Wednesday, October 10, 2007

9-10-07 TT 29.15. Splits 6.50, 14.17, junct 27.00. Sunny (after heavy rain the day before) and light NW breeze, which was very welcome, actually, as it was hot work! I felt bad in the first quarter – just slow and unfocused (I did the first 30 m from the bottom gate to the first barrier, normally a flat-out belt, particularly badly by not deciding on a line and wiggling from one side to the other).

When you’re not super fit, your mind becomes even more important. Because I do the TT so often, it’s easy fro me to switch off and not push the best line. It’s also easy for me to cruise, especially once my spilts look ordinary. In other words, too often my mind is wondering and I’m just trusting that my body will do the business … when obviously my body needs all the mental help it can get and needs urging on!

I find the first quarter is often the hardest. I’m not warmed up and my mind hasn’t focused on riding. In the second quarter I often spend too long recovering from the steep first quarter. The danger is I can still chug along at an OK rate without having to suffer, so can delude myself that I’m trying my best. The third quarter has the hardest bits, but by then I’m focused and warmed up. And usually if I do a fast final quarter it indicates that I haven’t tried hard enough in the first half, because a fast final quarter should really hurt!

The truth is, if you want to do a fast TT time you need to be able to really push it on the easy stages – ie, the end of the second quarter, beginning of the third and the final quarter. At the moment I’m spending too much of these recovering. It’s hard to really pick up time on the steep bits. The steep loose bits on the third quarter, for example – I’m sure Simon Kennet doesn’t actually go up them a hell of a lot quicker than I do! But as soon as it levels a bit, that’s where he takes off. So that’s the trick to improving your time – ride the steep stuff solidly but instead of using the less steep stuff to recover – push the pace!

Anyway, went up to the GB and sat in the sun! Then down the road to the Sanctuary fenceline (stopped to chat with a guy riding up the road – who turned out to be French!). There is now a gate across the sealed road at its lowest point, just before (coming from the GB to the turbine) the turn off into Long Gully. I came flying round the bend, but was able to stop in time. A few years ago I was hooting down, trying to see how fast I could go, and came flying round that bend and crashed. My usual method of taking it is to check there’s no opposing traffic as I round the bend above, then take the bend on the inside (ie, the wrong side of the road). There’s a slight camber on the inside line that I get into. On the crash occasion I was going so fast I managed to slip out of the camber, which immediately caused me to sail across the road and into a ditch on the other side. I got out off the back of my bike, and buckled the front wheel. Fortunately I was unhurt and the buckle was such that I was able to ride carefully down the road and roller coaster to Jonty’s and get a new wheel.

Back to today’s ride. Went round the fenceline and down Deliverance. I’d been avoiding Deliverance since last summer, but today it felt like summer, even though I new the track would be very wet. It was, and I dabbed about 6 times, but felt I rode it pretty well. There are three places that I typically dab – the root over the track just after the first long rocky descent. I always get my front wheel over, but not the back. I just don’t hit it with enough speed. Then the chute or the stream crossing at the bottom of the chute. Today I did the chute fine and the stream crossing was the easiest I’ve every seen it because the winter rain has silted up the stream and made a smooth crossing, but, like the root, I have trouble suddenly adjusting from a downhill into pedal-hard-over-obstacle mode. Then I usually have trouble with one of the other stream crossings – typically the one with the steep get-out. Today I dabbed in a few other places – the final steep drop-off before the chute – I thought I was going to hit a tree on the run-out, so braked. In fact, I was fine, but I panicked. There were a couple of other roots or rocks that tripped me on easy sections as well – for example, the first rocky section going down. This feels silly, because it’s not that hard, but I’ve been bounced off my hard-tail the last two times I’ve done Deliverance.

Anyway, given the wet, I rode it all, despite the dabs. I’ve cleaned every bit, except the stream crossing after the chute, so now I just need to put together a complete performance. The track was in good nick – no terrifying ruts on the drop-offs – though it could deteriorate as the weather improves and more people start riding it again.

