Sunday, 31 August 2014

2014 SKCC Road Club Championships - August 31st

St Kilda CC holding an event without coffee is like a desert without sand, like an ocean without water, like Hollywood without colour!

Despite this decaffeinated debacle, St Kilda CC put on a great show for their 2014 road championships, on a great circuit, with spectacular weather. Even the stiff northerly wind was welcomed as it meant a super-fast final 20km to the line for all riders.

Von has had this race on her calendar for a while. I decided to tag along and have a roll in the Masters 2/3 category.

A moderate sized bunch rolled out at 10:30am into the headwind. There were a few shuffles in the bunch to see who'd hit the wind, not many was the answer. The pace stepped up when Rohan Andrew (Charter Mason) was allowed to roll off the front solo at about the 6km mark. With nobody reacting, I jumped across.... soon followed by all the fresh legs in the pack.

Onto the 19km She Oaks circuit, SKCC President, Lee Hollywood Turner was gifted the downhill KOM by the bunch, taking the win with both arms raised. Those arms were soon back on the bars and hanging on tight as the race came to life up the hills. Rohan Andrew was steam-training through to the front and clearly on a mission. I didn't want to chase (and be chased) again so I was hovering near the front.

The 2.2km Steiglitz Rd climb was started at a white-hot pace. Keen to test bunch, and my legs, I put in a short effort and drifted off the front. 60km to go.... solo? Shit, I hope not. I kept riding and soon three riders broke clear from the bunch. Excellent. The chasers were Rohan Andrew, Lynton Zawadzki (Canard) and Brian Darby. Darby then attacked across to me solo. Darby loves a time trial, so I had a perfect ally. Andrew and Zawadzki weren't far back but never made it across before the turn south onto the downhill section of the loop.

Darby and I set into a rhythm right away and the follow car soon moved up behind us, a good sign the gap was going to stick. I was assigned to the hills and Darby was providing a solid wind block over the crests and helped with motoring the flats. Without knowing any time gaps we never stepped off the pace.

The third and final time up Steiglitz Rd was were we knew we'd have the 1-2 for the race. Finish line ordering was still not important as we had 20km to keep turning the cranks.

The last 18km were FAST. 49km/h fast. At 4km to go I kicked clear for a solo crack at the line. I'd gapped Darby, but was unable to shake the magpie we saw swooping riders earlier in the day. I had my head down trying to win a race and all it wanted to do is molest my helmet. After landing two good whacks to my head, it returned to base, then started bombing Darby (who I hear made hand-to-bird contact with a well timed swat!).

The finish line was everything we'd dreamt of all day. Downhill, tailwind, and sooooo fast. I rolled over the line at around 80km/h (yeah, it was fast) and Darby soon followed. Our move with 60km to go might have been a little ambitious, but it paid off with some old-school no bullshit hard road racing - the kind of racing we did when we first took up the sport.

Must... hit.... lap....
Zawadzki and Andrew crossed the line in 3rd and 4th respectively. I'm not sure if they went back to the bunch after the chase, a rock solid effort from both of them either way.

The post race show was world class. Food, drinks, photographers, Hollywood on MC duties, and SuperG doing what she does, making sure everything is super.

In short - A top day. Good people. Good food. Great (hard) racing. This is what cycling is all about.

Favourite shot of the day. Check the smile on Darby (center). Awesome.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Dal Zotto ITT, Wang Crit, and helping Team BCS #ToKV 2014

The 2014 Sam Miranda weekend was everything we expected, and more. Marty and the team continue to set the benchmark for running successful road cycling events here in Victoria.

Everything I wrote about back in 2012 after taking part in the first 'Strade Nero' race still holds true two years later, although the VRS events are now just the support races to the higher calibre Women's NRS tour - Tour of the King Valley.

Von had been invited to race in the #ToKV with the Building Champions Squad for the weekend, so I tagged along for some racing on the Friday and to help out BCS for the following days.

