Friday, 29 August 2008

HRT?

What is it about puffy, pasty young men and hot cars? This week I've been incommoded by several of them. Each time they fit the same archetype. Old looking for their age, pudgy, prematurely receding, often blonde hair. And they're all driving hot Holdens.

Yesterday, I visited a shopping mall in the big city with Kerrie. Walking through this suburban mall I noticed a crowd of these same young men around a stall set up in the main mall area. They were flocking in, drawn to this stall as if by a magnet.

My interest piqued, I had to go closer to see what it was that attracted then so. The stall was selling clothing. Not very fashionable clothing at that. Big puffy jackets, ill fitting tee shirts and boxy shaped caps, all in bright red and all horribly over-priced. It was then that I noticed that all this clothing was marked HRT in big bold letters. Moving closer still I remarked to Kerrie how nice it was to see these young men raising funds for such a worthy cause as Hormone Replacement Therapy.

Suddenly it all started to make sense. The pudgyness, the pastiness, the prematurely receding hairlines, anger problems and even the small penis complexes. These guys were all suffering from hormonal imbalance problems and hence their passion for the cause. I must admit, I won't feel nearly as uncharitable toward them next time one leans out the window to yell, "Yoowarghhhh!" as he passes me on my bike. I'm almost tempted to buy one of those jackets to show my support. That might be going a bit far though.

...

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Fix That Neck

I'm notoriously impatient with my body. I really hate it when I get sick. It's even worse when it's the kind of injury I can have some control over. The problems I've got at present with my back, neck and shoulders are just that kind of problem so what's the answer? Why, do something about it, of course.

I know it's such a boy way to act but, if there's something wrong I have to find a way to fix it. At present, I'm pushing myself through weight training, multiple visits to the chiropractor and heaps of Pilates stretching. Tonight's Pilates class is the first thing that's really seemed to help. I can move my head around freely for the first time in more than a week. Of course, not riding 300k on Saturday might have helped as well. Whenever I'm crook, I'll try just about anything to get better except rest. How could not doing anything possibly be the way to go about fixing a problem? Fixing has to involve doing, right? Ok, ok, I'll go to bed early tonight, deal?

Speaking of my former chiropractor; today he had the temerity to suggest that there might be an age where I'd need to stop doing some of the things I'm doing. He went on to suggest that it might be not too far away. Hence FORMER chiropractor. I actually do have a problem with that idea. I can't imagine not wanting to push the boundaries harder and further every year. They might be boundaries on different planes but certainly not lesser boundaries.

Anyway, I'm off to bed. It's 50k into the wind to work tomorrow morning.

...

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Bring On the Hurties.

I've started back at the weight work. I'm pretty sure that my back, neck and shoulder problems are partly because I'm getting imbalanced. My legs are getting much stronger and my upper body is withering. The dieting is probably accelerating the process.

My program is pretty straight forward. I use mainly dumbbells because they tend to require better control and engage a lot more muscles than a machine does. I do 3 sets of 10 to 12 each of:

  • Bench Press
  • Flat Fly
  • Bent Over Row
  • Bent Over Tricep Extension
  • Standing Side Arm Raise
  • Standing Alternate Bicep Curl
  • Lying Overhead Press

Then 3 sets of Wide Arm Lat Pulldowns with the machine and 3 sets on the Pec machine.
Then 3 sets each side of leg abduction and leg adduction on the pulley machine with an ankle cuff and 3 sets on the squat machine.

Finish it off with 3 sets to max of hanging leg lifts and a couple of million situps with a medicine ball.

With a ten minute warm up and 5 minute warm down on the bike, I can get this routine out of the way in just over the hour.

I went back to my notes from last summer and found that my weights are down by around 40%.... That doesn't explain why my pecs and shoulders are killing me today.

Right now, the most important thing is to try to make 12 reps of every set. At that level, I won't put on much muscle bulk, I'll just build strength and endurance. Later I'll work up to super-sets 12-10-8 reps of increasing weights.

All I need to do now is use put some kind of evil spell on the other Gym users so they won't notice me changing the music. If I hear Delta knocking out another piece of crap or one more Cold Chisel song I'll have to take to the stereo with a dumbbell.

...

