Sunday, August 28, 2011

Getting a couple of rides in

Last week the 2011 Paris Brest Paris was run and with thanks to the miracle of technology I was able to vicariously enjoy the efforts of friends as they worked towards their goal of finishing the ride. Particularly to Greg, who was the lone "Dog" on the ride and came home in slightly over 80 hours.

Sitting back in my armchair as I was, the ride has also motivated me to get back out on the bike and I have enjoyed a couple of rides over the last few days after not spinning a pedal for 2 months. I have found that apart from some stiffness and predictable contact point soreness, I still remember how to do it. Not so sure about going for a really long ride just yet, but there's a 100km ride in a couple of weeks that I will have a crack at, then I might think about working towards riding Fitz's Classic at the end of October.

Curiously, I remember back in in 2007 thinking about getting to PBP in 2011 and embarking upon my audax adventure, and find myself in much the same position today, thinking about PBP in 2015. It's really not that far off.

Mileage in Kilometers = 3636

Friday, May 20, 2011

Could be worse I suppose

I've been spending time off the bike of late in the hope that my foot will recover. In order to cheer myself up about missing PBP this time and to spend my airfare on something more interesting than whitegoods, while taking some of the weight off my foot - I am going to learn to paraglide in Manilla next week. Should be great.

As far as the foot goes I wish it were better, but it seems not. It's getting worse.

Initially I was treated for metatarsalgia, I got some orthotics fitted in my cycling shoes and moved to a roomier fit with a Look style cleat replacing my SPDs in order to spread the load. As noted, this didn't really work, though the Sidi Lazars are great in every other way.

The primary cause of the pain as it turns out is neuroma, or more specifically Mortons Neuroma, which is basically a benign tumor on the nerve sheaf in my foot between my metatarsals. It is exacerbated by applying pressure to the ball of the foot and apparently one of the causes is wearing high heeled shoes.

I don't wear stilettos so much, but I spent a great deal of time during my twenties and early thirties wearing really tight fitting rock climbing shoes such as these Boreal Aces -

The style for rock shoes was the tighter the better so a good fitting rock climbing shoe was 2 sizes smaller than a walking shoe. In hindsight I can see that something was bound to give eventually.

So the "foot" is now bad enough to cause problems when I'm just walking around, so I am beginning to think that getting a cortisone injection will be the next stage of therapy.

Anyway as its all pretty stuffed, and is getting painful to walk, I may as well ride.

So tomorrow, I'm reduxing yet again!

Monday, April 25, 2011

New shoes, old feet.

Quite depressing really, my feet failed again on the Border 600 this weekend. Could only manage 160km before it became too painful to continue. I think that's the end of my Paris Brest Paris aspiration.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Gadget

The plan is to use it to power the Garmin and potentially other gadgets on long rides. It has turned up just in time for the Coal Valley 400 this weekend.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A non cycling interlude

I love music, play a few instruments in a slapdash kind of way and am currently learning the Violin. You can always tell when a ride is going well for me as I will be singing various songs as they come to me down the road.

After singing in choirs at school and as a busker and vocalist in a band during my misspent youth, my vocals in recent times only really come out on the road or in the shower. I was never a good singer, but I loved how it made me feel.

Late last year while driving to work listening to ABC Classic FM I heard a story and music about an American composer Eric Whitacre, who had created a virtual choir on youtube. At that time he was putting together another choir and wanted people to join in.

I thought the idea was pretty interesting so noted the link quoted and checked it out when I got to work. The whole concept seemed really exciting so then I thought, Hmm, why not take part?

I downloaded the various scores of the different parts and decided that I could best manage the Bass Pt 1 so set about learning it. For the next few weeks I worked on the tune and with the 31st January deadline looming I started recording my part so I could upload it.

Gawd it was awful! I tried about 100 takes and finally arrived at an imperfect version but reckoned it was as good as I was going to get.

Today the combined video was launched. There were 2052 participants from 58 Countries. I'm third from the left ;-)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Riding for transport

A week or so ago at the Audax NSW awards night at Harts Pub, it was great to catch up with Adrian, once a blogging peer from Yellow Brick Road, now more wise.

He arrived, very stylishly on a natty Brompton and following a folding/unfolding demonstration we yacked a bit about its utility and how Adrian was using the bike regularly during his day to get to meetings outside of his building (he works at a large University) and across campus.

