Category Archives: Racing

Pedalling harder than the other guy

Racing and Riding update w/e 16 Jan 2017

So, we’ve made it to 2017 after what can only be described as Year of The Utter Shit, so where are we at?

Well, the start of the new year formed a convenient, if arbitrary watershed to try and re-establish some old, good habits. I’m now attempting to follow a structured training plan from The Sufferfest, though I’ve had to build in some very generous variations due to things like work/on-call commitments and wanting to actually ride outdoors occasionally. Nevertheless, some weight is dropping off and some watts are going on. I’ve had two “new threshold” notifications from Training Peaks in January so far, and my Smart Scale has been congratulating me occasionally. Who would have thought* swapping a quiet beer for an hour of sweat on a bike would be so effective? has been launched by a good friend of mine and I’ve come on board as an early adopter and admin

In news of actually turning some pedals, I’m racing again two months earlier than expected. Thursday saw me enter a Zwift KISS Race on the spur of the moment, because that’s a thing now, and Saturday saw me racing on dirt for the first time in… ages.

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On the unthinking marginalisation of women’s cycling

I pretty much missed the finish of last night’s Fleche Wallonne. Why? I was having an argument with Velonews. You see, they’d posted this tweet, which was greeted by a not-altogether unjustified response:


I, naturally, retweeted this. It’s common shorthand to think first of the men’s race, but this is a strong point. Marianne Vos has won Fleche Wallonne five times. So Velonews’s tweet is factually inaccurate, but colloquially, it mostly gets the point across.

Is this really a problem though?

Well yes.

You see, it’s lazy, and laziness does nothing to help rectify a situation of historical marginalisation. Women’s cycling has played second fiddle for years , but we’ve had some recent, though hesitant steps forward. La Course is a thing now. We get coverage – partial, it’s true, but coverage nonetheless – of the women’s race at De Ronde van Vlaanderen. We see the women’s world champs on TV. We got a smattering of coverage from the women’s race last night, and even got coverage of the women’s podium on the global feed. What we need right now is an active response to keep the momentum rolling.

So lazy journalism was always going to be noticed.

But what really particularly irked me was the response. Observe.


Yep, instead of just holding up their hands and issuing a clarifying tweet, Velonews decided to blame the character limit.

I copied their original tweet. There were fifty characters to spare. FIFTY.

It had nothing to do with the character limit. Besides which, you’re a journalistic publication. Words are your business. Make it work.

Such responses are as lazy and unthinking as the original tweet. Velonews, you fucked up. To use some deliberately ironic, lazy and sexist language: You need to man the fuck up and admit it.

And pull up your damn socks in future.


Race recap: Tour of Sufferlandria, Stages 6-9

The last post left us at the middle of the tour, after the first mountain stage, and looking ahead to four more days including both the queen stage and a big final run into the finish.

Stage six: Local Hero saw the peloton turned ragged by the cruel pyramid intervals, and several riders were caught out by forgetting that this one isn’t just an hour of effort, but an hour and twenty-five minutes of threshold work designed to put them into the redzone and deny them an easy exit. A pyramid starts out at an RPE of 7/10, or just below power threshold. In my case, working with a slightly overloaded FTP of 250, that meant holding 240+W for interval one. Interval two, a minute at threshold, is at least 250W for one minute, after which you spend two minutes at 8.0 – above threshold, which is harsh. But when the two minutes are up, you can’t just shift and recover. Because you need to hold threshold for another minute, then sub-threshold again for a last painful minute.

The pyramids hurt. I am not kidding. And after that there’s race simulation and a series of sprints. This stage was a test for the entire peloton, and there were three more stages to go.

Next day, at first glance, seemed like an opportunity to recover a little, with The Rookie. But things are never that easy in Sufferlandria, especially when Sir Neal Henderson has been involved in the choice of parcours. What awaited us was a set of three 10-minute race simulations garnished with the kind of on-bike footage that gets you trapped in the action and forgetting how much power you’re putting down. I, for one, was left gasping, and dreading Stage Eight, The Queen Stage


Serious face on for Stage Eight

Stage Eight was the Dame Alissa Schubert Memorial Stage, a terrifying two-hours and twenty-five minutes of sprints. The community wore a black stripe on their social media avatars in memory of Dame Alissa, and the Knights wore their official team kits. I broke out my race-cut Darkside kit. Having put on a few kilograms after a bunch of crashes and injuries last year, I’d been slightly dreading getting back into race-cut, but to my surprise, it worked out not too badly. I slapped on my serious face and got down to action.