Monday, 25 August 2008

Waste Not, Want Not

I'm not renowned for thrift. Just ask my wife, Kerrie. "You spent how much on a new set of flux capacitor grommets for your bike?" I do however like to get the best out of my tyres. I hate continuously shelling out for new ones and they do seem ridiculously overpriced in comparison with car tyres. 100 times the materials for the same price? Yes, I know all about the technology in a good bike tyre and the "weight/performance/cost, pick two" trade-offs. These tyres still strike me as pretty damned pricey.

With this in mind I tend to play chicken with bike tyres now and then. Sometimes it works out ok, sometimes not. I have learned the signs though and when a tyre starts to get a bit iffy I always carry a spare. The back tyre I rode with on the weekend was nudging 7,000km. It was one of my now non-preferred Vittoria Rubino Pro Tech's. I'm finding I get better life from the Michelin Pro2 Race even at the higher price. I checked it out on Friday night and thought it was looking a bit on the thin side. Still, I'd been thinking that for a while and carrying that spare without drama. "She'll be right", I thought, "another 300 and I can ditch it".

The ride went without tyre incident on my part but I did feel the rear was a bit slippy on a couple of those slick, wet, greasy, off camber corners through the back of Geelong. On taking the bike off the car rack yesterday morning, this is what I found.


Ouch! The "tread" of the tyre was worn through to the casing almost all the way around. I guess I got my money's worth out of that one. I'm not sure what caused the sudden dramatic deterioration in the appearance of this tyre. I've never had one go like this before. Yesterday's drissly conditions and gritty roads may have combined to wear it quickly or maybe it was just time.

Whatever the cause. I feel lucky to have gotten away with this, this time. I did make sure to show Kerrie how thrifty I had been.

...

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Mild Wild West

The Audax Wild, Wild West ride didn't quite live up to it's name. Thank goodness, the weather did little more than threaten. Largely it kept itself nice and we kept dry and happy. The only wildness came from the pace we set on the bikes.


The route was a beauty, giving a few hills and quiet roads. There was a sizeable crew headed off from Chateau Rowlands into a chilly morning. The roads were still wet and there was almost no wind as we pedalled away. We settled into a good bunch and quickly found a rhythm on the flat. Kathryn made several valiant attempts to hurry us along but the bunch was steadfast.

Around 20k in we finally started to pick up the pace a little and a very gentle head wind started to resist us. We hit a few casual hills not far before the first checkpoint in Anakie which broke the bunch up a bit. After Anakie Kathryn and I stopped a couple of times to adjust her rear derailleur which was playing up, these adjustments didn't help but cost us around 5 minutes on the leading group so we set off with the intent of catching them before the next checkpoint.


We did a two rider, team time trial for the next 45km and only failed to catch the front group by around 20 seconds. Jim had, in typical fashion, put on his race face, got down on the aero-bars and bashed out a terrific pace at the front. Kathryn didn't seem too fried, but my heart rate had been over 160 for most of the chase and we'd been sitting on a speed between 33 and 37 into the wind. I was very glad to take on some food and have a rest at the checkpoint where the sun was shining and the day was beautiful.

For the next section we settled nicely into a group of 6 consisting of 4 of the usual suspects, Peter, Kathryn, Jim and me, as well as Pepe and Mark. We caught a little drizzly rain coming into Moriac but with the wind behind us it was a touch easier. We again took an extended stop at the Cafe in Moriac which served a very good cup of coffee.

The leg to StLeonards was the longest and we went at it fairly hard. Jim had taken off a few minutes early and kept away from us for 25km. True to form, he'd put on his warm gear at Moriac when it was raining and I'd told him he had to leave it on. We didn't get a drop of rain. I took the chance to do a fair bit of wheel sucking on this leg, realising that I'd spent a lot of energy in the first 150k, I knew there was a long way to go. I also know by now that 150-200 is a time when I can be short on energy.

As we pulled into the StLeonards checkpoint we realised Pepe wasn't with us. Mark said he thought he'd had a flat. Damn. There's nothing worse than puncturing coming into a checkpoint and having to fix it alone. The food was great. I inhaled some cannelloni and salad, a couple of cakes and a cup of coffee and felt like a million bucks. After helping Pepe check the repair job on his second puncture, I somehow ended up helping Stephen carry a pool table up the stairs. Pretty good after 211km at break neck pace.

