Life after work and the trips of a lifetime

"We are judged by what we finish, not by what we start." - Anonymous

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, your body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, "Woo hoo! What a ride!..attributed in this form to either Maxine Cartoon or anon

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Another week of training, Italian classes,ebay and getting things done for my hols

this has been a bit on and off since I've managed to pick up a sinusey cold and have been feeling somewhat average.  My SRM also sabotaged one ride's data and as a result I had to get a new version of the SRM only has one battery whereas later models have two and so last a bit longer.

I am never keen on riding the roads in the wet, so I've been indoors on the ergo.  I have all the Sufferfest training videos and even if I am doing my own training plan rather than theirs they are worth their weight in gold.  I particularly like the one with footage from the World Champs at Mendrisio in 2010.  Good tempo music too, although not actually  a style of music I go for.

The more you talk. listen and read  the more you learn and at Melbourne's Centre of Italian Studies once you've completed 3 weeks of a term you can attend as many classes as you want.  Currently I'm doing 2 level 6 classes, 1 x 6/7 level and a conversation only class.  The 6/7 class is ++challenging... I can understand what's being said but can't contribute much at that level. 

so good when things go right and yet so bad when things don't go smoothly.  I "sold" 3 things last week but the buyer of 2  sorta made a mistake  and actually only wants one of them.  Pity.

Holiday preparation
1. TT Brakes
Last week my TT bike's brakes started to give me some grief in that they wouldn't open properly once applied.  I'd been aware of this issue for a while but it finally went over the threshold of acceptability and so I've got it fixed.  The problem was with the Nokon cables
which apparently can't deal with being scrunched up in the way that my TT bike has to be when it's packed into a bike bag.  A road bike handlebars have to be pretzeled as it is but with the addition of extension bars, packing  a TT bike is waaaay more complicated.  Get a kink in the Nokon's inner cable and you're doomed.

2. Wheels.
I'm never really happy taking a disc wheel OS since no matter how you pack it into a soft case, the slightest ding in the wrong spot will ruin it.  So this time I'll be running a very deep dish wheel, and since it's got enough spokes to be legal it can double up as a road race wheel too. Same with the front wheel..ok for TT and RR.

Waiting for a tyre.  Despite having various valve accessories, I didn't have one long enough for this deep a dish! .

So I sent away for one..well 2 actually.....but I think I got a size too long!

No matter.  Now to get it glued on and trialled next Sunday when I race with Footscray CC in their club TT champs as an invitee (i.e. I can race but no chance of glory).

and this baby will do duty as the front wheel for RR and TT.  Its already had a coupla runs, but since it's got internal spoke adjustment and has managed to get out of true, I'll get it trued and glued but wont use it again until I race in  Europe...such a pain  with very little gain for me at my level.

Races still to come...Sunday  a TT,  then 3 x  RR and a TT over the QB long weekend and a final TT on the Boulie the weekend before I leave.

3. International Driving License.
I have no idea why I have to have one of these.  I've never been asked for one when leasing or hiring a car but the   Renault leasing people say I need one.  I could use my UK license (which is totally unblemished unlike my Aus one ;-) but it's an old version without a photo and so probably wouldn't suffice.  So to RACV, fork out $$.

30 days to go!!

Farewell the green monster

finally RIP. Going as a trade in.  This version of the Holden Commodore  was alot less user friendly for had a weird front profile, unlike it's predecessor, and so I never quite knew when I'd gone too far forward when parking.  Ker- runch!, scrrrrrraaaaape! were regular front end noises.  A multi scarred beast.  And the scar in the pix?....a stupid car park pole moved just as I was reversing out.

So, the car and the van go, Phil gets a new-to-him larger engined Subaru and I get the other, boringly grey Subaru. Parking will be easier although  finding it  on my return might be an issue. I'll have to learn to travel a bit lighter too.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How can I possibly live without my............and yes I'm planning my packing for OS again

Yesterday my SRM powermeter thingey turned prima donna.  Actually it's been a bit princess-like for a while, but yesterday after shifting it from the  TT to road bike it spat the dummy totally.

