Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Is this finally summer?

Today's ride was amazing. It was sunny, the sky was blue, the wind was not too bad and I had some great wheels to follow..

Afterwards I even took a book out to the backyard and got my tan on!

The forecast for the whole next week is much of the same too! Happy Dayz!

It may be 4 weeks late, but maybe this is finally the start of Summer?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tour of Bright - Groupetto is fun!

So, some say I was overly ambitious entering A grade at the Tour of Bright knowing I would have only been back training for 6 weeks post Collarbone, but hey.. I've always been one to just throw myself in the deep end and it usually end in my learning how to swim pretty darn quick!

The week leading up to the race was pretty cruisy, but still a few nerves.. I'd only done 1 race since being back on the bike, and that was a short 45min Crit at St Kilda.. A far cry from almost 100k, backed up with a TT in the afternoon, followed by THAT climb the next day.. So the goal was to get to the end of the weekend, not in a blubbering mess.

It was a restless night for many on the Friday with Downpours like we'd never heard before battering the roof and making us realise we were in for a wet weekend.. Waking up to the Alarm Saturday morning with the sound still going, I reminded myself that probably my favourite race in Europe was wet and windy, so this was going to be fun!

Long story short, the rain stopped about 2 minutes before we rolled out, and the whole weekend ended up being the most fantastic weather you could possibly imagine!

Stage 1 was the Happy Valley loop, and for the first time the girls were starting in Bright. I rolled out with a few nerves realising that it was 3 months to the day (give or take timezones..) that I'd had the accident.. It was a fairly leasuirly stroll towards Ovens, with everyone finding their legs and no one really willing to do too much work knowing what was ahead.. Things soon changed with the first sprint being less than 15k in, and Prime Estate took charge showing that they wanted the Sprint Jersey, which they took fairly easily over the course of the weekend with Nicole Whitburn coming away with the prize. After that there were several attacks with Mary Rogers getting quite the gap on the bunch, however she was caught by the top of Rosewhite Gap.. Unfortuntely for me, no amount of telling my legs to shut up would help and I would slowly drop of the back of the bunch just over half way up the climb. Thankfully I wasn't the only one and a small group formed and we worked well over the dead and windy back roads to Mount Beauty to make it to the final climb.. By now the heat was bearing down and the very sheltered Tawonga climb got quite hot, but it was over with reasonably quickly and there was the finish line! I muttered to myself the same thing I say every time I reach the top of that climb... 'Thank F(&^ for that...'
The goal was to not come last - Mission Accomplished!

Time to roll back to Bright, set up the TT bike and put the feet up, eat, eat some more, and then get kitted up again for 15.5k of Pain!

Stage 2 - Time Trial..
So being the ex Triathlete that I am (shhhh, don't tell anyone), I still own a TT bike (not a triathlon bike, now I'm a cyclist it's a TT bike..) And damn it, if i'm going to own one, I'm going to use it! Even if it was likely I would come last.. As a great prep for the TT, for the first time in 12 months I'd dragged the bike out 2 days before and gone for an hours spin, so of course I'd be ready for this!
Everyone knows that in cycling it's not about how fast you go, it's about how fast you look.. And I'm pretty sure I looked fast! I even borrowed Melina's Aero Helmet to give me the full look.
Basically the TT went like this - OMG this hurts - Shut up Legs.. How slow am I going??? SHUT UP LEGS! The End. I'm sure they were all repeated over and over in my head, and it seemed to take a lot longer than the reported 27 minutes, but I'll take it.. And again, Didn't come last!

A much needed Gelati post race, and then it was time for a swim in the beautiful Ovens river to cool off and help the legs. It was a perfect afternoon and I could have sat there for hours, but it was time to go and eat again, and put the legs up again, and get the bike ready again.. Gee I'd forgotten how much was involved in this stage racing business!

After a dodgy nights sleep due to too much caffeine the previous day, we woke to another beautiful morning for racing. Surprisingly the legs felt pretty good, so more food, a bit of a stretch, and off to catch the start of the boys race before a bit of a spin to get the legs going. Then it was time to race again!
Things got off to a VERY slow start.. At first I thought I'd just sit in, save the legs, and give myself a fighting chance of at least making it 1k into the climb with the bunch, but that was boring, so I moved up to the front to help out with a bit of the work..
Things got a little messy when Masters Men passed our bunch, as after they'd got a bit of space, I managed to get a gap on the bunch a few k out from the first sprint of the day, so went for it and ended up reovertaking them.. After I'd been chased down by Mary from XOSIZE who was in need of the sprint points, the Men passed us again and the Cheif Comm stopped our bunch for 3 mins to let them get a gap. Great timing because after that effort I was stuffed! Definitely lacking in race k's in the legs! Never mind, I'd had some fun, got things going a bit, and now it was time to recover and look at the 30k climb up ahead.. Reaching the base of the climb, Vic Luxton (RACE) and I quickly dropped off the back, then rejoined, and then dropped off again, and set about a steady tempo to get in a nice training ride on a lovely sunny day. We came across Nic Whitburn who'd taken out the final sprints and been caught and spat by the bunch, and the 3 of us rolled up the hill as groupetto and finished together. Thank you to those girls, I've never enjoyed climbing Hotham more than I have on that day!

Vicki Whitlaw dominated the race yet again, winning all 3 stages. Everyone did an amazing job, and well done to all the SKCC girls who raced and placed above their expectations! A massive acheivement and I'm proud of you, especially those of you who were hesitant over racing A grade!

Whilst being competitve in the race would have been my ultimate goal, knowing where I'm at and where I've been, I walked away from the weekend with a massive smile on my face. One noteable member of my club felt that my 23rd place on GC was only 'Creditable', howver it's easy to judge when you don't know the story behind the results..

Now it's onwards and upwards. I've had a couple of solid weeks post Bright, and am looking forward to the next 3 weeks with Christmas, Bay Crits, and then my first attempt at racing the Nationals on the 8th of Jan.. Only 3 short weeks away..

Thanks to Jarrod Partridge (http://www.jxpphotography.com.au/) for the amazing photo's!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mind over Matter

Well I've officially been back for longer than I was away, and my oh my hasn't the time flown! It’s almost hard to remember that I even went away.

I started back at work almost 6 weeks ago, and although it had been 9 months since I was in the corporate world, it’s like I never left.. I’ve slotted back in seamlessly, so I guess the suit and heels scene is where I’m meant to be (when I’m not on my bike that is!) Work and my client have been fantastic with the support. They’ve been super flexible to allow me to train as much as I need to, because they know that I’ll get the work done when it’s required. They’re happy, I’m happy, it’s the perfect working relationship.

3 weeks back in to training and wow! Rebuilding is a frustrating process. When it seems that everybody around you has gotten fitter/faster/leaner, and here you are fighting to hang on.. And don’t even think about trying to share the workload, because pulling one turn will have you popped out the back of the bunch quicker than you can gulp your next breath! Going uphill is a major mental fight - the legs are the necessary, however unwilling participants and it’s only the mind that gets them to the top. A trip to Bright last weekend proved the theory of Mind over Matter (and some good tunes on the iPod certainly helped!) I don’t know how many times I told my legs that they’d ridden up the Aubisque/Tourmalet/various other Cols, so they could damn well ride up Hotham and Buffalo!

Through all of that though, I know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Day by day things will get easier, I will get fitter & stronger, and I’ll get back to – and then hopefully surpass – where I was at before the accident. Racing on Sunday showed me where I was at, but 2 months is both a very long time and a very short time. So much can happen in that space of time, that I know I’ll be ok.

I just need to keep reminding myself of that.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How time flies when you're having fun!

So it's been 5 weeks now since I've been home, almost 6 weeks since the accident.. What am I up to? Am I back riding again yet? What are my plans for the future...? Did my cycling dreams get shattered along with my collarbone?

Well, let's begin with the most important - Back Riding? You BETCHA!
It started 5 days post op with a 30 min spin on a Watt Bike at Cafe Velocino in Black Rock, and quickly progressed from there. By 3 weeks post op I'd done a 30 min spin outside and haven't looked back since! Been back on the road for 2 weeks and am loving it  :-D.

And what about the Future? What does that hold?
Well, everything ties in together.. Last week I started back at work.. No, not at Degani, back to PMP! 9 Months after I walked out of the Clayton office assuring everyone I would be back, but seceretly thinking I wouldn't be, there I was.. In Suit & Heels and ready to play the role of Corporate Barbie once again. Surprisingly I'm enjoying it! Whilst it's not a new challenge, it's an old Challenge reinvigorated.. It seems I just needed a break from the 'Same Old' and have come back with new enthusiasm. It helps that I was asked to come back, and that I feel I'm valued and needed. I feel that I've grown up a bit, but I also know that I don't need to prove myself. I've already done that. Now I can just go about my work, getting things done day by day, and cleaning up the mess that seems to have been created. I guess I'm coming in as the Saviour.. No pressure or anything! hah.
And it also helps that I have a bit of flexibility to still pursue my cycling Goals. This was the one box that had to be ticked before I agreed to come back, and thankfully PMP have come to the party.

