Friday, November 8, 2013

It's been a while.....

Hi folks....I'm back! Not that I really went away. I stopped updating the blog a while back because the desire kinda just went. But now there's a new lease of life and I will be posting some updates over the coming weeks including a summary of the last almost 24 months, success at WEMBO, maybe another Fitz's write up and a brief look at what's planned in the year ahead (including a bit of a new direction)

Thursday, February 10, 2011


So I finally got my hands on a set of the new XTR cranks, and things didn't go smoothly fitting everything up. Normally changing cranks is a 1/2 hour job...this it turned into a full on 80 minutes!

Removing the old gear went smoothly, fitting the new chains was OK, adjusting the front derailleur I hit problems. Because the outer ring is 39t I had to drop the derailleur down and there wasn't enough clearance on the chainstay for the bottom of the derailleur. Moving it back up resulted in a gap of about 9mm or way to much above the big ring, even though it shifted perfectly.

Cursing and swearing ensued until I decided to pillage the SRAM XX derailleur off the Salty. Cue having to break two chains removing and swapping the derailleurs and readjusting the stops. And I was finally done.

Shifting is OK with the SRAM derailleur but definitely not as smooth. I'll get it on the dirt tomorrow and test it out. Again though I have full range of gears with no rubbing on the cranks or derailleur, it's great!!!

Still in the box

The old

The New...yay 30gms!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Alpine Challenge 2011

Well behind the eight ball again with the ride report for the 250km Alpine Challenge. But here it is finally.....

Unlike last year I wasn’t as nervous this year with the route having ridden it previously. Also the volume of training leading up to this year’s event meant I had almost 3x the kilometres in my legs including some big days in the mountains from the Kosciusko 360 ride. Even the drive down this year was more relaxed with 2x stops at McD’s to allow Wee Man out to have a run around the in playground and stretch the legs. The start/ finish area was the same as last year situated beside the Oven River, and I swore to the wife that once I finished this year I was going straight into the water as a cool down.
This time around I actually got a full night’s undisturbed sleep and woke up refreshed before chugging down 2x cans of chocolate creamed rice. The drive was again in the dark to the start with a pull over at the top of Towanga Gap as Wee Man.....well needed to wee!
Getting to the start I loaded up the pockets with food for the day and rolled to the start.
After hearing a couple of snippets of conversation I realised the 250k wasn’t starting for the same place as last time up around the corner for some reason so I hopped up onto the side walk and pushed my way clear of about 200 people before heading around the corner and getting to the start proper.
I caught up with Thomo who I met on the Kosciusko 360k ride and he picked my brain for 5 minutes about the course and what lay ahead.

The Start to Mt Hotham

At 6.30am we were set off and rolled out at what felt like a very leisurely pace for the climb up Mt Hotham....but in fact it was probably about 30kph. My legs weren’t feeling fantastic, but at the same time I was feeling antsy to get the pace a bit higher. So when we hit the first slopes on Hotham I hit it hard, firstly to try and warm the legs up but also to get some pace into the bunch.
People soon settled into their rhythm and a largish group of about 12 formed at the front which stayed together through and across the top and false flat before the exploding after the descent and the final climb up to the peak of Mt Hotham. Like last year my legs just refused to work up this second portion of the climb and I soon found myself riding with 3 others while a group of 6 disappeared up the road. The road through this section this year was battered by freezing crosswinds which made the going even harder and I was hoping it was not a omen of things to come.
On the decent from the top we had a ripping tailwind as the direction changed and screamed into the first checkpoint at Dinner Plains.
Getting in I quickly refilled my bottles got my wrist band scanned and managed to roll out with the front group again!

