Sunday, 26 October 2008

Ready As I'll Ever Be

Bags packed, bike checked, hair blonde, legs - not ready. Oh well, what could possibly go wrong. Tomorrow, I head off on the Great Southern Randonee for 1200km. I've had 3 weeks with a rotten cold and very little riding and I still don't feel very flash. All my grand plans are out the window and I'll be riding to survive.
I've been very quiet on the blogging front lately because I've just had to prioritise. I've been getting to bed early, trying to help out around the house as much as I can and to get as much riding as I can in the legs. Sitting in front of a computer was one of the things that had to go. I'll be getting back to it shortly as I now have the outline of about ten stories I want to write up. As is often the case though, they tend to lose some immediacy and interest once I get around to them.

I'm setting off on the GSR with every intent of posting a couple of things to the blog as I go so keep and eye out, I just may live up to it.

Saturday morning, I got out early to test myself, the bike, my lights and all the gear out. I took off at 5am for 100k and it was really beautiful. The kind of morning tomake anybody a fervent cyclist. The only mistake I made was to wear short fingered gloves. On the tops of the hills it was warm enough, but down in the hollows it was around 3 degrees lower. THis took it down below 5 in spots. Ouch! My fingers hurt. When the sun started to hit me all of that went away and it was just sublime.

Wish me luck! I'm gonna need it.


Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Yep, The Ground Really Is As Hard As It Looks.

Sunday morning.  Here I am fresh from a night at the Yarts Festival with Patti Smith.  It's a beautiful morning and I get out early before the wind gets up.  Seven AM start and blast out a quick 50km.

The 100 on Saturday is still affecting me and my legs just aren't firing.  Try as I might, I just can't sustain high heart rates.  I push it out anyway and have a great ride.  Up the last hill to home I burn all the travellers cheques I've got left on duty free lactic acid.  I hit the top with my heart rate in the mid 180's, right on the edge of spew town.  

I turn off the road into my driveway still pushing hard at about 25kph.  Damn that gravels loose.  Dam that gravels looking closer.  Crap! Crap! Crap!  I've knocked a bit of skin off my knee, hip elbow and shoulder and shreaded a nice pair of knicks.  The worst is that I've peeled back a big chunk of flesh off the top knuckle on my right thumb.  It's a real drag, every time I bend my thumb, it cracks open, hurts like hell and weeps a bit.

Patti.  Ahh, Patti.  The concert with Patti and her band, was a real beaut.  Her voice was in top knick, she seemed totally at ease with herself and completely able to poke fun at her own persona.  Even Hamer Hall which can suck the life out of most concerts faster than Kevin Rudd in a strip club, couldn't dampen the mood.  It took me about 3 songs to decide I needed to get up on my feet and joined a couple of young guys dancing up the back.  We kept dancing back there until she started on Land when it became necessary to get to the stage.  Kerrie claims she'll
 always retain the image on me dancing down the aisle to the front like a child following Tom the Piper. 

The photo above shows Patti in true Rock Star form shreding her guitar at the end of Rock 'n Roll Nigger so she can set it up against the amp for top feedback as the band leave the stage.  At 62!  Now that's class.  She even managed a few good spits. 


Saturday, 11 October 2008

Back In Town

What a morning.   I got up early and made a yummy breakfast of poaced eggs and asparagus for Kerrie and me.  With a little trepidation, I took off on my 100k loop.  I pushed it pretty hard from the get-go trying to hold my heart rate up in the 160's as much as possible. 

The weather was marvelous with hardly any wind.  Sunny but not hot, just beautiful.  I managed to maintain the push right to the end of the ride, averaging just over 30kph.  A bit slow but not bad considering how little time I've spent on the bike lately.  I'm going to follow it up with a real hard, flat out, 45km tomorrow.  That will really shake things down.

The view near Sugarloaf Creek

I have the most fantastic new toy! The powers that be at work decided they simply had to have iPhones.  So naturally I had to have one so I'd be able to support them.  I've downloaded a little app called Trail Guru.  You simply turn it on and it records my movement over time using the built in GPS.  When I finish, I upload the data to the internet and it's automatically mapped on Google Maps and produces charts of elevation and spped relative to time.  The only drama at present is that it sucks the batteries pretty quickly.  I ran out of batteries in the phone at about 2 and a half hours into the ride.   Track ID#1KP5 (Road Biking) ">Here's a link to the part of the ride I got in before the batteries ran down.  It's pretty cool.

I'm off to shower now to start making myself beautiful for Patti's concert tonight.


Friday, 10 October 2008

Nothing To It

It's been nearly 3 weeks since I did 400km in the Mallee.  In that time I've managed to do about 100k on the road and maybe 4 hours on the trainer in the shed.  I've driven myself into the ground running the Malled Routes rides, done my head in with technology at work, broken my back moving 15 cubic metres of soil in the garden and topped it off with the cold from hell.  Now I've got two weeks 'till the GSR, a cold, four more nights of Patti Smith and my 50th birthday to negotiate to get there.

