Tuesday, January 26, 2010

More k's, more hills.

I've done a couple of cracker rides in the last few days. In fact it was the same ride twice. On Sunday Leanne, Steve, Paul, Annick and myself set off for a trip around Old Mount Samson Road and Cedar Creek Road. An early start was the order of the day and we were off by 5.30am to avoid the heat.
I felt really relaxed and well seated on the bike and it showed when we hit the first of the hills for the day. It wasn't that I showed blistering pace or over powering strength but I felt great at the top of each hill and my heart rate was recovering almost instantly. Old Mount Samson Road has become a bit of a favourite for my training loops. It holds a couple of nasty little pinches and some sustained climbs of around 8%. Depending on the direction you ride it you can reach as high as 17% for a short climb around a corner. That really nails you!
Cedar Creek is a whole different proposition. It is a rolling stroll through farms at the start and then into heavily treed gullies and the sound of the creek tumbling over the rocks. I love to pull up at the end of the road and just sit for a moment and take in the peace. Again the gradient doesn't get much over 8% and while a couple of the climbs are sustained they allow you to get into a nice rythm. Of course there is always the descent down the other side to look forward to as a pay off for your hard work.
As with any good ride there has to be that one heartbreaker that makes the headlines of all the war stories. On this ride it is Bunya Road heading home. It starts with a gentle climb over a little spur and then a fast descent into a creek with a one lane bridge. From there it goes up. You climb for what feels like an age and although the gradient stays pretty low for the first couple of rises you are soon faced with the run from Allen Road. There are three pretty steep, long climbs to test the legs after what has already been about 60k's of riding. I put a brave face on for Sunday and gunned it up the hills. Today though it was much more sedate. I felt fine at the end of the climb but really couldn't be bothered with attacking this climb for the second time in three days. I enjoyed it though while chatting to Leanne along the way and before you know it I was at the top. Cool.
While neither of the rides was remarkable they were both very enjoyable. Good company, a great course and the fact that my worst day on a bike is still better than my best day at work made it special. Maybe it's a measure of how lucky I am to ride with the people I ride with and in the places I ride. I think it is.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Every day you wake up is a good day.

I was lucky enough during last week to hear Geoff Kennet speak at a conference I was working on. Most people will know him as the former Victorian Premier and as a politician who in his own words "Upset quite a lot of people" while in office. You may not however know that he is also the chairman of Beyond Blue, the initiative set up to assist people battling depressive illnesses. I'd like to just briefly share a couple of the thoughts that really hit home from his speech. 
Spare five minutes to listen. It may seem like a chore at the time, you're busy, involved in some task or just wanting some peace and quiet. It may also be the most important five minutes in THAT persons life. The simple act of listening may be all the reassurance that someone in the world cares, and to allay the feeling of loneliness or hopelessness. Five minutes well spent.
Be thankful for every day you wake up. No matter what else happens, if you wake up you have one more day to DO something. It could be mowing the lawn, it could be reading a book, it could be saving the world. That part is your choice. No day you spend on Earth is a wasted day.
So these are pretty simple statements. I figure if someone who has achieved as much as Geoff Kennet can find value in them, so can I. try them and let me know how you go.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

So why didn't I train today......

A picture tells a thousand words.

I have burnt the bottom of my feet pushing a broken down car out of a busy intersection. Hell yeah it hurts....

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Reflections of life.

Tomorrow is a big day in our house. Jack turns 7! So at a time when I am personally reflecting on my children and how happy they make me I thought I would share some of the stories and images we've collected as a family along the way. You may have read some of the story of Jack's illness and treatment but these are the funny, happy stories that Jack and his little brother Rohan have brought into our lives.
Jack has always been a fussy eater. The one exception to this came when he was about 10 months old. I got this panicked phone call from my wife after work. It was lucky that I was at the bottom of our street as I answered the phone and so ran up our driveway in record time to be faced with my distraught wife looking down at my son on the floor. She wasn't kneeling down, she hadn't picked him up, it seemed strange. And the cat was there. It turned out the cat had caught a mouse and brought it into the house and dropped it front of Jack. He did what any good 10 month old should and picked it up to have a chew on the dead mouse. Gross. The cat, Slightly, was sitting there looking up at me as if to say "Hey, this kids all right." I cleaned him up, called the doctor to make sure there were no nasty diseases floating around transmitted by mice and generally calmed my wife down for the next few hours. He still doesn't believe me that he did it....