And  suddenly I have to contemplate training the old fashioned way, which led me to thinking about how we now rely so much on things electronic.   Certainly ditching all of the following would considerably lighten my lugggage, what with all the different chargers, cables and batteries.

1 cable, one wall charger

I have 3 of these...doh!...1 for audiobooks, 1 for Italian learning stuff and 1 for feral music to listen to while training  1 cable+1 wall charger

how can I travel without one of these? instant communication with the world, blog writing, plus DVD/CD player and also good for charging other stuff. 1 loooong mains cable

as a navigational aid this is of little use to me on the bike  since with my contacts in I can barely read it..but it's sorta "nice" to know how the steep is  the hill you're grovelling up!!...and later on to show where you went on a groovy map diagram.
Vital when driving solo in Europe but it did try and get me to drive across a ditch somewhere in France and also sent me into a blind panic when it told me to take the 6th exit from a Geneva roundabout when I couldn't find 6 exits.  I also got very fed up of hearing "re-calculating".  Currently I've got it set up to talk to me in Italian(!)  1 cable serves both these plus a mains charger and an in car charger.

 nothing extra for this baby unless I go the rechargeable battery route.
 this old point and shoot is for taking on the bike..spare batteries, wall charger with a cable that doesn't suit any other bit of equipment I have.

I would never have looked beyond the iPhone if I wasn't a cyclist and knew all about HTC from their sponsorship of the pro team, so advertising DOES work!  This baby will stay turned off except for a brief minute or 2 once a day, once bitten twice shy and I'm not keen on arriving home ever again to a huge bill for data access caused by a roaming phone. 1 cable for mains and computer

Instead this little basic baby below, complete with Italian or Austrian or UK phone number will be on 24/7  an in car and a mains charger

and  earphones....actually ear buds.  FINALLY I've found some that fit my ears and don't fall out, they're made so there's a slight angle to them, PLUS I have the lime green ones so I can find them.  Sold at Big W.

nothing extra for these babies, but I will take a spare pair just in case.

 Blueant S4 hands free in car speaker thing...this is a must have here (I've already been caught and fined once and at 9 demerit points am too close to having to take the VicRoads test for comfort) but since I'm not expecting a flood of calls while in Europe, this baby will not get a guernsey for OS travel.

And finally a 2 way socket to allow me to plug into the mains in Europe and one for UK plus  a 4 hole power board since I have so many things to charge!!


Latest quotes to catch my attention

Posted here to get noticed  as well as going further to the right of the page.

1. I heard this while watching the Tour of  California on

the latest Paul and Phil ism:
..."at front is Martin Velits...just in front of......the rider behind him"
2.  culled from a TV ad about Melbourne; it encapsulates the very heart of  Melbourne weather :
"Jacket on, jacket off"

Monday, May 23, 2011

Racing TT's, UCI gran fondo qualifiers and ebay sales

This week has been a good training week..finally!

I  bought a countdown timer from ebay called GymBoss max
for abt $40 which has made intervals much easier to deal with.  Instead of watching a line crawling across my computer monitor from the Catalyst program in my TACX iMagic, I can now watch any thing I choose and the count down watch thingy tells me when to change to another effort or rest.  With  intervals of 4  mins x 1 then 1min  x 12 then 4 mins x 1 a count timer with a good memory is sort of very necessary. 

Balancing that purchase were 3 wheels I sold last week..a Zentis 4 spoke, a Miche disc and a Corima 4 spoke wheel set.  Yay!..the family can eat again!  The first 2 were unwise purchases a coupla years ago and have barely been used.  The Corima wheelset is about 8 years old and the front wheel has been used more than the rear...the  buyers got really good deals and I'm glad to get rid of them making space in my bike room and putting $$ in my pocket.

Next up for sale are the FSA compact cranks (50/34) and well used,

the Fiz;ik Ares K:iumTT saddle of previous post fame  (2 rides only)
and a brand new Dura ace 7900  10 speed right hand side crank only  ..spider and gears..53/39 ( I've got the SRM crank etc  so I didn't need this one).

