Am I on track?

Am I on track?

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Tour Down Under 2015 - preview & predictions

Arguably the biggest race of the Australian cycling calendar (our own road nationals are pretty awesome too!!), the 2015 edition of the TDU is about to kick-off.

The Santos Tour Down Under is a perfect early-season kickstarter for the World Tour peloton.  Six relatively short stages (plus a criterium prologue) at a maximum distance of 151km. Three sprint stages, two hilly stages (let's not pretend they're mountains!), and a criterium to finish things off on the last day.  Nothing too stressful (unless the weather gets hot!).

So - who is going to win???

Normally, the Australian Road Nationals, held a week earlier, are a great predictor of which of the Australians will do well.  In fact last year, the same riders filled the podium in both races in 2014.  However, this year's Nationals were a very different affair. The strongest team had no real leader, and the favourites didn't have much of a support team!  So for the overall at the TDU, we'll ignore those results this time around...

The Favourites for the Overall

Ritchie Porte (Team Sky)


The Tasmanian comes to the TDU in fantastic form. Healthy, riding well, and with a terrific team in support, Ritchie Porte has a terrific chance to finish the week on top!  I reckon he'll take the leader's ochre jersey this week.

Cadel Evans (BMC)


The sentimental favourite - this will be the plucky Australian champion's final World Tour race before retirement.  No-one can question his motivation, and unlike Nationals he will have a very good team riding in support.  While I think Ritchie Porte will win, I'm hoping Cadel will come up with the win!!

Ryder Hesjedal (Cannondale-Garmin)

Worst. Sunglasses. Ever.

The lanky Canadian, a previous winner of the Giro d'Italia, could go well here. There are no indications as to his form though...

Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo)


'Dodger' also comes to the TDU in good form. The Australian is a multiple World Time Trial Champion is coming towards the end of his career, so won't have many more chances to win this race.

Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale)


A young Italian rider who is emerging as a genuine Grand Tour rider (& contender), hopefully he'll be bringing some early-season form to Australia and will be racing for the win.

The Sprinters

The Tour Down Under is an early season feast for the sprinters.  Four of the six stages are for them, not including the People's Classic criterium prologue.  Andre 'The Gorilla' Greipel (LottoNL-Jumbo) has taken a huge number of wins here in the past, but won't be lining up this year...

Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin)

That hair!!

Probably the best road sprinter in the world right now (and also the best hair in the peloton!) - Kittel will unquestionably be the man to beat on the flat stages this year.

Heinrich Haussler (IAM)


The newly-crowned Australian national champion, Heino will be looking to show off his new champions jersey with some stage wins.  His experience will help him here.

Other names to watch out for will be Greg Henderson (LottoNL-Jumbo), Steele Von Hoff (UniSA-Australia), and the brilliantly named Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida)

So that's it!  Should be a terrific week of racing!  Australian fans can watch it live on Channel Nine (& their digital channel GEM) - the details can be found here.

C'mon Cadel!!


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

A new year begins - the 2015 plan

So a new year has begun!! Time for phase 2 of the "become an awesome Masters cyclist" plan...

I've got a very rough structure to the plan, split into a few phases:

Phase 1 (Nov-Dec 2014) - do whatever the hell I want, just so long as I'm doing some sort of exercise.
Phase 2 (Jan-Feb 2015) - start to bring an emphasis on 'cardio/endurance' exercise, specifically swimming, cycling, and running.
Phase 3 (Mar-Jul 2015) - focus becomes more specific again, onto cycling and running.
Phase 4 (Aug-Sep 2015) - Cycling, cycling, cycling!!
Phase 5 (Oct 2015-onwards) - get my racing licence again...

Phase 1 went fine, mixing up all sorts of exercises and just maintaining the rough habit of doing something most days.

Now onto Phase 2. While I still plan to keep things pretty mixed up and with lots of variety, I'm going to make sure I have a reasonably steady diet of cycling, running, & swimming in amongst it all. The focus will be on endurance in all of these, and slowly starting to build some length to these efforts over these two months (both in time and distance).

I'm also hoping to sneak in some events. Mainly some parkruns (I'm lucky to have a few close by), a cycling gran fondo, and maybe even a short triathlon.  Nothing serious, but just to enjoy the vibe of 'events', be amongst other like-minded people, and feed off their energy!!

Now, I just need to cross my fingers for a few sunny days to make things a little easier...!!



