Sunday, June 28, 2009

Goodbye Blue, Hello Red..

This was the story of today's crit at Altona. I have officially handed in my blue number (B Grade) and have graduated to the "REDS" (A Grade).

Was the perfect day to make the transition due to the weather and also a few of the top "A" grade riders at Footscray were absent. In saying this, the winner of the 3 Day Tour was racing and so to was a Porsche Drapac rider.

So after watching Komo win "C" Grade in a sprint finish, I was quite motivated to have a real crack also. Mainly just to hang on was the goal, but if I was feeling ok, would try and involve myself in the race.

The traditional 1st lap under control, then the race began with a breakaway instantly. The difference with this breakaway compared to "B" grade is that it was likely to stay away. So after a short time, the pack reeled in the 2 escapees. Soon after 5 riders went up the road and the bunch let them go, I got caught in no mans land so decided to find a tempo and see what happened. Soon after 1 rider joined me and we were working turns together, but not making inroads to the leaders.

Another 2 riders joined us and together we decided to have a good crack at chasing the 5 riders up the road. Slowly but surely we started to close the gap and when another rider soon joined not long after 5 chasing 5 become a positive prospect. This continued for a good 15 min and as we were about the close the gap, one of the riders in our group hit us hard and bridged the gap to the leader, so 4 chasing 6 became harder. A further 15min in, we managed to bridge the gap and as soon as this happened the pace intensified and my legs exploded. GONE!!!

I had to sit and wait for the bunch which took 1 complete lap to pick me up and which then the race was over. I continued to work turns for the remainder of the race. Our bunch were again catching the leaders, however as we were losing riders, the bunch became unsettled until we decided to just finish the race off and put it down to experience. Which I did.

For me, to mix it with riders of "A" Grade has given me plenty of confidence moving forward. My final position was 10th and which an average speed of just over 42kph for the 1hr 15min, I am very excited about where my cycling is at. After yesterday 4hour ride and 90min run to be able to get across the line shows that I am in a good place right now. Throw in a 13k+ swim week and things are going well.

Still injury free and loving this training caper. Only 8 weeks til Yeppoon 1/2 Ironman which will show how my progress has gone (if any) since I have been coaching myself.

For now...


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Full Steam Ahead!

After a successful 3 Day Tour, I contested the Club Champs (Yes, still in "B" grade) and was very happy with my 5th place. Hey any of the other placings would have been better, however with the sprinter who managed to slip into the breakaway with us, I knew that I was never in with a show. So, with a quick conversation it was decided that I was going to be the "lead out" man and if he was successful, he would give me some chocolates as a reward.

The course around Granite road is tough at the best of times, throw in a nasty cross wind and the only place you wanted to be was at the pointy end. I stumbled across this by shear luck due to working turns and at one stage having a peak behind me to find that 8 of us had opened up about a 1 minute gap on the field, only due to the wind. We were cuaght by the group due to having to stop for traffic at an intersection. So after this little exercise I decided to organise a few riders to have a go intot he next cross wind to break up the bunch. This worked for me as I thought, less people in the climbs, less attacks that will hurt me.

So by the 45km mark (halfway) a group of 7 of us had dropped the majority of the field and decided that if we were going to be successful, we had to work together. This worked over the remaining climb until 2 more riders fell by the way side and left 5 of us. My biggest challenge was to hang on over the climb and from there I knew that I would finish with the leaders.

I hung tight until the top and then decided to discuss tactics with Matt (sprinter). He was happy to hear this as we both knew he was by far the best sprinter of the 5 of us, being a track rider by nature.

The 5 of us worked well together till around 15km to go when a few small attacks started to happen, my legs were hurting and I knew that for me to get to the finish line I had to dictate the pace and tempo. I told the boys that I would lead them out and they could fight the sprint amoungst themselves, this seemed to settle them down. I went to the front and tempo'd with the wind at a good speed to dissallow any further attacks. Coming into the finish I peeled off with about 400m to go (prob bit early!) but my legs were gone. I watched from a far to see Matty take the chocolates.

