8 weeks till Moama

Work is tough at the moment and finding work/life balance is a battle.

I’m trying where I can- but I can definitely feel I’m starting to get over it.  Despite having to go to work today (Sunday) My brain is ready to tackle a new week.  I spent a couple of hours doing tasks that need to be done during the week to hopefully free up my time

I Have left the bike at work so at least I know I can ride home – or potential do Mondays session if I get a quiet hour- during the day.  If I do ride home that will force me to get up early and ride back Tuesday.. as both my work cars will be at work..  basically I’m forcing myself to do what I want-not what is demanded of me.

Most days at the moment I am feeling pretty spent.. even when I don’t ride.. but when I do after 20 mins or so I feel better—so I know its medicine.

Moama is 8 weeks away.  Can’t wait.. I am excited..

Why am I excited..  I already know I will do better than last year- but I am excited to find out how much better.  I am stronger-I am more confident- I am lighter – and I am more strong mentally.

My skills are better (despite crashing yesterday on epic on the last berm (not concentrating) I am comfortable with the bike moving around in loose sand.

March Family MTB (22 of 28)
Training in the Sandpit

I know what I am capable of, I know the pain will be there from hour 1.5-2.5…

After my recce ride the other week- I am sure I can do 9 laps and if I push just a bit harder I can get in before the 3hr cut off and set out for my 10th lap.. the ultimate goal.

Pacing is going to be so  so important.  I’m going to aim for 18.5km per hour.  This should see me arrive at the start finish line at 2hours 50 or so..

So goals..


  • 18.5km per hour average..
  • 1 bottle changeover every second lap.
  • Grab some food on the alternate second lap. Gel, bar, gel  along with a spare get taped to my top tube to consume at 2hours 15 minutes.. light the afterburners!!
  • 10 lap goal.. setting off on the 10 lap before the time cutoff.  Total time 3hours 20 mins.

By doing the above- I hope to achieve a top 20 finish.. (all the fast guys from Bendigo will be there so let’s rule out top 10 😊

So how will I achieve this.

I think the key is motivation.. this is a battle at the moment when I just want to curl up and hide from the world.. but just getting out on the bike regardless of road/mountain or with the family makes me feel better.

Werribee south beach
Looking good at the beach

Weight loss needs to continue.  5kg to go to get below the goal.  I know I could starve myself and get there quickly, but I am happy with my .5kg a week loss ad I am not having to diet to hard,, just trying eat clean.

Focus more on my sessions.  At the moment I am using riding as an escape from everything else without a heap of focus..  I know what each session entails before I do it, but sometimes a lot lately and just turn the legs without much purpose.

Bike maintenance.  I’m usually pretty good at this, but lately I have slipped a little.  Need to bring back Sunday arvo garage time for Anthony.. just me and the bikes.. a bit of music. etc.

Continue sleeping.. 1030 in the bed regardless of how I feel or what I am up too.  This has really worked the last month

So that’s about it. Some positive, some less than positive but I know what I gotta do.  The girls are being great at the moment.. so supportive and despite me spending little time with them during the week are always there for a quick chat/hug and then some fun on weekend.March Family MTB (4 of 28)

Well that’s the end of the April chapter of the book “Cycling bears monthly training bible”   😊





Tour of Sufferlandria – Embracing the pain

The Tour of Sufferlandria-Which is 9 days of interval work outs on the trainer by sufferfest. Each “stage” lasted between 50 minutes and 2.5 hours depending on the day, with a mix of sprints, attacks and long sustained climbs being simulated.

My coach Jess asked me to write a quick post about my experience this past 10 days while ticking off one of my goals for 2017

My thoughts before beginning were that it will be easy to finish and if it hurts I can back off a little, I just need to make sure I get on the trainer each day (which I wasn’t looking forward too!)

After the 1st stage my thoughts had not changed much…  However after the 2nd Stage- which was almost 2 hours long- my thought patterns began to change.  I wanted to defeat each stage, and I wanted to accept the pain of each interval stage and push on through the next…  I am not sure where this inner drive came from, no one was holding me accountable if I didn’t put in 100% and given the hot weather- no would would blame me.  I wanted to see what I Could achieve and how much I could push.

wp-1487312046427.jpgBy the 6th and 7th stage I was up against the wall, my legs thrashed, and I wanted to pull the pin. I decided to try and ride it out through the 8th stage of intervals and sweat.

