Thursday, 3 November 2011

Fitz's Challenge Update

Loz and I have been busily training for the Sea 2 Summit. As part of our training we decided to do Fitz's Challenge as a practice run, to get our food, tapering and on day nutrition right.

I am glad we had this experience as apparently, I am not very good at it!

Carb Loading.

I had never tried this and I did not realise how hard this was. It was some kind of morbid torture, having to stuff my face with carbs I didn't feel like eating nor want. The carbs would make me feel full, and then I would have to eat more when I wasn't hungry at all. I really started to feel for those poor geese who have their bellies stuffed.
I have been gluten free for 2 years now, and have pretty much cut most starchy carbs out of my diet, except for the odd emergency meal. Two spoons of pasta and I was full. There was no way I could eat a whole bowl. And then another one for lunch the next day, and another one for dinner. Ergh...

Carb loading - FAIL.


I was meant to taper from Wednesday as the ride was on Sunday. I was desperate to fit a ride in on Monday or Tuesday, but due to a mammoth load of appointments and work commitments, I didn't manage to get out there. By Friday, I was twitching. I needed to go for a ride or do SOMETHING! I was starting to lose the plot. So I went to the gym, and sat in the sauna and spa. Resisting jumping on one of the bikes or swimming "just one lap" was a major challenge.

I managed to resist and thought I had done pretty well. When I went to meet Loz on Saturday for the drive to Canberra I realised just how much I failed.
Loz: "Did you just run up the stairs?"
Em: "Yes, I always run up your stairs!"
Loz: "No exercise means no exercise"
Em: " :( "

I also got into trouble when I would be walking and then just start jumping and leaping around as I tend to do from time to time. Apparently that isn't allowed. Neither is dancing around like an idiot.

Tapering: FAIL

But overall everything else seemed to run pretty smoothly.

Loz and I had a great drive down, reminiscing about the drive on our family ski trips to Jindabyne. We even pulled out Pet Shop Boys - Please, just for some giggles. Apparently car dancing is also not allowed, but we made some exceptions for "Opportunities" - Em at the top of her lungs "I've got the brains, you've got the looks, lets make lots of money!" 

(If you have no idea what I am talking about - heres the song below - not entirely sure whats going on with that video clip tho!)

Which brings me back to fundraising. Our auction items are still on ebay and going at bargain prices! Help us raise money for Redkite, and reach our target of $2500 each so we can ride! It would be a shame to come this far and then not be able to enter due to not reaching our fundraising requirements.

Head to Ebay, via this link (click here now) to see the items for sale. ITEMS END TODAY! Also, don't forget that every donation received goes in the draw to win some phenomenal prizes! Visit our blog page for more information (click here)

Ok... now.. back to the roadtrip report.

We arrived at the hotel just in time for dinner... (more carbs) and dessert. Then it was time to pack our jerseys full of GU, Shot Blocks, Hammer Bars, bananas, spare tubes, raincoats, tissues, kitchen sinks, baby elephants.. etc. You get the idea. 3 tiny pockets and sooo much stuff.. my jersey was so heavy it ended somewhere in the vicinity of my knees. 

Sunday - Ride Day

At 5 am, the alarms go off at about 10 trillion decibels! Up we got, and trundled to the car. All organised we got the car packed and bikes on the roof.. only to realise, that to make it out of the car park we needed the bikes OFF the roof. In a fit of giggles, we quickly removed the bikes, and then made it out of the carpark, with both our handlebars and seats still intact!

We arrived at Stromlo Forrest Park, which was abuzz! Bikes on roofs, bikes on the paths, cyclists everywhere - warming up, packing gear, pumping tyres, last minute mechanical tweaks. The vibe in the air was amazing.

We headed to registration, got our helmets checked and were ready to go.

Loz was off first, she was doing the 165km event and I was off an hour later on the 105km event.

This was my first bike event in my short 3 months of being a cyclist! I was soooo excited! But I couldn't jump up and down like I usually would, as per the tapering rules so I just stood with a big smile beaming across my face instead.

The ride was fabulous. There were so many people. Most went out hard at first. I am more of a tortoise. I like to start out at a happy pace, keep a happy pace, and finish at the same happy pace. There were some experienced riders, and some weekend warriors which would burn out soon enough. Burning out for me wasn't an option - I had 248kms looming in the back of my mind. So I kept plodding along.

When we got to the top of the first really nasty hill a large number of the "hares" were recovering at the top, gasping for air, while I happily pedalled past.

I refuse to stop on a hill. I will only let myself stop once I'm ontop of the hill - at which point stopping is usually useless, as it's then flat, or downhill and you can ride it out.

Despite my tapering and carb loading attempts, my legs were feeling pretty useless for the first 20kms. They didn't seem to have the energy or freshness I had assumed would be there. I trundled on and then they started to feel much happier.

Along the way I met a lovely lady wearing pink (I am terrible with names!) and we rode together for the next 20kms. Drafting off each other would have been the smart idea, as this saves a large amount of energy, however we rode side by side and got to have a great chat while we pedalled.

The last 5kms into Tharwa was so much fun. Lots of rolling hills with more downs than ups which allowed me to get some awesome speeds going. If there was a downhill road racing event, I would be in it in an instant! I managed to set a new high speed of 72km/hr on one of these descents!

I arrived into Tharwa, handed in my checkpoint ticket, grabbed some banana and then broke the golden rule of "don't try anything new on race day" and had some orange. Luckily the orange agreed with me, and tasted amazing. It was just what I needed. A quick water bottle refill and bladder empty and I was off again. None of this sitting around having a coffee at the cafe, or standing around chatting like many others were doing. I was a woman on a mission.