On the way out towards Portarlington, Kathryn broke the unwritten law and commented on how lucky we'd been with the weather..... It of course drizzled on us on and off most of the way to Geelong. We didnt get very wet but the roads were so dirty, we looked like we'd just ridden Paris-Roubaix. Especially Kathryn but I can't publish her picture here. It's being saved for a serious bit of blackmail.

The final whiz back to Werribee was lovely, on quiet dark roads with a very slight tail wind. It's hard to finish off better, except with a bowl of terrific soup.


This was one of the fastest long rides I've done for many a year and the time really doesn't tell how fast because we spent a lot of time horsing around at the checkpoints. Considering the cool weather, I'm quite dehydrated today, and still got a few sore bits. My neck and shoulders held up ok. They were pretty sore for the last 100k but didn't really slow me down.

On this ride, all the interminable waffling on this blog finally had a big pay-off. Ros, having seen some Patti Smith lyrics here, asked if I knew that Patti was touring soon. It just shows how much I've gotten bogged down in cycling. I had no idea. I'm now the proud owner of lots of tickets. And a really big credit card bill. My god, I could have bought a new chain, cassette and a pair of tyres for that!

...

Friday, 22 August 2008

Time To Go Wild

I'm feeling quite excited about tomorrow. It seems like a million years since I've done a long ride. I'm off on the Wild, Wild West 300k ride tomorrow. I'm not quite ready for it, but I've done all I can. Chiro every day, lots of stretching and just trying to look after myself.

I've already told the Chiro to expect me to undo all his good work on the weekend. And made a booking for Monday. I'll be doing two Pilates classes next week as penance as well.

I've also decided it's time to start weight training again. My upper body strength is just falling away so it's time to get serious. All I've got to do is make the time.

I'm off to bed now so I can get up at 4:30am. Doh! With any luck it'll be up to -2C by the time I go.

I'm intending to go hard, I'll just see how the neck, back and shoulder hold out.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Owww! That hurts.

Under the general heading of not ignoring the tips of icebergs, I've run aground this week. My back has been a wee bit off for a couple of weeks. What have I done about it? Nothing. I'm much too busy.

That's not strictly true, I haven't been doing nothing. I've been doing the usual. Cutting and splitting huge chunks of firewood, carrying and setting 100+kg rocks around the new ornamental pond, sitting at a computer all day and much of the night and riding three hundred k's a week. Something had to give and on Tuesday it did.

I awoke with a crick in my neck which quickly turned to muscle spasm and lots of pain. By Wednesday it hurt to breath and I was only getting about with difficulty. Finally I went to see the Chiropractor who started me on the path to recovery. Last night there was no blog, because I did my stretches and went to bed.

I've been stretching religiously today and I'm taking care about how I sit, stand and walk. The pain is receding with the help of nasty drugs. Hopefully I'll be right for the Wild, Wild West on Saturday.

To make matters worse I've been eating myself silly. Again, a result of feeling crook and a bit of winter blues. Damn. Get back on and keep on fighting. There's always next week.

I don't normally link to other cycling blogs much because I figure there are plenty of people better at it than me and I just can't keep up with it all. Today I'll make an exception. Dave Moulton has a story which is almost unbelievable about police enforcing road rules. Please have a read and watch the video on the link. Warning: this will make you angry. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Dave's blog. I recommend it highly. He's a bit of an iconoclast and tends to be a bit contrary but he'll make you think and his writing is excellent.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Welcome to the Real World, Nancy.

It shouldn't be this hard. Returning to work to do a real job after poncing around the alps yesterday was a really difficult adjustment. After dinner I made myself go out and knock out 3 repeats on the 3km hill out the front. Even that wasn't easy.

It just shows what happens when you get spoiled. I really thought it was going to be easy to keep going through the winter, but every week seems to throw up a new challenge. Either a cold, continuous rain, another project at work or just stupid winter depression. Maybe it's just age creeping up on me.

I've been thinking a lot about the AAC lately. About my obsession with going faster. Every time I've done it, I've gone faster than the time before. Sooner or later, age, bad luck or something has to stop that run. It doesn't stop me wanting to go faster.

