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Five Adelaide Hills Rides from 2018

This year I’ve put more effort than usual into planning and mapping routes because I’ve been running a women’s training group (WMNtrainADL). While going through my rides I realised that I rarely put a ride together without at least one gravel road. We are spoilt in Adelaide, our gravel roads are in great condition and they link together so well. I would love to see gravel roads feature in the WTDU/TDU one year – get some Ochre dust on the Ochre jersey.

I’ve put together five of my favourite rides from the year so you can get some inspiration for your next ride. If you try out one of these rides or decide to ride some of the roads that feature in these routes, let me know what you think 🙂

1. Short and Steep Gravel CXplorer

I put this route together when NZ cyclocrosser Kim Hurst visited me in June for the first rounds of the National CX Series. Kim rode a CX bike, I rode a road bike. 

The route contains seven gravel sections: Colonial Drive (partially), Mores Road, Collins Hill Road, Sprigg Road, Ridge Road, Haven Road, finishing with the rough walking trail between McBeath Drive and Skye Lookout (~200m of rough gravel to a stunning view of the city).

I think that the condition of all these gravel roads are suitable for road bikes but the final gravel section across to Skye Lookout is quite rocky and rough on a road bike.

Length: 40km

Elevation: 1000m

Route Here

2. One hundred via Macclesfield

I like this route because I don’t often explore the roads around Macclesfield. This route features a few interesting gravel roads: Saddle bags and Razorback Road after Kangarilla, and Shady Grove Road after Paris Creek Road.

I’ve done a two other variations of this route this year, one variation included a gravel road (Frith Road) around Clarenden but that road wasn’t in great condition so I wouldn’t recommend it. Another variation included a loop off Stamps Road through the Bugle Ranges (along Bugle Range Road and Bonython Road, all fairly rough gravel roads). It would be easy to add that section onto this route. The cover photo above is from the Bugle Ranges.

Length: 103km

Elevation: 1800m

Route here

3. Hahndorf Cake Loop

I’ve done many variations of this general route shape this year, here are two variations, one in each riding direction.

Obviously this route requires a stop in Hahndorf for coffee and cake.

Route 1 contains one of my favourite  gravel roads I discovered this year, Western Branch Road between Lobethal Road and Tiers Road. It’s a nice hard-packed gravel road. If you don’t want to include the gravel section you can just turn onto Tiers Road in Lenswood, I’ve also linked that variation below.

Route 2 doesn’t have any gravel but features a few fun short steep climbs: Woolcock Road around Bradbury, Tischer Road which was the finishing climb in a stage of last years Women’s TDU, and Collins Hill Road near Lenswood. I like climbing Lobethal road towards Norton Summit because I don’t do it too often.

Length: ~80km

Elevation: ~1500m

Route 1 (Up Norton down Lofty) here

Route 1 (Up Norton down Lofty without gravel) here

Route 2 (Up Lofty down Norton) here

4. Gum Flat and Belair National Park

Another route that features a bunch of my favourite roads: Western Branch, Tanamerah Road, Gum Flat Road and then finishing by rolling through Belair National Park and down Windy Point. Last time we did this route we kept the pace on all ride until we got to Tanamerah Road where half the group just ran out of legs. We had to stop and refuel at the Uradila Bakery.

Length: 86km

Elevation: 1600m

Route Here

5. Wriggle route finishing down the Gorge

This route would be good in either direction but this is a typical Nat ride where you wiggle across the hills to fit in extra kilometres. I recommend stopping at Cudlee Creek Café on the way down Gorge.

Length: 98km

Elevation: 1800m

Route here

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Ending my Season Early

After three months in Europe I will be ending up my European season in December. My final two races will be the Zolder (BEL) World Cup on December 26 and Azencross C1 in Loenhout (BEL) on December 28. I will no longer be racing the two January World Cups in Nommay (FRA) and Hoogerheide (NED) or the World Championships in Valkenburg (NED).

The reason for this change was that I had been having issues organising my long-stay visa for the final part of my trip. However, I must admit that after three months away I am looking forward to getting home to family, friends and better weather.