Falls Creek

For the next 10-15ks we had a tailwind at our backs and made excellent time before dropping into the valley and loosing the wind completely. About now my legs were starting to protest a bit at the pace and on a couple of the rollers I started to lose contact before the final big climb into Omeo the elastic snapped completely on the climb. I kept the group in sight but I didn’t rejoin them before the next checkpoint. This one proved to more chaotic and we lost a couple of riders and ended up rolling out with only two others.
The other two weren’t too sure if the others were ahead or behind and so after catching a couple of riders from the group that started at 4.30am we worked out they were behind and slowed the tempo down up the climb out of Omeo. This allowed a bit more of a recovery, and we avoided running over the wiggly stick that was making it’s way across the road halfway up the climb.
Talking to the others, I found out that one of them was the one that had crashed on the decent off Towanga Gap last year and ended up going to hospital.
The other 4 riders caught back up across the top of the climb before the decent down into Anglers rest and the climb up to falls creek. Due to the wind this year the descent wasn’t as fun and you had to work quite hard to keep the momentum up. The group stopped at Anglers rest to refill bottles before we took the left hander and began the climb up Back of Falls. I filled up my bottle and rolled out by myself and set a slower pace until the others caught back up.
Next was the left hander and given the way I was feeling I thought this would be the last I would see of the others but I was in for a surprise. The road kicked and I got out of the saddle and suddenly the legs came to life....I was suddenly feeling strong the initial 20% grade and a couple of the others who I expected to ride off dropped off the pace.
As the graded settled a group of four formed in front on me while I settled into a high tempo pace knowing what lay ahead. The group only got a lead of about 200m before two riders lost contact. This gave me something to chase over the next 3k, slowly reeling in one then the second. The other two had disappeared from sight, but I was enjoying the climb this year rather than suffering. The road had bedded in over the previous 12 months and while there was a surface of loose stones every so often it was miles ahead of the year before. What also helped this year was the temps were definitely down by about 5 or 6 degrees.
At the top of the climb into the alpine area, the wind picked becoming into a wicked crosswind and after a couple of kilometres I spotted the two lightweights that had disappeared up the climb. Picking up slower riders as I went I soon had a 5 rider echelon sitting behind me as I drove it to close the gap by the time we reached the Falls Creek check point. Coming into falls Creek I had shut down all but 100 metres of the gap and when we stopped the look on the other two riders face was priceless, one of how did the guy that had been struggling for the previous 50ks close a 2 minute gap inside of 15kms????
A bottle refill and we were off with the standard warning about the lefthander 1.7kms on the way down. I decided I would have some fun on the way down, and started chasing a Ford Falcon through the top section of corners sitting about 2m off the rear bumper. The only problem with this was that because the straights were so short, accelerating to 60kph then braking down to 25kph for the corners I heated up my rear rim and caused the tire to blow off the rim after about 6kms of the descent. Luckily I managed to stop from 60kph to 0 in only about 20m. I’m actually pretty lucky it wasn’t the front as I’m not sure I could have kept it upright.
The other two stopped, surprised that I had kept it upright after the tire exploding before disappearing off down the decent when I assured them I was alright. With the tire already half off the rim it made the tire change easier. However as I found out the disadvantage of a mini pump is you really can’t get enough air into the tire to be confident on a decent.
Once back up and running with a softish tire I continued making my way down the descent with more caution this time.
The decent has a nasty kick in the middle of it, and after the time on the side of the road my legs didn’t appreciate it much. Down into Mt Beauty and the drag along the main road before the left hander and the road up Towanga Gap.

Towanga Gap

At this point I decided to shut it down up the climb so as not to go too far into the box for the day. I set an easy tempo up the climb using the 26 and 29 tooth cogs on the back before pulling into the way stop after 3kms up the climb. I refilled my bottle and started on my merry way for the remaining 5kms of the climb before cresting the climb.
On the descent I exercised caution again, and sure enough on the same corner as last year there was a rider in the ditch being attended to by medical officers. His bike was poking out of the ditch with the front end snapped of front the impact of going into the ditch. Another timely reminder that there is no need to push it when you don’t need to.
The valley floor was drag again with a headwind before the turn back onto the main road and into town. I linked up with another rider at this point and we traded of turns until crossing the line.

