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Entries For: November 2007


What it means to be a champion?

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There are many successful cyclists, but what does it mean to be a great champion?

I'm a regular reader of Mike Goldie's blog over on the CCCC website.  He often has interesting things to say and is a worthwhile read.  One of his recent posts talks about comparing cyclists, and he goes on to declare that a certain cyclist is a great champion.  This got me thinking and I posted to his blog, expressing, briefly my thoughts on it, which he disagreed with, not suprisingly!  This is healthy, if everyone agreed, we'd all be redundant and the world would be a very boring place indeed.

So what does it mean to be a great champion? Success on the track or road (or MTB, BMX etc of course) is a given, for whatever definition of success you choose to use.  I think it also encompasses a greater aspect of the rider.  They have to have, I think, done it the 'right way'.  Ie: played by the rules.  This is the difference between a rider like, for example, Jan Ullrich, Bjarn Riis or Richard Virenque, and one like Eddy Merckx or Lance Armstrong or Shane Kelly (or Cadel Evans, Robbie McEwen, Ryan Bailey, Anna Meares, John Nicholson, Stuart O'Grady etc).

What's the difference?  Merckx, Armstrong, Evans, Kelly etc have never been caught cheating.  I'm careful with my choice of words here, we can never know if any of these riders have actually cheated (used banned substances, ie: deliberatly and knowingly broke the rules, I'm not talking about racing infractions which can just happen, I'm talking deliberate cheating) but we DO know that Ullrich, Virenque, Pate etc did.  They got caught (or they confessed just before they got caught). Holding them up as great champions does the sport a dis-service, I believe and implies support for the bad side of our sport.  Successful, talented and gifted cyclists, yes, but great champions?  No.  To be a true champion, you have to do it by the rules as they stand at the time. You have to have never cheated the sport. Doping is not something that these riders did by accident.  They knowingly and deliberatly cheated.



Back on the bike!

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After watching Liz Randall's hour record and then Graham Obree (DVD ...), I had to get back on my bike

It's been over a week, I don't really count Saturday's abortive attempt, but I got back on the roady last night and managed a (soft!) 30 min 150watt session without much pain, and today I rode to work.  Not 100% by any stretch, but at least I can get on a roady and hold position without too much pain.

I managed to ride to work too, but the ride home was pretty umcomfortable.  Seated pedaling is ok, standing (take off from lights etc), not so much ...



Mefix works!

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It's been a week now, and most of my skin has grown back

Apart from the much deeper abrasions on my left elbow and knee which are still oozing and gooey, I took off the mefix from my other bits of roadrash this morning and have fresh new skin.  Mefix works a charm.  I expect the deeper abrasions will take another few days at least, they were deep grazes, concrete has some considerable grinding power! I think it's safe to say that the roadrash guide works.

Round 3 of the TSSS is this Sunday.  Liz Randall's hour attempt is tonight.  Work's crazy (got to get most of the old Vivitec websites moved to my server by the end of this week!).  The Fuel EX8 should arrive at the shop this week too. Got to also fix Vander's MTB after it fell off his roof on the w'end. Busy times!


Too early!

I tried to race yesterday, but should have stayed home

In hindsight, trying to race the Blackburn races yesterday was ambitious at best.  I did feel ok in the morning, could breathe reasonably well and I got my first good night's sleep in a week.  Aggregate points on offer ... and a desire not to let an injury beat me conspired to motivate me to have a go.  I'd also just (finally!) fitted the new cranks to the T1 and wanted to give them a try.  I've gone from 165mm to 170mm cranks (my road cranks are 172.5mm) and I figured keeping them close would be of some benefit.

I slapped the T1 on the tow bike and rode to the velodrome, felt ok on the 7.2FX, and arrived feeling fine.  Even a little strong, which was odd, after a week of absolutely no riding at all and a lot of work and an injury.  I paid my entry, said hi to the crew (Dino, Rob, Nath, Mick, Will, Emily et al) and did a bit of a warmup. I was in some doubt as to whether I'd be able to hold myself up in the drops, it's quite an aggresive position, but I felt ok.  Rolled around, this isn't too bad.  I might be able to race.  Did one effort laying off the back of the motorbike ... not so strong ... did one out of the saddle kick, and nuh ... instant pain.  Ok, I'll start each race, get my points and go home. 

