Am I on track?

Am I on track?

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Chasing 5000...

Something I have never done is rack up 5000km of on-bike mileage in a calendar year.

I'll just pause for a second here, and let the decent cyclists amongst you all have a little chuckle...  Yes, I know - only 5000km!! Hey, the blog has "C Grade" in the title for a reason...

I've been a 'cyclist' for around 15 years (if you include my triathlon years - I know some will be offended at that suggestion!).  Not a serious one though, just a lover of lycra-ing up and riding my bike.  It was around 7-ish years ago that I 'got serious', joined Balmoral cycling club, and paid up for a race licence.  I've held my club membership and race licence continuously since then.

For the first few years, I really did nothing of note training wise.  I left the bike alone during winter months, and had very short spurts of training occasionally to try and get race fit. I would typically rack up 2000 - 3000kms in a year, concentrated around the start & end of the calendar year. During this time, I scored my only two ever race podiums - a 2nd in D Grade (2006), and a 4th in C Grade (2008), both at the HPRW Summer Twilight Crits.

After the last podium in late 2008, I decided I should have a more determined, consistent crack at getting better.  I set myself the modest goal of achieving 4000km for the year, with some consistency (especially over winter).  Whilst I was still a little sporadic, I finished 2009 with around 4300km in the bank - goal achieved!!

So the goal for 2010 was a simple one - 5000km. A small but steady increase, with an eye on small, steady improvements over a lifetime of cycling.  By October, I had already reached 4000km - easily on track to make it.  But then of course, 'the accident' happened - 9-10 months off the bike, a couple of shoulder surgeries, and many months of rehab came next...

So this year, 2012, is my first full calendar year back on the bike since then.  My resumption year.  My rebuilding year. A year of gently bringing my body back into consistent cycling-shape.

That elusive 5000km, whilst a very modest target, has been my big goal amongst all that - the cherry at the end.  For me, hitting 5000 will be my mental signal that I am 'back on track' with my lifelong, onwards training progression.

As we reach the end of November, I have roughly 500km to go - something I know I can easily achieve.  It's funny - just thinking about it almost gets me a little emotional.  How can such a small thing (literally!) ingrain itself into my psyche as such a huge measure of progression?

Part of me has already started mentally pencilling in my big cycling plans for 2013.  I suspect the most significant boost to making those plans a reality is when my bike computer trickles over to 5000km sometime during late December - I will officially be back...  :)

Monday, 19 November 2012

Trying something new...

As I get closer and closer to 40 years old - new experiences tend to come along a little less often.  But a week or so ago, I had one of those "OMG, this is AWESOME!" experiences that make you feel like a 5 year old discovering something for the very first time...

My youngest daughter, now 11 years old, has just about grown out of her bike (a supermarket cheapie).  I want to get her something much more decent now, especially as she is getting very enthusiastic about cycling and is keen to get out every weekend onto the local paths.

Serendipitously, I got an email from Planet Cycles that they were holding their Test the Best weekend at Daisy Hill State Forest.  Basically, they had all their road and mountain bike (mtb) high-end bling out there, ready to be test-ridden by anyone and everyone.  I decided it would be a great opportunity to take the family to check out a few mountain bikes.

When we arrived on the Sunday (the 2nd day of the demo), there was a short queue.  This gave me time to cast my eye over the incredible smorgasboard of road bikes they had.  My heart yearned to take an S-Works Tarmac or Venge for a spin, and I had to forcefully and deliberately remind myself that I was not there for a roadie.  It did hurt though...

When we reached the front of the registration queue, we handed over all our details and ID's, and talked about mountain bike options to try.  I couldn't believe our luck when we were kitted out on super-top-end full-carbon Specialized S-Works Epics (29'ers), running Shimano XTR running gear...!!  They were beautiful bikes, and I couldn't wait to try them out.

The mechanics made sure we were well fitted and set-up comfortably.  They asked if we'd ridden mtb trails before, and I said no...  They let me know to ride the wide fire trails for a while, and if we felt comfortable and confident, we could try some singletrack as well (a particular singletrack trail had been 'reserved' for the demo).

We headed off down the fire trail tentatively.  I had never used disc brakes before, and it took a little while to get used to them.  It was fun riding, and the bike was ridiculously comfortable.  My oldest daughter and I had a few battles trying to outclimb each other, and there were smiles alround.

We reached the start of the marked singletrack (which I know now is called "Turning Japanese").  My eldest and I decided to give it a try, while the others headed back on the fire trail.  I remembered the final words of advice from the mechanic ("Trust the bike, it'll get you through almost anything..."), and we headed off down the unknown...

Wow - just wow!! 

The singletrack was just incredible fun!!  I literally shrieked a few times as I rode through some rocky spots and rolled over a few small drop-offs.  I was concentrating like crazy to stay on the impossibly thin trail and snake through what felt like tiny gaps between trees, but I had a massive grin on my face and laughed out loud at the sheer joy I was feeling.

My oldest daughter caught up with me when I briefly dismounted to climb down one deep (to me!) drop-off.  "This is so hard - but its so fun!" she said smiling.

We managed to squeeze in a second run along the singletrack before heading back along the fire trail to the demo tent and reluctantly handing our bikes back over...

It has been a long time since I've had that much fun on a bike!!  I have already started checking out the local bike shops for new mountain bikes for the family - it'll be the perfect family riding activity for weekends.

My only regret is not giving mountain biking a try years ago...  :)   I'll always be a roadie first, but there is always room for something new too...

Friday, 2 November 2012

October 2012 Review

Funny how the best laid plans can come unstuck by the most unexpected of events...  That ridiculous rib injury, caused by my newly-found surfing gumbiness, meant around 3 weeks off the bike. Hence my stats for the month are nowhere as I had planned...


Mileage: 230km (2012 year-to-date: 4063km)
Weight: 78kg (1kg increase)


My main focus now that I'm over the worst of the injury is to get back to some good, regular mileage again.  This past week has been much harder than I expected!! My legs have felt pretty sluggish, so it's obviously going to take a good 2-3 weeks before I start getting some spark back into them again.

My main mileage goal now is to crack 5000km for the year.  I have never done this before, and its a very important one for me to achieve on  a personal level.  Without too much bad luck, I should achieve this.  I'll talk more about its importance to me in a later blog-post...

The other thing I'm working towards is, of course, racing!! The Brisbane Blast is looming large on the horizon - its only a month away, and I'll have to really work hard if I'm to hit it in any sort of form.  Its also my last chance for Open racing this year, so I have plenty of motivation to get the legs into half-decent shape by then.

As always, I'm looking forward with positivity and motivation to keep up my trend of slow, gradual improvement.  I still believe I can make it onto some sort of podium before the year is out - last time I did that was a 4th place back in 2008, so its been a long time between drinks!!  But I honestly believe I am in the best shape that I've been in since my school days (oh so long ago), so some tangible cycling results can't be far off...

Happy riding everyone!!