Numbers for the Day

So the numbers from the day were,
Time: 9:11hrs

Friday, January 21, 2011

Kosciusko 360 Day 2

Khancoban to Cabramurra
The day dawned and I woke up not at all refreshed due to a fitful sleep. Due to Khancoban being small there wasn’t alot of choice for breakfast options, but the boys managed to convince the local takeaway shop to open at 8.00am. So it was another game of load the car up then off to breakfast. 45 minutes later everyone had eaten their fill, but there hadn’t been much in the way to talk with everyone in deep contemplation of the day ahead.
I came out of the takeaway shop to find my front tire had decided to go flat, so I did a quick change and we hit the road out of town at about 9.00am. The inital roads were course chipseal and heavy going before we took the right hander on the secondary road which would see us all the way to the snowy mountains highway. The first section of this really in bad repair with the top coat missing which just served to bash our already sore and tired bodies around more.
I was mentally hoping it was going to be like this the whole way otherwise what was shaping up to be a hard day was just going to get alot worse. Luckily after about 4k we dropped through a lefthander and began the never ending climb...or this is what I called it. First Andy then Gaz disappeared up the road leaving me to solo along at my pace. I decided to keep things pegged at a solid seated tempo and get out of the saddle to stretch and ease the legs through the numerous corners. The seal through here was good but it still felt like slow going.
I was watching the time and kms slowly tick away but it was alot slower than I had anticipated and by the time I finally reached the false flat along the top through the open alpine area I guessed I was about an hour behind schedule. The climb I had just come up was a solid two hour effort and the most climbing I had done in one stint ever.
Guestimating that I was still about an hour from Cabramurra, the next 10kms was pure torture with dead roads, driving crosswind and rolling to false flat climbs I mentally cracked at least three times through here.
The next false hope of the day was the descent into Tumut pond and realising I had to climb back out of the valley with 7kms to town. Being down at the dam and looking up while spectacular in view was a real mental kick in the teeth as the road just went up then disappear into the hill.
Up to this stage I had been playing tag with a bunch of motorcyclists with them roaring past and then stopping to look at the views allowing me to catch up before passing me again and off to the next scenic lookout. Ripping past me on the first steep portion I used the engine noise to work ou that in fact the road was a series of switch backs and wasn’t as bad as what I had been imagining.
Near the top I cracked again as I was out of water and stopped at one of the many culverts which had water coursing through it to top my bottles up. I knew how stupid I looked trying to clamber down these rocks to get at the flowing water but didn’t care. Immediately drinking half a bottle of some of the sweetest tasting water I almost over balanced and ended up face first in the culvert. It was here I had my first encounter with Australia’s marsh fly… fact I ended up with three bites including a huge one on my stomach which I didn’t discover till the next day when I was wondering what the pain down there was.
Out of the culvert and I hit up the last 1.5k to the top of the climb and the 2k roll down into Cabramurra. As I was coming into town Andy and Gaz were heading out. With the temps having dropped off about 7-10 degrees through the alpine area, I knew that the stop wasn’t going to be long. I grabbed a couple of cans of soft drink and sat down outside in a shaded are from the wind. I was trying to saviour the drink and clif bar I was throwing down my neck…but I’m sure that I drank both cans and ate the bar in under 5 minutes before saddling up for the next leg.

Cabramurra to Adaminaby
The next stage of the ride started with a climb for 500 metres before hooking left and back into the tree line and onto a downhill for a kilometre or two before more rollers and climbing. The road through here was as dead as previously and I was feeling better after the drink and food. Eventfully I broke out into another alpine area but it was completely different to the last one. The roads were fast the landscape was more of a grassy pasture type then the scrub that had been higher up.
Looking ahead I could see the huge black clouds and knew I was going to be in for rain inside of the next half an hour. Plugging along with a slight tail crosswind I soon reached the intersection with the Snowy Mtns highway. Turning right onto this brought a huge smile to my face, I was back on good hotmix and the wind was now a tailwind and even though I had begun to drizzle I didn’t care as I knew the next 30kms was going to be quick and a lot easier than the past 5 hours.
The rain stayed at a drizzle for most of the next hour as I hauled a$$ over the downhill rollers enjoying every minute of it. It was about 5kms from Adaminaby that the heavens opened up properly on me and I was drenched to the bone inside of a minute. The rain was intense but it wasn’t cold which was a relief.
My head became a bit foggy at this point and I passed a sign pointing off to the right to Old Adaminaby. I almost made the mistake of taking the turn down here but decided no it wasn’t the right way, and rolled into Adaminaby about 5 minutes later. I found Andy and Gaz sheltering inside the local tearooms and quickly bought another 2 cans of drink and repeated the procedure at the previous stop. They had been there for about 20 minutes previously and by the look of the table had eaten half the shop. Apparently they had been riding in solid rain for about the previous 30 kilometres and had only just started to dry out. As I was freshly soaked I wasn’t keen on sitting around so we ended up rolling out for the final 50 kilometres together.