After last week's issue with comfort, I changed my possie a bit and also reverted back to my previous saddle.  I was also incredibly over generous with the chamois cream.  The net (or perhaps gross!) comfort issues at all  and with that problem out of the way I now just need to get fit!  This week's race was at the Yarra Boulevard, which is not my favourite course since it exposes my weakness...TT'ing up hill.  The race is 2 laps and although each quarter was slightly  slower than the one before, it wasn't by much.

Actually I did have a mechanical issue with both brake pads refusing to snap back open once applied, so that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!!.  I'll be getting them fixed this week. Needless to say there was no PB , but I'm improving.

Next weekend no race and then another TT followed by the 3 day 4 race weekend.

I've just been updating myself on the UCI World Masters"tour" and its resultant finals races  for the rainbow jersey which are being held in Belgium.  I note with wry amusement that the rules have recently changed to allow for a larger proportion of riders to qualify,  quote follows:

"Granting of participation rights for the UWCT Final
Each UWCT event will grant participation rights for the UWCT Final,  the Amateur World Championships. By the end of each race, the first 25% athletes of each age group, with a minimum of 3 riders per age group, will be awarded with guaranteed entry to the UWCT Final and be able to race for the World Champion title. The winners of the slots will be announced on the UWCT website. This decision was made in consideration to women who often race in small groups, with less than 10 participants per age class, limiting the "25% Best" to one rider. The new system will also benefit elder age groups and increase the competitiveness for the World Champion title." (my bold and underlined)  and  I think it should say.."limiting the best 10%"

Confusion reigns in my it saying there have to be a min number of 3 riders in the age group for there to be an age group or is it that there will be at least 3 qualifiers in each age group?? I suspect the latter but if the former(and the UCI is well known for this sort of hurdle) can anyone tell me what 25%  of 3 riders is?? 

Checking the same website, 

There have been 3 qualifying rides so far, the ones in Aus and Portugal seem to be pretty straightforward gran fondos, but the New York one was interesting from a qualifying POV.  The ride was  172km long BUT the only time of it that counted towards qualifying was the sum of  the times you posted for the 4 climbs....weird.

The finals courses:

Time trial and quoting again from the same source:

"It will be both for time trial specialists and climbers ........After 9,2 kilometers, riders leave the bikepath on the railroad and discover the very steep climb of Floriheid. The altitude at the bottom is 352 meters. On top after exactly 1 kilometer, altitude has gone up to 462 meters which means the average gradient is 11% with maximum pieces of 20%.   .....On top riders take a deep dive towards Malm├ędy to join back the old railroad back towards Stavelot. Here riders will cross each other on a 2,5 meter wide road".

Road race: too long to quote but its a 4 loop,110km  course and appears very hilly...there doesn't seem to be any mention of a shorter course for older age groups although the first 68km loop is said to be "not too difficult" so maybe  that will be the parcours for the oldest age grouping, which is 65+

I dunno, but what I'm seeing are tough courses for the younger masters age grades.  I wait with interest to see how many of the qualifiers will attend and who will be going to St Johann either instead of or as well as Belgium.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The things you do and Sunday's TT race

Ageist moan and self pitying bleat

This is what tells me my chronological age is>65:
  • my eyes which have been short sighted since I was 14 years old and which have been very, very slowly getting more long sighted, over the past year (since my 65th birthday in fact) make a sudden dramatic leap into long sight. This might appear to be a plus until you realise I had to shell out $900 for new lenses to my glasses and also new contacts.
  •  my teeth  which have served me well for many decades suddenly  decide to lose important parts of themselves meaning that expensive replacements (actually only 1 so far) will now have to take up residence in my mouth.
  • when deciding which travel insurance to buy, I realise that my choices have shrunk..
  • when studying up for my next Italian class in the train, a young chick in the  opposite seat marvels that you are still able to learn "at your age" 
  • I can no longer do early morning's too cold and I'm too stiff
  • every time I take a break from heaving weights around I have to go back to the beginning as I can no longer squat deep enough due to stiff hips.
  • and FINALLY and MOST irritating, I know for sure that in any UCI event I will be racing against younger chicks (well ok women in their 50's!!) since there have to be 6 competitors in a class and there aren't that amount of women in the 65-69  age group  still competing.

