Gravel Grinder – Emma

GIANT REVOLT – ‘EMMA’ – GRAVEL GRINDER

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Soldier On Jersey – CORC XC Round 2 At Sparrow Hill

Soldier On Jerseys

I got to wear a Soldier On jersey at the CORC XC Round 2 Race at Sparrow Hill on Sunday 9 June 2013.
A nice and chilly Canberra morning meant for some fast XC Racing in my new kit and on my new bike Kate.

Round 2 XC SO Jersey CORC Rd 2 - Soldier On Jersey

Recovery Week In Review – Week 6

It has been two months and two days since I crashed at Mt Stromlo during Round 10 of the 2012/2013 CORC XC Series.  During that time I’ve been trying to get back to my pre-injury fitness by slowly building my strength and endurance levels.  Between 1 January 2013 and 14 April 2013, when I crashed, I was averaging 250km per week on the bike.  I had ridden in the Mont 24 Hour, 100km Capital Punishment, some short course XC races and plenty of 70km+ rides on both the roadie and MTB.  In total I had ridden 2’242.4km in just over four months.

It’s no secret that I ride bikes as a form of therapy and rehabilitation.  Exercise is an amazing tool to soften the edge of anxiety and depression.  Mountain biking is something I can fully immerse myself in; the riding, the technology, the competitiveness and the social scene.  Canberra has an amazingly inclusive and tight-knit mountain biking community.  One of the reasons why I have enjoyed riding so much these past nine months (the first time I ever road singletrack was on 9 September 2012 at Bruce Ridge) is because of the people I have met and ridden with from The Berm.  It doesn’t matter if you are a novice or an elite rider, if you enjoy riding you are welcomed with open arms.

So this week was supposed to be the start of my new training regime.  The plan was to restart my daily commuting on the roadie and get as much singletrack in between as the girly would tolerate.  I have a lot of ground to make up and the weather in Canberra is not very accommodating; we have had a lot of rain and sub-zero temperatures.  This past week I have woken up, checked the weather on my iPhone and walked onto the balcony to gauge my tolerance of the early morning temperature.  Only once did I brave the cold and ride to work.

I did however use every opportunity before and after the heavy midweek rain to ride my new Giant XTC 29er 1 – Kate.  I managed to get a couple of rides in at Mt Stromlo, two at Bruce Ridge and two at Sparrow Hill/Kowen Forest.  For my sixth week of recovery riding I ended up having my second biggest week in the saddle since my crash.  After today’s 66.6km road ride around Lake Burley Griffin I amassed 209.1km.

So after six weeks of Recovery Riding I am now transitioning  in Training Riding.

Rec Week 6 03

Recovery Week In Review – Week 5

Recovery Week 5 started off with a 20.2km ride on Monday afternoon at Kowen Forest after a particularly ordinary day at work.  The ride itself was cut short after I got chased by a sheep and then had a low speed collision with a small kangaroo.  But I did have a lot of fun just riding on the Kowalski’s immaculate single track.

Aunty Flo GIF

Wednesday saw the arrival of my long awaited Soldier On jerseys and a quick 22.6km ride home on the roadie.

BOTB 13 004 BOTB 13 003

Thursday was the day I picked up my new Giant Composite 29er 1 Kate, which I spent the next two days drooling over and swapping out components before her maiden ride at Mt Stromlo on Saturday morning.

Kate 04

Round 2 of the CORC XC Series was held on Sunday and after a sluggish start I was very happy with my finish and even managed to have an off on Kate without letting the new carbon frame bike hit the ground.  How did I manage that you ask?  Well I just made sure my body hit the ground first and I lifted the bike into the air and made sure she didn’t make contact with the ground.

After a big week in cycling, mostly off the bike, I was happy with my 74.1km in the saddle and left with a huge smile about a new bike and my Soldier On jerseys.

CORC Rd 2 - Soldier On Jersey

 

Recovery Week In Review – Week 4 (With Bonus N+1)

Once again Recovery Week didn’t go to plan.  Week #4 saw my chest cold take hold and a day off work.  Some ordinary weather kept me off the bike and I finally got to go for a ride on Friday afternoon.  This week I rode total of 14.7km; well below my average of 200-250km a week.  I was planning to put another 20-30km on the tally today but due some ordinary weather Round 2 of the CORC XC Series was postponed.

