November 1st kicked off the beginning of the Audax 2019 season, which meant I could now start officially riding for my road to PBP. So heading out of training season and into qualifying* season I was pumped… and also nervous. Had I done enough? Was I ready? I’d been riding a lot of kms on the indoor trainer, but due to time constrictions, weather, and magpies, I hadn’t been outside on the bike doing the typical ‘long slow kms’ that is said to be the bread and butter of the endurance athlete.
So of course, I started to worry. A bit…
*Qualifying season: in order to qualify to ride Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) I needed to complete a full Super Randonneur series of ACP brevets between November 1st 2018 and mid-June 2019. This is a set of four rides of four different distances: 200km, 300km, 400km, and 600km, and all have to be offical Audax BRMs (meaning set Audax events – no just going out and riding the distance on any route).
As the rides can be ridden in any order, I had decided to ride the 200km first, and the the 600km ride. In this way, I’d get the ‘easy’ one sorted first to test my fitness. Then back it up with the ‘known’ 600 distance.
Figuring that I had about two weeks until my first qualifier, I had booked in my babysitter and planned a route that would take me along some of the roads for my first qualifier: the 200km. It’s not often I get a chance to recce a ride beforehand, so I wanted to take the opportunity to see what the roads were like and plan accordingly. I also wanted to mentally get a longer road ride under my belt, as I still hadn’t ridden much on the road*, and was feeling a little unsure as to how it would feel to be back on the road bike.
*Road: in keeping with the training plan I’d cooked up, most of my outdoor riding had been on the MTB or the CX with gravel and climbing. So I had ridden on 90km and one 105km ride on the roadie since May.
Unfortunately the weather the morning of my ‘long ride day’ was pretty grim: very wet roads, and after a rainy night it was still pouring. But onwards I went, thinking that this might be my only chance to get out. And what was a little rain right? Reframing the ride as a good chance to test out my wet weather gear, I set off. And felt pretty fantastic once the legs warmed up. In fact, I looked down at my average speed and I seemed to be flying. Who cares that it was bucketing down, I was doing great!
Until I turned around and headed in the opposite direction. Turns out it was a little windy… and then I got a flat. And my spare tube valve busted off, leaving me stranded. So calling in the calvary for rescue, I ended my “long ride” at 116km completed out of 150km. Not ideal.
A few messages back and forth to the guys and we organised a ride for the next Saturday. Which meant I’d have a week to ‘recover’ (if necessary). Should be fine, right?
As it turns out, it was. Eventually. My legs didn’t turn up until 140km in, leaving me feeling a bit concerned early on, but they came good eventually. So good that the ‘easy 150km’ ride turned into a solid 200km prep ride, and I felt pretty fantastic. I was ready.
PBP Qualifier #1: Lancefield Laps [200km]
The Lancefield Laps day had four different route options: 105km, 200km, 300km, and 400km. The three longer routes rode together for the first 200km, and then completed a different loop to finish off their rides. This meant that there was quite a good number of riders at the start all setting off on the 200km loop.
It’s always nice to show up to Audax events and have friends to ride with, and this ride was no exception. My partner in crime Thomas Price was there, and after a few jokes at the start, we set off, chatting away as we rode our way west, and then north towards Bendigo. After a brief stop in Harcourt for breakfast (for him) and cake (for me) we rode towards Bendigo. A North Easterly made the trip out a little rough, but manageable, and we pulled into Bendigo (about the half way point for my ride) about four hours after we started.
After Bendigo and heading south I felt very strong on the bike, regardless of the headwind that just didn’t seem to quit. Once we hit the turnoff to Metcalfe, I was back in home territory… and back on the old circuit from when I used to race with Norther Combine. Which meant I kind of went into heads down and bums up mode… and upped my tempo. Thomas, being the smart experienced rider that he is, let me go and kept his pacing steady, a smart move as he was riding the 400km option that day. So off I went solo into Kyneton, pulling into the bakery for one last fuel up before home. A few of the guys rolled in behind me, and after a chat, I set off again towards Lancefield… and finally enjoyed that tailwind that I had hoped for all day.