So no, my dreams haven't been shattered. Quite the opposite. I've just had more spare time and recovery time to let them grow and as such, I find that I'm out there with so much more motivation than I had before.. And I'm not even 'Training' yet! I'm just getting fit so I can start training on Monday when I go back On The Program with Supercoach Stu! I've been told I'm in for a rough 7 weeks leading in to the Tour of Bright.. But I'm itching to get on with it! And only 3 more weeks before I'm allowed to start racing again.. Yay!

So the plan at this stage is Tour of Bright at the start of December, and then Nationals in Jan.... Then I want to do the TDU Races that have just been announced!

Summer, Training, Racing, Falling asleep at my desk of an afternoon from all the above... Bring it On!!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Holland Ladies Tour

Well.. It's time to write about the Tour!

The Tour details - 6 Days, 7 Stages & about 640kms of racing - All of it set to be at Warp Speed
I was racing with a team I met at the Krasna Lipa, the Rapha Condor team, which was really exciting as they're a great bunch of people which always makes things so much easier!
I had no goals for this race other than to finish the tour, and gain as much experience as possbile. Even though I'd travelled a fair bit in the preceeding couple of months, as was just training and racing ad hoc without being on a program from the Coach, I was confident my short stint in Belgium meant I was as ready as I could be for the Tour. But still, when you rock up to the Race Hotel and the HTC & Cervelo team Buses are lined up outside, you really get nervous! Even a quick glance at the start list caused butterflies when you realised that at least 5 out of the currently ranked top 10 Women Cyclists were going to be there!
In all, there were 29 teams and about 170 riders entered. I was glad for the Belgium experience, because this was massive and as Holland racing is renowned for being on Flat, Fast, Cobbled and always with Cross Winds, it helped to have a little idea of what I was getting myself in for!

So after a few accommodation dramas were sorted out, it was time for Day 1.

Van Gogh Village - Nuenen - 112.2kms.

After gorging ourselves and preparing some extra food to steal from the best Hotel breakfast buffet ever, we set off. Due to a little misdirection, we ended up getting to the start just in time for our team presentation. It meant for a very nervous start as I'd barely had time to do a 10 minute warm up before I realised that 90% of the Peloton had already lined up to start. This set the precedent for the following few days that you had to be on the start 30 minutes before take off, or you were on the back.

Even from the Nuetral start, things were sketchy and I knew that getting up near the front would be a wise move. As I'm finding is the norm in the womens bunch, there was too much unnecessary brake slamming and the typical elastic band effect from taking off again at high speed, which wears the legs out! Even so, I was still with the main bunch though the first section, and then still with just over 20k to go. Unfortunately, this is when one of the many silly accidents happened, and it was right in front of me with no where for me to go. I jumped straight back up and realising everything was in working order set to chase back on with the others, but the bike was hooked on another girl who seemed to be in pretty bad shape. Once we'd untangled, I set off and tried to stick with one of the Team USA girls to chase back on, but unfortunately this was just as the bunch ramped things up to chase down the breakaway and I never made it back to the pack. Finished with a group of 5 or 6 a few minutes off the leaders. Was pretty devestated as I really wanted to finish with the bunch, but just brushed it off and looked forward to redemption the next day. The beauty of having 6 days of racing, 6 opportunities to perform well!
Injury report - just a few bruises and a bit of a scratch to the nose thankfully!
The team faired pretty badly, with Charlotte also coming down in the same accident as I did, but she ended up at the local Hospital that night getting stitches in her stomach. She was tough though and started the next days race!
Cobble report - 1 nasty section we had to do 3 times that was several k's long, but thankfully had some smoother bricked section on the edge. Although still not fun when everyone wants to be on the smooth part and it's strung out!

Stage 2 - Leende - 107kms

After lots of food the night before, and another awesome breaky buffet, I was ready to line up for the 2nd stage. I was hopeful that the bunch would be a little less jittery than the day before and that I could keep it rubber side down! It wasn't to be though, and things were again sketchy, and I did have a little off. This time I got back on the bunch real quick and all was good. The legs were feeling good and I was gaining a little in confidence. This tour had the hardest bunches to move around in. I really felt my lack of experience here, and struggled to get anywhere past about half way up the bunch. It made things harder for me as it meant that if someone ahead dropped the wheel, we were left working to get back on! In the end I can only blame myself for not being further up the bunch and avoiding that stuff happening, but I guess that will come with more practice and experience.
Today's stage was brutal. It had to have been about half the stage was cobbled (which wasn't reported in the race manual!!), in the same manner as yesterdays stage. If you line up 150 bikes all in a row, that's what it looked like. We were strung out for hundreds of metres and of course there were cross winds!There were a few recurring wheel droppers making life difficult. Everytime we got around them, once things bunched up they seemed to be in front of me again!
This time I was positive I'd finish with the bunch, and until 3.1k to go, I was. And then then inevitable silly accident happened and split the peloton in to about 5 or 6 bunches, all who finished seperately and never rejoined. If the accident had of happened 150m later, we all would have been given bunch time, but no.. it wasn't to be.
Another minute or so lost, but moved up a few places on GC which was exciting. Still nothing to write home about, but it was improvement!

That afternoon we transferred to the next accommodation, a couple of hours away. It was a cool Bungalow with 3 bedrooms, kitchen and lounge. Everything we needed! Unfortunately the onsite restaurant had closed by the time we got there, so we ordered pizzas and set about demolishing them!

Stage 3 - Gieten - 106.7kms

The weather gods had stopped smiling on us today and the drizzle/rain set in before the start. This meant warming up wasn't really on the cards, so the warming spray was going to have to do the job! This time as soon as we'd signed on, we happened to be standing on the start line and girls started lining up around us. Wow! We were on the front! But in the rain.. Yuck. James gave us a brollie, and myself, Corrine & Fearny all huddled underneath whilst the other girls got soaked. Yay for us! Apparently we even managed to get on some footage that's on YouTube!! Not that it mattered, by the end of the Nuetral section I was back to where I belonged, near the back  :-)
On to the race. This was a 3 lap course, and again I was hoping things would have settled down a bit. Thankfully the wet roads seemed to make everyone a little more cautious, and I stayed on the bike for the whole race! Yay! Although i was reminded post race by Corrine that Number 3 was still to come.. Hmmm. So this was possibly the hardest, most painful race of my life. One of the girls I'd met at a local race summed it up nicely "I think I died 10 times in that race!" It was wet, there were REAL cobbles, unlike anything I've ever raced on before, there were crosswinds, and the wheel droppers were back again. As frustrating as that was, it was still my fault for not being further up front! Surprisingly, as sore tired as the legs were at the start, I think I felt the strongest I had so far during the Tour. It was just the constant bridging and working to get back on that had me dying by the end. In fact there was one particular point, about 5k from the finish, where I was gone. I was dropped and it was the end of me, I got to about 20m off the back of the group and just yelled at myself until I made my way back on. A couple of crashes in the last few k meant that although there was a big bunch of us a little way off, we all got bunch time. YES! FINALLY! Again I moved up a few more places on GC, things were looking good. Still not impressive, but getting towards top 100 was something to feel good about! hah.

Covered in Mud, but all smiles!

Dinner at the restaurant that night was amazing. The Banana Split dessert was delish  :-D And I headed off to sleep that night knowing that the next day was officially the longest I'd ever been in a race for, and that hopefully I'd improve again!

Day 4 - Diepenhiem - 97kms

Today's stage sounded nice and short after all the 100+ days! Was looking forward to having a great day. After yesterday going straight from the front to the back in the Nuetral, I decided I'd prefer to get in a bit of an extra warm up today than to stand on the start line, and I was glad. The legs were feeling surprisingly good and I was looking forward to the race. We had clear skies again which was nice, but the wind seemed to be up.

This is where things came 'crashing' to a halt for me. 15k into the stage there was one of those silly accidents where I came off the worst of all. The bunch slowed almost to a stop, I had no where to go so took a little bit of a gap, lapped wheels, girl in front moved left, bam. On my arse. Or rather, I went flying over the bars and my Head, Shoulder and Hip took the full force of the fall. I felt the hip most of all in the crash, but jumped up ready to get back on. After 2 seconds standing, I thought I should feel my shoulder, as I knew I'd hit it, and suddenly didn't feel so good. I had to sit down. The world was spinning and I was suddendly drenched in sweat. The Ambo came over and felt my shoulder, and before he said anything I just knew. I asked him not to tell me, I didn't want to know. My tour was over. My goal was shattered, along with my Collarbone.

