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Dino's Diary

My thoughts and experiences, from road to track, and back!


I got knocked down but I got up again (great line for a song)

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My first crash at speed

Until last Thursday nights racing at DISC I'd had four "crashes" in my cycling career. All were at low speed and didn't involve another bike or car. In fact "falling off" would be more accurate description than "crash". Nevertheless they had still resulted in a broken thumb, fractured elbow and, most recently, hairline fracture to the rib in the infamous slide involving Carl. But unlike many of you I'd never crashed in a race or with the bike moving forward with any sort of speed.

That all changed at the pointy end of the C grade motor pace on Thursday night. The aboc team of myself, Mick Thomas and Matt Ditchfield had again conspired to help each other out and let a team mate back into the paceline if needed. It was going OK and both me and Matt had been able to let Mick back in to prevent him having to drift to the back. But it meant I was on the motor bike with 4 laps to go and had to peel off.

Not wanting to accept defeat because for once I was feeling OK, I didn't go all the way to the end of the line but stayed out in the wind for a lap hoping a gap would open up. It didn't and I had to work hard to hold my position. Then I started to fade and stronger riders were all around me. People were trying to squeeze into gaps that weren't there. I got chopped from underneath which apparently forced me up the track a bit....

THUMP....Someone wacks me behind my right shoulder. I go down and am aware of sickenning loud thud as my head smashes into the boards. I remember thinking "this is not good" and instantly developing a head ache. Then as I'm sliding down another rider crashes over the top of me. I end up lying face down on the concrete with my head throbbing and my arm, chest and back aching already. I don't know how long I was there but it seemed like an eternity. With help I roll over and reveal burns and cuts on my leg, bum and arm. My treasured aboc bib knicks are ruined as is my Descente base layer!

A trip to the doctor and physio the next day reveals no breaks. I've got whiplash from my head slinging into the ground and the usual aches and pains, burns and bruises. My spirit and confidence took a battering too but a quick pep talk from the coach on Friday put everything in perspective and re-ignited my determination. Today a sympathetic Bev took me for a gentle 2 hour ride for which I'm grateful.

I don't know how I'll be on Thursday night. I think my body will be OK but will I be brave enough to race?

(PS I've got new race wheels but I'll talk about them another time...)


The One Eyed Cyclist

A very scary incident indeed

I had a very disconcerting thing happen to me last night at DISC.

At the pointy end of the C grade scratch race (about 5 laps to go I think) I lost the contact lens in my right eye. I have quite advanced keratoconus  in both eyes and the only way to correct it is with rigid, hard, contact lenses. Normally the little buggers stay securely in place so I don't know why one would decide to pop out.

Let me tell you I was very scared. One eye had perfect vision, the other eye basically had none and I was travelling in excess of 40kph. It caused me to lose my sense of perception and depth and so I slowed right down much to the chagrin of those behind me. For a change I was near the front which meant a lot of the field had to go around me on both sides as I was between the red and blue lines.

Luckily I made it back to safety and Nathan found the lens wedged right down under my lower eye lid. This was a relief as I thought I'd lost it which would have meant the end of the night for me and not even able to drive home. The rest of the night was good with the aboc team consisting of Carl, Matty Ditchfield and myself trying some fun teamwork stuff. We got Matt into the points in the second race with a classic lead out train and we may had done better in the motor pace had I not forgotten the game plan. Sorry coach!

Lot of fun as usual and I can feel some form coming back.


From 25 to 50 in 10 seconds

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Well only 49.8 but I'll claim it

Not sure this is even worth blogging but I impressed myself today during my training session on the Preston velodrome...

Was doing some 10 second max efforts every 2 minutes, jumping from about 25kph in a middle gear (big ring at front, about a 15/17 on the back). Managed to accelerate to 50kph in 10 seconds. Don't know if that's good or not but it felt good and I impressed the little kids who were playing in the infield.

