Saturday, 28 November 2009

A spluttering and deflated Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge 2009

I knew I was going to be struggling to pull out an always sought after PB around the Lake this year. Not only were my times in the lead-in events far below my PB’s from prior years (which always disappoints me), but I had picked up this awful cough and cold that everyone seems to have the moment. Well, perhaps not quite everyone, but it is certainly prevalent with every bus or train I catch at the moment.

Ride Data:
Distance: 156km 7,543 Calories
Time: 6:06:06 25.6 km/h
Elevation: Ascent: 1704m Descent: 1718m
Ride Data: Garmin Connect Player
Location: Taupo, NZ 28 November 2009
Craig's Taupo Results
2006 5:34:38
2007 4:58:36
2008 5:34:54
2009 6:06:06


As I coughed and spluttered my way up the hills that make up the first half of the race. Some time taken pondering if I would make the finish. I persevered on and was fortunate to have two other riders around me that seemed to be ending up in the same place regardless of incline or road surface. This always gave the ability to surge back onto the bunch as we fell a short way off the back approaching the crest of each hill.


With a steady south-westerly breeze blowing at 30-40km/h there wasn’t exactly no wind, but among those in the bunches it seemed those whom had ridden in the Tour of the Wairarapa two weeks ago had failed to notice it :>. Complaining of the breeze could be heard from numerous cyclists whose hometowns were not listed as Wellington on their race numbers :).


Having never before had a puncture during a cycle event I was mortified and deflated after only 68km - on the top of the Waihaha hills. Not only do I not get punctures during events, but this was an evil and slightly unusual front-wheel puncture! (Rear-wheel punctures being the norm due to higher weight loads on the wheel)


From analysing the data from my Garmin Edge 705 I was able to ascertain that it took 8:40 to:

  • Curse at the fact I had a puncture
  • Remind myself that I do not get punctures
  • Pull out my tools
  • Curse the fact that I had a puncture
  • Check for sharp objects in the tyre lining
  • Swap the tube
  • Cuss to myself some more about the fact I had a puncture
  • Re-inflate the tyre.

While the Garmin does indeed collect much data, like all technology it has its limitations and cannot distinguish between the productive time spent actually changing the tyre and the unproductive time spent cursing the fact that I had an evil puncture.


Once moving again my motivation was totally lacking and with some rain around Kuratau I really could not be bothered and rode gently and continued moaning to self about getting the puncture. All up, including all the cursing and reduced motivation a puncture is probably an extra 20-30 minutes of time on the road during an event like this.


With 50km to go I picked up a sizable bunch to travel along SH1 at good speed, giving me a few glimmers of hope that I could at least make it in under 6 hours. Unfortunately, the rumours of a specially built cyclist-only tunnel under Hatepe Hill were proven false. T

With evil cough and an evil puncture I finished in my “personal worst” time of six hours and six minutes and six seconds. Ugh! 6-6-6!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Tour of the Wairarapa 2009 - ‘twas a fraction windy

It could only be described as ominous as I drove past wind warning signs on thw way over the Rimutaka Hill, en-route to the start of the Tour of the Wairarapa. The registration area at the Lakeview School was more sheltered than the surrounding areas. It was humourous when one of my work colleagues who had entered the event declared:

At least its not too windy

Well matey the rest of us don’t use our bicycles in the pursuit of the activity known as Storm Chasing. Perhaps you would like to head stateside and chase some real storms?

Ride Data:
Distance: 112km 5,328 Calories
Time: 4:26:26 25.2 km/h
Elevation: Ascent: 984m Descent: 932m
Ride Data: Garmin Connect Player MapMyRide
Location: Masterton, NZ 15 November 2009
My Tour of The Wairarapa Results
2006 3:18:13 (100km@30.3)
2007 2:42:47 (100km@36.9)
2008 4:19:57 (112km@26.1)
2009 4:26:26 (112km@25.2)


He of course had the last laugh by finishing a long, long way in front of me. Obviously not too much of a breeze for him. Phew, I kept within an hour – just!


Like in 2008, the date of this event clashed with Toast Martinborough. To avoid traffic, the course was relocated to the 112km version from Masterton, out to Dreyers Rock, looping around Alfredton and Eketahuna back to Dryers Rock before the return to Masterton.


I began the race in a bunch over the first 40-odd kilometres and we were travelling between a comfortable 35km/h or a struggling 20km/h depending on the angle of the wind. Mostly an interlaced mixture of heinous crosswinds and evil headwinds, with rare but appreciated brief tailwinds. The weather station at nearby Castlepoint picked up a gust at 139km/h during this time which verified it was not just our imaginations making this an epic ride. The road over this section is very coarse chipseal, with some areas of delamination making for rough ride. I was definitely appreciating a smoother ride this year having upgraded from an aluminium frame to the carbon of my Specialized Roubaix.


As has been the case with my riding of late, I was unable to hang-on to the bunch as we hit the hills from Alfredton to Eketahuna. Following the descent Into the wind I was unable to bridge the gap spent some 10km following the bunch by 50-100m. I was desperate to rejoin the bunch and find some respite from the wind. Sadly, I didn’t have enough in me to bridge the gap :(.


From a self-diagnosis point of view, I’m certain that I have sub-consciously grinding up the hills rather than “spinning” with a high cadence. This is something I am going to have train back into me for 2010. Have been well of the pace this year!


Thankfully once reaching Eketahuna there were more tailwinds, and smoother road surfaces. This ensured that while I was tired, and had no bunches for drafting the second 56km was no slower than the first.


I eventually made the finish, almost seven minutes slower than last year. It was certainly more enjoyable riding in the gale-force wind than on a broken wheel last year. There were numerous times during the event where I had to make substantial steering corrections in the fresh and gusty breeze. It was great to hear that there were no injuries to any competitors during this event. I suspect the presence of the ever imminent threat of being blown to the next province ensured our fellow riders maintained their concentration and kept the rubber side down.


Sunday, 8 November 2009

Martinborough Charity Fun Ride 2009 – I’m slow this year

I really disappointed myself with my time in my fourth annual ride in the Martinborough Charity Fun Ride. Yes, I was sore from last weeks epic in the Coromandel but really I’m plain not fit enough this cycling season. Not only was it not a PB, but it was a awfully slow PW (Personal Worst)!.
Ride Data:
Distance: 113km 5,416 Calories
Time: 4:06:43 (PW by 14 minutes) 27.4 km/h
Elevation: Ascent: 1,132m Descent: 936m
Ride Data: Garmin Connect Player
Location: Martinborough, NZ 8 November 2009
Craig's MCFR Results
2006 3:52?
2007 3:36:04
2008 3:45:51
2009 4:06:43

I was unable to remain in bunch while ascending even these benign hills. I am stunned how much my hill climbing has completely deserted me this year. It is vividly clear that this is the main element that I will need on in training. I have never been an ultra-thin, borderline anorexic able to boast of superior power to weight ratios when climbing hills. But, I am certainly used to being a lot stronger on the hills than I currently find myself. Lots and lots of training to do! Ugh! The dreaded hill repeats!!

Unfortunately with a breeze around, I was not able to make it back to the bunch after the descents. This left me far too much work to do and I was just wasn’t fit enough for it. It is not looking up for a good lap around the small pond of Lake Taupo in a few weeks :(.