Jess Douglas

Back from Italy, Straight into winter, jump back into racing and a BIG goal to smash.

03 July 2015
11228504 10152872430951003 2423682902439614055 nI returned from Italy on the 17th June with 3000kms and 35,000 vert meters in the legs from working on bike tours with Dave and Emma of Top Bike Tours.  The weather was sunny, the roads hilly and the daylight hours long and enjoyable.

Of course my return came with the onset of winter here in Australia and the winter solstice too, the shortest day in our year.  

Norm and I returned to Melbs at 5:20am on a Wednesday morning, after losing 8hrs and basically one nights sleep I thought life would be not too bad, head out for a ride that night at the You yangs and slip back into my ride schedule all hunky dory.

Jet lag is sometimes myth, sometimes fact.  On this day and for about 7 days afterward, it was as real as I had experienced.  Norm and I got home that Wednesday morning and hit the bed hard for 5 hours straight.  For the next week I was having daily nana naps until I was finally good to go.
However I was not going to let this lack of sleep/need of sleep get in the way.  

I had returned with a base in my legs that needed to be nurtured so I returned to MTBSkills Bootcamp, Donna’s twice weekly ergo sessions, daily commutes to and from home along the river on the cx bike, club weekend road racing and even dabbled in my first two cyclecross races.

My first time doing the CX thing.

1903016 10153153218422599 4244027741339626896 nWeek one on our return Norm was the MC at the Fields of Joy National CX round 3 on the 21st and 22nd June. I really had no firm plans so thought I may as well see what this cyclocross thing is all about and race.
Of course I had to enter the Elite women category and race the best of the best like Lisa Jacobs for example.11536127 10153153219327599 5451491447266053256 nReccy ride number one, after 6 weeks of road cycling it was weird to feel skinny tyres on grass and mud underneath my wheels and the awareness took a while to feel ok.
The off camber slippery grass sections had me riding like a newbie, with punchy little ups to smash out every few corners and some serious mud just before a heckling grueling pinch up and over some rocks that was a tough grunt every single lap.  It was fun, it was tough, but it was totally doable.  The “typical” cx features were there, a couple of dismount/remount barriers to hop over and carry the bike whilst looking elegant like a deer - not.  Instantly I knew apart from fitness, power and just general cx finesse, my barrier execution was going to be a laugh and a half.  Well I found that when you are under the pump and working near max, getting off your bike, doing a little hurdle whilst carrying a bike and then doing it again and then remounting is not a natural task.  Its hard, its not elegant, it is a skill that needs to be worked on to look effortless and I looked like I was a total beginner.  

To be honest, I was not ashamed of my lack of skill, in fact I was excited at the prospect of getting a little better each lap and did try to make hopping back on the bike cx style feel like a normal thing.   

My first race on the Saturday was a short and sharp 45 min gig.  On the start line with these girls I instantly found that my killer instinct was extinct and I let the whole group lead me out and found myself pretty close to the last rider.  I knew I needed to work on my head space to get more hungry in moving up the ranks, but today gave myself a chance to watch and learn.  As the first lap progressed I realised just like in mountain biking or road racing, when you are further back in the field when people in front of you aren't as skilful or as strong or fit, they stuff up and you have no where to go and you end up being in their mess too.  So I quickly passed a few riders over the next lap or so to find some space where I could work hard, concentrate on getting better with skills but stay out of the mess.  With this goal and focus I had a ball. Funny thing is that 45 mins later I am just raring to do it all again, forgetting to smash myself early on and saving it for later.

Today I rode my Liv Brava 2 CX bike.  If there was one thing I would change to race this bike it would taking off the mechanical disc brakes and going to hydraulic disc brakes that are a bit more modulated and require less effort to pull you up quickly.  But thats an upgrade for another day. 

The vibe of the CX scene is really friendly, inclusive, have a go, and whilst the elite of the elite are amazing, there is so much variation of abilities, bikes and reasons for racing that I was fully committed to turn up the next day and race again.
It was also great to hang out with Norm and listen to him commentate on the race, interview Phil Liggett and Phil Anderson and generally socialise with the masses.

10989417 10152906001721003 8031750577098791343 oDay 2, race 2 and a different course.  Same place this time some cool downhill sections and concrete stair case with four flights of run up and the same nasty mud pools with grunter uphill rocky pinch with the same hecklers and of course the best part of the course, the dismount/remount double barrier section right in front of the crowd for all to see. 