To my surprise within 10 minutes of the first interval my muscles had bounced back and I was hitting my power numbers. There were some darker moments late in this stage as I reached exhaustion but I got through- and recorded a new highest average power for the ride.

The last and 9th stage on paper looked easy.. but it wasn’t- long long intervals of 20 minutes+ at threshold power.. for 2 and half hours,  But after completing the 8th stage I knew my legs would recover and despite the pain- each interval will end.  When the time was up I had finished, feeling proud but not wanting to see the trainer again for a week at least!

So on reflection I can take away a few thing from my successful Tour of Sufferlandia.

  1. My body can overcome my thoughts.
  2. The pain will end when the interval ends… yes it hurts…
  3. Drink Drink Drink. I had to drink up to 3 times my normal amount of water.
  4. I found sleep was most important, I was a lot fresher with a good night sleep.
  5. It was hard but I made it to the end and gave it my all.


I feel stronger now.. the last few days on the bike I feel like I can go further..

Breaking through the “Pain Barrier”

While i’m still not super fit – I am fitter and feel I have more stamina.  I also feel I can break though that mental pain barrier and find that little extra I have to give to an effort.  I know i can get to the end-even when i feel i want to give up.

Also; although I thought I wouldn’t ride on the trainer this week I was back on it after only 2 days.

This week a bit of easy recovery before a hard hit out on the mountain bike.. I really cannot wait to get back outside and off road again and see what changes have come from this “breakthrough” week.

One day at a time..

Getting there slowly..  the fitness continues to improve. My riding has become more consistent and my legs constantly fell tired.  I feel fitter and faster- yet i haven’t really lost weight.

I can go harder for longer…oh that sounds wonderful.. and i can recover faster (every mans dream) and i can fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.

Each day i set about my plan and try to complete it.  It is becoming normal, which is great but sometimes a burden.  When i miss a session (usually the early morning commute) i find myself later in the day looking for a way to catch up.

Keeping consistent and achieving my training goals through winter has been tough in terms of weather. Riding in freezing cold torrential rain, to crisp frosty mornings- winter has thrown it all at me, but i survived and so did the bikes mostly- except for some bearings which have required replacement.

Armstrong Kreutz Book 4.JPG
Not me- but how it winter felt on some days..

To ensure time constraints and weather are not a excuse, i got my hands on a kickr trainer and hooked my self up with a couple of training apps, notably ZWIFT and FULLGAZ..  Both are good and simulate road riding perfectly.  Trainer sessions are no longer a drag and i almost look forward to them.

So the big question.. Am i getting faster?  The answer is most definitely yes..

It doesn’t hurt less-i just go harder and faster.The progression takes time, I have achieved so many middle goals in the last 3 months i just can believe it.  Currently spending a bit of time doing strength and hill work, which is hard work for a fat bloke like me – but it will make me stronger so i continue to give it a crack.


Labour day ride

Its Labour day here in Melbourne, so that means Monday off work, and an extra bit of time to ride.

We took my daughter to the Zoo in morning, walked around and had a good time.  We walked enough, that i could feel the lactic acid from yesterdays ride in each of my leg muscles.

As soon as we got in the car- the daughter was fast asleep.  My only thought then was get home as quick as possible and get on the bike.  She usually has a day time sleep for 2 hours, so that would allow me 1.5 hours of lunch time riding time.

Get home, get changed and straight out onto my local training loop.  Weather is crap with a gale forced headwind on the bike path the whole way to the trails behind 100 steps.  Once i got there it was the usual loops of the old salt flats, along with a couple of climbs up the 100 steps.  Spent a bit of time practicing the short, steep, loose climbs of the channels and going over some of the small jumps.  Fun time and just enough to get the heart rate up and flush the lactic acid of yesterdays ride from my legs.

After a bit of time there, i set off into the head wind again and back to the unsealed bike path.  This would be a tail wind, so that meant time to have a crack at one of 2 local Strava segments on this path.

End result i moved up to 5th over all on one of my favorite segments.  It is not technical apart from the extremely loose gravel.. There are a few sharp corners which require braking and then a hard acceleration.  It felt quick.. but it wasn’t till i got home i saw the result – 5th overall and only 6 seconds off the KOM time..  If only i had put in a bit more effort in the middle..

