Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Bane of my daily cycling existence....

Ok that might be stretching it a bit, but I reckon everyone has a hill. You know, the one you dread cycling up. I am lucky enough that my usual commute to work is mostly downhill, with only a small rise just before I reach the Sydney Harbour Bridge. On the way home however it is a different story.

Get past the cycle ways through the city, up and over the bridge, down through Milsons Point and you hit Ben Boyd road. Now this is not a terribly steep or difficult hill – it’s about 1km long and has some steeper sections at the start, but it weaves around a bit and has this annoying habit of seeming like it goes on forever. It flattens out in sections so it is definitely rideable, but when I am sitting at my desk, its dark outside and I know I have to ride home, it’s the thing I dread the most. I often have the thought....what if I just take the ferry home....(bikes fit great on ferries as opposed to buses and trains do not go to my house).

The thing is, once I’m past that hill, the rest of the ride is quite enjoyable. That is after I get over the leg burn and re-learn how to breathe. Still, riding this hill five days a week can only be a good thing, since I have 5,500m of vertical waiting for me on a single day in November.

So I look at Ben Boyd as my daily challenge. I’ll continue to try and climb it faster and more efficiently, and one of these days I may beat my riding buddy to the top. If the hardest thing I have to do in my day is ride up Ben Boyd then I really have nothing to complain about, and I’ve never returned home feeling worse than when I started after heading out for a ride.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Northern beaches adventures and a week in review

After a sleepy Saturday, Sunday was the day to get the next long ride in for sea2summit training. There’s nothing like knowing you have to train for 5,500m of vertical gain to be covered in one day to get you out of bed!

Bright and early, Andrew and I rolled out from Mosman to head out to Akuna Bay via frenchs forest and Terry Hills. The weather was looking a little dodgy so we figured staying close to home was probably the best bet. Radar images were showing rain to be as widespread as the southern highlands so my usual trick of heading south in bad weather wasn’t going to work today.

A loop around Akuna bay and out to west head, then down McCarrs Creek road to Church point and the kms were slowly adding up. So far the rain had stayed away, so it was turning out to be a good day in the saddle.

Heading back from West head we ran into Emily who was out on her own training ride. It was nice to ride together on the way back and I was really enjoying seeing how fast we could go on the downhill stretches. West head is great for pushing pace, as there are limited cars and a great road surface with the surety of no potholes to catch tyres. To still be feeling relatively fresh at 50km was a good sign and with the last set of hills out of the way, we headed towards Mona Vale and home.

Pittwater road is always fun to ride, if a little busy. With three lanes for traffic , we were able to ride side by side with cars mostly giving us a wide berth. It was great to get into the big gears with a fast, solid pace onto Wakehurst parkway. A coffee gel just before the hill did the trick as we headed up towards Seaforth.

We almost made it home without any rain, but it caught up with us in the last 15kms. Glad to make it home with 100kms done. We headed to a café in Mosman for great food and well-earned coffee indulgence post ride.

The week that followed….

Not a lot of riding to be had mid-week, except for 80kms to and from work due to a mostly rainy week. I managed to fit in 3 runs which was a bonus and good cross training. The goal for next week is to increase the kms during the week. October is fast approaching with Fitz’s Challenge and November isn’t much further beyond that!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Lessons from a Learner


Over the last month I have gotten into this cycling thing again for the first time since I was a kid. I had been riding spin bikes at the gym, but as I have been reminded time and time again, it is not the same as a real bike!

So here are my tales from a learner cyclist!

I decided to get up early on saturday morning to go for my ride before a seminar. It was dark when I left home, and still dark as I started my ride. As I descended down into Akuna Bay the fog hit. Foggy weather is dangerous enough for a cyclist because:
a) you can't see where you are going and
b) the cars can't see me.
To make things worse, it was still dark so visability was quite difficult.
Even though I was lit up like a Christmas Tree I was still terrified someone would hit me.

The magic of a bike tune
I took my bike in to be tuned on Friday as the gears were feeling a little clicky and finnicky and I didn't think this was normal. The shop was amazing and squeezed me in. On the way down the hill the changes were so smooth. It felt like engineering genius! I managed to make it all the way up the hill without hurting too bad! I then turned into West Head Rd and powered up the first hill. Fantastic. But then, as I went to go down the first hill, I realised I had no low gears. Uh-oh. So I stopped the bike and that was when I realised that the cable was hanging loosely doing very little. Damn. My plan to reach 60km that morning was shattered as I had limited time to get it fixed before going away
this week, which meant I had to go home and
 get to a bike shop before my seminar.
 Luckily the guys fixed it on the spot for me! Phew!

 I had forgotten about leeches in Australia. The only time I had ever been up close and personal with them was while trekking in Nepal. While I was checking out the cable I saw a brown thing on my bike. I thought it was a worm and went to flick it away and then I saw its little sucker. ARGH! LEECH! Cue waterbottle and the jet stream that followed and the little guy was gone. AHA! Take that! No blood for you!

