Friday, December 25, 2009

I guess if there is a time to be thankful and a little sentimental it is Christmas. I feel incredibly lucky to have my family around me happy, healthy and vibrant and such good friends to share the journey through life with me. How much more do you need in life?
It's important to me to say this. I thank you all. My family, friends, the people who hardly know me that have supported me and offered encouragement along the way. Thank you all for reading my blog and understanding my words and feelings and for the words of encouragement you all leave here. It makes a difference.
I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday season. Peace.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mount Beauty.

I have just returned from a 2 day trip to Mt Beauty in Victoria. We planned the trip as part of our Christmas visit to Melbourne as a little getaway to a place neither my wife or I had been. The added bonus of having the adventure kids along made for a potentially riotous time.
We booked a Yurt at the Mount Beauty Holiday Cark in Tawonga South as our accommodation for the 2 days. Whats a yurt you say? Well it is a 6 sided cabin with all of homes comforts. There is a small kitchen, a selection of beds depending on the size of the yurt you book and a FANTASTIC deck out the front. Our yurt overlooked the Kiewa River and the sound of the babbling stream was a constant and soothing companion. That topped with the views of Mt Feathertop and the rest of the ranges set a very relaxed and beautiful background. Pretty darn special. As a small aside I would also like to give the Mount Beauty Holiday Centre a big shout out for the clean and comfortable amenities. I have camped in a lot of places and I can honestly say that MBHC takes the cake. Unreal.
 I did plan to ride a few times while I was in Mt Beauty. Unfortunately my youngest son had an earache that made his night pretty bad and I stayed up to comfort him well into the early morning. The morning was spent relaxing and having cuddles with him  and taking in the amazing surroundings from the deck. Around the 5th cup of tea I decided that it was time to explore the area. I headed down to the bike shop (incidentally it is located at the front of the MBHC) and purchased a map. 3 bucks. Can't go wrong.
The only other problem for the trip became apparent as I peddled back to the yurt. I had freighted my bike down to avoid the hassle of taking it on the plane. Good plan in theory, not so great in practice. Somewhere along the line the front and rear wheel had been buckled badly and the front disc rotor resembled a taco. There I am in Mt Beauty, no tools and desperate for a ride. I managed to straighten the wheels out enough to pass muster but was then faced with the heartbreak of a toasted rotor. I couldn't for the life of me think how I could straighten it out without a shifter or similar. I rolled the dice and opened the boot of the car. There was a wheel brace, a spanner and a jack. Poo. No shifter. Oh well maybe I could try the wheel brace. Nup. Too big. Wait on, the jack handle looks OK. Yes! It fits in the rotor and allows me to lever the thing back to some sort of straight. Not the perfect, well aligned straight I had achieved on the service I gave the bike before packing it for shipment but still it turned without rubbing and I could ride it without being too embarrassed about the noise it made as I went along. It'll do.
The Big Hill staging area. An innocuous looking spot on the side of the highway to Falls Creek. Once you head in though it opens up to a maze of trails with options from a simple XC loop to an ass clenching descent that had me nearly looping out one minute and flipping over the bars the next. I mistakenly tried to climb a section of the state round XC course that was obviously meant as a descent. My lungs were burning and my legs screamed for mercy. Not only was it loose and technical but steep to boot. I loved it! The view from the top was worth it though.
I had allowed myself 2 hours for the afternoon and that was already quickly approaching. A combination   of my lethargy and having to stop every few minutes to read the map had robbed me of precious time on the bike. I pointed it down and pinned it. I think there were a few near death experiences along the way but the adrenaline from the fast swooping single track kept all fear at bay until well after the first Coopers had numbed whatever residual common sense may have existed in my body. I rode a massive 12 K's.
Day 2. More tea, some bacon and pancakes and a couple of nectarines and I was off for an adventure. I had heard of a track that was "easy" that went up to the top of the hill. The track is called the "Survey Track" and it winds for around 6 K's up. The track was built in 1930 as a means of surveying the road that exists now as the Bogong High Plains Road. It is maintained by local volunteers for walkers and mountain bikers to enjoy and enjoy it I did. This is six kilometers of amazing single track climbing. It is not the most technical of trails but at every turn there is an amazing view. You can look at the vista or focus on the minutiae of the flora and fauna. There are beautiful alpine daisies growing along the trail and I spotted the biggest goanna I have ever seen. That sucker must have been 6 feet long.
I reached the top of the survey track and had a muesli bar in celebration. Across to "Cranky Bernie" to link up to the "The Cattle Track" for a small zip down the fire road to hit up the top of the national round XC loop. At the top of the trail I stalled. There was a chute between a tree and a large rock that made me take pause. I was on my own, on unfamiliar trails at a reasonably sketchy drop in. Oh well. Hit it and hope. I rolled it smooth and then railed the rest of the link to the bottom. Here it splits about 200 different ways so I just pointed it down and kept on riding. My time was running out and I found a familiar bit of trail from the day before. I knew this would take me back to the staging area and the road back to Tawonga. My smile was tattooed on.  There are much more epic rides I have done, much longer and even more technical but not many in surroundings as beautiful as this.
I want to go back. This time I want to hook up a local guide and wring the best out of the Mount Beauty area. In all I rode for 4 hours and only achieved about 25 kilometers.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Generosity from afar.

