Sunday, August 31, 2008

Epic Epic.

Race day started early as I drove myself down to Peppers, the finish line for my days racing. Travelling solo was different, usually it is a car full of mates laughing and trash talking but it gave me time to think through my race and my aims for the day. I had booked myself to get the bus and to have my bike transported to the start for me by the race organisers. Problem one. An hour before the bus was due to leave, the bike truck is already CHOCKERS. As in no more bikes folks. Crap!!!! Luckily some guys drove past on their way out to head to the 50km start line, and they had a spare slot on their trailer. I didn't have to be asked twice. THANKS to Neil and his mates. You guys totally saved my ass.

Ok, so happy to be on the start line I thanked my new buds and headed off to find my WRB race mates. Found Trickle, who was peaking out. He made me feel positively calm!! Deef and Nick weren't too far behind and were their typical laid back selves. Rolled around for a 3 minute warm up before realising my start was not too far away and then we were off. Managed to get lost in the paddocks in the first 5 km, somehow missing a turn off. First extras of the day were in the bank! Climbing barbed wire fences while lifting bikes is not hot. Recovered I was back on track only to be caught in a little traffic. The hills were bad (walkers), but the loose downs were worse.... people were going so slow it was dangerous stall territory. I was passed by another girl and let her go. Having avoided an OTB, I made it out onto the road. It was not long before Trickle found me, and dropped me like a hot rock..... I felt like crap and was struggling to push 25km/hr on the road. I tried for his wheel, but there was no way I was holding his pace so he disappeared chasing the leaders in his class. Shortly we turned upwards for the first climb of the day. Seemed brutally steep and everything was burning by the top but strangely enough this seemed to sort something out. Coming off the other side I felt great and started to ride strong. I tried not to think about whether there were girls in front of me and focused inward on riding strong and steady. Coming through checkpoint 3 one of the elite girls and her riding partner blew by me onto the road. I knew if I let them go I would be looooong gone so I pushed to jump on the back of the 5 or 6 rider train. We hammered along clocking 40km/hr and I was feeling awesome. As soon as we hit the offroad I put on a move and attacked on the climb. Quick look over the shoulder confirmed I had dropped her and then onwards. Who should I find on the next road section but Trickle!!! He informed me he had blown.... BIG TIME. I told him to get on my wheel and did my best to encourage him along. I also found the other girl who passed me in the first 5 km. Again I waited till we hit the offroad and a climb and attacked. This time there was only about 12km to go so I didn't look back and focused instead on just riding as fast as I could.

Worked a treat. Held them both off and rode in 2.57, 1st place Open womens and 2nd overall.
Spent the afternoon eating steak sandwiches and chomps (thanks fly) and thinking I may just come back for next year. Top day.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

No-one Else

This weekend I am off to ride the Half Epic. Scary! I have entered in my age group as I have absolutely no idea how this race will go. It is a lot quicker than my normal long, slow efforts so I expect it will hurt. A lot. I am confident with most of the course, but I have had some hard crashes at Grandchester before and split helmets into pieces, so caution will be the word of the day. Descents full of baby head sized rocks sound like fun!?!?!!!

Despite having gotten around the enduro circuit I have never, ever ridden any type of marathon MTB race - half or otherwise. I decided to enter to practice some of the mental skills I need for 24 hour racing. I know I can do the distance. The challenge for me is to settle and race without paying attention to anyone else. Focus on the process. Learning to ride your own race is, in my opinion, a critical skill in 24 racing. I can already feel the temptation. Who has entered, what do they look like, should I start near them. No, no, no. Ride your own race. A reminder.To this end, I have no buddies coming to the event with me. No support. Drive myself down, ride, drive myself back. Of course there will be plenty of mates around at the finish line to talk trash with - actually I am sure that will be my favourite part. A few easy rides for the rest of the week and Sunday will be here before I know it. I can't wait.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Brass Monkeys.

This week Brisvegas has been experiencing some really cold, cold nights. For those of us that squeeze our training into the wee hours, prior to jobs, family and other things this is prime time.
Tuesday is my mountain bike ride and easily the favourite of the week. Even with that in mind, it was hard to get out the door and on the bike at 5.30.
There was frost everywhere as we rolled into the reserve area at Gap Creek. I would have appreciated the view of everything sparkling under lights, except that my eyeballs were frozen almost solid. It took a long time to warm up, but eventually we able to smile again for the camera... Despite the cold, I enjoyed myself - rode more than last week and was definitely off the brakes a little more!