Downhills hurt
When you are climbing uphill, all you want is to get to the top, and then go down the hill. Trying Akuna Bay for the first time I discovered that downhill hurts too! The kind of hill that goes on, and on, and on, and on, and ON! Not knowing the road very well, I sat on the brakes most of the time. Being a Learner Cyclist, I am still not great on the drops. They're fine on a road I know, with a smooth surface and on a hill that doesn't require braking. When I need to brake I get into trouble. I have incredibly small hands, so on the drops, or on the hoods I struggle to reach the brakes. When you add this to a big stretch of steep downhill..... all I can say is OWWW! Hand cramps!

Cycling gloves and chain grease do not mix!
I took a friend cycling on Sunday to reattempt my 60km goal (as I had to abandon ship after the previously mentioned technical difficulties). I leant them a pair of my brand spankas cycling gloves. They were pretty, which is hard to find in the land of cycling gloves. Most are black and masculine looking. These were a nice grey suede and had white on top. However, when the chain falls off and gets jammed between the teeth on the cogs, this colouring is not so ideal! My previously clean gloves were now a new shade of black.
Pondering how I was going to get the grease out of my gloves I did what any Y-Genner would and turned to google. Amongst the crazy suggestions were shampoo, dawn dishwashing liquid, hairspray and hand degreaser. The list goes on. One that caught my attention was WD-40. Really? Spray oil on grease? I asked my dad, and apparently it made perfect sense!

So off i trotted to the garage and grabbed some RP-7 (the poor man's WD-40) and coated my gloves in a layer of smelly oil.
I let them soak for 5 mins and then coated them in a layer Morning Fresh. Apparently the WD-40 cuts the grease, and then the Morning Fresh removes the oil. I had lost all hope of reviving my gloves, but the results were astounding! Not 100% perfect but pretty close!

This brings me to the next lesson. When using this technique, GO OUTSIDE! Do not use the kitchen sink! My house smells of WD-40! It is horrible and lingers. The other lesson is don't smell the gloves. It lingers in them too! Although I think some outside-time in the sun might help. As a side note, this doesn't work with plasticy fabrics. My white plastic shell wasn't so lucky. But such is life.

Actually, these were all just lessons from the weekend! I wonder what is in store for me this week. I'm off to Cairns for work for the week. Roxy is all packed up in her bike bag and ready to go!

Please help me reach my goal of $2500 to help Redkite help children with cancer and provide much needed support to their families.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

100 Days To Go!!!

Today marks the 100 days to go point!

Training is progressing well and both Laura and I are hitting our targetted weekly kilometers. Suprisingly I have found the kilometers easier than I thought I would. Which is a huge bonus! I still have a long way to go to reach 248kms but at this stage, everything is on target and all systems go!

Last night Laura and I attended the Redkite Sea 2 Summit Information Evening held in Moore Park.

It was a great opportunity to meet the staff from Redkite and Sold Out Event Management as well as the other cyclists taking part in this years ride.

Meanwhile Laura and I are busily brainstorming fundraising ideas and events so stay tuned!

If you have any great ideas we would love to hear them!

Also, if you happen to be one of those people with "contacts" that might be usefull for signed raffle items, or raffle donations please let us know. The more items we have to auction off the better!

We are also "selling" adspace to the blog. (By way of donation to Redkite). If you would like to place a permanent ad on our blog to advertise your company or products, email me at emily.sea2summit@gmail.com

We have so many great things coming that we want to tell you about, but if I did, they wouldn't be a suprise! 
So you will just have to stay tuned...

Please help me reach my goal of $2500 to help Redkite help children with cancer and provide much needed support to their families.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Polo crosse, coffee, rain, hills and more hills

Training ride 3

7 August 2011

Left home just after 5am fully planning on cycling Brooklyn to Yarramalong via Bumble Hill but it was starting to rain on the way out so we turned around and headed to Bowral.

Radar had little rain showing for the southern highlands so we went in search of hills.

The ride I had in mind was 120km from Bowral out to Robertson, Jamberoo and Albion Park, via Macquarie Pass and return. Its a ride I've been wanting to do for a long time and with 1200m vertical and a blue sky day, it made for perfect sea2summit training.

The first 30km were nice and undulating and made for a good warm up. There was a Polo crosse event on which made for interesting viewing as we cycled past. Horses everywhere. Some startled easy and took off as we went past.

We hit the looped section of the ride just past Robertson pie shop. Tempting to stop for snacks but with the bulk of the ride still to go we pushed on.

About here I popped the first caffeine gu. The effects of this morning's coffee had worn off and I needed another hit.

A bit further on we hit Jamberoo mountain road and the descent into Albion Park. Whoa that is one full on descent! Having not ridden this before, I'm not sure I would have if I had seen it in advance. Narrow, bumpy road, blind corners and lots of cars combined with sections at least as steep as Awaba (12-16% grade at a guess) it was all I could do to hang on. I was sure I'd burn through my brakes but we made it to the bottom, flying near out of control the whole way. Highlights included the Subaru Wrx and Porsche clubs that were racing and pacing up the hill. Man I was glad they were not on our tail on the way down.

