Thursday, 21 November 2013
Monday, 10 October 2011
Having a new baby changes everything, and I am quite content now to put my full-time training days behind me. She is sleeping through the night, sort of, and I can get out on my bike for a couple of hours if I express a bottle of breast milk and leave Scarlett with her Dad or her Nana. I'm now trying to claw back a bit of fitness, and am getting out on the bike a couple of times a week. I had a bit of a setback a couple of weeks ago, I ran headlong into a Pukeko (native swamp hen) that rushed out from the curb into the front wheel of my carbon Cannondale Synapse road bike at full speed down a country road. It pitched me over the bars and ripped all the spokes out of my Mavic Ksyrium. The bike is a write-off, but luckily I escaped with a sore head and some road rash. Once again, my helmet saved my life.
Andy has a number of projects, the biggest of which is the building of new MTB trails up at Pukeiti. This is a huge native forest reserve, and Andy has convinced the regional council that mountain biking is an ideal recreational use. He is now working with NPMTB club and a bunch of volunteers to cut in a DH run and an XC loop in time for MTB week from 19-27 November. This will be a huge coup for Taranaki if we can pull it off, as it will provide us the ideal platform to start building trails in neighbouring Egmont National Park. To find out more, check out Andy's Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/groups/EgmontMTBTrails
We'll have some pics and reports up from Pukeiti soon.
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Friday, 17 June 2011
Training for my latest adventure has involved more time off the bike than on. In many ways, being pregnant has a lot in common with being in training for mountain bike racing. Taking naps, watching my diet, avoiding alcohol and having plenty of quiet nights in has been no challenge at all for me. The process of gradually getting bigger, slower and clumsier has been harder to get to grips with. Now I'm finally past 37 weeks and into the final days, and I feel like I've been pregnant forever. Our baby girl has dropped into position is ready to join the world. This is our girl at 20 weeks.
I managed to keep mountain biking up to 27 weeks, until my bump got so big that my pedaling form went right out the window. Where my knees used to arc neatly over the top tube, they began to poke out at odd angles. By the time I could no longer see my top tube, I knew I had to call time on the cycling.
I've managed to keep my fitness up with plenty of walking and a bit of yoga. Of course I started out with all the best intentions of keeping up a full training agenda, but the tiredness that comes with pregnancy was something I hadn't counted on. All my good intentions of daily workouts quite often have resulted in a brisk walk followed by a nap. Now even a brisk walk is a chore, as baby has "dropped" and is sitting down low in my pelvis, making my joints creak every time I stand up.
I shouldn't complain. Everything about this pregnancy has been textbook so far, and I'm still working 8:30 - 5:00pm, and will be to the end of week 39. Andy and I are both quite excited now, and looking forward to meeting our little girl. Will she be rangy and strong like her Dad, or small and hardy like her Mum? Or something in between? The next few years will be a real adventure, but for sure she will be a cyclist of some sort!
More on our new family soon. It could be any day now!
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Sunday, 1 August 2010
During the drop off practice the group progressed from a small section of wooden Vancouver style boardwalk step up and drop off I made, to a 2 foot dirt drop off I built into the trail, to correctly dropping off a 2 foot wooden drop built in the trail directly into a steep 5-6 feet down hill landing, with their front wheel level with the real wheel when it leaves the lip. They also practiced pitching the bike in the air for flat and down hill landings.
Jenn worked hard evaluating climbing styles and techniques, running through the pros and cons of each method and on different terrain. There were questions about bike set up and bike types and how this effects chosen climbing and descending styles all great valid questions which we shed some light upon.
For myself it was a great coaching day, all the group learned a significant technique that they either thought they were doing correctly and were not or learned and completed a technique that they previously thought was way out of their comfort zone. The challenge now for me as a coach is to find more interesting methods of delivery to keep both the novice and the expert riders motivated to learn and progress.
A couple of video clips here of the drop off that the group progressed to and the step up/drop off I built
Saturday, 17 July 2010
We had a little time trial through 3 sweeping flat corners along the Kiwi trail as a bit of fun and to evaluate the before trainng and after training speed. My trackside maths is pants so I went through the times in detail after a shower and a brew and the results are as follows.
Graeme due to a technical hitch had to borrow a bike (Cheers Matt) so increased his time from 35 seconds to 36 seconds, but his position and cornering skills were good, I'll put the extra second on to unfamiliar hardwear.
Kathy managed to take a second off completing the trial in 43 seconds using good form with which to gradually add speed.
Wayne was our biggest improver clipping 7 seconds off his time to complete the final run in 34 seconds, well done Wayne (Think what you could do with riser bars)
Caitie also did very well knocking 4 seconds of her time to 43 seconds, noticing the speed gain when she got a corner right.
Carol matched Kathy in taking a second off but with a slightly faster second run time of 41 seconds, more practice will mean more confidence and more speed.
