Saturday, January 31, 2015

Training Days

Well, I guess I had better get stuck into some training for this race  Yes, yes I should.

Perth suburb of Peppermint Grove.

I was at a bit of a loss as to what training plan to go with. I have previously employed the "ride my bike heaps because I enjoy it" training regime but I feel this might not be up to scratch for an endeavour such as the Tour Divide....!

I did some formal training this time last year which was meant to be structured around my work commitments. But it wasn't. And it wasn't cheap.

Check my pro set-up. Seriously strangled bottle. It was 38C after all !

So, for this time around I figured that a generic training plan, aimed at an, er-hem, 40+ athlete would be fine. It wouldn't be tailored to my roster but it would cost about 25% of what the supposedly tailored (and wasn't) plan would cost. I could even add a Bikepacking specific plan onto that and I am still 50% ahead.

What did I go with? Well, after some research I came across US coach Lynda Wallenfels via  She is an accomplished coach and has competed in bikepacking races and has won the AZT300 outright in 2011, so she knows bikepacking. She also answers all of my stupid questions via her training forum so that others can learn from our conversations. Likewise, I can glean information from other threads she runs with other trainee riders.

Will it help me? Who knows but I need to have something in place to maximise the returns for all the saddle time that I am putting in while training for this race. Sure I would get better just by riding a LOT, but I did see good gains made in the few months that I followed a structured plan last year. I had strength and I laughed hills in the face. I want me some more of that tonic!

I managed some cross training today with another regular trail care day getting us out to Daisy Hill Forest to tidy up the new trails we built back in October. We had a good roll up and were done by 9am - a new record for us! 

This meant we weren't absolutely flogged-out and could barely stand as has been the case for the last few years after a trail care day. Today we enjoyed standing around, chatting and munching sausage sangers, washed down with Coke. Superb training!

We are off to do some club racing in the morning. By we, I mean the kids. It is round 1 of the Brisbane Sth MTB Club's Summer Cup short course racing series.

 The kids are keen as mustard. And me? Well, I will be dishing out the mustard by working in the BBQ tent! Yep, sticking to the long term plan.......for the moment.

Cheers and thanks for checking in.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ramping It Up

Well, with this silly little ride that I am planning on doing in June being a mere 138 days away (as I type this) it is time to get some structure to my riding/training. While I enjoy riding and just "ride lots" normally, this is to hopefully make the most of the limited time I have on my bike. 

I must be scared because I have re-read the excellent "Base Training for Cyclists" by Thomas Chapple and am trying to set up an appropriate training plan. I have also dragged the wind trainer out for the times I can't leave the house for a ride!

To self coach from my own limited structured training experience is a little tricky. By that I mean sure, I can set out a plan, I can follow it but the real art is knowing what is working and what isn't. I don't have a lot of time to waste on going down the wrong path through not noticing that I am training inappropriately.

The obvious answer is to engage a real live, personal coach. They have the experience to not only set an appropriate plan for you but to see if it is working as intended. If not they can make rapid changes that will benefit one's fitness. The down side to this coaching is that even a low-level plan is very expensive. 

Yes, I know I need to weigh up the total cost of this venture versus the few hundreds of dollars that a personal coach will cost. It is sort of like the analogy of a multi million dollar racing car team being brought to a standstill when a $2 part breaks. Yes, if you like, I am the $2 part and the coach is the multi million dollar team.....but I digress. I am looking at an online plan from the very reputable Training Peaks organisation in the US and that may prove to be a cost effective method to receive a level of personalised coaching. It is cost effective because they have coached tens of thousands of athletes and I am simply another 40 something that can use a 40 somethings plan for ultra endurance racing. I will keep you updated with regard to how I go here.

The main problem is that I don't have an open ended budget. This ride is requiring a new bike build, quite a bit of specific gear, flights, accommodation and food on the other side of the world and I am sure many other as yet unseen costs. I have to watch my pennies somewhere but I am burning time while I make up my mind.

Well, not totally burning time, more like burning calories over time. I have been on a solid regime of base building rides over the last few weeks. These have been solo efforts as well as group rides and I have to thank my riding buddies for accommodating my slower pace. 

