26 January, 2009

The Tour Downunder

Well the TDU 2009 has come and gone and Aussie cyclist Allan Davis has claimed the victor's mantle for this year. Davis and his Quick Step team held off fellow Aussie Stu O'Grady for a 25 second victory in the 11th TDU.

I guess it might be a bit of vindication for Davis who was implicated in Operation Puerto a few years back but subsequently cleared of any involvement. A bit of the mud stuck and he had difficulties in finding team to ride with. Quick Step gave him an opportunity and he has rewarded them with the first pro tour victory of the year.

Australia Day today- the plan had been to have a nice ride this morning followed by coffee on The Strand but yet again the rains came. They did ease off this afternoon so I thought I would do a few household tasks like mow the lawn. I don't think I was out there for 5 minutes when the ominous rumble of thunder heralded the approaching showers. Sure enough, down it came so I resigned myself to mowing later when the grass isn't quite so wet and won't clog up the mower.

Ok- it has eased off again but it's still too wet to mow so I'll wash the bikes. After our little ride in the downpour yesterday, there was a fair bit of road grime and sand on the bikes so I set up the bike stand on the front lawn, ran the bucket of wash water, got out the wash mitt and......it started to rain. Never mind- I usually end up soaked when I wash the bikes anyway so I finished them off. 

Here's hoping tomorrow morning doesn't start with the sound of rain on the roof and water in the downpipes.

Cheers- ride safe

24 January, 2009

This time it's just "Bad Weather"

Our annual ride to Charters Towers has been knocked on the head. The plan was for about a dozen of us to head out around 4:00am and make the 135km ride to Charters Towers where we would have a bit of a recovery and watch some of the Goldfield Ashes (the largest cricket carnival in the Southern hemisphere).

Some heavy monsoonal showers yesterday and the forecast for more of the same today meant an added risk that we just couldn't mitigate. Not that we can't ride in the rain- Dee and I just did a 40 km ride this morning and it rained so hard at times that there was a sting in the drops and visibility was almost like a "white out"- it just seems that some motorists think that the wet roads have this magic ability to give their cars an extra 50 horsepower and give them the driving skills of Michael Schumacher.  And this mornng was no different... as we waited for some more cyclists to show up at the LBS before heading out, we could hear the sound of a "hotted up" car spinning its wheels nearby in what was undoubtedly a show of the owner's great skills. It wasn't even 5:30am yet- what possesses someone to do this crap?

The Tour Downunder winds up today and it looks like Allan Davis of Quickstep will be the overall winner with a 25  second lead over Stu O'Grady. Last year's winner, Andre Greipel had been in contention until he collided with a parked police motorcycle during Stage 3. Looks like he's gone for three months.

Looks like the sun is trying to put in an appearance. Might have to dig out my spare shoes and go for another spin...

The Week 315.6 km
January 968.6
2009 968.6

Ride safe

19 January, 2009

Robbie McEwen, Lance and bad weather

The first event associated with the Tour Downunder took place yesterday and Robbie McEwen came from nowhere to win the Cancer Council Classic criterium in Adelaide. As expected, all eyes were on Lance Armstrong to see how he and his Astana teammates would fare. It looks like the plan must have been to protect Lance as most of the Astana team finished very closely to Lance in 64th position.

So where does the bad weather come in? Dee and I are waiting for the intermittent showers to stop so we can head out on a ride. As we wait, Dee is watching streaming video of yesterday's TdU event.

Our ride to Charters Towers is fast approaching (this Sunday) and we had our last training ride for the group yesterday.  An 80+ km ride along the same road we'll ride on Sunday. The majority of riders came through ok- there were a couple who found the pace a bit quick. We're aiming for 27-28 km/hr for the ride which should equate to 5 hrs "ride time" along with some rest breaks along the way. Hopefully the group will roll into "The Towers" around 10:00 at the latest. It starts to heat up from about 8:00am so we don't want to be out on the road any longer than is absolutely necessary. I think it is usually up to about 35 or 37 by the time we finish the ride.

I'm also thinking I may have to surrender my ride and act as the main support vehicle. We haven't had anyone offer to this point and it would be a dangerous undertaking to not have a support vehicle.

Oh look! I think the showers have stopped.

The week:  233.8
2009: 653.0

Ride safe

16 January, 2009

That's more like it...

Well it took 4 days to get here and as far as riding goes, today was the best of the lot this week. A tropical low and monsoon trough provided us with some pretty healthy rainfall totals and disrupted regular cycling routines for everyone I know. I was starting to feel like Joe Bftsplk (How many remember him from the "L'il Abner" comic strip? He was the unluckiest bloke in the world with his own personal rain cloud that followed him everywhere.)

