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Entries For: October 2007


Trying to make sense of my heart rate

My heart rate monitor nearly gave me a heart attack

I just downloaded my HRM file from the weekend's racing and riding and according to my Polar 725x my heart rate peaked during one of Saturday's races at 197bpm! Up until then I had considered my maximum heart rate to be 191 although I didn't see it often. And according to the ballpark formula of 220-your_age my maximum should be 177bpm. So I have some questions...

  1. Am I about to die?
  2. Am I a freak?
  3. Am I super fit for a 43 year old?
  4. Are heart rate monitors a complete waste of time and money?
  5. Does anyone really care what time it is?

I suspect the answer to all the above is a loud "NO" but I'm wondering if anyone has a heart that makes sense?

Dino (I told you I was sick but no...) Apolito


A long weekend comes to a close...

Sometimes coming to work is a chance to rest!

A big week of cycling in Melbourne came to a close with a stinking hot Sunday that ended a particularly tiring weekend for me.

Why is it that when you have to get up real early you never sleep well the night before? Tossed and turned all Friday night before the alarm went off at 5.15am and I got out of bed already tired. Emily needed to be in the Alexandra Gardens by around 7am for the State final of the Vic. Schools Championships so the stress levels in the Apolito household were very high very early on Saturday!

It was a brilliant morning and a great experience for the kids. They got to race on the same circuit as the pros in the Herald-Sun tour complete with barricades, road closures, finish line marque, "professional" commentary and even a motor-bike escort with spare Zipp wheels. I joked to Emily she should feign a puncture so she could get a ride on one of those Zipp wheels!

She was VERY nervous and the course was quite technical with a hot-dog turn, short sharp climb and a tricky descent with a sharp right hander at the bottom of it. She did very well finishing midfield in about 10th place. Most of the girls ahead of her were from country Victoria and were very strong. (They probably all ride their bikes to school and have lots of quiet roads to train on!)

Emily's was the first race on the program and we stayed on to watch the fellow aboc'ers Will and Bridgette Thomas along with several more Blackburn juniors. It was a disappointing end however as Bridgette had a crash at the hot-dog bend. At the time she was leading.

We got back home around mid-day and it took a bit of coaxing to get Emily to back up for the BBN track meet. But to her credit she did so and rode very well, winning the progressive points score and placing in the other two races.

As for my races, let me just say that sometimes just finishing a race without incident is a good result! Yes, that's right- no crashes this week.  Only three of us in B grade and both Carl and I were blitzed by a young guy whose measure we had last summer. That's the problem with juniors - they make quantum improvements while us old blokes can only hope to make small gains or just hold on to what we've got. It did make me realise how much condition I've lost. Apart from the Trek match sprints these were my first races in about 3 months and I was gasping for air.

Presentation night on Saturday was good although we were all a little tired and could have done with an early rather than a late night. Then Sunday morning I left home at around 8.30am and did about 80km at a very slow E1 pace. I had intended to ride to Glenvale to watch Mick and Carl in the crits but I started from home too late and at the pace I was riding I never made it in time. What a stinking hot day and riding home into the head wind was bad!

In bed by 8.30pm last night and Monday is a quiet day at work - thank God!


OK, now I'm getting annoyed

Another race, another crash. When will my luck turn?

Three crashes in the last 5 track meets. It's starting to piss me off. None of them were my fault and there was nothing I could do. I'll miss another week of training and possibly one or two weekends of racing. Oh and I'll need yet another helmet.

I'd enjoyed the match sprints the week before and was looking forward to a full season of club races. That lasted 10 laps. A touch of wheels in front of me a rider down and I have nowhere to go but straight into him and flying over the handle bars.

Please don't tell me I was lucky I didn't break my ribs again or do a collarbone or it could have been worse. I've got a right to be annoyed and I'm claiming it.


Race Report

Filed Under:

A belated review of Sunday's Match Sprints

I didn't know quite what to expect on Sunday. For starters I was quite nervous about the day itself, not knowing how it would go, who would show up and how I would ride.

