Goldfields, Cyclocross and all the stem you can chew

As of 3:42pm today, I am officially in the off-season. In the spirit of Jans Ullrich, the off-season will involve:

  • Pinot
  • Discotheque
  • A fairly relaxed attitude to skin folds
  • At least one affair with a model
It's been a long season. The last month has involved the final cycle-cross national round, an MTB stage race in Timor, and the last 2 national road series rounds.For the last 5 or so weeks I have resembled a small hermit crab. That is, mostly inside a shell, curled into a small ball, hoping no one will find me. You all know how Tour de Timor went. Enough said.

After coming home from Timor, I enjoyed one glorious, relaxing, slovenly weekend off the bike (during which I bought a house, hurrah!) and then it was straight into the final cyclocross national round in Sydney. I ate some dirt and tried not to drop myself, and luckily survived to win the national series. Hurrah!

At this stage I was still a bit fried from Timor. I was pretty worried I had done some permanent damage after getting heat stress in Timor. No one likes a whinger, so I limited the whinging to my Mum, who is biologically obliged to love me no matter what. Thanks, Mum. And I stopped training, because that's what heat stress does. No one offered me drugs, which is more than I can say for Lance.
After a week I emerged from my mollusc to race the Shipwreck Classic, a one-day jaunt around Warrnambool finishing at Allansford Cheeseworld, which is like Disneyworld but with fewer rides and more cheese. It had been a few months since the VIS chicks last got to race together, and I had really missed it. And fortunately the girls are very forgiving of teammates with questionable legs, so we all had a ball.

Four days after Shipwreck we started the Tour of the Goldfields, otherwise known as the Tour-To-Replace-Herald-Sun-Tour Tour. I do like Ballarat, and despite the announcement that the NRS would be extended by an extra tour having sunk my little heart a little further and my resolve to get post-Timor blood tests done a little firmer, it was super cool to be racing a tour with the team again.

Jess 'Jens Voigt' Allen, Chloe 'QOM' McConville and I were joined by Jo 'Flying Glutard' Hogan and Bridie 'TT Machine' O'Donnell who were fresh from their international seasons. (Actually, maybe 'fresh' is the wrong word. Does anyone come back from an international season 'fresh'?) Luckily, their end-of-season is still better than most people's peak form. So, for the first time ALL YEAR, the VIS chicks were A FULL TEAM! Oh world, look out.
Tour of Goldfields was 4 stages over 3 days and in a word it was ON. One of the highlights was the TTT, where we all got to wear matching onsies and enjoyed trying not to vomit while holding Bridie and Jess' wheels.

Quite unintentionally I ended up scoring the leader's jersey after the TTT. I can't really take credit for it - i just happened to be the one in the VIS wearing it - but it was a nice end to the TTT from that morning.

Going into the last stage we had a few cards we could play, but our best chance was to get Chloe 'Quads' McConville up for the GC win. It didn't work out, but it was one of the best days of racing the NRS has seen. Cross-winds, gutter action, breakaways - we did all we could to steal the jersey back from SASI but they held onto it after a battle royale that will be one of my fondest memories of the NRS this year.

So that concludes my 2012 racing season. I'm taking the next few months off racing, mostly because my body is a wreck post-Timor and I'm not in the mood to get really really sick, which is what is going to happen if I do any more racing anytime soon. It's been a heck of a year. I try not to get too self-indulgent on Ride Happy, but I am really proud to have won the Cyclocross national series and to have finished 2nd in the national road series. Neither were expected and both were fantastic. At the time you are just trying to survive till the next race, but looking back on it it's been just amazing. I am lucky to have the support of a top crew (including VIS and Apollo) who give us cyclists amazing equipment, coaching and support to let us live out this surreal existence. Most of all, I'm lucky to have Supercoach and Ryan 'Diamonds' Moody, who make sure the VIS trips are fun and professional. So thanks guys, it's been awesome.

Ride Happy.

Lisa's Mum goes to the Canbrrrrrra Tour

[Image (c) Mark Gunter Photography] Last weekend Lisa's Mum visited Canberra for the Canberra Women's Tour, the latest NRS tour in the ladies' calendar. Actually, she meant to go to Floriade but got the dates wrong. Mum does like a good chrysanthemum. Nevertheless, the racing provided a welcome distraction from the disappointment of missing Canberra's most prestigious flower festival.

Canberra Tour for most of us is known simply as 'The Cold Tour'. In fact, even when there were 2 Canberra Tours in Winter, there was one that was Pretty Cold and one that was So Cold That Your Fingers Felt Like They'd Been Slammed Into A Car Door Cold. Faced with the difficult decision to cut one of the tours from the race calendar, organisers wisely chose to retain the latter tour, presumably because they liked black ice and one of them owned shares in Icebreaker. Not that Lisa's Mum was complaining. On the contrary, she took great delight in finding weather that was cold enough to warrant wearing her fleece-lined, wind-proof, water-resistant, snow-proof bib tights. These tights hadn't been called into service since Lisa's Mum's days as an extra in Olivia Newton-John's 'Let's Get Physical' video clip, and she was pleased for an opportunity to bring them out again.