With more time to think I'm starting to rationalise the gear in my Aladdin's cave of bike bits and pieces.
  • About to be put on are:
  • a Miche disc (Shimano)+tyre, about 3-4 years old
  • a Xentis front 4 spoke wheel +tyre about 3-4 years old 
  • a Corima 4 spoke wheel set (Shimano)+tyres,  about 9 years old.
  • a complete  FSA compact crank set .34/50, Shimano/170 cranks..
    these are heroic cranks with a history...they helped me limp up the Passa Pordoi

and the Stelvio..

and there's more to come..ebay stuff that is.

Sunday's TT race

this was at Benalla over a 21.7kim course I've raced quite a time of ~36mins. 

I was so over rain and mud I opted to travel (quite unnecessarily ) to Benalla on Saturday.  It was a good choice weather wise 'cos although it was very very cold, it was dry and that was such a great change it made it worth the effort.  The cabin was warm , but for some reason there was no hot water.....

Today was not going to be a PB as I've been a bit crook during the week some viral thing upsetting my sinuses.  But you do what you can on the day.  When I got to  registration I discovered there were only 10 entries and (natch) I was first off.  Hume vets normally put on a TT followed by a road race, but this time it was a TT only and also this time the winner was not to be the fastest around the course, but the rider who bettered their international age grade standard by the greatest margin.

Stupidly I'd not changed my cranks over to SRM and even more stupidly hadn't done anything about the read out on the Garmin being in MPH.  So once again I was racing on perceived effort, a skill in which  I lack experience.

Actually I wasn't doing too badly until about 3 /4 way through when all of a sudden I realised I'd been too thrifty with the chamois cream. The course is really flat and with no places where its legit to stand up to relieve the pressure, any issues with position are going to be unforgiving....  Its hard to say how much time I lost by having to sit up out of the aero possie but I'd put it at least 40 seconds, maybe  more.

My result was the very worst I'd done on that course and while not actively sulking  I was somewhat annoyed with myself until I discovered that  I'd won the handicap ie I was the rider who exceeded the age standard by the most.....8 minutes.  I'm not sure where these figures came from, but they must have used some fairly sluggish old ladies as their data base..guess I should be grateful for that!

Thanks Hume vets for a well run race and I'll be back during June for the 3 day event.

Next week the Boulie, then a crit and then another  TT followed by the 3 days.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Racing and on learning a language

Yesterday I raced up a grade, being put into C grade.  As a time trialler and so able to stand long periods of a high wattage, but not so good at multiple mega surges, Criteriums are a challenge to my body and in the latter stages, my mind.

I'd been fairly comfortable  last week in D grade where the average kph had been ~35kph but C grade? meh...try to hang in for 40 of the 65 minutes was my goal...  the graph below shows how I fared...35 minutes with the bunch and then a prolonged surge up hill and into the wind plus a bit more and I was cooked.

Silly me.... the previous lap knowing that I was starting to struggle, I'd got closer to the front during the tail wind downhill hoon to allow my drop off to take me to the back but this time I was hovering near the back to begin with and so the elastic broke.....

The final bit of the graph is me riding solo, initially trying to get back on, then just TT'ing for the sake of it

the average speed was only 1.5kph faster but the surges killed me stone dead.  I had a ball though.

Language Learning
Learning a language is always a challenge with many, many pitfalls for the unwary, mostly to do with unwittingly saying something extremely rude. I  recall with fondness and a wide grin a German lady whose English was fluent (but who's pronunciation was.... hmmm...Germanic) bringing us all to tears of laughter when she told us that on this holiday (riding a tandem bike with her husband) it was her job to look after the sex.  Of course she meant panniers.   Poor girl she just could NOT understand why we were all ROTFL.

Italian is a phonetic language and with pronunciation what you see is what you get, unlike English which is definitely not and so I was a bit gob smacked the other day when one of my fellow Italian pupils said that English was an easy language to learn...was the fact that she was of Russian origin a factor in this comment???  Anyhow check out this web link for proof of my contention that English is so full of pronunciation traps that it cannot possibly be "an easy language to learn".

