Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Training Session #1

Sunday 24th July: West Head loop.

Laura and I embarked on our first training session today. 

We were joined by Andrew Vize who had just bought a road bike this week so he could join in on the fun. He will actually be volunteering during the race and it  will be excellent to have him there to support us. This will be a bit of role-reversal as Laura usually "crews" for him during his ultramarathons. (I am sure she will be returning the favour when Andrew runs the Coast 2 Kosi a few weeks later. (This ultramarathon is essentially the same course, but they are even MORE unhinged, as they RUN it!) For more info on Andrew's crazy ultramarathon antics check out Ultra 168's website

We met at West Head again. I like this road as the surface is fresh, and there aren't too many cars. It also has a good range of hills to keep you entertained, puffing, and cursing! Luckily the rain had just eased and then decided to stay away for the rest of the afternoon. 

There had been a lot of rain this week, which was evident by the amount of dirt, rocks and debris in the dips in the road. Whilst hooning down the hill, at about 60km/hr, on skinny minnie, twitchy, flimsy road tires, rocks and debris are NOT your friend! But, luckily for me, I remained upright long enough to then have to pedal back up the hill. 

We had been riding along quite happily when we turned a corner and there it was. "Hell hill" as I had affectionately named it! This was the hill that had beat me last week. 

The view from the top of "Hell hill".
It looks small, but you can't see the steep bit
 where it drops below the crest in this shot!
Hills didn't seem too bad on my mountain bike as a kid. If you stopped progressing up the hill, you put your foot down. Easy! But now, with cleats, everything had changed. When you stop moving, there is a surge of fear that sweeps over you as you do the maths in your head. "I could keep pedalling, but if I lose momentum I have approximately 0.2 seconds to get my foot out of the pedal before my hip makes friends with the bitumen ... AGAIN! Do I keep pedalling and take the chance *runs percentages of failure through head* or do I hedge my bets and unclip and admit defeat?" 

I made it 1/2 way up the hill before admitting defeat, and spinning around and getting another run up to try again. This time I made it 3/4 of the way. Not bad. But still disappointed. So I sucked up my failure, unclipped and walked the rest of the way.

Try walking normally with these platforms
 stuck to the bottom of your shoes!
Walking in cleats must be one of the best calf muscle lengthening exercises.  Because of the cleats on the base of your shoes,your toes sit higher than the heel of your foot. The result: the penguin waddle that I am sure you would have seen as the flocks of cyclists waddle their way to the coffee shops on a Saturday morning! The penguin waddle creates an excellent stretch to the calf muscles. The stretch  is then increased even further when you add a steep hill to the mix! 

The reward for climbing up "hell hill" was the very fun ride down the hill to the lookout! The only problem was, as I was so excited riding down it, I was painfully aware that the only way out was back up the same hill. 

The view from West Head lookout.
The recent rains had sent all the silt and tannins into the ocean.

After several near misses (of the hip meeting the bitumen variety) Andrew came up with some new cycling terminology.

Barked: What happens when you accidentally steer the bike off the shoulder of the road into the bark chips whilst still clipped in. "You're barked!"

Timber: Verb. The action of falling of the bike. Usually a consequence of being barked!

I had come straight from work to todays ride, and had only had a small yoghurt for breakfast with no lunch. After riding for a while I was hurting! On the way back from the West Head lookout, (up another torturous hill) my legs started to tremble badly and the need to vomit ramped up in intensity dramatically!

Luckily Laura had some nifty gels on her. These weren't the usual sachets of goop that most endurance athletes use. But little blocks, kind of like jelly lollies. 2 Clif Shot Bloks later and I kept pedalling. I didn't notice a huge change at first, but the vomitty urge disappeared and I could keep pedalling up the hills much happier than I had been all day. These Shot Bloks were gold. I think I am in love!

I rode happily back to the car, and as the sun set we all went home. I was still a little hyperactive and bouncing around from the Shot Bloks much to the amusement of the people in cars around me! (Those of you that have been fortunate enough to have been in my car would understand this!)

No ones butt looks good in cycling shorts!
As an aside, why is it that whenever I am on my way home from riding I remember that I need to pick something up from Woolies? Walking around with shorts that look like they have a nappy in them is NOT attractive, no matter how good looking you are. I am sorry, but even Megan Gale would look horrid in a pair of these. I must remember to put a super long jumper or trakkies in the car for next time!

Distance: 25kms
Duration: 1:45 mins
Avg Speed 14km/h
Max Speed 61km/h
Fall Tally: 2
New Falls: 0

Friday, 22 July 2011

"Arguably Australia's toughest and most rewarding single day cycling event"
On November 19th 2011, sisters Laura and Emily will take part in the Sea 2 Summit cycling challenge to raise money for Redkite, who provide support to children with cancer and their families. They will ride their bikes from Merimbula Beach to the top of Mt Kosciusko. The ride is a total of 248kms and climbs 5500m of vertical. This ride has been described as "Australia's toughest and most rewarding single day cycling event".

Over the next 3 and a half months, they will be training and building up to the event. Laura has been cycling for a few years now and will help bring Emily up to speed as until 2 weeks ago, she had not ridden 1km on a road bike, let alone 248kms! But, in Emily's words "if you are going to do something insane, you might as well do something COMPLETELY insane!"

You can stay up to date on their training progress by clicking on the tab above. To be able to participate on the day, the girls must raise $2500 each. If you would like to make a donation, please click the button below. Every donation helps, no matter how big or small, and don't forget that every donation over $2 is tax deductable.