Lisa's Mum was gratified to find that the tour had been scheduled in the middle of Canberra's coldest spell of weather since 1936. It made her feel less awkward about adding anti-freeze to her bidon and wearing fur coats made from endangered animals.Lisa's Mum did wonder, however, at how cyclists in Canberra manage to get through a whole season like this. On reflection, she concluded that the Winters were probably the reason why Canberra breeds so many good professional cyclists. Everyone has an incentive to get good enough so they can bugger off to a pro team and a European Summer.

Mum was also particularly impressed by the standard of racing at the Tour. The 4-stage event was won by Taryn Heather, a South Australian who has the distinction of having raced more world championships than NRS races (well, almost). Taz's return to form after injury and illness is a sign of great things to come. While Taz conceded at the start of the tour that she was only at around 80% fitness, the rest of the peleton quietly hoped that their 100% would be as good as her 80%. It wasn't.

While happy to reunite with the AIS food hall, Lisa's Mum left Canberra feeling slightly disappointed. It wasn't so much the lack of sticky date pudding, but more the fact that the Curse of the VIS Women's Team had struck again, reducing the team to 2 riders. This time it was illness that was the culprit, claiming Jess 'Jallen' Allen, Supercoach, Moody... and slowly everyone else. The Enforcer, not one to shy away from punishment, performed the work of 4 teammates but in the end the VIS Chicks left a broken crew.

Before signing out... a shout out to a good friend of Ride Happy, Jarrod Partridge (aka Mr JXP Photography) who together with Cycling Cafe founder Simon Cadzow is riding the Tour de France on stationary trainers to raise money for Autism SA & The Army of Autism Awareness Angels. You can read all about his crazy adventures here. If you're feeling the cold this Winter, jump in and make a donation for instant warm fuzzies.

Ride happy.

North West Tour - on the road again

I'm on the way to stage 3 of the North West Tour- so please excuse the short post as it's from the back of a van.I'm here at the tour as a team of 1, as the rest of the VIS crew couldn't make it and wanted to remind me how much I'd miss them.

Luckily for me I've been adopted by the good people at Team Suzuki who are kindly letting me join them for the week. Highlights so far have included Bernadette's awesome cooking, some projectile vomiting (get well soon Laura) and entry into thr inner sanctum of the Suzuki girls' pre-race preparation. I must admit I had not previously appreciated the importance of race nails and go-faster braids, but I will go home from the tour a more complete rider for it.

The first stage Prologue (3.6km) was followed by a crit which was about as confusing as they come. A rider had crashed and the stage was neutralised, but an abundance of yellow, red and green flags and some unclear instructions meant that no one really knew when we were racing again. I suspect it was a little too convenient for riders to yell 'Neutral!' when someone attacked and they weren't in the mood to chase, but I suppose that is part of the tactical genius that is involved in crit racing.

We are now heading to the Queen stage, a hilly 76km around coonabarabran. i just love the town names around here.

Ride happy .



Lisa's Mum presents Battle on the Border vs Mt Beauty 6 hr MTB (in an Eagle-versus-Shark kind of way)

My race report from Battle on the Border (last weekend in Qld) is way overdue. As is my race report from the Mt Beauty 6 hour MTB race the previous weekend. As is my uni assignment. So, in the interests of multi-tasking, I enlisted the help of Lisa's Mum to consolidate the two races into the one report. (PS - Big up to Mark Gunter who took the cover photo - it's a ripper) Lisa's Mum enjoys these creative challenges because it distracts her from other everyday crises, such as finding a park at Burnside Village on pension day without being hit by an elderly driver high on pharmacy jelly beans. Mum was not actually present at either race, on account of a late call-up to cover the Giro d'Italia for Le Petit Pois d'Avigne, central France's most respected boutique agricultural journal. Mum is certain that a foothold in the French gardening market will leave her poised to catapult into the SBS commentary team at the Tour de France in July. In the meantime, she is enjoying the hospitality and professionalism of LPPdA and has all the carrots she can eat.

I sent Lisa's Mum by telegram a series of photos from the races (taken by the invaluable Ryan 'Diamonds' Moody*) with the strict instructions that she was to research carefully each race and provide an informative and insightful race summary to match the photos. Here is Lisa's Mum's report:

Mt Beauty is a small peaceful settlement in North-East Victoria at the base of Falls Creek, breeding ground of Australian sporting legends including Ronan 'Shooter' Magharan and Paul van der Ploeg's legs. Also home to a permanent Boil Water notice on account of the high faecal content in the local supply. The two are not thought to be related. 

Like Mt Beauty, the Mullumbimby Shire (home of the Battle on the Border) boasts a generous bogan quotient and $6 burger-and-pot deals at the local RSL. The two are most definitely related.

The Mt Beauty 6 hr MTB race was run with professional aplomb by the good folks at Team Mt Beauty. The crew assured us that the course would be suitable for all but the most novice of riders. It later transpired that 'novice' in Mt Beauty terms means 'Olympic pre-selection'. They breed them tough in Mt Beauty. Each lap had around 250m of vertical which was covered in the first 4km, followed by 4km of descending back down to the start/finish area. It was a great course, matched by perfect conditions and an on-site coffee van. Highly recommended. The VIS ran a tight crew of KAOS and LJ racing women's pairs and Ryan Moody riding solo on a single speed rigid, just to make everyone else look bad. 

The Battle on the Border was the second race in the women's National Road Series, and consisted of a 7.1km time trial followed by 98km road race (Sat), 84km road race (Sun) and crit (Mon). Highlights included working on our tan lines, cruising Surfers Paradise and not getting hit by cars in the first road race. The VIS ran a small crew of 3 riders - LJ, the Enforcer and Spike - so as to maintain its goal ratio of 2:3 staff to athletes. Team mascot The Platypus of Truth was joined by Rupert the paranoid schizophrenic bear, featuring in his first road event. 

The Battle on the Border saw the return of cycling super mum Ruth Corset, 2009 National Champion, to the women's peleton. Ruth has been training for the Cairns Half Ironman and just popped back into the peleton to remind herself how much swimming and running sucks. As we saw her disappear up the KOM on the first road race and solo to a victory and overall Tour win, the rest of the peleton quietly considered adding some half-ironman intervals to their training programs, too.

Part-time Dutchie Chloe 'The Enforcer' McConville was in stomping form, enforcing all over the place and ending up 3rd on GC...

...and then hightailing it back to the AIS European base four days later.

 The dynamic duo of Supercoach and Diamonds yet again kept Team VIS organised, well-equipped and wanting for nothing all weekend. Except maybe some more teammates...

Thanks Lisa's Mum for such insightful commentary. A big up to Tour winner Ruth Corset - it's great seeing her back in the peleton. Congrats also to TT machine Bec Wiszeak (2nd). I hung on for 4th and kept the NRS lead for now.

Ride happy.


* Why Diamonds? Because as a bike mechanic, myotherapist, logistics genius and undisputed King of Car Tetris (Luggage Division), he's the VIS girls' best friend and every other team wants him for their own.

Show no Mersey (and some cool news)

Last weekend was the Mersey Valley Tour, the first race of the national road series. The VIS women (or @VIS_Chicks now, for all the cool kids) were running a skeleton operation due to a last-minute poaching job by Australian team coach Martin Barras.

With 2 weeks to go before the tour, our casualty list looked like this:

  • Jo 'Schlecky Sister #1' Hogan: Pro team contract. Off winning races in Basque country.
  • Kendelle 'TT Machine' Hodges: Glandular. Plotting return to domination from the VIS gym.
  • Chloe 'The Enforcer' McConville: Jayco-AIS call up for enforcing duties in Belgium.
  • Me: No fixed address. AWOL in Adelaide.
Luckily, a quick phone call to South Africa found VIS mountain biker Katherine O'Shea chilling on a spinal board following a bad crash at a world cup. Having nothing better to do than kick around in a neck brace, KAOS agreed to step back into the VIS road team for a celebrity appearance. Also joining the team was young gun Toni Abassogni, who was in the hunt for U19 worlds team selection. With Kendelle out of action and Jo and Chloe out of the country, I received a call that no cyclist wants to get in the middle of Easter.*
The call was from the Supercoach, with the general theme being that I had to be in Tassie, fitness or no fitness, because otherwise VIS wouldn't be able to fill a team. I don't like to disappoint the Supercoach, mainly because she is the one setting my ergo sessions and she can be vengeful. So off to Tassie we went.

Mersey Valley Tour was a 3-stage, 2 day affair involving more suffering than I care to remember and more rain that I care to ride in. It was lucky we were racing because I wouldn't have ridden in that weather if I'd had the choice. Fortunately, Supercoach and team mechanic Ryan Moody had everything running so smoothly that all I had to think about was how much I dislike riding in the rain. In other words, we were very well looked after.