Dal Zotto Time Trial

One of the best TT courses I've ridden this year. Good roads, low traffic, and some demanding sections on the way out to the turnaround. I rolled in 8 seconds down on Brodie Talbot (Budget Forklifts) taking 2nd place.

Warming up.. and chugging Red Bull at 8:30am on a Friday.

I'd ridden this TT a lot better than last weekend at the CV Masters TT championships. Having corrected those mistakes I was more than happy with the ride. 

Full Results 

I made a new friend in the car park.
(Thanks to Jess Lane for the pic)

Rural City of Wangaratta Criterium

The legs were still good after the TT, so I lined up for the 3.6km cheese-grater loose-gravel crit. When I think of aerodrome, I think of glass smooth tarmac (and Tom Cruise on a motorbike fist pumping a fighter jet)... This was anything but.

*Not Wangaratta airport.

A local lad running a +25 degree stem took it to the small field of 21 from the gun. He was either so intimidated by the NRS team representation in the race that he didn't want to ride in the bunch, or he had huge balls. I'd like to think it was balls. Solid move. We pulled him back in the first km.

This set the tempo, so to speak, for the rest of the race. Up against the four or five NRS teams and a few leg-fresh individuals I wasn't there to win, so I went to the front and did my own thing, which was to drive it and chase everything. I wasn't there working for anyone, no team mates, #NFG, it was old school 2006 crit style racing. If a break went, I wanted to be in it. If I wasn't in it, I chased. If there was nothing going on, I drove.

Jo Upton Photography - Full Crit Album Link

Talking to the Saint Cloud bros after the race they mentioned the 'hate turns' I was pulling all day. They had to explain to me what that meant. I like it. I wasn't actually hating on anyone when I was pulling them in. ok, maybe I was a little.

All eyes were on Talbot. I was expecting him and a few others to whack it off the front at any stage and leave most of us behind. It didn't happen. It came down to a bunch kick which I rolled in for ST.

What a blast! Not often I roll around with the young snappers of the NRS in a race. Excellent TT training pulling them back all day.

Full Results

The women were soon on course and into Stage 2 of the #ToKV. I switched to team helper mode for the rest of the weekend.

Back to Stage 1 - The ITT. This is a national level event. TT bikes were being checked and regulations were being enforced. How bike sponsored teams were having multiple bikes turned away was beyond me. In the end the entire GC for this four stage tour came down to TT time. The ramifications of having bikes fail UCI regulation checks was more than just sponsor awkwardness. If officials had applied the 20% time cut, having to ride a road bike could have meant an OTL result and no start on stage 2.

I'd given the BCS team a full run-down on the TT course and how to ride it. To their credit, they took in the info and asked the right questions. I spent a few minutes with each of them looking at their bike setup and position. The next day they all gave it a red-hot go and complained of having sore necks from getting so aero. Excellent, they'd done it right. (and they'd know what to work on for upcoming TTs) :)

For stages 3 & 4 I was driving the BCS team car in the support convoy. It was a pretty cruisy task. We had no wheel changes and nobody needed food or water. The driving was nothing like being in the promo convoy at the Tour Down Under, that is white knuckle fun (in someone else's car!). I'll be putting 'experienced cycling driver' on my resume, if anyone wants a driver for hire - I'm there.

The Strade Nero.... where the local car wash was the winner!

Seeing how the BCS women operate gave me a better appreciation of what it takes to reach the start line in a NRS event. Their team framework is what the women's NRS needs to keep growing. Their team meetings, race plans, and post race briefings all provide the riders with the skill sets to take them onto bigger and better things. Team rider Lauretta Hanson's story is proof (she's now riding in the USA).

Team BCS are exactly what their name states, building champions. They're not at the same level in regard to support or funding as Team Holden, Suzuki, or Liv/Giant. I'll be honest and say they're not at the same level as the top teams who are fighting it out for lead-out train bunch-kick stage wins or NRS series wins. That isn't what they're about. They are a pathway into teams at the pointy end. Most importantly, they're providing opportunity for women to enjoy the sport of cycling.

