Cycling Training Plans and Adaptability (Best laid plans of mice and men)

atop mt anakie with mates

Atop Mt Anakie during the Dirty Dozen

Sometimes you just have to go with the flow. My big goal over the last couple of weeks, was to ride what we called the ‘Brisbane Ranges Autumn Dozen’ – the ‘BAD’ ride. We intended to ride around 130 km of roads, over 13 (a ‘bakers dozen’, I suppose) of the biggest climbs in the Brisbane Ranges, which are just north of Geelong. This included the infamous ‘Godzilla’  – a beast of a climb, which hits a nasty 24% near the top.

The morning started really well. It’s dark later this time of year, with winter pretty much here. So we (Byron, Steve, Bill and me) gathered at 7 am at Anakie, lights on, straight to the first climb which was just 10 km or so away. O’Neils Rd. It’s not terrible, with a great smooth surface, and a great warm up covering 2 km or so of uphill effort. So far so good.

Next was Pringles Rd, which is just a grinding hill, not steep, rising perhaps 100m or so over 2 km. But this leads onto one of the first real challenges, ‘Bride of Godzilla’, just east of Maude. And then – puncture. Annoying, but manageable. It happens. Stone removed, tube replaced, tyre pumped with Co2…done. On my way again.

godzilla cycling monster

Starts innocuous enough, but turn right and then Boom Godzilla!

Having climbed ‘Bride of Godzilla’ it was time for Godzilla itself. This nasty hill sits just south of Maude. First you head west along Perdrisat Rd, past the road signs warning drivers of what nastiness there is ahead, and it immediately heads down at around 15% before it flattens out, crosses the Moorabool River, and pitches up again. It starts out easy enough, with a gradient of 6% or so. But then as you turn south again, it quickly hits 15%, and just before the top, right as you a gasping for air,  forces you to grind away at 20-24% of lung busting efforts, until it releases you.

Well, I got half way, and…yep…puncture.

Not so easy to fix this time. Not only did I get a puncture, but my last remaining spare tube wouldn’t go up. So patches it was…but when I tried to patch it, the glue refused to take. Aaaaaargh. 1/2 hour later, I was gingerly on my way again having had to hand pump the tire (I’d also run out of Co2 cylinders).

To say I was not a popular guy with the group is a bit of an understatement. Not that they would say so.

I was totally defeated, feeling like every bounce in the road, was my tyre going back down again. My buddies coerced me into at least riding back to Anakie along DeMotts Rd. This is another nasty little hill, which was on our ride plan for the day. From the top it drops back down to the start, and I was intent on just jumping in my car and heading home.

As I said, sometimes you just have to know when you’ve had enough…but then again, sometimes fate takes a slightly different turn, and changes a negative experience into something just that little bit special.

Feeling a bit more confident that my tyre was going to last, after a short break, we headed north with the plan to ride to the top of Mt Anakie. This was only 5 km or so away, and if I got a flat, I knew at least I could walk back.

We weren’t at all sure in fact if you could climb Mt Anakie. Well, in reality you can’t really, or at least shouldn’t if you followed the rules. But with a little fence climbing, off road riding, in fact you can, and we made it to the top of the highest point in the area.

Fair to say, as Mt Anakie did not have a Strava segment, it certainly did by days end.

So, there you have it, the Bakers Dozen turned into the Brisbane Ranges climb of 8…not exactly as planned (thanks to me), but a very satisfying (if reduced) day in the end.

Mt Anakie beckoned for a return visit with the right type of bike.

sequoia challenge

Atop Mt Anakie again, this time on the Sequoia with more traction

My subsequent week had been a pretty quiet one. My training again had suffered with a lot going on at work, and a general lack of motivation. I’d had just the one indoor ride through the week, and knew I had to do a couple of good rides on the weekend given it was officially just three months until I head off to Ohio.

Jen and I had spent the night on Friday in Melbourne seeing a show, so Saturday afternoon, I decided I’d tackle a couple of the climbs in the Brisbane Ranges again, this time on the Sequoia so I could set the KOM on the Anakie climb.

So I rode from my home this time, and went straight to Anakie, which is about 40 km, then jumped the fence again, and raced up the gravel and dirt, before climbing the second fence, and riding the rest of the way to the top.

I pushed pretty hard, and broke the KOM by 5 mins. Now, this sounds great, except it was only set the week before by the four of us, while each of us waited for each other. So needless to say this record will not last. But at least it gives me bragging rites for perhaps a few weeks, until one of the guys heads out there themselves.

The next climb was back along O’Neils Rd, and then home, clocking up just over 90 km’s. It was a comfortable ride.

Today (Sunday), my friend Byron was heading across Port Phillip bay to hold his daughters birthday with the rest of his extended family, south east of Melbourne. As he was looking for a riding buddy I went along with him (On a very brisk winter morning. Now when I say brisk, I mean bloody god damn cold), riding to Queenscliffe, catching the ferry to Sorrento, before climbing the back way to the top of Arthurs Seat.

The ferry’s leave Sorrento on the hour, so as soon as we reached the top of the climb, I left Byron to his festivities, and I was off again, to make sure I made the next one. But just down at the base of Arthur’s Seat, I had a massive hunger flat (damn Byron…pushed me!). After a few lollies, I was off again, and was able to pick up enough speed to make it to the ferry in time (just).

Dont pay the ferryman

The Ferry at Queenscliffe

Cramming down some sausage rolls, Mars bars and coffee, and with 45 mins of rest on the way back to Queenscliffe on the ferry, once we birthed, I rode into the wind, back through Oceangrove, Barwon Heads and into Geelong and home. This was a total distance for the day of 170 km.

In the end, although a very quiet riding week, I racked up around 300 km. Not huge, but a couple of solid back to back days riding.

In training, I always try to create a pretty structure training program. In fact, I generally put these into a spreadsheet, by date, distance and time. In reality though, paradoxically I find it very hard to follow any documented program, and end up stressed out that I haven’t done what was written.

The last two weeks have been anything but structured, both by chance, in that I got a couple of mechanicals, and with just life being what it is. In the end, when I look back, I’m happy though with where I am from a preparation perspective. It’s also given me the chance to discover a great new climb (and create a KOM which are few and far between for me).

So perhaps I won’t plan next week at all!

(well that’s not going to happen…in fact next weekend is a long weekend in Victoria, and the plan is a return to complete the Dirty Dozen…weather permitting. It just has to be done).

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