Quite a few people said they thought Alison and I may not want any more kids after the trial by fire of Jacks first year of life. It was quite the opposite really. We started to talk about another child and how we thought that around the middle of the following year would be good timing to introduce number 2 into the world. Rohan decided that was way too long to wait and proceeded to write his own schedule for when his birthday should be.  Not much has changed in terms of Rohan and his impatience. At just 2 he decided that his mum was taking far to long to take him downstairs to play and so he managed to open the gate on the back deck (which was locked) and ride his little foot bike down the back stairs. He barely cried. He just got up, dusted himself off and let his mum take him to the doctor for his first stitches. I was so proud.
Nowadays Jack and Rohan are either best mates or worst enemies. They can play for hours on some awesome adventure that could involve dragons and pirates or high tech robots with flying skate boards and laser eyes. The next moment I am pulling them apart and sending them to opposite ends of the house to prevent world war three. The dichotomy will pull your head off. As a family though we all love spending time together with family favourites being camping and hanging out in the outdoors. I love it when we see them discovering bugs and lizards in the trees or pretending to make their own camp site near ours. A couple of highlights have been the bike races we have traveled to and they have the added bonus of new kids to play with and being my support crew. There is nothing like the excitement your children show when exploring a new place. Pure joy.

So now I am 7 years into this journey of parenthood. Would I change a thing even with all the ups and downs and stress? No way. I am so proud of my kids and the little humans they are becoming. This is the best adventure I have ever been on and I am just loving it. I also have the best companions I could hope for to share it with. My wonderful family.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


It is quite amazing the difference a positive mental outlook can have on an otherwise dull week. I have tried to lower the pressure on myself and enjoy life as a way of bringing back into focus how lucky I am to be alive. I'm fit (relatively!), strong and healthy. I have a loving and understanding wife, two amazing kids and some pretty darn cool friends. After that pretty much anything else is a bonus.

I am looking forward to a good ride in the morning and hoping to clock up 60k with a good few hills thrown in. The weekend holds the promise of a good mountain bike ride up Mount Nebo and another effort on Mount Mee on the roadie. I relish the thought. That with another ride on Friday morning should see me knock out close to 300km for the week. I know there is much more effort to come but I feel good about fitting in this much riding around work and family commitments.
My only area of concern is my fundraising effort. It is a little slow. There is still heaps of time and I know there will be more donations to come but I really want to meet my goal of $10,000. I have even agreed to have my legs waxed by some mountain bike mates provided they raise $1000 for me. Guess what, they did it. My legs will be bare for the first time in 15 years. Anyone want to buy a mohair rug made of leg hair?

Monday, January 11, 2010

The weekend wash up.

Well it's been a huge weekend in Camp Menzies. It all started out well with a twilight ride to Tinchi Tamba wetlands on Friday night after work. Leanne, Steve and Becca joined me for 60 odd K's at a reasonable 24K per hour average in the cool of the evening. The journey home was punctuated by the suicidal runs of many a toad and the clouds of mosquitoes as we followed the creek back to town.
On Saturday I was planning on meeting up with Spence for a climb up Camp Mountain but due to some fuss with work I had to miss out. Instead some quality time with Rohan was planned and we decided that a fishing trip would be good training for Daddy. Training for what I am not quite sure... Rohan recently turned 5. He used to be quite strong willed and insistent but now he is just bull headed! He wanted to do everything himself including baiting the razor sharp hooks and casting his own line out. Fortunately we had some very understanding people fishing next to us as there was the occasional misdirected cast that often ended up tangling across their lines and creating a knot a Mexican macramé expert would be proud of! But we did catch a fish.

Sunday was a day in the hills for me with Steve and Leanne showing me another of their awesome training loops. We were also joined by Paul who is a very strong rider and a nice bloke even if he is a kiwi! It started with a run down Winn Road out to Mount Samson Road and then up Kobble Creek Road to sneak in the back way to Dayboro. The Kobble Creek run is really picturesque with farm land interspersed with bushland saved by the Land for Wildlife fund. You cross Kobble Creek itself a couple of times  and the beautiful little swimming holes where pretty inviting after 30 odd K's in the already building heat.
Dayboro is the last flat road you will see for a while as the bottom of Mt Mee signals 6.5km of climbing. The gradient is a reasonable 6% for most of the way and I really found a zone and powered up the hill. The views as you climb are spectacular. Unlike if you're driving up the hill you actually get a chance to see the vistas and appreciate them. There is a small hiccup in this expression of all that is wonder and light in the cycling world and it is called Townsend Road. Holy crap! It's about 300m of 20% gradient climbing. You just have to pull up on the bars and push down on the pedals as hard as you can and hope your legs can cope. Quite the challenge....
After Townsend Road the climbing is pretty much over though. I was really enjoying the zip down Mount Mee and the cruise back along Mount Samson Road. The last time I had done this road I was dropped like a hot potato by the group and left gasping for air. This time I got to help out the front a little and drop the pace to let everyone hold on when needed. I felt strong. It really is amazing what a good mental outlook can do for a ride. I even cranked out a lazy forty K today just because I felt I could.
Not bad for an old bloke...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The comeback.