Click above to donate to Emily Petherbridge

Click above to donate to Laura Vize

If you would like to sponsor the girls and have your business advertised on this site please contact Emily at emily.sea2summit@gmail.com 

Images courtesy of http://www.redkite.org.au

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

"Hey Em, I've just had a crazy idea...."

Last week I bought a bike. Not just your everyday run-of-the-mill bike you had as a kid, but actually a big kids bike. A real road bike. 

Having not ridden a bike since I was about 14, I was a little bit daunted to finally have a bike with the "rams horns" handlebars (officially known as "The drops"). Not being one to do things by halves, I went for it all, the rams horns, the skinny-minnie road tyres (which look about as stable as a hippo en-pointe) and the carbon fibre soled shoes with zero flex that locked into the pedals and made you walk like a penguin when off the bike... Thats if you manage to unclip your feet before the bike falls over, taking you with it! And just because nothing in bike-land makes any sense, they then go and call these clip-less pedals. No wonder it's all so confusing!

My new child. A Giant TCR advanced W in an extra small. Now affectionally known as Roxy. (Thats short for the ridiculous oxymoron that is a Giant bike in an extra small). Image: www.giant-bicycles.com

So I picked Roxy up last Wednesday. Practiced clipping in (to the pedals) on Thursday, much to the entertainment of the local council workers on a break at the local park. Fall tally = 1. 

The problem with clipping in, is that if your balance is off, just ever so slightly, and your foot is in that pedal... there is nothing you can do. Zilcho, nada, nothing. You are going down! Its a strange mix of slo-motion falling, with frantic thoughts of "unclip, unclip" yet there is a sense of calm, knowing that your efforts are futile, and also a sense of hilarity about the whole thing. There is a certain elegance to the way you fall over when clipped in. Its like a tree. Lopped at the base, you fall as one straight piece, right on over, still holding onto the handlebars and land with a "thud". 

However, no real damage was done, and I clambered up, vowing to avoid doing that again as much as possible!

Since I was still having trouble with the pedals, and hadn't actually ridden anywhere yet, I decided to wear normal shoes on my next attempt.

Friday 15 July. 

I decided to meet up with a friend and actually try and ride this bike. The first things I noticed were:

1. Riding a road bike on the bricks they make pavement out of, such as on Australia Ave at Homebush Bay, are not conducive to a stable riding experience.

2. Road bike saddles HURT! And that was discovered only 2 minutes into the ride!

3. Normal leggings on a road bike are a disaster. a) Due to the aforementioned Number 2 and b) because you need to spend the whole time pulling them up. When you combine b) and number 1 together, your fall tally can very quickly escalate!

Luckily, since I was wearing normal shoes, I did not fall today, which was good for my confidence. Unfortunately, due the severe lack of saddle comfort, I could not sit properly for the next 2 days.

Sunday 17 July. 

My sister had offered to take me riding out at West Head. She had promised that it was relatively flat,  and we could cruise around and I could learn to clip in and out without falling over like a lopped tree.

She was right about it being relatively flat... when we were IN THE CAR! On the bike, that's another story. I was about to learn just how unfit I was. I knew I was unfit, as since I started working crazy hours I had been struggling to exercise, but geez, these were tiny hills I was struggling with. So after about 40 minutes of struggling up and down hills in the rain and fog, we called it a day.

Fall tally: 1 TOTAL: 2
Damage count: torn grip tape, scratched shoes, left hip redecorated to a new shade of deep purple, palm of left hand accessorised with a handle bar imprint in the same shade as the left hip. 

Lesson learnt: Even if you unclip the pedal on the right, if the road is tilting to the left, the bike will tend to want to go that way. Either unclip on the left, or compensate accordingly. Failure to do so will result in an increase in the fall tally. TIMBERRRRRRRR!!!!

Tuesday 19 July

So that takes me to today.

Just  a normal day when out of the blue I get a text from my sister. 

"Hi Em, I've just had a crazy idea. Redkite have a fundraising ride that goes from the coast to Kosi on the 19th November. You need to fundraise 2.5K but it's for kids with cancer and their families. It's fully supported and goes through Jindy and looks fab. Want to do it? Would give you something to train for. L"

So I've heard of this route. My sister's husband had done the Coast to Kosi ultramarathon on a similiar route previously. (Yea I know, they're fitness junkies!) I'd heard all about it. It sounded hard. Actually, like Hell. 248kms of Hell. But being a skier since I could remember, there was something about riding from the beach, through Jindabyne, and up to the top of Mt Kosciusko that enticed me. And it was for kids with cancer. Who can say no to that?

So with zero fitness. Having actually ridden this road bike twice, for a total of about 2hrs, with an inability to make it up the slightest hill, I registered for the Sea 2 Summit 2011.

It starts from the beach in Merimbula and finishes at the top of Mt Kosciusko 248kms later and 5500m vertical higher. (Oh, and did I mention there's a time limit?).

So if 248kms wasn't bad enough, dont forget the 5500m of vertical!


The way I looked at it, I could do something impossible, but maybe attainable, like the Project Futures Cycle from Sydney to Canberra to help stop sex trafficking (a highly worthy cause which I will incorporate into my training if I can. Check it out here: Project Futures Cycle Challenge 2011 )

Or, I could do something completely off this planet, and of epic proportions. So I went with "Go hard or go home" and "what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger".

Pulling this off will be one of the greatest achievements of my life thus far. 

So now I have 3 and a half months to learn to ride a road bike, and learn to ride 248kms and 5500m of vertical. 

Wish me luck!

Images courtesy of www.redkite.org.au