Monday, January 30, 2012

I fought the good fight and WON (for a change).

Last post I wrote about my coming together with a car, destroying my bike, etc, etc, etc. In the aftermath, I had to fight tooth and nail to get the drivers insurance company to pay the full amount, plus deal with a stupid driver (driver on phone- "if your bike is written off and you get a new flash bike- I get your old one don't I????"). I was stuck with no bike for about 2 months. I was NOT a happy camper. During this time, a mate loaned me his spare bike- an Argon 18 Al bike with CF rear triangle, SRAM Rival and Ksyrium SL's. Pretty nice!

During these weeks on the loaner bike, I grew to like the SRAM shifters. The wheels were also a revelation- STIFF!! So this got me thinking about my replacement bike (once the insurance coughed up).

At first I was going to get a Giant TCR, buuut, try as I might, I just couldn't fall in love with it. I would walk past it several times a day at the shop I work at, and the price to me would be really good, but it didn't excite me in the slightest!

Then, one day while looking at the Wilier catalogue, I spied a Cento 1 with SRAM Force and it looked dead sexy! I made some calls. Hmm... if I put in a few hundred dollars, with my trade price on a frame set and some careful buying, I could own this very bike! YEEEHAAARRR!

Now the pressure was on the insurance company to pay up the write off costs of my old bike. But they were playing hard ball, even intimidation tactics (accept this amount, no negotiations will be entered into, blah blah blah...) to get me to agree to a lessor amount. It was disgusting what they were doing! I gave them 3 quotes from 3 shops, as they requested but NOW they wanted me to take the bike to "their" shop for a quote. Screw that! I know they shop they want me to take it to and they have a bad reputation. Plus, how was I supposed to get a bike in several parts to a shop 35km away? So I got some legal advise which I followed.

First I wrote a very to the point letter to the insurance company outlining my grievances. I told them, you have 7 days to pay into my account the full amount of one of my quotes, or I will take legal action against the driver, and YOU can deal with an angry client. Well... that stirred things up! 9.30am the very next morning I get a call from the supervisor (not just anyone) to talk to me. He was "oh so nice" and said things like "I don't think we want this to get out of hand do we?" LOL He was back pedalling so fast to me on the phone I was doing a little dance as he spoke! LOL

In the end, I said, "if you offer me $xxxx the issue is over as far as I'm concerned" to which he said "Done! Give me your account details and we will do it straight away!" Wow... did they fold like a house of cards. Assholes!

I'm not sure what I was more happy about- getting the money for my new bike, or taking on a insurance company and winning!

So in the end, I got the funds, ordered all the bits to build my new bike and started building up a pile of parts. It was so exciting. I really put a lot of thought into this bike, selecting every single part to make not only a great riding bike, but also a great looking bike. So much fun! I was even ordering single bolts off eBay. LOL

Finally I got it all built, finishing at 11.30pm one night. I couldn't help myself. I lycra'd up, popped lights on and went for a ride around the block. W-O-W-!

It rode sooo smooth and comfortable, yet, when I put down the power it took off. It felt so planted to the road, unlike any bike I'd ridden. Truly amazing!

And even now, 8 months down the track, it continues to put a smile on my face. :-)



Thursday, August 11, 2011

The big bang theory

So, last time was a pretty rotten post to this blog. It was full of 7ish months of misery and pain and I wish I could say that this post will be better, but only in that being hit by a 1 tonne truck is better than being hit by a 10 tonne truck. Ya follow?

So last time I was still recovering from a infected leg. It was ugly.. REAL ugly (see pics).
First set of stitches

It took ages to heal up and during that time I had to do very little which of course includes- very little riding.

Finally it healed up and all stitches were removed. I was finally able to ride again and I replaced my drive train (but not before the chain skipped over the teeth on the chain ring upon accelerating from a set of lights! Eeek!

So it working hard towards regaining strength and fitness when one day on my way to work, I had a coming together with a stupid woman in a 4WD that left me with a damaged bike and scrapes and bruises.