See race report below:

B-Grade decided to start today’s race with an unusual display of cordiality, starting at a moderate pace and not causing any mayhem; until the first corner of course! From then on it was a struggle in the crosswinds, with many riders blowing up in the scramble to stay in the safety of the first 8 or so riders and one by one some very out of breath riders fell by the wayside. With the hills looming, the pace rose another notch, and the dreaded Granite Road ascent saw the field pared down to about 10 riders. Surprisingly, after surviving the attacks on the climb, the group split into two on the descent, so by the time riders were returning to climb through the hills once more, the race leaders had made enough ground on the chasers to be clear. The five leaders then settled down to some co-operative riding until they approached the finish, when a few riders tried to make a break for it, but once they approached the line no-one could compete with the unbelievable speed of Matthew Heath’s sprint, taking the race in convincing fashion over Paul Kenny and Scott Pilson. 28 year old Heath, from Tarneit, is returning to cycling after taking a 5 year break from the pressures of cycling, having previously raced in A-grade and having represented Victoria in the Track Nationals. He only returned to cycling after a shoulder injury in a car accident prevented him from going to the gym, and he decided to dust off the bike and found himself enjoying it enough to return to competitive cycling.
1st Matt Heath, 2nd Paul Kenny, 3rd Scott Pilson, 4th Chris Pescott, 5th Xavier Coppock.

So with this, I know that I am starting to find some good legs and look forward to the next few weeks of training before Yeppoon, 8 weeks away.

I have increased my swimming to be consistently punching out 10k + per week and after a little foot injury, have started the road back on the running also.

My weight is a steady 93kgs, only 1/2 kg above Ironman weight. SO all things are positive.

For now...


Friday, June 12, 2009

TT'd to victory

To answer all the questions from my previous post:

Yes I did have the legs, my legs felt great in fact,
No, I didn't spend to many pennies on the previous stages.

So, it all came down to the 27.5k TT, with me giving a 40second start to the leader and sitting in 8th before the final stage. What was also interesting was that 10 riders were all within 1 minute of the leader going into the final TT, with this in mind many placings were up for grabs and the podium was not sorted.

In the morning of the final stage, I actually found myself rather nervous due to the expectations that this race was well and truly within reach for me, just needed a good TT and no mishaps.

I started well and managed to pass 3 riders withing the first 5-6k and was on track to record a good time, with not knowing who was riding well behind me, I just had to focus on what I could do and hopefully the the rest would take care of itself.

Into the 2nd lap I had already passed 5-6 riders and feeling good at this stage. After looking at my clock I set myself a goal of breaking 40min for the 27.5k. With this in mind I was sure that the others riders would not be able to complete such a time and that I would be right up there in the finish. So, passing2 more riders in the final lap and having the motivation of the time, I really drove hard.

Also, remembering with Komo said about not having to "run off the bike" this time, there is no reason to leave anything in the tank. Coming up to the finish I stopped the clock in 40.03min (6th overall for the day) with an average speed of 41.2kph. Happy days!!

Waiting until everyone had finished I went to check the results and was informed that I had out rode the rest by 3min 30 sec odd for the stage with meant I won the 3 Day Tour by 2min 40 sec.

Jarrod also had a cracking TT stopping the clock in 39min 36sec (5th overall TT time) to ride himself into 4th overall. A great effort by someone in their first road race. Well done mate, even though we won't hear the end of it now!!

Another result that surprised me was the 2nd placing I managed in the sprint title, finishing on 9 points, 1 behind the winner.

Overall, was a great weekend of Cycling, with this also being the catalyst for my drive to race "A" grade from here on in.

For now...


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Do I have the legs?

After 3 stages of the Tour, my legs are feeling great. Today's stage out and about in the hills went perfectly for myself with being in an early breakaway and gaining valuable sprint points. I think that they are not enough for the sprint title, but the seconds are more valuable with 1 stage to go.

I managed to finish with the main bunch of 7 riders with losing only 15odd seconds to the 3 leaders of the stage. By being in the early breakaway minimised the chance of an attack that was going to spit me out the back. So all went well.

