Back Racing

Last year I was pretty slack in terms of racing, a situation I want to reverse this year, so on Sunday morning it was time to line up for our monthly club races at Heffron. This was also doubling as our B-Grade 2014 Club Champs, as our previous attempts to hold it had been cancelled; due to rain on the first attempt, and due to a bad crash on the second. So, we would have a race within a race; riders from other clubs going for the overall win, and also the first three SUVelo riders across the line who would comprise our Club Champs podium.

I wasn't really hoping for much as there are a few guys like Rob Cheng and particularly Peter Ristkes who have really trained up a storm last year and progressed in leaps and bounds, so my plan, such as it was, was to hang on for the first half of the race and see if any opportunities presented themselves in the second.

The gun went and we settled in to a decent pace. I stayed around the middle of the pack of 30, paying attention to where the wind was and trying to position myself in advance so that I'd be nice and sheltered down the main straight.

Image © Joshua Nicholson

Things were going well for the first few laps. Holding position was easy and I was cornering well and not leaving gaps out of the turns. I had a near-miss when a guy in front of me hit the brakes and swerved into my from wheel, but it was only a slight tap so I managed to stay upright. Overlapping wheels is probably the most common cause of a crash, and it's always your own fault, as guarding your front wheel is your problem. I'm pretty confident I wasn't overlapping with this guy and it was only his dab of the brakes which put me in that position, but it was still a timely reminder to concentrate!

After a few more laps I was starting to feel the effort and the constant accelerating out of each turn was starting to take its toll. The bell sounded for the mid-race prime and everything stepped up a notch as the sprinters got into position. The second half of the lap felt tough and I went bang at the beginning of the finish straight, pulling over to one side to stay out of everyone's way. Race over.

When I pulled up at the finish line I learned that we'd been lapping at almost 41km/h, which is rocket fast for B-Grade. 39km/h would be a normal pace for us, and indeed, B-Grade on the day was riding as fast as A-Grade, so going bang halfway through the race wasn't quite so disappointing.

Nonetheless, with some matter-of-fact post-race analysis it's clear I have an issue with decision making mid-race, when the going gets tough. Once the prime was over the pace settled down again for a bit, so I should have just stuck it out for a little longer and I would have had a chance to recover a bit before things picked up again for the race finish. I know that's how the race unfolds, but never processed that information when deciding to stop. A bit stupid in hindsight!

Oh well, back in the racing saddle at least!

What: Cycling  Racing  Heffron 
When: 18.02.2015 @ 17:28
Tour Down Under Wrap-up

It's been a little over a week since I returned from the Tour Down Under and my legs are just about recovered. Here's the training load over the week:

As you can see, training was pretty flat after being away for Christmas and then ramped up hugely for the week of the Tour Down Under.

What happens is that up to 50 of our club travel down to Adelaide with their bikes and spend the week riding through the Adelaide Hills, sampling the small-town bakeries and intersecting with the race to watch the pros do their thing.

In practice it means riding around 100km per day through the hills, so the workload (the pink line) goes through the roof and you dig massive hole of fatigue (see the green line above). During normal training I tend to take a day off if the green line dips under -30, but I hit -98.6 by the end of the TDU! That's not sustainable, but I knew I could hack it as a once-off, which is why I did almost nothing the following week. The benefit is an almost 50% increase in fitness (blue line) in one week!

It's also an interesting process, seeing both how far you can push yourself and how your body reacts. For me, all that really happens is that above-threshold efforts become really hard, but I was still climbing at threshold at the end of he week which I was happy with.

After the well-earned rest week, Monday rolled around and it was time to get back into it. Most of my riding for the last few months has been at a reasonably comfortable pace as I built my fitness up, but now that the fitness is there to handle the extra workload, it's time to start adding some shorter, harder intervals in a bid to get faster.

I stagnated last year, so I'm determined not to let that happen again this year. Time will tell!

What: Cycling  Training  Holiday 
When: 05.02.2015 @ 07:37
Photo Backups, Part Two

The second phase of backing up my photo archive was to find an online storage option. A bit of research narrowed the options to either BackBlaze or CrashPlan, and I ultimately opted for CrashPlan. For $70/year I can backup an unlimited amount of data, encrypted with my own personal key which never leaves my machine.

One downloaded and installed, I pointed it at my 220GB photo archive and let it loose... at which point the downsides to Australia's ADSL network kicked in!

Living only approx. 300m from my local exchange, I have a pretty good ADSL line, connected at 20Mbps down, 1Mbps up. In practical terms, CrashPlan seems to max out at a sustained 850kbps, which means that, although I started the upload on Jan 11th, it's still telling me I have 15 days to go!

I was away for a week at the Tour Down Under, but even still, this is what passes for excellent broadband in Australia and our current Govt. scrapped plans to build a Fibre-To-The-Premises network throughout the country, instead replacing it with Fibre-To-The-Node (where node is a cabinet at the end of your street), which will still rely on the existing crap copper infrastructure into the home.

Ah well, only 15 days or so to go!

What: Security 
When: 05.02.2015 @ 07:14
Photo Backups

Prompted by a discussion earlier this year when I mentioned to Jacqui that a few years ago I'd lost almost all my photos of our South African trip from 2002, I'd been meaning to get around to restructuring my backup procedures for my existing photo collection, currently comprising 27,500 photos and 225GB of data.

I had local backups, but it was a pretty manual process - copy from card to external HD, then at random intervals back that HD up onto a second external HD. Better than nothing, but still pretty haphazard.

Stage 1 was to get a RAID setup going, so after a bit of research I settled on a 6TB LaCie 2big Thunderbolt2. Configured as RAID 1 gives me 3TB of storage, which is plenty to handle my music and photo libraries. Since it's Thunderbolt 2 it's fast enough to handle editing and managing my photo library without needing the catalog on my laptop HD.

Next stage will be to figure out some off-site storage. At this stage I haven't decided on a suitable option. My regular documents are sorted already so I don't think I need a continuous backup solution, especially since, apart from the actual image catalog file, the image files won't change at all. Furthermore, it's all on an external HD which isn't necessarily plugged in all the time.

A few hundred GB of FTP storage would suffice, but some of the online backup services are pretty cheap for unlimited storage, so it may be easier to go with one of those. That can be next week's research project!

What: Security 
When: 11.01.2015 @ 22:49

Success! For the the first time in a long time I've managed to not put on weight over the Christmas holidays.

We decided to drive to Jacqui's Mum's in South Golden Beach, 20mins north of Byron, so, since we had the car, I opted to bring my bike. The goal wasn't to continue training and riding five days per week, it was merely to get a few longer rides in over the two weeks we'd be away in order to offset the extra eating.

I had hoped to do 3 rides at Denise's and a further two when we went up to Buderim to stay with Nath, but in the end I only managed 2 at Denise's and 1 up at Nath's. Still, it was enough to keep the weight off, and as a result I start this year at 85kg instead of 89-90kg.

I have a solid week of cycling coming up as the club heads to Adelaide to watch the Tour Down Under. The result will be close to 700km of hilly cycling and a few more kilos shed. If I get my shit together I might finally crack the 80kg barrier this year!

What: Cycling  Weight 
When: 05.01.2015 @ 21:43