Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fragile back and the long road to recovery

Have been having one of those periods of ups and downs. Some days I feel great and then overdo it so that for the next couple of weeks I feel terrible. Getting sick of the sight of voltaren.
Nevertheless, physio is going well, and hopefully I should be back on the bike after about 3 weeks, fingers crossed. Just have to take it easy and stop reinjuring myself.

The real challenge has been dealing with the disappointment of withdrawing from the SM 1200. I've been quite despondent about that, but on the bright side I'm looking forward now to Perth- Albany- Perth in October 2010. Also I'm planning a few longer rides, definitely want to complete a super series this year.

I was also hoping to pursue the year round randonneur award this year, hopefully I will be OK to do the Bungendore bash on the 20th December with the ACT chaps.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Learning 2.1

The learning continues as I've just joined up for the second emerging phase of the Learning 2.1 programme. It might make me blog a little more too.

The second step in 2.1 is to familiarise yourself with twitter. I've been on twitter for a while now and mostly post progress on rides from my 3G phone. Sometimes I have conversations with my twitter buddies.

We haven't engaged twitter at the Library just yet, I think it really has useful applications as a reference tool, though it could also be useful as a general promotional tool. Might set one up later today.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Blogger redux?

Lots of kilometers under the saddle in these past months and a number of stories to sort out and share. Last weekend I finished the Longer Loop 300km brevet and enjoyed a wild ride to work last wednesday, complete with 50 knot cross winds, pinch flatting the fron tyre on the descent of Broughton Pass with a truck behind me and general cycling around in circles.

Next weekend I'm biting off the Scone 600km to finish off the randoneuring year which so far has seen a really large increase in my mileage over last year.

I am very much looking forward to the Scone ride, the body is feeling strong and the head is getting into the right space to do these things. Should be a hoot.

Mileage in Kilometers = 5379

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dogs in the trap - "Doin the Dog trap - 200km brevet"

When Greg mentioned offhand on a training ride that he and Aldo were going to head north to ride the Dog Trap 200km brevet organized by Howard and Bec, I thought yeah why not, new ground to cover and a chance to practice navigation. With about 2900m of climbing it promised to be a challenging ride.

At about 4.45am I loaded the bike onto the car and left for the start at Waitara having checked and double checked that I had everything before departure. It was raining slightly in the gong and while it was dry further north, it was foggy and well moist for most of the day.

There was a large group of riders assembling which was a bit of a novelty for me. We normally ride with a group of 5 or 6, so 20 or so riders were a huge pack. Greg and Aldo rolled up to complete the southern contingent and soon we were all on our way, into the fog and the unknown.

The Dog trap ride is a great route, the first challenge comes at about 6km in when you descend Galston Gorge, its tight switchbacks and lumpy surface made all the more difficult by quite dense fog. It was a sensibly cautious descent and then slow work climbing up towards Wisemans Ferry.

I heard the song of a lyrebird at one point, and Howard later mentioned that he nearly ran it over a bit earlier. The joys of morning! After the climbing the gorge I was feeling quite good and started to pick up some speed on the flatter sections looping around the agricultural lands of the western Hawkesbury. Despite my cue sheet clipped to the handlebars and despite Douglas’s shouted advice, I still managed to miss the turnoff and did a couple of bonus kilometers until I realized that the only riders around me were from Wollongong. Could have been worse I suppose and it was still foggy.

Rejoining the route we sped on towards Berowra Waters and the novelty of a ferry ride. Then there was the climb out which as Howard promised was quite good, if a little foggy. From Berowra we turned left onto the Pacific Hwy and headed north. Pretty soon I had a puncture and we stopped to fix it before the enjoyable descent from Cowan to the Hawkesbury. Crossing the river was lovely until Greg picked up a puncture. Two punctures in 5km. Nice one puncture god.

From the Hawkesbury bridge the route pretty much climbs for 30km to the controle at Mt White. We were now a bit behind and stood resolutely into the climb to make the controle closing time. The riding though was very pleasant, snatching views of the upper hawksbury, admiring the occasional sandstone outcrop, spotting the odd parrot. As a bonus for nature lovers, Gymea Lilies and banksias were flowering prolifically along the road and apart for the odd motorcyclist the road was quiet.

