April 23 2015
Summer means sunshine, means shorts and bikes, and obviously tan lines.
On the heels of the news that a new drug has been introduced, giving melanoma patients longer lives with less side effects, I figure it’s time to have a skin check. One Australian dies every six hours from melanoma. If skin cancer hasn’t touched your family, it no doubt will soon. My dad has had several cancers removed, and my dearest uncle died suddenly from melanoma related cancer that had spread throughout his body. A loss like that is not worth the excuse to not put on sunscreen or get regular check ups.
We’re Aussies, we love our sunburnt country! We spend a lot of time outdoors. Hiking, running, cycling, in fact, just the harsh Australian sun as we travel around throughout the day, to and from work, home, the gym, that sun is hitting us. I’ve heard a lot of people complain about the hassle of applying sunscreen, I’ve seen so many with serious burns, but that hot tan, those tan lines of pride that cyclists sport, they can come with a heavy price tag.
My palm freckle that I thought was dirt and attempted to scrub off when I first noticed it.
Checking your skin for suspicious moles or spots is easy to do yourself, and it’s worth getting a professional check up every so often to ensure you don’t miss something. When it’s caught early, it’s easily treatable. First, I have to stress that skin cancers don’t only appear on areas that see the sun. I have freckles in weird places, like between my toes and on my palm, and I don’t walk around with my toes spread or my palms facing up. Skin cancers have been found on peoples feet, or even under your nails! As such, make sure you check out your whole body when you’re looking for changes, and don’t forget your hair. When you’re looking, follow the ABCD guideline, look for asymmetry, an irregular border, changes in colour or irregular colours, and changes in diameter or general size.
Of course, our risk of developing skin cancer is related to our genetics, our skin type, but regardless of this, the sun can still damage your eyesight. When we are outdoors, we need to be protecting our eyes against the harmful effects of the sun. This is as simple as wearing sunnies and a hat. Ultraviolet radiation that enters our eyes damages the retina, which over time increases our risk of serious diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
Get out, enjoy life, and be sun smart!
Even with sunscreen on, you can still tan, depending on your skin type of course. As such, coming into summer, I get a stronger and stronger tan. To be honest, I am not a fan of the farmers tan on the arm, so I tend to wear arm sleeves when riding – nice thin lycra ones in summer, and some fun colourful ones in winter (also helps keep me warm).
Regardless, the tan lines we end up with, the freckles that appear should remind us to check our skin for any changes, but also to be proud of the active lifestyle we lead. Enjoy the outdoors, remember to protect your skin, and be proud of the adventure you’re undertaking!
April #mygoalrox: Un-slumping myselfApril 18 2015, 0 Comments
Time for a few #mygoalrox reflections, as promised last time. Just so you know, they are mostly downers. It’s getting cold, I’ve got a cold, so I’m having a temporary slump. And as Dr Seuss says:
When you’re in a slump,
You’re not in for much fun.
is not easily done.
So in the interest of un-slumping myself, I’m offloading some of my worries (in no particular order). Number one:
My hill climbing seems to be improving a lot but I’m kind of frustrated by my descending. I’m not comfortable shooting downhills. I brake more than most people. I’m not aggressive on corners. I check behind me too often in case a vehicle is there rather than use the lane. I’m timid I guess.
It doesn’t help that I’m a lightweight, and the power to weight ratio that helps me pass the MAMILs on the way up also means that they sometimes barrel past me on the way down.
Basically, I think at some point in your life you get old and you don’t want to break things because you just have so much other shit to do that you can’t afford to not be doing. Or that’s how it feels to me.
Descending is about developing skill and managing fear. To do that you’ve gotta have number two, which is:
My confidence waxes and wanes like the moon (not in sync with it, as far as I can tell).
Some days I feel really in charge of my body and my bike and the road. Not invincible exactly (that is asking too much of a push bike) but strong and assertive.
Other days I feel like a mobile skittle, trying to dodge my way through the onslaught of peak hour bowling balls and verge debris. Sometimes people yell at you from passing cars, or blow their horns, or pass by so close that you could touch metal. Someone cursed at me from a passing car at 5.30am the other day. Up an hour before the sun and I still can’t escape some asshole in a car.
Then there’s that whole matter of internal confidence. Sometimes it gets replaced by little voices in your head that say unhelpful things, like:
You’re too old for this, what are you trying to prove?
You’re so slow.
(Variations on slow include wrinkly, pale, bloated and saggy. Sometimes all at once!)
Well, this sure is unpleasant.
Hey I wish I was running instead. Running was fun.
(It wasn’t. It was never fun. Okay maybe sometimes.)
2015 will be over soon and then you can quit exercise forever, take up internet shopping and be old, slow, wrinkly, pale, bloated and saggy.
It’s hard to get out there on the days when you feel physically or mentally vulnerable. The problem is that you don’t know what kind of ride you’re going to have until you’re having it.
And then sometimes you get a day like this
They say there is strength in numbers, which brings me to number three:
Almost all of my cycling is done solo. Most of my Ks are clocked up riding to and from work, which isn’t compatible with bunch riding and coffee dates. For the most part, I enjoy my own company and it’s good that I don’t need a coach or a program to get me moving, but I do feel LONELY sometimes. So I’m trying to fix that by taking myself outside my comfort zone and riding with other actual humans sometimes.
