Monday, 11 December 2017

Post Crash Update

I thought I would update on my road to recovery and give a bit of an insight to what I have planned for the near future and beyond.

After the crash during Giro della Donna, I took the next day off work to recover, went into work on Tuesday and to also pick up my laptop as I was going to spend the rest of the week in Perth WA for work and for a wedding.

As my left arm and shoulder was still sore (contusion), I refrained from using my left arm when packing my suitcase or lifting it into the car or onto the check in belt at the airport. The gravel rash on my thigh was healing but I still avoided wearing pants of jeans as the area was still sensitive. Luckily, the weather in Perth was warm enough that I could just wear skirts and shorts.

I worked at the Perth HQ on Thursday but didn't end up walking to the office as I wasn't able to carry anything on my left shoulder and my accommodation was 6km away. On Friday, the day of the wedding, I did a 2 hour walk around the neighbourhood which covered about 9km. It was good to just be able to move around after having a stiff and sore body for the last 5 days.

The wedding was held at Chapel Farm at 4pm. The setting for the wedding was amazing and I wore a dress which had a big bubble skirt effect so I didn't get irritations on my wounds. Due to taking pain killers and the time difference of Perth to Melbourne, I was tired at 8pm Perth time, this being 11pm Melbourne time. I kept myself awake with 2 cans of coke and a coffee. I haven't drank coke since Ironman 2014.

The next day, I slept in until about 9am (12pm Melbourne time) having only gone to bed around 12:30am the night before. I did some work on my laptop before I got ready to head out to the friends and family gathering of the bride and groom for those to travelled interstate so they had time for a proper catch up.

On Sunday, I drove down to Busselton to support my friends who were participating as part of the full and half Ironman race. The drive was about 2.5 away but luckily I rented a car with Bluetooth and I was able to not only navigate but to also listen to my audiobook. The event itself was hectic. The maximum temperature was 37 degrees but it would have exceeded 40 on the bitumen. I was swooped by magpies walking into the event area as were a few competitors. The swim was cancelled due to sharks. Due to the heat, there were many exhausted athletes as well as cramps when they stopped pedalling at the dismount line. So much carnage. During the day of supporting, I noticed that I could feel small crackling and popping noises from my ribs and it was starting to get really sore, maybe from too much exertion from cheering on friends.

Onto the run, so many athletes were just cooked from the heat and lost salts. I left the event at 6:30pm and got back to Perth around 10pm. I needed to pack as I was leaving on a 9:30am flight but I also needed to return my rental car at the airport.

Surprisingly, my arm felt much better by Sunday and I felt that I was able to put weight on my left shoulder and was able to carry my bags through the airport. I think I pushed this pain barrier too hard and by Tuesday morning, my ribs were in pain and I went to The Alfred for a check up. I ended up getting a proper Xray and ECG scan to see if there was any organ damage.

Luckily, everything is ok and the fracture is not dislocated and has not punctured my lung or caused any noticeable tissue damage. I was prescribed strong pain killers which I have not bought any due to the hectic work week ahead. Wednesday I recovered at home from the pain and I taught a professional course on Thursday - on my feet and talked for 8 hours straight.

On the weekend, I did a lot of sewing - fulfilling orders as well as the ready-made stock on the online store. On Saturday, I drove to Williamstown for LOC's Christmas ride and breakfast BBQ at which I won the Best Fall award for 2017 for the most recent crash and description on how I fell. On Sunday, I headed nto the Kit Sale at Coffee Pddler to check out what they had on offer. If Lumiere had my size, I would have snapped it up but they only had smalls. I bought a few gifts as well as a backpack for commuting.

For the remainder of the year, I will take it relatively easy in cycling and will be able to try my best at the Rapha #Festive500 again which starts on the 24th Dec.

For the start of 2018, I am going to do the 70km event during the Alpine Classic which is the Mt Buffalo climb as I have rented a nice house for the whole family from Thursday 25th until Monday 29th Jan. Other than the main ride as part of the Alpine Classic, I will probably do a few flat rides and walks around the area.

I have also signed up for Giro della Donna for 2018 (25th Nov). Again, this will be the main event for the year considering the challenge and timing.

For the next week or so, I am back with Lead Out but will not push as hard in the sessions due to the pain and lack of mobility. I will try to get back onto pilates as soon as I have the strength in my arms to be able to hold up my body weight.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Giro della Donna 2017 - DNF

26th November 2017 was the day of the Cyclingtips Giro della Donna ride which was a 125km ride with over 2700m of climbing. I did the inaugural event in 2015 as part of my training for Falls Creek (3 Peaks) of 2016. In 2016, I bought a ticket and sold it to a friend due to my lack of motivation for any training post 3 and 7 Peaks and bit the bullet and entered again in 2017.

It was my own program that this was the final event for me in 2017 as I wanted the remainder of 2017 to be about fun-cycling. Since I joined Lead Out Cycling in February of this year, my skills have improved dramatically for my standards having not learnt much in skills when I was a triathlete. Now I can do track turns, rolling turns and descend with better confidence than I have ever been.

Leading up to the 26th Nov, I had done a 145km Daylesford ride (with 1800m of climbing) which took me out of my comfort zone in terms of distance on the bike as well as hours turning my legs, a 120km Rosewhite Loop around Bright which nearly killed me due to the exhaustion as well as the dreaded Tawonga climb and I started to ride to Kew Blvd for one of the Saturday long rides which made the day long and 40km more than the main set. In 2018, I will need to do more of this as I tend to drive to the training sessions more due to the need to start work early as well as the need for me to attend different sites.

On Saturday 25th, I took it very easy. I had my nails done in the morning and I went to Southland for a bit of a shop. I had pretty clean meals leading up to the weekend with salads for dinner on most nights due to the heat.

As I drove there early on Sunday morning, I needed a 4am alarm and left the house at 4:45 to get to Warburton by 6am. I made a smoothie for breakfast with avocado, banana and almond milk as my stomach can never take a full breakfast before 10am. The smoothie was filling and I also had a black coffee to keep me awake for the drive. I was busting to go to the bathroom at around 5:30am and couldn’t wait to head into Warburton.
I ended up parking at the usual spot behind the bakery and the set of shops as there is a set of public toilets there which I am familiar with. I saw a few familiar faces so I was content on leaving my car there instead of the designated parking area as the word got around that the carpark was already full. The 125km event started at 7am and the parking was already exhausted, I don’t know how the 60km gravel riders will be parking as their event started at 9am.

