Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A little of this, a little of that, and a lot to be thankful for.

I haven't managed to get back to my blog for a little while now. Life has been pretty fast paced and when I did have time I was too busy enjoying time with my family to bother. We have just returned from a week in Tully, North Queensland visiting my parents. Unless you have been living under a rock or are from another country you will be aware that on the 5th of February this year Tully (more so the surrounding region) was hit by a Category 5 cyclone. Winds were estimated to have reached 300km/hour and the results are still everywhere to be seen. In true NQ style though the locals are bearing up and are still as laconic and friendly as ever. It shocked me though. I grew up in the area, I lived through cyclones, but this was very different.
Having the boys there really made my parents happy. The boys put on a good show too with heaps of cuddles for them and plenty of hilarious moments along the way. We made the most of the time with some activities that made my childhood happy and adventurous and the smiles and laughter from all of us showed the success of the trip. We swam in the creek at the back of mum and dads place, we went to my favourite beach in the whole world and we even got to the outer reef for a snorkeling trip. I won't go into all of the details but some snippets really must be mentioned. First is my favourite beach. Etty Bay. I spent hours there as a kid and all the reasons I loved it have become the same reasons Alison, Jack and Rohan love it too. we spent hours searching the rock pools for fish and crabs, swimming in the sea and of course eating fish and chips from the kiosk.
Jack contemplates whether it should be icecream or lemonade.
Rock pool adventurers
Rohan just kept smiling for a whole week.
The next adventure worth more detail was the reef trip. A whole day out on the outer reef of snorkeling sounded great but we had some concerns as Rohan is only six. We should not have been worried as he was ready to give it a go as soon as the boat stopped and when the first thing he saw once in the water was a green sea turtle the day was set. We saw so many fish, huge clams and starfish it got to be too much. Rohan and I swam through a huge cloud of small blue fish and got to see an eagle ray gliding over the bottom but all he wanted to see was a reef shark. The tour operators went to great lengths to assure everyone they were harmless and after that it was all he wanted. Alison had taken him for a while so I could dive down a bit and explore and just after they left I turned around to swim off and there, not ten feet away was a white tipped reef shark. Bummer, he missed it. It was OK though. The boys are both still talking about the day.
We are home now. I feel blessed to have shared more quality time with the family and lived every moment of it. Easter came and went with barely a whimper but again the time with family was the focus. Alison and I had a chance to kick back a little and let the grand parents spoil the kids so everyone was happy. I have had time to reflect on how lucky I am to be where I am now and be thankful for all the help and wonderful support that has been given to me and my family along the way. This time of the year is always a time for reflection for me. So much has happened, good and bad, all falling around this time of year.
Eight years ago today began 5 weeks of torture for Jack, Alison and myself. Jack was admitted to hospital with a lump under his right jaw line. It later turned out to be Neuro Blastoma, a malignant and aggressive type of tumour common in young kids. He under went too many procedures to mention and was then put through regular tests and check ups for another 3 years. Seven years on and he was given the all clear and is now the happy, bright kid I love and cherish.
I stopped being reliant on medication to deal with my anxiety and stress issues. After two years I learnt to deal with the demons and got off the pills and have remained so. It would not have been possible without my friends and family and all the love and support I received during "The War". I still keep my little "check up, from the neck up" going, and I still make sure my feet are firmly planted on the ground but now it's more as a precaution than a way of life.
So now I am just going to cuddle my kids too much, kiss my wife until she gets annoyed and generally keep a stupid grin on my face for a while. Thankful doesn't even come close.
Life isn't always perfect, but to be living life, sharing life and loving life is perfect enough for me.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Enduro Super Series 2, 6 Hours of Mud.

So as far as race reports go it is really pretty straight forward. I showed up, I started riding, I rode for 6 hours and then I stopped riding. There was no real drama or close finishes to write about and my bike ran well with only a couple of small issues that were more than to be expected given the mud. Oh, did I mention the mud?
While there hadn't been too much rain, the soil was soaked and as 200 sets of wheels went over it, well it turned to more of a liquid than a solid. There was about a 300 meter section that became unrideable by my forth lap and seriously no fun for most of the day. After lap 9 I was stopping each time I passed the lake to give my bike a wash and clear the mud off the tyres. At least that dropped a couple of kilos after the mud section!
The bit that is writing about, at least from my point of view, is that I didn't pull the pin at 4 hours like I thought I wanted to. My day wasn't going well with my head in a particularly ordinary state and the mud and crappy conditions only added to that feeling. I struggled with a slow start as I got caught behind a lot of traffic due to a mass start and a very tiny start area. Imagine trying to fit a whole football match on a field the size of your living room. That about sums it up. anyway I got through to 4 hours and having thought I had done only about 6 laps I was fried in the head. A cold beer and a burger were all I wanted to think about by then and as I pulled into the start finish line I asked how many laps I had done just to be sure. To my surprise I was told I had done 8 laps! That was a surprise. Spencer had come out with me and had decided he had more than had his fill of mud and was sitting in the tent chatting to some people. As I came around he just said "Don't stop, just keep going." So I grabbed a gel or two, changed bottles and took off again. Once I had realised that I wasn't going to quit today, things got heaps better. Someone once said to me it is only as hard as you want to make it. I started the day telling myself how hard and crappy it was. I finished the day saying I was glad I hadn't quit and that I had a good day. Attitude people, attitude.
The upshot, 12 laps and a 6th place finish. I was still 3 whole laps behind the winner but there was a matter of minutes between me and 4th place. I am really stoked with the result and it has provided me with some more motivation to train a bit harder. My next race is a 24 hour race in 5 weeks and while the training hasn't been spectacular or even very consistent it is working slowly. My mental toughness is holding firm and I reckon if the race is dry I am a chance of a good result. Top five would be ace. Lets see what happens shall we.