We’ve got company!
It seems as though every female cyclist I know has a significant male cyclist in her life. I don’t know if women take up cycling because their partners ride (since male cyclists far outnumber females). Anyway, it’s really common for a female cyclist to have a boyfriend, husband or other household member who is a cyclist.I don’t. My partner runs. The closest he gets to cycling is a spin class. I’m okay with this! But just occasionally I wish he was a cyclist and/or mechanic, and then I wouldn’t have to read hill descending tips and watch Lance Armstrong fix a flat on YouTube. I could just say ‘Should this tight thing be loose?’ or ‘Should this loose thing be tight?’
To be fair, my dad is a cyclist. I spent my childhood at bike races and he taught me a lot. He still rides! But he’s nearly 80 and lives 1,500 kilometres away, so I can’t really count on him for help.
So this is my problem. I am, without question, the most talented cyclist and expert bike mechanic in my household. And that is saying very, very little because number four is:
Honey I’m having a mechanical
I can change a flat, given ten (or fifteen or, uh, twenty) minutes. If it takes longer than that, or if it is freezing and I can’t feel my fingers, or if it happens again, and I have your number, I will phone you. I can clean my bike, if by cleaning you mean washing and degreasing without removing any parts.
I can take the front wheel off. Look!
Make it look pretty. Do something when it goes flat. That’s it. That’s all I can do. That’s all anyone in my household can do. I don’t know how to adjust anything or service anything (this makes me a good user of the local bike shop). I can’t take a bike apart, or more importantly put it back together, which brings me to number five.
I have entered Amy’s Gran Fondo. This is my Roxcycl goal event. Truth be told it was my goal event last year but, as I said in my video, in the end I couldn’t quite get my head around the logistics of getting myself and my bike to Lorne in one piece.
I’m just a little bit freaked out about how to get my bike to Victoria, but I signed up for a challenge and that is part of my challenge.
Right, I feel SO MUCH BETTER now that I got all that off my chest. Anyone up for a ride?
RACE 4: SINGLE TRACK MIND 7HR, WYLDE - ElizaApril 16 2015, 0 Comments
Seven hours. Seven hours on my mountain bike riding a 12km loop. Phew. What a race.
I was nervous for this one. I didn’t have doubts about whether I could make it, I had a plan of aiming for 7 laps, and having rests between each lap that were no shorter than 3 minutes and no longer than 10. I didn’t want to break for too long, but I also didn’t want to just rush through without taking proper stock of how I was feeling, physically and mentally.
Before the start, I already saw some familiarsharnaand1 faces, including one face I hadn’t seen since high school, the beautiful Sharna! I had an awesome set up, with a super friendly male pair next door, and of course Rex supporting me, as well as fellow solo rider, Dan, from TBSM, and his dad to keep up spirits and smiles!
We rolled out at the start and my goal was to settle into an easy pace. I wanted to take every opportunity to recover on the downhills, to try and gather the easy speed from some of the nice corners, and climb in sustainable ways for 7 hours. I wasn’t sure how tired it would make me, so my lap times were about 10 mins longer than the usual for a single hit up of the course. That seems to have been the best decision, my legs didn’t feel tired for the whole race, but I felt pain in my lower back (that’s a hard tail for you!), forearms and my hands! I need to get some new gloves, I had a pressure point on each palm that started to develop blisters, but other than that I feel that my legs and cardio did amazingly in this race.7 hour
Left to right, top to bottom – Getting weighed in for the race; Lap 2 and feeling awesome; Lap 4 needing a good refuel stop; Lap 6 and it’s almost done!
First few laps felt very comfortable. I had a huge smile on my face, was probably taking it too easy as I found it quite easy to chat with anyone that I passed or passed me! But, it was the first 7 hour, so best to be a bit conservative. Half way through I had Rex check my bike, just to ensure all the usual bits were tight or rolling smoothly as they should be. I tried to eat a lot, and the lovely Eliza Kwan, winner of the race, came past and told me to eat more! If in doubt, eat! So, I tried to add more and more to ensure I didn’t stay to fade. I did the same with water, I wanted to be hydrated and I did start getting headaches around the 5th and 6th laps, but I ended up feeling fine after a slightly longer break between the 6th and 7th lap, that and I took it super easy on the last lap :P
My support crew! Always making sure my water bottle was full and food was within reach.
Mentally, I felt like I was in a great position for this lap. It felt great, I felt super happy and cheery, I interacted with the volunteers, getting them to cheer me on and joking with them. In saying that, the 5th and 6th laps were mentally the toughest, mustering up the want to do that 6th lap was a bit of a challenge. I knew I would be disappointed in myself if I didn’t ride the 7th when there was enough time, and just to keep my spirits up I asked some of the volunteers if I should do 1 more lap! No one ever says no to that question! I used that ploy as a little mental game to get me excited for my last lap.
It was truly a great race. There were a couple of crashes, some not so bad like the couple of people who washed out in front of me, some a bit more serious, like the organiser who broke 3 ribs, but aside from that, people were generally really awesome! There was great encouragement from other riders and volunteers, especially towards the pointy end of the race, and on the whole the politeness of competitors when they wanted to pass was better than many races I’ve done.