My goal was 5.5hrs - 6hrs with a 20km/hr average and I was going to do my darndest to stick to it!

Back on the bike and I was feeling good.

Some famous guy once said "what goes up must go down". That was the problem with all those awesome downhills - you have to climb your butt back out again!

With some grizzles and groans we kept climbing out. I had quick chats with those that passed me, and those I passed.

I happened to jump on the back of a "peleton" for about 2 minutes. I don't think the front guy had any idea there were about 7 people cruising behind him as he did all the hard work! I ended up going to the front and offered to give "Red Jersey Guy" (as he will now be called) a break. Unfortunately on the next downhill bit I accidently left them for dead. Oh well, at least I tried to help.

Slowly but surely, I kept trudging along.

There had been 2 people behind me for a while. "Blue Jersey Guy" and "Santa". Eventually they caught up and we had a good laugh. But then there was another downhill section, and I accidently zoomed ahead, only to start slowly putting up the hill again. Blue Jersey Guy and Santa were much better at the hills than me, so they went past me again, in a flood of more jokes and laughs. This continued for a good 20kms. Back and forth, laughing and cursing. Despite the pain from the hills, this made the ride quite enjoyable.

When I hit 75kms I bonked (bike term for being energy zapped). I had gotten slack on my refuelling and I paid for it. The boys went up a hill and I just couldn't keep up.

I muched on a caffeine GU (aka glue) and kept trundling along to the second checkpoint at 80kms.
Same deal as before - hand in ticket, banana, orange, and water and I was off.

Now a well researched person would have known that there were no toilets at checkpoint 2. I did not, and my bladder did not seem too concerned with the practicalities. I tried to keep pedalling but could ignore it no more. The diuretic effect from the caffeine was hitting with a vengeance. I had to lose all refinement and find some friendly looking bushes. This was the best decision ever, as now I could concentrate on riding and not on my screaming bladder.

I then hit a flat section and was feeling fabulous! Scooting along at 47km/hr I was having a blast! I then hit the Urairra Crossing and hit the "3 Sisters" which I like to call the never ending hill. It went on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on.... Just as you turned a corner and thought it would finish, it would go up and up again.

The only good thing about this hill was the road graffiti. Some of it was lame, but I completely lost it when someone had painted a scene from the space invaders game on the road. It was awesome. My day was made.

I kept on pedalling and met up with "Green Jersey Guy" who had flown over from Perth for this event. We had a great chat for the last 10kms and helped each other up the hills. We were then joined by "Red Jersey Guy". We were all hurting, but with some light convo and a few more laughs we made it to the top of the hill. At that point I went all out and zoomed into Stromlo Forrest Park and the finish line just behind "Red Jersey Guy". I did laugh that he beat me, but reminded him: "Don't forget who carried you the whole way" ;)

I had aimed for 20km/hr average and to finish in 5 1/2 to 6 hours, and that was exactly what I did. (5:40).

A quick warm down and then a bit of a chillout session on the grass with the other riders. I got the giggles once again. Cyclists are a funny lot! All I could hear was moaning, and complaining but all said with excitement and a sense of achievement. Everyone was so stoked to have finished.

I then spotted "Santa" and "Blue Jersey Guy" and had a great chat with them, with some more whingeing and complaining.

What was everyone complaining about? ...

The Headwind from Hell Iteslf

Cycling is fun. Hills, while hellish at times, are still fun-ish. Headwinds. So.. NOT...FUN!

We had a headwind / sidewind from Stromlo to Tharwa. Then, halfway back from Tharwa it seemed to turn around and become the headwind from hell. Going down one of the hills, which was long, and you could potentially fly down doing at least 50/60km/hr, I was pedalling my life out and felt I was going nowhere. I looked down, and to my disbelief I was doing a mere 20km/hr. I go faster than that on flats! Despite headwinds making everything much harder, I found it messed with my head more than anything. I found it so disheartening. I thought I was completely devoid of energy and had nothing left. Which had happened half an hour earlier, but with the headwind, I felt so much worse.

I decided to stop battling, made it to the bottom of the hill and luckily I snapped out of it. The GU's kicked in, I'd turned a corner onto the flats and the headwind became a sidewind. I felt I was on the final stretch and started flying towards the finish (and the epic hills that were still to come).

Wildlife Watching

During the ride I saw a little hump on the road. As I got closer, I realised it was a turtle! Cuuute. (Except for the fact that it took on a car, and the car won). But then there was another one, and he was alive! Go son! Run! Get across the road! (It was here I also got the giggles thinking.. "why did the turtle cross the road?").

Later on, I also got to see an emu in the wild which was also pretty cool, as I don't see them often.

The other wildlife which decided to make its presence known was the swarm of bugs we had to ride through. These little guys kept pelting at my face, convinced I needed a rapid intake of protein. Gross. Bugs are not tasty at all. I do not recommend them as a meal replacement.

Wear Sunscreen

It was quite cool in the morning, so I started off with leggings on. However, it started to warm up, so at the last minute I took the leggings off. Rookie mistake. I forgot to put sunscreen on my legs. My arms and face were fine as I'd covered them, but my legs are now a shade of deep red / purple.  I highly recommend wearing sun protection while cycling in summer!

All in all, it was a fabulous day, and great preparation for the Sea 2 Summit which creeps closer everyday!

Don't forget to get your bids in TODAY for our ebay items! Click here.
And don't forget that every donation goes into the draw to win some amazing prizes!
Click here for more information.

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