Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Extreme Measures

My fitness isn't going anywhere. My cold is still dragging on, I'm nursing a fractured bone in my left thumb, my training is haphazard and random at best. Most importantly my weight isn't budging. I've lost 2kg since May and it's just been stuck there since mid July.

It's time, therefore to call in the big guns. Time to take extreme measures. It's time to get off the grog. Piff the plonk, bump the booze, pass up the piss, lay off the liquor, and shun the sauce. Alas, it's not helping my weight or my fitness. Yeah it's only a couple of glasses a night and a few extras on the weekend but it adds up to a bunch of empty calories. If I'm really good I'll allow two glasses on the weekend.

So this little mouse is just going to have to sit tight here atop this bottle of Cono Sur Cab Sav for a while yet. Even though it's made from 100% organically grown grapes and tastes pretty damn fine. It seems such a shame because it really hasn't done anything much wrong. It even has a picture of a bicycle on the label.

Anyway, the little mouse has been keeping this bottle safe from the ravages of air for 3 days now so I'd best be seeing some decent results on those scales in a few more days or there'll be hell to pay.

To paraphrase a well known Maxine, "I just love drinking my bike". Hic.

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Monday, 24 November 2008

Saving Money

In trying to get the very last bit of wear out of my tyres, I've managed to turn a simple ride to work into an epic adventure. I checked the rear tyre last week and decided it was good for a bit more but needed changing before the Alpine Delight. Less than 150km later...

I headed off to work in the very early dawn only to have the tyre go flat 6km from home. It only took a minute to realise that it was pretty terminal. I threw in a new tube and headed for home. Less than 2km later, it was flat again, this time with a somewhat more extravagant bang. I was left with three options, call Kerrie at 5:30am to pick me up, try to fix it again and hope to make it home or walk. I started walking. 4km is a long way in cleats.


Having made it home I was determined to get my ride in so I whacked on a new rear tyre and headed to work into what was by now a howling headwind. Doh! I did eventually have a good ride to work. When I got there, I took off my shoes and was horrified by what I saw. My cleats were worn down to almost nothing at the front. I was lucky to get home on them.


So in squeezing a couple of hundred extra km out of my tyre, I've wrecked two good tubes, a pair of cleats and got to work nearly an hour late. Oh well, I suppose it can't be all bad news.

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Thursday, 20 November 2008

Quilting & Memories

Tonight I've sewn the first badge in my "Stinky Bike Badge Quilt". This is the quilt my wife Kerrie made me for my birthday. It's taken quite a bit of thought about which badge and where to put it. Finally, I've taken the plunge and sewn it on.


The badge I chose was my first Super Randonneur from 1982. It was presented to me by Oppy himself at the Audax club's first proper awards night. I can't remember exactly where it was but I think it was in a scout hall or some such. The one thing from that night that still stands out clearly is the respect with which Oppy treated all of our achievements. It was clear that he felt a genuine passion for promoting cycling and encouraging everyone who took part.

I only have memories of two of the rides in that super series. The 200k was my first ever Audax ride and although I'd ridden 200k and more several times before that, it was an epic struggle to complete that ride. It was a bone chillingly cold day with strong winds and fog. A simple circuit of the Bellarine became a fight to the death with cold and damp. I think it took close to 13 hours to complete and I got lost several times on the way back into Geelong.

The 400k was held in the depths of winter and was plagued by gale force winds followed by torrential rain. The last 200 was in constant heavy rain and into a southerly wind. I remember taking shelter in the public toilets and Yea, laying on the floor with my feet up the wall and operating the hand dryer with my heel to warm my feet. The final stretch from Yarra Glen to Lilydale was so windy that I remember pedalling down the hills into the wind in my lowest gear.

I can't remember a thing about the 300 or 600. They must have been easy. The amazing thing about this series of rides is that they were all supported by Terry Gross' wife Sue from the back of her Mazda Bongo Van. Very young kids in tow. And she did it solo. If she's not a life member of the club, she should be.

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Wednesday, 19 November 2008

GSR Volume 1

I've finally gotten around to thinking about the Great Southern Randonnee in a bit more depth so it's probably time to write down a few recollections or bit of received wisdom. I'm not going to start at the beginning. Just work through a few bits of the ride.