Upon arriving I did a practice lap and really enjoyed this course even though I knew I was going to suck big time up the damn staircase section.  To see how I felt with some different brakes I used Norm’s Giant TCX Advanced Pro 1 to ride and race today. Its a medium frame and of course we had to make some adjustments for the day, but it was good to have the comparison.

The thing about the CX racing, you get to watch other categories on the course that you will race and watch and glean from them.  Some funny crashes occurred in some of the mens grades but many rode up that nasty pinch like it was nothing, now thats not how I ever felt!

 The women race started and once again I was caught unawares being absolutely last on the track. Whoops. Oh dear, my starts did suck. No grunt, no killer - mistake noted and confidence must improve for next time.

Once I realised this awful fact I went about rendering my position on the track and took back some places.  My goal today was to look more skilled, act more skilled and be more skilled.  On top of that I had promised to hurt for 45 minutes and not take it easy once.  Today I had to feel like a bit of a vomit.  So I worked hard all the time even when I thought I couldn't I kept going and by the end of our race I had a better feeling about it apart from my piss weak start.

Another day of racing and for me two days of learning and being part of something new.
I have vowed to return for the Dirty Deeds CX race on July 19th and the FOJCX rounds on 8th and 9th August.  Great training for me and great fun racing experience.

11700852 10153354855186668 1110626863770296360 nHad another wonderful experience on my Cx bike too the other day, we had signed up to do the Melburn Roobaix having known others that said it was a worthwhile venture.  Norm and I left home in Geelong, rode to the train station, hopped on with our bikes, got off and rode along the river from the city to Hawthorn, rode part of the course, did some pics, some interviews and ate and drank at cafes and a pub along the way. There were so many people in attendance, the vibe was great socialising with other cyclists and many people that we knew. Nice to go riding somewhere different for no other reason other than to ride and have fun.

 

Racing, goals and whats in store for 2015.

180809 493240041002 838155 nAfter returning home it was time to really ask myself, what did I want out of my cycling, and if I was going to race my bikes, what did I expect from it?

I had seen Greg Meyland at the FOJ CX races and I knew he was a level 2 cycle coach with a unique approach to coaching.  It occurred to me that if I was going to make the next few years something special and match my passion with my results I did need a support person to take me there. Someone with a different angle on how to get there, uncover untapped potential and work with my strengths.  And so I contacted Greg and we spend a good 5 hours chatting at his place in Wangaratta and really finding out about each other and how this gig might work.  We then did some testing on the wonderful Watt bike, (love this thing!) before I returned home and started to get excited at what I am setting out to achieve.

On my short term list we are aiming for a ‘smashing’ victory at the Scott 24hr on October 10th & 11th at Mt Stromlo in Canberra which is now the Aussie Solo 24hr National Championships, winning this would gift me with the 3rd jersey of such and perhaps give me back the confidence to revisit the world arena in 2016.  I will wait and see on that one, mainly these days for me to go and race there has to be many goals and its not just the end result. Is it a good place to visit? Can I have a mini holiday? Will it cost more than I am willing to spend? Is it at a time of year when I can spare the days or week off without it impacting on my businesses? …and so on…

The other event I really am passionate about improving on and having a podium for is the Giant Odyssey, its a 100km MTB marathon that I have done since its inception. I have come close to victory once, and know I can focus on what is needed to give myself the best chance again. Its a lot of hard work.  

11705143 10152914021781003 4464555131031329611 nI love racing, the very thought of finding great events to do and progress myself in my strengths and of course those things I am not so good at.  Seeing what untapped potential I might even have still up my sleeve and improving my bike skills and confidence as well.  

As a 42 year old mum and business owner, its exciting to have faith in myself again and be absolutely excited at the hard work ahead of me.
There will be XCO races, MTB Marathons, 6hr Multi lap enduros, more CX races, Road races, maybe even some gravity events. 

I have the support of Giant, Shimano, Bike Box, JetBlack Products, Adidas Eyewear and now Halkswood Training Systems(http://halkswoodtrainingsystems.com/). Maybe its not just luck, but either way I am stoked to be partnered with these people.

This weekend I am off to do a local road race and some decent road miles along the coast on the Sunday.  

Let me share with you today’s quote to spur me forward:

“Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it…the time will pass anyway.”

 

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Jess has not only first hand experience in coaching, but is a qualified fitness coach & cycling coach. She is a 3x Australian and 3x World Mountain bike champion and loves helping people be the best they can be.