Am I on track?

Am I on track?

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

To race or not to race...

I'm torn between two conflicting ideas about whether or not to race in December.

So what is the case "for"?

One of my favourite racing series - the HPRW Twilight Criterium Series - starts this week. It comprises 6 races (3 in December, and 3 in Jan/Feb), held at 5pm on a Wednesday afternoon at the Nundah Criterium Circuit.  There is something incredibly fun about mid-week, after-work racing.  Not sure what it is, but it makes the Wednesday 'hump day' something to look forward to.

I desperately want to get back to racing, and this is probably my last chance to race in 2011. This year has been non-existent racing-wise, and it would be nice to get a couple of races in before the year is out.  Especially given that I bought my 2011 racing licence back in last December (whilst recovering from my first round of shoulder surgery), and I should get something for my $220!!

The case "against" does exist though.

If I'm honest with myself, I don't have any race fitness at all. So do I shell out my $10 to race, knowing full well I'll be very lucky to make it to half-way? Or do I accept my legs just aren't there?

Realistically, I should just focus on building up some 'base' over December, and target races in the new year with some decent fitness and leg speed under my belt.

At this stage, I'm leaning towards the 'against' argument.  If I think about the 'long game' - it'll be better for me if I forget about doing any high intensity bike work for now, and put my efforts into some longer, base-building rides. Some group rides will be great for that too, plus will brush up my bike-handling skills for the rough-&-tumble of a racing peloton.

We'll see if I can keep my competitive urges in-check, and take the sensible approach...

Friday, 25 November 2011

Product Review - Cell Bikes 2012 'Rapido' cycling jersey

I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of the latest jersey offerings by Cell Bikes a few weeks ago - the Cell "Rapido" jersey.  Its bold black, yellow and white colour scheme is certainly eye-catching, so after a few rides I thought I'd give a quick review on its performance.

So what makes a cycling jersey a good cycling jersey?  In my opinion, you need a few things:
  • light, breathable fabric
  • good length zip for hot days
  • comfortable fit
  • decent rear pockets
  • good looks!!
Let's start from the top.  The Rapido jersey fabric felt terrific.  I wore the jersey on a 2-hour solo river loop on a muggy Brisbane morning, plus a couple of 1hr+ cycle-commutes. The jersey didn't stick to my skin, but breathed very well. Sweat was wicked away, keeping me comfortable throughout the whole ride. Best way to describe it is that I didn't notice the jersey during the rides - so a big tick for that criterion.

The zip is a "half-length" zip - which for me is a good compromise.  I'm not a fan of full-length zips, as I feel like they make the jersey fit not-quite-right.  And the super-short zips don't suit the warm Queensland climate.  This half-length zip is a great compromise between the two lengths.

The half-length zip.
For sizing, I prefer my jerseys to be figure-hugging - but on the tiny bit loose side (definitely not skin-tight!). Nothing baggy or flapping in the wind either.  I have the "Large" size jersey, which fit just right for me at 175cm tall and about 87kg heavy.

Love handles?? What love handles...??
Good-size rear pockets are crucial for any cyclist doing longer rides.  I typically stuff in them a small wallet, my mobile phone, some ID, maybe some muesli bars or a banana, and an extra tube. There was plenty of room in the Rapido jersey pockets for all my gear, and getting them out while riding was a breeze.
Plenty of room in the three rear pockets.
The final criterion is good looks. This of course is a highly subjective and personal one.  Personally, I think the black, yellow and white colour scheme looks striking and terrific.  A bonus is the black torso section helps hide my paunch a little too!!  A definite thumbs up for me.

So why should you buy this jersey?

Obviously, I like this jersey.  But to be honest, there are lots of great jerseys out there that also 'tick the boxes' of the above criteria.  What makes the Cell Rapido jersey better than them?

The answer is this - $24.95.

I recently read one of the major Australian cycling magazines, which had a 'fashion spread' covering lots of the major clothing manufacturers.  I couldn't believe that the cheapest jersey featured was $99!!  A quick look in a couple of local bike shops near me showed their cheapest jerseys were $59 - and some of them were inferior to Cell's Rapido.

Some of the really high-end jerseys - like Assos for example  - are great. Very 'technical' materials that fit extraordinarily well. Are they better than Cell's offering? Well, yes they are. But you are paying $200+ per jersey for the privilege.  If you have the disposable income to afford this, then go for it.  It isn't value for money though - you are not getting a jersey that is 8-times better than the Rapido. In fact, you aren't getting a jersey that's twice as good...

And at the end of the day, that really is the bottom line for the Cell Rapido. You get a very good jersey, at a ridiculously cheap price. The only reason you wouldn't buy this is if you don't like the looks. Otherwise, its the best value jersey buy you'll get anywhere.

Happy cycling!!

What an awesome jersey!!

Monday, 7 November 2011

October 2011 Review

My quick stats for October 2011:

Mileage - very little.
Weight - 88kg (steady).

So I find myself still in Sydney - I am now into my fourth week.  It feels like a long time, especially given I was only going to be here for 1 week when I first flew down!!  All the signs though point to me returning at the end of this week - finally...!!

I've been desperately missing getting onto the bike.  One of the great things about cycling for me is the mental stress relief it provides.  Having been away from home for so long, I need it now more than ever - but ironically I can't do it with my bike sitting in the garage back home...

So this week, I bit the bullet and hit the hotel gym.  I'm knocking out 30-45min sessions on the stationary bike, alternating days with some upper body weight training (based around my shoulder rehab). I'm also making sure I do a long 2-hour walk on the non-cycling days.

Not quite like my road bike - but it'll have to do...

I'm only 3 days into this regime, but I'm already feeling in much better shape mentally - a testament to the power of exercise.  Hopefully this'll also get the legs ready for launching back into 'proper' cycling once I return home.

With some luck, and a solid November of training, I'll be able to squeeze in a club race or two before 2011 winds up. Fingers crossed!!