Monday, 10 November 2014

Cycling Australia TdF Team of the Century

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first participation by an Australian in the Tour de France, Cycling Australia has come up with a great idea - the Australian Tour de France 'Team of the Century'.

Don Kirkham and Iddo Munro were the first ever Australians to participate in Le Tour, way back in 1814.  Since then a further 48 Australians have also been a part of the great race. There are some amazing names in amongst these elite 50 riders.

Cycling Australia have set a panel of experts the task of naming a 9-man Tour de France team from these 50 riders.  But to further complicate - they have split the team into 6 separate roles to be filled!!

So here is my Australian Tour de France Team of the Century, as per the criteria laid out by Cycling Australia.

Two General Classification riders

You cannot overlook our only Tour de France winner for this role - so my first pick is Cadel Evans.  As the second overall rider, legendary Australian cyclist Sir Hubert 'Oppy' Opperman, who raced twice in the late 1920's & early 1930's, would have to be in the team as well.

The great Oppy

Two Domestiques for the GC riders

This is possibly the hardest class of rider for me to pick.  I would lean towards Phil Anderson (who came 5th overall twice in the 1980's), along with Russell Mockridge (who raced in 1955, and was tragically killed before he could show off his huge potential).

Phil Anderson - so wrong but so right...!!

One Sprinter

This one is easy!! The greatest Australian Tour de France sprinter of all time has to be Robbie McEwen.  Twelve stage wins, and three green jersey classification victories, makes him the best choice for this role.

Cadel (l) and Robbie (r), after another Tour de France...

Two Leadout Men for the sprinter

Its somewhat ironic that Robbie McEwen is the sort of sprinter that really doesn't need any leadout men!  Nonetheless, he has the luxury of two domestiques to deliver him to the line.

Probably the best leadout man of the modern era is Mark Renshaw, so he is my first selection here.  The second selection is much harder, and there are probably half-a-dozen choices that could equally work - but I have to make a decision, and will go with Adam Hansen.

Adam Hansen climbing Alpe d'Huez, riding thru 'Dutch corner'...

One All-Rounder

A rider who can sneak stage wins in all-terrain. This is another easy choice from the modern generation of Australian cyclists - Simon Gerrans.  He can win stages in a sprint, or in all types of hilly terrain. A great wildcard in any team.

Gerro!!

One Team Captain

A rider who can galvanize the team, who can draw them together to achieve a goal. And a rider who can lead by example in the mountains and the sprint train. For me, this has to be Michael Rogers.

After watching the way he marshalled his team in the documentary "Chasing Legends" (back when Rogers was racing for HTC-HighRoad), I can't go passed him as a team captain. Just as an aside - if you haven't seen the film, do yourself a favour and get your hands on a copy!

'Dodger' leading the Tinkoff-Saxo train...

Reserves

OK, so this isn't technically a category!!  But there were two riders who I really wanted to pick but couldn't find room for.  The first was Bradley McGee - a cycling legend who could ride in the mountains and leadout the sprints, or be team captain.  I loved watching him race.

The second is Baden Cooke.  An incredibly aggressive sprinter, who 'stole' a fourth green jersey from Robbbie McEwen in 2003.

So that's my team: Evans, Opperman, Anderson, Mockridge, McEwen, Renshaw, Hansen, Gerrans, and Rogers.  Very arguable in almost all selections!! I'm looking forward to sitting around with friends and arguing my selections over a few beers...

Saturday, 1 November 2014

The Plan - Phase 1

Its the first of November today, which also happens to be day 1 of 'The Plan'.  Its a long-term plan, with the goals I am working towards a good 14 months away - but you have to start somewhere...

The Overall Goal

What I want to do is get back to racing again. I really miss mixing it up on the bike in a speedy peloton. But what I don't want to do is to just jump back in and take up where I left off.

I've held a Cycling Australia racing licence for the last 10 years or so.  There is no getting around the fact that I have not been competitive in a race throughout that entire time.

Don't get me wrong - I have loved almost every minute of racing I've ever done. Whether I've been dropped in the first few minutes and ridden 95% of the race solo off the back, or wrung myself dry trying to just hold on and make it to the finish of a race, it has been a sensational experience and I wouldn't swap it for anything.

What I really want now though is to actually be someone who enters a race and is competitive. Someone who can mix it up near the front, and actually make some the racing. Someone who on the odd occasion even stands on the podium.  This would be a very new experience for me, and I want to make it happen.