Rock the dirt tan!
In the end, I ended up coming 5th in the open solo females for the 7 hours, and I also came 1st in the Clydesdale category – a weight based category. I want to add a little bit here about that category. At first, it made me uncomfortable and I wasn’t really sure how to feel about it. I’ve struggled with weight issues most of my life (read it here), so to be classed as a Clydesdale (weighing over 85kgs with your bike and kit) felt really uncomfortable. But then I looked at it a bit differently. I’m comfortable with my body, I am strong, and I may never be as fast as the podium winners, but I get out there and try, regardless of my body shape, we all should. So why shouldn’t I get the chance at a fairer playing field, evening out the odds a little and feeling rewarded for the huge effort that we Clydesdales put in? I hope that I can encourage other women who fit into that category to embrace it – there is nothing wrong with being larger than the incredible jockeys that seem to win endurance events! We are out there racing, we are out there trying, and I’ve got to say, that makes us winners. Here’s to all my Clydesdales!
Winners! Awesome chicks to ride bikes with for 7 hours!
For more races, check out the Singletrack Mind Series , as well as the Evocities Series, a great chance to ride bikes in the country!
Overcoming the challenges of crashing with ElizaApril 02 2015, 1 Comment
Two weeks ago I crashed my bike. It's not the first time, and it won't be the last time. Nothing was broken, just grazing and bruising and another concussion. Today's blog is not going to be about the dangers of head injuries, but I will be touching on that at some stage. Today I want to focus on the common issue of the loss of confidence. The struggle to ride the obstacles that were once conquered. It doesn't even have to be a big crash to throw you off your groove.
A pretty big crash that a year on has left me with a dint in my leg and I'm still not able to ride that rocky section!
Why does that happen? Why, when we know it's a mental barrier, that we once were capable and now are not, why do we struggle to push past and instead halt at that roll over, grabbing the brakes at totally the wrong time? It can be so frustrating, infuriating, defeating and even potentially dangerous. It can feed our self talk, something we are already trying to work on.
When I've tried to read up on these things, it all seems to come back to our natural instincts, you know, those ones that stop you from leaping off cliffs. When we mountain bike we are often throwing ourselves into dangerous situations, whether real or imagined, and our brains are playing the mental battle to try to keep us safe. When we have a crash, or a near miss, it only makes that survival instinct ramp itself up and steps us back in our progress. So how do we get past that? How do I get past that, now that simple obstacles are holding me back?
Firstly, acceptance. It's natural that I'm going to find simply things difficult after a crash, so I can't be too hard on myself or push myself into situations that are just going to hold me back in the long run. It's going to take time to feel the flow again, and I need to give it that time and not get angry at myself. I need to get out on easy rides and just feel the groove again, let myself focus on the enjoyment of these easy rides and have fun without expectations. I need to give myself a break, increase the challenges in small steps whilst remaining relaxed.I need to be ok to take a step back if I try to push too quickly, and ask for help if I need it. The more nervous I feel, the more likely I am to have an accident just like the first one, so I need to focus on feeling relaxed again, and if that means a few weeks of easy rides, then that's what it takes and that's ok.
Other than that, focus on physical recovery, no point pushing the envelope with training if my body is still suffering, it'll only put me back in the long run. With concussions, recovery can be a difficult process, but thankfully, 2 weeks on from my amazing crash, I am mostly healed up and ready to start going through the process of gaining my confidence back.
Oh, and get a new helmet.
How do you best deal with getting your confidence back after a crash or near miss?
March @Roxcycl – rather ‘event full’ - Leonie's March UpdateApril 02 2015, 0 Comments
So after a steady build in February, March turned out to be ‘event full’.
It kicked off with Amy’s Big Canberra Bike Ride on Sunday 1 March. I rode 95 km all up and took just 2 and a quarter hours for the hilly 68 km course. I was really stoked with my time, my energy levels, my relative comfort during climbs, and my positive mood throughout. I only saw one other rider I knew but I just bunched up with whoever and kept up a steady pace. Good training for a great cause!
Riding home from Amy's ride
A week later I joined the AMRA Rob Roy Romp on Monday 9 March. The Australian Mountain Running Association runs under the stewardship of John Harding, a local hero of the running scene. This was the third year in a row I’ve done this event (although the courses have changed subtly each year). This year it consisted of 25 km of steep, rocky trail running with 1,000 metres of ascent and amazing views of the Brindabella Mountains. I ended up 5th female out of 10, in a time of 2 hours and 53 minutes. If that sounds slow, it’s because it was!
The only flat bit!
Just me and the trail
The following weekend was spent in the Blue Mountains for the other half’s Six Foot Track Marathon. (He got a 10 minute PB, so it is possible for a couple with young kids to train simultaneously – but it’s a juggling act!) I took the kids bush walking on Saturday (flicking leeches off our shoes) and on Sunday I took off alone for an ambitious solo run. It was a bit of a debacle. First we locked ourselves out of our holiday house (with unfed kids in their pyjamas). Then I left my maps and course directions in the car. Noooo! I set off anyway, running out towards the cliffs that plunge into the Grose Valley, but wasted too much time trying to find a very obscure turnoff. Feeling glum, I retraced my steps and eventually found the point of descent – a victory of sorts, but too late to finish what I started. Next time!
