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Wed, 12 Dec 2012
Influence of riders - 22:36
It does not feature a mention of his visit to Canberra (I remember it was on the news here) and his subsequent visit to the national champs at Thredbo back in the 90s. It probably was not fascinating enough to have photos of him riding over tables in Weston park in the book. However he is definitely a rider that has featured heavily in my mountain bike world view since I got into mountain biking in 1992.
It is really cool to see stuff these days with videos of Hans, MacAskill and Peat doing rides (multiple generations of awesome rider in one ride). The easy availability of video now opens up a lot of great riding scenery and riders to be easily viewed but the book makes me think back to earlier times.
I was proud to own and ride a GT in the 90s and a big part of the reason was I was a huge fan of Juli Furtado (she made me want to own a Xixang, and I just found a recent Juli Furtado interview on Bikeradar I somehow missed in 2009) and of course Hans Rey influenced my love of the brand. Other riders back then (as an impressionable teen) definitely had a big influence on me. Tomac influenced all mountain bikers in the 90s, Indurain also featured heavily (though I never got in to road riding myself in the 90s, I followed the tour pretty religiously from 1992 onward).
Since I was volunteering at Majura when Cadel won National MTB Championships there I have been a fan of him, and of course now days I am a huge fan of Marianne Vos. I guess if I keep thinking about it I can probably pinpoint more riders over the years. I really like O'Grady and it goes without saying I am a Jens Voigt fan (are any cyclists not fans of Jens?). Though I suspect I am showing my cycling age pointing out how heavily the likes of Furtado and the Hans Rey of the early 90s influenced me. Still lots of fun to look back.
Tue, 11 Dec 2012
Practice good skills - 21:57
Talking with Ben about it there are a few interesting things to think about. Practice is awesome, however practicing bad skills is not (Lee points this out quote a bit). Many people get to a certain level of ability to ride stuff and then simply stop trying assuming they are good enough. However we can all get better (ask professional downhillers, they will be the first to admit this).
When I used to ski a lot I tended to always try to have at least 1 week of lessons every year up at the snow as it all helps. The weird thing is now I do not go out of my way to get mountain bike skills training myself, I think I really should look into this. Another point Ben makes well is sessioning things helps you improve, if you practice getting better and better on something a lot there should be a benefit. Do not simply go for a long mountain bike ride, instead head out and repeat sections of Pork Barrel or Double Dissolution, try different lines, corners, speeds, and everything. Also maybe time yourself doing stuff.
The next point is pump tracks also help a lot, if you have one near you make use of it, head out and spend half an hour riding around it. You have a concentrated set of repeatable corners and bumps and things to do and you can hone your skills a lot doing this. When I was at a conference in Ballarat early this year I visited a friend of a friend's place for a bbq and they have a pump track. We had a great time playing on that. There are some fantastic pump tracks in public places in Canberra too (Gungahlin and Queanbeyan both come to mind).
Learning good skills means trying to repeat things that are faster and smoother, and it also helps following good riders when they are working on smooth and fast. The other thing is to simply have fun on the bike, the more fun you have the more you want to be out there. Though better skills defintiely increase the fun. I really need to read the rest of Lee McCormack's books now too.
Mon, 10 Dec 2012
Sun, 09 Dec 2012
Thinking about context and scale in fitness - 21:59
On this weekend my friend David was once more competing in Coast 2 Kosci (I crewed for him last time in 2010), which is a 246km run from the beach up to the top of Australia. While he was out running Chris, Nathan, Aaron, Beth, Seb, Bleeksie, Ed, Matt, Roland, Paul and I set out to do a 320km road ride with 6500m of climbing.
To most of the population both these activities sound insane and crazy, even people who exercise a fair bit will think we are all loonies when they hear about some of the activities we get up to. However as Beth said when interviewed for an article about endurance mountain bike racing recently, it really helps to be surrounded by like minded people.
Sure Dave's run does sound a little crazy even to many of us, however the event inspires a lot of people and gets many in to bigger ultra running efforts, also once you do a 100km race it probably is not a huge stretch to start thinking about this sort of event. The same goes for the sort of ride we did, once you have done some longer hilly road rides like Fitz's Epic or Alpine Classic it is not a huge step up to go a bit bigger. (or be like Chris Thompson, he rode down from Charlotte Pass to meet us at 5:15am for the start on Saturday and then back up after the ride finish, why do 320km with 6.5k of climbing when you can do 400km with 7.2km of climbing?)
As many of us get most of our social life based around activities with the people doing them with us we all start to think it is kind of normal to be out having fun pushing our bodies for extended periods on weekends. Often many of us forget how little of this sort of endurance exercise the rest of the population gets up to. Aaron has a great t-shirt with the slogan "Hills Hurt, Couches Kill". It would be awesome if the population at large could get that stuck in their heads, no need for epic endurance efforts like we do, however the obesity problems in western society and the rising health costs due to inactivity are costing us all.
Of course the more people that get fit (if it happens) the smaller the gap between normal forms of exercise for us will be. Convince your less active friends to go have fun outdoors!