So I've decided that the best way to be a competitive racer is (somewhat ironically) NOT to race in 2015...

The plan is to lay down a tonne of mileage and training time over the next 14 months, and focus exclusively on building myself up to be the best Masters racing cyclist I can be in 2016. Whether that's a competitive cyclist or not remains to be seen - but I'm going to give it my best shot and not die wondering!

Phase 1 begins

That brings up to Phase 1 of the plan, which covers the last 2 months of 2014 - November & December.  These two months are completely unstructured. It doesn't matter what sort of training or activities I do during this time.

What these two months are all about is time and consistency.  The plan is to log as many hours as I can, and to try and do something (no matter how brief) every day.

I can choose whatever activity I want, whatever I think I'll most enjoy on that particular day. It could be cycle-commuting, mountain-biking, a long road ride, running, swimming, weights in the gym, core strength work, or whatever else takes my fancy (or presents itself as an opportunity).

I have a rough goal of logging 50 hours of activity over the two months.  That isn't a hard & fast rule or anything, but just something to work towards...

Let's get to it!

I've already started, with a 1-hour run this morning around my local suburb.  I'm feeling excited, and looking forward to seeing how far I can take myself ability-wise over the next year or so.

I;m looking to sharing the journey with you all. See you out there!!

Friday, 24 October 2014

C Grade Cyclist - v3.0

Three weeks ago, I had the last surgery relating to the shoulder I broke back in December last year.  I had the clavicle plate removed from my left side.  Last week, I had my final follow-up appointment at the Royal Brisbane Hospital.

So that's it! No more surgery, no more hospital visits, no more nothing!!  The surgeon advised me not to any heavy lifting or anything 'too strenuous' until the end of this month - but after that, I'm good to go...

Insert cliched "it's a new dawn!!" picture here...  ;-)

The overwhelming feeling I have is one of relief. It's nice to have all that over and done with.  And having gone through this twice now in the last few years, I really hope I don't have to do it ever again!

I have a lot of things whirling through my head now. So many goals, so many possible plans...  What to do?!

I've started drawing together a few ideas of how I'll train & race for the next 14 months (from November 2014 to the end of 2015).  I'm trying hard to make sure I don't over-reach, and keep them all achievable, measurable, and specific.

Not sure how its all gonna look yet. Tossing up between (a) diving back into the cycle-racing deep end, and (b) taking a year off racing to really train hard without pressure, build up a huge mileage base, and crosstrain with both running & triathlon.

Either way, there are plenty of pros and cons.  But I'll have it sorted shortly and start on the next phase of my 'cycling journey'...!!

A couple of things you can expect to see on the blog over the next few months:

I won a bike!! Yes, seriously!!  I was incredibly fortunate to win a brand spanking new Cell Akuna 1.1 from Cellbikes.com.au.  I've had it for a couple of months now, and you'll see a full review for it coming up soon.  But let me tell you this much now - it is probably the best value bike you can buy on this planet...!! I am loving it...  :-)

Intermittent fasting - I'm currently trialling an intermittent fasting protocol.  16 hours of fasting, from 3pm to 7am. I'm doing it 2-3 times each week, on non-consecutive days.  There aren't any particular goals I'm trying to achieve with this, just giving it a try to see what happens (if anything!). I'm about two week s along now, and will give a bit of a write up about it after a couple of months of sticking with it...

That's it for now! Looking forward to finally being able to train again with some sort of purpose. See you on the road...!!




Sunday, 29 June 2014

Events 1/2014 & 2/2014: A run & a bike ride...

After a very long event-free 6-months, I pinned a number on twice this month! Certainly neither event could possibly even be considered a 'race' - but they were terrific participation events that were great fun to be a part of.

Event 1/2014 - City2South 14km run

Sunday 15th June was my first fair-dinkum running event in years. Can't even remember last time I entered one of these.

I had been training for 6 weeks (off a base of zero!) with a group called "Hill's Angels" - we were the self-proclaimed 'fat & unfit', and were using the City2South event as motivation to start some regular training again.

Runningwise, we had been guided by Paul Trevethan from RifRev. He had shown us the 'run/walk' technique, plus demonstrated plenty of technique skills & tips over the course of the 6-weeks.

As a quick aside - this was all done for free, and I'm incredibly grateful for the way Paul generously shared his knowledge.  There is a wealth of information on their website, including around 150 short 5min videos on all aspects of running. It is well worth checking out - its probably the best free running resource you'll find on the interwebs...