I packed my wind jacket for the descent the night before with a pair of gloves and a musette and placed them in the envelope provides. I couldn’t decide on what to wear for this ride. I knew that I would be wearing my Lumiere knicks as they were excellent for the long rides I did prior to Peaks. I ended up choosing one of my Maap jerseys which I bought on sale from Bike Torquay. It was a comfortable size (large), pockets large enough for me to stowe away hours of nutrition along with my wallet and phone and the fabric was made for summer cycling. During the cooler months, I tend to wear my Rapha core jerseys as they are comfortable. I opted out of wearing my new Rapha climbers as the weather was not looking great and I didn’t want to get my new shoes dirty and damaged.
I stuffed my clothing bag into my jersey and rode the 1.5km toward the event village which was at the camping grounds. I was there about 6:30am so I had time to drop off the clothing, eat a banana before I saw a friend from Lead Out with her husband and kids.

The ride started just after 7am but as we were placed at the end of the pacing, we didn’t leave the event village until 7:10am or so. I remember from 2015 that this section of the ride was probably what I could consider to be the flattest although there was a slight incline and rolling hills. The climb started along Reefton where it was timed and I knew that I was in for the start of where I would suffer.
Compared to 2015, I now weigh about 10kg more and although I am stronger on the bike and my legs are more muscular, I am carrying more weight especially around my guts and my chest. No matter how strong I am on the bike, this time around, I needed to carry an extra 10kg on the climbs and I knew that I would not be as fast as my cadence on the climbs have not improved as I have been working on my form rather than the pace.
It took me a while to climb the 20km or so along Reefton but I was lucky enough to not get any flats. The rain started when I was along this climb and it didn’t really stop. I knew that I would be riding much of this ride by myself so I listened to my iPod which I had gathered not having touched it since the training rides leading up to 3 Peaks (Feb 2016). I noticed that when I was riding along with my audiobooks or podcasts, I was not as motivated as I was riding along the pace of the narrator/speaker. The music definitely does help with the cadence and pace.
Once I reached the top of the Reefton climb, there was a feed station where I could fill up my empty bottle and prepared for the second climb of the day. The climb although short, it was steeper than Reefton and this lead to the reduced cadence of my pedals. I really do need to work on increasing the cadence (but how??)
There was a good descent after this climb but the rain had also made the roads wet and my vision unclear and this was where I applied the brakes which lead to my wheels skidding along and I lost control of the bike and slid along my left side of my body with the bike on top for a good 10-20m.
I remember checking that I hadn’t hit my head and luckily I couldn’t feel any headaches or pains. I checked my body for scratches or blood but I didn’t see any big open wounds apart from a few grazes on my elbows and pain on my left thigh and left boob/chest area. I inspected the bike and only found that my hoods were bent towards the middle with scratches along the levers and bartape. Luckily I didn’t see any breakages of the frame visible to my naked eye. I looked over my shoulder to check that no one else was coming around and got off the road to give myself a chance to process that I just had a crash.
I waited for a few minutes and when I was feeling less stressed, I hopped back on the bike and continued along. I noticed that my left shoulder was in a big of a pain but I was confident that it was not broken. I had a small climb to do and I knew that the rest of the ride was downhill towards Marysville. I have to admit, I was no longer confident at the descent as it rain continued and the roads were still very wet. I was worried for myself and how I would finish this event having just crashed and when I finally reached Marysville, I decided to pull out of the event and needed to tell someone that I was done for the day due to the crash. Luckily when I mentioned it to the event staff, they told me that the sag wagon was about 30min away. The rain continued to fall and I waited under a big tree with others who had also finished for the day. My shoulder’s pain grew stronger as well as my chest and it was starting to hurt when I breathe.
When the sag wagon finally came through, we loaded our bikes on the trailer and I gave my spare tube away to a guy who kept getting flats which left me with no spares. I didn’t need them for the day as I was finished on the bike.
The sag wagon drove slow along the course behind the lantern rouges (XXX). We ended up picking up about half a dozen more people along the way and we ended up with a pretty full mini bus along the gravel sections of Acheron Way. The sag wagon didn’t end up along the last 10km of the day up Donna Buang and proceeded to head towards the event village. We still passed several people on the side of the road due to mechanical failures of their bikes but it was not possible to stop due to a full bus and trailer.
When we got down to the event village and got our respective bikes, I headed into the event village to see if I can spot any familiar faces. My friend Cheryl whom I started the ride with, she didn’t make the cut off time up the Donna climb so she was also done for the day early. I didn’t want to wait around for 3 hours to pick up my jacket which was still on top of the mountain so I started to ride towards my car but I ended up getting a flat 100m from the event village with about 1.5km left until my car. As I had no spares at this point, I just walked my bike along the main road towards the car, I really had no choice. Looking back, even if I had a spare, I don’t think I really could be bothered changing the flat in the rain when the car is 1.5km away.
Before the drive back to Melbourne, I changed out of my cycling kit and inspected my wounds. I did get a few bleeding grazes along the thigh and elbow and I did rip several holes into my knicks. Big enough that these knicks will either be thrown away or saved for commuting. If I don’t wear them again within 2 months, they will go into the bin. My chest was starting to hurt more and I found that the movement of my left arm was very restricted.
I prepared for a bath when I got home and cleaned my gravel filled wound in the salted water which was more pleasant than when I tried to clean it with alcohol wipes in the sag wagon. I went for a quick nap after the bath but wasn’t able to fall asleep due to the pain that was in my chest due to the weight when I laid on my back. I took several pain killers that evening to subdue the pain.
Later that night, I wanted to lie on the rug in our lounge room and with sudden movements, I was in a world of pain. So much so I was whaling and howling on the floor with tears down my face. The pain was excruciating and with every small movement, the pain got worse. It felt like someone had penetrated my ribs with a knife. My partner ended up driving me to Sandringham hospital where I was seen by a medical staff which confirmed that I had cracked my ribs but I needed to wait around for an X-ray. We waited around for an hour or so but as I was sitting upright, there was no pressure on my chest and the pain subsided. There were too many emergencies that night in hospital so we ended up leaving as the people ahead of us were still being tended to.
I took more pain killers when I got home and sent a note to work to advise them that I had a small crash and cracked my ribs and would not be at work the next day. If the pain was worse, I would take myself to see the hospital again to assess the damage.
Since Monday, the chest pains are still there and I am still not able to lie on my back without pain. The movements and strength of my arms have improved but I am still not putting too much pressure on the left side. My grazes and healing as fast as they can. I have contacted the organisers of the event to arrange for a pick-up of my jacket and gloves next week when I return from Perth.
I have a chance to purchase next year’s ticket for $120 and there is a 90% chance that I will do this within the next few days. I am a bit hesitant as I don’t want to receive a number as high as I did this year (#35) but still am a hack.
I want to improve within the next 12 months so that I can ride with the main bunch and not get dropped as soon as a climb comes up. I want to also be confident again in my descents so I can make up some time there.
I am off the bike for a week or two as I attend one of my best friend’s wedding in Perth and see how the pain of my chest feels in December. I will be back in time for Lead Out’s recovery week and their Christmas ride on the 9th Dec. 