I finally feel like I have shaken the virus that nailed me just before Christmas. I managed to get up and go for two short rides in two days and I feel pumped about cranking a couple of big ones over the weekend. While the rides were only 30k's each it loosened up the legs and lungs and now the body is saying "Oh yeah, thats right. I quite enjoy this bike stuff!"
Hopefully now my state of mind will obey the rules and get with the programme too. I guess everyone feels a bit low when they are sick though. I suppose I am just really aware of when I feel a bit flat or unmotivated. I have had some awesome chats to different people over the last week all expressing that maybe I am being a little hard on myself and that I should reevaluate my goals for life in general. I reckon they are right. My qattempt at the Terra is supposed to be exciting and challenging and most of all fun. It may be fun in that "Oh my goodness I can't sit down coz my butt has turned into part of my bike saddle and if I sit I may never get back up again!" kind of fun, but it should still be fun. I'm not a pro cyclist, I don't do this to support my family and pretty much anyone who knows me will know that I will give it the best shake I can possibly manage.
I am a little bummed about the fund raising thing as I don't think I will meet my goal. It was pretty lofty to begin with but I guess whatever I raise is better than nothing.
On the positive side though a big thanks must go out to all the MTB Dirt lot who have donated or pledged along the way. You all rock. I am not surprised at the generosity from you all in one little bit as I ride with a lot of you regularly and it is the same spirit that sees a spare tube handed to someone in need, or a gel, or even a few words of encouragement along the way.
Time for a cuppa. Peace!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Of secret trails and fever tales.

The last couple of weeks didn't go as planned. It started well with a couple of decent rides on the Yarra trails and even a bit of asphalt time to stretch the legs. It was pretty hot on a few days getting well over 35 degrees but I still managed to plug away and get some K's in. The fever tales bit? Well I caught a cold that seemed inane enough but soon turned into a throat infection and general phlegm fest. I missed some really cool rides with some really cool people and have only got back on the bike in the last few days. Oh well, enough of the downer stuff.

The highlight of my trip has definitely been the ride with two local guys, Hayden and John, out at a secret spot that not even many locals know about. This place was technical! The loop is only 12 k's and at first we talked about doing two laps for the day and seeing how we went. After two hours and only one lap the decision was made to head back to the cafe and have a coffee. There aren't any massive climbs out there, but everywhere you go the trail is tight and twisty requiring some serious concentration to make sure you track OK and don't bin it on one of the many off camber corners or log rollovers. John was smashing it on his rigid single speed and Hayden was very gracious in waiting for me as I wheezed up to them with apologies for holding them up.

The trails ran through lush forests with an underbrush of ferns. The dirt was that tacky, brown loam you dream about that made railing corners second nature. Bliss. You had better practice your bunny hopping skills though as the number of log rollovers was astounding. That and the number of real bunnies that darted across the trail kept me on my toes even if the trail did have a rare moment of ease. Just like magic as I crested a little climb Hayden and John are stopped mid trail smiling at me. I looked out towards where they were pointing and was rewarded with a view accross vinyards and farming land. It was hard to remember I was in a fairly settled area as I climbed up from the gully we had just dropped into but there it was. Smoke rising from the chimneys and all.
The final run down to the cars followed a fence line and was fast and open. I got that special stoke of making it through the ride even though I was feeling pretty average and being rewarded with the bug in teeth smile of bolting down a new trail and letting it all hang out. And the topper was yet to come!
Coffee at the Cog. What a cool place. Awesome banana muffins, great coffee and bike bling for days. I was in heaven. Hayden, John and I sat there for ages shooting the breeze and talking about bikes. We were joined by a couple of locals at various times and all in all I was reminded of just how relaxed and giving most of the people I have met while mountain biking are. hayden and John took some time out from their day to take a complete stranger out to some sweet trails. I only hope I get the chance to repay the favour if the boys get up here at some stage. Cheers fellas!