Should be a cinch.

I can't let it go without boring you with news of the Steven Sebring film "Dream of Life" which I saw at ACMI last night.  The film was a really intimate portrait , beautifully and lovingly filmed.  It carried a fair bit of information and shed some new light on Patti's life and career.  Much more importantly it told so many stories which can't be put in words.  Often the juxtaposition of images, the soft fade of an edit, a momentary expression, glide of the hand or a strained muscle carried more information than a hundred books.  Sebring's camera opened its subject with the accuracy of a surgeon's scalpel.   The transformation from shy loving mother/daughter/friend to spitting, writhing, fire breathing performer is marvellously explored.

Before the film started Kristy Edmund, the Festival director came out to do an intro for the opening of the first major event.  She then announced that we had a bit of a surprise.  Steven and Patti came out and spoke for a while about the film.  Then Patti said she'd rather sing and knocked out "Grateful".  There wasn't a dry eye in the theatre.  She wished John Lennon a Happy Birthday and left us to "Imagine". 

Listening to her conviction and fire when speaking about George W's adventure in Iraq, conservation, torture and "using the rhetoric of freedom to justify tyranny" she glowed like a 20 year old.  It made me feel weak, pathetic and old by comparison.

I'm off in the morning to knock out 100k at a touch over lactate threshold.  Hope the cold gives up first.  Tomorrow night is concert night.


Wednesday, 8 October 2008


Riding those long flat Mallee roads gives room for the mind.  Riding alone into the wind, gives scope to grow.  There's no room to drop concentration for a second, but lots of hours to feel.  The constant roar of the wind has an affect on my head that goes beyond the difficulty of the ride.  It's a noise that wears at the edges of the soul.  Erodes the soft points to leave just the hard white bones of memory and experience.

While climbing a big hill brings pure, concentrated burn to cycling, riding into the wind is a whole different world of suffering.  Not sharp and pure like a hill, more like being beaten with a blunt instrument.  The secret is that it can be endured, defied and overcome.  The problem is that unlike a hill there is no top, no exhilarating view, no slight relief.  After a few minutes into the wind, it's hard to believe that I can keep going like this for hours. I can though.  

But nobody heard the boys cry of alarm.
Nobody there 'cept for the birds around the new england farm
And they gathered in all directions, like roses they scattered
And they were like compass grass coming together into the head of a shama bouquet
Slit in his nose and all the others went shooting
And he saw the lights of traffic beckoning like the hands of Blake
Grabbing at his cheeks, taking out his neck,
All his limbs, everything was twisted and he said,
i wont give up, wont give up, dont let me give up,
I wont give up, come here, let me go up fast,
Take me up quick, take me up, up to the belly of a ship
And the ship slides open and I go inside of it where I am not human.
Patti Smith - Birdland

I'm spending the next 5 days re-living my misspent youth seeing Patti at the Melbourne Inetnational Festival of the Yarts.  How quickly she's gone from punk to fringe to kulcha with a capital K.  I must admit, I'm so looking forward to Patti and Philip Glass performing the poetry of Allen Ginsberg.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Something To Aspire To.

I've been having a little sabbatical to recover from Mallee Routes and pay some attention to work, my home and family.  Things aren't exactly going to plan with my riding but I'll most likely survive.  I'm three weeks out from the GSR and I've been struggling to spend any time on the bike.  The last two weeks I've scraped 100 and 150km respectively and they haven't been top quality k's.  Now I've got a cold to boot.  Damn.  Normal service will resume shortly.

I feel inspired to write about the fantastic efforts of John R at Hopetoun.  For those who haven't heard, we had temperatures in the mid thirties and 50+ kph winds for the weekend.  This led to very high dropout rates and suffering for everyone.   Everybody who rode suffered.

John tackled the 600km ride.  It was hard on almost every leg.  There was heat, wind and lots, lots more wind.  Even on Sunday when the temperature dropped the wind kept driving into the riders faces.  I'm quite sure that at some point, everyone felt that John wouldn't make it.  He was dead on his feet, lacking sleep and at times struggling to make 10kph headway into the wind.  Everyone, that is except John.  If he had any doubt in his ability he didn't let a flicker of it show.

In the end John finished with around 40 minutes to spare and collapse into his swag.  For me, his ride epitomised everything the Audax spirit stands for.  Boldness in the face of adversity.  Quiet, confident determination.

While I look at the people doing the Alpine in under 7 hours and the sub 50 hour PBP'ers with wonder and admiration, it's the people like John who bring a tear to my eye and give me a measure of skill and toughness to aspire to.  It's when just keeping going gets tough that you really start to see who's strong at heart.  I just hope I've learned a little to take to the GSR.