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Property Industry Foundation Ride 2017

My work received a few tickets for the Property Industry Foundation (PIF) Cycling day on the 17th December 2017.

There were two distances - 50km and 75km with the following elevations 700m and 1300m respectively. The ride is organised by the guys at TKM and so I knew that the ride would be not for the average person to complete in time for lunch. I decided that the 50km would be sufficient and I would make it back for lunch at 1pm.

The ride started at 9am and I arrived a bit later than the anticipated meeting time and parked up the top of the RACV club. I just had enough time to go to the toilet at the main club area and then get my bike ready. I thought I was late as I heard the announcements whilst I was driving up so I was in a slight panic getting ready.

When I rode down to the start, I had enough time to chat to work people, catch up with others I knew and enough time to register and put the relevant registration stickers on my helmet and seat post.

I knew that I was not going to keep up with the majority of the group so I started out the back and rode at my own pace. Within 7km, I was already riding by myself as I am not great on climbs. I didn't mind as it is something which I am used to. The ride along Maroondah hwy was not pleasant but as soon as we peeled off into the wineries from Hill Rd, the ride was pleasant and pretty scenic. The remainder of the ride was challenging with good rolling hills but there was a section of Boundary Road which I had to hop off the bike as it was 17-20%. Within the group I was riding with, only one person rode up the road but he had to ride from side to side of the road and out of the saddle. The road was so steep that everyone struggled to even push their bikes up.

There was a feed station at 35km at which everyone stopped for a feed. I stopped for 10min or so before they made the announcement that the 75km would go off first turning left and the 50km riders would be sent off 5min later turning right.

I rode with a friend of mine whom I knew from triathlon days and we chatted most of the way back to the start. As there were only 9 females within the 120 riders and we finished the ride early, we didn't have to wait for showers to be free and we had plenty of time to get ready for lunch.

During the lunch, there were a few items for auction. I only put a bid in only for a set of 302 Zipp wheels with a RRP of $2100 but my limit was $1500. I didn't end up winning the wheels (which went for $1700) but it was good to participate in the auction and exposure for the company I work for and also being one of the 9 females of the day.

This event raised over $40K for PIF House Program and the Chatterbox Youth Outreach Bus.

With this ride being on a Friday, I didn't end up riding with LOC but did a recovery ride to Studley Park and rode a few laps with friends and then a recovery ride back home which ended up being a 90km day with 1000m elevation. The plan was to ride Donna Buang on Sunday but due to fatigue, I ended up just sleeping in and caught up on housework and life.

I have Giro della Donna on Sunday 26th, really looking forward to this event. The weather forecast is not looking well but at least it is not below 10 degrees.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Long weekend in Bright and only one ride.

In Melbourne, we had a long weekend due to the Melbourne Cup. The public holidays in on the Tuesday but out work closes on the Monday as an RDO.

Our little family went to Bright (about 4 hours from Melbourne) to do some riding and I did a session with Lead Out.

As we only arrived on Saturday afternoon, I didn't end up riding with the group to Mount Buffalo and only did the ride on Sunday. The ride started at 9am and it was warm enough for no arm warmers and just the standard jersey and knicks. We rode from Bright to Porepunkah for a short coffee break. After the break, we rode along the rail trail to Myrtleford for a toilet stop before hitting the climb up Rosewhite. I stuck with the group until the turn off at Ovens as I am not as strong and just rode by myself pretty much the entire way.

Before the climb, the ride itself was pretty uneventful, the scenery was wonderful and I got swooped by one magpie (for about 10 attempts). I kept my cadence at 75rpm the entire climb so I was pretty impressed with myself but I know the gradient was manageable.

The group stopped on the top of Rosewhite and I could take a break before the descent down. The descent down was great and I am much more confident. The first time I did this loop was in 2015 and I remember being really tired and needed assistance in pacing by the coaches. I ended up riding by myself in between two groups at my own pace. At this stage of the ride, my feet had started to swell hurt. The group stopped for lunch at the Tawonga Gap general store and I had half a roll and a bottle of coke emptied out in my bidon.

I ended up starting early from the group towards Tawonga and climbed the route. I have always hated Tawonga, the gradient is just steep enough that I am grinding on the gears and nothing much else. I am purely just surviving at this point. Having 90km already in the legs and temperature at about 28 degrees, I had the worst climb in a long time...

This was my worst Tawonga Gap climb, it took me over an hour to climb and I stopped 2 times to rest. My feet were so swollen that I undid my boa laces completely and I could still ride. Having Coach Mick there did help for me to not give in but it was also embarrassing that I found this climb so hard to do! My cadence hovered between 40 - 55rpm and my heart rate never went below 170bpm. The break on the top of the gap was great and I had a chance to take off my shoes and rubbed my feet to relief. The descent down from Tawonga was great and I felt more confident and comfortable.

I was totally dead after the ride that I didn't do anymore rides that weekend. I was just so fatigued and couldn't pick myself up to get on the bike. I haven't been back on the bike since then but planning on doing some climbing this weekend in training for Giro della Donna. Fingers crossed I am mentally strong enough to get myself out there again.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Ride Daylesford 2017 - Breaking the comfort barrier

On the 28th October 2017, I participated in the inaugural Ride Daylesford. I entered in the 146km event, using it as a training day for Giro della Donna and this weekend's Bright training camp.

A day or two prior to the event, I started to get nervous. My previous long ride was about 100km with about 1000m of climbing and prior to that, most of the 100km rides were relatively flat (Beach road with LOC). The magnitude of this event started to surface, it is 146km, 50% more distance than my previous session and 800m more in climbing...

I arrived in Dalyesford on Friday afternoon and picked up my registration (bike and helmet stickers) along with the shit cheap event jersey. A friend from work showed me how his zipper broke when he tried it on and the same thing happened to me when I tried on the jersey back at the house. I had never had the intentions of wearing the jersey - I refuse to wear something which I have not worn before. The jersey fabric and construction was terrible and the fit even worse. Such a waste of money. I would have happily chosen to put that money towards a charity than to get a jersey made. I understand the policy of the jersey - so they could recognise who was part of the event but we were also decorated with helmet and bike stickers, it is not like they would refuse to help us if we were in trouble or refuse me to access the water at the aid stations?