Then came the Ultimate Snowy Challenge on Sunday 22 March. I really threw myself in the deep end with this one. The idea of it just captured my imagination – a huge 40 km climb to the roof of Australia. Could I even do it? I’m so happy with how it turned out. I woke up in a sleeping bag next to my bike for the first time in my life. Wasn’t sure whether to wear short or long sleeve; ended up wearing both on the 6 degrees + windchill morning. I started conservatively because I’m completely untested against that much hill, then picked it up a bit after 20k. The coolest thing was when a deer ran across the road in front of me, it was so beautiful! (introduced species notwithstanding). The second coolest thing was the smooth bitumen and sweeping curves through the alpine landscape. I loved this event! I rode 85 km with 1,900m of ascent, drank 700 mls, ate 3 gels, a piece of banana and a homemade cookie.
Such a great feeling
I’ve come away with a few reflections but will share those another time. I’m leaving March (literally) on a high :)
How to find a bike friendly job with AlannaMarch 26 2015, 0 Comments
I found myself in a predicament at the beginning of this year… I was made redundant. I wont go into the ins and outs as they will no doubt bore you, but needless to say I was without my main reason for getting out on the bike mid-week.
Often when looking for a new job people have sectors they like to work in or pay grades they’d like to hit. For me, these all came second to finding a “bike friendly” office. So I searched online and found very little on how to go about applying for a job but also finding out if they were a lycra loving bunch. I hit the forums and people gave some of their feedback but were again a little at a loss as they had never really been in this position.
So I thought I would cover how I went about finding a cyclo-friendly workplace, in the hopes that it would help some of you guys out.
Whack it on the CV
Luckily for me I have been brought into the Roxcycl family and this to me looked great on my resume. So great in fact it’s the main thing you see when you open it up! But if you don’t have this flag to wave then maybe just mentioning that you are an avid cyclist in the “hobbies” section should hint at your love of being on the bike.
I got a great response from having this info on my CV as it gave people a talking point that wasn’t work related. It showed I had passion in other areas of my life and that I enjoyed being fit and healthy.
Consider the companies you apply for
If commuting is your life there are a few things you need to look for in your new job, these were the big questions I asked myself:
How far am I willing to travel each way?
Is there a bail out option should I have a mechanical failure (trains etc)?
Is there a safe route to and from work?
Does the company value cyclists?
This last point was a big one, I turned down applying for a few companies that I knew had anti-cyclist views –cough- a certain newspaper –cough-. For me there was no point applying for a job at a company that didn’t support my lifestyle. I also turned down jobs that were too far away and weren’t safe to ride to. These were non-negotiables.
Talk about it in your interview and scout the building
Something asked surprisingly often is “how will you get to and from work” and which point I leapt on “cycling”! I even went into a few businesses that had their own bikes leaning on walls, so I made a point to mention how nice it was to see that people rode in. It was amazing the conversations I had about riding whilst in the hot seat, and if I did mention it and got a negative response, I noted it and moved on.
Another way to find out how open a business is to commuters is asking whether they have “end of transport facilities”. But if this all seems a bit scary then you can google the building that you went for an interview in and find out a tonne of details like this (yes I did this).
Congrats your’e hired!
So you landed you dream job and all the bike boxes are ticked… but when is it okay to start rocking the lycra in the office. For me it was after the first week; my manager was very kind and because I had told the company during the hiring process that cycling was a big part of my training efforts for The Tour of NZ and my end of year goals she was great at showing me the ropes. I got lucky too; there was someone in the office that rode to and from work in a bunch that I have now adopted. And just to make you a bit more jealous, I also have bike lockers, pumps and tools. Pretty cool huh?!
So in summery, how do you get a job in a bike friendly office? You stick with your gut, put your foot down and you don’t compromise your dreams based on your job. Value yourself enough to know that the job you didn’t apply for never would have worked because if you cant ride, you cant live. Well that’s how it was for me!
Good luck with your biking business goals!
Obsessed with weight:March 20 2015, 3 Comments
My whole life I've obsessed over weight.
When I was young I was known as the fat one of the family, was told I'd eaten too many biscuits whilst my stomach was patted before a debutante ball, that I should exercise more when I already played netball, soccer and squash. As a teen, I was what would have been considered MEDICALLY as a "healthy" size. As a teen, I was what would have been considered SOCIALLY as an "obese" size.
At university, my weight ballooned. I became focused on my studies because I wanted to do well. I wanted to become a member of the Golden Key Society (tick), I wanted to get first class honours (tick), I wanted to get into a PhD (tick). I was in an unhealthy relationship, I was mentally in an unhealthy place, and I funnelled my issues into study and eating. I never knew just how overweight I was.
Now, I didn't eat because I loved food. I hated food. Nonetheless, I ended up somewhere above 120kgs, I have no idea how far over that, because I stopped weighing myself. I hated myself. So much self loathing, avoiding clothing stores because it was horrible to try one clothes, how they sat, the way they felt, I already hated how I looked, I didn't need to struggle with fashion chains to reinforce that.