As one of the helpers my job was to prepare all the printed material. Most of that was pre-done but I was stressing about the little database program I'd written. We were only using it as a means to printing a neat draw for everyone but we only had a small amount of time to do the draw and get it printed once all the Flying 200's were done. In the end it went OK but there is still room for improvement.

Because I was needed at the data entry table I did my Flying 200 early. It was tough to make a quick clean transition from helper to racer and with very little warm up I did 14.72 seconds. Last summer I was under 14 seconds quite easily but a couple of weeks ago I was above 15 seconds so I wasn't too disappointed. I can improve on that time through the months ahead.

It was very disappointing to see Nathan have to withdraw with a back injury. Our times were very close and I was looking forward to racing him. Nathan is a natural sprinter and had worked very hard through the winter for this series. I hope he's back racing soon.

Because my fitness was suspect my overall plan for the day was to control the races as much as I could, keeping them at my pace, then jumping with the hope of opening a gap. I didn't want a long sprint and I didn't want a long drag race. At the same time I wanted the pace to be high enough so that I didn't have a lot of inertia to overcome in the kick. It was going to be tricky to balance all those.

My first race was against Leah Patterson. Leah and I had some ding dong battles in C grade last summer at Blackburn's regular track racing. Leah is strong and smart and has some experience at match sprints. I'd seen her training at DISC a few weeks ago and she looked good. I won the toss and elected to lead and by and large kept the race under control for the first lap and a half. Leah jumped from behind coming into the home straight with a lap and a bit to go. I didn't want a long sprint shoulder to shoulder from this far out so I let her get in front of me with the intention of sucking her wheel. But she kicked again and opened a good gap. For a moment I thought I was gone but dug deep and caught her wheel at the end of the back straight then proceeded to come around her outside. She drifted up a little as we hit the home straight but it worried the judges more than me and I went past her for a close win. It was a close thing and I had to really go deep into the red to catch and overtake Leah. I suddenly felt very tired and was worried about the other races.

I won the toss again for the second race against Maria. I didn't know much about Maria but had watched Rob Monteath beat her in the first round so I thought I would again lead and control things making making sure she didn't surprise me as Leah did. The plan went well and I feigned taking her up the bank with less than a lap to go before diving down, getting a gap and holding it for a win. Two out of two but would my energy hold out?

I watched Rob very impressively beat Leah in his second race with a long (approximately 400 metre) sprint. This had me worried. Rob's fitness was superior to mine. He would be able to drive for longer. If he went for home from a long way out I would have to just try to hang on to his wheel and sprint past at the end. But his gearing was quite a bit bigger than mine 91.8 versus 88.2 so I really wanted to avoid having to spin like crazy for such a long time just to hang on. So the plan was once again to take control and go for a short sprint with maximum acceleration.

Again I won the toss and again I decided to lead. The heat was in effect a dead rubber as we were both already into the final but there was a psychological advantage to be gained as well as aggregate points to consider. I pretty much tried the same thing I did with Maria, jumping at the same point. Coming into the home straight, the sun was behind me and I could only see one shadow - mine. So I thought I was clear but looked around just to make sure. And there was Rob charging at me. I tried to kick again but I was gone and Rob caught me on the line. Bugger. That's one that got away but full credit to Rob.

The final came around quicker than I would like. I was still licking my mental and physical wounds but I was determined to turn the tables on Rob for beating me in the heat. My plan was to keep to my plan. That is, take control and keep control and then execute the finish better than before. But this time I lost the toss. I was afraid Rob would lead and drag me around for a long sprint but alas he elected to follow. I tried to keep the pace down because I wanted to keep everything for one explosive burst at the end. But Rob would speed things up and since I didn't want him to take the lead I was forced to speed up also. A couple of time I considered jumping from the front when he fell back a little but he still had the height advantage and it was a long way from home so I decided against it. I was getting nervous and  gave Rob opportunity to dive under me but luckily he didn't take it.