This is what we just came down...doesn't look anywhere near as steep as it is!

Up and down a few more hills, a quick re-fuel at Albion Park and all too soon we were facing the 11km climb up Macquarie Pass. More caffeine gels needed!

The climb that awaited us....

The first 6 or 7km are reasonably steep and pretty twisty, with a couple of tight hair pins. This was hard work and I was celebrating each km as it passed. They seemed to click over on the garmin way too slowly. Finally got to the top of the steepest part where Andrew was looking nice and chilled. Apparently he'd had time to do the hill twice... Hmmmm...

Once past the pass, it was an easier 30km or so back along the road to Bowral. I reckon we averaged about 30km/hr, it was great to get the legs turning in the big gears flying down the hills to power up the other side.

Great to get back to the car, just in time to beat the rain clouds rolling in. Happily found a bakery back in town and stocked up on snacks for the trip home.

Great day out.
Total distance: 110 (123km for my other half Andrew who managed a few out and backs while waiting for me!)
Time in the saddle: 6hrs
No of coffees? 5 if you count the two before I started, 2 gels during and 1 coffee after. No such thing as too much coffee I say :)

Please help me reach my goal of $2500 to help Redkite help children with cancer and provide much needed support to their families.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Traning Session #2: No rest for the unfit...

Saturday 30th July

So another week rolled by.

After a huge weekend last week, and being fully booked at work everyday this week, my mid week activity slipped in favour of the nanna nap!

Saturday afternoon was quiet at work, so I decided we should leave early. I had a seminar Sat arvo so I knew I'd be pressed for time.

I met up with my friend Kat and dragged her up to West Head. I decided not to tell her how hard it was, as I didn't want to scare her off!

1 hill done and I was not her favourite person in the world. But she perservered and made it to the end and back! To her credit, her bike wasn't changing gears properly so it was a tough ride.

I had been going well recently with the fall tally, however, it suffered on Saturday. I had finally made it up "hell hill". I was super stoked! So I rode down a little at the top to help motivate Kat. I unclipped as we stopped for a breather, and then when I went to take off I informed Kat "I always struggle to start uphills". No sooner had I said that, when my foot missed the pedal and TIMMMMBEERRRRRR!

Over I went, onto my left elbow, sending pain shooting through my collarbone, and my butt landed on the seat tip. Excellent, another butt bruise when the first one was only just fading! Luckily my collarbone was fine and up I jumped and continued on.

The ride back is so much easier than the ride out. I think Kat was starting to forgive me a little now. On the way back I saw my sister stopped. (She had run into us at the West Head Lookout). I stopped to check that everything was ok, when she told us how she had just seen and echidna waddle across the road. CUTE!

After having a chat with Laura about fundraising ideas I thought I would go meet Kat. So I decided to click in my right foot as I was just taking off anyway. (I usually click in the left first and put my right foot down). But then I looked up and Kat was coming around the corner. So my usual "stop" mechanism was put my right foot down. The problem was that it was clicked in, and my left one wasn't. So leaning the right was a fatal error. Well, almost. Somehow, in a moment of quick reactions, I managed to somehow get my left foot down, jump around on one foot for a bit and end up with the bike infront of me, right foot still attached, and front wheel in the air! Impressive!

Distance: 25kms
Fall Tally: 3
New Falls: 1

Sunday 30th July

I've been wanting to ride to work. It's 33kms and an easy way to get kilometres done during the week.

I had been a bit weary of the ride, as it's along Pennant Hills Rd. I had decided the best way to do it was with a test ride first. This presented problems as I would be riding to work at 5am, and home at 7:30 / 8 pm. Not the most convenient test times!

So after some birthday celebrations the night before I told myself "suck it up Princess" and got up at 4:45 and rode to work and back.

I chose Pennant Hills Rd for the full distance as I thought it would be easier than the hillier back streets. The one thing I hadn't anticipated was the horrible road surface! There were GIANT cracks every meter for a good kilometer! Each "kathunk" killed my butt! And I was petrified of getting a flat as I don't really know how to change one yet!

The run to work wasn't too bad, pretty much all downhill, which meant coming home was going to hurt!

A couple of shot bloks and a quick stop to take a pic, and I was off again back home. Thanks to those AMAZING Clif Shot Bloks the hills weren't too bad. "Just keep peddling, just keep pedalling" and slowly I made it up each hill.

I found my happy place on the hills. A slow but consistant pace on the easiest (still bloody hard!) and I'd get there eventually. I could do this comfortably in the saddle and use the "lift" from the pedals and rest my quads. Standing up killed my quads in about 30 seconds!

I got home just after sunrise, with time to have a shower and then go treat a patient before their Sunday morning sport!

Thats when the illness hit. All day all I could think about was going for another ride! I did my best to fight it, but by 5pm I gave in and went for a 10 min spin. Someone call a doctor!

Please help me reach my goal of $2500 to help Redkite help children with cancer and provide much needed support to their families.