The real challenge was this morning. With all my ride buddies bailing, I still had 2 hours saddle time on the road to clock. It was cold. It is a holiday. I am sore from weights. I am tired. How to get out the door? Remember WHY. Why I am doing it. I want to ride well at the Kona 24 in November and will my qualification for the 2009 24 solo world champs. That's why. Gear on, bike ridden, kms in the bank. Word.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Better Days

This weekend like all others was time for the long ride of the week. And it was time to take it to the hills. It has been a really, really long time. I used to love the hills, but with my current lack of form I have been experiencing a change of heart. I hate the hills. It is no fun falling off the back, and watching everyone disappear upwards as you push the pedals around and try to get get it over with! Your legs burn and you heart pounds. You can't get your breath in hard or fast enough. And it smashes you. For the rest of the ride, molehills are mountains. And mountains .. urrrghhhhhhhhh don't even go there. This ride was to take us up the goat track, and then onwards and upwards to Mt Glorious. The turn for home would be via Mt Nebo, and while there are some great descents there are still a number of climbs.

On the road through Samford I sat on the wheels of the boys, concerned already about how hard I was working to stay with them on the flat. If I was working this hard now, how would I be when we hit the hills... would I hit the wall? Only one way to find out!!!
We reached the goat track. The climbs were here. I jumped on Andrews wheel and concentrated on finding a rhythm. TR and I changed up a few gears so we had somewhere to go when it hurt later! And you know what..... I think better days are on their way.... For the first time in a long time I wasn't last. In fact I was pretty close to first up that climb. And don't it feeeeeel good!

I was really happy with the rest of my ride to Glorious and then on via Nebo to home.... we arrived at my place smashed enough to lay on the lawn and eat the food left in our pockets!
What a great ride.....

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


So I am in my third week of a program and suffering. Not just here and there, but every session.
What is the culprit? Is it simple fitness? Is it the weight training I introduced and resultant changes in my body? Is it residual fatigue from the mega-long events I have done? Is my program right?

I don't know the answer to any of these. The urge is to start changing things. But the reality is I have only just started. I need to give myself at least 4 weeks to settle in. I think the diagnosis is a simple case "i-used-to-be-better-than-this-itis".

It is an interesting question. Am I better off carrying an extra 4kgs (that's a lot when you weigh in the 50's - like adding say 6 to 8% of your body mass) for the additional power it provides?
4 kilos may not sound like much..... but think of those rides when you put on a camelbak with a full 3litre bladder on. That sucker is heavy...... so an extra 4kgs must require greater effort. My mind is not set. Some riders I have spoken to say ditch it. Some say stick with it. I will give the program some time to settle and then I may have to run some controlled experiments!!!

One thing is for sure. The first ride of the week is my favourite. It is my only MTB ride at the moment.... and even the pre-dawn freezing cold creek crossings couldnt spoil the fun of ripping down the singletrack with a couple of ride buddies. Note to self - take camera with. Blogs without pictures SUCK!.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


I made a promise that once I got my plan together I would start a blog. Keep me honest. Once you put it out there that you plan to do it, then you are doing it; no backing away and no sneaky changing your mind. So here I am and no getting away from it, it is time. Welcome to Sock Puppet Racing.

This blog will follow my preparation, and hopefully transformation from an average weekend warrior into a beast 24 hour solo MTB rider who will be good enough to represent her country at the world championships in 2009. Already the preparations have begun. In the last couple of weeks a few things come together for me.

Tick: finished up my adventure racing commitments, and have turned my attention to all things bike. Good!
Tick: I have picked up a coach. Better!
Tick: I have picked up a sponsor. Best!
Tick: I have been horrified at just how slow I am riding. WTF!!! That was not part of the plan.

It is tempting to push up the speed and just ride faster. I know I can. But training is about the right efforts at the right intensities. Your heart rate doesn't lie. I have to push ego aside and tell myself 'You are where you are. Accept it. Start the work'. Doesn't mean I have to like it though, not one little bit.

Someone told me once if you want to get better, ride with those that are better than you. I think there is something in that. I've embraced it by sharing my long ride this weekend with mlegs. Argueably one of the best female MTBs Australia has ever produced. I look forward to the hurt tomorrow as we head up and back to Mount Mee. I am balancing it out by taking along my regular ride buddy TR. Who is also kicking my ass at the moment. There 's motivation if I ever saw it!