Friday, May 6, 2011

Musings for the week

France, Italy, UK and Austria

Woo hoo! lease car documents have just arrived...and yes, 8 weeks today I fly out yippedy yip yip.

Family Health Check......
  • Phil still on crutches for at least another 6 weeks...fracture site not yet united sufficiently to jettison them.
  • Alex has full range movement and is developing strength and endurance.  The scar is bound down medially but it's not impeding movement.  There is still fluctuating swelling present and we're keeping a close eye on it to ensure there is no return of infection.  He's on industrial strength probiotics to counteract the gut damage the industrial strength antibiotics inflicts.
  • Ben's scapula fracture is now just a bad memory.
During one of my ergo sessions I was debating with myself the following:  on a point system for style, bravery and "other" which of the 3 would come out ahead?
  • Phil certainly scores highly+++ for "style" since he scored a evacuation ride in a helicopter, but loses points for poor healing....August to at least June.
  • Ben scores high for bravery for driving his truck from Lysterfield to Croydon with a badly fractured scapula but loses points for stupidity in driving with a badly fractured scapula when he could have picked up the phone and asked for help.
  • Alex scores high for bravery in that he pulled a rather large piece of wood out of his leg but loses points for not taking a phone out with him on his ride, having to rely on luck in that someone just happened to be in the area and would help him.
And the verdict.... the helicopter ride trumps everything..a lay down misere. 

Slowly getting there.  Progress is being made. I'm due to race tomorrow but if the forecast is for rain, I'll do a 3 hours suffferfest at the velodrome instead.

I moved (well..Ben did) my track bike SRM cranks onto my TT bike the other day , but totally neglected to think about whether or not the holes on the road chain rings  would line up.  They didn't. Bugger!

It can be done, but I'd need to buy new chain rings and a BMX/track chain which wouldn't have a ramp on it and so I  might have to go with only one chain ring in order to prevent clunky gear changes. change.  I'll just go with what I've always done..move the cranks from the road bike to the TT bike  before a race.

So  ergo today, big effort tomorrow.  Next weekend...19.5km TT at Benalla.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Back racing

Saturday: cloudy no rain little wind

Reading the flyer for Hume Vets 3 day event in June, I realised I'd better get some racing in if only to allow my club handicapper to give me a grade.  But the need for handicap grade was not the only reason for my trip up to Casey Fields yesterday really was about time to HTFU and get out to do what I enjoy

I'd not raced at Casey Fields before, it always sounded as though it was miles away  and so I was a bit surprised that  the drive out only took about 40 minutes.  I was greeted with alot of hullo stranger comments but when  I eventually fronted up to pay and discuss which grade I should ride I discovered that I'd been black listed for missing a work day last year..hmmm....I was in Italy at the time.  The matter was soon sorted and after initially being put in C grade and after some checking on who rode what grade, I ended up in D grade......very flattering and all, but really on a background of almost no training, C would have been a nightmare for me.

Goal for the race:  finish with the bunch.

There were a few breakaways but none stuck and somewhat uncharacteristically all I did was stay with the bunch either in the middle or near the back, keeping upright,  keeping out of the way, holding my line... all but a couple of times (one where I visited the grass verge for a while) and so was just happy to be alive to tell the tale at the end. Finished with the bunch.

Could I have done retrospect yes, but that wasn't the plan for the day.  Next week maybe I might consider putting in a bit of a speedy effort.....or 2.

Sunday:..forecast cloudy showers later in the day=get out early

So what you all missed for today's ride was 2-3 hours 130-180 watts...ok well you can forget the 3 hour bit but Croydon to Yarra Glen and return via the back roads gives me ~2hours of undulations and all with minimal traffic.  Nasty little pulls uphill with all too short downhill hoons.

And it was cold I had no feet or hands when I got home..well ok they were there when I looked, but since all feeling had gone, I had to check.

Road kill...what's with ringtail possums?? were they all playing chicken last night?

and who is doing a Hansel and Gretel with orange peel around North Croydon / Croydon Hills???

Woo's finally May 1st and so I can now say......I'm off OS next month.