On the 28th morning, I left the accommodation at 7:00am thinking that it would take me forever to ride to the start (there was a 8% climb). I ended up getting there around 7:10am and had a toilet break and spoke to a few familiar faces. I seeded myself at the 20km/h area. The ride started off being manageable. I am a lot more confident at the descents compared to where I was 12 months ago and I ended up passing many after they passed me on the climbs.

There were a few false flats and rolling hills but as I was riding by myself, I just rode at my own pace and didn't follow any groups as I knew that I was not as strong as the guys. I planned to be self sufficient on the bike and carried enough food for 10 hours and carried 2 bottles of hydration. By the guide, I knew that I wouldn't need to stop at the first aid station so I skipped it in Kyneton. I saw plenty of people who stopped so I knew that they would eventually pass me along the way.

Two of my work colleagues rode passed me and said hello so I ended up riding with them for about 15km until there was a slight climb and I couldn't manage it without being fatigued. I ended up leading a group for the next 15km until the aid station where I pulled in to fill up my empty drink bottle.

The next few km were uneventful, all I was doing was turning my legs. There was a small stretch of the road where the climb was around 15% and that's where the first of the many climbs where some hopped off their bikes. I made a promise to myself that I would not hop off the bike during this ride so I pushed myself as hard as I could, even when the speed is around 5km/hr and my cadence was as low as 30rpm.

Around the 100km mark, I really started to struggle. My arms, hands and feet were swollen and hurt and my mind started to let me down. At this point, I got out my earphones and started to listen to my audiobook to help me through.

The last 20km of the ride was really hard. There were climbs where the gradients were 10%+. Mentally, I was so tired. Physically, my body changed so much from the start of the ride with swollen limbs and bloated belly. Luckily there was an aid station around Hephburn Springs where I could catch a breath before the final climb from Hephburn Spring to Daylesford.

The final climb into the event village was a relief. I knew that I would finish the event close to 3pm but I had not prepared for how uncomfortable I would be. I have to admit that I haven't done anything this intense since I did my long rides leading up to 3 peaks (Feb 2016).

Here are a few comments regarding the event from my point of view:
  • I might have to see if I need to increase the calorie intake for big rides like this. For Ride Daylesford, I ate 100cal/hour.
  • I need to see what I can do about the swollen limbs. From what I have read online, it comes from too much salt and I did use Hydralyte throughout the ride so I could help with the cramping. The other reason for the swollen limbs is being dehydrated too as it is your body's way of storing fluids.
  • As I am buying new cycling shoes, I will need to keep it with the Boa laces so I can release loosen the shoes when my feet swell. 

For Giro della Donna, it is 125km with 2800m of climbing so I will need to do more climbing training. I know I will not be as bike fit as 2015 as I now weigh 10kg more but I am confident that my descending has improved.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Spring cycling and up and coming events

It is now mid October and the weather certainly has picked up and made it more bearable to ride outdoors.

October and November will be a couple of busy months for me with regards to cycling commitments and events.

I have the Ride Daylesford on the 28th October and it is a 146km ride (with over 1700m of climbing, most of it done on the last 50km) so I will need to get some distance/stress in my legs in order to get myself through comfortably. So for this week's long ride (21st Oct), I will ride from my house to Heidelberg (30km) for the 7am start and then ride home. I will be a > 100km day with hopefully over 1500m of climbing. I will be writing off the remainder of the day as I will be in a deep recovery sleep to recover.

I will be heading to Bright over the long weekend for some training with Lead Out 4th through to 7th November. I am looking forward to being back in the Alpine region and to see how I have improved (if any) especially in the descents.

Work has entered me in the Property Industry Foundation charity ride on the 17th November which is a 50 or 75km ride from Healesville. I am suspecting that this ride will be a hilly one but it is fully supported and catered for. Depending on how hectic this ride is, I may or may not ride again on the Saturday.

The week after, it will be my main event for 2017 which is the Giro della Donna on the 26th November. My main aim for this ride is to be stronger on the climbs and more comfortable on the descents. My weight to power ratio will not be great since I have put on weight compared to 2015. The ride is 125km with 2750m elevation. I have not ridden Donna Buang since 2015 so ideally, I should ride up that climb before the 26th November but with so many social and work events coming up, it will look like it may only be done on the event day.

I have done two Mt Pleasant rides within the last few weeks. The sessions were not too dramatic and I didn't tear up after the sessions from exhaustion and defeat. Compared to my first ride with LOC out that way, I am feeling much stronger. Last week was recovery week for Lead Out and I completed the two mid week training sessions but didn't end up riding on Saturday as I wanted to do a long session with the Point Cook Cycling Group (PCCG) riding from Point Cook towards You Yangs and some hill repeats.

The pace towards You Yangs was fairly comfortable with speeds < 25km/hr. Because I was feeling relatively OK, I pushed myself on the hill repeats as the loop is 3km with a climb of 100m over 1.2km. The ride back towards Point Cook was also fairy comfortable for me and I didn't feel too exhausted by the end of the ride which was good feedback for me and how I will get through Ride Daylesford.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

I have no recent FTP Test

Since forever, I have never been great at endurance. Since being able to put a label to my body's performance - Ehlers Dandlos Syndrome (EDS), it does explain my abilities in term of being stupidly flexible for practically all my joints from my fingers, toes, knees, neck, shoulders (joint weakness) as well as it's inabilities of performance over a long period of time due to muscle fatigue. I have trained for years in endurance sports but my strength and speed has not improved. When I started with LOC and we would do individual TT along Beach Road or in Altona, I would start out great and then the muscles would just stop working.

In terms of the 20min FTP tests - they are not my friend. I can push the power for a short period of time, I can sprint at very high power (close to 1000W for 3 sec) but when it comes to endurance, my body just won't cooperate. Mentally, I can put myself through 20min FTP test but my body just doesn't want to keep up. The 20min FTP test works on the Maximal Lactate Steady State (MLSS).

I remember doing an FTP test about a year ago and my FTP was about 160W over 20min. I try to start out in a gear and cadence which is comfortable and I "think" I can hold for 20min. No matter what strategy I use, the end results is about 160-165W.

This morning was no different. The session this morning at Spin Labs was an FTP test. I started out at 190W for 5min, then worked up to 200W for the next 5min with an rpm of 85+ then the last 7min of the FTP test, I started to fatigue with my body shaking and the average went down to 165W. Frustrating. Towards the end when the instructor was pushing us to go hard for the last 2min or so, I just had nothing energy in the legs.

