Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A bit of old skool riding

Last week was a bland week of commuting and one gym visit. I was feeling quite run down so I biked to work most days, and went the long way a couple of times, but generally took it easy. The cold nights do not encourage me to get out for a ride. The weekend was a different story.
Saturday was a gorgeous day and Pete and I loaded up the bikes and headed over to Port Levy to the farm. We’ve done a bit of walking there and its steep, hilly land with a decent amount of bush in places. And it has a gorgeous view of the bay. The plan is to get some rudimentary accommodation over there and build some tracks, so we were on a reccy mission to suss out potential dwellings and trails. Being winter and being on a cattle farm meant there was plenty of mud for skidz (both intentional and accidental). I’d put my big fat 2.35 knobbly tyres on knowing it would be wet, but man, they made it hard work grinding up the grassy paddocks. Pete and I basically just went for an explore, with little idea of where we were going. Lots and lots of climbing was done. Not much distance was covered, but I was really happy with my riding. I climbed a couple of silly steep paddocks that I didn’t think I’d be able to and after a few rests I was always able to get back on the bike and keep going up. Once more I was extremely grateful for my Crank Bros clips, I would have been having all sorts of probs with normal SPDs in that mud. Even with the Crank Bros I had to stop once and dig all the mud and clay out as I couldn’t get into the pedals.
The downhills were all exciting. Either crazy slippy, rutty farm tracks with holes and rocks, or stupidly steep lumpy wet paddocks. Fun. I was grinning like an idiot from behind my full face (yep, I was wearing a full face helmet all day, and it was bloody hot in there). I managed to do a couple of dodgy stream crossings without falling in and then at the very end of our ride I found a really fun wee line through the roots under a stand of macracarpas that had a sweet wee drop off at the end.
It really was a brilliant day, made exponentially better by getting to share it with Pete. Its been so long since we’ve been riding together, it was just heaven having him to myself in the country.
On the way back we stopped at the Governers Bay pub and had a feed (and I had a very nice glass of wine, mmmmmm), which was topped off by the most delicious white chocolate and contreau baked cheese cake. I felt like I’d earned it.
Sunday I was feeling quite tired from my exertions of the previous day, but Pete was keen for a ride and who am I to say no. We whipped up Kennedy’s. Well, Pete whipped up Kennedy’s, I struggled up in the freezing wind with my heavy tyres. My legs were wasted, but I was happy with how fast I got up the road. We continued up the singletrack and I had to put another layer on it was so cold. After a bit of single track player, vrroooom, it was back down the hill and on with the coffee machine for a hot chocolate.
Of course an hour after we got back it was lovely and warm, typical. Anyway I’ve found a very cool site called mapmyride.com which show all sorts of groovey things like elevation, here’s the Kennedy’s ride from Sunday.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A bit of spade work

What a lovely weekend it was, sunny both days and very warm. Saturday resulted in a fantastic ride out at McLean’s Island with another Vorbette, her partner and a couple of their friends. McLean’s Island is flat, fast and flowing single track with lots of bermed corners that encourage you to go faster and faster. I really like it as a place to do laps for training at night once day light savings starts. It’s just over 10kms long and the track is one way which makes it much easier and safer to blast around at high speeds. In summer it’s full of families, which can be a little frustrating, but when we were there it was pretty much family free and we didn’t have to wait to pass anyone.
I could really tell that the night racing series has improved my fitness and cornering abilities a lot. I was a lot faster than I’ve been before (would be good to get out and do a few timed laps on the night rider) and I was getting a really good lean on in the berms. I had a pretty silly grin on my face almost the entire time I was there it was so much fun. We did a couple of loops and I would have loved to go again, but my stomach was telling me it was a long time since breakfast so we parted ways with the promise of more rides in the future.

