Friday, February 26, 2010

Reality check.

I went out with Nick again this morning. It was an unremarkable ride apart from the cracking pace he set and how smashed I was about 15k's in. After a very ordinary effort on Wednesday the morning held some promise as I was feeling pretty good as we headed out along the Jinker Track and down Eaton's Crossing Road. Lilley Road was the crux though. A few small hills and I was breathing hard and coming up short in the leg department.
I shouldn't be too hard on myself though. We were holding a 30k per hour average for the first 27k's of the ride and that included a couple of decent hills along Winn Road. As my self esteem started to climb above room temperature Nick hosed it down by telling me he did a slaughter fest of hills on Tuesday and averaged 31.5k per hour! Phew! Back to the cellar, self esteem.

I have been very happy with my heart rate and recovery rates lately. My heart rate sits around 150-160 beats per minute during normal efforts and goes up to around 170-175 when I hit the hills or have a little dig for some speed. There is also the comfort I feel on the bike now during long rides. Probably a good thing seeing as how the days will be long on the bike in three weeks time. I will up the amount of time on the dirt for the next few weeks with some more relaxed road rides during the week. I aim to do a 5 hour mountain bike ride over the weekend to get dialed for the race.
Mentally I feel great. I have got a good balance going on in my head and heaps of people around me asking to train with me, offering advice and most of all supporting me. There has been an amazing amount of interest in this event and I have been really surprised at the number of questions I have fielded about it. If only the fund raising reflected that. I still have a little time though so the goal might get closer yet.
The excitement is growing. It makes the training feel worthwhile and the motivation is definitely easy to come by. Well, more K's this weekend, more hills and more smiles. Ride on.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pain is temporary, and so is waxing....

Today I delivered on my promise to have my legs waxed for charity. It started out with a ride at Bunya for a couple of hours and then culminated in a festival of pain as my so called friends tore strips off me, literally. About 4 weeks ago when I set the target of $1000 I thought it would be a tough ask to reach. I thought my hairy legs were safe. How wrong could I be.
The event has raised well over the $1000 for Working Wonders and has reinforced the knowledge that I will have a number of keen supporters as I traipse across the country side. Quite humbling.
I promise that in the next few days I will post some photos and a much longer description of the whole disaster. Right now, I need a beer, a sit down and a little sob quietly in the corner as I lament 40 years of old growth leg forest having been clear felled and laid waste.
Fair well old friend.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

There must be a purpose to this.....

It's funny how if you just open up a little to people you are rarely disappointed by the level of personal experience and honesty that an individual will share with you. This revelation has come about over the last two years of my battle with depression and anxiety. As I have spoken about it, shared my experiences and thoughts I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who speak of their own battles and low times. Often the causes and symptoms are similar but always it's the love of family and the strength and understanding of friends that pulls them through.
There also seems to be that one thing in life that is the outlet, the action that helps maintain the equilibrium. Mine is obviously cycling as it is with many of my friends. I started to analyse what it was that made me feel so good about cycling and in the end decided it was a pointless waste of time I could be using to go ride! I stopped questioning it and started doing it. Thats what counts.
Recently a buddy of mine was telling me he was suffering a little from lack of sleep and the problems associated with that. You know, no energy, no motivation and no sense of humour. He complained of not feeling like riding and that how it was so difficult to get out of bed some mornings he simply didn't bother. As we talked more and he told me more it seemed the light came on in his head. He loves riding, maybe he needs that more than the sleep he misses to get up early and go ride his bike. I just listened. He knew the answer was there but just couldn't see the forest for the trees. When we talk to someone about things though the path often opens up before us.
As I read back over this post I see it's rambling on a little. It comes from the fact that my race and fundraising goals are approaching rapidly and after that a large part of why I write this blog will have been and gone. I love writing my blog and I can see by some of the responses that there are a few people out there who read it and enjoy it too. I've decided to keep writing it and talking about my adventures both on and off a bike, keep sharing my experiences about depression and most of all keep the connection with the people who have  read and taken something away from my ramblings. Who knows, maybe along the way I might even learn to type fast!
Peace out.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Waddaya know! Training works....