At first it didn't hurt, so much as made me want to puke. I was nauseus, and shaking, and felt sickened when I moved and i heard the bones go 'click' as they rubbed together. When I had to get up to get in the ambulance, that's when it hurt. I felt every bump in the ride to the start to wait for another ambulance to take me to hospital. I needed something for the pain, or I needed to puke. It felt like an eternity, but was probably about 30 minutes, before I got any pain relief. Did I cry? A little. Not like cry baby crying, just those tears of pain rolling out that you can't stop. Whatever they gave me when I finally got something, wow. Within 30 seconds nothing hurt anymore. Unfortunately it only lasted 30 minutes, and by the time I was on the table in the Hospital the pain was back. Morphine jabbed in my leg did nothing.

The Hospital was really fantastic to deal with. Xrays confirmed that I was in need of surgery, so they scheduled appointments, got me cleaned up a bit and dressed and sent me on my way with some very expensive pills and even let me steal a pillow to keep me a bit more comfortable in the car. I could have stayed in overnight, but I didn't want to be there, by myself, in a forgein hospital when I had the option of being with people I knew where we were staying.

In the end, if I had the chance to go back, not do the tour, and be unbroken, I wouldn't take it. The experience of racing with the calibre of Women that were there was something I wouldn't miss for the world. Nor would I give back the confidence gained from being beyond the point of pain, being dropped, and digging deeper than ever before and making it back.

I will be back next year. Stronger, more experienced, and more motivated than ever. I have unfinished business with you Holland Ladies Tour!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Broken Bones and Business Class

As most of you know, I came down hard in the Holland Ladies Tour a week ago and have gotten myself a busted Collarbone.. I'll do a write up on the Tour that Wasn't over the next couple of days, but for now - the Injury.
As soon as it happened I knew I wanted it dealt with at home. The break was a bad one needing surgery, and as tough as I apparently am, I wanted to have that surgery somewhere my friends and family would be, where I could go home to my bed to recover.

A call to the insurance companies emergency line had me receiving a call from the GM of Savannah Insurance assuring me they would get me sorted. They put me in contact with a local agency called SOS who could speak the language and organise everything for me, and after speaking to their Doctor to assure that I'm right to fly, I had a flight home, in Business Class, only 3 short days after the accident had happened.

This meant that I had 2 more days in Holland with the Broken bone, and I want to say a HUGE thanks to Fearny and Charlotte for playing mum and taking care of me in the Bungalow whilst the others were off racing the rest of the Tour. Without these girls I would have been in a real pickle.. I could do almost nothing for myself!

Flying business class was amazing. Having Med support at the airports was amazing. In all, had it not been so uncomfortable with the moving bones in my shoulder, I would have been in heaven! As it was, after 30 hours of travel, getting in to the limo service at Melbourne Airport was a very happy moment. I was home.

Straight to the Doctors that day to see Dr Lugg, I was then scheduled for the Op the following day. Again, all payments and everything sorted out by my insurance, I didn't have to worry about anything!
No food from 7am, op around 3ish. Ok, I can do that! Turns out the Op happened at about 6, so was struggling from lack of food and water! But it was over quick enough and I was awake just after 7. I spent a long time in post op Recovery due to struggling with the pain first,and then the meds reducing my respitory rate a bit too much, so didn't get back to my ward until 10ish. The nurse got me a sandwhich and a cup of tea, and it had to have been the best sandwhich I'd ever had! Trying to sleep was difficult as the night nurse had to take my BP and Blood Pressure hourly, but at least I wasn't in pain thanks to my Morphine Button that I could use every 10 mins!

I was discharged nice and early, and Steph came to pick me up and take me home and look after me for a few hours, cooking me the best scrambled eggs ever for lunch! And then it was time for me to pass the time and hope the pain wasn't too bad by myself.

The last couple of days have been ok. The hard part has been sleeping, that's when I wake up in pain. But today is now the 4th day since the surgery, and last night went ok and so far I've been able to move the arm a lot more and I'm even using it to type this! I figure it's a bit of rehab, using the muscles and keeping them working!

Progress should be pretty quick from here, starting Physio on Wednesday, I should be on the Ergo tomorrow to start turning the legs over, and hopefully will be back outside in the fresh air within the next 2-3 weeks! For now I'm going to have to suck it up and get over my hatred of walking, just to get my daily fix of Vit D & fresh air, hopefully i'll just combine it with catching up with people I haven't seen in ages and going for Coffee's!

Whilst it's been a disappointing end to my Euro Trip, missing seeing the Rapha girls rip it up at Tour l'Ardeche(5th Team on GC!!), 4 days on the beach in San Sebastian and doing the Ras in Ireland, it's not the end of the world. They're all things that I'll just have to make sure I schedule in to next years trip!! And it is kinda nice to be home...

But my number 1 tip on travelling O/S, whether you're racing or even just planning on riding around - Make sure you have the Cycling Australia Insurance. When I got it, I whinged about how expensive it was, but they've taken care of EVERYthing and nothing's been too much trouble. Thanks CA.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

My saviour the 'Rolling Pin' aka - TPTherapy!

I'm used to getting regular Massage when I'm back home.. I think there's nothing better to make you feel recharged and ready to rock.. Especially when the legs are feeling like lead! So it's one of the things I've missed most about being here in Europe. Sports Massage Therapists are few and far between it seems! As such, I've only managed to get a couple in the 8 weeks i've been here.. So in between I've had to rely on self massage and my Trigger Point Quadballer and Massage Ball that I brought with me to get me through those sore legged days.

Along my travels, my Quadballer has been affectionately nicknamed 'The Rolling Pin', and is a source of much pain and discomfort, followed immediately by much lighter feeling legs. It is used in the same manner as a foam roller, but I believe it's more effective and targetted. The kit also comes with instruction guides showing you the most effective way to provide relief and prevent sport related injuries. On the days that I'm too sore to roll properly, or if I am using it pre ride, I will use the roller on my legs lightly using my hands. On the days I've done this pre ride, I've had my best rides of the week! If only I was disciplined enough to do it every day!  :-)

So when reviewing the things that I packed for my next trip, and realising that much of the stuff I have brought with me I could have done without, this is one thing that I will never leave behind, it's been invaluable!

What is Trigger Point? Check them out here - http://www.tptherapy.com.au/

Monday, August 23, 2010

Belgium, then Holland! Then Belgium again!

Well I arrived in Antwerp to find that the place I'd booked to stay for 10 days was amazing! A proper 1 bedroom unit, just like one you would live in. Great big bed, comfy couch, full kitchen. Perfect. Feels good to have a 'home' like place for a while where I can fully spread out, make a mess and not have to pack again for a while! I admit I had that at Alli's in Plymouth, but it was still someone elses space.

Had a great nights sleep, and the next morning I wrote down some directions on how to get to the race for that day in De Klinge, and hoped I wouldn't get lost. Well, I did, a few times! I even had to stop and ask for directions. Street signs and directional signs for towns are very lacking here in Belgium, so you know need to know exactly where you're going! If you're in a car, I think a Sat Nav is absolutely vital.

Anyway, with 20 minutes left until sign on closed, I'd all but given up hope of finding the road I needed, and I finally came across a sign pointing me to De Klinge! I didn't know how far still to go, but I high tailed it, trying to calculate in my head how close the town needed to be for me to make it on time. With 5 minutes to spare, I rock in to Boegy's Cafe for sign on and appear to be the last one to do so. Number 111, a big field.

I knew from the ride there that it was super windy, most of the trip had been in to a stiff headwind, so knew that today would be tough. Added to the fact it was about 28-30 degrees, and i had no one to give me any bottles during the race and I'd not drank enough on the way out, it was going to make things tougher. I think I'd say it was the toughest race I've done out here in Belgium. It was a very tight twisty circuit, with every corner we came to we would almost come to a complete stop, on some 'roads' that would be considered wide footpaths, with strong crosswinds. There were wheels being dropped left, right and centre from the start and because of the narrow roads I was finding it hard to move up the pack. There were some silly crashes when we were going in a straight line, one I got caught behind that caused a fair split in the bunch, but we managed to get back on within about 5k. After that mega effort, I seemed to feel a lot better and moved around the bunch a bit easier. I ran out of water with about 25k to go, and although I tried a sneaky grab from one of the other teams, he wasn't quick enough for me to grab one. Turns out it was the someone from  the Lotto Ladies team, and he apologised after for not getting to me in time!
Anyway, another crash a couple of k from the finish almost hindered my chance of a bunch finish, but managed to get back on in time. Was super happy with the efforts for the day, as the bunch that finished seemed a fair bit smaller than the one that had started! Turns out that only 58 girls finished, an almost 50% attrition rate, and the highest one of any of the races I've done so far.

A kind local rider offered me a ride back to Antwerp, which saved me a slow 30k crawl home thankfully! A nice big dinner and off to bed as early as I could.. It's hard to sleep after these afternoon races!

