Friday, 31 July 2009

Freedom of Choice

Last night I was making my mega cross-town commute home. It was a proper Melbourne Winter evening, with driving rain, cold and terrible obnoxious drivers. 40km in with 20km still to go, I was thoroughly wet. I'd just had the doctor in her Porche Cayenne pull out and pass me only to brake heavily so as to double park in the lane in front of me to wait for a parking spot. Having safely negotiated this, the next car to pull out and pass me, the passenger wound down his window and spat on me! Charming.

My coaching books tell me every ride must have a training objective. The objective of this ride was rapidly becoming, "tolerate it and survive".

Just about ready to lose my bottle it suddenly dawned on me. I can't change the weather, can't change the behaviour of other road users and can't suddenly decide I should have driven my car today. But I have choices I can make. I can decide to enjoy my ride in the rain. I can decide to concentrate fully on making myself as safe as possible. I can choose to let my legs spin free and easy and enjoy the feeling of not hammering myself for once.

Having made these choices, a miserable ride suddenly turned into an enjoyable one. I started to sing to myself a song dragged from my distant past. Chicago Transit Authority.

When I kiss you, I feel a thousand different feelings.
I'm covered with chills all over my body.
And while I feel them, I quickly try to decide which one
I should try to put into words, oh no,
Try to put into words.
Mostly I'm silent.

Only the beginning of what I want to feel forever.
Only the beginning, only just a start.
Beginnings - 1969

Now I just need to start to apply this to the rest of my life. (Maybe with a bit edgier sound-track.)


Wednesday, 29 July 2009


Having set myself on a collision course with the 2010 Audax Alpine Challenge, I've found myself increasingly tormented by a new decision. This year Audax is running a new option for the Alpine, called the Alpine Classic Extreme or ACE250. This takes in the climb over Hotham, to Omeo, Falls the back way on the newly sealed road and then back to Bright.

Now I'm perplexed. I really want to get a sub 8 hour Alpine and this year I'm fit and healthy and getting ready to go for it. On the other hand, this is the first ACE250 and as one of the first participants in the very first AAC it'd be nice to add another first to my portfolio.

The problem is that it really isn't a very classic course. If it was 300 and took in Buffalo as well, I'd be there in a heartbeat. So, do I chase my 8 hours this year, or go for first on a new ride??? Waiting for my muse to inspire me.

Following one's dreams can be so fraught, especially when they involve being chased around the Alpine course naked by tattooed Swedish cycling girls.


Tuesday, 28 July 2009


every pedal turn
between heartbeats is you
sunshine smile lifts me


Just In Case

If your phone runs out of batteries, 3G signal drops out or your computer's running windows - Carry one of these in your back pocket...

See original at

Mojo Rising

For a while now I've been thinking about the fact that I've never won a race. I've come close, I've raced well, I've been proud of my effort, but not won. It's clear that I've often not really tried to win, because then if I failed it would be a big failure. So maybe it's time to take some risks and see what I'm really capable of.

Last Saturday I raced with my club, Broadford-Seymour. The race format was a "Sealed Handicap", a new format for me. It's a bunch start with no-one knowing what handicap they've been given until the finish.

The simple plan of course, is to try to stick with the fastest A graders for as long as possible. Their plan of course, is to try to lose everyone else as fast a possible. They achieved this in the first kilometre with a searing pace that almost had me having a chuck on the roadside. So, one kilometre in I was gasping with hurting legs, the A grade guns disappearing into the distance and an array of the people I should have been riding with strung out in front of me. I didn't worry too much as School-House hill was coming up soon and I knew I would catch them there. I set about catching my breath a bit and finding some kind of rhythm.

At the top of School-House we had a bunch if six riders who I thought would work well together and we did. Silas was disappearing fast but we kept some touch with the next group of three A graders. With 7km to race we hit the hill out of Sugarloaf Creek. I hit the climb hard and dropped the group on the first pinch. It was now or never, because these guys would all out sprint me in a bunch finish. I really smashed it over the top of the hill and down the other side, knowing the final 5km was largely on a slight uphill meant I had a chance of holding a break to the line.

On the corner at the bottom of the hill, my 200m advantage was back to around 50m so I dug in, the gap see-sawing between 50 and 150m for the last 5km. The run to the line was again uphill and I spent everything I had to push up that rise.

With 20m to go I saw a wheel drawing up to me. It was young Sam, who had bridged the last 50m on his own. I dug yet again. Nothing..... Sam shaded me right on the line, with Ian and Jeff following shortly behind.

In the end I won the race with a handicap of 15 seconds more than Sam who came second.

While I won this on handicap, and got passed on the line, I'm really proud of this ride. It's the first time in racing where I have really stuck out my neck and taken a big risk. I played to my strengths and this time it paid off. I'm not so sure where this thinking will take me but I'm sure going to have fun finding out.


