Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Blogging to win

I think I'm over my jetlag. Two nights in a row where I could get eight hours sleep, uninterrupted except for a ridiculously loud thunderstorm at 4:00am last night. The body clock is righting itself again, but I've just buggered it by racing the first of the Tuesday nighters at Heffron this evening. Normally at this time I'm very droopy eyed, but I only got home at 8:30pm, so it takes a couple of hours to settle down.

I won A grade too, which was a) rather surprising and b) rather nice, given the years of Tuesday night suffering I've experienced at Heffron Park. You have no idea of what it's like to be dropped in every race bar one in a single summer, and still come back for more. But racing in Belgium over the years has certainly helped the condition. That takes suffering to a new level, and it means that you have to have your base training right or you will crash and burn.

I think I managed a second in A grade down at Heffron last year, but this is definitely the first time I've won it. OK, it wasn't the overall win as C grade managed to burgle its way into getting a huge handicap and was probably still a minute ahead of us at the end, but we did catch B grade at halfway so part of the job was done.

For those who don't understand handicap racing, it's an inherently unfair system whereby the riders who have done the least amount of training and/or are slower, get the biggest head start on the riders who dedicate their lives to the Bicycle, living monastic existences, weighing all their food and bike parts, drinking no alcohol and eating negative grams of fat. It's designed to give everyone a "fair go" in the great Aussie battler spirit that seems to favour mediocrity above excellence.

But those are the rules and everyone who races on Tuesdays accepts them. The race is 15 laps, with B grade actually starting first, then C grade behind them, followed by A grade another half a lap later. C grade only has to do 14 laps, which means that A grade has to catch them and then lap them in order to have a shot at the overall. A grade generally starts with about 3/4 lap (1.5 km) disadvantage to B grade and 1.5 laps (3 km) disadvantage to C grade...in a 30 km race. Usually if A grade works properly it will catch B and C grade in good time so there are no arguments. It does tend to keep the pace high in A grade though!

As it was the first night of racing and not all of the big hitters were there (Jose Rodriguez and the NSWIS team par example), A grade was a bit ragged. The very strong north easterly wind was against us on the back straight and with us on the main straight, and this normally gives A grade a bit of an advantage over the other, less well organised bunches. But it was not to be. We were lapping at around 2'50 (2 km per lap), which is good under those conditions, and I think we got C grade the first time after 5 laps and B grade after about 8 laps. Liam Kelly and Stewart (Computer) Campbell were particularly strong, and kept attacking in the tailwind, to which the rest of us had no answer. They caught B grade first, but then we tacked on the back and it was a big bunch again.

With about 5 to go, I saw C grade was still less than half a lap behind us, so I knew we weren't racing for the Grand Prize this evening. There were a few more attacks, a little more subdued as everyone was a bit stuffed by this stage. On the last lap Spurge, Computer, John Sunde and a couple of others opened up a bit of a lead into the headwind on the back straight. I thought it would be prudent to bridge up to them, so I did (followed by the rest of the bunch). But as I got on the back, they all sat up and I knew that it was time...

Thankfully no-one got on my wheel straight away so I hit the finishing straight with about 30m or so on the bunch. I was a tad out of breath at this stage but committed, and I had a bloody big tailwind so I knew that would help. Somehow I managed to sprint and held the rest of them off by a comfy margin. My HR was 197 across the line, which was 4 beats higher than what I thought my max was. Always handy to know these things. So much for the 220 minus your age formula! Or maybe that means I'm 23...

Anyway, I earned the princely sum of $25 for my efforts, which will cover the last two race entry fees and leave me $5 spare to buy a beer. Hmmmm. I think racing in Belgium makes more economic sense.

I am starting to like the Ridley Damocles now.

Axis of weevil

In other news, I've been helping dad with partial differential equations for his uni work, and I've realised - contrary to my belief when I did 3rd year maths at uni - that PDE's do have real life applications. To whit, Dad has been trying to model the weevil moth problem in our kitchen using Markov chains. You see, no matter how many moths we kill with our bare hands each night, there are always moths left over that flutter around and are generally annoying. So there's some kind of steady state system involved, and the dead moths are quickly replaced by new live ones. The easy way would be to apply liberal amounts of weevil poison in all of our cupboards, but then we couldn't model the problem any more.

I thought of something else too, unrelated to the axis of weevil in our kitchen but fairly related to blood doping. You see, Santiago Perez, the rider who finished second in the Vuelta and repeatedly blew away climbing genius Roberto Heras in the last week, tested positive for a homologous blood transfusion. Same thing that his teammate Tyler Hamilton got pinged for. So when are the "I believe Santi" badges coming out? And why are people donating money to Hamilton to help his legal defence? He's a millionaire ferchrissakes!

So many questions...

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