Now back home its time to do the weekly wash and re grease of the bike.  I actually enjoy doing it as it gives me time to just chill out and sink a beer (not so good for my training though) This week i will attempt to get a ride or 2 in during the week, before hitting the You Yangs again on Saturday.

Rock vs Bear

Saturday i went back to the You Yangs.  The plan was to go in the morning, but as always other stuff popped up that needed doing so i finally got there about 1:30pm.  On the way there i decided to revisit the Stockyards side of the park, where i have only been once – and didn’t fair so well.

The Stockyards side of the park is somewhat more technical than the Kurrajong side i normally frequent and also contains quite a bit more climbing.  You could say the stockyards is for more advanced riders and it definitely requires a bit more fitness.

I am not advanced and i am not fit.. but i do enjoy a challenge.  Last time i rode here i had just come form a big lunch (with a couple of wines) and was feeling like crap.. with no power and a constant feeling i was going to meet my lunch again every-time i got my heart rate up.  It certainly didn’t help when i cam off the bike trying to negotiate a rock step up.. Almost impaled my self on a old branch and managed to get some brag worthy bruises.

So this time i was keen for revenge and equally keen too get up the rock ledge. The ledge isn’t very big, however it is on a uphill section of track that is already sapping my fat bodies speed.  As can been seen in the video above, i just run out of momentum, and stopped.

I wasn’t going to let it happen again, so i took it easy until the uphill section then pushed the pedals harder.. I was committed and determined to make it.  I picked my line and aimed for it..  Then suddenly I pulled the break leavers, and came to a full stop 10 metres short of the rock.

What just happened..  Nothing really except a quick dose of fear that overrode my adrenaline and made my brain send the signal to my hand to apply brakes and stop.  Weird feeling.. So i got of the bike and stalked the rock a bit..

Big rock
The Rock..

Trying to learn it secrets and also trying to look for a spot i could ride up it easier..  I fell prey to my fear and walked the bike up it..  Always next time; but it was nice not to hurt myself in that spot again.

Would i have made it?  I don’t know.  I would like to think yes, but i’m just not sure.  One thing i do know is i am determined to clear this obstacle.  I have seen others do it, and i am sure i can..  Maybe if i was lighter and more skilled it will happen easier.Big rock side view

Skill is the thing i lack.  I am fairly confident on the flat, down hills and in corners- however uphill technical section like above, i struggle with.  I know this is partly due to me being a lard ass, but the skill bit along with the slight fear is something i need to work on. I am even considering getting a skills coach for an afternoon to help me overcome this.  Not 10 minutes later i proved that i need help on these rocky up hill sections.

100 metres around the trail from this rock is a technical and rock section of trail that is quite steep.  There is 2 different lines and both require some skill to avoid coming to a complete halt or striking the pedals and cranks really hard.  Last time i was here, i walked this section both up and down- so having failed on my attempt at the rock, i was keen to redeem myself.

Successfully i negotiated the trail downhill, getting my weight back early and committing to the line i chose.  When i came back to do it the reverse way (up hill) i was brimming with confidence.  I picked my line again and began my accent.

Through the first rock section, quick change of direction- lined up for the second section then OUCH.  I am now laying on my side against a bunch of large pointy rocks.  What just happened.. It was going so well.

Thinking back to it now,  i believe it was a combination of over correcting for the turn, and not going fast enough.  Few cuts and bruises, but nothing to0 bad.  Just more proof that this is a problem i need to work on.
I have only had 4 crashes on the mountain bike and now 3 of them were on slow technical uphill terrain. This is something that needs to be worked on asap, so my brain doesn’t take total control and make me get off and walk every time i see a difficult obstacle.

The rest of the ride went well, even took 3 minutes off my best time on one of the loops that involves a lot of steep climbing.  Nice not to have to get off the bike and rest half way.  Improvement is happening, i just need to get lighter and more skilled.


Mad Max XC

Finally today I got back on the bike and riding again.
After 2 weeks of man flu inspired rest, it was time to test out the lungs and legs and see how far I could get without turning into a coughing and wheezing mess.


I had originally planned the night before to head out to the You Yangs to ride the dedicated mountain bike trails- however I am still coughing up the remains of man flu so decided to stay local.
I based this decision on the simple fact that I haven’t been on the bike for 2 weeks-so driving 45 minutes to the You Yangs- then having a less than enjoyable ride coughing uncontrollably would give me the shits.  staying local was the plan- because if it was too much for my lungs, then I could just limp home.