Added some HCLR's and E3 intervals for a very solid 90 minute workout. It was my first outdoor ride in a month and it felt good to be out in the sunshine


It's a small world

Had coffee and muffins with cyclists in Georgia

Finally arrived in Savannah, Georgia last night at around midnight. Took me 30 hours to get here, 5 airports, 4 flights minimum sleep.So what do I do first thing this morning? Get up early for a walk and in search of good coffee. <br> Savannah is a beautiful place and I soon found a great cafe. I knew it was good because there was a group of cyclists sitting outside having coffee and muffins while ther road porn was leaning against trees and poles. 6 Treks, a Cannondale and a Bianchi. Got talking with them and even directed them to the aboc website. The exciting thing is one of them works at a bike shop so I might have to do some shopping. Unfortunatley there's no spare 54cm bikes to be had otherwise I'd join them for a ride tomorrow. Just as well as I really should be working. Hope all is well with aboc'ers downunder. Please keep in touch....I miss my cycling. (Oh yeah, I miss my wife and daughter too)


How to lose a race

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I stuffed up my chance to win the D grade road race at Crib Point

I could see the finish line. I could feel it. I could taste victory.

There I was a mere 200 metres or so from the finish line at Crib Point on Saturday thinking I had it won. But it wasn't to be. I blew my chance due to a bad case of impetuosity. Or was it bad luck, bad timing or inexperience.

Basically I sprinted too early into a strong head wind and up an ever so slight hill. After all it was only a couple of hundred metres and I know I can sprint the last lap of the track at Blackburn and that's 330 metres. So where's the problem?

With about 400 metres to go I was third wheel and sitting pretty behind a guy and a girl driving strong. But then they both blow up simultaneously and I'm left on the front. What do I do now? Where's the coach in my earpiece when I need him? I was faced with a dilemma. Do I get off the front?  No. That would mean I drift too far back and with the finish so close I could get blocked or be caught by a late attack or early sprint.

So I look behind me. The guy and girl are no longer a threat and there's a small gap between me and the next bike...So I go for it. Head down and I start sprinting for the line. The gap widens. I think I've going to win. But my legs are burning (I shouldn't have raced DISC on Thursday night) and the headwind is killing me. I'm dying a rapid death but I will hang on. Then a guy goes past me... What the #$@#$@? Oh well second is not bad. But then 3 or 4 more riders go past me. Shit.Shit Shit. And on the line I'm hit by a bunch of 4 or 5 guys all now going faster than me. Crap. I've gone from thinking "I'm gonna win this" to "Oh well second is not so bad" to finishing somewhere between 5th and 10th within the space of 200 metres.

Where did I go wrong?

Well the legs were sore when I started courtesy of Thursday night racing but they did loosen up after about 10km so I'm not sure that's a valid excuse. I do know I didn't have the kick I normally have. Until the last lap (D grade was 6x 8km laps and about 30-40 riders) I had raced the perfect race. I had managed to hide in the bunch, do minimal work and just have a good time chatting up the Kathy Watt pink girls. On the last lap I thought I better move toward the front but go too close to the pointy end and ended up doing a turn into the wind and up the hill proper. Then a guy attacks and guess which fool chases him? I mangaed to catch him pretty quickly but I'm stuffed and drift to the back thinking my race is over.

So with half a lap to go I'm at the rear again but work my way back to a good position with 400 metres to go. I impressed myself with that fact alone. In other races, in other years I would have been totally blown and come in last but here I was able to finally contest a finish. So I should be happy.

But what might have been....


Am I a sandbagger?

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Last nights win at DISC seems a bit hollow

I returned to DISC for last nights racing but since I hadn't even sat on a bike in the previous fortnight (illness, working 7 day weeks, father in hospital, sore hip, excuses, excuses..) I put myself in D grade.

The scratch race was awful, no one could hold a line, I was chopped (and probably did some chopping myself to be fair ) and at one stage ended up on the boards to avoid someone who suddenly decided to move into the sprinters lane. I finished third but felt bad and really tired.

The points race wasn't any better. I had a dip at the first sprint, got a third again but blew up badly for the rest of the race. Again I was just glad to stay upright as it was real messy.

The motorpace was good. Being a controlled paceline made it safer and the gradual increase in speed suited me. It also meant the weaker riders dropped off the pace as the speed increased and gaps opened up in the pace line so twice when I peeled of from the guerney I was able to drop back in without having to drift to the back. I found myself third wheel when the motorbike peeled off and was able to easily sprint over the top to take the win.

A win is a win I guess but given I'm normally a C grader I felt guilty. (I donated the prizemoney to Emily). Back to C grade next week and hopefull that aboc guy is in a generous mood and will look after me.


