Lisa's bike ramblings

Another reason to race CX

One of the things I love about riding is the people you meet along the way. I'm sure you are the same. Cycling (and sport in general) has a great bonding quality that brings together people from all walks of life to share in something they love. Tonight I had the pleasure of meeting Iain Banfield, otherwise known as @veganbaker, who runs Fruition organic bakery in the Yarra Valley. Iain made the fantastic trophies for the second CX national race in Melbourne recently. In case you didn't see them, they were loaves of organic sourdough with bikes carved into them. I have always dreamed of winning an edible trophy.

In Italy it's not uncommon for winners of bike races to be awarded prizes like a hunk of prosciutto or parma ham. This was a great way of putting an Aussie spin on a Euro tradition in a sport that is, like, so Euro.

It was really cool to meet Iain tonight and share his enthusiasm for all things bikely. He showed me his bicycle polo bike that he'd just finished playing a game on and then left me with a special bike loaf, which is the big picture above. It really made my day.

I love bike people. If you are ever in Healesville, drop past Fruition and say thanks to Iain for supporting CX racing in Australia. His bread is awesome, too.

Here's a clip from the first CX round from SBS Cycling Central on Sunday night. Get amongst it and come race the next one!

Ride Happy.

Chanelling the van der Ploegs

Ever since I started riding I've been trying to work out how I can go faster. Can I train harder? Eat better? Change equipment? Sleep more? About a year ago I worked out that I was looking at the problem the wrong way.

To say that riding fast is the key to cycling is like saying that yoga is the key to a long and fulfilling life. It might be part of it, but focusing entirely on it is not going to make you much fun to sit next to at dinner parties give you the outcome you want or make your life better. At the end of the day, we ride bikes because we enjoy it - or once did, or think we should. Sometimes it's easy to forget that amongst all the power meters and carbon fibre and early morning sessions.

This year I've tried something different with my racing. Instead of worrying about the details, I've been channelling the van der Ploegs.

Many of you will know the van der Ploeg family personally. It's hard to be involved in cycling in Australia and not see, hear, or be passed by a van der Ploeg at some stage in a race. The family hails from Mt Beauty in Victoria and 4 of the 5 boys have represented Australia in either mountain biking, cross-country skiing, or both. The entire family exudes a joie de vivre that I believe Chanel is trying to bottle and sell as an exclusive 'No.6' fragrance. It's hard to have a conversation with a van der Ploeg and not feel better about the world afterwards.

I've seen a lot of Paul and Neil this year at races and these guys crack me up. What I love about them is that they epitomise the pure joy of riding bikes. They are immensely talented and don't take themselves too seriously. Most of all, they remind me of how much better racing is when you just enjoy the ride. To give you a glimpse of life inside the mind of a van der Ploeg, this just popped into my Facebook feed:

 Neil van der Ploeg (about an hour ago)
Our plant that "thrived on neglect" died, despite getting nothing BUT the very finest neglect. Be warned, despite their bad ass attitude they really are sensitive plants on the inside and need nurturing, just like all of us. Let this death be a lesson to us all.
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Paul also writes a great blog about his racing adventures in Europe with the Felt-Oztail Bionic MTB world cup team.

So, back to racing. Last week I raced the Santos North West Tour in NSW, which was the most recent national road series tour. It was a 4-day, 5-stage tour starting in Narrabri and passing through Coonabarabram and Gunnadah before finishing in Tamworth. I went as a team of one. I was lucky to be adopted by the Suzuki Cycling Team and treated as one of their own, which was lovely. Amongst other things, it was a rare treat to be able to do the washing and not confuse my knicks with anyone else's.

The first couple of stages I didn't have much fun. I found the racing stressful and insular without teammates. Then I ran into Jenny van der Ploeg after the crit and she was telling me how Neil's team (Search2Retain) had just finished racing Tour of Toowoomba and had to raise funds, get a support crew and convince riders to stay on to race the Santos North West Tour the following week. They did it, because they love racing and they wanted to ride. It made me realise that I could do worse than to channel some of that positivity. I mightn't be able to change the race, but I could change how I felt about it.

The next few stages were a lot better. I worried less about the racing and spent more time enjoying it. I lost the NRS leader's jersey, but made some new friends in the Suzuki crew and had a great time. I think channelling the van der Ploegs worked.

When I think back to my fondest cycling moments, they aren't race results or self-transcending interval sessions or PBs. They are the road trips with my mates to races in the middle of nowhere; the jokes shared around a table in Smiths Gully with a bunch of middle-aged professionals* as the rain pours down outside; the post-race debriefs with the Platypus of Truth. It's these shared experiences that make me remember what a great community the cycling scene is.

Next week we are racing the next NRS tour in Canberra. I'll have McConville and Jallen back, and Supercoach and Moody are looking after us. And - very exciting - Kendelle is coming up too as she gets a step closer to kicking her glandular fever. I can't wait.

Ride happy.

PS - thanks to JXP Photography for the race image above.

*Just for you, Mick

Tour of Geelong (or Why Riding A Tour Is Much Like Christmas)

Wait... I know what you're thinking. Bear with me... As an incentive to keep reading, here are some FACTS. Last weekend was the Tour of Geelong, the latest round of the National Road Series. Team VIS was reduced to 3 riders due to injury (Roy), overseas commitments (Jojo) and last-minute call ups to So You Think You Can Dance (others). The tour was taken out by Bec Wiesak who showed that living through a Canberra Winter is no obstacle to good form. Loren Rowney won the Stomper Jersey for 2 stage wins, although we are still awaiting confirmation from officials that there was no motor hidden in her bionic elbow. And VIS's own Kendelle Hodges won the Top Chick award for coming 2nd on GC with a blistering TT on the new Apollo beasts.

The Tour of Geelong was my first race since early May. Why? Because I missed the taste of my own blood in the back of my mouth, and racing 95km of hills around Anakie while fit sounded way too easy. There was also a hip injury involved, but mostly it was the blood in the back of my mouth thing. Since my year has been so disrupted by injury, racing has taken on a special form. It has happened so rarely that it reminded me of something else that happens only once a year. So here goes...

Why Tour Riding Is Like Christmas

The last-minute shopping

 Regardless of how prepared you are, in the days leading up to a tour you will suddenly find a bazillion things you need. You can guarantee that this will be the time that batteries die and cables break. Luckily though, this not being Christmas Eve you can usually find a shop open and someone less stressed than you to help.* And the food shopping! Don't forget the food shopping!

*Incidentally, thank you to Will and John at Bicycle Superstore Flemington for finding me a new TT saddle, measuring me up and glueing 2 new race tyres last week. Thank you also to Jared and Ben at Apollo for performing emergency surgery on my cable router and replacing my rear cassette bearings. And thanks to Ryan Moody, mechanic extraordinaire, for prepping everything else. You get the picture...

 Everyone is excitable

Tour riding brings out a strange polarization of emotions reserved usually for occasional and intense family gatherings. You will laugh, you will cry, and someone will insist on not being photographed with their hair like that. And you'll suddenly notice a jolly fat man appearing everywhere, at the start of every stage, making a list and checking it twice. 

 You can't sleep

Because SO MUCH IS HAPPENING TOMORROW! Then you wake up during the night and keep checking your alarm to see how much longer you have left to sleep. Then you wake up stupidly early and watch crappy morning talkshows or Video Hits just to distract you from the chaos that is about to unfold.

You forget what to do

Somehow, between Christmases, you forget all the hard work involved, how tiring it is and how many times in your head you want to give up and go live in a cave. It had been so long since I'd last raced that I was all out of practice and it took me about 3 hours to work out how many gels I needed. If I didn't have a supercoach and mechanic running after me I probably would have forgotten my bike. 

You get to eat ridiculous amounts of food

Better yet, someone's mum will cook up an awesome lasagne and feed you cupcakes and raspberry and white chocolate muffins.

You put your 'special' on

 THIS is the time to crack out your favourite socks.

You get presents!

At the Tour Donna bought me a banana. I don't know where she got the money but it was AMAZING. Like Christmas, I unwrapped it too quickly and in a second it was gone.

Thanks to Jarrod Partridge from JXP Photography and Jules from Team XOSize for the pics. More in the gallery below...


My riding happy in Adelaide photos

20110628-060459.jpg I took the chance while I was in Adelaide to find some bike pictures from my childhood. Despite finding everything from my first day of school to my last Magic Cave visit, I couldn't find any of me riding a bike. I put this down to the fact that our family car was a Triumph 2500, which was a great and noble car but also a SEDAN. No chance of fitting two little girls' bikes in on Summer holidays.

So here are 2 pictures I did find. The first is the tricycle pic above, with my sister Cathy, me in the middle and our friend Christie at the helm.

The second (below) is my sister on her tricycle, fending me off.


And this (below) is as close to recumbent cycling as I'll get.


Travelling 700km for a bike setup

20110628-015429.jpg Just touched down in Adelaide for a 24 hour whirlwind visit to get my bike setup done (again!), this time by the Guru Brian Hayes at AIS. For those of you who know me, you'll know I've been trying to get the better of a pesky hip for the last 9 months or so. I have a crack team of specialists at the VIS and I couldn't be in better hands. Hopefully a fresh set of eyes at my bike setup will offer an answer.


In the meantime, here's a picture of a recumbent rider I passed on the weekend. Glorious.