Adaminaby to Cooma
Starting out Gaz soon let me know that he was blown and only able to roll through occasionally so Andy and I took turns at taking measured turns on the front making sure Gaz didn’t get gapped on any of the rollers we were soon going over. The rain remained steady or torrential depending on where we were but we were making good time and kilometre kept ticking over.
I started to do some mental calculations to work out when we would be back in Cooma as I had told wifey it should be about 5pm and it was looking close. In one torrential down pour on a downhill section I ended up gapping Andy & Gaz as I was having to much stomping on the pedals with the crosswinds. When I ended up turning around I found I was suddenly on my own with Andy and Gaz about 300 metres back…..opps. After this I eased up and made sure I didn’t push too hard into any of the cross winds.
Eventually we were back on the main road into Cooma and with only a couple of small risers it was soon into town and dodging the cars and a right turn into the Macca’s carpark.
I think all three of us were please with completing the ride, and more so given the conditions over the final 2.5hrs.

Numbers for the Second day
Ride Time 7.33hrs
Total Time: 8.02hrs
Distance 175kms
Climbing 2978m
Normalised Power 230w
TSS 415
IF 79%
I have to say that this was great way to start the year with a huge kick to the training and I will definitely be up for it next year.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Kosciusko 360 Day 1

So this last weekend was the first (of hopefully many) running of the Kosciusko 360 ride around you guessed it Mt Kosciusko. The route was plotted by Big Jase just prior to Xmas and setup on Facebook for all comers with the date set down for the 8th & 9th of January.
Now whether this was a good choice in timing is still under debate given the mountainous route of the two days....

Day One: Cooma to Jindabyne.

The start was set down for a 10am rollout and as seems to be the norm recently I was running late. A combination of under estimating the drive time from Canberra and dumba$$ drivers meant we how into the Macca’s carpark at 10.05am. So after quickly sorting all my gear and bike out, I started to re-pack the car with everyone else’s overnight bag. Wifey had graciously agreed to pull sag wagon duties for the two days and also do some sightseeing as well.
So eventually we got rolling at 10.20am only 20 minutes behind schedule, and it was quick start with tail/ cross wind I eventually found myself up front with Andy, Gaz, & Thomo sitting on a good solid 40kph without much effort. From having previously ridden most of the roads for the first day so I knew what we were in for. But was surprised at the speed we were covering the ground. Having ridden from Cooma to Jindabyne before I remember dead alpine roads that just sucked all the life out of your legs...but not today.
With the high speed first Gaz then Andy were spat out the back leaving me at the front with Thomo for company till we got to Berridale and into the rolling hills. At the top of the long drag there was a regrouping and we were back to a group of four with no sign of the others. We set a moderate tempo for the remaining 10kms into Jindibyne.
We stopped at the servo there and didn’t really get the best of service...the woman behind the counter who reminded me of the crazy cat lady from the Simpsons, pissed off and made a 5 minute phone call when we walked in. So after we eventually got served it was a case of topping up the water bottles and hitting the road again.
We made the call not to wait for the others but to re-group for lunch at Thredbo.

