Monday, July 25, 2011

kalamunda 50km/50% single track race report

damn this was friggin hard.  at  certain stages i was debating whether it was harder than a half ironman and i am still not sure.  if you train for it then i guess it will always seem 'easier'.  this event really highlighted my inexperience at single track.  it was 25k of single track and the other 25k offered no respite either.  my three mtb rides this year were nowhere near enough training for this event but being relatively fit was a massive assist.

the first clue to the day was the crowd that rocked up at 8 am at jorgensen park - kalamunda for the event.  there were 332 people of which only 35 were female.  the rest were hard core mountain biking freaks.  the course was a secret but i  knew that i would probably come across some sections that i have ridden.  we started as one large group and i made sure i was at the back of the middle of the pack but not at the back.  once you hit single track it is very difficult to make up ground and to overtake. over the 50k i think there would have only been about 5k that was relatively flat and fast - a couple of road sections - some uphill and two short sections that were a very fast downhill ride.  the first was at the start of the race before we headed straight up a nasty gravel hill climb.  the race director had told us we would be cursing him for the first 10k.  i think i cursed him for the whole 50k. 

i hung with a group of people for most of the day and we exchanged positions.  i had to take my time with the single track and so people would move past.  then on the uphill climbs and any relatively open sections i would catch up and move past.  i took advantage and really pushed it in these sections as i knew i could fall too far back otherwise. 

the single track was a brilliant nightmare.  it was constant and hard work.  i get why people love it and when you have the right skills it would be so much fun.  but towards the end i was cursing it.  so many twist and turns, trees to avoid, mud holes and those fucking endless rocks.  i curse you rocks.  i came off twice. the first time it hurt a bit but i didnt scratch the bike so all was good.  sprained the wrist a bit, took some skin off and wacked my leg a treat on those fucking pedals.  the second time was a soft landing.  i did scuff the bottom of the pedal shaft things on said fucking rocks.  you had to be so careful to ALWAYS have your pedals level and even then some rocks were just too high.  the good news is that i did keep riding when approaching logs and took the leap of faith.  i rode through all the mud and water.  no holding back and  there was only one hill that i didnt ride up so i really earned a polka dot jersey.   

the volunteers were amazing and the course was very well marked.  i stopped a few times for carb loading and to lend my pump to a guy with a flat.  of the 332 who started only 301 finished and i stopped to chat to one girl who was injured and waiting for a lift out.  around the 35 - 40k mark i was in familiar territory around the dell and on the munda biddi trail.  as a comparison to dwellingup this was much harder.  dwellingup had some nice easy sections where you could recover.  if you were not on single track then you were you either climbing a friggin hill or going down one.  the garmin map is a bit deceptive.  i do not recall that straight section and straight sections imply flatness.  this was not flat and the elevation tells the true story.

i never thought about quitting but it did cross my mind a few times that i might not make it.  when i got to the 45k mark i was a happy camper.  then at 47.5k i came across this massive downhill that headed straight into a valley.  it was a gorgeous spot and i did ride down for the first part but then it became very steep, very rocky and incredibly wet and muddy.  i decided that i was too close to the finish to be a hero so i walked the bike down.  at the bottom was a beautiful stream and a creek running through.  i then came across a guy wearing a tuxedo and carrying a violin.  he said he plays in the hills every weekend and that i didnt have far to go.  he was saying this as i started to climb up this very steep section that while it was difficult it looked like it was short.  i came to a stop as the rocks became bigger and it was steeper and then just crazy steep.  the tuxedo dude said no one had made the climb.  so i start pushing the bike and thinking i had a short way to go.  everytime i thought i had made the crest another one appeared.  i started getting really fucking mad.  who the hell puts a massive climb that is impossible to ride up at the end of a 50k freakish ride.  i then realise i am at the 'elevator'.  i had heard this spoken of at the start by other riders.  i finally make it to the top (check the garmin elevation at the end of the course !!) and come across a guy taking a nature break.  i bitch at him about the craziness of the fucking hill and he said he doesnt care as he can no longer even ride on flat terrain.  i head off for another kilometre and finally come out of the scrub to cross the finish line.  amazingly there were people left to give a cheer and yay - you made it.   

today there is not much that doesnt ache.  my wrists and hands  got really sore from the constant death grip getting through the single track and my shoulders and arms ache. strangely enough my legs feel great.   the fastest time on the day was 2.17.04 (wow).  the slowest 5.25.01.  35 females started and 29 finished.  i was 26.  in my age group category i was 7/10. the winning time was 3.53.53 so i wasnt too far off the age group pace.  i averaged 10.5km per hour.  they say that one km on  a mountain bike is equal to two on a road bike but today it felt like three.

this was a bigger challenge than i had anticipated and a huge learning curve.  dwellingup is going to be a walk in the park this year.  so all i have left to say is beware the single track !! 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

amongst other things i am changing my name to emma

if you follow the itu world championship triathlon series you will know that the aussie girls had an oi oi oi moment in hamburg and came in 1 , 2 and 3.  and they are all called emma.  how bizarre.  i wonder what the chances are.  i have to also mention that brad kahlefeldt came in first for the guys so the aussies are blitzing it.

at the moment one of the guys from the channel dare group that trains through swim smooth is about half way across the english channel.  the link for any updates is  i did not know but more people have climbed mt everest than have swam the english channel.  i would choose the swim over the climb.  anyway each one of the channel dare ten will have their attempt over the next few months and hopefully they will all be successful. 