Follow the team here: 

BCS Twitter: @bcs_women
BCS Web: Link
BCS Facebook: Link

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Shoving things up my nose.... for science.

Nasal strips, cotton wool, plastic clips, everyone is shoving something on or up their noses these days looking for an edge. I've finally decided to put these methods to the test myself.

In 2008 I had endoscopic sinus surgery on my sinuses (including septoplasty and turbinectomies). In summary, I had a permanently blocked sinus and left nostril, so it was operated on... and they did some airway renovations while they were there. Giving nose-birth to the packing post operation was definitely a highlight.

Right, onto testing these nose products/methods...


Wahoo Kicker (10mins warm up, spindown calibration performed).
Garmin ANT+ heart rate strap.
Garmin 800.
Specialized S-Works Shiv TT bike (Tests 1-4) with a Quarq power meter.
Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4 road bike (Test 5) also with a Quarq.

Method & Tests:

4 minute constant ergo efforts with the Wahoo Kickr set to 350W holding a cadence of ~100rpm. Each interval started with 2 minutes on the TT bars, then 2 minutes off the TT bars on the 'outs'.

Test 1 - Nothing up my nose.
Test 2 - Rhinomed Turbine.
Test 3 - Blocked nose.
Test 4 - Cotton wool balls dipped in inhalant decongestant pre interval
Test 5 - Nothing again... On the Tarmac road bike.


Test 1 - Stock standard interval.

Test 2 - Getting the Turbine to sit right required some finger gymnastics. Not the most pleasant thing to get into place. Breathing in though the nose felt easier, at the cost of comfort. Clearing the airways (blowing my nose, or rocket snotting) was difficult during the interval. Mouth breathing far outweighed airflow through the nose.

Test 3 - Nose completely blocked was initially uncomfortable for the first 30 seconds. Mouth breathing more than adequate.

Test 4 - Initial stinging when the decongestant dipped cotton wool touched the Turbine scrape points. The decongestant worked, clearing my airways prior to the interval. Decongestant smell went away at about 2 minutes.

Test 5 - Bike swap to the road bike. Full 4 minutes done in standard upright road position may have contributed to lower overall HR for this interval.


The feeling of having more airflow though my nose (by use of a device, decongestant, or clearing it) had no positive influence on my average HR or perceived effort for these 4min/350W intervals. I guess Mum was right, don't put things up my nose, and use a tissue to blow it.

So why didn't I see an improvement with 'more air' through my nose or a variance in results with a completely blocked nose?

"The hemoglobin in our blood dictates how much oxygen gets to the working muscle. Hemoglobin is a protein connected to red blood cells. It is responsible for transporting the oxygen in the blood to the muscles that require it. During exercise the hemoglobin sites are usually 100% saturated with oxygen. This means that it does not matter if you take in more oxygen by wearing the nasal dilator, because the rate at which oxygen can travel from the lungs to the blood is at a maximum." - Do Nasal Dilator Strips Help Performance? Michael Carrera, MSc. and Natasha Vani, MSc.

Oxygen intake isn't a limiter. The journey for that 'edge' continues....

Monday, 4 August 2014

Cycling Victoria: Wangaratta Open ITT August 2nd 2014.

A massive turnout for the who's who of junior cycling in Victoria at the Wangaratta Livestock Exchange (also home of Wangaratta CC) this weekend. The juniors had their State TT and Road championships to race, and the Elite/Masters/Para cyclists all had their own TT on Saturday afternoon.

12 months ago I had a very ordinary ride at the same event. My lead up wasn't right, the ride I had was a shocker, and I ended up finishing with a broken collarbone and a broken bike.

My collarbone has been twitching about this event for a few weeks now. While working with a number of riders on their own TT goals and preparation with my new project,, I've been reviewing a few areas where I need to work on too. Pacing, bike set up, and mental prep for the actual demands of the event. The latter being most important given how last year ended up....