Jolene and Alun did not stay for the second session. Alun crashed on a drop in which left him battered and bruised and unable to complete the second half of the day. Both riders showed good learning and enthusiasm with Jolene showing a very quick grasp of body position and balance.
Sunday, 20 June 2010
Will there be adequate course marking?....Nope.
Will there be feed zones?....Nope.
Will there be accurate course maps?....Not a chance.
Will the organiser lie about the prize fund?....Absolutely
Will he make the race up each day and blame every one else but himself for the potentially dangerous incidents, such as lost riders, feed zones not being where they are supposed to be, no course sweep and the list goes on and on? Of course he will because the race is a con.
There are two other great races on in Canada at the same time The BC Bike race and the Test of Metal. Enter these races and you are guaranteed to ride some of the best trails in the world with some of the best race management you could hope for.
If you choose to ride the Intermontane Challenge you risk a very big disappointment both financially and emotionally. In the 25 years I have been travelling the world racing mountain bikes I have never seen such a shambles. And to add insult to injury the organiser, some idiot who claimed to be new to race organisation and expected us to put up with the disaster would not even return our emails requesting a refund after we pulled out after stage 3.
A quick recap of how bad it was
Course marking was so bad only about 2 percent of the field made it home without getting lost on day 1 rendering the race practically null and void on the first stage.
40 + degrees and only 1 feed zone over a marathon distance
The back markers were dropped and lost during the neutral start before they even reached the course proper.
The race organiser led the lead group the wrong way then neutralised the stage when riders who were lost on stage 1 were getting time back, there were riders literally crying at the track side.
The race got worse as it went on, a rider was hurt after a bad crash where there was no medical support and his team mates and competitors including Tinker Juarez had to go to get help. He also got lost and ended up getting a lift home in a truck.
On the final stage Tinker went fishing instead of racing.
If you have entered this bullshit excuse for a race I hope it has some better organisation and that you are not as disappointed as we were. If you are thinking about a last minute entry, please don’t. Do anything else in Canada, ride the trails of Whistler or take a trip to Squamish and pop in to the great Corsa Cycles where you can find out about the local group rides. Chuck Brennan the organiser although he comes across as a simple “I tried my best” type is a calculated con man and his actions in the race last year were dangerous and unlawful he should not have been given a second chance to run this event
Tuesday, 15 June 2010
An X ray a couple of years ago didn't show any problems, so I embarked on one of my epic training programmes. This was specifically designed for an XC skiing trip I was going on in Norway and the subsequent training routine was a hip and core, strength and stability focused plan which incorporated roller ski work around a local running track (where I did actually manage to tear most tendons in my wrist) along with a couple of hard circuit sessions each week which also helped with my hip stability.
What was noticeable during this time was that my hip pain vanished and my strength in the gym and power on the bike was huge. Now it doesn't take a genius to realise that strong core muscles and a good global fitness is essential for most sports. What was surprising this year at is the age of 38 and with a disrupted year due to our move, even riding on and off road for at least 10 hours during any week and the odd circuit session, how quickly my strength and condition reversed. It got to the point where my hip stability one again gave way to incorrect muscle firing patterns, muscle imbalance, muscle weakness and the dreaded hip pain.
I have given myself a full sports injury evaluation and had a few sessions with a physio to confirm my thoughts on the cause. After a couple of weeks getting back on top of the hip stability and core exercises I am well on the way to recovery, and now I live in a country where I can XC ski so a trip down to the South Island may be on the cards.
I managed to get out on the bike again last week and do some big rides at low intensity and my hip was fine. The picture below shows that winter has caught up with New Zealand and the Mountain is covered in snow and the ski field is open. Winter is very different here compared to Manchester, it pours down for the odd day or two then a high pressure will roll over and it’s like riding on a rare still early spring UK day. Except they come around every week and the temperature will hold around 10-15 degrees it’s just perfect for getting the miles in.
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Taranaki is one of the few places in the world with black sand beaches. The sand has a high iron content and is super fine and velvety soft. It gets really hot though.
We're also enjoying being part of the local MTB club, and took a women's skills day in the local forest, Mangamahoe, a couple of weeks ago. About 30 women turned up, which was a great turnout for a local event, and some of them were really keen and great riders. We spent the day working the trails at Mangamahoe, including some freshly dug switchbacks and berms, then had a barbeque in the middle of the forest with sausages paid for by Sport Taranaki. All good.
Sunday, 6 December 2009
I too have been staying off the bike as much as I can, running for an hour 2 times a week and have done some good gym sessions on the rower which I should have chosen as a sport instead of trying to compete against 65kg whippets in a power to weight critical sport. I always like doing power lifting exercises as they use my whole body and with a light weight I can do quite a few reps and get some high heart rates.