Part of me never knew just how overweight I was...
I did try to exercise. Each time, someone made me feel ashamed, which sent me further into the spiral. I would go running, well, my attempt at a run, only to have bogans pass by in their cars and scream "run fatty" at me, or "go eat a cake". I didn't get it - you hate me when I'm fat and make fun of me, but when I'm trying to lose weight to become the size you deem acceptable, you make fun of me still? What do you want?
Eventually, I decided that I didn't want to be that anymore. I wanted to be active, I wanted to be fit, I wanted to have a future and I didn't care about the bogan comments. The want to change came from within me, the only truly successful way to lose weight and change your life, because you want it. I started walking, then jogging, then running, then cycling (when I finally felt a bike could take my weight), and weight lifting. I lost half my weight. It was hard, and I learnt that it will always be hard, but that little things like climbing stairs become easier, unlike those crazy hills climbs or runs when I'm trying to get my new PB. I aimed to just keep at it, but I did get obsessive. I weighed myself twice a day, I obsessed over how big I was and how little I should become. I constantly compared myself to everyone around me. I still thought I was huge. It took a long time for my mental picture to actually catch up with what I truly looked like. I remember two specific events. The first, I had to fly to the USA and I had always hated how uncomfortable and embarrassing it was to sit in what felt like tiny plane seat. I sat down and actually had room in the seat either side of my hips - what the f*ck! The second, I had always thought a friend of mine was gorgeous and tiny. I went to a party at her place, a kind of fancy dress party, and at some stage she decided to have an outfit swap with a couple of other people - something I never would have imagined I could do, being so much bigger than everyone else! Yet, it turned out I was smaller than her, I left wearing her dress, and had tried on some other guys outfit for the night, and I was stunned. I never thought she was anything but a normal beautiful size, and smaller than me, a size I wanted to be, and here was proof, staring me in the face, I was in her dress and it was too big for me. I was smaller than I realised.
Achieving physical feats I never thought I would - Quandary Peak
Then enter the world of cycling. With all its rules and the harsh way that some people will treat you when you don't know the rules - like the ridicule at not knowing if you're meant to wear undies under cycling knicks (I'd never worn knicks before and I wear undies under my yoga pants!), the apparent taboo of wearing white leg warmers, having bar tape that doesn't match your seat. I just wanted to ride a bike, I just wanted to get fitter and faster. Ignoring all of that, the more I rode, the more I realised I would need better clothing, cycling specific clothing, so I started to invest in cycling kit. Women's kit is horrific for your self esteem. I've spent the majority of my cycling "career" buying men's kit because women's kit either doesn't fit right, isn't available in my "size", or is just ugly (I don't always want to wear pink and bows just because I have female organs). I have a fragile self esteem when it comes to my size, it's been a long battle, and though I should feel empowered that I have lost half my weight and that I'm a "normal" size, putting on women's extra large cycling kit just hits me where it hurts. Lycra is weird and unforgiving enough as it is, skin tight, showing all your rolls and creating new ones to remain in place as you race, adding to that a size that I know I am not is at times, and riding among some of the thinnest women I've ever met, all built for climbing hills it seems, is difficult to deal with. I know a couple of young girls who already, at 15, are buying men's kit too because of the mental game women's kit plays. It broke my heart to hear that from one girl, so young, so active and fit and out there trying. My only advice here is to ignore it. I can't even do that well, but I try my best. I order cycling kit, I ignore the label and just wear it. I judge it on how it feels, is it comfortable, is it warm or cool, is it going to cradle my butt the way I need it to on those long rides? Yes, well then it's great kit. Does it look good? I hope so, because I still want to like what I'm wearing, I want to like how I look in my kit because it does affect my mental state (despite how much it shouldn't!). You know what doesn't affect my mental state? How red my face goes, how hard I am wheezing, because I know I am trying, I know I am pushing my hardest and trying my best and I've come a damn long way to lose close to 60kgs.
Before I knew the "rules"
I struggle at times. I want to high five that bigger girl as she runs around the suburbs, or has a smash out on the cross trainer at the gym - but I don't know that it would come across in a good way. I want to encourage more women to start riding, but I want them to come to it because they want it. I want to help people change their lifestyles to healthy lives, to long lives, but they need to want it too. How can I achieve this? How can I encourage people without coming across in a somehow negative way, especially when I still look at myself and fail to see a true role model. My only idea of a way forward here is to keep working on myself. To keep working on my self esteem, to keep looking after my mental health and reminding myself that I'm doing awesomely. To keep being a friendly face at my gym and to be positive and encouraging to all the people I meet who are trying to lead active lifestyles. To keep being active, keep aiming at achieving things that push my boundaries, like the Scott 6+6 race in October, to keep ignoring the labels and be proud of what I have accomplished. So I've never won a race and I probably never will, I won the race to beat obesity, to avoid diabetes, to be healthy and fit, and that's a much more important race.