The next day was the Ronde Van Gogh - Nuenen. A feature racing day with Juniors, Newcomers and Amature men racing, followed by the Womens Elite race. For this one I had to catch the train to the Belgium border nearby to where the race was, then ride 35k to the start. I made sure I was meticulous with writing down my directions this time, and got to the race hassel free! The legs felt ok at cruisy pace, if a little heavy, so just thought i'd see how I went.
Turns out most girls were preregistered for the race and had their numbers assigned, but it was ok, they let me register (for free!!) and got number 67. A quick reccy of the course showed just under 2k per lap, with very tight technical corners, and 80% of the course being on brick paving. Ok in the dry, but if the afternoon's forecast thunderstorms and rain came in, it would be trecherous.

Standing around before the race, I was approached by the local news crew who thought it was great that an Aussie cyclist was at their little race! I had to do an interview, which was so weird, and hoped they realised I wasn't going to be going so well!

With the course the way it was, I knew it was going to be imperative to start up the front, and was pretty happy with where I'd lined up.. Until they started calling the girls to the start line in number order. Uh Oh, #67 of 69 meant I was on the back. Shit.
As soon as we started I knew I was in big trouble. My legs were empty. Standing up out of the first corner and trying to go around an already dropped wheel, I just had nothing. within 2 laps I was off the back with a small group, of which only 1 other girl was willing to do anything. After about 10 more laps, the rain started, and when straight away a girl lost it on the corner in front of me, I knew it was time to bail. I stopped to help get her bike and bottle off the road, as she wasn't in a great way, and then started heading off again to applause! Got to the next corner 100m up and there was another girl on the deck, 2 more corners later, another stack, and it was definitely time for me to get off the course. Not worth being out there with the risk to bike and body with what I have coming up next week!
Jumped back on the bike for the treck back to the train station and hoped I knew where I was going. Things looked different in the pouring rain, but I managed to make it back to where I needed to go, and I was even dry by the time I got there! Weird weather. With 45 minutes to spare until the train, I decided that my legs were lacking because of not enough food. So a trip up to the Vending Machine market and I had some Ben & Jerry's, a Waffle & a pack of chips on hand to munch down on whilst waiting for the train. Felt better already!

Now it's time for me to get some rest and relaxation.. A super easy week, a bit of sight seeing around Belgium, I'll go check out the final TT of the Eneco Tour in Genk on Tuesday, and I'm even going to get a massage tonight, will see how that one goes! And then next Monday I'll head to Eindhoven to the race hotel for the start of the Holland Ladies Tour on Tuesday! 6 Days, 7 Stages, about 640kms. Ouch..

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Amsterdam - 24 hours of indulgence!

On the way back to Belgium, I flew in to Amsterdam. I was only going to be there for 24 hours, but several people had told me it was a must visit city, and considering I’m missing so many of these on this trip, I thought I’d make sure I could get in the ones I could.

Arriving around 6pm, I checked in to a Hostel (Yes.. A Hostel! I had to do it at least once this trip) and met the 2 guys I was to be rooming with. Nice guys from Mexico, I didn’t even get their names. Dropped the bags off, a quick bit of connectivity, and off I went to explore the city. The weather was perfect, and the city was buzzing. I was only a 5minute walk from the start of the centre of the city, on a fairly main road, which was good for finding the place when I realised I’d not taken the address with me! Wandering around for a couple of hours taking in the amazing sights and sounds of the city was awesome. People, Bikes, Boats, Cars, the city was humming.

I’m not going to go through the whole trip, but no, I didn’t make it to the Red Light District and I didn’t go in to a ‘Coffee Shop’. That will have to be something for the next trip. After a whole day of travel and then walking around for a few hours I was wiped and couldn’t last until the time when things got going. The gluttony started that night though, making myself sick on Ice Cream, followed by the next day sampling some of the local delights. There were Frites, more icecream, a pink iced waffle!!! More icecream and to finish it off, Pizza. Oh well, I should be carbo loaded for the 2 races I’m doing this weekend! Back on the bandwagon tonight when I get to Antwerp.
Frites! This time with Ketchup to keep Hughsey Happy :-)

We all know I love a Pink Iced Donut.. So how about a Pink Iced Waffle? YUMMO!
Amsterdam is a city full of Shopping, Food & “Coffee Shops”. People watching is a big pasttime like many European Cities, and boy are there enough people to watch! I think it could be my favourite city I’ve been to so far, maybe on par with Paris (outside of Melbourne of course!), but my already slightly too large waistline, and my credit card, thanked me for only spending 24 hours there.

They say the world is a small place...

After getting another stamp in the passport coming through Amsterdam Airport, and having some time to wait for my bags, I started flicking through looking at the stamps I was accumulating. I came across my first ones. Thailand - June/July 2007.

It was my first ever trip overseas and I went with my best mate Mel. Things were so different back then! We didn’t take laptops with us, we didn’t have iPhones, Twitter didn’t exist and we hadn’t actually even heard of Facebook! We learnt about it on that trip though and signed up straight away.. Was that the beginning of my need to be constantly connected?

Back then if you wanted to share your photo’s with friends, you did it after you were home. Catching up, telling stories and reliving the adventure. Now, as long as I’ve got WiFi signal I can put a quick photo up from my phone, or post daily updates when I’ve put them all on my computer. Travellers specifically look for hotels, motels, hostels that have free wifi so they can be connected with Family and friends. Skype wasn’t around, and you had to buy a calling card or fork out mega bucks for roaming charges if you wanted to check in with him. Now you can log in and call anyone in any place in the world free, provided they’re online of course!

So yeah, they say the world is a small place, but it was a lot bigger a few years ago when I embarked on my first adventure..

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Well, in Aus, it's called Creeping..
Whilst my new British friends call it Hanging..
And I've just been informed that the Irish call is Swinging..
I'm sure the Italians, Belgiuns, French & Spanish all have different words for it too, but I can't understand them to tell you!

Whatever you call it, you know it means your legs are nailed and you're set to ride Groupetto. Even if it is just the Tuesday night 'YOGI' bunch ride!

Oh and dissappointingly, no more Cornish Cream Tea stops.. Didn't have time in Princetown, and we're not allowed to stop on non recovery days  :(  I will have to just wait for Holland and the Stroopwafel I've been told I mustn't miss out on!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Cornish Cream Tea

Well a snap decision on the way to Belgium had me travelling, post race block, to Plymouth with Alli, for a week or so of being able to settle down, unpack my bag, and get in some solid training.

Plymouth is an amazing training area, and it's easy to see how she's so good at hills. All roads are either up, or down. Basically every 60-70k's you cover, you do about 1000m in elevation. Not something my little legs are used to, and exactly what they need!

My introduction to the Cornish Cream Tea began after a quick Ferry Ride to Cornwall for an easy spin in the afternoon sunshine. We stopped in a town called Seaton at the Cafe on the Beach, and I almost drooled on the plate someone walked past me with that had a scone with amazing cream and jam on it! That was it, I had to have one.

A fresh warm scone, a big dollop of Clotted Cornish Cream, and some strawberry jam, and I was in heaven. Washed down with a big mug of sweet Black Team, and the package was complete.

And so began my new tradition of the mid ride Cornish Cream Tea. So far I've had 2, with the first one being best. Blackpool Sands, although 'Organic Home Made', were dry and dissappointing. Although I must admit they got me 60k home when my legs were like lead! One of the girls didn't believe I would be able to eat both Scones and still make it home without puking, but she clearly doesn't know me  :-)

Tomorrow we journey to Princetown where I've been assured the Scones are delicious.. We will see! Report to follow..

Belgium and Beyond!

Well over a week of being sick finally came to an end on Wednesday evening.. Which was thankful because on Thursday the road trip to Oudenaarde in Belgium began for a 5 night stay to have a crack at some Belgiun Kermesses!

The trip took us on the Ferry from Dover, so I got to see the White Cliffs of Dover! The whole trip was uneventful and we arrived safe and sound to the Camp site where we were staying in a Trekkershutten.. We guessed this meant Trekkers Hut! Arriving we found there to be no utensils or crockery, so our plan of cooking dinner went out the window and we headed in to town to find some food to fuel us for the next days race!
Was a late night to bed, but with the knowledge that the race didn't start till 5pm.

First race was the 105km Flanders Cup race in Erondogem. Even the name of the race was scary with images of all the Flanders locals out to take points in the race. Thankfully, the Holland Hills Classic and the Sparkassen Giro were on that weekend, so the field was a little smaller than it normally would be and only about 60 girls racing.
The weather was warm and quite muggy, and unusually for belgium there were a couple of little pinch hills and an uphill drag to the finish. I lined up on the start really nervous! Apart from the attempt at racing the previous weekend, I'd done nothing of this speed or intensity since Czech a month earlier! Oh well, the goal was to finish one lap, and then assess as each lap went on. 4 x 15k Loops, and then 5 x 9k loops was the order of the day, and it was fast! Attack after attack, chase after chase, until finally a small break of 7 went away. I didn't even want to look at the speedo sometimes, but when it's strung out in a chase, you just have to and 50 was often seen! I made it to the end of the first lap and realised I had a chance of at least making it to the end of the first 4 laps, so just focused on the wheel in front. Feeling pretty comfortable in the bunch and moving around the bunch, making my way up near the front.. I couldn't stop myself from smiling! This was so much fun! And so different from any racing I'd experienced before. After the big loop, we hit the smaller loop and as soon as we were turned a different way, it was quickly on to my first experience of Real Cobbles. Wow. Bit of an uphill drag, and real big bumps of cobbles for a few hundred metres, it was loose hands on the bars, big gear, and just get through it. I found it not to be too bad and found myself moving up places on this section quite easily! One of the things I noticed about cobbles though, you come off it feeling like you have a flat tyre! I actually checked after each time!