25 races in 90 days with no weekends off has been tiring at times. Those tiring moments are where you find out if you truly love what you are doing. You need to love racing cyclocross enough that you can drive yourself to do all the hard work and preparation between every race. I have come out of this trip knowing that I absolutely love every race that I take part in and I want to find success internationally in this sport. I also learnt some hard lessons about my own weaknesses as a rider which meant that I haven’t found the success this season that I wanted.

The first lesson and the biggest limiter on my results in Europe was that I simply didn’t have the level of fitness required to stay with those riders who finished ahead of me. Improving my fitness was an area that I had put a lot of work into this year but I’ve been trying to close a gap to a moving target. The riders at the front of the international CX races are also at the front of the Women’s World Tour races during the road season. There is also the challenge of coming to Europe after an Australian CX season rather than a summer road season and having less of a road racing fitness base. This is manageable but requires some careful prioritisation.

The second lesson has been about the importance of time and experience. I had expectations for this season because it was my second trip to Europe. I had a good understanding of where I had previously struggled and I had broadly addressed those problems in my preparation. However, this season I discovered all the new areas I now needed to focus on in my training. Every race I have taken away a new skill or technique which I need to go away and practice, so I can consistently execute it. Although I would say that broadly my skills were better than the riders who I was finishing around in the race, there was still a significant gap in technical ability in comparison to the women at the front of the race. If you look at any of the riders who are finishing in the top 20 in Belgium it has taken them years to improve their race results and it will be the same for me.

The third lesson is about being a fulltime athlete. Cycling has always been secondary to either my career or my education but during this trip it was my one and only priority. I had the opportunity to do everything to optimise my racing but I found that even with all the time in the world this doesn’t mean that suddenly your will get all your training and recovery right. It takes just as much discipline to get your training session done every day as it does to put your phone away and go to bed at 9pm every night. It also took time for me to work out what training and preparation was the right fit for me between racing weekends. When you are a fulltime athlete you need to treat it like a job and take pride in doing excellent work every day.

I also want to speak about some of the really strong positives from this season. Although I am going home early I believe that I have achieved my personal racing goals for this season. I gained a lot of experience over a range of different conditions including my first sand and my first snow races. I got my first UCI podium result in Spain. Lead lap finishes at every world cup I have raced with two 40th places, a 43rd and a 47th place. Some of my favourite racing moments were:

  • Dropping into the sandpit at Zonhoven on the first lap and somehow avoiding the carnage!
  • Completely emptying the tank up the Koppenberg at Koppenbergcross.
  • Taking the race lead and finishing on the podium in the Spanish C2 race in Karrantza.
  • Following Marianne Vos up the starting straight at Scheldecross.

It was really important to me that I race in a way that shows my potential to reach the top level in this sport and I believe I did that. I want to say thank you to all the people who without your support this trip would not have been possible and those people who improved the experience immensely:

  • Bek, Jan, Phil, Chris, Mike and Ian for donating to my Australian Sports Foundation page to provide financial support for my European racing season,
  • AECOM Australia for supporting my trip and approving my unpaid leave,
  • Ozriders Cannondale SRAM Cycling Team and sponsors for support in Australia and help with equipment.
  • Spin Cycle Clothing for designing a full winter racing wardrobe,
  • SRAM Europe and Feedback Sports Benelux for help with parts and equipment in Europe,
  • Stef and Helen Wyman for lending us equipment and being so generous with your time, knowledge, and experience,
  • Geert and the Donen Vondemolen CX Team riders for being kind and welcoming at races and inviting me to your cx training,
  • John for housesitting and paying the bills while we are away from home,
  • Marita for your kindness and welcoming us to your home in the Netherlands, Mitchell M and Alice for being our Aussie friends in the Netherlands, Chris for welcoming us into your home in Germany and to Maggie and Graham for your hospitality in London,
  • Mitch for his endless support and tireless work driving 13,000kms to and from races, cleaning and servicing bikes, working the pits and generally doing all the boring work to make this trip possible,
  • The Americans (Drew and Annick) and the Irish (David) for sharing the foreigners racing experience,
  • Evan at Mountain Bike Australia for helping with World Cup entries,
  • The Belgian fans (Myriam and JB) who decided that an Aussie was worth supporting, and
  • Family and friends for sending me your love and support over social media, finding obscure livestream links and staying up way too late to cheer for me.