Another 80 K's today on the road bike including some really nice roads out the back of Dayboro. It was great to catch up with Gary as well after my aborted attempt to do the Springbrook ride last weekend. We took in Kobble Creek Road, Armstrong Road and then continued up Mt Mee. We didn't make it all the way up as a fairly major mechanical had Annick sidelined and having to go to just 2 gears. Unfortuneately neither gear was low enough to make the climb up the rest of the way bearable so we turned around and headed home. Even with the broken deraileur we made a very respectable average of 27K per hour. It barely slowed Annick down and she even did the climb back over the Samford Range to finish up!
The upshot of today for me was how I felt following yesterdays ride. It took a while for my body to get used to the idea of riding again today but when it did I felt great. Of course I still hurt in a few places and some of the steep climbs were murder on my legs, but that is expected when the gradient hits 18% and you've ridden about 250k's in the week. All good though. With Nick along again today I didn't feel I held him up. I know he took it easy up Mt Mee but I still had plenty left too. Not that we were racing but you do just know when you are evenly matched on a ride. Maybe evenly matched is not the right way of putting it. It's more that your goals for the ride are the same.
Tomorrow is a ride with Spencer up Camp Mountain and Mt Nebo. I have been looking forward to this for a while as our schedules haven't matched up to fit in a ride for ages. I expect it will hurt quite a bit. Camp Mt is a real heartbreaker and it really only improves marginally up Scrub Road and South Boundary Road. These rides are the guts of my training though. No point training only when you do feel like it because in just a few short weeks it will be a tough ride every day for 7 days. You learn a lot more about yourself when you are tired then when you are fresh. Your mind will tell you it hurts too much, legs will ache and you will want to pack it all in. Thats when you listen to your inner voice and monitor that pain in the legs to make sure you aren't straining something but once you are sure it's not, put it aside. It won't stop you pedalling and you can move through it. Turn the pedals, bike goes forward. Nothing simpler.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Big rides and big news.

This morning I rode what has become a bit of a regular Friday loop. I was joined by the "usual suspects" for about a 55k rip around Winn Road and Bunya Road. I say "about" because this morning I got to ride a different bike from my Klein and didn't get time last night to fit my Garmin to it. Some may think this is my big news, a new bike! Well it was exciting and really fast but that is not it. At the end of the ride Nick (he who usually rips my legs off and beats me with the soggy stump) admitted  that today even he had to work a bit to keep up with me, even though along Bunya Road he spat me out the back and left me gasping for air. Now thats pretty big news. Still not big enough though.
So what could possibly be bigger than the new road bike or keeping up with Nick? Well Spencer has absolutely pulled the goods for our team. Giant Australia has offered us the use of not only their brand new van to drive down to Victoria for the race but the use of two bikes to compete on! Unreal.
This all came about when the reps for Giant in Queensland showed up at Cyc'd for Bikes where Spencer works displaying the brand new van to the boys in the shop. They very kindly offered that if the shop needed to borrow the van that it would be cool to do so. Spencer added half tongue in cheek, "Well actually we are driving to Victoria for this race. Don't suppose we could use it for that?" After quizzing him on the details they agreed it would be fine to do so and that if we were down there driving around in a Giant branded van we better be on Giant bikes! Cool!
This awesome news comes at the end of a week where we had decided to drive to Victoria due to the expense and logistics issues. We were either going to be in a Nissan ute or a Renault Clio. Hard work to transport bikes and gear. So nows the bit where I say a MASSIVE thank you to Matt and Brent from Giant and a HUGE well done to Spencer. That act of generosity has certainly made the whole process of getting to the race and doing well immeasurably more simple.
The only remaining question is, well, can I now say I am a sponsored rider? Just kidding. In my mind I am though........

Monday, February 8, 2010

Guilty Pleasures.

This morning I managed a very sneaky, very guilty ride. It has been bucketing down here since Saturday with some local flooding and the road ride looked doomed. Fortunately Nick had a great idea. We took out the single speeds and did a little mud larking around Bunya. Before the trail fairies jump on me, I must say we stayed off the trails that suffer in the wet and rode lots of fire trails to avoid damaging the good work done in there. The trails were in awesome condition with very little mud around and plenty of running water in the creeks. It was a bit like riding under water though with the humidity one step short of tropical thunderstorm. 
The loop took in all the highlights with my favorite this morning being Carnage. It always drains really well and the extra traction of that slightly damp, tacky dirt allowing an extra bit of lean, that extra bit of pace. It goes from fun to magic pretty swiftly. You know you've had fun on a ride when you feel the dirt in your teeth and can see the little spots of mud on your nose. I was soaked to the bone at the end and grinning like an idiot as I peeled the jersey off over my head and wrung the water out of my helmet pads. Today I am glad I own a ute.
So its home for a hot shower and a cup of tea. Nice way to start the day really.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Resting and recuperating.