Northern Hills 300km - Viva Pepe

A couple of Saturday's ago I took off for a leisurely 300km with the Audax club. We did the Northern Hills ride. This ride is a real beauty in that it crosses at least 4 serious hills. Kinglake, Junction Hill, the Switzerland Ranges to Highlands and the Great Divide on the way back to Lancefield from Seymour. There are also innumerable smaller climbs to blunt the legs. The total elevation gain for the ride is around 3,700m.

The route is an old fashioned Audax ride in that it covers a wide loop of the state, passing through some lovely country on largely quiet roads. No loops, no out and backs, no contrivances to make a distance. A lovely ride, wonderfully supported by Bob and his assistant.

View Larger Map

As the weather in July is want to do, it turned on a bitterly cold and windy day. Thankfully the rain stayed away save for a few drops on the way into and out of Lancefield.

For most of the day I rode with Pepe who was suffering with an ear infection and complained of not having much in the way of miles in his legs. Pepe was a joy to ride with for the whole day, and while in obvious discomfort, rarely complained or lagged along the way. The 8km climb into the Switzerland Ranges was a real brute, straight into the bitterly cold wind and Pepe's suffering was at its worst. He battled up to the corner where I'd stopped for a bite to eat, smiled and pedalled on.

Throughout the day I kept thinking how tough he was in these conditions. Two days later, I received an email from Pepe, telling me that he'd been to the doctor with his ear infection and found that he'd suffered a punctured eardrum from all the pressure changes on the ride. Thanks for your cheerfulness Pepe, it would have been a way tougher ride without you there. I am "the boy who is Nancy".

The final 40km was a total hoot. Running with a howling tailwind, we flew at 50kph for a large part of it. At least we got a tailwind once for the day. I am "the boy who is Nancy".


Thursday, 16 July 2009

Toasted on the Trainer

Monday night was awful at my place. Cold, windy and raining so I hit the trainer on the back deck which has a nice awning over it.

I did 6 x 5 minutes at 95% of my maximum heart-rate with 3 minutes between efforts. I hit 184 on efforts 5 and 6 which is darn near to pukesville for me. By the time I warm up and cool down from this it's 75 minutes on the bike and I was well and truely ready for a good dose of opti and a jam sandwich.

I find it easier to hit it really hard with something loud and fast in the earphones of the iThingo. Muse - Hysteria and Foo Fighters - Monkey Wrench are high on my list of inspirational grind at present.

it's holding me, morphing me
and forcing me to strive
to be endlessly cold within
and dreaming i'm alive

Now my legs hurt properly.


Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Wild Eyes

two k to sassafras
seven-thirty pm
heart-rate one-seventy-nine
one in twenty


Night Training in Winter

Last night I had the most lovely ride. On a crisp, clear, cold winter evening I rode up Mt Dandenong. Did the 1:20 twice, round the tourist road to Montrose and back home through Lilydale.

The full moon lit my way and the views over Melbourne's suburbs were spectacular. The roads were dry and Grace seemed to lift me away from all my cares. This course gives me a great workout with the two runs up the one in twenty, a few nasty hills on way home along the Maroondah and a really hare, fast, flat run from Montrose into Lilydale.

There are some definite benefits to riding in the outer suburbs. This is cycling at its most sublime.

city sprawls beneath me
and i, mad samuri
flay it open
spray globs of light
from sea to horizon
full moon carries
my dream


Thursday, 2 July 2009

Trans-Melburn Express

I'm back and ready to talk bikes.

This morning was my first big commute from my new home. 54.9km to work! From deepest Croydon to darkest Craigieburn straight into a stiff north-westerly. Of course I did it on the fixie with a 78inch gear. Just a bit high for the Banksia St hill.

The biggest culture-shock from my old commute was that I had street lighting most of the way and the traffic lights. Hardly any of them picked up the bike so I was left at a few deciding between running the light and sitting there forever. The great part was the difference between my speed and the car traffic speed. I'm used to travelling on open roads with cars and trucks passing close by at 110kph, so the moderated speeds made judging turns and distances much easier. The other nice thing is that my cycle-commute time is much more comparable to driving.

I've already spotted half a dozen bike lanes to add to my Stupid Bike Lanes series so keep an eye out here. From the bike lane which disappears on a bend, just as the road narrows, to the one with a collapsed roadwork sign in it. If there was a metal sign laying in a traffic lane with pointy steel legs in the air, it'd be a major issue. In a bike lane, I'll bet it stays there for a week.

My cycling is languishing a bit right now. With moving house, I've been a bit undirected. I've been riding a bit, but without much purpose. There's been a bit of racing but largely undistinguished. I still have an appointment with the AAC in January and a score to settle. I still have the sprinting power of a diesel tractor. I still don't have a new bike and I'm still planning to make it to France for PBP 2011. I also plan on updating this blog a lot more regularly.

At least I have a tail wind on the way home....