It’s been over a week and this is my third attempt to write a post. There’s nothing I can do it will be long, it won’t have any pictures, but I’ll try and keep it interesting! I’ve been down in Geelong training with Toby for the past week. It’s been a week with a few reminders of how cool the life of an athlete is. Sometimes I whine on here, but really this is an awesome lifestyle. I’ve slept on mattresses on the floor, got to know a large colony of ants, ridden hard, run hard, swum… Stretched the term racing a couple of times and experienced some of the most painful massage ever! Like I say this beats an office job hands down.
Skipping back a week just after yet another flight and bus journey I arrived in Geelong. I had a fair idea of what was to come. Toby was setting the training plan, I’d just be following. Got to say I do like it when someone else has to come up with what to do. This did mean a couple of hours after arriving it was out for a 2 hour run. Typically two hours would be my long run for the week, this one wasn’t. Pace was built a little so we didn’t take things too easily doing come loops around the Botanical Gardens and then out and back along the water front. A few short efforts towards the end of the run were a surprise and there was no chance I was sticking with Toby. Still all was good a nice solid run out the way and it hadn’t just been plodding. I had been promised an emphasis on quality in both run and bike.
Day two introduced me to the swim squad and some local riding. It’s a squad of mixed abilities, plenty of kids who leave me far behind, but at least one or two others who weren’t so fast. An indoor 25m pool too I’m not used to this! The squad has some pretty decent sessions not that I ever felt I swam well enough to make the most of them. The best I felt came out of it was being reminded that those extra turns in a shorter pool make your times faster! Actually to be fair probably the best thing I can take away is that I need to get swimming with a squad again.
The plan for the ride was to head out to Lorne along the Great Ocean Road and do some hill reps there before heading back. All in should be around the 180K mark with quality work in the middle. As we roll out of town Toby commented that we’d keep things fairly easy on the way out. The headwind begged to differ and the next few hours were far more of a slog than intended. We arrived at Lorne half-an-hour slower than it usually takes and pretty worn for the effort! At least it was a lunch break pre-climb. The hill itself was great. Ten kilometres in length and a gradient that let you keep a solid effort in, never kicking up too much. I got to lead the first time up keeping the pace steady. Toby set a new PB the second time up, whilst I seem to have basically repeated my first performance. Not my best climbing, at least the second time round I kicked up the power for the last few Ks. Then it was home and with the wind at our back. Still felt pretty rooted and a good coffee stop was taken on route.
I felt day two had been my first solid riding and training since Epic Camp. The powermeter seems to back that up and it was good to know I could put in some decent work. Having to keep up with Toby helped a lot, there wasn’t too much time to really go easy. We finished the ride with a detour for sushi. By this point some had to be eaten before we left the shop just to get us home! I will save comments on training insights for another post, but will mention that I have rediscovered an addiction to sushi!
Toby’s program front loaded a lot of the work. Day 3 was another big day, a 2.5 hour run with a 4 hour ride later. It could have been a 3 hour run, but even by this point I never argued if things were shortened! A long run and a reasonably long ride in one day was also new to me. Still you don’t learn if you don’t try these things! The route was along the river with various detours. Having mentioned I hated running steps I think Toby secretly enjoyed adding them in where he could! Sensible pacing got us through the run without too much incident.
The ride sort of became easy. I say sort of because it was easier than the previous day, but it wasn’t an easy ride! Sure we stopped for lunch and later a coffee break at a fantastic cafe with awesome chocolate and hazelnut muffins! In between we actually did some solid work though. One of the benefits of the powermeter is I know how easy I’m really going. Headwinds were prevalent again so as long as I wanted to keep moving forward it was never going to be super easy! Then I didn’t want to have to keep making Toby hold back too much either. Always good to have some solid motivation. The route proved shorter than the planned 4 hours, but I wasn’t going to quibble over 10 minutes.
I will take the blame for day four – it was my choice. We started with another squad session, which was very drill heavy. With races coming up at the weekend we weren’t being worn out. Again no complaints from me! Then after a pretty leisurely breakfast we set out on the ride I’d chosen. To justify my choice – much as the cycling is for training it’s good to do rides that you can mention to people. So another hilly route in Victoria versus doing around the bay was a no brainer. What wasn’t expected was how brutal the headwind would be for the first hour down to the ferry. The wind had changed direction to once again be right in our faces. So it’s another case of no easy riding. You know it’s hard when you need to pedal downhill!
A pleasant ferry ride across the bay gave us a break (yes coffee was involved). It’s 45 minutes across and you pay an extra $2 for the right to shove your bike in a corner and hope it stays in place. The late start and the ferry crossing would basically put a bit of pressure on the timing for the rest of the day. The Eastern side of the bay is beautiful to ride up. Perhaps with an exception for the 10km or so where you have to use the highway. Those easterly winds were still there and no matter how far we went round still stayed in our faces. There was a little bit of arsing about when we tried to find a beach road that avoided the highway. As it didn’t seem to exist we had no choice. Turned out the highway was actually fun. Toby put the power down once we were on it, I stuck to his wheel like glue. Apparently he was doing around 300W whilst I can safely say I did less! Still keeping on a wheel at that pace with the winds about did require a fair effort. We picked up a local for some of the journey who was kind enough to point us towards a lunch stop.
After lunch we stuck to the Toby putting out the power on the front and me sticking onto his wheel plan. This got us all the way up to Melbourne in decent time. The effort, along with the hassles of safely navigating across the city led to a slump. In fact you can be sure of this when a commuter on a mountain bike overtook us on a bike lane. Neither of us had the inclination to prove our superior riding! As we travelled down the west side of the bay I was amazed by just how ugly it is! They seem to have no problem shoving up power plants and factories all along the coast. When you reach Williamstown though things are much nicer. Especially when a stop to top up fluids becomes a break for milkshakes. Then straight back on the bikes with a couple more hours to go.
Things weren’t so good now, it had been a long hard day so another break was needed by the time we hit Werribee. Neither of us was excited about riding the Freeway back to Geelong. Unfortunately it was the quickest way home. Toby tried to set the pace up front with me on his wheel, but with varying success. I was stuffed and could hardly hold on! So we slogged through the final kilometres. It seemed to take forever, especially once you were actually in Geelong and had another 10km to get to home on the other side. I was not disappointed to be leaving the bike alone the next day.
Friday was easy day! Not an Epic Camp easy day where you do a long run and plenty of riding. We swam at another easy pre-race squad session. We had a relaxed brekkie and coffee with some of Toby’s mates. I didn’t complain when the hour fartlek run became 40 minutes with 3 race paced efforts in. Then I had the most painful massage of my life… It was amazing! I don’t think anyone has been that brutal on my legs before. I also don’t think a massage has ever cleared my legs so well either. There were times I thought things were going to break!
I think I’ll be sensible and go easy on you. Those who made it through to this point there’s more to come in part two tomorrow. Two races, a crazy idea for the future, more pain and massage…