As we went past the bell Rob was still above me. I thought if I went now, before the bank it would mean he would either have to contend with the slope or come down behind me. Either way it was a chance for me to get a gap. So I hit the pedals hard. Stuff the ribs, I was out of the saddle sprinting with every fibre in my being. I only sat back down after the 200 metre mark and just continued to drive with everything I had. There was a chance I'd blow up before the finish but I wanted to make sure I had as big a gap as possible. There was no point keeping something in reserve for a second kick, I was putting all my cards on the table now! (OK, no more cliche's)

I knew I was going fast and it was an effort to control the bike in the bend and keep in the sprinters lane. Straightening up for the line I didn't know where Rob was so I just buried myself and went over the line for the win. Totally exhausted but elated.

And so ended a great day. Everyone - competitors, helpers and spectators had a ball and we're all keen to do it again in November.

If you've done any sort of track racing before you are going to love this stuff. Thanks Carl for the vision and determination to make this happen.


Completing the comeback

The match sprints exceeded all my expectations

Seven weeks ago when I was lying on my back at DISC with smashed ribs had you said to me I would be racing again within two months I would have politely thanked you for the encouragement and asked you to let me die in peace.

And in the couple of weeks following that crash I had some doubts about returning to track racing at all. So it was against this background of potential doom and gloom that I approached Sunday's match sprints in the inaugural Trek Summer Sprint Series. No matter what the result, good or bad, I would be happy - happy just to be amongst the thick of it again.

Winning three of the four heats and then winning the B grade final exceeded all expectations. I had returned to training a couple of weeks earlier but I was untested in the heat of battle. The longest ride I'd done was about 40k. I had done some sprints with Carl and some intervals on the wind trainer but my fitness was down. I still had a pretty good sprint and my kick was not bad but I lacked strength and stamina. I would need to use a smaller gear because I had lost some leg strength and I still had sufficient stiffness and soreness in the ribs and back to prevent me pulling on the handle bars.

So as I left home I told Emily not to be surprised if I lost all my races. By the end of the day I was kicking myself for not winning them all!

Setbacks, both minor and major, can be turned into a very positive experience. They give you a chance to put things in perspective, sit back and reflect. And as you recover and get back on your bike you appreciate every little step you take and you realise just how much fun and how therapeutic riding can be.



The pure joy of cycling

Sometimes watching someone else have fun can be better than doing it yourself - especially if that someone is your daughter!

Earlier in the week I met Carl, John Lewis and Pat Dougherty at the BBN velodrome for some sprint training behind the motor bike. And because it was school holidays and her plans for the day fell through I brought Emily along as well.  I wasn't sure how much riding she'd fit in, she's not strong enough to mix it with the big boys and is still very much a novice on the track.

The plan was for Emily to jump on the track while us old farts rested between our flying 200's and Carl and Pat swapped rolls from cyclist to motor bike rider. This she did although it was obviously pretty boring for the kid to ride along on her own on a windy day.  So Carl decide to give her a turn chasing the motor bike. We were a bit apprehensive because she'd never been motor paced before but I felt she would be OK as she is naturally wheel shy so I didn't think she'd get too close to the motor bike.

Not true! Within a few laps Carl had her within inches of the motor bike and she was comfortably sitting on at 35kph (I think. Carl?) lap after lap. It was a pure joy to see the huge smile on her face as she chased the motor bike. Then at the bell lap Carl revved it up to 40kph (?) and she still sprinted past to easily take the win!

We thought that would have cooked her but Carl, forever the hard task master, had her straight back on his wheel and she did it all over again. The rest of us were shaking our heads in disbelief because....

1. Carl never sits that close to the motor bike himself but was telling Emily to get "within 15 cm" !!!

2. I can't get her to train that hard!

3. You're not supposed to have a big smile on your face when your being motor paced

She finished that effort feeling very proud of herself and promptly did it all over again with Pat a little while later

Emily sure has got a sprint in her for an 11 year old. Walking up hill to school will do that to your legs!

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