With 2 laps to go, Natalie one of the girls I was travelling with, timed an attack right when I was on the front, and she was able to get a nice gap to the peleton who never caught her, coming in 8th in the race! And I'm happy to report that I finished with the bunch! I couldn't believe it!

Home to get in some food and try and switch off for a good nights sleep, which is hard after a late race and too many caffeine gels!

The 2nd day's race was in Heusden, again at 5pm. The day started off ok but the clouds started rolling in during the afternoon and by the time we arrived, it had started to rain. It was a bit windy too, so this was real Belgiun racing! 2 Cobble/Paved sections in todays race, but mostly flat, everyone was pretty cautious on the tight corners and when visibility dropped almost to zero, and it was a safe, but not boring race! The girls from the Aus National team showed up, and kept things well animated.. If they weren't instigating an attack, they were right there on the wheel of it, showing what great team work is all about. The succeeded in getting 1st and 3rd, which were well deserved! I can only hope to be anywhere near as strong as these girls one day! 18 laps of a 5.2k circuit meant we all knew the course pretty well by the end and my confidence grew in the wet. I was surprised at how good my legs felt after the previous day and I wanted to have a go at being up there at the finish, but stuffed it a bit and then with the finish being on the slippery paving, I decided it wasn't worth it with my lack of sprinting ability and experience! Again, big smiles all around, this time just very wet/filthy ones! That Flemish sand is a bugger and gets everywhere!

Wasn't feeling too good the next morning, and spent most of it in bed, but managed to get myself right in time to leave for the 3rd day of racing, this time in Sint Nicklaas. It was overcast today, but thankfully stayed dry for the whole race, which was 17 x 5.3k for another 90k race.. The legs were feeling it a bit today, and I didn't like my chances of staying on, however managed to push myself through and make it to the end with the bunch again! Today was a mental challenge.. Having proven to myself over the last couple of days that I could do it, I just had to push through the dead legs and hang on.. Today was the day I knew I needed to be up the front to minimize the surges out of the tight corners, but I just couldn't get there and suffered at the back. All still racing experience and another finish under my belt!

Monday was a rest day from racing, and we were looking forward to heading out for a cruise around some of the Tour of Flanders route taking in some of the cobbles followed by a bit of time by the pool.. but I woke up feeling even worse than the day before and spent the whole day in bed unable to eat much! I figured the best thing was just to rest and hope it passed in time for the next days race! The others headed out though and seemed to have a blast! I was so jealous.

Thankfully it passed and we packed up the car and waved goodbye to the Trekkershutten and headed up to Braschaat near Antwerp for the biggest race we'd done for the weekend! Today's race had an extra bonus, that if you placed in the top 20 you did a 2nd race directly after the first, a hot dog crit where every time past the finish line, the last person was eliminated, with the winner taking home a cool 1000 Euro!
First though, we dropped in to the Tour of Flanders Museum in town in Oudenaarde which was amazing! Checking out all the footage and pictures from races gone by, it looks like such a tough race!
After arriving nice and early to the race and registering - Oh yeah, racing in Belgium only costs 3 Euro! That's less than $5! Sometimes you pay an extra 5 Euro, but get that back when you hand in your number. It's insane! And all of the races are professionally ran, with barriers, photo finish, good prize money, and spares vehicles! It's going to be tough going back to Aus and paying 4 times as much for 4 times less!
Anyway, rolling around the course warming up and to one side we spot a Cervelo kit.. No.. It can't be.. Is that Kirstin Wild?? Didn't we just see her picture in the Flanders Museum for 3rd in the most recent Womens race?? Oh god.. So the numbers grew, and the highest number I saw on the start line was 98. So 100 women, vying for 20 spots, in the rain, and with more real cobbles. It was tough. 16 times a 5k course, with about 1k of it being Cobbles! Big, bumpy, slippery cobbles.
As is the norm here, it was an agressive race, and finally a small break formed. Things were still animated in the bunch, with riders wanting to get free to secure their top 20 spot! My legs were lacking any oomph from the previous days lack of food and illness, and I even had a 'Moment'. That moment where you think you're done for and that's it, you're out of the race. But a well timed lull in the pace combined with one last spurt of effort meant I was ok, and things were better after that! I started taking the cross country route around some of the corners, getting up near the front, and generally feeling much better! Coming in to the final corner for the extra long/wide/tail wind aided finish straight, I managed to position myself well and was sitting about 4th wheel back from Kirstin Wild on the front. I thought - Wow! I had a shot here! - and as I'm apt to do, got a little too excited and came out from the wheel I was on far too early and blew with about 100m still to go. Finished somewhere top 50..

Stayed and finally got myself from Frieten with Mayo and watched the elimination race which was good fun, Kirstin took it out fairly comfortably! Then it was on to the long journey back to London.. With us getting in at 4am! A few hours sleep and hyperactive Alli had us back in the car and on to Plymouth where I've come to stay with her for a week to get in some hills and training! So far Plymouth is Beautiful, but it's so hilly! There's nothing flat, it's either up or down. Perfect, it's just what I need!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Giro!! Of the Essex Variety..

Well I woke up on Saturday not feeling TOO bad, so in my usual silly manner, decided to start the race.

As we arrived the drizzle set in, and it became apparent that we were going to be TTing in the pouring rain! Damn English weather!

First up was a 4 mile TT/Prologue.. 3 laps of a cicuit called Hog Hill, which was pretty nice and fast, with a bit of technical and a killer of a hill every lap. Came so close to puking, but wasn't completely shattered with the time I did. Of course would have liked a better prep and to not have been sick, but it could have gone worse. Avg Hr of 183 for the just over 10 minute effort left my face a bit pink for the next hour or so! Kara Chesworth, recently selected for the Commonwealth Games team won the TT, with Natalie Creswick who i'm staying with coming in 2nd!

Spent a few hours just chilling at the cycling centre with the other girls, eating, resting, eating and more resting, and then it was time to kit up again and warm up for the afternoon's Crit race. Held on the same circuit, just in the opposite direction, which meant we got to go up a different killer hill!
GC was close between the top 6 or so from the TT, so with 2 sprint primes & 2 hill primes both worth valuable seconds, the place was set to be on. I felt surprisingly ok for the first 20 mins of the race, but then things started to go downhill from there. With my HR through the roof again, and the leg shattering climb each lap, I lasted until about 34 mins into the hour long race before my legs just detatched themselves from my body. From then it was a solo 4 laps until a few other girls who'd been dropped earlier managed to catch up to me, and then it was just hold on with everything I had left!
Up the front of the race, the finish came down to a bunch sprint with no one being able to get away. One of the Rapha girls took the win which pushed her in to top spot on GC, with a little reshuffling of the other top GC places.

Headed home on the train to try and get a good nights sleep, and crossed my fingers that the efforts hadn't put me further into a hole of illness!

After not a great nights sleep, I got up feeling really drained. Had a very slight cough, and ummed and aaahed about starting the whole way to, and then all the way up to 30 mins before the race. Then I basically just decided - why not? And jumped on the rollers to try and warm up.
What a mistake that was!?
On the first hill in the race I blew completely and then did a couple of laps of the 10mile course with Claire and Katie from Rapha just to get a few k's in, coughing and spluttering the whole way around and generally feeling crap.
Watching the finish was fun, it was so tight that no one knew who'd taken out the overall until preso's! Anna Fischer from Max Gear ended up winning the last stage, and taking out the overall win by just 1 second to Kara, Emma from Rapha slipped from top spot down to 3rd.

Even though I had a crap weekend in racing and health terms, it was heaps of fun to be out there seeing the racing in England! It's just dissappointing I couldn't race to the level that I knew I could.

By that afternoon I'd half lost my voice, and for the past 48 hours I've been the same. I really need to learn to not do things when I'm not healthy enough to do them!! One day I'll learn I guess.

Now to make sure I get better in time for some racing in Belgium this weekend. Which I think will be an absolute disaster, but hopefully I'll come out of it a bit fitter!

Friday, July 30, 2010

A quick update

Well it's been a while, but I've been sitting on the couch all day because I've managed to get myself a cold, so it's time to stop procrastinating!

What have I been up to since the Czech race? What haven't I been up to?!

I've driven along the race route of the TDF
I've spent a week in the Pyranees doing a little bit of Col Bashing
I've done the Tour l'etape - 170ks, 4000m+ of Climbing, 8 hrs of riding & 35+ degree heat the whole time
I've driven 7 hours solo across France to Paris
I've driven through the middle of Paris and lived to tell the tale
and I've partied with cyclings elite at the TDF After Party!