I got asked "Why?", yesterday. I still haven't come up with an adequate answer. It's definitely nothing to do with the time because I'm never content with what I've done. It's not about beating other people because no matter how fast I go there are plenty who make me look stationary. It's about striving, setting an impossible goal and struggling for it. It's about keeping that impossible rhythm for just another hundred metres and another and another.... living the moment and nothing else.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Secret Cyclists Business

I've just spent a very lovely day in Bright and surrounding areas working on a TOP SECRET project. I'm not allowed too tell much about it right now but more detail will be forthcoming shortly. Suffice to say that it involved riding up hills repeatedly, eating French toast and drinking beer in congenial company.


I got sleeted on, frozen and alternately warmed by occasional sunny breaks. After the work was over, I went for a quick romp up Tawonga Gap. It was only the easy side but I was pretty happy. I rained on me on the way, but I managed to knock over the 19.3 k from Bright to the top at 27.1kph average. To make it even nicer, I never used my bottom two gears and managed to maintain 23kph at my slowest. I only got out of the saddle for the last 200 metres. By now the beer was disagreeing with me. My average heart rate at the top was 169!


I managed to make a total hash of the descent but my excuse was that it was wet, I was cold and tired and that the sleet was making my vision unclear.


As I came down to the base of the gap I spotted this familiar, yet ominous view of Mt Buffalo. Mmmm, appetite whetted, I returned home.

Now it's time for a little lie down. I've been up since 3am and I'm stuffed. God, I'm a tease...

Friday, 15 August 2008

It's All Systems Go!

Well. It's all getting serious now. Club member bookings for the Alpine Classic opened yesterday. I booked in last night and I'm feeling nervous already. Having opened my big mouth and let slip the fact that I wanted to do 8 hours this time, I guess I'd better start working. Suddenly, doing a minute faster than last year's 8:46ish looks like a big task. The weight loss has been going nowhere and I've been doing no more than keeping my fitness level up over winter.

I need to raise my performance by a couple of levels to reach my goal. So what am I going to start with? GO BLONDE! Tonight I've gone back to my natural blonde hair and I intend to keep it that way 'till at least after the Alpine.

Why? It's partly because all that hair pigment weighs a lot but mostly just a reminder that playing it safe, being average or just working hard won't be enough. I need to take it to the edge, peer over and throw myself into the abyss. It's the only way to find out whether or not I can fly. Standing at the edge flapping my arms just isn't going to cut it.
Up there -- there is a sea
The seas the possibility
There is no land but the land
(up there is just a sea of possibilities)
There is no sea but the sea
(up there is a wall of possibilities)
There is no keeper but the key
(up there there are several walls of possibilities)
Except for one who seizes possibilities, one who seizes possibilities.
(up there)
I seize the first possibility, is the sea around me
Patti Smith - Land/ La Mer(de)

Patti's songs like the mountains carry me beyond the every day to a place of challenge, otherness and pure beauty.



Thursday, 14 August 2008

Turning the Corner

This morning I had the first suggestion that Winter is starting to pass. The road was dry it wasn't too cold, I was feeling strong into a firm headwind and daylight was breaking through by the time I got to work.

The last few weeks I've been finding it quite hard to dig deep, spending a lot of my ride time concentrating on just getting there in one piece. Today it wasn't quite footloose and fancy free but I was able to push hard and get good results. Into the wind, the time wasn't anything to write home about but I kept the pressure on and was able to sustain high heart rates without cracking on the hills. On the last long hill which rises gently for 3 and a bit km I was able to sustain 32kph+ into the wind and keep my heart-rate over 175 which is pushing up-chuck territory for me.

The way home wasn't too bad either. Not quite in the same territory of intensity but I felt strong and quick. Even the odd blast of sideways rain didn't bother me too much. The tail wind didn't hurt either.

I'm starting to look forward to the challenges of the next few months for the first time in a while. Come on spring time. You magpies can stay at home though.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Wool vs Poly

I've been involved in outdoor sports since I was 15. Downhill and cross-country skiing, bush walking, running, orienteering and of course, cycling. I've always been a big fan of layering my clothing in cold weather. For pretty much the whole time I've been taking part in these sports the argument has raged about whether wool or polypropylene is better, particularly as a base garment.