Blog : Eliza -RACE 3: CAPITAL PUNISHMENT 50K IN CANBERRAMarch 10 2015, 2 Comments
A new race this time, point to point instead of the laps, so it had a different approach. I have done one other 50K race, The Kowalski Classic, which is essentially ALL singletrack in Kowen, near Canberra. I finished that race in 4 hours, but I was pretty conservative in how I rode. I decided that for this race I wanted to get under 4 hours, and I wanted to push myself harder. Even if that meant that I pushed too hard and didn’t finish, I wanted to do that. Sounds crazy, but I’ve never pushed so hard that I couldn’t do anything after a race, I’ve never reached that limit and I have no idea how close I get to it, so I want to try. I want to know how it feels when I’m reaching that limit, I want to know how to gauge my effort without simply holding back for the whole race, being conservative in my efforts to ensure I “last”.
For a short race recap, check out my youtube video, here.
I lined up, and we raced up dairy farmers hill – the hill that I used to climb on my road bike for training! Some were complaining about the climb, but really the mountain bike has much easier gears for the climb! You can just sit and spin it up there! After that, straight into some fire trails that I had ridden on my cyclocross bike, so I knew what I was in for. We zoomed over to stromlo, following the bike path where a fellow competitor told me to stop, to slow down because I was going too fast. He caught me later at the refuel station and we leap frogged each other for the rest of the race until he got cramps. He urged me on so I could tell people I beat him – not true really when he had to slow down with cramps.
Stromlo felt different for me. I had ridden it a lot when I lived in Canberra, and there was not a single thing that I had to get off my bike for by the time I left. I felt confident and fast with Stromlo – but now, it all felt new! Everything that had been an issue, that had taken time to conquer, was all back at square one! I had to get off for so many things that were just stupid. It got me down a little bit, but I tried to just focus on making up the time in between. I finished in 3 hours (10th in my age group!), which would have been much quicker had I not stopped so much, but was still a great time for me. It has taught me that I NEED to go and practice these places for the Scott. As it will be held at Stromlo, I plan now to go down for a few weeks in advance to ensure these areas I had conquered are back at being comfortable again, otherwise I will lose so much time in every lap.
The other big thing I learnt was that I need to double check my bike after a service. The gears changed perfectly, but the guys had pumped up my tyres far too much. I luckily checked that and changed the pressure, dropping it by 15psi for each tyre before I headed out. Unfortunately I didn’t have a shock pump, so I couldn’t fix that – it was set too high, I couldn’t compress the shocks at all, which may have contributed to how uncomfortable I felt on the trails that were once so comfortable for me. I had also changed a bit of my set up, which I had intended to return to normal, and the newness of that may have also contributed to the discomfort.
All in all, it was a great race, I felt like I had pushed pretty hard, though I didn’t reach that all out goal. I rolled back to Canberra, an extra 10kms for my day of riding and spent the afternoon relaxing in my hotel room. I have noticed that after races where I push myself incredibly hard, I get emotional. I was watching Mean Girls and sewing on the bed, and ended up in tears! I spoke to my oracle, Eliza Kwan, who won the 50K despite crashing, and she told me it was a common occurrence. After pushing your body that hard, the influx of adrenaline, you can experience a bit of a come down. Knowing that, I just let it happen, try to relax, not try to do anything that is going to push my mind or body too much, eat what I like and of course, get some quality rest!
I followed the next day with a 2 hour spin around Sydney at sunset, and surprisingly that felt great. Thankfully it’s all flat around here so it could still feel fast without tiring me out. The weather was unbeatable, the company was awesome, and the route was great. I take that as a reinforcement that my training has been helping, being able to follow up a massive race with a comfortable 2 hour ride makes me confident that if I keep this up, the Scott won’t be too unbearable!
Looking forward to the next race, but first, my 30th birthday, which will be a crazy amount of mountain biking, and great company with loved ones! Woohoo!
Blog Leonie Doyle #mygoalrox - build phaseMarch 10 2015, 0 Comments
In my previous blog I mentioned that Jan/Feb would be my ‘off season’. The previous few months of gruelling training for the Mt Bogong event were over. I was more than ready to take a back seat to my partner’s peak training period for his March marathon. Yay for playing second fiddle!
More than anything, I was looking forward to training being fun - playing around, doing fewer Ks and just enjoying the scenery. I succeeded in that, and it has been great. Talking to kangaroos, staring at sunrises, running barefoot on the beach, taking photographs: taking my time. Everybody should have an off season at least once a year: rest, renew and re-imagine.
At the same time my plan was to gradually begin to build up the Ks on the bike. Almost all of my cycling is done solo, but I started riding hill reps with friends once a week, which has been about as enjoyable as it is possible for hill reps to be. The thing about training partners is: you pretty much have to show up.
I took the final week of school holidays off work and did some fun things with the kids. Then, just like that, the 2015 school year began and our family threw itself back into our crazy schedule. And for various reasons, it made sense for me to ride to work four days a week instead of two. I’ve been playing around with different commutes and throwing in some extra distance here and there. Less running means I’ve had more time and energy for riding.
The result of all this is that, without trying too hard, I’ve doubled my longstanding average weekly Ks and tripled the climbing. So that’s great. I’m pretty much exactly where I wanted to be at this point.