About 6km from my house is a bunch of trails that are not used very often by anyone – except a few local illegal motocross riders, some dog walkers and unfortunately some less than desirable ice smoking meth addicts. The plus side to this is that early morning you have the area all to yourself.

The area itself is a mixture of disused salt farm and and a filled in municipal dump. The dump provides some sort of hill, while the salt flats and their disused channels provide some short steep climbs (not very high- MAX 2 metres) along with small jumps and the odd sand trap.

The trails go in every direction but with no trees ,you don’t have to worry about getting lost. Being a disused salt farm, and quite desert like – along with the rusted out machinery and dumped car bodies, it looks like a scene from a mad max movie. The trails are mostly flat, with a few berms and rolling bumps- so most the time it’s a pedal fest- making it a good aerobic workout.

The channels and the dump mound(Hill) are the only spots to get any change in elevation- and are quite steep and in parts technical- which means it is possible to max the heart rate if you attack them hard enough. There is some dirt jumps that were built long ago, but they are not for the faint hearted and are quite steep. Probably ok if your on a 250cc trail bike and don’t have to pedal like mad to build enough speed to get up them. I leave these alone and just use the trails that run between them.

So back to today’s ride.
I followed the bike path out to the trails, and while I felt ok- I knew I was still not 100%. It was a great morning to ride, a bit warm- but windless. I completed my usual warm up which is a mixture of bike path, and walking trail to get there. A couple of coughs but not too bad.

Within the trails there are a few Strava segments.  A couple up the hill and around it, along with my favourite segment MAD MAX XC.  This segment is roughly a 1 km loop around the flat ground, through the dirt jumps, a couple of bermed corners and a 100m long sand trap. It’s a full gas segment, pedalling the whole way- making it easy to test if your getting faster and fitter.Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 4.20.11 pm

The first lap felt ok, till the sand trap.. The sand here is black and very fine like flour, it’s about 15cm deep at its worst, and there is no way around it, as on all sides of the trail are some savage box thorn bushes ( the only thing that grows here) as I washed out all the way through it, I knew my tyre pressure was too high.  Despite riding tubeless, I still keep my psi high most the time as I am pretty heavy, and hate the squishy tyre feeling. As I excited the sand trap I took off and completed the lap.. I knew it was slow, so I stopped and let air out of both the front and rear tyres to gain more traction in the loose sand

Lap 2.  I hit it hard, pedalling at a higher cadence. Nailed the berm, through the dips..i felt good.
Heart rate now hitting 155, I entered the sand trap, leaned back a little to take some weight off the front and put the power down.. still sliding a bit, but better.
Exit the sand trap, stand and pedal harder, through the dips and pumping a bit I nailed the last berm, sliding the rear wheel a bit on the exit and sprinted to the end of the segment. Crossing the imaginary finish line- with my heart rate above 165, I relaxed and soft pedalled down the trail.  I felt pretty good and wondered about my time. It felt pretty quick, but not quite as fast as the last time when I set the Strava KOM for the segment. I guess I will find out when I get home.

I rode for another 25 minutes or so in the area, in and out of the channels, doing some of the very short steep climbs. This is good training for my goal race in Moama, which is set along the banks of the Murray River, and the terrain is similar- with lots of very short steep and sometimes loose climbs.  Today I even managed to hit one of the small gapped double jumps on the way down (not my plan) and much to my surprise I cleared it. Felt like I was in the air for ages.. And put a smile on my face as I don’t really like the idea of gapped double jumps.

So that was it, time to ride back home via the bike path and check Strava.
Feeling awesome that I got out on the bike finally, and only had a few coughs.. Still glad I stayed local as the elevation at the you yangs might of left me coughing more.

Home, I connected the Garmin to the computer, and let it upload to Strava. Quick shower then- there it was. The computer beaming at me. KOM on MAD MAX XC.Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 4.22.01 pm

Yes I stole my own KOM, Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 4.21.05 pmbut it was a surprise: given A) I don’t feel 100% and B) I took 12 seconds off my previous time- so i can only assume the last few months training must be paying off..

Now I feel pumped and motivated again. However -still this week I will ease back into riding- let the body come good- then start training hard to achieve what I want in Moama.