See you back in Australia

Nat

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Euro CX Calendar

Here we go, my planned race calendar for the 2017/18 CX season: 7 world cups, 16 UCI Cat 1 and 10 UCI Cat 2 which means over 30 races. The finále is the World Champs but selection won’t be announced until mid-October.

If any Aussie riders are planning to apply for World’s selection for the first time they are welcome to get in contact with me as I am happy to share my experience racing in Europe. My biggest advice for riders (particularly juniors) planning to come over is to consider your goals for the trip and when the best time to be over here is. Very few races are held in January so riders can taper for the World Championships. This gives you very little opportunity to get used to how the events are run and the way riders race in Europe.  For example, in a small Australian field we have significantly less rider traffic during the race. This means Aussies are less experienced at full-gas race starts (from the back of the grid), passing riders and dealing with bottlenecks or crashes. I believe that coming to Europe for ‘Kerstperiode’ (the 2 week block of ~8 races around Christmas) is better value than the final two weeks leading up to the World Champs where you get only ~4 races and your competition are absolutely flying. You could also consider staying after the World Championships for some additional racing in February. While it is likely you will feel out of your depth, coming here and racing the best is an overloaded learning experience and I highly recommend it.

I am living the dream having the opportunity to race the whole season over in Europe. I have never been a full-time athlete before, as my cycling has always been managed around my work or study commitments. I feel very fortunate to work for a company who have been so supportive in helping me fit my sporting commitments around my work and saying yes when I asked to take leave for this trip. Even more than that, AECOM have come on board with some financial support for my trip which is fantastic!

Currently for Australians, participation in cyclocross events even at the World Cups and World Championships is paid for by the athlete.  While I am fortunate to have some financial and in kind support my European racing season is primarily self-funded. I am partnering with the Australian Sports Foundations’ Athlete Fundraising Program which allows you to give a tax-deductible donations to support an athlete. This money will contribute to my costs including flights, accommodation, car hire, race support and equipment.

You can find my donation page here: https://asf.org.au/athletes/nat-redmond/

ASF logo.png

Thanks to all my current supporters: AECOM, Cannondale, Ozriders, SRAM, Zipp, Bell helmets, Spin Cycle Clothing, Kogel Bearings, and Zero Friction Cycling.

Nat’s Euro Cross Calendar

Day Date Name Location Class
Sat 30 Sep GP Neerpelt Neerpelt BEL C2
Sun 1 Oct Telenet Superprestige Gieten Gieten NED C1
Sat 7 Oct Berencross Meulebeke BEL C2
Sun 8 Oct DVV verzekeringen trofee   Hotoncross Ronse   Kluisbergen BEL C1
Sat 14 Oct Polderscross Kruibeke BEL C2
Sun 15 Oct Telenet Superprestige Zonhoven Zonhoven BEL C1
Thurs 19 Oct Kermiscross Ardooie BEL C2
Sat 21 Oct Telenet Superprestige Niels Albert CX Boom BEL C2
Sun 22 Oct Telenet UCI World Cup, Koksijde Koksijde BEL CDM
Tues 24 Oct Kiremko Nacht van Woerden Woerden NED C2
Sat 28 Oct De Groet Prijs van Brabant s Hertogenbosch NED C1
Sun 29 Oct Telenet Superprestige Ruddervoorde Oostkamp   Ruddervoorde BEL C1
Wed 1 Nov DVV verzekeringen trofee   Koppenbergcross Melden   Oudenaarde BEL C1
Race Break
Sat 5 Nov Cyclocross de Karrantza Karrantza ESP C2
Sun 12 Nov Elorrioko Ziklokrosa Basqueland Elorrio ESP C1
Sun 19 Nov Telenet UCI World Cup, Bogense Bogense DEN CDM
Sat 25 Nov Telenet UCI World Cup, Zeven Zeven GER CDM
Sun 26 Nov DVV verzekeringen trofee, Flandriencross Hamme BEL C1
Sat 2 Dec GP Hasselt Hasselt BEL C1
Sun 3 Dec Zilvermeercross Mol BEL C2
Sat 9 Dec DVV verzekeringen trofee   IKO cyclocross   Essen Essen BEL C1
Sun 10 Dec Vlaamse Druivencross Overijse BEL C1
Sat 16 Dec DVV verzekeringen trofee   Scheldecross Antwerpen BEL C1
Sun 17 Dec Telenet UCI World Cup, Namur Namur BEL CDM
Sat 23 Dec Waaslandcross Sint Niklaas BEL C2
Tues 26 Dec Telenet UCI World Cup, Heusden Zolder Heusden Zolder BEL CDM
Thurs 28 Dec DVV verzekeringen trofee   Azencross Loenhout BEL C1
Sat 30 Dec Telenet Superprestige Diegem Diegem BEL C1
Mon 1 Jan BDVV verzekeringen trofee   GP Sven Nys Baal BEL C1
Sun 7 Jan GP Leuven Leuven BEL C1
Race Break
Sun 21 Jan Telenet UCI World Cup, Nommay Pays de Montbeliard Nommay FRA CDM
Sat 27 Jan Internaionale Cyclocross Rucphen Ruchpen NED C2
Sun 28 Jan Telenet UCI World Cup, Hoogerheide Provincie Noord Brabant Hoogerheide NED CDM
Sat 3 Feb UCI Cyclo cross World Championships, Valkenburg (pending selection) Valkenburg Province Limburg NED CM