When I first decided to attempt the Terra I approached Finish Line Events to ask permission to use the race as a fund raiser for Working Wonders. The organisers were more than helpful and open to the idea and even put me in touch with a couple from the States who had won an entry into the race for 2010. Due to circumstances not allowing them to make it back for the race they offered to sell the entry to Spencer and I for half price! That made a huge diference to Spencer and I as it has allowed us to spend a little more on the logistics of the race and keep a few comforts along the way.
So firstly thanks to Clayton from Finish Line Events. I'm looking forward to buying you a beer for your help. Secondly thanks to Dean and Jaclynn. Your generosity is very much appreciated by Spence and me. Needless to say, if you're ever in Brisbane there will be an extra shrimp on the barbie, plenty of ice cold beverages and a guide to show you around.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Short and Sweat. (Yep that's sweat)

Wow! It was hot today. I rode Mount Nebo for a total of 50 odd K's and suffered all the way. It reached 32 Celsius by 11am and I still had the whole return trip down the mountain to do. Tough love.
The goals for the weekend have been met. I have done two cranking rides in the heat and survived. I guess the only downer is that those two rides equal about the two shortest days of the Terra. How dismal. Oh well, at least I have a goal and I know I will get stronger as the training progresses.
I think it's time I went and had a cuppa and a lie down......

Saturday, December 5, 2009


I got my long road ride in today. All didn't go as planned admittedly but in the end it was a success. I left a little later than usual with the intension of building up my tolerance to heat as the reports from last years race stated some pretty high temperatures. I took plenty of water and planned the ride to have a stop at the midway point to refill water and maybe grab a snack.Sounded great in theory.
 I would never say I felt good this morning as I set out. My sleep was broken and I didn't feel rested when the alarm went off. I ate some breakfast, had my traditional cup of tea and cruised downstairs to put the last of my gear on. Helmet buckled, shoes strapped, gloves on. Go time. I headed over the Samford Range straight up. The base of the climb (its not that big but really sucks first thing in the morning!) is only about 2 k's from home so I don't really get in the groove before I hit it. Even at that early stage I felt dead in the legs and quite unmotivated. By Samford Village I had no form on the bike and was wobbling around like Santa's beer gut! Things looked a bit grim. At 16k's they were more than grim, they were downright terminal. My stomach was cramping so I rolled off the road in a shady spot. I got off the bike. I took off my helmet. I threw up. I felt better. Not much, but better just the same. Rolled oats and orange juice never taste as good the second time around.
I sat there for nearly 20 minutes and contemplated calling my wife to pick me up several times. Then out of the blue I thought, "In March I won't be pulling out just because I feel a bit off. Harden up buttercup." And there it was. It felt like 2 people having an argument inside my head and the guy saying "stop being such a wimp" was beating the snot out of the other one with logic! So I got on and rode a bit more. I made it to Dayboro feeling pretty shattered but none the less pleased I hadn't pulled the pin.
A can of the black doctor, a couple of peaches and a big bottle of water later I was ready to go again and feeling heaps more like riding the 40 odd k's home I had ahead of me. My average speed climbed slowly and  I found that nice easy stance on the bike that takes so much less energy than the rolling fat man shuffle that was my morning so far. I even smiled. So, 75 k's all up. Not too bad, not too bad at all.
Link to the ride stats and course

Friday, December 4, 2009

Time to get serious.

The last few weeks have been busy at work to say the least. I can only say that my energy reserves have been put to the test just keeping going and as a result my riding has been non existent. Tomorrow that all changes. I am putting together a plan to ensure I get enough K's in my legs as I move toward the Terra Australis in March. I need to ride every day to condition myself to recovering after a long ride and backing it up over the 7 days of racing.
I've missed the training badly. I get moody and grumpy when I don't ride. I think tomorrow a nice 60-80k road ride to ease the legs in should set me on the right path. If I go out to Laceys Creek and back through Strathpine I will get that easy. Its a really pretty place to ride too. Good for the soul. Sunday needs to be a mountain bike ride and I think that Gap Creek and Mount Nebo would provide the ideal setting for that. Up to the top, maybe a quick coffee and then back down to finish with some singletrack and a little fun.

Each day will bring an opportunity to ride. A commute to work, an afternoon spin in the forest or a morning road ride to clock up the K's. I want to keep it fresh and interesting because this type of training can wear you down pretty quick. I know my riding friends will be there to help push me along and the messages from supporters and friends will keep my mind focused on the goal. For now I am just happy to ride this weekend.. It won't be as intense as it will get but for now, it will do.