Sunday was another gorgeous day. Pete and I were going digging at Living Springs at lunch time so I went out for a quick hour’s ride on the roady. It was really nice. I had a nice average speed of 26.4 kms (which meant I did 26.4kms as I was out for exactly an hour) and really enjoyed zimming along the back roads in the sunshine. I had an unpleasant few minutes behind a tractor towing a wide trailer full of sillage (peee-eeewww), but apart from that it was an uneventful flat ride that left me with a nice burning feeling in my thighs. After a quick shower and throwing together some sandwiches Pete and I were off to Governers Bay.
Living Springs is privately owned land that has a camp on it and a couple from Christchurch have got permission to build a network of mtb tracks on it. I’ve been looking forward to getting over there and doing some digging for a while. The track we were working on is gorgeous, following the course of a small stream, surrounded by native bush. Just lovely. With tools in hand we found where the digging was going on and were shown the basics of digging benched singletrack. Feeling a little bit like we didn’t really know what we were doing we got to it. I haven’t sweated that much in a while, (except on the bike of course) it was certainly a good work out. It was extremely satisfying seeing a bit of dirt transformed into track in a shortish space of time and then seeing people riding it and knowing you have just built that. There were about 28 people helping build, which is a huge number, so the track shot through the forest very quickly. It was really great getting out and helping to giving something back to the community. And getting to spend time doing something fun with my lovely husband was brilliant.
I was very tired after a couple of hours of digging and very excited about taking my bike over there and having a spin on the tracks. These tracks are going to really add to the great trails that are available in and around Christchurch. Wahoo.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Morning Glory

Some days it’s really hard to get on the bike in the morning to go to work, it can be really cold, really wet, really windy, or I can just feel really blah and tired. Other mornings are like this morning. It was warm, a whole 10 degrees, which really helps. It was still dark, I like riding in the morning darkness and watching the sun come up. And it was still. The perfect morning for a ride. It’s been a while since I’ve biked round the base of the hills on the way to work, I’ve kind of stopped doing that in the last few weeks to concentrate on the night races (more on that later). However this morning I was rearing to go. It was still pitch black when I left just before 7:30, but the sun was beginning to rise. It really is much easier to get the legs going when it’s warmer. I found I was whizzing along easily and for the first time really enjoying to roadie. I pushed hard up the wee hills, but I’m still to unco to stand up on the pedals to really fly up them but I’m getting there. Zooming along the back roads was great and the sunrise was truly spectacular. The sky was blood red, then violet and red, and finally a beautiful purple by the time I got to work. And I got to work in record time (see the graph at the bottom of the page). Average speed of 27.5km/h! Amazing. Of course this means it only took me a teeny bit over 30mins to get to work so I’ll have to think about adding some distance to make my long morning rides a decent length of time. Hmmmm to the maps!

In other news. Wednesday night was the final of the “Bicycle Business World Championship MTB Night Race Series”. I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather lung wise since last week’s blow out and Wednesday I was feeling rubbish at work all day. I honestly didn’t know how I’d go and I really didn’t want to have another shocker like the week before last. So I got out my good bike, full suspension all the way for this race. And it made a HUGE difference. The track felt almost smooth and my legs were flying off the start line. My lungs were burning in the first sprint and when I glanced down at my speedo I could see why. 35km/h! Crikey, I knew the starts were fast, but I didn’t realise they were this fast, and people were passing me left right and centre. I really need to work on that first sprint if I’m going to improve for the next series. The race itself was fairly uneventful. I put in a good wee climb up the rubbish tip hill and passed a few people. Unfortunately after the push up the sand dunes I developed a killer stitch in my side for a while and some people passed me. I wasn’t too worried though. My lungs needed a bit of nursing so I slowed a bit till both felt better. The rest of the ride was really fun. My bouncy bike let me go as fast I liked over everything so I was able to speed along fairly well. I couldn’t corner quite as tightly as on the nightrider, but my speed over the teeth-rattling lumps (which I wasn’t feeling for a change) more than make up for that. I was planning on just cruising into the finish line, however when I popped out of the forest I glanced back and noticed a light not far behind me. So I put a bit of power on. When I glanced back again it seemed closer so I gave it everything I had left, no one was going to pass me this close to the end! I made it over the finish line with a new personal best (thanks bouncy bike) and lungs that were now stuffed. I was stoked with my 55mins 9secs, 10 whole seconds faster than last week. I think if I’d actually felt good before the race and my lungs weren’t so sore I could have take another minute or two off that time. The good news is a new series starts on the 2nd of July. Wahoo. A couple of weeks of roadie rides to get some more fitness and I’ll be rearing to go. Hopefully with my lovely husband this time! The final points for my section (Open Women) are here, I’m really proud of my efforts given the nature of some of the competitors (Gordon McCauley won and he’s very fast!).

Friday, June 6, 2008

The legs, they learn to spin faster!