The Bootiegate Scandal

3.1.04 - It is forbidden to wear non-essential items of clothing or items designed to influence the performances of a rider such as reducing air resistance or modifying the body of the rider (compression, stretching, support). Items of clothing or equipment may be considered essential where weather conditions make them appropriate for the safety or the health of the rider. In this case, the nature and texture of the clothing or equipment must be clearly and solely justified by the need to protect the rider from bad weather conditions.  “Booties” are not allowed to be worn on indoor velodromes. (1/11/2012)

An event official had made the wrong call early in the day not to allow shoe covers for the ITT event, then had to continue enforcing it for consistency. It wasn't a very popular call on the day. 

I can only assume they'd classified shoe covers a "non-essential items of clothing". When the ITT event got under way at 10am on Saturday it was 5.3°C in Wangaratta (2.8°C with the wind chill), I'd safely say that shoe covers were an ESSENTIAL item of clothing. They are certainly not banned for use in road time trials.

Cycling has enough rules as it is, which we all adhere to as part of our CV/CA membership. The last thing we need are additional rules 'made up' on the start line based on incorrect interpretations. This was a State Championship event (an Open for us seniors). I had no bike check, no helmet check, no doping control. Yet I had to remove my shoe covers to take to the start line? Ridiculous.

Back to the event itself, be it with bloody cold feet, the change in approach to this year's event was spot on. My pacing to the first U-turn was right on the money, though the tailwind northbound leg wasn't as friendly as I'd have liked. The changes made to my TT set up worked well on the course, and I rolled in fastest with both collarbones intact.

Great shot Tony!
A Grade Results:
1. Shane MILLER (St Kilda)             24:55.3
2. Stephen LANE (Coburg)               25:57.3 +1:01.9
3. Sam FUHRMEISTER (Seymour Broadford) 25:58.7 +1:03.3
4. David STURT (Carnegie Caulfield)    27:05.5 +2:10.2

Full Results

SLane in 2nd place, with a very close battle with Fuhrmeister. Von had a great ride on her new TT bike, setting a PB by over two minutes and winning the Women's category on the day!

Aside from Bootiegate, the day ran very well. Timing was spot on, the start ramp is the best around, and the presentations were lightening fast. Disappointing to learn the official event photographer didn't bother sticking around for the seniors....... So thanks to Tony for his perfectly timed #tdfselfie! :) 

Winners are grinners.. except for Horgz, I think he was still in the box!

8 weeks until the Masters Nationals TT in Ballarat. Time to start planning that one for myself and a number of others who are keen to give that event a good shake, bootie covers and all!

TT done and dusted, we headed off to the snow!

Then this guy showed up.....

... and took Von's prize money.

We escaped.... to the serenity of Bonnie Doon.

... with its large ducks...

... and hotel staff suggesting we take this from reception and watch it!

nekmorning - UCI "regulations" don't apply here! Bloody freezing!

Sunday was perfect!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Sufferfest Knighthood - Sufferlandrian National Day 2014

Science of Suffering - The Background  
Road endurance challenges are the new cool. Be it completing an epic level challenge on Strava, the 3 Peaks challenge, or Everesting a local climb. People are picking goals far beyond their comfort zones and having a go. The fact they're on road bikes is even better!

I've completed a few endurance efforts over the years - Around the Bay back in 2004 when I first took up cycling, 50 laps of Yarra St, 6 hours on the rollers, then 100 laps of Yarra St. And as a lover of indoor workouts, when the Sufferfest brought us the 'Knights of Sufferlandria' challenge it was always on the cards. It was just a matter of when. 
To become a Knight of Sufferlandria, the highest honor accorded by the Sufferlandrian Ministry of Madness, one must simply do 10 Sufferfest videos, back-to-back. And there you have it: you’re a Knight.
I met with Craig Mitchell (Director, CrankSports) a few months back to talk about his plan to create an event where there would be a mass knighthood attempt on Sufferlandrian National Day 2014 - I was in! It just took me a few weeks to actually commit to making my entry official and really having to endure 10 hours on the ergo!  