Rode up Redemption, then, at the Parade Ground, followed the road instead of the Sanctuary fenceline. I’ve never been that way before. As the original Long Gully farm approached I was sure I’d be attacked by a dog, but as it was I scooted past and on down the road without any trouble. There’s a tall wire gate there, which I suspect might sometimes by shut. Rode up the road out of Long Gully, then up the sealed road to the GB. Got overtaken by a guy pushing it on a road bike at the bottom of the main climb. He put 50 m on me immediately, then I settled into a stronger rhythm and he put another 50 on me. By the time I reached the top he’d disappeared. I went up to the GB again, didn’t see where he’d gone, then down the TT.

I timed myself and got down in 8.40 – top barrier to bottom gate. I can’t recall my DH PB on the TT, I think it’s about 8.20 – barrier to barrier. There are now more water-bars, so it’s definitely a much slower descent – especially in the second half. Without them I think I’d have been close to 8.20 this time. The water-bars are just too big to take fast (though with good take-offs, DHers could probably jump them) – coming down with Paul Kennett after the TT race earlier this year I almost crashed on the last one. The back wheel flew up as I went over and I became unintentially airborne, landing on my front wheel. Somehow my straight line and forward momentum saved me from going over the bars and serious injury.

Anyway – round road and home. This is the first up-to-the-GB-twice ride I’ve done for a while, having reverted to a bit of 2 hour ride at weekends rider of late. I felt tired but not shattered.

6-10-07 We’ve had gale NWers, and today was also windy, so I headed to Mt Vic via Mt Albert and the Southern Walkway through that house in Melrose. On Mt Vic I just tried to follow the circuit used in the PNP race series. I don’t really like Mt Vic. I get lost and keep having to back-track and none of the climbs or DHs are long enough to settle into a rhythm. Also, you’re poddling along and suddenly there’s a steep slippery bit that you can’t do! I hate not riding the whole ride.

I went up from the Velodrome to the top then across and down from the north end, then along and down and up and down and up … I dunno. I was looking for a particular climb that takes you back up to a grassy knoll below the road facing north at the north end. Eventually I found it. It has a hard right-hand turn and then a short steep bit over tree roots – which I’ve never cleaned. It took me three goes to get it this time, then I huffed and puffed up the slippery grassy track to the knoll and traversed south.

I passed a massive drop-off to the left with a big skid across the track. I still can’t believe people do it – there’s virtually no run out – but someone obviously had. As I proceeded, I passed a DHer in full-face helmet pushing his bike up the other way. After a second, I turned back. If he was the guy who’d just done the drop-off I wanted to see! He was about to disappear over the side of the track and wasn’t very communicative, but said he’d just pushed his bike up – so it can’t have been him who’d done the monster drop. I watched him go down the track – he arsed off on the first berm. I thought, hmmm, that track doesn’t look so hard, I can do that, so I followed him down on my hard-tail. The track had a few berms, then a small drop-off onto a track lower down. It was dry and fairly straightforward. He then dropped over the edge again and headed down further, so I followed. This was even easier, swishing between pine trees before a big rock at the bottom offered a monster jump, which he avoided, as did I. We were now above a park, and he’d whizzed away.

So I climbed up again, saw I was in slightly the wrong place, still too far north, and found a track that dropped down toward the climb I should’ve taken. This was steeper and straighter than the other DHs, and the final drop-off onto the track was a bit bigger. Then I went of the main track again and sidled over to connect with the single track as used in the PNP races. It goes down over some tree roots, then out of the pines and sidles along the side of a hill that is a gay pick-up haunt, out across the soccer park and up to the water tank. I went round the tank (now fenced on top), over the two pipes and straight down on the inside track. Easy in the dry – a different story in the wet. Then I just flowed down the track, crossed the road and headed down on the left side, down the dipper and came to the end of Mt Vic at the roundabout.

I hopped over into Newtown, up the first left, some kids gave me a cup of water from a stall at the bottom of the zigzags, then along the gravel road to the zoo, along the path by the zoo, carried my bike up the steps to Melrose Park, up Mt Albert (tired by now), along Mt Albert, down to Volga St, down off-road through the pines by the golf course. For the first time I found the track proper. There was a guy struggling on it off to the right and I passed him asking if this was the way. I plunged down and up a dipper – not quite making it over the lip, then just followed the track down.