Which meant a solo time trial into Lancefield. Because TAILWIND!!! 🙂
Rocking into Lancefield just over 8 hours after I started I felt great. The legs were a little tired from the solid 38 minutes of power at the end of the ride, but it felt pretty good to have that much left in the legs to be able to still push.
PBP 200km qualifier: complete
- Distance: 200km
- Average speed: 27.1 km/h
- Moving time: 7h 25min
- Elapsed time: 8h 15min
- Calories burnt: 3800
- Average temperature: 12 degrees
So what’s a girl to do after riding two weekends in a row of 200km rides? Ride a third one of course!
Fun rides: the Grand Ridge Road Randonnee
Back on the gravel and out in Gippsland for a fantastic day of gravelling in the sunshine. What more could you ask for? It was an amazing day, aside from a bit of a wobble around 150-160km where I didn’t feel overly spectacular. The last time I rode out here (the Gippsland Gold) I completed the ride in over 11 hours. This time it took us 9 hours and 23 minutes to finish (elapsed time 11 hours 15min). This time?
- Distance: 200km
- Average speed: 23 km/h
- Moving time: 8h 41min
- Elapsed time: 9h 59min
- Calories burnt: 4682
- Average temperature: 12 degrees
And yet again it’s the pictures that show just how outstanding this area is to ride:
So physically and mentally stronger than last year, I started to focus on the next qualifier: the 600km. But first a rest week to recover. And then I lost my mojo.
Mojo? Wherefore art thou?
Yeah, it happens, I know, but it’s always frustrating to come off of some big back to back to back rides and then feel flat. Flat as a pancake flat. It’s okay, I thought to myself, it’s a rest week. And obviously I need to rest, so I’ll take some proper time off the bike and not ride. I’ll want to come back to it after a week.
It had now been over a week and a half and I still wasn’t feeling the bike love. I’d gone out for some lovely gravel rides, which were great, but didn’t want to get back on the roadie.
More specifically, I wasn’t really sure what to do in terms of ‘training.’ I had been so very very focused for three months as I prepared for the Grand Ridge Randonnee that once it was over I wasn’t quite sure what to do next. I didn’t want to set up another tough training block, as December was full of long rides and I didn’t want to burn out. But riding just recovery after recovery ride wasn’t inspirational either.
It wasn’t helping that my work had picked up again as well, which meant that I was doing some very long days in the city, so didn’t want to be up early to train… or get on the bike after a long day in the office. The idea of getting back on the indoor trainer didn’t drive me, because I’d just be riding for the sake of riding. Same with heading outside to do ‘easy’ hours on the bike. Why bother?
It’s a weird thing. That odd limbo sensation of building up the fitness for the long rides… but then trying to take it easy to prepare for events. I decided to do one more back-to-back on the weekend before my next big qualifier (the 600) to get ready. As I hadn’t ridden out to Mount Alexander for awhile, I figured this might help with the mojo. You know, the road less travelled and all that. Then on the Sunday I had plans to ride with Rigs for the first part of his 600km ride, but not too much of it as I knew I needed to save my legs for my own upcoming ride.
The ride out to Mt Alexander was AMAZING. I felt strong, the sun was bright if not really shining yet, and I was absolutely flying. It was one of those days when everything comes together, and you’re so so glad to be alive.
And then I turned directions to head home… and realised that I had a mother headwind to push into. Sigh.
Needless to say my legs were then pretty shot for my ride with Rigs the next day, but that wasn’t a bad thing as it meant that he totally controlled the pacing where he wanted it and I just rode along with him. I had planned on doing a nice 200km ride, but after Saturdays smash fest with the wind, I dialled it right back. So far back, in fact, that I called my husband for a pick up at 130km. You know, just so we could have a cafe date together (and so I didn’t have to head south into the headwind again).
So did this bring back my mojo?
Well, not entirely.
But it doesn’t seem to matter, because my next ride is always there, whether I’m ready for it or not.
And hey, there’s always cinnamon donuts right?