Stage 1 was a Time Trial, stage 2 was a road race with a hilltop finish, and stage 3 was a longer road race with some hills. Given my preparation, I did not expect to go well. This was not being modest. This was a rational judgement call taking into account the ratio of pinot drinking to ergo time I'd been rocking the previous few weeks.** But I had underestimated the power of a great team, and we won the tour instead. There is an article about the racing here if you like details. The moral of the story is: Always listen to your coach (and be mindful of ergo vengeance).

The reality of the tour was that I suffered like a dog, but since I hadn't suffered in a while the novelty overwhelmed the pain. Also, KAOS did an awesome job of keeping my nose out of the wind on the road stages. Congrats to VIS rider Alex Morgan who dominated the TT and last stage to wrap up GC in the U19 men. And to Miranda Griffith and Amy Bradley who were 2nd and 3rd GC respectively in elite women. And apologies to Miranda for having to pull a dirty sit-on job on the last stage. Miranda attacked late in the last stage and as she was my only time threat on GC I just had to go with her and sit on her wheel. I didn't know our GC times (there was a computer glitch which meant the race organisers didn't release standings or time gaps) and I hadn't remembered what the time bonuses were for stage wins, so I was flying blind. I've lost a tour before by not being au fait on time bonuses and I couldn't do it again. Luckily Miranda didn't lose as much sleep about it as I did, probably because she knows it is only 2 weeks until she can seek revenge on the hills on Murwillumbah in the next NRS race.

Thanks as always to the people who keep me and the VIS team going: Supercoach, Ryan Moody, Apollo, VIS, Fitzroy Revolution, St Mel, CCCC and Perfect Pilates. And to Anthony Klarica who has provided invaluable sports psych help over the past few weeks (I owe you a box of tissues Anthony).

And now... onto the exciting news. Well done for lasting this long - it's been a long post. You may remember me hammering on from time to time about race and recovery nutrition. I'm a bit of a recovery nerd. Tour riding is all about who can recover the best between stages, and one of the keys to good recovery is getting the right nutrition at the right time.
I'm pleased to announce that I will be partnering with ASCEND this year as a brand ambassador. ASCEND is a group of scientists who make the best recovery products going around. I used their Elite Recovery drink and Protein Catalyst after every stage in Tassie. You can make your own mind up on their products, but for me the results speak for themselves. ASCEND is offering Ride Happy readers 15% off online orders at - just put the code JACOBS in at checkout. Or you can hit me up at the next road or MTB race for a sample.

Ride Happy.
*Actually, despite the inherent risk that Easter chocolatiness poses to a climber, my Easter-egg-eating plans ended up being curtailed by FORGETFULNESS. You know who you are.
**I am not an alcoholic. But I do endorse the James Broadway Biodynamic Pinot Training Program, run with some success out of Gertrude St Enoteca in Fitzroy.

Shipwreck Coast Classic (or why cheese factories should be incorporated into more NRS races)

Today was the final of the national road series for 2011- the Shipwreck Coast Classic in Warrnambool, VIC.The NRS is a long and hard series for cyclists and to ensure that no one wants to do anymore, the last race is traditionally held during Victoria's wettest month in an area known for its windfarms. And Cheese World...


Team VIS were on a mission.

Chloe 'Ranga' McConville, the defending Shipwreck champ, wanted to make sure the 2011 title went to a worthy (and ideally Victorian-based) winner.

Katherine 'Where is the singletrack?' O'Shea, fresh from shaking up the Tour of Langkawi, was tricked into coming with the promise of a side trip to Forrest on the way home.

Kendelle 'Superstar' Hodges had taken a ride in a team car for Melbourne-Warny the day before and needed a lift home.

And I was there because I knew Donna would bring bananas. (Who said there was no money in women's cycling?)

Of course, this is all a lie. All of us except Kendelle were there because we wanted to visit Allansford Cheese World (like Disneyworld, but with more cheese and in Allansford). Kendelle was there because she had inadvertently spent all our prize money from Geelong Tour on shoes and needed some quick cash.

The race itself was decided by a 3-lady breakaway of Grace Sulzberger, Sinead Noonan and our very own Kendelle 'serial shopper' Hodges who got clear at around the 4km mark and stayed away for the remaining 112km. These ladies are 3 of Australia's best cyclists right now and rode an excellent race.

I don't know how much Kendelle spent on shoes but it must have been a lot because she won not only the race but the QOM as well. This is after winning stage 5 of the Honda Tour in a similarly epic breakaway. What a legend.

We also took out the teams' classification for the NRS and got to spray each other with champagne and cheese.


Our biggest disappointment all day was that we did not get to spray Supercoach Donna Rae-Szalinski and mechanic extraordinaire Ryan Moody at the presentations. They have put so much work into us and they should have copped a faceful for it.

A great way to end the NRS.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Gracie Elvin who conducted some helmet impact testing today. Gracie passed but the helmet did not.

Ride happy.