Fitness Nutrition

Three Peaks Challenge – ten weeks to go!

This week it feels like I am racing towards the 12th March and I am very happy to report that our week of high mileage, aka, “riding like a pro” was possibly the best week of training that I have achieved in a very long time. I managed to complete 550km, which is probably a weekly distance record for me.

After our epic dirt adventures in Helidon, the mid week challenge was a trip up to Mt Nebo and Mt Glorious on tired legs and in super steamy conditions. Again, it was a ride where I marvelled at how one’s state of mind affects performance and as our awesome foursome group of myself, Liz, Nicky, and Anne trundled out toward the base of Nebo, I was wondering whether I had the intestinal fortitude to complete such a ride. However a quick discussion about the intensity of effort up the climbs with Liz proved to be quite the distraction, and rather than focus on feeling tired, I focused on hitting “my numbers” with my power meter. Personally I have found a power meter to be a great investment in learning how to pace myself better on hills. My task was to hit it out relatively hard to McAfee’s Lookout, to take the remaining hills to Nebo at a conservative clip. Then the goal was to push the effort up towards Mt Glorious. By the time I had reached the Malala cafe, I had forgotten that I was tired, rather I was feeling great about what I had achieved. The descent proved to be a ton of fun, with Liz and I screaming down the hills and trying to beat each other up the other side. We were having so much fun that I barely noticed my aching muscles. However, the last thirty kilometres, done solo, were challenging as it seemed no matter where I rode, I was greeted with a rather warm headwind.

To celebrate the arrival of the New Year, we decided that a road trip to Maleny was in order. It seemed a tad strange to be riding at 4am, watching all of the NYE revellers trudge home. However it proved to be an excellent decision on Liz’s behalf, as temperatures began to soar with the arrival of daylight. Expecting to be tired, my energy levels surprised me. I managed to achieve a second best time riding up Mt Mee and even chased super climber Nicky up a hill at Samford – that there was a decent downhill prior to the rise was most helpful! We stopped in Woodford where we ate, drank and generally refreshed ourselves and then it was onto the Peachester range. Liz and Nicky did a spectacular job rolling turns at the front and I enjoyed my stay in “the Hilton”. Finally we reached the top of the range and suddenly we could see the signpost directing us towards Maleny.

I had been warned by both Liz and Anne that there was a 1km long super steep climb to get us up to the Hinterland. Filled with trepidation about what I was to encounter, I made my way to the base of the climb. There was a familiar looking road sign, “caution: steep climb ahead”. I willed myself not to look at the gradient and went for it. Yes, it was every bit as nasty as I had imagined it would be, but I was so pleased to have mustered the strength to conquer it. Naturally, once I was at the top of the hill, I had mentally begun to tell myself that this was it. Despite being warned, I was not prepared for the thirty kilometres of rolling hills that followed! Again, the power of the mind is a strange thing because I am sure that by allowing myself to get into a slightly negative frame of mind about these rolling hills was doing me no favours. I decided to grit my teeth, ensure that I was drinking plenty of fluid and electrolytes, and keep on. At this stage I have to thank Anne, who quietly encouraged me to keep at it and when I was starting to fade, dragged my sorry arse over a few hills.

Finally, we reached the right hand turn towards Landsborough and were rewarded with a screamer of a descent down the mountain. I am afraid I was going too fast to enjoy the spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, however, the nature of five kilometres or so of downhill made the climbing agony worth it! Once in Landsborough, it was time to quickly smash some food before catching the train back to Brisbane. I think after that ride you could have fed me anything and I wouldn’t have cared, I was THAT tired and hungry. I’ve never seen Liz and Anne polish off bacon and eggs so quickly either! All four of us were rather delighted to catch the train back home as well. Though we were feeling pretty stiff when we arrived at our respective stations!

To sum up, it was a week of training where the right attitude and the right fuelling were the keys to success – not to mention good company! I commented to Peter (dietitian) that it was nice to be just tired after an epic day on the bike, rather than tired and hungry. It seems quite strange to be eating so much, especially on the bike, and in a world where a “careful” mentality is the norm where it comes to food. Again, it’s another clear case of choosing to change my mind (somewhat nervously) about food. My skinfolds are dropping and I generally have good energy. Winning in life and on the bike!

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