Captain Grumpy

I hate not riding my bike

Beware if you cross my path today because I'm one grumpy dude! What began as a great week turned into a weekend of frustration and now some innocent is gonna have to pay. (Where's the cat?)

Last Saturday I watched Emily in her first race at Siemans. It was great to sit back and watch partly becaue I was warm and dry as the kids went around in the pouring rain. That was a nice change I thought. She started off nervous as hell and almost beside herself with fear but finished strongly and with a big smile on her face and eager to do more. Despite the rain it was a great day.

Then on Wednesday I did the 100K for Anzac Day ride (should become a tradition) and surprised myself and possibly a few others at how well I rode in illustrious company. Glorious weather and a great ride.

Thursday night was my racing debut at DISC and despite heavy legs from the day before I did OK in C grade. I finished each race well and even managed some points in the second sprint of the Sprints race. I need bigger gearing - 90 inches isn't enough at the speed these guys go - but otherwise I reckon I can be competitive and maybe figure in the pointy end of the race by seasons end.

Friday it all started to go hay wire. A sore stomach Friday night ended up full blown acute gastritis. A trip to the hospital was avoided by finding a doctor who would come to me who prceeded to inject me with a brew that knocked me out until 3pm the following day. Needless to say no riding was possible this weekend and next weekend I'm working (come say hello at the photography show at Jeff's Shed) so I can't ride next weekend either!

Although under done I intend to race at DISC again this Thursday night and in my current mood I suggest no one gets in my way!


Just do it

No, not a plug for a multinational sportswear company

Nike were right on the ball with that slogan. If you've ever even half thought about doing something for yourself, don't hesitate, just do it.

Last November Carl suggested I give track racing a go. I laughed at the suggestion then thought better of it, had a few training sessions on a track bike and did my first race just before Christmas. I won that first race and have never looked back - loving every bit of it. As Carl had suggested "You've got nothing to lose, just do it and have fun"

A month ago I again had misgivings about racing my first track open at Leongatha. Again Carl put it simply "Just do it - the worse thing that can happen is you'll come last" I did do it and I did come last in one of the races but I had a ball and have never gone quicker on a bike.

At the moment I'm painfully watching my father slide toward the inevitable end. Diabetes and blocked veins are catching up with him. There is so much he wanted to do with his life that will go undone. We wanted to drive around Australia, hike up Mt. Kozzy and even just spend an entire day walking along the beach. But something always got in the way and these things will go undone.

So whether you're thinking of trying track racing the first time, racing the Warny, climbing a mountain or  just taking a long walk on the beach, just do it before it's too late.


Has anything changed on Beach Road?

Not a lot as far I can see

On Sunday morning I went for a training ride down to Frankston and back. I'd self diagnosed myself as needing a long, flat ride as a means to get my legs going again after the American trip. Much of the ride was on my own but inevitably I was caught up in some buches of varying sizes.

I hadn't been on Beach Road since Around the Bay last October and was curious to see if anything had changed since the death of James Gould last year. Unfortunately I don't think much has changed at all.

On no less than 6 occassions I witnessed cyclists blatantly riding through red lights. This ranged from slowly rolling through the red to blasting through an intersection at top speed. On all occasions the cyclists had ample opportunity to stop but elected not to do so. (I'm not counting the 50/50 times when it was a split decision whether to accelerate through the orange or hit the anchors - the 6 I refer to were blatant and illegal.

There was one incident which had me and others shaking our heads in disgust and disbelief. Consider the last set of traffic lights as you approach Mordialloc. I was 5th wheel in a loose bunch of about 8 riders. The lights change to red as we approach them. We all have time to stop but only 3 of us do. One guy, from behind me, charges around the outside and goes straight through a VERY red light. So red in fact that an elderley couple had just begun to cross the road. They saw the riders coming through and stopped, merely shaking their heads. I only wonder what they were thinking or what the drivers of the stopped cars were thinking.

At that moment in time I was ashamed to be a cyclist. Maybe there's a good reason I haven't been on Beach Rd since last year....