Me and my bike have been through 4 flights, 3 train rides, multiple car rides and lots of vertical meters of climbing!

No wonder I got sick this week! It was all bound to catch up to me at some point..

So now I'm in London! The cold hit me the day I travelled here, so I've barely seen anything. I've been on 1 ride this week, and just about died, so with the Essex Giro coming up this weekend, I've decided the best option is to just do nothing. Plonk my butt on the couch for the whole day and cross my fingers that this is gone by tomorrow!

Coming up - Essex Giro, 2 day stage race north of London

Hopefully a couple of healthy days to head in to the city and see the big London Sights
Then a road trip to Belgium with a couple of really cool Brits to hit up some Kermesse Racing!

After that, the plans are still being finalised, but I'm pretty sure there'll be at least another 2 weeks somewhere in the Mountains of France so I can tick off a few more of the big climbs!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tour Feminin - The Rest

Day 3 & 4 -

21k (Actual 18.5k) ITT - Bogyatnia, Poland

So the morning started with all the teams having to depart the race hotel at the same time as we were crossing the borders of Germany and Poland under Police Escort to ensure no need for Passport Checks which meant we were at the start with plenty of time. As I was one of the last riders on GC, I was off pretty soon after the start.

I felt OK in the warm up, not great, but not terrible. Did a lap of the course and found it to be hot, windy, hilly and most of the road surface was appalling. Oh well, it was the same for everyone.

The team kitted me up with an Aero Helmet, Disc Wheel, and even tried to find a TT bike for me but the only one they had spare was too big, so we went with the road bike. At least I looked the part! Bike check done, and got to the start ramp in plenty of time.

Took off with Lukas following me in the team car, and instantly new it was going to be a loooooong TT. I had nothing in my legs. I don't normally do very well in TT's, but this was just going shockingly bad. I got my HR up reasonably well, but I just couldn't push any gears.

Made the turn around, and still had nothing, so just focused on finishing.

Jarmila did really well and posted a top time, Gabi a little faster than me, and me... DFL. Haha! First time I've ever been Dead Last in anything that I can think of!

Lunch in Poland followed by a couple of hours rest at the race hotel where I had time to have a cold shower to try and cool myself down a bit, which was proving difficult.

Road Race - 104k - Start/Finish - Rumburk

The course profile basically had 13k uphill, 13k downhill, repeat x 4. As I'm finding with this race though, the course profile wasn't quite right. It was more rolling up and down, with some stupid steep climbs again. With the race set to start at 4pm, it was going to be a scorcher. As it doesn't get dark here till around 10pm, mid to late afternoon is usually the hottest part of the day. Reports are that it was 44 degrees standing in the sun on the start line, with the race being about 39 with heaps of humidity.

This was the first time that I'd got the start line thing right. 2nd Row, just behind all the jerseys. WOO! Hopefully I could hold my position.. Yeah didn't happen. We started the race on Cobbles, and trying to clip in quick on cobbles proved rather difficult!! Maybe something I should practice.. Oh well, back to the middle/tail end of the bunch where I belong!

The first 8 or 9k went ok. I didn't feel great, but I was hanging in there, and then the Hill Premie (QOM) came up out of no where. When the road really went up, I imploded. Like I never have before. It was more that I spontaneously combusted from the heat. I was cooked, and try as I might over the next few k to hang on to any wheel I could to continue on, I couldn't and my mind gave up on me. When I saw Alesh handing out bottles, i crawled to the right side of the road and all but fell off my bike. My tour was over.

As I lay on the side of the road in the shade, pouring ice water over myself, I was kicking myself for not continuing on. I know it was weak, and I knew the race would be hard, but at the time I'd done all I could. Hindsight makes me think there was more I could have done, but at the time it was over.

Day 4

Road Race - 98km Start - Varnsdorf, Finish - Krasna Lipa

Today was a lovely day for me and a couple of the other girls that were out of the tour. The race was starting in the town we were staying in, so we rolled to the start with the super cool Rapha All Start chicks, watched the start and then headed off after the convoy for an easy cruise on the course. An easy cruise isn't so easy with some of the terrain around Krasna Lipa, including the fact that we went up the dreaded Vapenka climb 2 times and did 700m of climbing in 50k, but we literally just rolled along actually getting to enjoy the beautiful scenery! The heat wasn't even a bother as we weren't racing..

We went to the top of the Hill Premie to cheer the girls on over the hardest part of the course which proved perfect. To see the front of the pack going over that climbing looking like they weren't even puffing was amazing. The levels of fatigue by the top of the hill as you went through the peloton was apparent, and by the 3rd time up the climb the front bunch had dwindled to about 20. We rolled down to the finish after most of the bunch had gone past and that was us done for the day!

So that was the Tour over.. Trixie Worrack, Ex World Champ, dominated. She won every stage and overall.. From 170 starters, there were 105 finishers.

I had an awesome time racing with the Dukla Praha team.. They looked after me from the minute I arrived in Prague until the time I left.. I can't wait to go back again next year!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Tour Feminin - O cenu Ceskeho Svycarska, CZE, 2.2 - Stg 1 & 2

So here I am in the Czech Republic, racing for the Czech Army team - Dukla Praha - in my first ever UCI race.
Some said I was crazy for this adventure.. "You've only been racing bikes a few months, give it time" etc etc, but I'm all for throwing myself in the deep end, and considering I was planning on coming to Europe anyway, I figured why not??

First off, the team. 6 girls including me, all the others are normally on the team and have raced with each other before. Then there's the Mechanic, the Team Manager, and the swanny. Added are the Team Bus and the Team Car, and here I am racing with a full on Pro experience!

Day 1 - 116km, Start/Finish - Krasna Lipa

The day was planned out, and the schedule translated to me, Team Breakfast in the dining Hall, then team lunch, then we depart to get to the start in time for Team Presentations and sign on. It was a 1310 start time.

After Presentation, i went for a big of a warm up ride, then got a quick leg rub, before going to head out for a bit more of a ride only to find half the field already on the start line, and it was 20 minutes to race start! So for fear of having to start completely at the back, I jumped in too, and waited.. and waited.. HR was sitting around 130, I felt sick, it was hot, and I was bloody nervous!

Finally we got underway and it went like this - fast, slam brakes and yell WOAH, fast, slam on brakes and yell WOAH.. There was a silly stack only a couple of k in, and I really wanted to move up, but I started in the middle of the pack, and I never got even close to the front. 170 girls take up a lot of room on the road! The first big climb started about 15k in to the race and due to my lack of being able to get past about 100th wheel, I found myself off the front pack quickly with a bunch of about 15. Almost made it over, but the heart and lungs just gave out! I was still feeling like I was about to puke, and it was soooo hot!
That's pretty much how things stayed for the next 100k, we picked up a few other girls who'd been dropped along the way, and no one was really too keen to do too much to chase after about 50k, so the pace slowed and we just concentrated on getting to the finish. There wasn't much talk either, considering everyone speaks different languages! When they did speak, I had to wonder if they were doing a Bridget - "My bits hurt!!"
Had a quick glance of my average HR after an hour of racing, and it was 178!
Made it over the final killer climb and then we rolled through 17mins down on the leaders. Looking at the results it seems there was some serious action where the race was at!
I completely underestimated the climbing that there would be.. The Mocka didn't look too bad, but there are a fair few steep pinches around that sap the legs!

Finished the night with Team Dinner, then Massage, and then an earlier night to bed. Jet Lag really sucks and I'm struggling to sleep. Combined with sharing a room with 3 girls all gibbering away in czech non stop, I'm a little sleep deprived!

Day 2 - 110km - Start/Finish - Jirikov

Today was set to be brutal. 3 laps around Krasna Lipa which included yesterdays final climb, and then back to Jirikov for 3 more laps with a slightly less steep climb. Yesterday's 30 degrees was set to be topped, and it didn't dissapoint. The Garmin says we hit about 33/34 by the end of the stage.
Learning from yesterday's start line mistake, I headed out earlier for the warm up and managed to get 20 minutes.
Another 20 minute wait on the start line in the hot hot sun, and oops, I've forgotten sunscreen. Going to pay for that!
We got under way and it was similar to the previous day. HR was a little more under control though, a few less nerves, but still the pack was twitchy, and yet again getting past 100th wheel proved elusive to me! There are lots of train crossings in these races, and they're quite bumpy, so there's ofter a massive slow down to go over them. About 15k in we were stopped at one, but the pack was all together so no issue, then 20k in we hit another, and there was a stack taking out about 20 from both sides of the pack. I even saw one of the English girls climbing back up the embankment! I managed to get through unscathed, but a big gap opened up and we spent the next 5k chasing back on, which meant I was on the back for the 1st time up the infamous Vapenka climb. So I started the climb near the back, what's new? and as predicted didn't make it over with the front bunch. We chased back on though, and made it back at the same point, roads too narrow to attempt to move up! 2nd time didn't go well at all and was dropped pretty bad.
Spent the next lap with 2 other girls Who almost dropped me coz I was pretty fried!!
Up Vapenka one more time, another couple of bottles in the feed zone and then drama! The team bus came up to give me a coke and in the handover hit the edge of the road and fell in to the ditch!! OH MY GOD! I turned back to make sure they were ok. With limited english, they said - OK! RACE! so I headed back on my way and caught the other girl who I'd been with.
Yet another train stop and a group of 10 or so caught us. Yay, more workers!
With a little outside assistance, we managed to stay ahead of the charging Peloton and got on to our final 9k loop before they overtook us. Rolled over the line as a bunch except for yet again someone stupidly attacking and sprinting for no reason. Results aren't out yet, but I think we were about 17/18 minutes down again. Hopefully just enough to stay within timecut..
Yet another 1500m of climbing today, and I feel like I'm burnt to a crisp from the beating sun!