Unintended consequence of the @Roxcycl role? My 8-year-old has been asking me to take him cycling lately. So I have been fitting those rides in (at 8yo pace) as well. It’s actually become a nice thing that we do together. I haven’t given him a gel yet but I do take snakes if we do more than a few kilometres ;)
Doing more than one sport is a balancing act but it works for me. I feel that cycling and running can be complementary, that cycling builds a stronger runner and running builds a fitter cyclist. Apart from that, being able to swap is beneficial in terms of variety, flexibility and body mechanics. So an average week for me now is 3 or 4 rides, 2 or 3 runs and 1 weight training session in the gym. I’m pretty proud that I can sort of see my quads!
Having said that, I never did vast amounts of kilometres when I was running, and I won’t now that I’m cycling. My schedule doesn’t allow for it, and my mind and body sure as hell won’t stand for it. So for me it’s about doing enough while fitting all the other pieces of the puzzle in. The big event needs to be a stretch, in either distance or time or effort, rather than something I do every week.
Speaking of every week, here’s a snapshot of the last six months of Garmin data. That big pink spike is a 10 day holiday in Queensland with a pair of running shoes and no bike. But over the last three months, cycling is trending up: tick!
Next blog: Assuming all goes to plan, a report on Amy’s Ride Canberra. Good training for a great cause! Opting for the middle distance (not ready to go 3-figures yet). And a couple of other things I’m privately pondering – stay tuned!
BLOG: Alanna Rados on breaking out of her bubble.March 02 2015, 0 Comments
Our #mygoalrox ambassador Alanna liked her own little bubble. But cycling has introduced her up to a world of new possibilities, including road riding, mountain biking and even the occasional penny farthing ride. We guess she's kind of hooked. When was the last time you tried something for the first time?
Carefully closing the large book that had been keeping me occupied for the last half an hour I looked around to see if anyone had arrived. Not that I knew who I was looking for. No, no-one. Full of nervous energy I placed my latest read in my old gym backpack and waited. I was sure I had everything I needed, water bottles, my good gym clothes, helmet and a flat bar road bike. Surely there was nothing more to it?
As the starting time got closer, there was still nobody in sight, maybe I had gotten the day or the time wrong? Then, just as I had convince myself that perhaps this wasn’t one of my best plans people started riding over to the little bus shelter in the park.
“Bike North?” I remember asking one person, and was greeted with a smiling nod. “Sure is” they replied… and that was the beginning. My first social club ride. I could bore you with every small detail, etched in my mind like so many other terrifying experiences. But I wont, all you need to know is that I carried half a days worth of supplies in my backpack, wore the wrong everything and had no concept of how to fix anything. And I was terrified.
That’s generally my reaction to trying anything new. I like the safety of my own little bubble. Sadly though you cannot get ahead in cycling and maintain said little bubble. Which 90% of the time is a good thing. I’ve come a long way from that first ride, I’ve gone up grades, brought new bikes and pushed myself harder than I thought possible.
Plus I’ve met countless new people, fallen off a few times and become a pro at changing flats. The one thing I have never done though is race or join a racing club. For the last 3 or 4 years I’ve ridden with a Bicycle Users Group (Bike North) but I’ve never really known where to go from there.
Seeing established racing packs zoom past on the weekend has always been so daunting. They all seem to know what they’re doing where they’re going all whilst maintaining a cracking pace. Just the thought of trying to keep up has left me short of breath in the past! But enough is enough, how will I ever become a better rider if I don’t give something new a go? Plus, perhaps I can prove to myself and you, that trying something new doesn’t always have to be scary.
Over the next year I’m here to share with you what it’s like not knowing much but willing to give it a go. I have some pretty big goals, including riding in the Tour of New Zealand and all the training involved with that. I also want to give club riding a go and maybe a race or two, best of all, I’ll be reporting back and letting you know what I have learnt. So here’s to a year of putting the bike first and giving it a go!
You can follow my progress here, on instagram (@fixiefarthing), twitter (@fixiefarthing) or on strava: https://www.strava.com/athletes/1052965?utm_source=top-nav
Eliza: Not Afraid Of FailingJanuary 29 2015, 1 Comment
Becoming an ambassador for Roxcycl has been an incredibly empowering experience for me.
I feel so much confidence to try new races, to commit to the training, and my only guess as to why that is, is the people I have supporting me.
Surprisingly, that isn't just the wonderful people at Roxcycl. My friends, my family, my fellow ambassadors, people I meet at the gym, professional cyclists I've approached, all have met my questions and doubts with incredible enthusiasm and support.
"I wish it hadn't taken an ambassador program to get me to realise that, that I am capable, but I am also so thankful that I really believe it," Eliza.
I have so many people believing in me that for a change, I really believe in me. I know we all hear that we must believe in ourselves, and I have said it to others many times. I feel it’s true, we should, but I also feel that often it can be hard. I wish it hadn't taken an ambassador program to get me to realise that, that I am capable, but I am also so thankful that I really believe it. I’m hoping that I can utilise this support and reach out to others, to share my experience and encourage them to get out there and challenge themselves, because I believe in them too.
It's now 8 months until my #mygoalrox event. That's a long time to plan, to trial out different strategies, to hopefully be performing at my absolute best for the Scott 6+6.