I thought this approach pretty intelligent and as I frequently find myself in a similar position as my office is offsite to the main building (about 1.2k down the road) and I regularly drive to meetings and return often 3 time each day I had a great idea. A Brompton could be really useful in replacing those car journeys and making an (albeit small) difference to my carbon footprint. And bromptons are really cool. Just ask Will Self .

I descended on the Brompton website and after deciding that I would need the 6 speed, titanium model with the Brooks saddle and custom paint, was forced to consider the fiscal practicalities of this.

On reflection I realised that a folding bike wasn't really necessary as I am blessed with a large garage and loading dock at work, and in my home bike shed I just happened to have a "spare" stealth bike built up from decent retro parts found but tragically unused this last year or so (nitto stem and bars, Selle Italia saddle, Dia compe brakes, sugino cranks and 105 ders - the wheels - Velocity Dyads - were new couple of years ago).

So I dusted off the Stealth on the weekend, placed some nice MKS platform pedals on so I could ride in work shoes, adjusted the mudguards, stuck on the old Zefal frame pump and attached lights front and rear. Took it for a quick spin and realised that 20 some years of working downtube friction shifters never goes away and felt right at home.

I took the bike to work on Monday set it up in its parking spot against the wall and waited for my first meeting. Before long I found myself donning my helmet, and velcro gaiters before setting off on my maiden voyage, slightly anxious for some strange reason. I needn't have worried, it felt great and was every bit like riding a bike!

So far I have done 8.7km just going to meetings and back to the office. The bike runs great, it's an easy flat ride and I can make better time on the trip than I ever did in the car, simply because I can ride right up to the back door and the traffic lights mean everything moves at 25kph anyway.

I also feel "cycle chic" on the rides as I'm in work duds, which is usually a suit and always a tie. It's actually really nice to ride like it isn't a big deal, no gloves, no lycra, no water bottle - just hop on and go. I noticed quite a few WTF looks from drivers and pedestrians today as I rode to meetings and back, jacket flapping lazily, drive train humming, carbon being saved.

At the end of the exercise though, I just really enjoy riding.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Had one of those rides

Cycling has been a bit off since the Opperman as I recover from the rib injury. It seems that I have not broken or cracked anything, but lordy they've been sore. Most incoveniently my range of movement has been greatly affected so stretching hasn't been happening.

By way of encouragement to remount I got myself a new cycle computer. The old one was damaged in the fall (and never worked properly in the rain anyway). Not being one to do things by halves I got a Garmin Edge 800 complete with heart rate monitor.

It's a pretty cool bit of kit and with the added benefit of GPS I will be able to get everyone lost with even more authority. The data analysis is fascinating and reveals just what a lousy cyclist I am, and the heart rate sensor is a continual worry. I'm hooping that I may be able to use this information to improve and train more effectively. But probably not.

So on the recovery trail I've been out for a few tentative rides but as of the last few days have been feeling pain free enough to stretch things out a bit.

Set off early this morning thinking maybe 50km would be nice, but it was such a grand morning and I was feeling really comfortable on the bike that I just kept on going until I saw rain clouds coming over the escarpment and turned away from them. It was one of those rides that reminds me why I enjoy cycling so much. Felt good, saw interesting things and was happy.

One of my aims was to checkout the new bridge over Little Lake at Barrack Point. The bridge saves a longish and unpleasant diversion onto Windang Rd, so the bridge really is a great bit of infrastructure and completes a missing link (well one of them anyway) on the coastal cycleway

It hasn't been officially opened yet but that's not stopping anyone using it, so well done Shellharbour Council.

Mileage in Kms = 2724

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fleche Opperman

This is one of my favourite rides and this year was my third successful venture into the pleasures of the fleche.

We were a team of 3, Greg and Jeff and myself and we had planned an unambitious 364km as the minimum we could get away with. As things turned out we rode a bit further.

The weather forecast was initially for scattered showers, so I wasn't too worried when after 1 km the rain started. As luck would have it, the rain remained with us for the next 370 odd kms.

OUr route took us in a large loop, up the Macquarie pass, through the Southern Highlands to Marulan then turning north to skirt to foot of the Blue Mountains before descending into the Nepean valley for an overnight stop at Windsor with a mere 60km to complete to get to Parramatta park by 9am.