Scratch race - watched A grade contend with The V-Train, and Bazz "The Wizard" did a great job of organising his leadout to take a close win over The Master, Jamie and the V-Train. Our turn in B, and I warn Dino not to follow my wheel.  I held on for the first 5 laps, did a 2 lap turn to keep a tempo going, then when a kick happened, I simply had nothing and it hurt too much to push.  DNF.

Next we had a 6 lap h'cap, I started, asked not to be pushed, and simply rode up the bank and out.  Ribs getting worse.  Getting over the fence, painful!

Last, a motorpace.  I think I got on for one lap, but again, too much pain.  Pull out, grovel over the fence and get a lift home with Lucie.  I didn't have the will to do the all-in, for which I'm very sorry - normally I'm a stalwart of it (it's a great way to finish the day and encourage a sense of community amongst the club riders) but it was just too hard. I left the tow bike and the T1 at the clubrooms and will pick them up this week.

It was a good day's racing for the club - 11 A grade riders, 5 (or 6, if you count me, which is iffy at best!) in B, 8 or so in C, lots in D and the kids grades were full too, a very healthy field and some really good, close racing.  Nath showed off his new wheels, Emily's coping with her move from F to E grade well (be patient, Em, you'll get there), Dino rode well but got cruelly dealt with in the motorpace, Rob made a few tactical errors but learnt a lot, and young Will Thomas rode very well indeed in C grade.

The plan was to go up to Bonnie Doon after racing, but I was too sore to sit in a car for 2 hours, so we got takeaway and stayed home and got a bottle of champers to watch the election, celebrated the demise of the evil man and the Greedy Party at long last. Hopefully Rudd will deliver some real action on climate change and not take us to war because Uncle Sam says so.

I'm going to try and get in to DISC tomorrow night to cheer on Liz Randall as she tries to set a new world time for the hour for her age.  Might warm up with watching The Flying Scotsman, which I now have a copy of, and set up a roady on a trainer so I can do some medium intensity stuff off the road while my ribs heal.


Peak oil? 5 years to rations?

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We had a bloke in at the LBS today, and got talking ...

How many of you take petrol for granted?  I'm guessing most. We all grew up with limitless petrol, but the reality is far from that, and just like global warming, a change is coming. This gentleman in the LBS today was over in Melb from Perth for a conference.

The conference was for this mob, The ASPO.  Amongst other things, he mentioned that there'll be petrol rationing in 5 years in Australia.  I thought it would be earlier than that, and he said that that was a conservative estimate.  Did Little Johnny or Rudd mention this? Hell no ... can't go putting reality in front of the mortgage belt voters.

Crunch time is coming.  On your bikes ...



The cranks! At last!

mmmm, shiny ....

It's only taken 3 months ... but my new Truvativ Omnium track cranks have finally arrived.  Just in time for me to not be able to use them this w'end (injuries .. doh!).

I might fit them, and at the BBN track races this Saturday, start each race and pull out (the things we do for aggregate points ....).  I doubt I'll be able to ride much, but I can start each race.

Offtopic, I voted yesterday at the local AEC office.  It's always good to get that out of the way before the election. Last minute desperate political ads? Meh ... I've already voted ...

On the injury front, my skin is healing well under the Mefix, ribs are taking a while (it's only been 4 days I guess) - it feels like I've torn something soft, there's no pain except when I have to move or use the muscles on my left side.  Then, a very sharp pain.  If it was a break or bruising it would ache all the time as well.  A couple of weeks, I hope, and all will be well. 

The Fuel EX8 has been delayed - Trek are now quoting the 27th of Nov.  Just in time to be able to ride it, maybe ...


'tis the season!

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For crashes, it seems ...

My housemate and fellow aboc'er, Vanders, writes today :


I'm 100% ok
Unlike my front wheel

So anyway are car pulled out on me as I was going up the 1-in-20, and we

collided at about 20km/h


He just needs a new wheel. Lucky, lucky bastard!