When the session is based on various % of the FTP, I can work with a benchmark of 180-200W as it is sometimes the lowest FTP chart available at the venues. I am comfortable when I use those benchmarks in the session as I can hold high power for a short period of time. For example, on Monday (25th Sept), the session was 4 x (1.5min 95% @ 85-95rpm, 30 easy, 1min 110% @ 85-95rpm, 30 easy, 2min 85% @ 100rpm, 1min easy, 3min 100% @ 60-65rpm, 30 sec out of the saddle, 3min recovery). I used FTP of 180W in the session and I was fine and hitting those power benchmarks or above the whole session.

My goal for the next 6 months will be to work on my endurance and increase by FTP towards 180W over 20min but work out a strategy. Do I break it down to 5min intervals where I increase and decrease my efforts over that 5min, start out strong and watch the power decrease over time or start out low and see if I can increase the power as I go along. I will have the manage my muscle fatigue and heart rate as it hovers around 175rpm during the FTP tests.

I have also heard of the short 8min FTP test which is 8-minute Power at VO2max (pVO2max) efforts. They say that the 8min test is suitable for the more experienced riders but doing the 20min FTP sets better benchmarks.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Stepping into Spring

The last 3 months has not been great in terms of "off season training". I had a bad virus around Queens bday weekend and my cough has lingered on and off since.

Ol'Dirty really took it out of me and I got sick about 4 days after the ride. Not sure if it was a combination of fatigue and riding in the rain for about 30min or my body has just been exposed to the various virus elements.

In order I maintain my cycling fitness when I can't ride outdoors, I am increasing my indoor cycling sessions. Recently I have bought passes for SpinLabs in Hampton. It is conveniently located about 1km from my house and they use Wattbike Pro bikes. I am also choosing to get on Wattbike Pro machines when I am at Art of Cycling as well so I can work to improve. The non-pro versions allows you to free spin, good for recovery and high cadence work where as the Pro versions, I am hitting just below 100W on the lowest gear possible.

With regards to the Zwift sessions, as much as they are fun, I find that I don't push myself as hard as I would on the Wattbike sessions. I had a go on a direct drive smart trainer on the weekend and I found myself on a higher power range compared to the skewer version I have at home. Maybe when I see myself performing at a higher power range, it will encourage me more? It is all psychological.

So Amy's Gran Fondo was on the weekend and I didn't end up doing the event. I didn't want to pay full price for the ticket especially when I feel that my training hasn't been great leading up to it. It was too inconsistent due to illness and I didn't want to suffer so much on the bike that I am put off it. Compared to the first time I did the event in 2015, I want to be able to do this event without stopping and within a reasonable time.

The only event I have paid within the remainder of 2017 is Giro della Donna in November and it will be a few weeks after the LOC training weekend in Bright which I am excited about. We have booked accommodation for the long weekend and it will be our mini-family holiday.

I am utilising the Wattbike sessions to work on my strength on the bike as well as working at the whole "not recovering" after each hard effort but lowering the intensity.

For Lead Out this month, the main sessions will be TTT at Albert Park lake on Tuesdays, Aerobic Strength around Kew blvd on Thursdays and we are riding to Mt Pleasant and beyond (from Heidelberg). This morning, I didn't turn up to the TTT session as I didn't get home from work in Sydney until late. Fingers crossed that the rest of the week goes smoothly with work how my body recovers from the sessions so I don't die (and cry) from exhaustion during the long hilly ride. So far, I have had two bad rides and one good one with the Mount Pleasant loop.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Ol'Dirty 2017 - The Unrideable Ride

So on Saturday 2nd Sept, I can say that I have just done my 2nd and last Ol'Dirty event. I am just not cut out for it. This is my personal reflection on the event and does not reflect the efforts the organisers put towards improving the event from last year not does it portray the remainder of the participants, some had a great day out.

My write up of Ol'Dirty 2016 is here.....and after seeing a few posts from the organisers, promising that this year's course will be more rideable and not as nut-so, I decided to do this event again in 2017 along with some others from the cycling group who had also entered to prove to myself that last year's event was due to the change of course and not because I am a hopeless cyclist.

I had decided to use the CX bike based on the feedback of the organisers as well as the photos and videos of the previous few Ol'Dirty events prior to 2016. I wanted it to be a good day out on the gravel road - I was very mistaken.

On Friday 1st, I had a work awards night so I really didn't have a good night's sleep even when I had prepared most of my kit during the day. The alarm went off at 6am as I had planned on leaving the house around 6:45am to get to Marysville at 8:30am.

The temperature around Melbourne hovered around 15 but went down to 5 when I reached Marysville. I decided against knee warmers and I do heat up very quickly. I started off with knicks, sleeveless base layer, jersey, arm warmers, gilet and gloves, I quickly removed the gloves and unzipped the gilet around 5km into the ride after the first climb. I still had the gilet around as I needed to carry extra food for the ride. There were already some part of the climb which was tough, especially as I was only riding 36-46T, 11-28T.

Due to my lack of skills and confidence and riding my CX, I walked down the majority of the 5 - 10km descent rather than riding. I was in the way of cyclist who were confident so my legs are scratched to bits as I walked to the side of the road into the ferns to stay out of ppl's way. If I had the mountain bike, I would have had a go. I am pretty sure I rode most of the 10 - 18km only stopping to walk through mud puddles and sharp and hectic descents.

From about 18km - 20k was the SRAM Scramble which gradients got to 35% and it was impossible to ride and I actually found it hard to even walk through.

Looking at my Strava file, I can see this is the section where I had to hop off the bike to walk through the clay mud puddles and where I could hop back on the bike for a few pedal strokes. My riding through mud stopped when I reached Acheron Way. I had stopped there to get the mud off the bike and my cleats and I saw a few riders went along the road. A few went South and I followed for about 2km until I realised that I was travelling South towards Warburton. I quickly turned around and rode along until I saw a couple of other rides who had as much trouble riding through the course as I did. I had met them previously on other rides within the last 12 months.

We all rode as group until we hit the climbs on Marysville Road where my power/weight ratio, more because I weighed about twice as much as they did, slowed me straight down to the point where I hopped off the bike and walked about 2km as my legs gave up. It also started to rain when we reached Marysville Road so my bike go a bit of a clean before I finished the event.

I got back to my car before 3pm. I wasn't sorry that I turned off early and missed out on lunch. I never eat half way through a ride due to my sensitive stomach. I survived with gels and a couple of dates for the 5 or so hours. I didn't burn too many calories either as I had walked probable 60% of the route. Luckily I had an empty bike box in the car and I placed it in the back of the car before I placed my muddy bike in. I also had enough towels in the car which I used to cover the muddy tires so I didn't spread mud everywhere.