Our first objective challenge was the climb of Macquarie pass, this ascent was marked by increasingly poor visibility as we approached the top, but this was accompanied with the naive belief that once over the rim of the escarpment the weather conditions would improve. They did, a very little bit for a very short time but then the rain came back.

5km out of Moss Vale I managed to find the only thing capable of puncturing a Gatorskin, which is a 3 inch nail. Puncture fixed we made it to the first control without further incident, though about 30 minutes behind our unofficial schedule.

After a quick pie at the Moss Vale bakehouse we raced off for Marulan via a circuitous but scenic (at least when it wasn't raining) route. Though it rained (heavily) we made good time and picked up the lost 30 minutes and enjoyed the weird food and bizarre coffee that only the Marulan service centre can provide.

Our next stop was Hill Top and included about 70km along the shoulder of the Hume Hwy. I was lagging a bit on the hills but would catch the team up on the downhills. About 10 kms from the Hill Top controle, Greg flatted, this time he found a tack, not quite as long as my nail but no less effective. Carrying on and descending through the cutting to Hill Top, I zigged when I should have zagged and pinch flatted on a water filled pot hole. Puncture repaired we made the Hill Top controle just as the heavens really opened up and we were really pleased to see that the bakery was still open and happy to see soggy customers.

My rearlights were beginning to get a bit eccentric at this point so I carefully dried them out and mounted one on my helmet in hopes that it would remain somewhat drier there. As we left the rain eased and I was keen for the fast descent down to Thirlmere, when I was startled by a large puddle at low speed and my subsequent evasive action brought me down to earth via Jeff's back wheel.

My fall had broken the mount for my computer and my secondary Ay-Up lights. Flustered and no doubt a bit shocked I quickly righted the damage, lights in back pocket, puter secured with a rubber band and got back to it.

The ride down to Thirlmere is one of my favourites, linking the slight inclines with the long and pacey descents is great fun and you can cover the 30 clicks in about 30-40 minutes. As we arrived Greg wanted to remove some layers and I remembered that I carried some zip ties to the Ay-ups were re-installed.

From Thirlmere we had an undulating trip along quite roads for about 60kms before we arrived at Penrith. Greg had a flat at Warragamba, but otherwise the section had been uneventful apart from the increasingly heavy rain and the absence of any view out over the city. A shame that.

With only 30 odd kms to go to the sleep stop we had a sting in our tail and the flat roads between Penrith and Windsor made for good progress. Pulling into Richmond Greg found that he was going down again and we spent some time under a street light inspecting his tube and tyre for the culprit. Eventually we found a fine piece of tyre reinforcing wire and were able to extract it with the aid of the needle nose pliers I carry for just such an occurrence.

We arrived at our lodgings in the Alexander the Great Motel just before two and proceeded to remove wet clothing and sort out soggy lights and punctured tubes. With less than 60km to go we reckoned we could chance a 6 am start so I set the alarm for 5.20am and off we slept.

After the alarm we roused and readied ourselves for the last push. Overnight the rain seemed to have eased but as soon as we pushed off from the forecourt down it came once more. Our route from there became increasingly cryptic but we eventually found Windsor road and the M7 cycleway.

Unfortunately the M7 cycleway is being rebuilt in places and one of the many detours into Plumpton had us travelling in circles before we found an entrance onto the M7 shoulder and travelled on.

We wewre flagging though and after turning onto the M4 Greg and Jeff turned off to the service centre for breakfast, following behind I arrived just in time to see Greg go over in an oil patch, Landing heavily. He bounced up and before too long we were enjoying a Maccas breakfast.

10km to go now with less than 30 minutes remaining we took off, through the rain and motorway debris along the M4 shoulder. Soon the Church street exit appeared and we were home and hosed, actually meeting the remnants of Bec's team as we approached Parramatta park for the last 2km loop and the joy of finishing (and the breakfast).

Jeff decided that he was riding home to Cronulla, Greg was catching up with his family in the City, so I cut a lonely (and wet) figure on the train heading back down to home. The connections fell to hand and I was home by 1.30, ribs aching, as well as other parts but pretty happy with the day out on the bike.

Congratulations to all the other Oppy teams.