Eventually the Mt White café emerged out of the mist and we had made it by 25 minutes. There were still quite a few riders at the café and it was interesting to her Glen Druery talk about his recent achievements at RAAM.

From the controle there was more riding in the general direction of up through smelly farming land towards Kulnara. Just after Kulnara, we had to pull to one side to allow a Rolls Royce to pass before descending the truly frightening Bumble Hill (I didn’t see any bees but the road was very rough, perhaps better named Bumple hill) into the Yarramalong Valley.

We were making good progress now and the fog and mist had cleared so we felt a bit drier. By the time we made the second controle at Wyong we had picked up and hour on the closing time so were pretty happy with our progress.

A quick sandwich and discussion of home brewing and we headed off toward the next challenge, the Dog Trap Road. We were at first puzzled, the road looked benign, and we couldn’t see any gravel, but a kilometer or so further on the gravel and the climbing commenced. It wasn’t too bad until the final 400m which were very steep, Greg and Aldo made the climb but my internal heart rate monitor told me to stop, so I walked the hard bit. There were more hard bits to come and next 20km to the 3rd controle were my least favourite form of riding, undulations heading upwards, and I was feeling pretty shagged when I finally made it to Peats Ridge.

From there things improved rapidly and we reaped the benefit from all of the climbing earlier in the day with fast downhills and momentum into the short climbs for the 40km. Descending Mt White in the enfolding dusk at 70k/h was terrific. From the Hawkesbury bridge, the last major challenge remained to climb back up to Cowan. For some reason I had been worrying about this all afternoon, but as so often happens, the reality was no where near as steep as I had been imagining.
Greg and Aldo waited for me at the top and we fairly zoomed back to Hornsby along the Pacific Highway, dodging broken glass and car doors as best we could, landing at the final controle at 6.35pm.

It was a great day and a challenging ride, thanks to Howard & Bec for some great organization and Greg and Aldo for dragging me along.

Mileage in Km = 3182

Sunday, July 5, 2009

What a great thing a goal is

Since deciding to do the SM1200 I have really been enjoying my riding and have been doing quite a lot of it.In June I managed 801km for the month which has been my highest monthly mileage so far since reduxing.

The last couple of days have been quite windy, with strong gusty south westerlies. In the past wind has really ruined my rides but this weekend I've taken the opportunity to get to know it a little bit better and have down about 130km riding into it. Apart from the wind chill, it's really just a matter of finding the right gear, getting into a low comfortable position and adjust to slightly slower progress.

Next weekend I'm going to travel up the Waitara to "Do the dog Trap" 200km brevet organized by Bec and Howard. Should be a great ride!

Mileage in Kms = 2949

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thoughts on preparation for Sydney- Melbourne 1200

I have made the committment to join the Sydney Melbourne 1200 come late November in recent weeks and have begun piling on the kms in order to get fitter, happier and more productive on the bike.

As of today my mileage count is up to 2680 for the year, which is a lot further than it might have been I suppose, but still very low. I have managed to crank out 250km each week for the last two weeks and hope, by mid August to be riding 500km a week including commuting to work a couple of times.

I have also restarted my yoga practise and find that both my breathing and core strength are improving and I'm slowly starting to get back into shape, come November 28th I'll be buff. I'm also backing off on the fatty foods and the (sob) beer for the duration. So far so good.

I have just invested in some Hammer Perpetuem food supplement stuff to try and see how I go with it. It's mean't to provide effective nutrition during edurance exercise. I frequently have issues with fuelling during longer rides so hopefully this stuff will allow for a more balanced intake/output than I can manage with normal foods.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Thirlmere Thrills

First longer ride since the Opperman 24 hour and while I have been trying to ride frequently, weather, work, family commitments and health have been working against me.

I did however feel excited about this ride and was anticipating it all last week. Prepped the bike with a new rear tyre (Continental 4000) and new mount for the D'Lumotec. Weather was looking on the cool side, but no rain (Hooray!). Did I say cool? maybe freezing.

Set off at 7am as planned from Dapto, group of 7 and made reasonable time to Picton. Climbing Keira I could hear the Lyre Birds singing to each other which was lovely. Coming down the Picton road I felt the cold as the sweat of the climb quickly breezed off in the shadows.

The wind had sprung early and strong from the Southwest which wasn't such an issue to the first Controle, but really made a difference on the second 50km. After a bit of confusion looking for a "lost" rider at Picton (I was leading the ride and felt obliged to clarify his position), I fell behind the pack and was left to force my way into the sou'wester on my own. Insult soon turned into injury when the wind chill and effort induced my old friend the thigh cramp when attempting to climb Mount Hunter on Boragorang road.

I dragged myself into the Oaks, periodically stopping and walking up the steep bits, eating salt tabs and sucrose buttons and anticipating a call to Sue to come and pick me up. I bailed on the last 200 and felt regrets afterwards so coming into the Oaks I thought to apply Greg Lansom's philosophy of only pulling out at the controle. Thirlmere was only about 15km away at this point so I stopped at the BP servo, got some water, had a bio break and ate some protein. Refreshed I set out anew thinking that I would ride in my time and not worry about the others.

I did catch up at Thirlmere and followed the main group up towards Hill Top and Colo Vale and the long (Fast!!) descent to Pheasants Nest for the penultimate controle and refreshing burger. Slogging back up the Picton Road at dusk was a memorable experience. I had ice flung at me from a passing mini bus (missed wankers!) and saw and heard a number of wallabies crashing through the scrub.

Th descent down Keira in the gloaming was slow, but catching up with the bunch at the Highway we sprinted back to Dapto sitting on 30ish k/hr. A fine way to finish a 200km brevet. Richard and I turned to ride back home so that made 230km ridden for the day for me.

I was really happy with this ride, not just because I finished in difficult conditions, but mostly because I changed the way I was thinking when things were not going so well. I've been riding as much as I could have these last few weeks, but I've also been working on the way I think and the thinking part has improved a lot.

I got on the old(slow) bike on Sunday and did a recovery ride of 20km. A great weekend.

Mileage in Kms 2239

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Oppy 2009

What a great 24 hours, even now as the pain subsides I experience the quiet euphoria of post extreme exercise, body stress, NSAIDs and home brew. Gotta love this cycling pastime. In the end the Dogs did 367km despite my best efforts to sabotage the run. I had a spate of punctures, the first 160km in, followed shortly by the revelation that the headlight mount had broken rendering next to useless my lumotec senso plus. Luckily cheap Blaze flashers kept me on the straight and Richard and Greg were generous with their more carefully aimed lights when the going got tricky - or fast.

I had two more punctures this morning in the time critical portion of our ride from Picton to Parramatta, so I'm now looking for a replacement options for the Stelvio's I'm currently running. The punctures cost at least 20 minutes and my breakfast at Maccas.

We did however make the target in impeccable time (bang on 9am) despite, me, my doubts, lack of stamina, hills and traffic lights. Next time we will take the M7. The breakfast was terrific and the train trip back and our combined aroma's meant we had the compartment to ourselves. Even the transit police were "distant".

All in all a wonderful day, my second Oppy but no less challenging. Congratulations to all of the finishers.

Mileage in Kilometres = 1431

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Opperman 2009

Have joined the Mongrel Dogs Opperman team again this year and will be doing 364km from Dapto to Parramatta via Goulburn with an overnight stop at Picton. I plan to update progress via twitter so you can share my pain!

Henry, Richard and I did a training run out to Picton yesterday to check out the motel and drop in the deposit. I was another beautiful autumn day, with a low mist in the valleys and mild temperatures. I felt pretty strong and am finding that the new approach of lower cadence and bigger gears is paying off. That and riding a lot more.

Mileage in Kilometres = 1028

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Beautiful day

It was a beautiful morning and I had a bit of time up my sleeve so got to enjoy a 50km ride while everyone else was rushing to work. Some days I'm really happy to have a bike!

Mileage in Kilometres = 890

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


So after the AAC I had a bit of a rest, did a light ride and felt a bit breathy. I used to smoke and suffered bronchitis most winters and the feeling was similar. Bugger I thought, I have got a virus of some description.

Couple of days later, found myself a bit more breathless after walking up some stairs. Then I got breathless walking along the flat. Being a sensible person, I took myself to the Doctor who checks my blood pressure, checks it again (wincing) goes and gets another BP machine. Hmm she says that's a bit high have to run some tests, is there a history of heart problems in your family? Well, only my father....

Anyway over the last 4 weeks I've been scanned, prodded, xrayed, ECGed, and generally done over by radiologists, referred to a cardiologist and prodded at some more. By now I felt much better but was pretty worried, as were my family. I really began to feel like there was something awfully wrong with me, so much machinery focusing upon my internal workings. It put me in mind of this clip

So, earlier today I had a front row seat watching an ultrasound of my own heart which was pretty cool and with the image of my hearts valves flicking open and closed I was little more confident that there was in fact nothing (significantly) wrong with me and that its now time to step off the medicinal roundabout. To celebrate, I've decided to do the Sydney Melbourne Alpine 1200, just to have something to focus upon.

It will be my first 1200.

It will be very hard. Especially If I don't get riding soon.

I rode this afternoon for the first time in a while.

As a plus, after all of the tests, My lungs are fine desipte years of abuse, my heart is strong and my veins and arteries run free of fatty deposits. I am in fact quite well.

Distance in Kilometers 693.32 (and counting)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Alpine Classic

Back tonight after traveling down to Bright and back for my first Alpine Classic. Wow.

Great couple of days. Lots of people had told me about the pain and the suffering but no-one had mentioned the Bright Brewery and the food. Had a ball.

I ended up completing the 140km which included both sides of Tawonga gap and Mt Buffalo. I don't mind saying that Mt Buffalo was the hardest physical task I have ever completed and the last 7km from the summit to the controle at Dingo Dell was a c*&t, but character forming in every sense.

My favourite memory of the ride is the view when you fly around a left hander on the middle of the Buffalo descent, granite outcrop on the right, nothing but space and the infinite everywhere else - all at about 60kph, time stood still and the pain of the climb vanished. That view alone will get me back next year and for longer than just the weekend. The start was fun as well...

I really enjoyed the circus of the event and somehow kept being overtaken by Citroen 2Cvs on the way home. They seemed to be everywhere.

For the record I was back in at 3.56pm making the 140k in a leisurely 9 hours.

Mileage in Kilometers is 613.76

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tallowa (torture) Treadle or three flats and buggered knee (or a long self indulgent post)

I attempted the Tallowa Treadle on Sunday as a good Alpine warm up. Though things didn't quite go as planned. Looking back on the day, I was guilty of poor planning and made a number of bad decisions, so there was plenty of room for misadventure.

There was a solid bunch for the start at 7am in pleasant conditions and for the first quarter of the ride up Macquarie Pass and along the scenic Tourist Road to Kangaloon, I was feeling strong and things were going very well. However at about the 60km mark I ran over a small piece of metal that dug a 1 cm long slash through the casing of my front tyre. Curses! I had recently changed to a larger saddle bag but for reasons unknown even to myself, I had neglected to pack either my small first aid kit or the length of electrical tape I usually carried, and I only had a twenty dollar note (for lunch) so I was worried about how I could plug the the slash. After a few minutes Bec, Henry and Paul came along and luckily Bec volunteered a bandaid which would be a solution and Henry confirmed that the tire casing, though cut right through was still OK, probably.

They road off while I fixed the tube and got on my way. The puncture cost me about 17 minutes in all, so I pumped along a bit harder than usual to catch up. I was also now a little worried about the front tire and how it would hold up on the long downhill descents to come.

I guess my first mistake came earlier in the month when I decided not to replace both tyres, as the bike shop only had one blue stelvio, and I had thought the front rubino pro with 2200km on it would be OK until another blue one came in. So I was kicking myself. By the time I arrived at the first controle at Fitzroy Falls, the main group were about 20 minutes ahead so were just finishing eating and getting ready to go. I ordered some food but was impatient and ate quickly and left with Paul shortly after the others. This was mistake number 2, I really should have taken my ease and ensured I was properly refreshed before heading off.

From Fitzroy Falls the route descends Barrengarry Road to Kangaroo Valley. It is a great descent but I was worried about the front tyre so took it cautiously, passing Barry and Paul at the base of the climb and catching up with the main group at the Hampden Bridge shop, where they were topping up with water before rolling on towards the slog up to Tallowa. Again I rolled on, not heeding Barry's advise to top up before the ride out to the dam. Mistake number 3.

A kilometer or so up the road I got my second puncture, this time a catseye, in the front tyre again. Paul, Greg and Bec passed me so I was back on my own, now with only one good tube, and the heat of the day rising around me.

I spent the next 15 kms struggling to catch up, but the road was rotten, the heat was stifling and I was losing the battle of the spirit. Eventually I arrived at the tip of the steep descent to the dam wall and met the group heading back up, they looked awfully hot and Barry was walking part of the way. I hit the turnaround at the base of the climb and not wanting to be left further behind I turned around immediately and started to climb back out.

It was steeper than I realised, and stuck in the wrong gear I had to quickly twist out of the pedal to avoid embarrassment. Ouch. There goes the knee. Losing count of the mistakes now.

I stopped then to eat a bit and think. I took a few nurofen and glucoden tablets drank some water (about 1.5 litres left) changed into a lower gear and remounted and started back up the hill. Now it's a nasty steep climb and the heat and airlessness really makes it hurt. It's the kind of climb when you need at least both your knees working. I got about half way before stopping and deciding to walk a bit, I could lean on the bike and take some of the pressure off my knee. So I slowly moved up the hill, variously pedaling and walking until after a while I made it out of the cauldron and things started looking up and the view was quite good.

With the road now trending downhill I was able to pedal more effectively with my one good leg and a nice headwind had sprung up to cool me down. I was worried though about my knee and the prospect of the climb up Barrengarry but I just set my sights on the next controle.

As I noted earlier the Tallowa dam road was terrible, large chunks out of the chipseal and gravel bits lying everywhere. Unfortunately I hit a larger bit of gravel and caused a pinch flat. My third of the day and my last tube, from here on in I would be patching.

I had about 18km to go until the next controle so took it as steadily as I could. Despite the liberal dose of Nurofen, my knee wasn't improving, I had long since drained the camelbak and was on my last bidon. There was no mobile reception. So I really had no choice but to plug on and it was with a huge sense of relief that I saw the turnoff to Kangaroo Valley and stopped at the shop for water, a mars bar, a chocolate Magnum and a staminade ($10 minimum eftpos transaction).

I asked after the rest of the group and they had come through about 30 minutes ahead of me. I rang Henry, as I had now pretty much decided to abandon the ride as I had no confidence in my knee and how I would get up Barrengarry road.

They were on the other side of the bridge and just about to leave, I said my goodbyes and wished them luck and settled in to wait for Sue to drive up and rescue me. The afternoon began to cool off and a light rain shower passed. My thighs then started to cramp, just to round off a lovely day.

By the time Sue arrived, I could barely stand, but she had anticipated my needs well and had brought an esky containing our medicinal peas. The cold pack was most welcomed. We retraced the route on our journey home and we passed the group who were now stretched out over about 30 kilometers but they were all looking good for time.

So while I had a shocking ride, I can take from it many lessons.

1. Don't let vanity get in the way of a new tyre.
2. Always carry the electrical tape.
3. Always rest appropriately and ride to my own pace - I was strong and happy before I rushed things
4. Top up the water whenever you can.

Mileage in Kilometers = 363

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Year Objectives

Cycling wise over the next year I am setting myself a few objectives. We'll see how we go.

Total distance = 6000 km (seems achievable enough)
Complete an Audax Super Series (1 x 200km, 300km, 400km and 600km)
Ride at least 5 times a week.

My problem last year was really about time. Didn't have enough time for long rides, so didn't ride. This year I've worked out a few short routes (20ish K) that I can easily do in an hour before going to work. Longer rides can and will wait for when I have more time. They should be physically easier as well because I will be fitter from the daily riding. That's my theory anyway.

As it happens I've enjoyed a couple of shorter rides so far this year and a nice extended ride with Henry and Greg yesterday out through the hills around Kiama. It was a nice morning.

Mileage in Kilometers = 124