 

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Reflecting on the Aussie Season

Hello from my apartment in Europe! Last Sunday was my last Australian race for the year, the final round of the Focus Crossfire Cup. I love our local races because Port Adelaide Cycling Club events are run like clockwork and the course designers always get the best out of each parkland location. For the first time this year we had permanent allocated numbers for the whole series based on the previous year’s rankings which meant I got to race with the highest number in the Women’s A series, ‘101’. After winning the series I’ll get to keep the number for next year, unless PACC decide to mix it up and give the Women A riders the ‘1’- series and the Men A riders the ‘101’-series next time. #smashingthatglassceiling

I finished the National Series in second overall behind the very deserving winner, Kim Hurst from NZ (Follow her on facebook and instagram). I am happy with this result as it shows my consistency this season and Kim was a completely deserving winner as she beat me every time we raced. While I was happy with my results I had too many second places this year so next year I want to be on that top step.

In hindsight I wish I carried better form into the last two National Series rounds. I had decided to have a rest after National Champs to feel refreshed for Europe but I missed the opportunity to contest more closely our first ever Australian UCI C2 races. The success of these events show the momentum building in our Aussie CX scene and I’m sure even more international riders will consider making the trip next year.

One minor issue we have to sort out is to get the points from these early season races counted straight away. Currently the UCI wait until after the first world cup at the end of September to update the points and after that it is a weekly rolling update. This discourages international riders from coming to Australia or Australian riders going over to America for the early season as any points in Australia won’t count in those early season races.

The National Champs was also a second place finish for me this year. I went into the race believing I could win and I raced to my strengths, leading in the technical sections and easing off in the straights. It was an interesting race because Peta and I had prepared so differently leading into it. Peta has a MTB background but had come off an intense American summer road/criterium season  This gave her amazing fitness and top end but no cross bike specific preparation. Because of this difference in strengths there was a lot of back and forward, good close racing for the spectators. It was disappointing to not win and take the green and gold to Europe but it is still a big step up from my results in previous years. Plus, coming second at National Champs meant I got to do my first anti-doping pee test – when you’re peeing in a cup while someone watches to ensure you’re not tampering with the sample you know you’ve #madeit.

The quality of the Elite Women’s field this year has been fantastic, not just a higher level at the front of the race but also greater depth which means closer racing for everyone. For example, at the National Championships two years ago 5th place was 3’38”down and this year 5th place was 0’53” down. Obviously different styles of courses do effect the time gaps but the close racing was seen across the board all season which is really exciting!

American CX rider, Rebecca Fahringher (Follow her facebook and instagram) wrote about considering how much of the World cups she was planning to do and said “I hope to have achieved a level of National domination before next aiming for World domination, but I have learned that the quest for world domination is a great leap towards training for National domination.” I liked this quote because although I didn’t quite get the absolute top results I wanted in Australia, I proved to myself that I am ready to learn all I can racing the best in the World in Europe. Everything i learn over here I’ll take home with me for 2018 #NationalDomination.

Cheers! Blog post with my race calendar will be up tomorrow.