I set out on the day with a few goals. Firstly was to finish, secondly was to get under 100min, and thirdly (my superstretch goal) was to sneak under 90min.  I set myself up with a 2min run/1min walk strategy, which seems to be my current 'sweetspot' for my longer runs.

The short story is - it was a fantastic day!  Weather was perfect (cool & sunny), course was picturesque and a little testing, and I felt terrific.  I was able to stick to my race plan extremely well.  According to Strava, my pace slowed fractionally around the halfway mark (just as we entered the University of Qld grounds in St Lucia), which did correspond with how I felt at the time.  But I managed to pick up again in the last quarter and finish strongly.

Long socks are cool - just saying...

Most importantly - my finish time was 1hr:29min:28sec - I beat my 90min goal by the slimmest of margins! I was ecstatic, and it topped off the day nicely for me.

The evidence...!!

For those thinking about doing a running event - I can highly recommend the City2South. Incredibly well organised along a great course. I'm planning on making it a yearly event for me.

Event 2/2014 - MS Brissie to the Bay 50km bike ride

The next Sunday I was waking up early and pinning on a number again - but this time for a bike ride, much more my usual style...!!

This ride was about supporting my wife through her longest ride ever. She was attempting her first 50km, and so I was saddling up to escort her through the event.

It had been a very long time, probably almost 10 years, since I had done one of these big 'charity ride' type events.  I have to say it was much, much better than my memory of them - I was super-impressed by the organisation and how well they catered for and supported the riders.

The course was a 50km loop, starting from & finishing at Musgrave Park in South Brisbane, and hitting its halfway mark on the Wynnum foreshore. Most roads were 'open' during the event, but police had cordoned off and/or were supervising a few of the busier choke-points.

Again, this was a terrific day.  I had a great time cruising through the 50km on my mountain-bike with my wife, and we completed the course in just over 3 hours.  I would definitely do this event again, I had a great time.

What's next?

No idea!!  I'm still running regularly, and am starting to cycle-commute again too.  I'm keen to enter another running event - I'll probably have a crack at the 10km Bridge to Brisbane in September.  Plus I'll hit up another big community bike ride event too - maybe the Brisbane to Gold Coast 100km, or Robbie McEwen's Gran Fondo on the Gold Coast.  I'll see how my training goes...



Monday, 9 June 2014

May 2014 Review

Where have I been, what have I been doing, what's going on...??  Questions which I'm sure have been for from your mind...  (ha!)  I've got some updates, but for now let's get back into 'normal programming' with a look at my numbers for May...

May Mileage:
Running - 92km
Cycling - 66km

Yes, I know - running!! Don't judge me...!!

There is a background story to this.  After wallowing around for 5-ish months, feeling sorry for myself and my sore shoulder, gaining weight, and generally feeling angry about being injured - an unexpected opportunity suddenly presented itself.

The Brisbane Times online news website, which sponsor the 14km City2South fun run, put forward an interesting proposal.  They wanted around 25 people who were unfit and overweight, who could commit to training for the City2South run, and would turn up at training every Wednesday morning before work.  And all this only 6 weeks out from the event!

I decided that this was the incentive I needed to kickstart myself back into a regular training routine.  I put forward an application, and was accepted by the leader of the group.  Now, I just had to remember how to run!!

Training has gone surprisingly well, and I've actually really enjoyed it so far.  Under the advice of Paul Trevethan from RIFREV Running (who has led some of our training sessions), we have engaged a run/walk strategy.  It has worked extremely well to-date, and I'm a convert to this method of starting off running.  No injuries so far, and I've been able to do some decent mileage.

At this stage, my long runs have been 2 minutes run/1 minute walk. This usually equates to around a 6min 30sec overall average pace (give or take).  On race day, I'm planning to push that a little and use a 3 minute run/1 minute walk strategy.

As I write this, the City2South is only a week away.  I'm feeling really good, have trained consistently, and am looking forward to the event. I have three goals for the event:
1. Finish!
2. Stretch goal - Finish the 14km in under 100 minutes
3. Super, highly unrealistic stretch goal - Finish the the 14km in under 90 minutes

What's next?

I've got the City2South 14km run in mid-June.  Plus I'm going to be riding with my wife in the Brissie to the Bay 50km bike ride a week later!  I'll just be cruising that on my mountain bike, helping my wife to get through her biggest bike ride to date.

From there - who knows? I'll see how the body is feeling, and look to set a few new goals to work towards...