But the week itself wasn’t a complete bust.  I have been looking at acquiring N+1 for a couple of months now.  It was my plan to buy the new steed in Victoria before the end of June as my preferred bike was a lot cheaper interstate.  I have been holding out hoping for a local bike shop to have a sale or negotiate a good deal.  As luck would have it I was able to abide by Rule #58.

I’ve had really good service at Onya Bike in Civic since I bought Zooey last year.  I was able to pick her up at a mid year sale and was impressed by the service I received.  I had heard mixed reviews from over riders in Canberra, but to date I can’t fault them.  It was them who told me about The Berm which ultimately changed my life in Canberra and planted the seed that grew into an obsession with mountain biking and complete change of lifestyle.

So when I went into Onya Bike on Saturday afternoon after looking for Wedding suits around the corner I was surprised to see the bike I’d been lusting over on sale.  I spoke to the staff member (whom shall not be named) and I was promptly taking a medium sized Giant XTC Composite 29er 1 for a spin around the wet Canberra CBD.  After a few seatpost adjustments I was parting with some hard earned cash for a deposit on what will soon be my new XC racing bike.

For what was supposed to be a quick trip to buy some new bike tubes I ended up getting a great deal on a new bike and even negotiated some component swap outs to suit my needs and riding style.  My Father, Brother-In-Law and Girly were in attendance and I don’t think any of them expected me to buy a bike.  But a great deal coupled with the chance to support my LBS couldn’t be passed up; so my plans of N+1 have been brought forward by about a month.  This time there was no buyers remorse, just excitement over the impending acquisition of N+1.

XtC_Composite_29er_1

N+1 Is A Simple Yet Complicated Equation … aka Rule #12

The rules of cycling are applicable to all forms of the sport; be it road, time trial or MTB.
They are many, but they are clear; there are even rules that can be interchanged to allow variations under extreme circumstances.
For the purpose of this post I will focus on one rule only… RULE #12

While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner

I own three bikes already.  My beloved Zooey, her road riding sister Sara and my hand built single speed commuter.

As the girly will attest, I spend a lot of time with my bikes.
Put aside the 10-12 hours I spend in the saddle each week; after each ride I will meticulously clean and mini-service Zooey.  Every few days I will do the same with Sara.  And I spent weeks stripping down the frame, sanding, painting and finally building my SS roadie.

It is not a chore for me, it is therapeutic   Maybe it stems from my years in the Army where you unpack, clean, reassemble and refit to fight all of your equipment and stores post exercise or operation.  I’m have a set way I clean and service my bikes; I follow the same formula each time.

…Anyway I like bikes; and I like the concept of Rule #12; you are always on the look out for a new bike.  Which brings me to my +1 bike crush!

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The Giant Composite XTC 29er 1.

It’s an amazing bike.  It looks great, rides great and it’s a carbon frame.  N+1 indeed!
However there are a few complications in my equation:

  • It’s rather expensive
  • I’m getting married soon (do I really need to spend money on another bike?)
  • It’s a hardtail 29er (I ride and race a dual suspension)
  • The girly doesn’t really support/understand my need for this bike

I was at a point prior to my crash and torn pec where I was stupidly bike fit.  I had spent enough time in the saddle that I was stronger, fitter, faster and healthier than I had been in a few years.  The simple truth being; riding gets you fit and healthy and makes you happy.
However I also reached a plateau in my riding too.  I wasn’t getting anymore big gains and I wasn’t getting much faster on my standard rides.  Something had to change.

That change was adapting my riding.  Firstly, my riding position; secondly, my bike setup; thirdly, my nutrition.  I started to make more gains, but they were slower than I expected; I was slightly disillusioned and quietly disappointed.  I made the mistake of increasing the intensity of every ride.  Doing this is sure fire way to failure.  I was experiencing muscle fatigue and DOMS on a regular basis.  Instead of putting together a proper training program I just hit it hard; too hard.

The end result was over training and over confidence… Ergo, a poorly executed jump at the end of a race that resulted in a torn chest muscle and weeks off the bike.

Which brings me back to N+1.  I’ve decided I will compete in the CORC XC Series on Zooey for the time being.  I’ve got some ground to make up once I’m able to ride and I’ll do that properly with a training program and medical guidance.  So no +1 for me in the near future.

For the time being I’ll leave a picture of the XTC above my desk at work and put in the required kilometres on the incredible bikes I’ve already got.

Hopefully one day in the future; for a brief 24 hour period N+1 becomes N, and I’ve got an XTC sitting in my living room…. And then the equation reverts back to N+1 once again.