last friday i had a very weird moment.  i was at work and it was just before lunch and i was talking to my boss when all of a sudden strange coloured lights appeared in my vision.  i mentioned it as it happened out of the blue and was very strange.  i thought it would vanish straight away like the little black floaters i sometimes get.  but it didnt and i realised it was both eyes or more like my overall vision.  it looked like two circles that had many straight and jagged edges and were coloured like stained glass.  i sat down and tried closing my eyes to see if it would go away but i could still see the coloured circles EVEN with my eyes shut.  it wasnt just one eye.  i couldnt see my computer clearly and it was then i had a moment where i freaked out just a bit - quietly on the inside.  then i started to feel quiet ill and my head started to hurt.  as it turns out it appears to have been a visual migraine.  while i do not get migraines and even after this free light show my head only hurt slightly it seems this is what happened.  at the time i took nurofen plus straight away and this probably helped to prevent things becoming more painful.  since then i havent felt great and will need to go and get myself totally checked out.  have to eliminate the possibility of a brain tumour or problems with my eyeballs.  i didnt stay at work and once my vision came back (after about 30 minutes) i went home and chilled out on the sofa.  very strange experience and very stressful to have a moment when you think your body is failing you on a serious level.    

because of this and a general feeling of blahness my training has suffered.  i have to re-focus and get my shit together.  i have the kalamunda 50/50 this weekend and i am quietly excited about it.  rode some great single track last sunday.  felt like crap but i crawled up hills that i never dreamed of riding last year.  it is that pretty bike i bought.  rain is forecast so it could be a messy 50k. 

damn - i hope cadel wins. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

a single track day

the weather fucking sucks.  yes we are back to me complaining about winter.  my phone tells me it is 11.5 degrees but that it feels like 8.9.  who does that for weatherzone ?  do they have  someone who they send outside to see what they think it feels like ?  anyway it is fucking cold and wet.  i have to mention that this is not early in the morning or late in the evening but in the middle of the day.  and i am in the mood for using some expressive and foul language.

my training has been very up and down.  i was on a roll with swimming until it got cold and i didnt go near a pool last week.  i did run three days for 25k so that is an improvement.  i rode to work on friday and totally had a blast.  i plan to make this a regular friday thing.  i hadnt been on the roadie for a few weeks and i had missed it.  the ride in was cool and i avoided most of the traffic by riding the bike path down west swan road in caversham and then through the back streets of guildford.  it slows the trip down but who cares.  i will take most of my gear into work thursday as riding with a backpack is a bummer.  23k each way so nice ride and excellent experience for me as i am not a great rider in traffic.

i am slightly depressed.  i have given up drinking wine.  i have finally admitted defeat.  no matter what i try it makes me feel like crap.  not when i am drinking it - no that makes me feel fine.  i have tried organic and i have tried the stuff that removes the preservative and i still have trouble sleeping and i still wake up feeling like i drank the whole bottle rather than just one glass.  it is fucking cruel. 

sunday was my big day out on the munda biddi trail.  i have been starting my ride from the beginning of the heritage trail in midland as you get to ride 13.5k while going from 0 to 300m in elevation.  you start thinking that you have no legs as the trail does not look like it is climbing.  it wasnt until i came back the same way and was flying down the mountain that i noticed the impact.  so now i ride it every week as an excellent exercise in endurance.  once i get to mundaring i leave the heritage trail and get onto the munda biddi trail.  this is where the fun begins and the single track is awesome.  i have really tried to concentrate on developing some sort of skill.  being in the right gear, thinking about positioning my weight on the bike and trying to make sure i dont tear my pedals off on rocks etc so i try to ride with them level.  my new bike has made a huge difference.  i rode up three gravel climbs yesterday that i have never been able to make before.  i gave a little fist pump in the air. 

this is at the start of the pipeline section past the mundaring weir hotel.  the ride drops 200m in elevation before you climb back up 200m over a short 2km tough single track section.  it was at this point that i turned around and headed back.  i figured that would make it a 4 hour ride and about 55k.  rain was forecast for the afternoon and it was already getting colder.  by the time i got back to the car my feet were completely numb and i had to stop on the way and put my full gloves back on.

i havent managed to ride through a big pile of mud yet -
not prepared to clean the bike and shoes.  give it time.

this track veers off to the left (but ends up at the same spot)
and is the way i went.  bad move - much harder.
this picture is quite deceptive and it is steeper than it looks.

the bushfires went through this section during the summer. 

if the weather holds up and the rain stays away i will probably head further down the munda biddi trail and ride a section that i havent been to before - the trail covers 330k so i should be busy for awhile.  i will need the fitness and single track training as i have the kalamunda 50/50 the following weekend.  that is 50k of which 50% is single track.  the course details have not been released yet so i have no clue what to expect.  hope the fucking weather doesnt suck.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

cape to cape madness

i have really done it now and  i am SO excited.  i have signed up for cape to cape western australia.  it is a four day mountain bike race through the south west from cape leeuwin to cape naturaliste.  this is the website -  it is going to be fucking AWESOME.  it is in late october so i have time to train and plan.  i also have the kalamunda 50/50 and dwellingup prior so great preparation rides.  this is going to be a fantastic adventure.  i have also decided to embrace the outdoor adventure aspect and i am going to base myself at margaret river and CAMP - in a TENT. 

i rode 50k yesterday up through some of the trails i rode from last year and what a difference a decent bike makes.  it zipped up some of the climbs that i struggled with last year.  it has been raining alot so water lay everywhere and i really christened the bike and my shoes !  crazy fun. 

so stay tuned and we shall see where this next chapter takes me.