Cycling in America

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How do Americans stay fit

I finally managed to do some cycling in America - on a cycling machine in Tomorrowland at Disneyland. It told me I was super fit but after eating junk food for two weeks and watching some of the bodies waddle around here I began to wonder how anybody can stay fit and healthy in America.

I have new found admiration for Lance and co. Anyone living in America and able to avoid food dripping in fat or loaded with sugar is already a hero in my book. And then to go on and become an elite athlete, well they're legends!

I miss my bike. I miss my bed. I miss my coffee. Home soon. Get ready for the boards fellas...



From Leongatha to Las Vegas

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Greetings from the land of the free and the brave

Was it all just a dream? Was it really just a couple of nights ago I was hurtling my bike around the Leongatha velodrome in my first ever open event?

I'm horribly jet lagged at the moment and feel like a zombie so can someone tell me what happened on Saturday night? Did I race really fast or was I dreaming?

I have vague recollections of Bev talking a lot with me driving somewhere. And I saw signs and banners along the road saying "Come see Australia's best track cyclists". Surely I was dreaming - they couldn't possibly be talking about a race I'd entered.

Further vagueness about a guy in yellow and the words "you've got the handicap from hell". Ah yes that's right. Only 20 metres, just ahead of the scratch guys and way behind the types I normally race against. Dim recollections of riding faster than I ever have but still not catching the out markers or holding off the scratchies.

Then another handicap. This time longer but still a cruel starting point. Managing to catch some people and hang on to the end but alas still failing to qualify for the final. And finally a points race. Going as well as I could in a bike race but failing to get one point.

Someone please tell me I wasn't dreaming because I keep seeing images of myself with a big smile but nothing to show for it.

Then again I don't want the dream to end......


It's as simple as that

Out of the mouth of babes can come pearls of wisdom

I'm always nervous before a race but these past few Saturdays I've been more apprehensive than usual. Maybe it's been the up and down weather or the expectation of doing well (my main nemisis in C grade - Carl Brewer - having been promoted to B grade).

Yesterday was perhaps worse than usual as it was my last track meet before Leongatha and before I head overseas for work. Adding to the performance anxiety was the fact my wife and daughter made the trip to Blackburn to cheer me on and coach Carl wasn't there to calm my nerves. But Emily, my 10 year old daughter, had a great bit of advice. "Just pedal really fast Dad and you'll win. It's as simple as that"

She was right of course. We can sometimes over analyse things but when it comes down to it,  and all other things being equal, the faster you pedal the faster you go. This is even more true in track racing because you only have one gear so if you want to go faster you have to pedal faster. Leg speed is all important in track racing (all racing really) sp don't ever complain about those silly high cadence drills the coach gets you to do. I used to complain but I don't any more and now try to include some HCLR's in most training sessions. They're especially good to do on a wind trainer because you can eliminate all other variables and just concentrate on holding your form as you build your cadence.

So thank you Emily for your words of advice. I did pedal really fast and I did win - as simple as that!


Accepting your limitations

There comes a time when you realise you're just no good at........

Has anyone else ever had one of these revelations about their cycling? One of those moments you'll be able to look back on with a clear recollection? Well I had such a moment recently and I'm better for it. Read on.

I can't climb. I'm just no good at. Sure I've cycled up Mt. Hotham twice but I had to stop lots of times and it nearly killed me. And I've been up Kinglake a few times and Mt. Dandenong heaps but never quickly. One day I may break 20 minutes for the 1:20 but I'm never going to win a King of the Mountain. For someone who likes to consider themselves a competitive cyclist that's rather disheartenning. Put a hill, any hill, in a race and I'm out the back and out of the race.

I've tried. I've really tried, but my improvements have been marginal. I've lost 10 kg since I started cycling. I've had a whole training program to get me faster up hills but gravity just doesn't like me. Yes I'm much better at it than when I started but I'm still slower than almost every other cyclist I know.

So it's against this background that I had my "moment" recently. It was a Sunday morning and Robert, my cycling buddy, and I were cycling through the hills of Eltham on the way to St. Andrews. I hate Robert. He's one of those guys that never trains, eats everything he wants and flys up hills. He doesn't race but he should. You know the sorta guy? Well I'm used to Robert dropping me on every hill and have developed a thick skin about it. I can now beat him in a sprint and I get my revenge that way.

