July 17, 2012

Squeezing Of The Sponge...........

As i write,  Dave is flogging me at a came of Trivia(l) Persuit ( he studies the cards, I'm sure of it), the aroma of  our dinner in the slow cooker is wafting through the house making me salivate, my road bike on ebay currently has 15 watchers,  highlights from stage 10 of the TdF is about to be on TV, a nice recovery weekend of riding was undertaken,  the washing is done, the house is tidy,  and Dave just won a yellow piece of the pie, Q: What was the surname of the American Civil War general who has lent his name to prostitutes? A: Hooker...Oh Please!!!!!

So, life is good!!! In fact i can't remember the last time where we had a weekend at home just vedge'ing, no racing, no serious training, no place to be, no set commitments.

So, in my state of weekend relaxation I started to reflect on what has been a crazy and rather unpredictable 5 months,  where I made the sudden  transition from Mountain Bike Racing to the Road Bike Racing scene with Team TORQ/BSS Womens Road Team.

 Along the way I have  been like a sponge, soaking up the water, and with the squeezing of the sponge has come  lots of learnings and discoveries .......

NRS Race 1 : Mersey Valley Tour National Road Series Tour (April)
  •  Discovery 1: My heart rate can go above 165bpm but that meant i went into cardiac arrest. After training  for months for the  National Solo 24 hour mtb champs I had developed an incredible John Deer diesel aerobic engine that could run off the sniff of an oily rag. What I didn't quite have was that of a Ferrari engine...my heart muscle got a shock treatment at this tour.
  • Discovery 2a: I can actually Time Trial and finish in the top 10, even after having a heart attack along the way, Time Trialing on a road bike,  and almost falling off my bike (just don't ask how i did this, I turn red with embarrassment).
  •  Discovery 2bSperm helmets can make  you go faster.  That is, if you place your Garmin in the appropriate  position so as to not keep looking down to glance  at your extreme heart rate / power stats. After bagging out triathletes for wearing dorky looking 'sperm' helmets and often saying 'all the gear no idea'  I was all of a sudden eating my own words.
  • Learning 1: Support your lead rider. Whoooops. I reaslised I wasn't flying solo anymore.  I didn't really understand the term 'help  your lead rider climb the hill'. I just went up the hill like a goat without understanding what my job was.
  • Discovery 3: After this tour I wasn't sure if Road Racing at this level was my thing. I loved, and still love,  the  mountain bike racing scene, but perhaps I had spent  too much time in my mtb comfort zone. The mtb scene is earthy, its more relaxed, its social, if someone falls off you stop to assist, yet  in a  road race you ride straight past....I found that hard to accept. I found many  of the tactics hard to understand and comprehend, i found  the aggression amongst riders hard.....my mind was going a million miles an hour after this tour, and i wasn't sure if i wanted 'In'.....That is until i got the call from our team manager asking me to come back and race the next tour. I decided I would  give it another shot....

NRS Race 2: Battle on The Border National Road Series (May)
  • Lesson 1: Importance of  Pacing .  My inexperience was highlighted as I went in to the Time Trial with the attitude of ' It's  only a 7km TT,  the last TT i did at Tassie was 16 km, so I'll just go  flat chat for the entire 7km. How  WRONG was I. Power meter files don't lie,  and during my post race analysis with Fenz, he quickly pointed out that I spent the first 3 minutes completely anaerobic and then died in the arse for the last half. Quote from coach  Fenz " Everything you shouldn't do in a TT I did." Time to learn about TT pacing using my power files.....
  • Lesson 2: Doing your first ever criterium at a National Road Race, on what was quoted as  being 'the most technical criterium course you will every do' is not for the faint hearted. I survived, I even stayed with the lead bunch for the first 15 minutes before I burned too many matches. My bike handling skills were woeful, and I used up so much energy chasing out of corners.......but I came away knowing i have the power to stay up there. Yay.
  • Lesson 3: Get down on your drops and stop riding like Mary Poppins. I can't as my seat is not comfy....refer to  learning below. 
NRS Race 3: Santos North West Tour (June)
  • Learning 1: Smart Teamwork  is a powerful tactic and It's OK to go  out on a limb,  be aggressive, use your strength  where it counts but conserve your energy where matters. Its all starting to make sense.....
  • Learning 2: Get use to having riders very close to you, in a pack, and moving fast...AND hold your line.  Got it....but I still like to be on the outside with space.....see lesson below.  
  • Lesson 3: Don't cross the double white line. I copped a $ 50 fine, and i deserved it. Stay tucked in the pack and out of the wind....I'm getting there. 
  • Discovery 1:  Grant Norton for Bicycle Superstore (Albury)  drove over 2,500km that weekend, worked like a draught horse for us and not once complained...apart from when we said NO to playing Johhny Cash. Words can't express how grateful we were to have Grant along that weekend.

  • Discovery 2: Find the best fitting saddle as possible. I wont go into too much detail here apart from mentioning my take home message SPEND THE MONEY AND BUY A GOOD SADDLE. The improvement in comfort and thus body position on the bike is amazing

  •  Discovery 3: When the SBS TV Motorbike camera starts filming at the front of the peleton it tended to be a mad scramble for teams to get to the front. Free sponsor advertising :-)

NRS Race 4:  Women's Canberra Tour (July)
  • Discovery 1: Power to Weight Ratio. Having the power output is one thing, but combined with body weight  is another, especially when hill climbing and gravity wants to pull you back down the hill. The solution is obvious for me , and most excitingly it's doable Whooop whooop. 
  • Lesson 1: A smooth and solid warm up before TT's is crucial. Don't let small things worry you and affect your mental preparation for the TT. The TT is all about you, the bike and the road.....its the race of truth. I went in not connected to the bike, the race or the road......in fact,  one could have mistaken me for 'riding miss daisy'. The positive, it has made me more determined to nail the TT.
The Final Say......for now
  • Read, watch, listen, and don't worry about making mistakes.....its all part of the learning process.
  • Race your strengths and train your weaknesses. While it’s very easy to work on the things you  are good at and enjoy, it takes a discipline and determination te to work on the things that are weaknesses, and, by definition, less fun. Take on the challenge.....
  • If you have a power meter learn how to use it, interpret results and apply it to racing. Its an incredible  training and racing tool. I have a great coach who  can read my power files like a novel....he gets really excited when i smash my sessions .Booom!!!
  • Watch the Tour and  see how the teams operate. 
 P.S My Road bike didn't sell on ebay. But if you are interested in buying a top of the range Carbon Road bike, for peanuts price and only 4 months old,  let me know.

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