Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Give the Dog a Bone

That's the way, uh huh, uh huh, I like it!

OK - so I had a win! Always good to get a win under your belt and this time it was at the Brindabella Challenge Criterium, held on a hot, windy and exceptionally dry Canberra day.

The Brindabella Challenge is relatively new phenomenon, combining events across all cycling disciplines in the nation's capital city over a 10-day period. With backing from the local government and tourism body, it brings many cyclists into town for the great riding on offer. It also happens to be where my Mum lives, so all up it makes for a good weekend away - I get to visit my Mum and my brother's family (my nephew was also celebrating his 21st birthday so we had a dinner out), eat Mum's cooking and am able to train, relax and have a race too. Multiple birds struck down with one stone, how good is that?

Racing was at the brand spanking new Stromolo “Forest” crit circuit known as
“The Bone”.
See the picture above of the 1.25km circuit layout and you'll see why it's called “The Bone”. It is also dry as a bone (”drizabone” in Aussie slang) ever since the horrendous firestorms fanned by high winds hit the nation’s capital on Saturday 18 January 2003. The fires swept through Canberra's suburbs causing massive destruction. Large scale evacuations took place and a massive relief effort was put in place.

Four lives were lost in this catastrophic inferno and more than 500 homes were destroyed. My Mum lives nearby and fortunately her home was spared although many in the surrounding streets were not. Thousands of hectares of forest and park lands were also burnt out (including the Pinus Radiata forest that once covered Mt Stromolo) as well as destroying the famous optical telescope observatories on top on the hill. There is a memorial to those that died just a few hundred metres from the new race track.

So, back to the racing! It was pretty hot, at least 36+C (97+F) and quite probably more down on the tarmac. A strong westerly was blowing the dust amongst the riders. The track is really nice to ride on being lovely smooth new hotmix - mmmmmm - nice. Not all that technical though - I usually prefer technical. We rode in an anti-clockwise direction.

I didn't really know what to expect from the Open B grade bunch - the boys rolled gently off the line, no-one attacking from the gun, so after the first few corners I was on the front, put a bit of pressure on and got a small gap. No-one on my tail, so I got cranking and got away. A young bloke rode across to me and he lasted a lap before dropping back. The gap to the bunch was getting bigger so I kept driving. The bunch obviously thought I was mad and would never last in the conditions.

At about 12-13 min in I was starting to feel it a bit and noticed one other guy got away from the bunch and seemed to be making ground - he eventually got to me, which was great as then we worked together all the way to the finish, eventually putting about 40-50 seconds into the main field. It was sooo hot and the wind was wicked, which, while it meant hard work for us in front, it also meant the bunch were marking each other and not focussed on working together to close the gap. Happens so often.

Race organisers, sensibly, provided helpers to hand out extra bidons for the riders, which I gladly took advantage of, drinking some but also "doing a Floyd" and pouring it over my head/neck to aid cooling. It really works!
Since the two of us had some time up our sleeve, we could ease back a little on the last lap or so. I led up the rise into the final bend (at the top of "the bone") and rode it like a track sprint - hugging the best line and forcing my opponent to start the sprint wide, from behind and on the windiest side. He finally jumped, got in front by length of bike but I gradually wound him back and got my wheel in front with 10-15m to go.

Here's a shot of my race power file. I put in horizontal lines marking the average speed and power for reference.

My race power file.

So a nice win! I also set new peak, 5 & 10 second power PBs in the sprint - gotta be happy with that!.
Motivation is a wonderful thing in bike racing
(not to mention PB fitness levels & TSB at +12).

Scored some prize money, the 2006 Brindabella Challenge winner's jersey as well as some bonus bucks for being the 1st placed 40+ year old in an open field.

Race day stats:
CTL: 88
TSB: +12

Brindabella Crit:
Duration: _____39:33
TSS: __________66.4 (intensity factor 1.005)
Norm Power: ___306
VI: ____________1.06
Distance: ______25.691 km
Power: ______0___1583_____289 watts
Cadence: ___43____133______97 rpm
Speed: ______0____55.8_____39.0 kph


Tom said...

Awesome power in that sprint. Looks like an awesome route to race on.


Anonymous said...

Hi Alex,
Just a word to say how much I enjoyed reading your blog. Much useful information for the soon to be proud owner of a Powertap.
Thanks and keep writing.

Alex Simmons said...

Thanks guys
I'll keep adding to the blog. So much to write about and no editors.... ha! Am trying to track down a photo of the circuit. There were a few on cyclingnews.com here: