Week 1: Pit Crew

This blog update is brought to you in a prompt manner this week for two reasons. The first is that the latter part of the week will invariably be taken up with packing. I've never carted enough stuff to race for 24 hours overseas before. BC Bike Race was all wrapped up in 20 hours over seven days. Different racing but still puts it into perspective. I'm sure I'll be the source of much interest from onlookers at the airport. Small woman with large baggage. My favourite answer to the inevitable, "What's in that bag?" question that travelling with a bike bag seems to encourage is, "Shoes". The second reason, is that I have less training on the horizon for the next fortnight. Finally, all the hardwork is done. For this chapter of the book anyway. It's a nice feeling. And gives me time to schedule a performance enhancing haircut. Nothing too radical or ultra weight saving.

Racing in Canberra is gonna be a whole heap of fun. Not least because of the sunshine (there had better be sunshine, Australia) but also the fabulous people I'll get to share the experience with.

Nelson sunshine - more of this in Aussie please!

Twenty-four hour racing is definitely not a one man band affair. Everyone needs a pit crew. I'm stoked to have these guys on mine!

Lisa "Cowbell Coach" Morgan

Strength: Making people ride their bikes faster than they thought they could.
Weakness: Chocolate and red wine. More of an addiction than a weakness.
Cowbell Coach riding Hammerhead in the 2008 World Cup

The mastermind behind all things performance and data analysis related. This will be her second time round crewing at a 24 Hour race in Canberra and this time she's coached three riders for the event. She's even experienced her own time in the hurt box at Stromlo racing in the 2008 World Cup to a top 20 finish. Best known for racing cyclocross in cowprint gumboots. The girl that got me back on an elite startline, at the pointy end of races and increased my red wine and chocolate consumption exponentially. She brings order out of chaos. And Monkey Lights to the team.

Ricky "Slackboy" Pincott

Strength: Degree in Bodgability. Ain't nothing he can't fix.
Weakness: Pies and beer. More of a basic necessity than a weakness.
Slackboy at Mount Vic

Maestro of the spanner (and other bicycle tools). Best known for building awesome trails and riding all sorts of bicycles including a fixie at cross races. He rode Karapoti in high heels once too. The genius behind my custom built race bike last year and the man who fixed my middle finger braking habit and made me more rad on my bike (mainly by means of optimised bike set-up coupled with merciless banter). He brings manliness to the team.

Emily "Powergirl" Miazga

Strength: Mastery of cookie creation.
Weakness: None. Powergirl has no weaknesses, silly billy.
Powergirl smokin' it at Coast to Coast
Photo credit: Sportzhub

Last minute addition to the team is the kiwi based Canadian adventure racer. She's famous for being the Em bit of Em's Power Cookies and best known for yellow bikini antics at the Tour de France. With three Speight's Coast to Coast World Multisport Championships victories to her name, she knows what it takes to get through a long day at the office. She brings endless enthusiasm, delicious cookies and adds another funny accent to the team.

Big Ups

Huge thanks to all my sponsors and various people who have spurred me on. I feel privileged to have such amazing support. Many of you provide inspiration without even realising it, like Karapoti race organiser, Michael Jacques, who told me in 2011 that my race entry for the following year's event had better be for the elite category otherwise he wouldn't accept it. Getting back in the saddle has been a lot of fun.
Forget diamonds, ENVE wheels are a girl's best friend!
Mr Slackboy arrived with rad bike bling before the 2013 season kicked off

So, the next blog will be posted when I'm on the other side of the Tasman. There's even a live timing update thingy running during the event so I'll chuck links to all that sort of good stuff up. Good luck to all the kiwis competing... Megan Dimozantos, Erin Greene, Jude Young, Charlotte Ireland, Tim Collinson, Tim Farmer, Matt Andrew, Matt Lees, Thomas Lindup, Angus Petrie and Ryan Hunt (sorry if I missed anyone!). See you all there.

Week 2: Commandments

Spring is in the air. Rain is in the air too. The last three weeks have been reminiscent of springtime training in the motherland. It’s a good job I don’t shrink in the wash.

This week, the ten commandments of training randomly cropped up over coffee. Not heard of them? Me neither. Cafes provide many moments of clarity, not only that the combination of pumpkin, walnut and maple syrup in a muffin is seriously delicious. A quick rundown provided a great deal of insight, even if there was some uncertainty about whether the first commandment was “train moderately” or “train modestly”.

Train modestly probably should be added to the list. Heaven forbid flaunting inappropriately short shorts. Bibshorts are the answer to hide those Dagenham cleavages too, fellas. Never mind the transparent properties of white lycra when damp.  Thankfully, all lessons that I have not learned the hard way.

Life experience has taught me that I have a natural propensity to learn most things the hard way. That extends to how to get the most out of your training. Under my own guidance, I spent heaps of time training erratically. Mainly involving doing lots of what I love doing most - going uphill.* It gets you to a certain place (mainly hill roads), but not much further.
The last two years have been a bit different. Being coached invariably meant that a training plan to follow popped up in my inbox at regular intervals. With goals and stuff. And planned sessions that sometimes involved staying on the flat. Even sometimes doing sprints, reps, intervals and a variety of other uncomfortable experiences that can be had on a bicycle without even going anywhere near a climb. Weird.

At this point, I must confess that my ability to learn things the hard way is only outstripped by my determination to unwaveringly stick to a game plan. Aka stubbornness.  This came in handy when I thought my coach had lost the plot getting me to do sprints. Or ride on the flat.  I imagine it’s also going to come in handy in a couple of weeks when I challenge myself to racing round and round for 24 hours.

Reviewing the commandments made me realise that I have learned a lot and I’m now sticking to most of them without even knowing it. But I’m still a bit rubbish at the “realize that all plans can be changed - yours will not be chiseled into stone” bit. I’d say my plans are more etched in semi-permanent marker nowadays. It's all a learning curve and long races are good at teaching you some lessons in adaptability.

All that said, this week my own basic instinct got an opportunity to flourish. I got to tick off a ride I’ve fancied doing for ages. After all, it was in my training programme. Rimutakas, Akatawaras, Paekakariki, Haywards, Blue Mountains, Wallaceville and Moonshine. For the non-Wellingtonians, that’s a heap of awesome hill roads. All in one ride. With rain cos it’s springtime.

*I know that’s slightly strange. I can’t explain it to you. It’s just the way it is.

Week 3: Smiles & Chocolate

Riding bikes makes you smile. Sometimes, you riding bikes makes other people smile. My cool little niece is testament to that. This is my favourite pic of the week. Rad balance bike skills by Olivia aged 3.

Sometimes, you get to tell others stories about riding bikes which makes them smile. Just like my second outing of the year as a guest speaker, which I survived on Monday. Although a little more wiggle room on the day would have been nice, aiming to join the exclusive Sub 3 Hour Karapoti Club in 2012 and clocking 2:59:59 makes for a cool story. Thanks to the Rimutaka Lions for being such a welcoming audience.

Ride bikes. Share stories. Smile.

Short and sweet. Mainly because I have chocolate to eat. Sometimes, riding bikes lets you eat more chocolate too. :)

Week 4: Fine Tuning

After a week of stormy weather, I couldn't believe our luck for the tune up Cowbell Coach had planned this weekend. She masterminded a 13 kilometre route that replicated the Worlds course profile nicely, provided some of the rocky terrain we can expect Mt Stromlo to throw at us, and even arranged for Aussie sunshine to grace Karori all day long.

It wasn't just me benefiting from Lisa's enthusiasm this weekend. Cantabrian Angus Petrie popped up from down south, student Ryan Hunt rolled down from his digs, and singlespeeder Charlotte Ireland hopped across from Eastbourne. I really don't know how Charlotte does it on one gear. But she does, admirably. Between us we cranked out 28 laps, 364 kilometres and 12,250 metres of climbing. Charlotte's partner in crime, Tim Collinson joined us later in the day as well as Christchurch's hostess with the mostest, Michelle Peterson, who was visiting the capital city for the Trailfund NZ Conference. Both made their contribution to the "all in a day's work" kilometre count.

Frequent visits to the summit reminded me how lucky I am to live in Wellington. Makara Peak is a really great mountain biking location.* The views are spectacular and the trails are super sweet. I also had an hourly reminder of how lucky I am to have such awesome support. The week after a weekend spent crewing for a 12 hour race, Lisa gave up her opportunity to chill out on Saturday to provide us with a pit zone. Kat Sullivan rocked down from the Hutt to give her a much appreciated helping hand. Various friends who were out enjoying riding their bikes while soaking up the rays gave us big ups. Gus, Ryan and I all felt the love. It's not difficult to stay motivated to keep pedalling in those circumstances!

A wicked day on the bike was rounded off with an hors d'ouvre of some amazing smoked salmon (thanks Gus!). But before tucking in, on the way home we called in to watch the end of the evening's team cyclocross race that was being run as part Upper Hutt's Cycling Festival. I declined the offer to smash out a lap. It would have ended in tears (my own). We bumped into Alex "De Snor" Revell who was wearing a glorious white jersey adorned with a fern. Seeing him rocking a National Champion's jersey was the perfect end to the day. Talk about bringing a smile to a girl's face.

Fantastic mugshot from Winter 2012 by Craig Madsen

For me, racing is increasingly becoming not just about enjoying the events you compete in but the journey before and afterwards, which includes the journeys of others.

*Huge thanks to Makara Peak Supporters for letting us use the park all day long!

Week 5: Twelfth Hour

This should probably be renamed eleventh hour. Talk about getting the blog post in late. I'm determined in my quest to post something every week pre World 24 Hour Champs, so here we go.


An easier training week didn't seem to equate to more time to relax and find my inner zen (yes, I am getting my excuses in early). At least I can't complain about being bored. This weekend I ticked off my fifth twelve hour solo. Funny to think that the first time I completed one of these events, I asked the first person I saw when I crossed the line to never let me do that to myself again.* Yet, here I am blogging about racing another one.

It's amazing to see how the physiological stresses placed on a body allows it to become more finely honed at adapting to future similar stresses. It took me a long time to eat much of anything and an even longer time to get back on the bike after the Torq In Your Sleep event in 2009. Fast forward to yesterday's effort and demolishing cheesecake, hamburger and fries, bacon and eggs, hot chocolate, normal chocolate, chocolate chip cookies, Mexican stack, chicken biryani and a naan bread in less than 24 hours has been done with such ease that I also had time to do the ironing for the week and drink coffee. While my nutrition sponsor may be horrified by the news (did I mention my pre race pizza?) she was heartened by the beetroot, quinoa and almond salad I had for my lunch on Friday. I'm pretty sure those power foods and a diet coke cancel the rest out.

Before this turns into the Food Channel, I'd better cobble together a race report of some fashion.

This year's Day Night Thriller was held on a somewhat condensed course allowing everyone to get cosy on the 4.2 kilometre circuit. I tried my best to be an awesome role model and offer inspirational commentary to fellow racers along with the pleasantries of "Pardon me kind sir, but would you be so gentlemanly as to let a lady pass at the next most convenient opportunity?" in an appropriately polite British accent, but after sixty minutes or so was reduced to grunts of "On your right, fella".

The deceptively flat course provided 4,100m of climbing over the twelve hour proceedings including a nasty short sharp pinch which my quads liked more than my hamstrings. Accordingly, I resorted to out of the saddle grunting (yes, more grunting...this is a twelve hour race, grunting is mandatory) for the last eight hours. The  pit area was conveniently placed close to the sharp pinch so onlookers could share the experience.

There were several peeps there giving it a nudge before popping over the Tasman for the World 24 Hour Championships, including a very cool and very speedy man from Dunedin called Matt Lees. Not only did Matt make the whole thing look pretty easy, he even had time to chat with me for half a lap sometime after 8pm about how our races had gone. While we were still racing. On his way to clocking up 60 laps.

Mine had gone well. I only stopped moving forward from start to finish for two reasons. The first was a large guy riding into me sideways. The second was when I rode over a course marker peg. The guy behind me saw both incidents, which happened within ten minutes of each other, and commented on my temporary lack of good luck. Quite on the contrary, somehow I managed to ride over a pig tail course marker peg, which had had the tape long since ripped out of it, with such finesse that it spearheaded the lower part of the rear mech cage and was relatively easily removed (once I worked it out and stopped thinking, "Oh cr*p, this is not good") without any damage to any moving parts. Talk about lucky. Luckier would have been seeing the damn thing before riding over it. And the large guy avoiding me. But such is racing. Everything else was done on the fly while riding so I could spend more time riding, while keeping the fuel tank topped up so I could keep riding more. I think I'm starting to get the hang of this endurance racing game. Job done.

Young whippersnapper, Ryan Hunt, also gave a great demonstration of getting the job done. Despite a heavy collision at the end of lap one (so, in the first twelve minutes of racing), he rode on to finish second in the Open Mens. The resulting wardrobe malfunction inspired him to bring his own take on Moonride at Day Night Thriller, with plenty of on course feedback about the hole in his shorts as he passed riders. He waited until after the race had finished to consult a medical practitioner about the severity of his somewhat swollen right hand. Unfortunately, she was engrossed in cheesecake eating.

As well as Ryan, there were many other impressive efforts from team and solo riders. Too many to mention here. But big ups to everyone who took part.

Time to grab forty winks.

*I do realise that I left that bit out from last week's inspirational piece.