Oh, and both days we've had little cobble sections! Only about 50m at a time, but YUCK!! And some stretches of road are so rough they're like cobbles..

The Mechanic has just set up my bike for the TT tomorrow morning.. Disc wheel and all! On the table now getting my 3rd massage in as many days... I could get used to this life!

On tap for tomorrow - 21k ITT, with no flat bits (surprise surprise!) and then a 104km Hilly Road Race in the afternoon.. And at least as hot as today.. Oh Gosh..

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Tomorrow is the day of what I believe will be the hardest race of my life. After that will be 3 more days of the same.

Tomorrow I take to the start line of the Tour de Feminine - Krasna Lipa. UCI 2.2. 180 starters.
Of which every single one I've seen so far looks super skinny, super fit, and tanned!!

Oh and 98% of them don't speak English, so I've not got any idea whatsoever of what's being said. Could make for interesting racing!

Wish me luck...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Czech List

2 hour easy roll through the country side – Czech
4 hour walking tour of Prague – Czech
Eat Pork, Sauerkrat & Dumpings – Czech
Drink ‘Black Beer’ – Czech

Let’s start with the ride:

Magnificent Scenery, only 10 minutes out of Prague and there’s wide open paddocks & reasonably quiet roads. I decided to head in one straight direction, in the hope it would be easy to make my way back. The sun was out, the birds were chirping, it was heaven! I had to make a turn at one of the towns as the road stopped, which I figured was fine, I’d be ok! Went out for about 30k, turned around and it starts drizzling.. As I’m going along, the wind picks up, massive crosswind, rain gets heavier until there are mini rivers on the roads, and then the lightening started. Oh Shit.

I get to the town I think I turned at, turn, nope, Prague the other way. Everything looks different in the rain compared to the sunshine.. I remembered I had a headwind almost the whole way out, so by this point I picked the road that had the tailwind and crossed my fingers. Going through towns I didn’t recognise, signs I couldn’t read, in the pouring rain with Lightening and Thunder clapping over head, I finally got to the end of this road which turns out was about 2k from where I was staying.. Massive smiles and I’m there! Phew.

The lady behind the desk just laughs and shakes her head at me when she sees me dripping wet on the doorstep..

Mental Note – Might be an idea to record the name of the town you turn at...

The rest:

The son of the Team Manager for Dukla Praha and his girlfriend picked me up at 2 for a 4 hour walking tour of Prague. Prague is an amazing city with so much history. Buildings dating back to the 15th Century, the 4th largest Cathedral in the world, and not to mention all the political issues of the past. Where did I go? Everywhere. There are so many things we saw, so many km’s we covered, and it was all amazing.

287 steps, all going round and round and round..
Ouch! But the view from the top was stunning.
We finished off the tour by going to a local brewery for dinner. Pork, Sauerkraut & Dumplings, a traditional Czech dinner, washed down by the local Black Beer. I could get used to this!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The weary traveller

My longest every flight, plus layover, plus another flight half that.. 27 hours of travel and I've arrived in Prague!!

From what I've seen so far (not much) it's a friendly city.. Shopping was interesting not knowing what I was getting, but I seem to have done ok.. Being back in Summer and daylight savings is weird! It's 8pm and it's still broad daylight! AND I'm in shorts!

I'm staying at the Dukla Praha team hotel/hostel, which is actually the Army Sporting facility. Simple, clean room, which is all I need! The guys who run it, Mirislov and Milan, are lovely guys, all too willing to help out.. Mirislov is probably even going to get up early and come for a ride with me at 10am tomorrow so I don't get horribly lost!
The only issue is, this team think I'm racing for them, however I"m supposed to be racing for Team Mix Serbia!

They arrive tomorrow evening, so everything should get sorted out then. Regardless, I'm racing in 3 days, and the way my legs feel after all the travel, neither of the teams will want me!!
Although, if I keep forgetting to look the opposite direction for oncoming traffic, it might not be an issue!

My job for the next couple of hours is to just try and stay awake. Almost no sleep in the whole time I travelled, plus being awake all day on the day I left means I'm starting to struggle big time! Lucky I have no Wifi where I"m staying so had to come out in the the beautiful evening to steal some from a neighbour   :)

No matter what country you're in, there's always one constant!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Preston Mountain Classic

Arriving in Strath Creek for the Preston Mountain Classic, it was 2 degrees and 'Frosty' according to the Car! We drove in via the finish hill, and it I had thoughts of wanting to turn around and go home! Wow it looked steep.
Nevertheless, we kitted up, warmed up (as best as possible!) and headed for the start line.

The womens race was combined with the Mens Masters. A 69km Handicap from Strath Creek, through Yea, around a loop and then straight through Strath Creek finishing up the monster climb. The profile had it at 1800m @ 8.5%, but there were 13% sections and it didn't look fun at all..

The limit bunch rolled out 28 minutes in front of Scratch, with a few strong girls in the bunch, and that was the last we saw of them. We rolled out at 15 Minutes, with a good portion of the womens field in our bunch. We all worked well together rolling turns until the base of the first real climb, where we all started popping one by one. 3 or 4 guys from our bunch stayed away, and the rest of us regrouped and rolled turns until the 11 minute bunch came along. After that it was pretty much all over, rolled turns when I could, we copped some abuse from the old guys for not pulling enough turns, even though we were from the bunch in front... but it was clear we weren't going to catch the leaders and everyone was pretty stuffed.. Made it through town and headed to the final climb just to finish.. 8 minutes caught us just after the base with Jenny Mac powering on past, Scratch also caught not long after and went past us, but the race had been won 15 minutes earlier.
In the end, the last hill was no where near as scary as first though. It wasn't 'fun', but it wasn't the vicious beast we'd been worried about! Although I guess that might have been a bit different had we been really racing up it!

So a good, if disappointing, hit out for my last race in Aus for 3 months.. The last race I'll do before Krasna Lipa 2.2..

Wow! This time next week I'll be in Europe!!!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Northern Combine - 3DT

Melbourne is turning on it's first real winter in a long time. It's freezing cold, often wet, and very windy. Not the kind of weather that's conducive to getting in the k's! I've taken the HTFU pill a few times and whilst I was glad I did, I was also thinking I was crazy when some of the bunches have had as few as 6 show up!

But when the race numbers go on, everyone just gets the job done.

For the first time ever, there was to be seperate Womens Grades. Both A & B. There were 13 registered for A, and 23 for B! An amazing turn out for B grade women.

11 started our race, so there weren't too many to do any work, and there was no where to hide!

Saturday was Freezing, it was wet, and yep, a bit windy. I just couldn't get going, rolled turns the first 20 or so k and started struggling a bit. The head was wondering WTF was going on, and the legs weren't being very helpful..

In the end, Jo and Jenny got away and stayed away.. Kendall and Nic were away, we brought them back.. I got away on Kendalls wheel but couldn't hold it and ended up back in the bunch so exhausted I couldn't even pull a turn.. Kendall stayed away solo, and the rest of us rolled in as a bunch, me at the back as promised after not being able to work the last 15k.

Went to the hotel to check in and rest, and ended up depressing myself thinking of how bad I went. I was ready to pack it in and head home. Thankfully Blair was at the same Motel and knocked on the door to tell me we were all going to the pub for dinner. Crappy TV movies followed, then putting the TT bars on the bike for the ITT in the morning.. Time to sleep and forget about the bad day!

Day 2 - double day. 8k ITT (Mostly uphill), again. legs felt shit, did a crap time, but was in a better headspace after a visit to the local bakery in Lancefield for a Pink Iced Jam Donut and an Apple Cake! Too much? probably.. But I think it's part of what saved me for the next day!

The afternoon road race was cold again. It was 3 laps of the same course we'd done 2 times yesterday, so we knew it well..
I started with the deadest legs I think I've had since the week after Canberra. They just wouldn't wake up and I was skipping my fair share of turns which was getting some head shaking from the girls.. after about an hour they started to come alive a bit, but not enough, as yet again the attack on the KOM went over out front and this time due to some dubious team tactics, Kendall was off the front solo and stayed there. Jen and Jo were next to go, and the top 3 were sorted again.