I guess I didn't "enjoy" this ride like others as I had the expectation that it was a rideable event....maybe if I had my mountain bike with me I would have had a better day but at the end of the day, I made the decision to use the CX and was expecting a gravel ride and not one through crater sized clay mud roads, steep rocky descents and for a person with anxiety and hates falling, my mood was just not positive.

Although I had a chat with a few old friends and met a few new faces, I am just not made for this type of adventure. In terms of training for up and coming events, I felt that I would have had better improvements if I stayed in Melbourne and trained with Lead Out and did the Mount Pleasant loop to improve on my climbing strength, this is just my personal view.

My body ached the next day and I think I have strained my calve due to so much walking on steep angles. I am too afraid to get a massage at this point as I need to continue with my training throughout the week.

Do I recommend this event? Yes of course, if you like eventful routes, mud slides and don't mind not riding along bitumen.

Amy's GF is in 2 weeks and I am yet to sign up for the event. I will make a decision soon as I can...I will also decide if I will do the 120km road ride or the 65km gravel option. I am keen on both however the gravel ride is at Apollo bay and not Lorne.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Me vs Winter vs Training

It has been brought to my attention that I have had a cough/cold virus since Queens Bday weekend (mid June) and I haven yet to recover. This has been reflected in my training, especially my long rides with LOC. The last long ride with LOC was 8th July 2017.

We have started our "cram-training" for Amy's Gran Fondo. This block consists of 5 training sessions a week with Monday and Friday as trainer sessions and Wednesday and Sunday as rest day. Personally, I will do a swim on Wednesdays and Sundays to aid in my recovery.

It started off with a trainer session on Monday morning. Luckily I an idea of the session ahead and did them at my own due to the technical issues the coaches had. My session was over an hour as I started on the bike around 5:50am and finished just on 7am. Once I am done with these sessions, I will have to rush to get ready for work by 7:30am to get there in time.

This morning was the VO2 sessions at Richmond Blvd. I enjoy these sessions as I get to push my limits without the pressure of keeping up with the group or letting the TTT down. Heading back to the carpark works better for me due to my weight and the slight downhill compared to the other way towards Melbourne Girls. I arrived early this morning and did a quick warm-up half-lap before the start of the session as I am the only one who drives there. Different if this session was on a Thursday where I would have had to ride in from West Melbourne.

As I had mentioned before, tomorrow will be my swim session after work and Thursday will be at Albert Park lake working on our Steady State Tempo (SST) with a few sprints. I also enjoy this session as I get to work on the sprints which is my (pun) strength rather than endurance or climbing.

Friday will be VO2 trainer sessions and Saturday will be a long ride from Kew and we will be doing the Mt Pleasant Loop. The last time I attempted the Mt Pleasant loop, I was so exhausted at the end that I nearly cried. Fingers crossed that I will be able to get through this week's session. Extra fingers to be crossed that my anxiety won't be that strong that it stops me from getting out of bed and heading towards that training session early Saturday morning.

It is hard to manage my anxiety with these cycling sessions as I don't have a fool-proof solution. If I don't think too much about it then I won't stress too much and will be able to sleep and get myself out the door and do the session however if I don't think about it then I won't be prepared. Being prepared for me is being in control of the kit I am going to wear, nutrition, hydration, charging lights and Garmin, sometimes I even pack the bike in the car the night before.

I will only be doing the Mt Pleasant loop for 2 weeks as I will be doing Ol'Dirty on week 3. As much as I stress about doing the long ride on the weekend, it will be beneficial for me for the climb-training required for Ol'Dirty, Amy's Gran Fondo, Daylesford and Giro della Donna.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Update on Cycling

I have been training with Lead Out Cycling for nearly 7 months now. The reason for this post is give others an update on my progress but also it allows me to get a few thoughts down.

I had mentioned before how my cycling skills have really improved. This includes riding in groups, doing constant rolling turns, track turns and even cornering and descending. One of my goals for improvement over the next few months is my endurance. I am much stronger on the bike compared to when I was in triathlon but I am finding that because I am pushing myself on the bike, I am not able to hold that "speed" for a long period of time. I have noticed that my breathing and lung capacity is not what it used to be, maybe because I have stopped swimming and therefore, not really training my lungs to be more hypoxic.

I have registered for Ol'Dirty 2017. Ol'Dirty 2016 totally broke me. To be honest, I am still traumatised from last year's OD but the organisers have promised that this year's route won't be as "nutso" as 2016. Maybe I am naïve to believe that they will be better organised this year and take into account the riding abilities of the greater cycling community...we will see.

I am yet to register for Amy's Gran Fondo but most likely, I will pay during August or post-tax-return. $200+ for a 120km ride is a bit steep. Another event which I have entered is Giro della Donna and this will be the A-event to train towards for 2017. So in summary for 2017:
  • Ol'Dirty on the 2nd Sept, riding the CX bike
  • Amy's Gran Fondo on the 17th Sept
  • Daylesford Ride on the 28th October (tentative)
  • Giro della Donna on the 26th Nov
I have re-activated my Zwift account and using the Tacx trainer to do a few sessions indoors. I was really sick a few weeks ago and the cold winter air is not the best for my breathing. So the last few sessions have been completed at home on the trainer or back at my own training studio of Art of Cycling in Yarraville and hitting up the strength climbing sessions.

Art of Cycling - Wattbikes

Moving forward in training, I will aim to do at least 5 sessions a week, this includes the 3 Lead Out sessions along with at least 2 trainer sessions at home on the Zwift, beach road recovery, commute rides or a session on the track bike. To be honest, I haven't brought the track bike out since we moved out of Aspendale. When it gets too warm, not being able to carry water on the bike and not being able to coast on the bike

The best way for me to keep myself accountable for these sessions is to actually schedule them in and then tick them off. I can't be bothered with Training Peaks as I am not reporting to a coach so an excel spread sheet will do for me. For the month of August, I have my training schedule done as I know where my work locations are - working out at Glen Waverly on Wednesdays and West Melbourne on Thursdays.

In terms of body recovery and maintenance, I am going to invest in air compression sleeves for my legs to help with my DOMS and fatigue. My inflammations last longer than the normal person as I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS). Weekly massages are good but I would like to use the sleeves on a daily basis to prevent lactic accumulation.

