Mid Month Madness

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Melbourne is having a bit of a heatwave and I'm enjoying having endless days and nights to ride my bike. A new training plan is in action and it's mixed up my usual weeks and usual rides.

Wednesday was another hot day, and my legs were toasted after a hard Tuesday training session... so an easy spin was looking good. A late meeting at work and my easy spin turned into a dark dash on the path back to Richmond to meet up with the ladies for a gossip and spin in the warm night (followed by dinner out on Bridge Rd). One unlucky commuter cyclist had come off badly in what looked like a head on collision on the floating path. I can only assume this happens more frequently than we think based on the number of near misses I've had along these paths.

Up before dawn on Thursday, it was so nice and cool! I haven't been getting up super early over summer to train so it was a rude awakening to the system to be moving when I'm normally sleeping. Though I have to admit it wasn't the heat making me sleep lightly, I was excited about going mountain biking!!! It didn't really occur to me that it would still be dark at 6am - a timely reminder that daylight savings is just around the corner and not many reasons to stay out late training when you can't see anymore.
It's still night time. Let's go back to bed!

Its DAWN - I can see the light!

A few things about mtb that I have gathered so far. It takes longer than you think to get somewhere. Trails are either scarier or easier in the dark (never the same as the day).

I was late to the start point and glad I had a guide in Claire Homsey to find where the trails started and went. All the small little goat tracks I had never noticed before riding on the paths lead to cool out of the way trails that dart around trees and flow along the river. There were a crazy number of spider webs covering the paths and as trail-breakers we were the ones that copped it the worst. More than once I stopped to wipe my face, arms, legs from trailing silk (and hopefully NO SPIDERS!).

Next minute we had covered the route and were back in Kew and ready to try find our way back to coffee and civilisation in time for work. I remembered a vague conversation I'd had with Lisa Jacobs at the Cycling Victoria Awards night about local beginner trails. I think I got it all mixed up because somehow I was on a rocky goat track with a sheer drop into the Yarra River.

Claire and I pushed on, past a mini snake baking on the hot trail rocks and ended up with the bats and back at home! If you have never seen the fruit bat colony that used to live in the Botanical Gardens, they are now living on the Kew Boulevard and there is a lovely park with BBQ facilities you can enjoy. A little bit of country and nature right in the city :D

I have been trying to find some discipline in stretching and scheduled in a lunch time Yoga class to help me out. This week we were moved from the usual room to "the dome" which was used as a gallery space. The vaulted ceiling and artwork was definitely mind expanding and worth a panorama shot.

That night after work I met up with my mate Deb and we had a granita at Pellegrino's and attended the  Liv/Giant International Women's Day Celebration.

It was inspiring to hear the great stories of the ladies presenting, catch up and share race stories and see the 2013 bikes. 
Carol Cooke's Gold Medal from 2012 Paralympics
Liv/Giant have a feature mountain bike ride on Saturday, 16th March and a regular Saturday morning ride in Melbourne that you can find out more details on their Facebook Page.

Friday was another consecutive hot day. I had completed a indoor workout and headed straight out for a cool down ride to get some real evening breeze. Before I knew it I had run out of water and it was still another 30mins home in the heat. The 3 petrol stations I rode past did not have a tap outside to refill, then an oasis by the beach!

Lovely fast filtered water!

Saturday Shane and I ventured out to Mt Donna Buang. We did a flat loop before heading up the hill and it was lovely and cool 22°C climbing.

Flat loop in the cool.
Donna and I have had a long history.

When I got my first road bike I came out with Shane and I wanted to "ride some hills". We got to the 2nd lookout over the Yarra Valley when the weather turned sour and had by first experience of "DESCENDING". I made it down with some tips on cornering but was literally traumatised and had nightmares that night of crashing and falling off my bike.

I've come up with Jonathan Lovelock and Shane on horrible rainy conditions where in the time it took for me to do one ascent, Jono had done it twice and Shane had enough time to descend, get changed and drive up to pick me up at the top. It was beautiful watching the lyre birds pop out and dance on the road, but nothing beat getting to the top.