I'll start by talking about the my plan. It was fairly simple. Make 20km per hour average while I'm not sleeping and sleep for four hours, twice. It works out to around 70 hours. In the end Michael and I took around 74 hours. Much closer to his plans than mine. We almost certainly would have been a fair bit quicker if I'd been in better form. Michael was certainly finishing stronger than me and more importantly he was ready to get through the checkpoints quicker. As fatigue set in it took me longer and longer to sort myself out at the controls. It wasn't that I wanted to hang about, I just lost my organisation. It's something to learn from for the future if I want to make the most of my ability.

A second thing I want to learn from is that in future I'd only wear the very best knicks on such a long ride. After my first sleep I changed into clean knicks. They were a cheap pair which I've ridden in a lot in the last year including a couple of 400km rides. On this ride they turned into a cheese grater for my sensitive bum. The much better knicks I wore for the first 500 and last 290 did much less damage. I'll keep those cheapies for shorter rides in future. Fortunately Stephen R gave me a handfull of knick cream at Hamilton on the return journey or it would have been much worse. I've never used it before but it really helped to reduce the severity of the rubbing.

The one thing that did work was my plan to not over extend myself by pushing too hard. I was able to curb my enthusiasm enough to not blow my legs out and keep a little in reserve. This was vital if I was going to keep going and make do on only a little sleep.

The thing that really worked for me which I hadn't counted on was the enormous boost to morale I received at every stop. The attitude, humour, encouragement and pure good will from the volleys was amazing. These people had less sleep than us and weren't even getting a great ride, yet they were full of happiness, good food and help. Thanks to every one of you.

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Tuesday, 18 November 2008

The Bike Path to Hell

This one really doesn't fit in the crap bike lanes category. I fact, it doesn't fit anywhere. When in the Mallee to research the Audax Mallee Routes rides, I came across a bike path. Not just any bike path, this one was special. It goes from Birchip to... nowhere. The important thing to note here is that the bike path really does finish in the middle of nowhere. It heads off on the road to Wycheproof and just stops about halfway there. This isn't remote. It is nowhere. The area through which the path runs has a population of around 3.

The other thing to note about this particular bike path is that it is virtually impassable on most road bikes. The bitumen surface is potholed, broken and covered in weeds. The fact that the road it follows is one of the quietest and least travelled in Victoria leads me to ponder what led someone to want to create this in the first place.

Having built the path, "they" obviously didn't come. Otherwise someone would have thought to give the path a little maintenance now and then. No doubt there's someone in government somewhere who's patting themselves on the back for this massive and lasting contribution to the fitness of Australians and their contribution to the environment. The Hollow Men have no vision compared to this genius.

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Monday, 17 November 2008

Back in Town?

Maybe not back in town but in the right state at least. For those I haven't bored to tears about it, I was pretty crook by the time I finished the GSR and I've been going to bed early, taking things easy and being a good boy to try and get better. It's been a long, slow road and my patience is wearing thin.

I've finally started getting a few good kilometres under my wheels again but it never ceases to amaze me how much a long ride knocks me around. Mix it with a prolonged illness and the effect is huge. The main thing is that I'm enjoying riding at the moment. Last week I rode home into a 50+kph head wind at about 20kph with a grin a mile wide on my face. I'll be buggered if I'm going to let a lousy headwind spoil my day.

This Saturday I rode 160km with Steve and had a great time. My speed was lousy, my legs felt like rubber and I couldn't sustain any kind of pace. Again, I wasn't going to let woosie legs spoil a beautiful day. We pedalled around between Tooborac, Lancefield and Kyneton did a quick run up Mt Macedon the easy way and back to Toob. We managed to get lost a couple of times and it was nice to just let go of worrying about the route, the pace or where we'd wind up. I could just blame Steve for forgetting the map even though I had my iPhone with a GPS and Google Maps in my pocket, it seemed much more important to be riding that to know where we were going.



The photo above is heading towards Mt Macedon with Hanging Rock in the middle distance under a pure blue sky. Steve, as always managed to make me laugh much more than worry about how my legs were feeling.

Yesterday, of course rather than rest to recover from my first longish ride for a while, I drenched a couple of hundred sheep, sheared a couple that were getting fly-blown, marked the last few remaining lambs and killed a couple for the fridge with my father-in-law. As a result, my ride to work this morning, into the wind, was a killer. I just had nothing. By contrast, the trip home was a ripper. A beautiful warm afternoon, tail wind and nothing to do but pedal. It still wasn't anything like good work but it really felt great to be out there on my bike.

Things aren't working right at all at the moment but it's just great to be riding my bike.

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