The weekend hasn't gone to plan. I think the combination of lots of work and some pretty big days finally caught up to me and during the end of last week I was feeling pretty ordinary. My legs felt like lead, I had no energy and for the first time in ages I really did not feel like riding a bike at all. When I did manage to ride it was under duress and made me feel even worse when I has finished. Usually I have a feeling of goodness and light after a good ride but on Friday I just felt wasted.
Steve and Nick were my nursemaids on a 50k run in pretty flat country. I didn't t take any turns out front, waddled up every hill and really just huffed and puffed a lot to no great avail. The boys set a pretty quick pace to start off with at around 32k's per hour. While I was able to sit at the back and be dragged along there was no way I could get out front and take my turn. Luckily Steve and Nick are cool about that and had seen me almost faint at the start of the ride after just riding over from home. It's about 3 K's. Basically they encouraged and gently prodded until I said I would ride further and then made sure I never got too far off the back.
So what was this mystery ailment? Who knows. I just felt ordinary. After a couple of days of loping around I decided that it was time to sort it out. My doctor said maybe I needed to take it easy. Why? I had been pretty quiet at work and not had too much going on. I guess apart from planning and executing my sons 7th birthday, that week in Melbourne of 16 hour days, celebrating my birthday, seeing the kids off to school, celebrating my wifes birthday and managing to ride a few hundred kilometers I had been taking it easy! Wow, maybe I did need a rest.
First cab off the rank was to let Gary know that my 160k ride with him on Saturday was a no go. Probably one of the smartest things I have done in a while. Second was to just sleep in. I woke up yesterday at 7:30am, took the kids to swimming with Alison, and then came home for nap. 9:30 am and I was taking a nap! I read a book, pottered downstairs with the bikes and generally lay around and did very little. This morning was supposed to be the day for the charity leg waxing but I think even mother nature knew I was buggered. It was pouring when I woke up. After posting up on MTB Dirt that I was postponing the event I went down to the park in case anyone showed up without reading the forum first. I saw Mike and Nick down there and proceeded to stand around in the rain and chat for an hour. Nick was out for a spin while Mike had just come down to shoot the breeze. Very pleasant thank you gentlemen!
So what have I learnt from this? Listen to your body? Yep. Listen when your friends and family say you look a little tired? Yep. In order to train you have to be fit enough and well enough to train? Hell yeah. Do a recovery ride, take a day off. It won't hurt you.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Train harder , Monkey!

Another great week of riding has passed. I managed a respectable 240 odd K's between the road and mountain bike with lots of hills and a few coffees too. I even managed a fresh brewed coffee at Daisy Hill on the picnic ground tables thanks to Nick, Annick and Eric. There was even biscotti!
This weekend holds the promise of a 160km slog to Springbrook on the Gold Coast hinterland that includes a long sustained climb of around 7% added to one lane bridges and rainforest humidity. It is now time to test myself out a bit and see whether the training has had any effect on my fitness and start to gauge how I will fare on the long days of climbing to come. I will have Nick to push me along and Gary for company and general smiley demeanor. While I am looking forward to the ride I totally expect to suffer during the later stages of the ride and to have shot legs the next day. My plan is to head out the next day for a cruise to see just how pounded I am following the big ride the day before. There is also the little matter of the leg waxing......
Yep, thats right. I am having my legs waxed. I put out the call to my comrades on to raise $1000 in order to see me wax my rather hirsuit legs. If you don't know me, my legs resemble 2 pipe cleaners wrapped in mohair rugs. Pretty darn hairy. The buggers managed to raise the money and now I am all prepped up to have the dastardly deed done on Sunday morning. I hope someone has the good sense to inform the local community that the screams of anguish are not some poor animal being tortured but merely the necessary evil to raise some money for my favourite charity. I apologise now for the expletives that may or may not escape my otherwise chaste mouth during the event. Crikey.
So stay tuned. The next few entries promise to be entertaining to say the least. Is anyone in the market for a mohair rug?