Jindabyne to Thredbo

Knowing that the first climb on the road to Thredbo is long and steepish, I settled into something of a rhythm and watched Andy & Gaz ride off up the hill (which would continue to be a pattern for the weekend). The heat at this point was getting into the low 30’s so I made a point of trying to keep hydrated and just ride at a manageable pace. The road up the valley was a real trudge with the tar on the road melted and reflected heat making it more of baking nightmare.
Because the weekend was about training, I started to relax a bit and take in the scenery a more while slowly the km’s ticked over.
Eventually after about an hour and a half I made it to Thredbo. I kept riding past the first entrance and took the second straight to the bakery. Having spent a good chunk of my $20 I had thrown into the back pocket at the start of the day at Jindabyne of drinks. I was shocked when my H&C croissant and 2x cans of solo came to almost $13!
So I sat outside in the shade took my shoes off and slowly tried to eat the croissant and not skull the two cans of drink! I phoned wifey to find out where she was, and also sent Big Jase a text message to see how far away he was with no success.
After about ½ hour I rolled out to the garage on the main road where I found the others waiting and after 10 minutes Jase’s group rolled in and it was back to the bakery for another ½ an hour for more eating.

Thredbo to Khancoban

Once everyone had finished we hit the road again at about 3.00pm I muttered a prediction to wifey about what time we would be in at the finish for the day knowing I would be pushing it. The climb to the top of Dead Horse Gap reinforced that my legs were about half cooked and as the three other road away in the space of about 5k all I could do was watch.
At the top I settled in for the fun part! The descent down dead Horse is a 1km drop in about 12kms so makes for some very fast descending. Throw in sweeping corners and it’s enough to put a smile on anyone’s face. I managed to catch back up to the others on the way down and drop them by pushing harder into the corners and taking a couple more risks. And in a flash it was all over and we were out at Tom Groggins.
From here it was off into the unknown..well for me at least. The road from here consisted of initially a series of rollers (about 7-8) with a kick of about 20m to each one. At this point I was back riding with Gaz & Andy till we reached the last couple and I took my foot off the gas and dropped the pace back down.
It was a good thing too as there was a really sting in the final climb that went up about 500ms through a series of cuttings before eventually peaking at a dam /power station. This really hurt coning at about 155kms into the ride. Descent wise it was 7kms back down into the valley floor before the final 3kms to town.


Small town in the middle of the back of beyond.....Rolling in I almost decked myself on the ruts in the road along the left hand edge which were hiding in the shadows. The town centre was off to the right, but our accommodation was out the other side so I just kept going. I had been allocated a cabin close to the road so it was easy to spot the car.
Sitting down I started the re-hydration process with coffee milk and powerade happy with completing the first day but knowing there was a lot more to come tomorrow.

Data for the day

So first day over and the stats were,
Ride Time 6:22hrs
Total Time: 7:50hrs
Distance 171kms
Climbing 3075m
Normalised Power 243w
TSS 367
IF 83.9%

Dump from WKO

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A whole months worth of blogging in one post

Yet again I have been slack in updating the old blog over the last month. I could use an excuse like dog ate my keyboard but well it’s been done to death.

Rain, Rain more Rain
So since my lat post I think I have ridden the MTB maybe 2 or 3 times along the bike path with the family due to the absolute hammering Canberra has hand in December from the rain. The rain wiped out Stromlo and Majura from about 2 weeks before Xmas through to about now with some of the Stromlo trails re opening but a lot of them still in need of maintenance.
So the training has been all road riding which while not as much fun is good for base building. I’m had three good Saturdays out with the boys on the Bakery Bunch with a catch up afterwards for coffee and to talk sh!t...something I don’t normally do.

New Zealand Trip
Xmas was spent back over the ditch with family. A good time was had by all, but I think my mother was glad to see the back end of Wee Man....he’s not the sweet little 2 year old she remembers from a year ago more of a dervish of chaos on legs now!! The number of times he was told off for chasing her cat....I lost count after the first day.
I trip to the Caroline Bay Carnival was in order to show the family the rides. My favourite was the bumper cars which left me feeling like I had just been in a bike crash after getting out at the end. We avoided going on the roller coaster which was a good thing as it looked dodgy and sure enough after we got back there was a news story saying it had come off the tracks but luckily no one was injured!!!
There were also a couple of trips to the beach, got to go to the movies for the first time in a couple of years and just some general bumming around catching up on sleep.
I must admit it wasn’t til after four days of getting 9hrs+ sleep I actually realised how tired and burnt out I had been feeling from work and training. Suddenly getting up on the odd day at 6.00am didn’t have me burying my head under the pillow and grinding my teeth when the alarm went off!

I also got some riding in over old training roads I haven’t been on it years. I borrowed by little brother’s bike....and managed to crash it. No real serious injuries but my hands do look like I picked a fight with a cheese grater still.
Now that I’m back home, the training is in full force with the weather cooperating so far. The rides have been either early or late to avoid the heat of the day and I’m starting to feel a bit more normal!
This weekend is Big Jase’s Kosiosko 360 ride (Yes Jase I am putting the blame on you if this goes pear shaped!) A ride from Cooma over 2 days guessed it 360k. Looking at the altitude there is going to be a fair bit of climbing on tap which is good with the Alpine Challenge in two weekend’s time.
Following on from this is a month’s gap to the Otway Odyssey which I have entered. The goal for that one is try to knock a good chuck out of the 6.5hrs I did it in the first time.
The other two races I am focussing on in the first third of the year are the Real Bike Insurance 100miler and Escape from Cobra Mtn 100miler. I DNF’ed at the first race last year so am out for redemption this time around.
Well that’s a month,s catch up in one post more or less. Next time I will do a summary for 2010 of the good ,the bad, and the ugly .

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New XTR Goodness

Profile of the pedal hasn't changed for 2011

But the surface area has

Well the new XTR is slowly hitting the net at the moment, mainly through ebay with along of the larger internet retailers still not having the stocks in.
So I decided to upgrade a couple of bits. Over the last couple of months I have been becoming more and more dissatisfied with my CB pedals. The lack of a positive engagement and the ability to cant your feet when clipped in lead to a very vague feel.

So I decided to try out the new XTR 980 race pedals. For 2011 shimano have made a couple of tweaks to their existing 970 design but nothing to radical. They have gotten lighter and the platform has increased. I have to admit straight SPD's are one system I have never used having always opted for CB or time in the past. I decided to try these because of the larger platform surface and the adjustable tension.

So have scouring ebay I managed to pick a pair up from someone here in the ACT who won them at the 2010 Scott event as a lucky draw prize. Funnily enough she rides CB and decided to stick with those and ebay these ones.

Once I got my filthy little hands on them first thing I did was the "tail of the scales". All up they are 80gms heavier than my modified CB eggbeaters.

Next it was playing around with the spring engagement/ release tensions. It took me about 5 minutes to get them where I wanted, having cranked them up to the stiffest setting then winding them back off to find the point where I could clip in without having to fully weight my feet to get the clack.

The engagement is very positive with a real audible clack as the cleat engages.

Having been out on a couple of rides with I don't have alot more to say. The platform is solid with no rocking of the cleats, engagement has been faultless so.

New XTR Front Derailleur

The other item I have replaced is the front derailleur on the 29er. When I initally swapped the parts over on this bike, I left the SLX front derailleur on figuring that a front derailleur is a front derailleur. But after struggling to get it set up with my dual-control levers, I cracked and bought a one of the new XTR derailleurs.

Out of the box it's profile has changed to the previous model and in fact it almost looks as though they have beefed it up to improve the shifting, not that the old model had any problems with this.

Setup was straight forward, 34.9mm clamp bolt straight on, set the height, set the rotation, cable tension....done.

First spin around the driveway and it just works. All the gears minimal rubbing. Clicks are positive but not super stiff, so the changes are easier. And this was the issue with the SLX derailleur, it felt like the weight of the spring was to much and you have to fight it to move it up through the gears.

In comparsions I have a SRAM XX front derailleur on the dually and I have to say I prefer the action of the XTR. It feels smoother even though the XX derailleur is lighter.