Wednesday dawned as yet another in a long line of stunning sunny days here in Christchurch (man this winter is nice!). In complete contrast to last week I woke up excited about the night race, so it was on my mind all day. This is a good thing. It means I can listen to my body throughout the day and make sure I’m feeding it right to give it the power it needs to sustain almost an hour of sprinting (for me it feels like sprinting, I’m sure its technically not sprinting). Seems like I got the feeding balance right and I was rearing to go by the time I got to the sand pit. It was another clear and cold night, my fingers were frozen attaching my number to my bike. There were less people than last week, but I was slightly further forward in the bunch at the start and met the partner of a friend from work. She’s lovely and very very fast and strong. She does solo 12 and 24 hour races!!
In no time we were off and this time my legs were working so I thought I’d held my place in the bunch pretty well. It was a blistering start again, and by the time we hit the single track I was still in quite a decent sized group, a first for me. I was chasing Anna (lovely vorbette) through the first sections of singletrack, but she was being held up a bit by the guy in front of her. Once we got to the second section we were all just cruising as a group of about 8 of us were stuck behind a very slow person. On the plus side this meant I was well rested to attack the hill and while Anna pulled away from me on it, by the time we were heading across the top I’d caught back up which was very satisfying. It was the push uphill through the sand that saw her pass me again (need to get back to the gym), and then she was off into the distance. I was happy with the speed I was maintaining along the beach as I could still see her in the distance, it’s always good to have someone to chase in the dark. I even managed to negotiate the thick sand corner that’s had me off the last 2 weeks without a hiccup.
Frustratingly for Anna it wasn’t long after this I can across her on the side of the track with a non-lethal Velcro failure was meant I got to nip past. I put the speed on a bit from there to try and catch the guy who was now in front of me, which I did just before we re-entered the single track. This meant I was able to put some space between Anna and myself.
I was really noticing my lack of suspension through the forest at this stage. Every bump and jerk was tiring and constantly fighting to keep the bike on the track makes me quite slow in some sections. Luckily I can remember where the really big holes are so I haven’t crashed yet (touch wood). Finally into the last section of singletrack and I was completely unsurprised as Anna called through on the right. She was off like a shot after being held up and try as I might my legs were not up to the task of chasing her. I popped out of the forest and told my legs to step up, now would be the time someone could pass me. Seemingly I had eaten enough and drunk enough coke (wonder drink for racing) and they had a little more to give and I made it over the line less than 30 secs after Anna. While she was frustrated, and rightly so as she’s much faster than me, I was super stoked with my effort. The times went up and I’d managed a great 55.19, over 2 minutes better than my best time. I definitely feel like the roadie is beginning to help me get my cadence up as my legs were going round faster ever. Check out http://www.bluedogevents.co.nz/document.aspx?id=456 for the series standings (I’m in open women). Next week is the final race and although I’d love to get out and do some laps at the weekend I just can’t see it happening as I’m very much afflicted with bad PMS, I’ve even had to take the proper pain pills which I try and avoid unless its agony.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The winter gloom

No new words last week, which is very naughty. Again not much happened. I had a couple of good sessions at the gym and have sorted out which exercises hurt my silly knee. My race on Wednesday night was quite awful. I was feeling under the weather all day (work was pretty intense last week) and really couldn't be bothered heading to the other side of town in the cold, it was freezing, but I "saddled up" the steed and headed out. I just couldn't find my legs in the first sprint along the 4wd tracks and that didn't improve. I really should have gone for a warm up ride as I was soon aware that my seat was way too low and my legs were tiring because of it. Eventually I stopped and put it up and went a lot better after that, kicking myself for not stopping sooner and sorting it out. I was very glad to be wearing my new shoe covers as it was really cold. By the end, actually quite a while before the end, I was well and truly over riding and just wanted it to be over. Amazingly I managed to finish in under an hour, just, so I guess I'm sort of happy with that. There was 165 people racing, which is amazing so it looks like the last 3 weeks will be great.

Thursday was just a day of doom at work so I had just a short ride in and a short ride home and felt pretty wrung out. On Friday I woke up feeling really bad, my chest felt like there was a lead weight clamped to it, so I had a day in bed. Which in turn lead to a lazy long weekend of recuperating. The good news is I finally managed to get a seat for the roadie which I picked up today. Its lovely, much better than the seat that was on there, plus I got it for a real bargain. I had a half hour spin on the trainer this afternoon and it felt pretty good, despite being very thin looking. Not a lot of riding for the long weekend, but I am feeling much better. And it means I got lots of housework, painting, cooking and shopping done, plus a great visit to the art gallery.
Oh and lastly, a wee bit of excitment on the weight loss front. I've lost 5 kgs as of this weekend so I'm half way to my November goal, yay.