By my calculations, I think that I will be giving about 30-45 seconds to the leader going into the Time Trial tomorrow. There will be 8-10 riders all within a minute of the leader, so a great way to end a tour.

The next question is, do I have the legs at this stage in the race to bridge the gap??
Did I spend too many pennies yesterday and today trying to gain an advantage over the rest and not leave enough for the final stage.

At this point, I feel like I am in good enough shape to get close to the leaders in the Time Trial, but how close will only be decided tomorrow. The only other rider in which I know can punch out a good TT is giving me about 15 seconds start, however I have the advantage as I will start behind him on the grid. So, with this in mind a podium is not out of the question, but is a win?

This will be decided tomorrow!

As far as Princess went, the young kid got dropped in today's stage, however managed to get back to the main bunch for the finish. Credit to him for fighting it out. We both think that he will be giving about 1min lead to the leader, who is a TT specialist. So, the outcome for him is "up in the air" at this stage.

Well, for tonight, I am going to dust off the TT bike and give her a good clean and lube so that there will be no excuses for tomorrow.

The outcome can only be decided by me, the way I like it.

For now...


Saturday, June 6, 2009

2 Stages in, 2 to go...

Well, today was the first day of the Footscray Cycling Club 3 day tour. I achieved what I set out to do:

Not lose any time, and
Gain a few time bonuses along the way.

The two stages were fairly predictable due to the perfect cycling conditions out there, was always going to be hard to get in a breakaway. I managed 5th in the first stage and a bunch finish in stage two.

Tomorrow is a day of protecting myself to minimise any potential loses in time. 60km in the hills, never going to be a day that I enjoy, but thats cycling as they say. I have worked out the threats for tomorrow and will try to only keep my eye on them as alot of the riders have never ridden a 27.5km time trial, something that I am really looking forward to.

Princess got around comfortably in "A" grade and is looking forward to tomorrow's hills. "A" grade had a successful breakaway in stage 1 with the peleton losing about 25 sec + time bonuses. As with any tour, the day in the hills usually decides the race. Princess is a good hill climber, so he should be with the leaders at the end of the stage ready to attack the TT on Monday.

For tonight, eat and relax....What more could I want, maybe a few beers but will stay of them tonight as had a few last night.

For now...


Friday, June 5, 2009

Another Convert...

This blog is purely written out of respect for a mate who bagged Komo and myself for the effort we put in last Saturday at the Crit, stating that an average of 43kph was "not hard".

So, yesterday morning talking to Komo on our regular Thursday morning ride, we decided to throw a challenge at him. I rang him and threw this scenario at him:

IF it is that easy, come ride a crit 1st up in "A" grade......I will pay for your entry and see how you go. Well, that was not enough for him and the response was, "If you can get me a start in the 3 day tour, I will go straight into "A" grade"

I made the call, explained it to an official at the club and got the all clear for him to race. Gave him a call and informed him of the news....good/bad news, yet to be decided!!!! Monday will be the telling factor.

So into "A" grade he goes with no, I mean NO race experience under his belt. But in saying that, I do admire and respect the guy more for putting his money where his mouth is as many others would have said but not done. He will have a good chance to get through and be more than competitive , IF he keeps his ego in check and learns as he goes.

Tomorrow, we both have a crack at the Footscray 3 Day Tour down at Little River, myself competing in "B" Grade after being totally smashed in "A" Grade last year and gaining some leniency for this year.

The tour consists of 4 stages over the 3 days with 2 stages tomorrow, which I am going to attempt to make a move to get some time before we head into the hills on Sunday. Monday suits me as it is a 27.5km Time Trial. If I am close enough to the leaders, I feel confident in having a crack at the "W". I know alot can go wrong over 4 stages, however with a great week of training under my belt, I feel that I can be competitive enough to make a charge at the "W".

Time will tell and I will post about the proceedings tomorrow at the conclusion of the day giving a brief race report on how both of us have gone.

For Now...


PS. My tally now for converting "only" triathletes to roadies/both is 4 with another 3 to come. My goal is to try and get 10 by years end.