Smiling on the home trainer - just finished 2:45 on the Zwift

In terms nutrition, I have really cut down on consuming gels during training. I only take gels on the long weekend rides and only every 60min (not 30-45min). The sessions during the week tend to be 45min through to 1:15, no need for supplements. My weight has not gone down but I am confident that I am getting stronger.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Melburn Roobaix 2017

On Sunday, I did my 5th Melburn Roobaix event organised by FYXO.

This is my 5th and the past events are all blogged here:
2013 - My First Roobaix
2014 - The Wet Roobaix
2015 - The Sunny Roobaix
2016 - The Cold Roobaix

A few months ago, I put a call out on Facebook to purchase the Melburn Roobaix tickets when they were released online as I was in work meetings. Luckily a friend who was on school holidays could buy them for me.

As part of this year's entry pack, we received a FYXO Snood which I had used prior to the event, a couple of stickers and the tickets itself. I have always loved the Melburn Roobaix entry packs, you always receive something which you can use on the bike and/or souvenirs.

The 2017 edition occurred on the 25th June. The event started with registration between 9-10am. The Canadian and I parked at our usual spot at Abbotsford as it is between Hawthorn and Brunswick and allows us to park the whole day.

The Canadian rode a shop bike (TCR Advanced) and I rode my CX bike for the 4th time. As I ride my road bike 99% of the time, the CX bike, the Liv Brava certainly feels like I am riding a 20kg steel horse.

The day started out pretty cold so I started the day with my pink woollen gloves, pink gilet over my long sleeved roubaix jersey. I had 3/4 knicks on as I was sure that I would not be too warm and requiring to take off knee warmers if I had worn them with a standard set of knicks.

We arrived at the Hawthorn velodrome around 9:30am and picked up our musettes, chatted with a few friends and then we started off our day. This year, there was 12 sectors again but I noticed that the routes are shorter and didn't go to towards North Melbourne or Flemington.

We completed 3 sectors and stopped for a coffee and a snack at Mavis the Grocer as we didn't have a proper coffee in the morning as we ran out of milk but it also allowed for the crowd to spread out as it was getting really hectic on the roads as well as along the cobbled laneways.

It wasn't too sunny throughout the day but luckily it wasn't raining or windy. We rode along the bike trails at a comfortable speed and finished most of the sectors. We had a quick stop at the section where they gave away free butterbings! Butterbings are these soft brownie cookie sandwiches which are gluten free. They are mix between a macaroon, a brownie and a cookie sandwich. They are delicious!

I bought butterbings the next day from the café at my work

After 3 more sectors, we realised that we were 2 hours early for the end of the event so we decided to stop again for a late lunch at Cornerstone Pizzeria. We ordered the "cornerstone" pizza but I didn't really like it as the pizza was so soggy from the marinated peppers but luckily it was a tasty pizza and I had 2 pieces.

The last 2 sectors were just across the creek from the pizza stop and we arrived at the Brunswick velodrome around 3pm. I didn't ride up too high along the velodrome as it looked so steep! A bit too overwhelming for me. After a lap, we parked the bikes within the Bicycle Network bike parking sections and went for a walk within the velodrome to see what tents were there.

The Canadian and I took some photos within the photobooth before waiting in line to get a coffee prior to the end of the event where the prizes were announced. The grand prize was cold-hard-cash and the cobblestone trophy rather than the trip to Paris-Roubaix this year.

Some of the efforts people go with regards to costumes for the day is pretty good. Some people "make" a bike to ride. One of these notable bikes was from a guy called Jacob and he made a bike around a bed frame. I was actually close to him at a small section of the day and the way he gets on the bike, the way he rides and how he hops off is amazing!

Monday, 29 May 2017

Balliang Box Forest - My First Road Race!!!!

Yesterday 28th May, I did my first road race!! I had spoken about not doing a road race this year as I didn’t think I was “good enough” for the field but an opportunity came up with Footscray Cycling Club which had a “Women’s Novice” field and free race licenses.

I saw a post come on my Facebook about a friend who was organising a novice group and how they wanted to introduce more women to road racing. They had a recce ride the week before on the 21st May and rather than doing the 70km ride from Little River, a friend from LOC and I decided to just ride the course and met the group at Balliang Hall.

As we were in the middle of no-where, the course was very rough and exposed. If it wasn’t for the opportunity of riding behind the ride leaders/organisers, we would have been pushing through the headwind. When the climb started, this was when the group started to split up with the stronger riders forging on ahead. I wasn’t too familiar with the course so I didn’t push too hard to get through that climb. After the first climb, it was a great descent where I could catch up on the main group. There was a stretch of road where it was narrow and the roads were rough. For some reason, I was riding very close to the edge and before I knew it, I had slid off the edge and landed on my head (hard).

I sat there for a few minutes and held my head in my hands to subdue my headache (concussion) and had a few ladies from the ride to stop to check if I was ok. After getting my bike up and checking that everything was ok, checked that I wasn’t bleeding too much from the fall, I proceeded to the group who was waiting at the turn off into Granite Road. At this point, I realised that I had a small headache which didn’t go away and my helmet was cracked. I was asked if I wanted to turn around or ride with the group, I chose to ride with the group as I wanted to understand the rest of the course and I was comfortable with the gravel roads. After we started off, this was where the second climb for course was and it was the steepest of the lap. From the fall, I was so tired and really struggled to do this climb. I didn’t have the energy or the strength to ride out of the saddle as much.

After this climb, it was fast rolling hills but we had a break as someone in the group had a flat to fix. We then met up with the turn into the gravel road. I actually love the gravel road and have no hesitation on handling the bike along this part of the course. This only came about with my rides on the Dirty Gran Fondo events. The group then turned off to head back to Little River whilst Nat and I headed back to our cars.

During the week, I managed my headache with Panadol but no ibuprofen (no blood thinning medication with a concussion) and had to manage my whiplash with massage. I bought a new helmet on Monday. On Tuesday, my training session was done at 90% as it was hard to look over my shoulders. It was an “over and under” session but we didn’t realise it and did the entire lap at VO2 and took turns.

I went for a swim on Wednesday to help ease my whiplash and flush out the legs. During Thursday’s Albert Park session, I could only put in 75% of the effort for the session during the full laps. I just felt that I couldn’t hold the 80% power efforts and I was under pacing myself, even more so before the sprint sections of the lap before the pit straight.

For Saturday’s session, I brought out the Liv bike (Valerie) as we were doing some hill work. I wasn’t too sure what the session was about and how much I should be pushing but the coaches all knew that I was planning on racing on Sunday. We did a quick loop around Kew before we headed onto Ivanhoe Blvd and did a few hill repeats of a steep road. We then turned into Studley Park and did a TT. As Nat and I were racing, we were asked to do the TT at 80%. Happy to report that this became my PR for the loop as I didn’t stop at Walmer St.