Video one of Stage Eight, Revolver. Straight up, no messing, fifteen one-minute intervals interpersed with fifteen one-minute rests, a workout designed to burn you down as quickly and as simply as possible. This is followed with Violator, a never-ending series of short, high-intensity sprints, which is topped off with a dressing of Half is Easy, yet another bottomless pit of on-off-on-off power intervals.

This, dear friends, is a special kind of hell.

We all knew it would be the queen stage. I for one didn’t realise quite how horrifying it would turn out to be.

I held over the stage until Sunday, since Saturday was my brother-in-law’s 50th birthday and Jack Bobridge’s Hour Record attempt. Which meant on Sunday I felt a little… hungover.

Oh. The. Pain.

By the end of Revolver I was already thinking I’d gone too deep. By the middle of Violator, I knew I’d gone too deep. close to the end of Violator, I had a dizzy spell and a micro-blackout and found myself almost crashing the bike. Let me just re-iterate that. I nearly. Crashed. A turbo trainer.

As the recovery interval arrived I wolfed down an entire pack of jelly snakes, a gel and a whole bottle of electrolyte, and called out to the minions for more.

By the time Half is Easy was properly underway, I was mentally back together, and starting to come back into shape physically, which was just as well, because I spent the last video spitting and cursing, sweat pouring off in waves, feet and hands aching, legs turning to mush and shoulders in spasm. Physically, it was harder than anything on my Knighthood, either of my Everesting attempts, and any race I’ve ever struggled through.

The sawtooth profile of the power trace speaks volumes for the severity of this stage. Oh god, never again.

Well, maybe.

It did feel pretty good afterwards.

And so Monday rolled around, and my alarm fired at 5am, in time for me to do Stage Nine before work. My weary legs, however, wouldn’t let me out of bed.

So I went to work like a normal monday. And when I arrived, I set one of my laptop’s auxiliary clocks to the International date line. This gave me a hard cut off time for the end of Stage Nine, which turned out to be quite late that evening, thanks to timezone weirdness.

So I left the office as normal, headed home, and put my weary legs over the top tube for the last time in this tour.

It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time tells the tale of an intrepid Sufferlandrian unleashed in pursuit of the Giro d’Italia’s combativity prize. It’s tough, you’d better believe it, and it’s long at two hours. And coming at the end of nine stages, it was all I could do to keep up. But keep up I did, and I finished, sweaty and victorious, after the world’s hardest stage race of a fictional country.

My citizenship of the great nation of Sufferlandria was assured.

And I was tired

Damn it, I was tired.

I can’t wait until next year.



LACC Armory Crit 13 Nov 2014

Courtesy of Craig Toner, LACC. If you look carefully, you’ll see me, in Cellarbrations kit on my white Trek Domane, somewhere up at the front, where I generally try -and fail – to stay off the front of the bunch.


2014 Shimano MTB GP Series Round 1

This weekend saw the first round of the Rocky Trail Entertainment Shimano MTB GP go off at Awaba MTB Park in NSW’s Hunter region. A huge turnout braved the mud and changeable weather after some rather touch-and-go weather conditions through the week. The first attempt at running the event was a washout, so everyone was eager to get the series started, not the least being the organisers, who took to social media to calm nervous entrants who’d spent much of the leadup glued to the BoM radar.

I was, of course, entered – with two changes from last year. This year I’d be racing in the seven hour category instead of four, and also I’d be ticking over from the Elite into the Masters age group, since I’ll be turning 40 in 2014.

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Race Report: Capital Punishment 2014

Capital Punishment 2014, 50km and 100km MTBI’m still in the process of drafting my blog posts from this year’s Three Peaks Challenge, but in the meantime I lined up for the 2014 Capital Punishment 100km XCM. In 2013, despite cramping early in the race, I did a time of 4:47:55. This year, I was lining up much fitter, much stronger, on a bike nearly 3kg lighter and with an extra year’s experience. If nothing went wrong, I was going to shatter the previous year’s time. To tiny pieces.