There's been lots of argument about which holds less water, which "wicks" the moisture away from the skin better, the relative merits of wash-ability, cost and so on. My own experience has been that there's not a great deal between the two and that performance and longevity seem to rely more on the quality of the materials and manufacture than what they're made from. Better quality products tend to be a finer knit, are more comfortable, fit better and keep the moisture away from my skin better.

There have traditionally been two major factors which kept me mainly clad in polypropylene. Firstly cost. I can normally buy two good poly undergarments for the price of a wool one. Secondly, colour. Those who know me will understand that khaki, beige, brown and ecru aren't my style. Poly has come in a wonderful array of colours and stripes. Red, purple, pink, green and yellow, normally together. Now I'm finding that good quality wool garments are getting cheaper and they're available in bright colours. They'll never be on a par with the really cheap, budget poly gear but they're getting closer in price to the good stuff.

With all the riding I've been doing this winter, I believe I've found one more important difference between the two fibres. Smell! I've got base layers in both wool and poly on the go this year. The poly ones start to smell after the first wear. I can get three or four really solid rides in with the wool and it still doesn't smell too bad. This is really important at the moment, because the weather isn't at all conducive to doing washing every other day.


All this brings me to my final whine. Why doesn't anyone in Australia make decent woollen cycling gear? If I want a jersey or shorts made from wool, I need to go to the US, Europe or Asia. What's the first line of marketing I find? "Australian Merino" wool garments. Surely with fine merino wool fetching only eight to nine dollars a kilo, someone could do something with it and make a profit. You never know, I might go back to running Merinos. I don't think stupidity comes out in the end garment.

No sheep were mulesed in the writing of this blog and no polys were de-beaked.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Running a Ride

I'm running a ride and it's killing me. Running an Audax ride used to be so simple. When I first started, there was no email, no voice mail, no text messages. I'd turn up on the day and a bunch of people would come to do the ride. Some had even told me they were coming. Now I get home every day to a mountain of messages that have to be answered, from people who don't want to commit. Ahhhh!

Actually, it's really exciting. I'm helping to organise the Audax Hopetoun - Mallee Routes ride. It's a long way from anywhere and goes through some real wilderness. We've booked out every available spot in town where anyone could reasonably sleep and they're almost full. The scout hall, the motel, the footy club rooms and the pub. Just organising checkpoints in some of the towns is a huge task.

We've even had to talk to the police in one town where a young policeman threatened to arrest a couple of young ladies last year for having the audacity, dare I say boldness, to ride their bikes through the night. Were they crazy? Probably, but that's beside the point.

Anyway, I'm pretty much committed to cooking for the next month and a half to feed the hordes. If you're interested, it's on September 27 & 28 in Hopetoun and there are 50k, 100k, 200k, 300k, 400k and 600k rides. You'd best be prepared to sleep on the floor or bring your own camp though.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Winter Smiles On The Lairs

After totally urinating down all night on Friday, I headed off to Steve's place at 7am Saturday into clear blue skies and no wind. It was -1c at my place when I left home but I knew it was only going to get better.
By the time I covered the 40 odd k to Steve's I was feeling warmish and loving every moment. Even the enthusiastic dive bombing from the local magpie community. The new Goretex foot covers worked a treat to keep my feet warm. My fingers were another story. Memo: Need new winter gloves. The old ones have bitten the bitumen once or twice too many times.

In typical Lairs fashion everyone was running late. I knew we should have gone for the 7am start. After a broken down car rescue and a fair amount of phaffing about we finally rolled out in high spirits, dodging the cow pats in the driveway.

The early kilometres were an absolute joy with bright sunshine and very little wind. Even as the wind came up a little it was largely a cross wind. The eight of us made good time to Colbinabin rejoicing in the freedom of the back roads and the lack of traffic.

At the general store in Colbinabin we stopped to take in a little sustenance. Ranging from the home-made sandwiches and rolls we brought with us to "energy bars" to the dim-sims that might have been in the bain-marie for a week. I followed my very healthy home made roll and fruit cake with a ginormous bottle of iced coffee. SO much for the healthy food I'd promised myself I'd stick to.





A couple of Eagles followed us for a few kilometres through the hills between Heathcote and Colbinabin.