3 days post crash, and my skin is healing fine and I'm very fetching in my mefix and white fishnet bandages, but mum, it still hurts to breathe!  Thankyou to Bev and Vanders for being my gofers while I'm stuck at home.  Last time I damaged ribs was back in my ice hockey days, when I went to check a bloke into the boards at the Oakleigh rink and missed, and that took around 2 weeks before I was comfortable enough to do normal things.  I expect this will be around the same.

Being right handed (mostly) and being unable to twist to the right does make some basic activities rather more difficult than I'd like - let's just say that the application of toilet paper is now a challenge and it's maybe a good thing that codeine is a bit of a constipator.   Enough detail?  Is the "too much information" light in the corner of your eye blinking at you? I thought so ... heh!





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A crash! Doh!

After a morning tootle to The Basin to be the startline holder for the Dougherty Tour 1:20 stage with Bev, and then an express lap of the Death Valley stage on the motorbike, it was off to the BBN velodrone for some sprint training.  Dino, Emily and Mason Austen were the riders to come along, and it was Mason's first time on a velodrome (Mason, we have found your calling!).  After a few rolling turns and warmups, it was time for flying 200's.  A bit windy, so no times of any note, everyone did 2 unscathed, and everyone improved some aspect of their ride each time.

Then it was time for some practice match sprints.  Drawn first up, Dino vs me.  Dino has the lead.  Dino and I have very similar F200 times today, so it's going to be a tactical race.  No probs.   Dino keeps me under control for the first bit, I'm happy for him to lead me for the first lap, but I know with a bit over one to go I want to make him go early - there's a headwind up the back straight and I want a wheel to suck before coming past at the bottom corner.  So, coming off the bank I jump and start to come around Dino with the intent of making him react and then dropping in on his wheel into the headwind.  Next thing, I'm airborne.  I've pulled a pedal, and must have yanked the bars I think, anyway, a standing maximum acceleration interupted by a cleat disconnecting is no way to stay upright.  Bang, into the ground, head first and then rolling to my left (I can tell, that's where I hurt and I lost the skin!).  Lying in the grass checking for injuries, mostly ok, memory ok (yes, Howard is PM ... but hopefully not for much longer ...), collarbones ok, wrist sore (Tuff Keirin gloves ROCK!) but no skin off my palms despite hitting the ground palms first I think.  Ribs on left side .. not so good.  Not busted, but there's some bruising there, and a fair bit of debarking on my left knee, left elbow and left shoulder.  Bike report - back wheel needs truing and the bars, ground away ... will need new bars.  A little skin off my right knee, but only first layer stuff, no blood or plasma leaking there.  Clothes mostly ok, no tears.  Helmet, smashed to bits.  Apart from being a bit vague (that's normal?) no other concussion evidence.

So I've cleaned up, used some quarts to clean the grit out (yah, that stings .. and when you're treating yourself it's kinda special!), and then wrapped Mefix on the skin abrasions.  Coughing isn't much fun, but compared to Dino's busted ribs and lung puncture, it's nothing. I should HTFU!  No Glenvale for me tomorrow, I was planning on getting down there for my first crit for this summer, but instead I'll stay home, write training programs and feel sorry for myself instead! 

Thanks for the lift home, Dino and Mason, I owe you both a beer! Where's the codeine? .. I hurt!



Climbing Camp wrapup

The real writeup of the 7th aboc Climbing Camp

We've had, in the past, snow, rain, baking heat and constant drizzle, but rarely have we had two days of nearly perfect weather for the camp at the Marouka ski lodge at Mt Hotham.  It wasn't quite perfect, but the brief rainstorm as the full-distance riders climbed the last 10km of the hill was a blessing, it may have been wet, but it wasn't cold and the rain meant less need for water at the crucial last pitches up CRB hill and Diamantina. There was patches of snow on the side of the road and on some of the shaded ridges leftover from a snowstorm a week ago, just enough to remind everyone that we're in the mountains.

the bunch at marouka nov 2007

We had a great bunch of cyclists at this camp, a diverse bunch, many had never climbed Hotham (or anything else of this scale) but some were old timers who knew The Meg and the soul-crushing kilometer of CRB all too well.  All up 23 brave riders came to stay, including Hari Gopu who drove all the way from Sydney to come to his second camp, and Vanders (Craig van der Valk) who came all the way only to drive down the mountain at 6am on the Saturday and race a 12 hour enduro mountainbike event.  Such was the lure of the famous aboc bolla that he came all the way back for dinner afterwards, albeit after midnight.