I've driven out for the Hawthorn Cycling Club's double Donna days where I climbed, descended and driven Andrew McGrath back down the hill while his collar bone was still mending (he could climb ok!).

We met Justin Wornes there one crazy day when I was chasing times and climbs and he ascended and descended on a fixed gear bike and one front break!

One night when it was  40°C in Melbourne Shane and I drove to the top of Donna on dusk. Dropping down it was lovely zooming down the face of the mountain in the cooler evening air. At the bottom we turned on our lights just as it started to get dark and climbed into the darkness at the top. A magical mountain.

Last year Shane and I drove in the sunshine to SA for their state Masters TT champs, won each of our categories, drove back the next day to Vic and climbed Donna for the Vic TT series on a very wet rainy day. Needless to say it was not our best performance, but it was another memorable Donna moment.

On the weekend I saw a few cyclists that I knew out there training for Mt Buller next weekend. I've started the road race for the last 2 years and each time it has been - EPIC. This time I will only be doing the Criterium but will support my team mates at Kosdown Performance Cycling.

It's been since late November that I was last at St Kilda Crits. I was surprised that racing and holidays and family and work had gotten so busy that I have not had a full weekend at home with all the racing, wedding, work and craziness going on!

Another hot day planned by the weather gods and I was glad to roll out early for an 8am start. I met Manuela on the road out to Port Melbourne by chance and started chatting the rest of the way out there.
It was the final of another series and Jenny Macpherson had already cleaned up the points so all that was on offer was placings for the day - if you could beat her to the line for them.

Working hard to hang on.  Photo:Rich Longmire.
A few rolling laps to reacquaint myself with the corners and it was time to start. We had a neutral first lap and it was the first time since I've raced there where that was honoured. Then the attacks, counter attacks, stop-start madness begun. The speed was a little slower than I was expecting from the other crits I had done previously, but that was made up for by the sharpness of the attacks. A good percentage I was able to respond to, but there were definitely some that left me scrambling and sliding backward down the pack. I never felt "fit enough" racing against these ladies - some of the best in the state rock up to this weekly crit and you never know how it will play out.
My 1 Attack! Photo:Rich Longmire.

This time no break aways could escape so it was all together for the final sprint. Things were a bit twitchy with one chick almost getting her front wheel taken completely out. I was 1 rider back from the mid-race incident and was certain that I was going to run into the back of a pileup when the chick wrenched her front wheel back on course and chased down the rest of the bunch breaking away.
The final corner I was too far back in the bunch, there was some touching of wheels and I backed off. Everyone stayed upright but at the end of the sprint I think I came in 10th and the winners would have already been around the corner off the course!

It was good to be back racing, but another reminder to keep training - hard.
Post race Kew Boulie Laps - who's idea was that?! ouch.

The long weekend has given me an opportunity to do a few extra jobs around the bike room. New tyres on the new rims, new bottle cages on the race bike, TT bike converted back to its awesome form and ready to roll.

Today I also met up with Karen Hill and she showed me the mtb trails near Westerfolds Park and gave me some much needed tips. This was the first time I've come so close to a whole mob of kangaroos as we started for the day. I felt a bit intimidated and rude waking them up from their morning graze and stirring them out from between the trees.

So hot and humid - sunnies not needed!
It was another beautiful morning where it was so nice to get started before the traffic and madness in the heat of the day. We left the paved paths and headed straight for the single track.

Rider out enjoying the paved paths.
We did two laps that were only 5km each and it took over 40mins a lap. The Mont24 mtb race is approximately 20km a lap and probably more technical. I still have a lot more practice to go. The great thing was to follow the line of someone experienced and to get some feedback on my position (not good on the small bike) and tight cornering (it got better as the day went on).

Karen my instructor for the day - Thanks!!
I am so grateful for the assistance and guidance that everyone has given me in regards to this challenge. For me it is a massive personal challenge that extends not only my bike handing skills, ability to read terrain, fear of crashing, but my princess attitude to camping. It is going to be a Maaaasive adventure.

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