Sunday, November 28, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Two Time!

That guy on the left there? That's Commonwealth Games Keirin Gold Medalist Josiah Ng. That girl on the right there? That's 9 year old Emily Hughes. This is my entire roller racing report. Who won, who set the best times, who got the most drunk, that's not as important. Or as fun.

Ok, I'll list the winners later.

Evacuation! I Shout It Out!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

You Be Emmylou And I'll Be Gram.

We all have bad days on the bike. They shouldn't destroy us every time, shouldn't make us ask any questions, shouldn't make us uncertain about the training we've been doing, the food we've been eating, the rest we've been getting. Bad days on the bike should just be written off as bad days and forgotten, because the memory of bad days is always accompanied by doubt. And doubt, so useful in the cut and thrust of social discourse, has no place on the bike. To do well in this game you have to have the utmost in self-confidence - self-confidence that cannot be dented, no matter what the setback, what the loss. No matter how bad the day.

I did well yesterday at the Metro track champs, as well as I expected, but no better. I'd never ridden a real pursuit before, and yesterday morning did two, coming home with the bronze - second to a VIS athlete and a state pursuit champ. No shame there, but my qualifying time (5.01) was about five seconds slower than I'd hoped. And I brought home a silver in the kilo in the afternoon, but my tired legs were still unable to break that 1.10 mark that has been mocking me for over a year now. This being said, I was happy with how I was feeling - aside from those tired legs, I totally nailed my food intake, and the rest of my body was exactly where it should've been.

Today was a bit different. I skipped the sprints and arrived early for the scratch. Exactly how early quickly became apparent, and it slowly dawned on me that I didn't have quite enough food. Still, I watched Sean the Man - with the directions for the Grafton to Inverell 280 kilometre road race still taped to his stem - take a second in the sprints, then warmed up on the rollers. Then warmed up some more. Then warmed up some more. It wasn't the best preparation. The day was dragging on. A headache was coming. Casey texted me to ask where I was. When eventually our race started I was pretty much cooked. The pursuits yesterday had taken it out of me. I wasn't feeling great, and I felt even less great when I felt my rear tyre go all squishy. Five laps out for a mechanical. Still, I got back on without too much trouble, and even managed to pull a turn or two.

Before the race there had been a lot of discussion about how to beat the two VIS kids who had lined up with us. We had our man who we thought could win, and all we had to do was ensure that he did as little work as possible until the decisive moment. It was my job to mark one of these VIS kids, famed for making early escapes that somehow succeed. So this is what I did for the next ten laps. Every time he jumped, I jumped with him. If he moved up the track, I moved up the track. I followed him so closely I think I got some of his sweat on me. Eventually our man made his move and took a hundred metres or so. I held up the kid for a little more, but eventually he took off and I couldn't go with him. He joined our man at the front, I sat up, and was, a few more kilometres further in, pulled from the race.

Which was kind of cool, because it meant that I got to watch the finish. Our man was pulling the softest turns imaginable, knowing that the only people remaining in the race were the VIS kid, who was burning like a diesel engine at the front of the race, swearing at our man and getting angrier by the minute, and one other friend, whose initial job had been to lead our man out with four laps to go. That friend raced on his own for a good fifteen laps and held out for third. With two laps to go our man jumped and the VIS kid, perhaps tired from straining to stay away, never managed to get on to the wheel. It was good watching, and good racing.

I'm still unable to shake the feeling that I had a shitty day. But writing it out here helps. It takes that doubt and makes it reasonable, factual, typed out in black and white. Writing it out helps you reckonize the errors and localize them, keeping them small, not allowing the doubt to magnify them. In the past half hour I've gone from thinking, "Everything sucks," to just thinking, "Well, my food intake sure sucked. If I'd had more to eat I probably could've held on and finished the race." And in another half an hour I'll be thinking about races to come. I couldn't have done that if I'd kept lying here in the dark listening to Gillian Welch.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Where You Run To.

So I'm kinda sick again, this time four days out from a medium-importance race. It's the same kind of sick that plagued me earlier this year, a sickness that leaves my throat sore, glands trying to burst out my neck and a weird tiredness that doesn't allow me to get to sleep. At least last time the Winter Olympics were on, and I got to watch some sweet snowboard 4X / Nordic skiing action. This time I'm trying to manage a new, full on training schedule, work, and some crappy fucking shit-league European soccer. I'm also in a strange kind of mood, one that makes every single comment made by anyone else anywhere seem like the most irritating kind of annoyance ever uttered, but which also makes every comment that I make seem so deeply profound and enlightening and original that I should really be rushing down to Dinkum's Photocopying right now and preparing flyers for mass distribution. But I'm not, because I'm not sure that Dinkum's is open this late, and also because I know that I'm sick and should be heading back to bed and commencing my eleventy-billionth attempt at sleeping in a couple of minutes. So at this point I'd like to apologise to the larger, non-blog reading population, for depriving you of the halluncinogenic insights that arrive only after hours of laying in bed trying to think of nothing at all. Sorry.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Still The Same Old Story.

Every Planned Occupation.

So, Thursday was kinda a big day for me. First up I had some physiology testing with the good people at ERA. They were set to measure my VO2 Max, blood lactate levels, skin folds, and a whole bunch of other stuff. They'd also set my training zones out for me, so I can target those zones more effectively and train smarter rather than harder. All pretty cool stuff. But first I had to take the test. And let me tell you, sitting on a stationary bike with all manner of ridiculous head-and-face-wear attached to you isn't the easiest or most comfortable way to push pedals until you no longer can. I'm pretty sure I nearly blacked out at one point. Unconsciousness is obviously the desired outcome, however, because the assistant was pretty impressed by my results.

Second up was a long drive to Geelong to see John Hine at Cycle Edge Coaching Consultancy for some bike set-up hints and tips. My new coach had just given me his number and not mentioned any of his history - like the picture on the wall of John at the Olympics, or his win at the Warny in 1980 (looking at my track bike he casually stated, "Hmmm, yeah, I won the Warny on a track bike one year. Broke my road bike the week before and couldn't get it fixed in time..."). He also has a long history of coaching AIS and VIS athletes - definitely one of those quiet old guys who have been in cycling forever and have accumulated more knowledge than I could ever comprehend. As well as the set-up tips he gave me a whole bunch of pointers on breathing and pedalling technique, some of which may have come in handy that morning, but my favourite of which I'll share with you here:

"Every time you breathe in you want to make a little air baby with your abdomen."

Yes, that's right. I went all the way to Geelong to make myself an air baby.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Riding Out Tonight To Case The Promised Land.

So, halloween has come and gone. The smartest thing I heard anyone say was "if all these hardcore kids are wearing corpse paint, are all the black metal kids wearing beanies at the back of their heads?" This nicely sums up the vague sense of annoyance that I'm rocking about this particular holiday weekend. It's not much to do with halloween itself - I'm a big advocate of halloween parties, which somehow seem to live up to the hype every year - but is perhaps more about how we celebrate it.

This isn't one of those stupid fucking "Australia, don't become America" rants about how it's not one of our holidays. You know what else isn't one of our holidays? Christmas. It's here, the holiday itself is kinda rad, and it's time to embrace it. And most people seem to be ok with this. Unfortunately, being ok with this seems to mean posting up on Facebook a thousand pictures of you and your friends dressed up as zombies. Again, this is ok in small doses (certainly McKenny's Juggalo outfit this year demanded internet exposure). But when it starts to seem that the main reason you held your party was so that you can put pictures up on the internet, well, that's just irritating.