This was going to be an absolute mudfest.

I woke in the morning to more rain, and also the sudden realisation that I had left the innersoles for my riding shoes at home. After grovelling and begging got me nowhere, I decided to just wear two pairs of socks and deal with loose shoe syndrome for the day. Surely it couldn't be that bad... The 42 Traverse is mainly downhill right??? We arrived at the race start and it was still raining. I think I got changed five times trying to figure out what I was going to wear... Did I just need arm and leg warmers? Did I need an Icebreaker layer underneath? Did I need a wind vest? Or all of the above? It was cold at the startline... I opted with leg warmers and a long sleeve Icebreaker underneath (for the record, this turned out to be a pretty good choice for the most part of the race until the last hour where we had quite a bit of climbing to do). I was a bit nervous about what the condition of the track was going to be like. I had heard it was clay-based and after all the rain, was expecting the worst.

We lined up on the start line and the rain stopped (and stayed away for just about the whole race amazingly!). The first three kilometers was on the road and was a fast three kilometers. I was spinning out in my biggest gear and still couldn't stay on the bunch, so right from the start I was off the back of the bunch... Then another couple of girls passed me... I was here for a good time and knew I hadn't been putting in many k's on the bike lately, but lack of training doesn't douse the competitive spirit. When we hit the track, it had held up surprisingly well to the rain. There were a few puddles and bits of mud here and there but DOC has done some exceptional work on weather-proofing the trail and it was absolutely superb to ride on. The 42 Traverse is a classic New Zealand ride. It starts at a higher altitude than it finishes (hence the general belief that it is all downhill... It's not...) and the track is just so fast that you can take your hands off the brakes, open it up and scoot straight across the top of gravel, bedrock, mud and river crossings. Apparently on a fine day, the views are also quite spectacular.

There are two sizable climbs on the 42 Traverse and both are towards the end of the ride. As I came up the climb with about 14km to go, I saw another girl ahead of me. I was pretty sure I was sitting in fourth place and overtaking her would put me in with a good chance at a podium spot. I wanted to pass her hard and put in some good distance on her quite quickly so I sat in for a minute and then attacked up the hill. I put in the distance as I had planned and then I kept saying to myself "if she can't see you, she can't beat you" so over the crest of every hill and around each corner, I'd check back to make sure I couldn't see her behind me. I dropped the hammer hard for that last 14km, which was probably a bit soon to go all out for the finish. I remembered the race organisers saying that when we crossed the bridge, it was two kilometers to go... I kept crossing bridge after bridge thinking "two km to go" and then realise it wasn't the bridge they were talking about. I barreled through a creek crossing and then up the other side, sucking my chain into my derallier... I jumped of the bike and vaguely remember fixing it as I ran up the hill... I knew I couldn't afford to drop any time.

Finally, I hit "the bridge". The two kilometers to go actually ended up being four kilometers and having not ridden the course before, I wasn't prepared for the one last climb we had to do into Owhango Domain. I cursed under my breath when I saw it but trudged on up the hill. I kept looking behind me and saw another rider gaining. I didn't think it was another girl, but when they passed me about fifty meters before the top of the hill, I realised it was (but not the girl I had just passed twelve kilometers beforehand). I tried to dig deep but I had nothing left... I remember thinking to myself "f*&%, I've got nothing... I guess I just have to let her go". I felt completely powerless to maintain the third place I had worked so hard for. I hit the flat again and managed to gain some ground on her, but it was already gone... I had been pipped at the post for third place... Bummer... Having said that, fourth place was still a good result in a time of 2 hours and 36 minutes... I suppose dropping a place right at the end of a race is always harder than losing it early on.

Now, it would be foolish of me to think that I had lost that one place in just that 100m to the finish line, and as always I have some insight and learnings to provide. At the end of the two and a half hour race, I had consumed only half a bottle of the two full bottles I had taken with me and I had eaten nothing... Had I looked after myself well during the race, I have no doubt I would have had some energy stores to call on in that last 100m. Furthermore, for every 5% dehydration, an athlete suffers a 20% loss in power output. Further to this, I was carrying a litre of fluid I didn't use, which equates to an extra kilogram to carry. It's so easy to get caught up in the race and forget or refuse to back off to take a hand off the bars and stick some food in your mouth or have a drink... It's interesting to note that when I was doing my longer races (24 hour etc) that I had my nutrition completely sorted, but doing these shorter races this year, I seem to have lapsed on how well I take care of myself out there on the course. Moral of the story is that regardless of the length of the race, it is important to make sure you eat and drink according to your energy requirements so you are fully fuelled for the entire race. Not only does it help you perform better, but also aids your recovery post-race.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Pukeora 4 Hour Solo - The Win that Nearly Wasn't

Saturday afternoon had cast some serious doubt over whether I would be riding the next day. I had a sore throat and a blocked nose and I hadn't even ridden a bike in a week (it was all gardening and running with the dog for me this week). I woke up on Sunday morning and despite still feeling a little under the weather, decided to head on over to Waipukurau and worst case scenario, there was a team I could join in for a cruisier day of it... Once I got to registration though, pride had kicked in and I really felt like anything less than a solo attempt at a 4 hour race really was quite soft, so I registered and jumped on the bike.

I actually didn't feel too bad... The legs felt a little sluggish (probably from all that gardening... It's hard work!!!) and the start of the lap was a nicely-pitched climb with some tight little switchbacks and a layer of grease on top for good measure. I was breathing too hard to notice the sore throat. Once I conquered the first hill I was on my way and chugged around nicely at a reasonable pace. The trails at Pukeora are really well-made... They flow really well and the surface is superb... Considering all the rain the area had this week, we were so lucky to just have a slippery layer of grease over the top of the trail and not a full-on mud-fest (although that also would have been fun). There were some steep little technical descents through the course and the course marshalls kept it real and were super friendly the whole day (I even saw one marshall giving a rider a leg massage at the top of the hill!!! Wow, that's dedication!). The thing that became really apparent after the third or fourth lap was how pedally the course was... It was great fun, but hard work and you were on the pedals probably for 90% of the loop.

By the time I came through the timing mats at three hours and twenty minutes, I was safely in the lead by at least a lap and a half on second place. I had done 6 laps and had been averaging about 32 minutes a lap and really saw no reason to go out for another lap after the seventh that I was about to set out on... So I took the soft option and decided to "pad out"my lap a bit. I took a toilet stop and rode the hills a little slower to appease my aching legs and managed to draw my seventh lap out to 40minutes, which I thought would be enough to bring me across the line just after they closed the course off... Apparently, my maths when I have been riding for 3 hours is a little bit inaccurate and I came rolling around the corner to see the clock say 3:59:25... DAMN IT!!! I slowed down my pedalling and did a bit of a track stand but it was too late... Everyone had seen me there... "Go on, do another one!!! Do another lap!!! Don't be soft!!!" I was being peer pressured into doing that extra lap I had so deliberately intended not to do... So I did what any self-respecting endurance rider would do, obeyed their commands and set out on my last (eighth) lap.

So I finished with the win in 8 laps, 2 laps ahead of second place and with a guilt-free conscience that I didn't pike on my last lap and didn't let a cold get in the way of a fun day out on the bike!!! Can't think of a better way to spend my Sunday!