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Pre-Nationals Final Check In

Cover image by the amazing Jake Thomas of #BombtrackTreadlyRacing

National Champs are this weekend. Despite the rest of the world running pre-season cx camps and Instagramming with the hashtag #crossiscoming our Australian season is peaking in August. People have asked me about my preparation and how I am feeling about race day. I’m excited to line up on the front row and give it my all. Preparation wise I haven’t changed my training significantly – I am still doing my 10min and 20min steady efforts. However, in the last month I have added some higher intensity sessions on the trainer and I have reduced the number of repetitions in the last week to ‘taper’ for nationals. If you were wondering who my coach is – it is my fiancé Mitch. He coached me when I was racing NRS and as long as I’m self-motivated about my training the arrangement works well for us. Who wouldn’t want to analyse training peaks data together over dinner?

I’ve always been relaxed on race day. Although, sometimes you can be too chilled – like the time I missed my race start at the Tour of Bright TT…. Last month I treated State CX Championships as a practice run for Nationals. I wrote down a schedule for when I was going to: practice the course, eat my last pre-race meal, go for a nervous pee, hop on the trainer etc. It is good to have a plan, particularly where there are lots of distractions from other people racing and wanting to talk to you.

Here is some other big news! Mitch and I have booked our flights to Belgium for the end of September. I will be skipping the very start of the official-rest-of-the-world-cyclocross-season in America but arriving in Europe for everything else through to the World Championships. This means I will be racing 7 World Cups and at least 25 UCI Category C1 and C2 races. It is going to be an amazing experience and I will share more about our trip as we sort out more of the details.

I think sometimes we are so ingrained to not ‘boast’ about ourselves that we forget to be proud of what we have accomplished. So that is why I am excited that Nationals are in Adelaide so my friends and family can come and support me whatever the result.

Okay – that is all I have to share. See you on the weekend!

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Road and Cyclocross? Porque no los dos!

Last month there were a few news articles (see note) discussing reduced racing days in the second half of the 2017 National Road Series (NRS). Opportunities in road cycling to showcase your talent and your sponsors have become more limited in recent years and many teams have resolved this by travelling to race in Europe or America. However, overseas travel is not an avenue available to everyone. The decline of the NRS is a multi-faceted problem and I can’t offer a solution for this. However, for riders and sponsors feeling disenchanted with the NRS, here is my solution:

Consider expanding your 2018 calendar to compete in both road and cyclocross.

Team sponsors – adding cyclocross to the race calendar provides new opportunities to showcase your brand and here are a few of the positives:

  1. Accessibility: Cyclocross races are usually held in city parks on short circuits and this makes them spectator friendly and much cheaper for a team to attend. The demographic of riders and spectators is broader than NRS, offering multiple men and women’s grades and even kids races, which makes it family friendly. Teams can set up their marquees at the course all day displaying their sponsors and equipment. This time for interactions makes riders available rather than just super-fit elite athletes you follow on Instagram. No amount of social media content can compare to having your team out there, speaking with their fans.
  1. andrew sleeman - tent competition

    The tent competition was on at Bright, Victoria (Andrew Sleeman)

    High Quality Content: Cyclocross is a photographer’s dream. Being so close to the action draws the spectators and also photographers hoping to capture that perfect shot. It doesn’t matter if a rider is coming first or last, they are still likely to get great a great shot of them racing. Cyclocross is reflecting the way sports are shifting – it’s less about besting other riders and more about each rider overcoming the difficulties of the course. There can only be one winner on the day, it is much more desirable to share your riders’ stories rather than waiting for that occasional win.

  1. lana adams - nationals 2016

    Naomi Williams and myself racing at Nationals last year in Adelaide (Max Hardy)

    The Cyclocross Image: Cyclocross has its own quirky personality – capturing the excitement and physicality of small bunch road racing and the laidback atmosphere of mountain bike events. As a new sport in Australia it has a fresh image and is inclusive where road cycling is sometimes considered elitist. Cyclocross offers equal opportunities and prize money for men and women and I believe that it is a great image for a brand to associate with. Cyclocross is still growing in Australia, particularly in the women’s fields and there are still only a few teams racing so acting now would make you an early adopter.