Of course, things never work out perfectly on these days.

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Why yes, I *do* take racing food quite seriously. Why?



Yup. That’s my little box of racing munchies, consisting of a mixture of:

  • SiS Caffeinated gels
  • Torq gels, Black Cherry Yogurt, Rhubarb & Custard and a few others
  • Body Science gels
  • Hammer Endurolytes Fizz electrolyte tabs
  • Hammer Perpetuem Solids chewable energy
  • Dextro energy for a high-glucose hit
  • Swisse recovery bars (I don’t normally buy Swisse due to their dodgy supplement claims, but they were on sale. Cheap.)
  • Some apricot delight
  • Painkillers, tape and some spare CO2 cartridges that didn’t fit in the toolbox.

This box goes with me to MTB races and training days, but generally doesn’t make it to road events. The variety means I can stock up on energy without every getting bored with the same thing. Or at least, that’s the theory. In practice, some are better than others and some are just terrible. For instance I’ve given up on the GU coffee gels as they’re just too thick to get down quickly, and I tried a mint flavoured Endura gel once and vowed never to do so again. The Torq gels, though, are excellent, wit well-thought out flavour hits, a nice consistency, and a pack that’s easy to open on the go.

How do you manage your race-day food requirements? What’s your favourite and least favourite energy hit?

Hard lessons learned

image: wikimedia commons


Last night I raced again in the ongoing Newington Armory Criterium Series.

Boy, did I learn a thing or two.

A little background. For the last few weeks I’ve been labouring with a cascade of minor injuries, each flowing on from the last. It started with tendinosis and bursitis in my elbow, aggravated by a low aero position on the road bike. Subsequently, I managed to strain my shoulder and neck, from trying to stay off the elbow. My physio got that under control with massage, taping and enforced rest, to which were added a set of recovery exercises to both strengthen weak points and loosen things up a bit. Of course me being me, I managed to add a calf tweak and strained abs to the list of woes by overdoing the off-bike workouts. Yeah I know.

So there I was, hurting already before I’d even turned a pedal. Leading to lesson learned number one: If you’re injured, don’t carry on as if you’re not. And if your training regimen changes, ease into it instead of suddenly shocking your system with new workouts.

In addition, because I’d lowered my overall training volume, I’d also let myself slip and had a few mid-week beers the night before the race. And, to be honest, the night before that. This meant I’d spent the morning fighting off a bit of a hangover and didn’t get properly hydrated through the day. In fact, I ended up slamming nearly a full bottle just before the start.

Lesson number two: lots of beer the night before is a bad idea (though to be fair I already knew this)

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It’s imminent, but not imminent enough for me

Quite a few of us are hanging out for the start of Classics Season.

For my part, the non-stop excitement of the Tour Down Under has given way to the expected snoozarama of the Middle Eastern Tours, and it’s proving painful. So, as a service to us all, here’s a recap of my two favourite Classics from last year.

This should keep us going until Milan – San Remo on the 23rd March, where the one-day season kicks off proper, followed by E3 Harelbeke on 28th March, Gent-Wevelgem two days later, then the big two, Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris – Roubaix on the 6th and 13th of April. Not to mention Amstel Gold (20-4), Fleche Wallone (23-4) and Liege-Bastogne-Liege (27-4) after that. April is going to be epic.

If I could hibernate from now till then, or take a time journey, I would. Especially since I’m injured at present and can’t race or train hard until my elbow heals up.


Recovery Drink

I raced at Newington Armory this evening – B Grade – and finished somewhere around tenth in a field of nearly 30. Not spectacular, but I feel entirely validated, having done enough work on the front to elicit positive comment from my clubmates.

So I figured I deserved a recovery drink. Belgian, obviously, for preference. We are cyclists, after all.

Well, it’s Belgian style. Australian brewed. And entirely delicious. It’s called “An American Werewolf in Belgium”. Recommended, if you’re not riding the morning after, obviously.

da864180fa6a5f837df62f123b682a29_640x640I’m certain that it’ll make me at least a couple of watts stronger, once it’s fully digested.