After the TT, it was hill repeats of Molesworth Street and then Yarravale Road which I didn’t do repeats but waited for the group. To minimise DOMS from the day of hilly cycling, I sat in an ice bath for the first time in over a year.

Race Day
Registration for the race started at 8:30 with the race start at 9:30 which was a decent time to get up to drive to Balliang. I got there just after 8:40 and I had plenty of time for a toilet stop, race number pick up, warm up ride and a re-think of what to wear during the race. I opted out of a gilet and long finger gloves which I had during the warm up as I was sweating and didn’t want to feel too hot during the race. I decided to just wear my kit without gilet, arm warmers and then short fingerless gloves.

The women’s field started around 9:40 (last) and the first lap was controlled. I dropped off the group along the first climb but ended up getting back on at the descent but lost then again during the second climb as I couldn’t do the turn and just stuck at the back. After this, I could see the main group ahead but couldn’t catch up during the steep climb and rolling hills. I ended up riding with a chick called Tracey and we took turns along this section and the gravel before headed back to towards the Hall. Tracey didn’t do the second lap so I was solo for the next 5km or so until the lantern-rouge FCC guide came up behind me with another rider (Heather) who had stopped prior to fix a flat. We were assisted along the headwind and the climbs and Heather and I took turns at the fast parts of the route until we turned onto the gravel road where I was comfortable to ride. They caught up to me at the end of Box Forest Road and then it was the final left turn towards the finish line.

For the last 700m of the route, I just decided to put in 100% of what I had and crossed the finish line with harder gear and out of the saddle. I had finished the course just over 2 hours for a 2 x 25km loop which I was pretty impressed with considering we averaged 22km/h during the recce ride.

My friend Nat from LOC
After the race, I packed up my bike into my car and started to realise that my backside glutes were starting to seize and my legs were starting to be really sore and stiff. I had a cup of tea at the Memorial Hall and then drove home. My body was starting to get tighter and tighter during the drive and I decided that I really need to ice my legs again.

Although I didn’t win the race (so far from it), I have a great sense of achievement as this was something which I wanted to do in terms of cycling. I know what my strengths and weaknesses are and will work on the following:

1) Push my comfort level in keeping within the group even when it is climbing

2) I am still considerably weak riding into headwind. I need to work on VO2 and maintaining power. This is similar to this month’s Albert Park laps.

3) My descents are good especially when I am able to see ahead

4) Work on my climbs for both short and steep and long and not-so-steep ones. Take advantage of the training session at Kew for this month.

What’s next? I don’t have another road race in mind and FCC haven’t released which races will include the Novice Women’s field. There is one women's race within the Northern Combine events but I don’t know if I can race it on my 3 race license as I received it under FCC.

Monday, 1 May 2017

The last Dirty Gran Fondo - My 65km report.

Yesterday 30th April, I participated in my 4th (and final) Dirty Gran Fondo event. Due to the decline in numbers of people participating, the organisers have decided stop running this particular event and the September Gembrook one will be their last off road gran fondo. I have also just looked at the timing of the Gembrook event (3rd Sept) and realised that it is one day after the Ol’Dirty…

This is my 3rd time riding the 65km as my first attempt at this event was the 35km. The first time I participated in this distance (2015), I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into and my skills were nothing to brag about. I remember that ride being the hardest thing I had ever done, I walked my bike up nearly every climb and my grip on the brakes were firm.

My second attempt in 2016 of the event was much better considering that I had trained 8 months earlier for the 3 Peaks event and also having just finished the 7 Peaks rides. I had cut nearly 45min off my previous time and only walked twice.

The 3rd attempted on Sunday was not as great as last year, obviously because I didn’t spend the whole of summer of climbs and strength training but I survived. I had signed up for this event early this year when the dates changed from mid May to end of April due to the clash with Mothers Day. The last time I was on my mountain bike was on New Years when I rode 1km to my friend’s house.

We arrived at Wandong at just after 8am which gave my time for a toilet stop, getting my bike ready and deciding what to wear on the bike. It was about 15 degrees when the race started and I was glad when I removed my arm warmers. I noticed that the numbers this year was low from the start, we were not squeezed in or the end of the group where I usually start the ride was not spread out too far back. There was barely any women as well. I noticed the familiar faces of female cyclists were missing. Apart of the usual who generally podium at these CX-MTB events, strong female cyclist faces were missing.

The start of the ride is always nervous for me as my skills on muddy and rocky roads are not great. My bike set up was not great to start with. I had lent my bike to a friend to use for an event and upon return, I hadn’t had a chance to adjust to suit my changes since the last time I was on this bike. Due to my fall off the bike at last year’s event, I think it may be time to move this bike on.

There was the same part where I hopped off the bike last year after my fall and walked the bike until the “shooting range” section of the course. I made the call early to walk the bike when it was too steep and my tyres were slipping off when I was pedalling.

I am getting more comfortable at my descents. I remember the first descent had some straight gravel sections which ended with some twists and turns amongst the greenery. My times were 16:30 (2015), 15 (2016) and now 12:02.

I was relieved when I arrived at Feedzone 1 as I knew that I would be around a third of the way through the event. I threw my rubbish which I had stuffed under the leg section of my knicks and off I went.

The rest of the ride I found challenging. Mentally I was defeated as I knew that I was so behind the crowd. I actually thought I was the last female rider of the whole event. Physically, due to being under prepared for not only this ride but climbing in general, I was in pain. I wished my saddle was slightly higher and a bit set back so I can sit further back and use my glutes for the climbs.  

After Feedzone 2 is when the 90km riders generally ride passed me and keep me company for a second or two for the remainder of the ride. I knew that there is 1300+m of climbing for the day for the 65km and from memory, I knew that there were some rolling hills after Feedzone 2 through to 3.

I was adamant to finish this event under 5 hours and for the last 15km or so, I pretty much had 45min to sprint home. Luckily it was all downhill from there. After Feedzone 3, it was pretty much a good descent down to the start of the event. Due to the wear and tear of the roads, there were a few slippery moments where my bike skidded off some muddy puddles as well as my bike getting some air over some bumps.

I am happy to report that I did finish under 5 hours with 30 seconds to spare. I was also adamant that I was the last in my category but only found out late last night when the results were released that I didn’t come last in my category.

During the presentations, the race organisers told us that this was to be the last Dirty Gran Fondo due to the decline in numbers. There is the Gembrook Dirty Gran Fondo in September and that will be the last one for Big Hill Events. It is sad that they will no longer be having this particular event as it is the only time I ever bring the mountain bike out.