After Colbo, things started to cloud over, the wind came up and the temperature dropped but conditions weren't unpleasant and the company was great. Mark and I went for the odd sprint to keep our legs warm. Steve tried to tell jokes to Glo and everyone hassled Andy about his "Brown Shoes". The gentle hills through thousands of acres of grape vines helped to keep us warm despite the freshening breeze and cooling conditions.

With 3 or 4 km to go until Echuca, I succumbed to the lure of a roadside stop only to pick up a dreaded bindii in my tyre, our only puncture for the trip. We finally rolled in our motel, tired and cold but happy. After a leisurely shower and catching up on the olympic road race, we wandered downtown for a long dinner with much too much to drink and a lot of talking shit.

This was a lovely weekend with mates and bikes and family. I discovered that I mustn't take my bike off the road to pee, that two bottles of red isn't enough and that my wife, Kerrie once went out with Mark's brother.

Thanks Steve, great weekend.

Friday, 8 August 2008

We're All Going On A Winter Holiday

Tomorrow morning the Lancefield Lairs are all off for a Winter Adventure. We're riding to Echuca for the weekend. We've got families and kids and all coming up for dinner and a big night out. Tonight I'm sitting here writing and listening to the sound of heavy rain on the roof for the first time in ages. I don't want it to stop, but I'm not incredibly keen on riding in it either.

Oh well, whatever the day brings, it will, and worrying won't change it. It'll only change my responses to it and not for the better. If it's horrible, I'll just rug up like the Michelin Man and enjoy the sensation of ice water running down my nose. At least I'll have company.

It's going to be a great chance to get away from work and ride my bike but still share it in some way with my family and friends.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Rest Time?

Some days you just get out of bed and the ride to work looks too big, too hard and too cold. When this happens it might be natures way of saying it's time for a rest from the bike. I'm a bit hard of hearing so I just ditched work and rode to NSW instead. Not all the way from home. I drove to Shepparton and went for a ride while my car was being fixed and the optometrist worked on my new specs.

The old bridge at Tocumwal

I knocked out a nice 205km loop in a touch under 7½ hours, got rained on pretty heavily a couple of times and it was really cold at times but it was a top ride. 7½ hours with yourself might sound like torture to a lot of people but it was a joy to me. No mobile, no email, no meetings, nothing but me and the road.
The Big Strawberry at Koonoomoo

It was a fairly tough ride too. Despite being flat as a tack it seemed I was into a wind all day. I was starting to think that I was imagining it when I realised that I was speeding up without working harder whenever I had some decent roadside cover to block the wind. From a training point of view it was good in that I was able to gradually pick up speed throughout the day. I also managed to organise my calorie intake pretty well too. I ate almost entirely out of my pockets and managed to come home strong. I did have a couple of nasty scares when I hit a pothole or a drift of gravel on the roadside. These happened in the last 20k when I was getting tired and pushing hard. It's always a dangerous time and needs maximum concentration.

My bike needs a major clean now. With the on and off rain, it's covered in grit and grime. This sort of weather does nothing for the life of my chain either.
Today I found myself singing a lot of Morcheeba. Happy music for a happy ride! The main thing is that I've got my head back onto the planet earth and I'm ready to go on with life again. Everything should be this simple. Now I'm getting ready to take off up to Echuca for the weekend for a Lairs family roadtrip. I just can't wait.
Nathalia - Water Tower


Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Losing Weight and Riding Hard

It's really hard trying to ride hard and lose weight. It's difficult to do either, but to do both at the same time needs lots of concentration and constant juggling. Losing weight means consuming less calories than I use. Riding hard, means replenishing enough of them to keep working. Yesterday, I misjudged.

Normally I have a few snacks in my drawer at work to build up a little reserve for my ride home. I didn't have anything there yesterday and I'm determined not to go wild on the vending machine full of empty calories or the gorge of the crap biscuits in the tea room. This meant I was a bit too far short of parity.

I'd gone hard at it on the way to work and worked pretty hard during the day. There was a headwind on the way home. Not a tear-the-flesh-off-your-bones job like last week but 30kph and solidly head on. I pushed hard into it because it's character building.

Ten km from home I bonked. Bonked big time. Not in that nice way either. The northerly headwind was bitterly cold and I had nothing. By the time I got home I was chilled to the core and nothing could warm me up. I did all the right things of course. Went straight to the in-laws where I was due for dinner and downed a couple of cool vitamin b's (they come in a green can).