The Plan

- Held at the Victorian Institute of Sport at Albert Park
- Group environment, big screens, pumping sound system.
- Event helpers on hand.
- David McQuillen, Founder & Chief Sufferlandria attending to oversee the day.
- A swag of event sponsors on board (hydration, nutrition, sweat testing).
- SBS covering the event for their Tour de France 2014 review show (10pm!)
- Fund raising for BeyondBlue.

I managed to convince fellow KPC rider and good mate, Stephen Lane, to join me in a quest for knighthood too. It was a relief to have someone like SLane along to share the day with. He is one of the few people who can pre-plan something like this down to the last calorie. He may have PhD levels of education and experience in the field of sports science, but it was his idea of taking a chair and plastic tub that was a stroke of genius. 

The Day

4:30am wake up for a 6am start at the VIS. SLane and I drove there in the twilight zone having watched the Tour de France stage for way too long the night before.

In total there were 11 individuals and two teams attempting the challenge with a range of levels and experience. We were all in it together from 6am to 5:30pm with only strict 10 minute breaks. It isn't a race, there is no set effort level, there is only a 100% guarantee of having to fight and push yourself through whatever demons visit you throughout the day.

The Setup

Having done an ergo or two before, SLane and I set up shop as best we could. We wanted to be as comfortable as possible, if that was at all possible. We were both on LeMond Revolution trainers and our S-Works Tarmac SL4 road bikes. The Revolution with an ANT+ speed sensor gives pretty close real-world speed/distance numbers too. 

Thule Chasm Duffel - More essential kit!
The Suffering 

"A journey of 53,888 crank revolutions starts with a single pedal stroke"

The sun was still 1 1/2 hours from rising as we started the first video under the watchful eye of David McQuillen. 15 minutes in and I had no idea how we'd keep this up for the full 10 videos. That was the wrong mindset to be in. I quickly flipped that into just focusing on getting through the current video. One step at a time.
Spinning. All day. No coasting....
Just under 100km completed before 9am. It was only the beginning. My mental plan of attack was to write off the whole day. No 'morning', no 12pm 'time for lunch', no mid afternoon coffee at 2pm. My standard daily routine was replaced. All that mattered was completing the current video.

It was into the fifth video that I thought that it'd smooth sailing through to the end..... yeah right. The sweat test we did during one of the videos indicated I lost around 1kg in just one video! More drink required! The first 20 minutes of videos 6-8 were a struggle. Too much food in the break maybe? Better too much than too little. Once the first 20 minutes of those videos passed, things were fine and the legs came good.

We had a few visitors throughout the day drop in to say hello. A lot of them were soon sent on coffee missions for us. Thanks again guys! Much appreciated!

The sun was setting and the second twilight zone of the day was approaching. We were onto the final video. Craig (the mastermind behind the day) mentioned that the euphoria of getting it done would carry us through the final video. Looking back on it, he was right. At the time there was nothing helping me knock out the final few intervals! What a struggle! It was like planting the foot on the accelerator with no fuel in the tank... while going uphill!

Finally the credits rolled and all 11 riders on the day who started had successfully completed the challenge. For me it was a week of training compressed into one day, and damn it hurt. For others it was the hardest physical challenge they'd ever attempted. We'd succeeded in more than doubling the number of Knights and Dames in Australia.

The Reward 

Laying down for more than 10 minutes at the end was reward enough. The post race pizza tasted pretty good too.

Knighthood Tips

- If 10 is too many to start with, aim for 4 or 5 in the lead up.
- Set up your environment properly.
- Have food, drink, towels all within reach and preprepared.
- Plan your calories. Eat and drink often.
- Change knicks and socks every 2-3 videos.
- Turn off your headunit GPS feature and backlight to preserve battery life.
- Chamois cream is important. Thanks to KPC sponsor Aussie Butt Cream we were sorted in that, er, area!
- Find a friend, or friends to help get you through this. Doing this alone would be twice as hard for sure.
- Have a goal. Challenge yourself. Support others who do too.
- Come join us in 2015. We'll do it again! Keep an eye on @ScienceofSuffer

Thanks to