Riders – the National Cyclocross Series runs from June to August to fill the winter break in the NRS season. Here is why you and your teammates should compete:

  1. Skills to pay the bills: A road-focused rider has lots to gain by dabbling in cyclocross. To be competitive a rider needs to learn to apply power and brake smoothly, to pick their lines and to use their upper body. All these skills carry over to the road. Aerobically a cyclocross race is full gas from the start to the finish with multiple accelerations per lap. All riders learn to ‘suffer’ and push through in a cross race. It gives you motivation to keep training through the winter when road training is miserable and you’re sick of Zwift. If Marianne Vos, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot, Lars Boom, Zdeněk Štybar and many more professional road riders also race cyclocross, it must be good!

    andrew sleeman - into the dark

    Gotta be technically good when you can’t see where you are going (Andrew Sleeman)

  2. Equal opportunity for women: Cyclocross has always offered equal prize money and opportunities for women and men at all races. At the last National Round in Brisbane it was really moving to hear such positive feedback about the excitement and the quality of the women’s race. This culture is why more and more women are moving away from other disciplines and choosing to focus on cyclocross. Every year more women start racing cross in Australia and every year the competition steps up again.

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    Did someone say red bull podium? Longview Winery, South Australia (Lana Adams)

  1. Fun! Most importantly – cyclocross is fun. I challenge you to race a cross race without smiling at some point. And a great reason to get another bike!

Just like the revelation of Old el Paso allowing us to choose both hard and soft tacos I hope you now feel empowered to speak to your road team about adding some great cyclocross racing to your 2018 season. Let me know what you think.

Cover image by Andrew Sleeman.

Note:

  1. http://cycling.org.au/Events/Subaru-National-Road-Series/News/subaru-nrs-2017-mid-season-update
  2. https://www.kateeperry.net/single-post/2017/06/13/An-open-letter-to-Cycling-Australia
  3. https://cyclingtips.com/2017/06/mid-season-update-reveals-bad-news-australias-national-road-series/
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My 2017/18 pre-season

The Australian National Cyclocross Series kicks off this weekend in Bright, Victoria. This will be my third season after buying my first cross bike two years ago. I was unprepared in my first season, taking cross up on a whim after months off the bike due to illness. However, I fell in love with the sport and threw myself into it, ending the season with six weeks racing in Belgium over December 2015 – January 2016.

My second season started slowly after returning from Belgium, and while I achieved consistent top five results in the National Series, I only got onto the podium once. It was a dissatisfying year for me due to a mix of bad luck and not being at the level needed to contest the win.

Now poised at the start of my third season I am feeling positive about how I have handled my preparation and would like to share a few of those key areas of focus with you.

  1. Strength Training

It has now been over a year of incorporating gym sessions into my training and the benefits are noticeable on and off the bike. This is probably the most ‘bang for buck’ improvement as I only do one gym session a week (one hour)! This session is basically a short warm up and then sets of either deadlifts or squats – yep, not very complicated.

Since starting gym I have had noticed many changes including:

  • Pretty much eliminated my lower back pain on the bike,
  • Increase in maximal power,
  • Better repeatability in high power efforts, and
  • Much less whole-body soreness on longer rides

I am now a complete believer in strength training and I love that once a week can still have noticeable benefits without replacing time on the bike.

  1. Bread and Butter Threshold

While there are always things to improve, I looked back on last season and knew that I was losing races due to insufficient fitness. Due to the less technical nature of Australian cyclocross courses, fitness becomes an even bigger part of the puzzle. Additionally, looking at power data from the international female cyclocross riders, their Functional Threshold Power is generally over 4.0 W/kg.

So, back to the building blocks of racing –improving your threshold power.

There are a million articles on the internet about how to train your threshold from people far more knowledgeable than me. I think the hardest part is that these sessions can be tiring and not very enjoyable so you have to find your own motivation. Improvement is slow and I still need more time to get to the numbers I want for the National Championships but I am happy with where I am heading.

  1. Eat More Veggies

I have been changing up my dinners to low carb meals, with the rice/pasta/starchy-carb replaced with vegetables. More generally, eating more carb around races/intense training sessions and less carbs on recovery days/lower training phases. I put this third because I am still working this one out but the reasoning is that if you are going to eat either way you may as well make it better for you. Note of warning, the people you live with will eventually get sick of bok choy, spinach and cauliflower rice.

– – – – –

Hope you enjoyed a little insight into some of the things I have been doing over the last couple of months. Let me know what you have been doing and if you have any questions. I hope to see you at the cyclocross races coming up!