But on this particular Sunday morning I was slower than usual. I'd had a big day at the track the afternoon before and I just wanted to tootle. In fact tootling was all I could do. Rob wanted to burn so I sent him on his way. Soon after as I'm struggling up one of the hills I get passed by another cyclist. No, not a lean, mean climbing machine but a GIRL on a hybrid. This girl was no ballet dancer either. She was bigger than I and I bet she was heavier too. She just cruised past me. No nod. No "Good Morning". No acknowledgment of my existance. I was not worthy.

It was at this point that I had my "moment". I could have yelled out " Yeah but I was racing yesterday lady what were you doing" but I didn't. Instead I just finally accepted that I can't climb, probably never will and I shouldn't get down about it. It doesn't mean I'm not a good cyclist. It means we all have strengths and weaknesses and maybe we shouldn't get hung up on what we can't do but focus on what we can do well.

We all have room for improvement in our cycling. No one reading this is a perfect cyclist. But if you're an old cynical grumpy bastard like me, its sometimes very easy to only look at the negative aspects rather than the things you enjoy and the aspects of your cycling in which you excel.

This represents a dilemma for the coach of course. He or she needs to juggle your requirements. How much time and effort do you put into improving your weaknesses versus developing your strengths even further?  I don't have the answer - I'm not a coach - but I suspect the answer will be different for everyone. In my case and with time running out (I'm 43) I think I'll be spending more time on the velodrome than Mt. Dandenong. I won't avoid hills ( but I will avoid hilly races) and I will continue to try to improve my climbing. But the velodrome is flat and I'm having a ball on it right now.

So the next time you pass me on a hill, well, I really don't give a damn!


Climbing Vs Sprinting

Posted by nick at 2007-02-21 20:49
Dino I have been there being passed by many people on the bike track- frustrating yes and sort of funny as well. I just laugh it off. I think your hatred of hills stems from someone called Mr Brewer who is always going on how he hates hills but seeems to tackle the dreaded Hotham twice a year, and climbs it well I reckon, with the "i'm red and puffed look at the end "bloody hills" And this hill phobia seems to go through the aboc sprinter club (it's my new name for aboc- do you like it?)

I am pretty awful at hills as well and know exactly what it is like to be puffed and passed by every whippet in Melbourne. And given I can't sprint as well, well all I seem to be okay at is sitting at the back and waiting for the race to end.

Although I am proud of my 1:20 time at the moment, I want to improve it.And I have long way to go but a personal goal, which for most people is still a crap time!

Before I returned to cycling I used to do 30 minute hard sessions on the exercise bike. I did this for a year. This evidently has made me a lot fitter for the hills (evidently time trialing is good training for climbing) because it i s about maintaining your high heart rate for a given amount of time. So hence I am still crap at hills, but better at hills than on the flat, which is sort of sad; but it's where I am. And given progress is slow, well that's life really!Improving is cyling for me is like watching paint dry!

Where as sprinting, i don't have those fast fibres. I may be able to become fitter, but not in that surge that you guys have; but I am talking I have no sprint at all, but haven't even started there yet as I am working on my endurance to actually finish a race rather than win it. So what I am saying, I reckon you should embrace your sprinter qualities because you are lucky to have them, where as with climbing it is all power to weight, and you will see the whippets in the higher grades who weigh 60 kgs and do 500 kms a week fly past you- ofcourse they will- have you noticed how climbers look like gray hounds; is this really what we want to be like?
So I agree with your article, but I don't reckon you are as bad at hills as you say, and I think you should seek races with some hills in it and challenge yourself to be there at the end. Ia m talking lang Lang hills, not over 4 km things because that's when the whippets will kick in. Me I am no good at a hill over 4km, I will get dropped in C grade and would probably stay in D (just). So we are all there; we know exactly what it's like!
When I am climbing the wall and the Dandenongs I get passed by Audax touring riders, they just spin right past me! Don't like girls on Mountain Bikes and secretly hate them!
I set my goals high this season, to complete Coleraine and I have had a bit of bad luck recently and may be not getting there; always next year, but I have set my goal to race the Eastern Vets 100km road race in November, which has a 10km hill in it. My goal is to finish in the first bunch n B grade, just to finish. 10 km hill is just to hard for someone with my power to weight, so I know what it's like.


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