Monday, 23 July 2012

Getting Closer...

Time is flying by here! I have only five days till I'll be packing up my bags and beginning the journey home (however short a visit I'll be making there). I've had two good days of racing in the past week - the third was rained out, and replaced with the sort of erg session that draws one to tears - with track racing on Tuesday and the Lancaster Criterium on Saturday. The track racing got off to a hectic start, with my seat post clamp malfunctioning, and slipping down mid warm-up so I looked like I was riding a clown bike around in the paceline. After a panicked (and unsuccessful) attempt to fix it, I was thrown onto a completely different bike which was a few sizes too big for me. But knowing that I wouldn't have to take off my shoes and run around the track meant I was in no way complaining. Perhaps it was the adrenaline from such a dramatic start to the night, but I raced much better than the week before, and managed to pick up third equal in the omnium, as well as a massive ten dollars prize money (NZD$12.69). Lancaster Criterium was dominated by the kids in black and white, filling the podium in the women's race and taking out 1st and 2nd in the men's. Sophie and I managed to get a break and hold it for the last 5 or so laps, very much assisted by the blocking force made up of the rest of the girls, and Soph pipped me for 1st place in a very spectacular sprint finish (eh Soph). We also took out all six primes, though upon later reflection we decided they were really not worth contesting for. Particularly these.
I'm a bit shocked at how quickly this phase is drawing to it's end, but at the same time I'm looking forward to getting back to familiar territory and getting the last bits and pieces perfected for J-Dubs. It's been a long build-up, and all that's been on my mind for the last goodness-only-knows-how-long, so it's exciting (and a touch unsettling) to watch the Big Day edging it's way closer and closer. For now though, it's all about making the most of those days we have left.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Sweet Home Pennsylvania

So far it's been a pretty awesome and enlightening experience. I haven't often needed to swerve around horse drawn carts trotting down the side of the road while racing at home, or freeze my drink bottles before each ride so that I might get around burning my tongue when I have a drink half an hour into it. Some of it has been challenging.. such as accustoming to the drone of the air-conditioner going full blast in my ear whilst I'm trying to sleep.. but that's all part of living in a new country, with new conditions, among new cultures. And the upsides far outweigh the downs.

My first night of racing was a shocker, which you may have guessed is probably the reason I've left it until now to tell you about it. In short (because it is not worth going into great deal about), I was not in great shape for racing. And, to make matters worse for myself, my top two inches were switched off, so I raced the long way around the track and drew greater attention to my already obvious lack of form. Though I had to remind myself that the important thing was getting some good, hard racing into my legs, and that was what I did - as unspectacular a display as it may have been.

Since then I've got some solid rides, decent sleeps, a course of antibiotics and a bit of retail therapy into me, so with some luck, tonight should be a bit more of a success. (don't hold me to that)

Yesterday we were rewarded with a day off our bikes, which we spent exploring the second largest shopping mall in the U.S. The size of it was a bit overwhelming, and after four or so hours bouncing from shop to shop, I'm pretty sure we only saw the tip of the iceberg they call 'King of Prussia'. We came home with much thinner wallets and heavier vehicles (both because of the ridiculous amount of shopping bags we collected, and the pizza Racket and I scoffed), along with refreshed mindsets and rested legs to take into the rest of the week.

So all in all, it's been a positive and rewarding first week here, and I'm eager for some more.

Peace Out.

P.S. I never thought I'd say this - but to my fellow New Zealanders, you should take a moment to appreciate the wit of our TV advertisements. The ones here are distressingly tedious.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

You'll Find Us Chasing The Sun...

Time to blow the dust off my shorts and tees! Only one sleep left till I'm on my way to the US, where the side walks will not only be frost-free, but will give off sufficient heat to cook my breakfast. We had, overall, quite a successful week in Invercargill, despite some unwelcomed interruptions by illnesses and what-have-you. It's not always ideal to begin a training camp with four riders and come out of it with three, but unfortunately that's the way it went, and I'm sure our wounded soldier (Georgie) will be back on the front-line in no time at all. Bike riding is also made a whole lot less fun when every session is followed by a good chunder, however Alysha - being the hard-ass that she is - didn't let this phase her overly much.

In spite of this, and the fact that we felt as though we were riding every track session in a giant refrigerator, we still got some much-needed track time in, and a nice dose of lactic acid fed to our legs. We also gave our cores a decent work out, not in the standard way, but through spending a sizeable chunk of our free time sitting around regurgitating lame anti-jokes off the net.*

On the bright side (if there can be one in this situation), we can rest assured that we've had our share of hindrances and that the path from here to Jay Dubs will be one swept clear of any further boulders, landslides and rickety old bridges with a few too many rungs missing. And I am certain that some Pennsylvanian  sunshine along the way will do us all some good.


*PS. And the Lord said unto John, "Come forth and receive eternal life." But John came fifth and won a toaster.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Much Too Close to Antarctica for Comfort

We all know that Invercargill can get pretty cold in winter. So cold in fact that one must wear at least two pairs of everything (with the exception of shorts) if they want any show of making it twenty minutes into a road ride and still have feeling in their extremities. I thought I was relatively prepared for it until I hit the Southland roads this afternoon, and had to slide my way across patches of ice on the road. Slick tyres made this that little bit more thrilling. As well as Racquel's very alarming, high-pitched shrieks. Big ups to Mumma Georgie for brewing us all a nice cup of chocolatey goodness to defrost our fingers post-ride. Isn't she good.

Needless to say, I'm looking forward to hitting up the indoor track tomorrow, and we're all crossing our fingers that Cycling Southland will be kind enough to crank the heaters up full blast. (Bribery isn't yet out of the question...) Puffer jackets are the next best option but, as you can probably imagine, they create a bit of drag.

And it's always a good feeling being able to count down the days till we reach the searing hot temperatures of the U.S. of A on two hands. Seven fingers, in fact. It is strange, but satisfying, packing shorts, t-shirts and sunblock into a suitcase when you're wrapped up in a blanket in the middle of the day and have to ice-skate across to front lawn with a bucket of water to throw over the car.

But until then we'll be layering jackets upon jackets upon thermals, gritting our teeth and making some big gains with our training. And willpower.

Expect another post over the next few days... that is if my fingers haven't fallen victim to frostbite, in which case typing will become quite an issue.