Mileage in Kms = 2565

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Getting back in the saddle again again

The visit to the podiatrist appears to have been successful. The intense pain was a type of metatarsalgia caused by compressing the tarsal nerves in the ball of my foot. In my case it was pretty chronic and included some thickening of the nerve sheath which increases the likelihood of inflammation and pain.

So for much of the week I was enjoying heat treatment to reduce the inflammation and to fill the time while waiting for my orthotic to be enhanced with tarsal bump. Picked them up on Thursday and as of now, have ridden about 120kms with them and they feel quite good. Foot feels more stable too.

So I can hopefully keep riding on as March is looking to be another busy month. Coastal 200 next weekend, the Oppy the week after and the highlands hop 400 the week after that.

A nice build up during the month, but I will need to take care so that I don't blow up.

Mileage in Kilometres = 1772

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

F*&$ February

February is really a bad month for me and cycling. Unfortunately, my last two and longest, qualifying rides were scheduled during the month. The first, the 400km I was ready to leave only to find that my credit card had been skimmed and conversations with the fraud team at the bank made me miss the start.

No matter, plenty of other 4s.

Last weekend I was out on the 600km and found that after 250km with a crippling hot foot pain in my left foot I would have to abandon. So nuts to February.

On the plus side, I have visited a podiatrist this week who reckons that the problem with my foot can be fixed with a metatarsal spreader and as soon as the inflammation settles down I will be riding again, hopefully tomorrow! And there are still a few more 6s left to qualify with.

So February may have beaten me this time, but I'm gaining ground and I did manage to ride over 800km so things can't be that bad.

Mileage in Kilometres = 1648

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tallowa Dam Ride

I took part in the Tallowa Dam ride last weekend in preparation for the Alpine Classic later in the month and as a general all round source of pain and suffering.

There was a fairly large group again for the ride, it's really becoming something of a "draw" for Sydney Audax riders and locals too. A few familiar faces and a few new ones. Even had a guy on a recumbent.

The weather was very humid and sticky and got hot later in the day but was otherwise not too extreme. A head wind moderated the temperatures for most of the ride, with only the steep climb up from the dam and most of Barrengary Mountain being hot.

I found myself in pedal with Greg for most of the day and it was good to catch up with him. He has just started his preparation for PBP so reckons he was a bit slower and unfit, which gave me half a chance.

From Rider redux

For mine, I enjoyed the riding, coped with the hills and heat reasonably well and managed my fastest time yet for this ride.

From Rider redux

Nothing really significant to report from the ride itself, saw a Lyrebird on the Pass and some beautiful parrots along the route. Traffic was fairly light and patient and it didn't rain!

Mileage in Kilometers = 376

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Annual Round up

The 2010 goals were

Finish a Super series.
Complete at least one BRM event every month
Clock up the required 2400km of BRM rides (November - November) to qualify for early entry into PBP (only 2200 to go!)
Complete a 1000km ride
Hopefully complete Perth Albany Perth (am on the waiting list)
Aim for a total mileage of 8000km.

Happy to say that I accomplished most of them with the exception of "completing" Perth Albany Perth - but I had a pretty good shot at it while my knee injury meant that I did not ride any BRMs in February and March.

I did however complete my Super Series, clock up the required distance for PBP while I exceeded my cycling target by 1230km to reach 9230km.

October (1055km) was the best month for distance but only slightly as May saw me ride 1021km. I rode 137 times or once every 2.6 days and my longest ride was 612km. Generally I was much more consistent on the bike, riding over 800km in more than 8 months. This is especially so since getting my knee properly fixed and developing more effective technique. My average speed on my training routes is now quite a lot faster than at the beginning of the year (3kph on average) and the riding consistently is pay big dividends in terms of my general cycling capacity, fitness and psychology.

This year the cycling goals are;

Aim for am annual distance of 10,000km
Ride 150 times
Complete 1 BRM event every month
Complete a Super Series
Complete Paris Brest Paris
Qualify for the Percy Armstrong Award (rides of 50, 100, 150, 200 - it's the only award I haven't got yet).

So all in all a pretty positive year with some important lessons learnt. I'm quite looking forward to the challenges ahead!

In other news, I have been learning the Violin, got a new guitar (Taylor 210cc) brewed 23 batches of delicious beer, made a Mead and won 4 first places for my beer at the Albion Park Show (and missed out on best beer by 1 point!), and still manage to lose a couple of kilos!