At the bottom there were two kids (aged about 12) with spades working on the jump. They yelled ‘hit it’ as I came down, but after my last jump experience (I went too high and crashed big-time on the jump by the picnic table on the Ridgeline Extension at Makara Peak), I decided to pike out. I stopped because I’d love to be able to jump, and one of the kids went and did it for me no trouble. He hardly had any speed and just seemed to plop up and off the end effortlessly. But the jump is a reasonable size and I figured I’d have to hit with a bit more speed in order to get off the end and I was tired and thought this is where I crash at the end of an OK ride and hurt myself. So after uming and erring, I just followed the track down to the road and went home.

I’d like to know how to jump, but it is harder clipped in on a XC bike with your seat up high. You’ve got to lean back and keep the nose up. Also, the best way to learn is to start small and build up and that jump was just a bit big. If there’d been a smaller one, I’d have had a go on that first. Still, good to know the right way down through those pines now.

1-10-07 Bike to work in gale NWer. Spring weather. I bike to work twice a week, but this one deserved a mention!

29-9-07 TT 29.51. Splits 6.55, 14.25, junct 27.40. Strong NWer. Wind very strong and I was getting a cold. But considering how bad the conditions were and how crap I was feeling, that time between the junct and the road is pretty fast! 2.11! Phew, I suddenly saw that if I pushed it I could make it around 30 – and the wind wasn’t so strong at the top (sheltered) and I had the legs. GB – Sanctuary Fenceline – Car Parts – Planet (passed 2 surely guys with a rottweiller). The Planet was drying out – 1 silly dab after the rooty climb, which I cleaned, so it must have been dry enough. Home direct via town and Berhampore. Hate the traffic.

22-9-07 Makara Peak – drove in B’s car. Up Karori Park – Varley’s – Zac’s – Down LL – Upper Nikau – Possum Bait Line (2 dabs on switchbacks) – LL (2 goes to get up steep bit out of LL before stile) – man, the climb out of LL felt hard! – down final LL descent, over the stream (dabbed) and along road to car park. Felt very unfit climbing out of LL! People avoid the track because of that final climb, but that’s just why I choose it (less people).

21-9-07 Had b’s car so went to Makara Peak. Got there about 4.45pm on Friday. Up Koru (up downhill of Koru) – SA- ML – Aratihi (no dabs and fast). Down Ridgeline – SWIGG – Magic Carpet – Live Wires (see-saw and difficult option) – all cleaned. Dry conditions. Breezy NWer. Good to do some technical single track again. I don’t do enough technical DHs.

16-9-07 TT (cleaned) – no time as there was a gale NWer (but not gusty), so there was no point in timing myself. Cloudy and warm. Down Red Rocks – stuffed up the first easy climb right at the start, so had to repeat it – after that everything cleaned. I say Red Rocks has three climbs to it – the first is right at the start and is short and relatively simple. The second is about halfway down and is the steepest and probably the hardest. The third is the final main climb before the final descent, and is hard because it has a lot of loose gravel and doesn’t have a smooth line, unless you can get onto the grass verge on the right past the gorse bush.

Round coast and home.

11-9-07 TT 28.49. Splits 6.56, 14.14, junct 26.23. Slow start, but picked up the pace! A strong NWer made the first half really hard going, but after the saddle the second half was more sheltered. GB – down Red Rocks – tried to do the whole ride without dabs but came unstuck on the second climb. The strong wind funneled and just caught you as you approached. Took me seven goes to get it! Got last climb first pop – go figure. But slide off at the crux on the final descent. Did it again, the second time following the line hard left on the bend and got down no problem. I had been getting a bit cocky and cutting the corner and going over rough stuff and into bouldered ruts – the outside line is definitely easier.

Round coast and home.

7-9-07 Bike into to Writers and Readers meeting in town. Then up to the IIML. Then to Revolution Cycles – closed due to Jonty hitting a car (it was at night and the car was turning into Adams Tce off Aro St and Jonty had no chance) and breaking three ribs – on to Mud Cycles to get disc brakes checked. They were squealing so badly I wondered if they were worn through. Apparently not. Up Redemption – Sanctuary Fenceline – Road. Down TT and road home. No stopping. Strong Westerly (which of course blew me up the road to the top of the TT!).

1 comment:

Ashleigh said...

It's a shame you don't still write this blog, James! There are no good NZ bike blogs around now - they're all UK. I'm a beleaguered Wellington cyclist and it was always interesting to read about your travails.