I lost my weight, 60kgs, by myself. I didn't have a trainer, I didn't follow a special diet, or ask for help from anyone. I was naive and a little bit silly about my approach, thinking that I couldn't ask for help. Well, not this time!
I have a great support network at my local gym already, and have enlisted the help of a personal trainer to help me shape a weight lifting program that will not detract from the cycling and be prepared to alter it dependent on my feedback.
I have also met wonderful people in the cycling community over the last couple of years, and have been picking their brains and asking for advice on how to structure my program and what kinds of tips and tricks they have come across in their careers. I feel so lucky, I have planned almost 4 months of my training program, completed the first month of it with a few changes and lessons already, and feel that I am in a great position with fantastic support to keep learning and shaping and progressing.
I have more in mind than simply competing in the Scott 6+6. My general goals for 2015 are;
- to increase my general fitness - I think everyone wants that in some form.
- to encourage and inspire women who see themselves as "just average" to get out there and try something - we are all more than just average and can achieve anything that we back ourselves to achieve.
- to turn 30! Not really a goal, but an exciting event nonetheless.
- to not be afraid of failing - too many times I have quit something before I started because I was afraid of failing and of somehow being judged for it.
- to revel in the journey - I want the biggest part of my goal to be the people I meet on the way, the skills I learn, the training process, the fitness I gain.
So no more fear, time to believe in myself, time to back myself, time to approach with tenacity the biggest fitness challenge I have undertaken, and to focus on every step of the journey. You with me?
Follow Eliza and her journey on instagram too!
#mygoalrox Ambassador Leonie Doyle shares her disappointmentJanuary 22 2015, 0 Comments
A few weekends ago one of our #mygoalrox ambassadors, Leonie was met with the news that an event she had been building towards for months had been cancelled. The Bogong to Hotham running race had actually been a goal for Leonie for more than a year so one can understand her disappointment when poor weather conditions lead to the cancellation of the event.
Setbacks are a part of life and it's how you deal with and move past these setbacks that help you grow, not only as an athlete but as a person. Despite her disappointment, Leonie is already looking ahead to her next goal. Yes, she's pretty incredible. That's why she is one of our three amazing ambassadors.
She wrote a blog about her disappointment and what she plans to do now to help other women who might encounter similar 'speed bumps' when working towards their goals.
It was a mixed weekend for me, with the cancellation of Bogong to Hotham 36 hours before the gun, in the face of dire weather forecasts. It’s a largely unmarked course in a high and remote alpine area including a river crossing, posing an unacceptable risk to competitors and volunteers. This running race is so prone to natural disasters that it has only been completed once in the past four years. It has been cancelled twice (in 2013 due to bushfires, in 2015 due to rain) and in 2012 brought to a halt half way in blizzard-like conditions. It would be funny if it wasn’t so cursed.
B2H was my goal event for summer. I entered back in August, which gave me four solid months of preparation, but the seed was planted a year ago at the 2014 event, so it was a reeeeaally long journey for me. I trained so hard, and I wanted so badly to beat 6 hours (for the 35km to Langford Gap near Falls Creek) and now…well I’ll never know. But I believe that I would have. I really do!
So how to train for this beast? While I had a solid base of fitness, I focused the four months from September-December on increasing mileage but especially elevation; there is a massive amount of climbing in the first half of the race and leg strength and endurance was the key to moving efficiently over this terrain. Apart from running and cycling I threw some weight training into the mix. In December I climbed 11,500 metres, most of it on foot, the rest on the bike, and then started to ease off.
When (on the Hume Highway half way to our race base in Bright) I read the event was cancelled I was gutted. It wasn’t a surprise since the weather had been deteriorating that final week and the race director issuing increasingly pessimistic updates. But when the axe finally fell I was crushed by the finality of my race being over before it begun. As we drove past a cloud-ringed Mt Bogong I took a photo and captioned it ‘Not enough breath in me for all the sighs.’ It was true.
The weather that killed the race.
Thankfully, there was already an informal series of mountain runs happening in the same area on the same weekend, so (with a heavy heart) I quickly shifted my attention to those. The company of so many other B2H castaways turned this lost opportunity into a found one; a makeshift training camp. Many thanks to the Buffalo Stampede crowd for helping that magic happen. I can now add running up and down Mt Buffalo to my resume!
There’s always a Plan B. At the top of the Big Walk on Mt Buffalo.
So what now? B2H was always a cliff point for me. I don’t mean to be overly dramatic – let’s keep some perspective here – but it was the end of a several-month build and the start of a new phase. Race or no race, for me the next few weeks were always going to be about taking some rest and recovery, training how and when I want to, and hopefully working out a couple of injuries I have been carrying. (About a week before Christmas I had a stack on Mt Taylor and my knee is still busted.) For the next little while my training is taking a back seat to my partner’s, whose favourite race is the Six Foot Track Marathon in March. I love crewing for people and sports photography, so I’m looking forward to being there.
After that it’s full steam ahead again! There’s a list of events on our fridge with my name on some of them. I’m already looking forward to enjoying my running, extending my cycling, continuing weight training and fueling all of it with good food and a houseful of love :)