I got up at 4:30- as usual- and put on my kit. Had a bite to eat and headed downstairs and grabbed the bike to head off. "D'oh!" a flat. Okay- relax. You're on leave and you have lots of time. "Double D'oh!!" (or would that be D'Oh, D'oh!!?) the rain which I thought had finished had returned with a vengeance. No ride on Thursday Kemo-Sabe.

I did manage a few km's yesterday but I had to wait at home for an appliance service bloke to arrive and look at the dishwasher (not me, the built-in electric one). He couldn't fix it mind you but he did his diagnosis and advised that the heating circuit on the PCB (Process Control Board- I think) was burnt out and the whole thing would have to be replaced. "Do you have one in your van?"

"No sorry- we'll have to order that. we'll let you know how long it will be."

Today was much better. No flats, no rain and about 80km. You just gotta love it.

Ride safe

11 January, 2009

Week 1

Ok- back to work for a week and I haven't maimed or injured anyone in the office- probably because the majority are still on leave- but that's beside the point.  Things are resuming a sense of normalcy and I managed to get in a few good training rides (and yes there were some with some hill work). I closed out the week with a repeat of last weekend's ride and an additional 25+km assisting Dee with her bikeability study- just short of 300 for the week.

The bikeability study (audit, whatever) is an interesting undertaking where bike routes to central destinations such as schools and parks are analysed for safety, rideability and hazards. It seems invariably that there are reasonably good bike lanes (albeit shared with motor vehicles) but there is a shortcoming in providing safe areas to make turns or cross traffic if the cyclist(s) is/are coming from the opposite direction in which the location is accessed. Hopefully the feedback provided will assist in remedying some of these issues.

The Charters Towers Ashes ride is 2 weeks away and hopefully everyone will be healthy and well prepared for the ride. The weather is always a concern at this time of year with the summertime heat being a major factor for the success (or otherwise) of the ride. The other weather related issue we are mindful of is cyclones and storms. All eyes are currently on a system just named as Cyclone Charlotte today.

I know a fortnight is a long way off but the havoc that can be wrought by one of these storms can have long lasting effects such as flooding, road damage, debris, etc. and every once in a while these storms seem to take on a life/personality of their own- bouncing along the coast for days/weeks at a time- keeping everyone on their toes waiting for landfall.

Gotta go- one barking, demanding fox terrier is yelling at Dee that it's time to eat.

Total for the week: 288.9
Cumulative 2009: 419.2

Ride safe

04 January, 2009

Back to Work

Today (Sunday) is the last day of the Christmas/New Year break so it's back to the salt mine (office) tomorrow morning. It should be quite bearable though as there will still be a fair number of staff on leave as the school holidays here in Queensland don't end until the end of January. A lot of people take the opportunity after Christmas to head off for a bit of a holiday with the kids before they go back to school.

Oh and I go on leave for two more weeks starting 19 January. So with the start of the race season 8 weeks away and our annual ride to Charters Towers (125km) for the weekend of 24-25th of this month, I need to be getting in some km's.

This weekend was a good start.......46 k's on our coffee ride yesterday with a bit of a hit out on the sprint and then a group of us did an early morning ride (after two parties yesterday) of 84 km. It was a bit of a wake-up call- my thighs are complaining as I type this. Might have to slip on the compression tights for a bit- at least the temperature is below 30C at the moment. 

Dee is going to check out the new gym facilities at the university and sign me up for a membership. I really should work on my core strength.

And I think I will revert to the training regime I was using from July through November of short, sharp hill work and some intervals. I'll give the start of the group rides a miss while I complete the hill work and then use them as my bunnies and try to catch them on the road. Could be interesting as the group has increased their average speed to about 32-34 km/hr heading out and around 37-38 coming back.

Total for the week 130.3km

Ride safe

02 January, 2009

Starting Tomorrow

Here it is, almost the 3rd of January, and I have yet to roll my bike out from under the house. But starting tomorrow, I am going to be putting some km's under the wheels. The road season starts in 8 weeks time and I suspect that there may be a bit of Christmas cheer hanging around my middle. Dee and I just got home from visiting her sister and brother-in-law in Cairns for the last few days and there was no cycling underaken by either of us- we didn't even take the bikes. Not that we could have got much cycling in with the tropical downpours.

Anyhow we're back and ready to go into the new year. I've never been one for making resolutions but I would like to increase my hill work in preparation for the road-race season. My racing license has been renewed and I'm hoping to take part in most, if not all, of the events our club has scheduled (I don't think I mentioned there are a couple of time trials which are all uphill).

I would also like to make 12,000 km for the year. I fell short by almost 280 in '08 and will hopefully stay healthy during the year to allow me to hit my target.

Happy New Year to all

Cheers- ride safe