So what did we really do?  Everyone was up safely on Friday night and most were in bed and tucked in by midnight, although a few who got away from Melbourne later didn't arrive 'til around 1.  Saturday's briefing was at 8am, and we covered safety, personal responsibility for riding, and pacing up the mountain.  Hotham is climbed in three stages, the first, including a nasty pinch at around 5km past Harrietville called The Meg is 10km long and it winds its way up the first ridgeline at around an average of 6-7%, then the next 10km is a gentle 1-2% for around 10km, before the final crunch, from the toll booth to the top, including CRB hill, where in the past Neil Robinson set the camp speed record (claimed 108km/h in Feb 2007 at CC#6) descending. CRB hill is ~1km at 10%.  The final 10km varies between grinding climbs and short, very sharp drops, before the last grovel up pastthe start of the last grind, mt hotham nov 2007 Diamantina hut and the Razorback walk to Mt Feathertop to the summit.  Then a 2km roll to the lodge, downhill all the way. The key is pacing - go too hard early and the last few kilometers will see you blown to bits, throwing every scrap of excess weight off your bike, body and breathing out to make yourself lighter.  The last 10km has been likened to 10 minutes of having your head held under water, 30 seconds of breathing time, repeated three times. Or, as Richard says, "it's <deleted> hard".

The bunch rolled out at 9am, and rode up(!) to the summit from the lodge, then hooted down to the toll booth for the first regroup. After establishing the fastest speed, 89km/h (Jase Ellis), with no-one able to crack 90km/h due to a light headwind and a sense of self preservation, the bunch then descended to Harrietville.  No incidents on the descent, it was dry, clean and safe.

Roughly half of the bunch decided to climb up from Harrietville, the rest took on the extra 50km return trip to Bright (one HAF rider bagged Mt Buffalo as well, solo!).  Most of us were together, with the traditional sprints at Smoko, Freeburg and Bright won by your author, your author and then Robin Brown, very closely followed by Bec Domage.  It's fair to say that by Bright, your author was a marked man and no games or dummy sprints would work anymore.  Lunch at Bright, where as luck would have it there was a hotrod convention.  Main street Bright was choked solid with (mostly well behaved) hot rods doing laps and causing a jam worthy of Punt Road on a Friday afternoon.  A quick bite, some decided to go directly back to Harrietville for lunch rather than stay at Bright, the rest of us had the usual carbo-feast at the Bright bakery before riding back up the valley to Harrietville.

I can't write much about other's rides back up, as after the sprints had taken their toll I was doomed to be the lantern rouge, kept company by Jase Ellis, as we played tortoise and hare for 30km from Harrietville to the top (Jase being the hare) and 'Liv Ellis kept us company with drinks and a seeming never ending supply of salt tablets for Jase (who must have some bizzare salt addiction!). Thankyou 'Liv!

Back at the lodge and the war stories were told, Nick telling of his first exposure to hail on a bike, Richard making it up in fine form, Bev completing the climb under her own steam for the first time etc.  Dinner was prepared, the usual aboc spag boll that riders who come to our spin class know so well.  Thankyou to Bev and Claire for the garlic bread with teeth and chopping the veggies etc.  The troops heartily fed and then a presentation, Robin winning the 'race to bright' and a superman cape, Bec taking the QOM, Brett the KOM (and HAF award, for riding to Mt Buffalo and back!), Bev the 'special achievement', Merv the Dummy for bringing a 47 tooth 'small' chainring(!) and almost making it up the hill on that crazy big gear!  A movie, desert (fruitcake and custard) and then everyone was asleep.  Except Vanders.  Vanders' story is here.  He rode the 12 hour in a team of two, then drove back up the hill, arriving at ~1am.  HAF!