Today I've just been totally out of steam. Lots of vitamin c (real ones) and Echinacea to ward off those nasty winter colds and hopefully I'll be back to normal by tomorrow. Today I've probably knocked the calorie balance back the other way.

The net result of all this is that I haven't gained any fitness and probably haven't lost any weight. All for the sake of a couple of hundred calories - a banana and a handful of nuts.

Bike Lanes - Part 4

And so we come to today's example of brilliant engineering and planning, magnificently executed for your safety and mine. As is typical of the best of bike paths, this one ends suddenly, and just after the picture of a bike, telling us it's a bike lane. The road narrows at this point meaning there's only room for important, proper traffic. Bicycles are advised to de-materialise at this point.

Even a sign at this point alerting cars to the fact that the bike lane is ending and to expect bikes to be moving into the left lane would be useful. To make matters worse, just around the corner, the road narrows to one lane to cross a bridge. At present they are working on a zillion dollar project to duplicate the bridge. You'll never guess what. The the two new bridges will be exactly wide enough for two lanes each way. No provision for bike paths to continue or for a footpath. Still, who walks or rides a bike anywhere anyway? This isn't the 1920's.

Looking back in the other direction, we see this:

What a great idea. We can have a useless bike lane and kerbside parking. The roadside here is marked as parking allowed.

The end result of this, of course, is that instead of having a cyclist riding in the left lane, holding a lane and being relatively safe from traffic, we get stuck riding along in the gutter. Forcing us to dart out into traffic to go around cars or when the designers decide to just end the lane. This one gets a gold star.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Pushing With Ease

This morning it was so hard to get out the door. It took me nearly an hour to get from almost ready to go to gone. I went back to the house 3 times to get things I'd forgotten. Put on and took off different gloves. Packed and unpacked rain gear. Generally fussed and fluffed.

As I finally rolled out the gate at 7:50, without my rain gear, it started to rain..... I just pushed into it. Within the first 5km I started to warm to the task and feel good. I was pushing hard, and going fast and I was into the wind. By the time I hit 15km, I was buzzing. I tried to keep everything clean. Light on the pedals, nice cadence, lovely smooth circles. The speed and the effort just flowed out of me.

As I hit the serious hills, everything just kept flowing. The rain had cleared and it was just me, the road and my bike. By now I had a slight tail wind and everything conspired to pick me up and carry me over those hills which often make me suffer horribly. Even the 50 odd cattle which had escaped their paddock ran with me for a kilometre before returning through the breach in their fence.

The final blast up the 3km long hill to home just flew under my wheels and before I knew it, it was all over. Only the streaks of salt on my face gave away how hard I'd been working.

It was a morning of just being alone with nature and my bike. Being still and quiet at the centre, a flurry of power and movement on the outside. This is as close to a clear meditative state as I get. Stillness in action. Motion coalesced to it's essence. Pushing of pedals ceases and becomes the drawing of patterns.

It's bugging me
grating me
and twisting me around

yeah I'm endlessly
caving in
and turning inside out

because I want it now
I want it now
give me your heart and your soul
and I'm breaking out
I'm breaking out
last chance to lose control

yeah it's holding me
morphing me
and forcing me to strive
Muse - Hysteria

Tomorrow it might rain some more.


Friday, 1 August 2008

Losing Weight

So far I've lost about 2kg on my great weight loss program. I've been starving myself, riding and walking like a madman and losing about 200g a week. I haven't actually been starving, but limiting my calorie intake to around 3,000Kcal a day. Most days I'm so hungry I could gnaw my own leg off. I've always had a battle with my weight but as I get older it just seems harder and harder. The carbs seem to hurt me much more and I just crave them more.

The next 9 or 10 kilos looks like a really long way. I'm getting so tired of people thinking I want to loose weight to "look good". I'm happy with how I look now. It's almost impossible to explain to the uninitiated that I just want to go up hills faster. I'm really wanting to loose as much as I can in the next two months so I'm not dieting in the lead-up to the GSR. I don't think it'd be good to turn up there with a calorie deficit.

One problem is that I know I could burn it off faster if I built some more running into my training. I know it's no good for my cycling though.

82.3kg and counting.....