Yep, I am keeping my effort level low and off the bike working on strengthening my core. My legs can't pump the pedals all day if they are held in place by a limp-noodle midsection. Can I just say though, I 'effing HATE core work! It hurts, it isn't glamorous in the least and there is no hiding the fact if you don't do it. I hate it!!

But the riding has been fun. We have had a LOT of rain this past week and it put paid to a bikepacking trip that was planned this weekend. So, a few of us went for a wet weather MTB ride along bike paths to breakfast, then return. 

88km(48mi) wasn't a bad effort for a day that was looking like a total write off. I managed to back it up with a 105km(65mi) road bike ride today. All riding was done at a gentle pace so took forever but both were with good company so it certainly was time well spent.

I am off to work tomorrow for the week but hope to get a few decent rides in while in Perth. I should have nutted out a fix to my coaching dilemma by then and have a solid idea of the way forward.

For now, cheers.

Borrowed without permission from the excellent blog of Val and Josh Kato. I hope they don't mind but happy to take it down if they do. ;)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Letter Of Intent

A Letter Of Intent is sort of an unofficial entry form for the Tour Divide Race. 

 Some wax lyrical on their intentions and some cut straight to the point. At the end of the day it is like screaming into an oncoming cyclone. Nobody can hear you and nobody really cares.....

But, in the spirit of the adventure, here is my L.O.I.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Mount

Clearly, if I am going to do this ride, I will need an appropriate ride to do it on. It is a mountain bike race but if you discount the hike-a-bike sections of snow damage in the north and the few short bits of actual single track, the reality is that the course consists of mainly dirt roads. 

Devouring everything that I can read with regard to the Divide over the last 4-5 years, I have decided to run a gravel road style bike and not a traditional mountain bike. That way I can benefit from the slightly more efficient pedalling dynamics and a more variable cockpit setup as I don't have a need for outright single track prowess. Everything is a trade off but I feel this bike will be a great compromise. Plus, it is an Aussie owned company that gets it's titanium frames made in China to it's exacting specifications.

My frame recently landed "in country" and I got to have a look at it today.(I didn't actually hold it as I haven't paid for it yet!)

She is a Muru B.N.T. 

The BNT stands for Bicentennial National Trail which is an off road horse/rider/walking trail that extends the length of our Australian Great Dividing Range. Sort of like the Great Divide MTB Route, but with a hairier chest and much less elevation.

As well as making a dashing frame stand, Troy (above) will be building it up with woodchipper bars, a rigid carbon fork and a dynamo hub to power lights, mobile phones and cameras. In fact I have gone for a proven set up as Troy has a very well sorted Salsa Fargo, a bike the BNT is sort of trying to copy and he is very kindly going to recreate the Fargo's build on my Muru.

I will have more on the build as the parts come in. For now though it is time to look into a training plan to optimise my saddle time around work. I also need to give some thought to penning a Letter Of Intent (or a Letter Of Insanity as one rider put it) that needs to be shot off to the ride organisers. 


Monday, January 5, 2015

The Challenge Is ON !

Well, they say you should be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. It looks like that may have happened for me. 

I put in for leave from work for a sizeable chunk of time and now I have June and July off. What would you do with that much time I hear you ask? How about hop on a mountain bike and go for a ride? And keep riding....for three or four weeks!

Yep, it looks like I am IN for the Tour Divide 2015!

For those of you wondering what the Tour Divide Race is, there is plenty of information in the link above but a picture tells a thousand words....

For Australian readers that may not easily relate the distance, here is a local representation that is 316km SHORTER.

Yes, that is a loong way. Add the fact that the race route's average elevation is 5000-6000ft, with plenty of time above 10 000ft and you start to notice that this is a SERIOUS ride.

Not hard enough for you though? Lets just make it a bit challenging now. You have to do it by yourself. No support. None, nada, nil. 

You ride, you service your bike, you find food/water/accomodation. You navigate the (off road) route. You deal with weather, wildlife and......whatever comes along. No help, no outside support.

Am I excited? 
If excitement feels like a mammoth knot in your stomach, then I must be "excited". Yep, feel like throwing up, excited.

There could be a lesson here kids. Be careful what you wish for.......

Clearly, it almost goes without saying. Be prepared for some more Tour Divide stuff on here and here is a taste of what it is all about.