Another pub dinner, this time a bag ass rissotto another crappy TV movie, and off to bed.

Day 3 - decided it was time to bring out the big guns, 4 x crumpets with PB&J.. Feeling rather full I packed up the car and melted the ice off the windscreen (it was 1!!!!! degree!!).. The temp dropped to -2 on the way to the race start, but it was a clear and sunny day which was a plus. I decided to overdo it on the clothes and be warmer and not risk being cold.

Jumped on the rollers for the last time this weekend for a quick warm up, and was surprised that I felt better on the bike than off it. The aches went away and my legs seemed to be turning in circles rather than squares!

Didn't want to get too excited, as it was likely as soon as the pace went up they'd die again.. but the whole first 60-70 minutes I didn't skip a turn and was feeling comfortable.

Jo punctured along the way, and Jen was having dilemas over being nice, and trying to race, in the end not doing too much to make it harder for Jo to get back on.

The first QOM sign came up with 1000m to go, and I knew this is where the move would happen. I tried to stay up the front on Jo and Kendalls wheels, and when they went I tried, but I just didn't quite have enough. Added to the fact my quad was violently letting me know it was about to cramp at any second

So it was the same 6 left again in the bunch, we all worked at getting to the finish as quickly and nicely as we could..

In the end, I had a miserable first 2 days, wanting to quit, not wanting to be there, and just generally questioning why I thought I was any good at this cycling thing, and the 3rd day turning that around and making me remember that it's going to take patience. I've only been doing this for a few months, compared to others being in the sport for years.

It'll just take some time.


How time flies! It's been 6 weeks since my first NRS and so much has happened..

First off, Canberra.

Beautiful weather, great hilly courses and some tough competition.

It was a great weekend of racing and learning and I had a fantastic time! I finished mid pack both the first 2 days, and then on the 3rd day I was managing to hang on to the pack until a dropped chain on the last QOM 15k from home ended my bunch finish dreams.

After Canberra I had a couple of lackluster weeks.. It took a bit longer to recover than I thought, and the whole first week after I could do barely anything. Raced the Saturday after down in Phillip Island, finishing 6th in the womens Kermesse and first female in the B Grade mens race.. But possibly should have just had the weekend off racing as the next week I was as flat as a tack again!

The next race I did resulted in my first ever REAL bike stack.. the Teschner/SKCC Crit at Albert Park.. I was having a fun race, it was lively, there were attacks, there were chases, there were girls off the front and we wanted them back! I managed to get a couple of metres gap heading out of one of the hot dog corners and got excited.. I hit the next corner hard and in a blonde moment I pedalled. BANG. Hit the deck hard. The Garmin reads 42 -> 0. The whole force was stopped by my poor little chin. A few stitches and I was good as new.. Sore jaw, still, but I finally have some battle scars  :)
So the next couple of weeks was pretty flat for me after that, and then headed to Creswick 133k Handicap! I managed to get a start in the Limit bunch, which meant I was in for a bit of an easier first lap warm up, and screamingly fast/hard lap once we were caught by those behind us, and then I got dropped up the climb on the 3rd lap. Managed to get half way through the last lap with a small bunch before Limit/6mins came through and picked us up for a nice ride back in to town in the freezing cold and pouring rain!!

I was the 2nd chick to finish, Jo Hogan stormed around in the 22min bunch and beat most of the guys to the line coming in 9th overall. Turns out no other girls finished the race either, so pretty pleased with my efforts.. Turns out that out of the initial Limit bunch I was 1 of only 2 to finish as well..

That leads us to the weekend just gone.. The Northern Combine 3 Day Tour, ran out of Newham/Lancefield up near Woodend. That's next!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tour of Coleraine 2010

Coleraine/Southern Grampians are around 4 hours from Melbourne, so myself JC & Bridge headed off about 4pm in the Jayco/Mazda team car (Thanks to JT for the loan :) ) We were staying at Bridgets parents place about 45 minutes from Coleraine, so decided just to head straight there and worry about registering in the morning. An uneventful trip, stopped for some supplies including a 24 pack of fresh Anzac Cookies.. More to come on those!!
Arrived to a yummy home cooked pasta meal and the knowledge that I'd have some Country peace and quiet and a king size bed to sleep in for the duration of the weekend! YIPPEE!! We had an early start, so got to bed as soon as we could, and surprisingly slept like a log!

Stage 1 - 72km RR

A super cruisy drive to Coleraine after a big breakfast to prepare for 2 stages, super smooth rego process, 6 visits to the toilet as the nerves set in along with the clouds, and all of a sudden it was only 15 minutes to race start. We went from having heaps of time, to having stuffed around so much that I did a 10 minute warm up and was being called to the race start!
1st lesson of the day - Do a proper warm up!!!
As we were lining up the drizzle started along with the wind and it became apparent it wasn't going to be a fun day. There were just over 20 starters, several of them super strong climbers, so a tough day had just been made tougher!
The nuetral roll out section included the first climb of about 2k out of town, but it wasn't overly nuetral to my non warmed up legs and lungs! The pace was pretty quick, but I used it as my warm up which wasn't ideal but would have to do!
The first KOM hit quick, a reasonably steep quick climb, with Jo Hogan and Lisa Jacobs attacking and staying off the front, quickly joined by Kendelle Hodges. A chase group of 7 including myself formed and continued this way until the last KOM, quickly a few of us were dropped off the back up the final steep pinch of the climb and had a 10k solo ride in to the headwind home.
2nd lesson of the day - If you're not feeling strong, get a bit of rest before the climbs!
Felt good to finish though and ended up with 8th, about 4:30 down on the leaders. Now it was time to rest up for the afternoon crit!
Compression tights on, time to get in some fuel (which in my case included 15, yes 15!, of the Anzac cookies purchased last night.. It was anzac weekend, I had to do it!

Stage 2 - 27km Crit

Learnt my lesson from the morning and did a proper warm up, and the legs felt considerably better than expected after the morning's stage.

So the crit was supposed to be 27kms, however due to running over time with the other grades our race was shortened to about 22k. 12 laps of a fairly fast course with an intermediate sprint @ 8 and 4 laps to go, both sprints were worth a lot in time bonuses, so they were going to be hotly contested. I was hoping to either reel back in some time for myself, or help bridget to make up time as she'd finished in the bunch ahead of me in the morning and was sitting 4th on GC. The way it panned out was super sprinter Bec Domange taking out both sprints, with myself being able to gain 10seconds with a 2nd in one of the sprints, and Bridget going for the early attack and taking out the stage win for Degani!

There was some shuffling of the top GC placings with Jo being able to pick up some bonus seconds to knock Lisa off the top spot and to move in to the yellow jersey. Bec overtook Bridget for 4th Position with all her time bonuses, and pretty much everyone else stayed in the same position.

Now what to do for dinner? With Carmel and Charlie (Bridgets parents) off at a wedding, we didn't feel like cooking, so headed to the National Hotel in Coleraine for a Parma!! Something I usually only have after all the racing is finished, but I figured I'd done 2, so it was deserved!
Back to the farm for some lollies and an early night!

Stage 3 - RR 72kms

With time bonuses on offer for the KOM's and Lisa and Jo being so close on GC, today's stage was always going to be tough over the climbs.
After a proper warm up again (yay!) we set off for another Nuetral climb out of town and then a fairly sedate paced ride out to the base of the first KOM. Things broke up pretty quickly up the steep Douglas Road with about 6 girls ahead and me getting dropped. Damn! Started the chase back on and was joined by super strong MTBer Jessica Douglas and SKCC chick Hannah Vine. The 3 of us worked well together to get back to the bunch... Right in time for the next KOM! Damn! No time to recover from the chase, I went with them as far as I could up yet another steep climb Zig Zag Rd, made it about half way before a steep pinch section made the legs give up. Once over the top, was rejoined by Hannah and Jessica again for the chase. We could see one solo girl up ahead and set about reaching her. Worked well together in to the wind and rolling hills until we all started to get quite tired and Jess put in a big effort and dropped us but reached the other girl up the road. We tried to reach them, but with both of us tiring it wasn't to be. Hannah made the call that she didn't have enough left to roll turns with about 10k to go, so it was time to remember what it was like to be a triathlete, stick my head down, and limit the time losses to the front girls as much as possible.
We rolled in just over 2.5 minutes down on the front pack, which considering the conditions etc I was pretty pleased with.

In the end I stayed 8th on GC, and was about 7 minutes down on the winner Jo with Bridget coming in 5th on GC which was a great effort considering she'd never done a Road Race before, let alone a Tour!

Happy with the weekend. My first real Tour, some good learning experiences and things to take away and work on! Next up, only a few days later.. Tour of Canberra! My first National Road Series Tour.. Time to rest and recover