Sunday saw most up at 6ish, a quick briefing at 7 and then most riders decided to drop down to Dinner Plain for breakfast, some choosing to go all the way down to Cobungra Station (go Claire, go Hari!).  Merv and Karen came back telling stories of a great breakfast at a pub in Dinner Plain, so Richard, Vanders and I decided lunch cooked by someone else (and the cleaning!) was the order.  A missile-like descent to Dinner Plain saw Vanders pip your author at the sign by half a wheel after an 80km/h downhill leadout and sprint.  Doh! A good lunch was shared with the local flies before we ambled the 10km back up to Marouka.

In the afternoon, everyone pitched in to clean up, a very special thankyou to Bev and Rob Monteath who did the work of 5 each to see the lodge spotless and meaning I had little to do save for emptying the fridges and turning everything off.

I'd like to thank everyone that came, it was one of the most successful camps we've run so far, according to the (anonymous!) feedback forms 90% of the people that came said "don't change a thing", with one wag suggesting leveling the hill.  Where was Dino when we needed his stoic grace?  Hopefully next time Shane 'The Llama' will be able to make it up as well to give everyone a spanking up the hill, and Byron as well. We missed you. We missed Neil too.  Next time ...

 brett rides away, aboc cc nov 2007


A new world record!

Last year, 4 months, this year, two weeks ....

It's hard to believe (in a very good way!).  Last year, it took 4 months for my renewed licence (Cycling Australia ACF) to arrive.  This year, I paid on the first day I could online (Nov 1st) and it arrived today.  Huh?  2 weeks?!  Tops!  Thankyou CA for getting on top of your (licencing) game.


Mt Hotham, again!

The aboc Climbing camp quickie

This isn't a proper roundup, but just a -very- quick report on the camp. 

Perfect weather, mostly.  We got a hailstorm and some rain, which those of us who went to Bright caught on the ride up, but while some thought this was bad, it did cool down the road and mean less water was needed.

Special mention to Bev and Karen, Bev got up Hotham under her own steam for the first time and Karen, who'd never climbed a big hill, got up on her first attempt.  Rob Monteath had a ball too.  Bec Domage was the QOM, and Robin won the final sprint into Bright and got the superman cape to prove it.  Jase Ellis got the top speed for the weekend, not quite 90km/h into a light headwind on the descent to Harrietville and KoM went to Brett Imberger who also rode to (and up!) Buffalo.  That's HAF!

Personally, I was (am!) in the worst climbing form of my life at the moment (since I started racing, anyway ...) and groveled up from Harrietville to the top in 3:00:57, including walking part of CRB hill.  Still, that's my 13th time up Hotham I think and not quite my slowest.  Too much sprint training and pizza makes Carl a dreadful climber!

Good feedback from everyone who went, some asked for a possible change in venue (stay in Bright, for example) but that would make it more expensive, I'm a member at Marouka which is why we can do it so cheaply ($70 for two nights *and* dinner!).   To anyone who asked to watch American Flyers, send me an email and I'll arrange for you to borrow my copy.  Next time we'll try and get a copy of Breaking Away, which is actually a good film about bikes, unlike that Costner crap! We'll also need to get a new DVD player, the one up there has carked it.


I found a minute!

Slow improvement up the 1:20

Since Vanders & I have started doing the 1:20 on Monday mornings (3 weeks ago now) I've gone from a 24:30, to a 24:02, to a 23:27 up it.  Ok, those times are still way off anything that I used to be able to do when I was fit (pb is around 18:50 from memory), but it is a healthy improvement. Vanders stood me up this morning, soft!  Some lame excuse about being up all night working on an assignment (we know what you were really working on, Vanders!).

After a disapointing Sunday's washout at the TSSS, this weekend is aboc Climbing Camp No. 7.  The weather forecast from this distance is good! It's going to be a hectic few weeks as I set up my new hosting server, and move all of my old work sites over to it, I have until Dec 1 to get it all moved.  Busy Times!

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