I was riding down a road behind her as she slowed and slowed, with no indication of what she was doing (I was looking for indicators like a hawk), then, with a side road to our left coming up, the driver started to veer towards the left and slow down (still no indicators). Finally, fed up with sitting behind her and with plenty of room, I over took her on her right only to have her throw her right blinker on and turn right just as I was next to her.

I went straight into the side of her 4WD, scraping along the side, hitting her mirror and over the bars and onto the road. I WAS PISSED OFF!

Furious I got up and looked at bits of my bike scattered over the road. I yelled at the woman and her response was "why were you passing me on my right? ARGH... With no witnesses, I called the cops but they said it was my word verses hers. Brilliant! I was screwed. Again!

An ambo turned up (not sure who called them) and I was bandaged up and checked over. I broke my helmet, smashed my right shifter and ripped the crap out of my hand and arm. Sheesh.. I only just got my bike back on the road too. For Fuck's Sake!

So, I'm back to public transport again and suffering another set back to my riding and training. I was feeling crappier and crappier.

Back on the road again (thank goodness I work in a bike shop so I can get parts wholesale) and I'm working really hard to regain fitness. I struggle to do morning training rides during the week but I do my commutes to and from work at a really hard intensity and I can feel the benefit of the hard work.

Then... while riding home one night in the rain, I was doing about 40kph when a car did a right hand turn straight in front of me! I didn't even have time to touch the brakes as I went straight into the passengers side door, my arm and hand smashing through the window, me and the bike sent flying high into the air.

The last thing I remember thinking was "this is gonna be a bad one" and then I was tipped upside down and a feeling of weightlessness and then THUD CRASH WHACK!

As soon as I stopped tumbling I did the quick check over- Left foot wiggle, right foot, left hand, right hand- yep all working (sort of). But my head was sore as heck, my neck really hurt and my arm and hands were stinging like mad.

Suddenly several people were looking over me asking if I was ok. They were passers by who saw it all and stopped to check on me. The driver also stopped and he said- Sorry mate I didn't see you (SMIDSY). I was furious but also knew me getting angry wasn't going to help so I just set about getting help and assistance ASAP. I first asked- "was anyone a witness?" and then asked for someone to call for a Ambulance, the Police and also mum (I was only 1.5km from home). So I lay on the wet road, in the rain, wet and shivering. One of the witnesses covered me with a blanket and they stayed with me till the ambos turned up.

I knew the routine all to well sadly- checked me over for concussion, neck collar on, carefully onto a stretcher and into the back of the ambo. Mum arrived and I gave her VERY specific instructions to make sure all bits of my bike were found (I didn't want my Garmin left laying on the road for example).

Off to hospital and had lots of glass dug out of my fingers (I ALWAYS wear gloves but this one day I forgot them), hands and arm dug out and a few stitches put in. A few friends came to hospital to be with me (as well as Mum) and after about 6 hours I was close to being released when a change on doctor shift saw the new doctor question if my arm had been x-rayed. It hadn't and given the puncture wound in my bicep, he wanted to see if any glass was left inside. So off to the x-ray room where while standing and getting an x-ray done, I blacked out and smacked my head and nose hard on the concrete floor.

I woke up on the ground and my first thought was "who just hit me- WFT?!" So now I had to wait and get a MRI done to check my brain. Also, the x-ray found glass deep in my arm so that had to be dug out with tweezers (1.5cm deep!). A few more hours and I was OK to go home.

The next day I was sore as heck. I finally got to see my bike and my lovely Edge Composites forks were ripped apart, along with a crack along the top tube of the frame plus a whole assortment of other bits damaged (wheels, bars, shifters, etc). So now I had to contend with the drivers insurance company. But lets leave that for another post shall we?



Saturday, January 22, 2011

Broken things

I'm pretty sure anyone who was following this blog has long given up on me and I don't blame them. My posts have been erratic at best and, well, who would remember this blog with such long breaks between posts.

Well this brings with it a sense of freedom of sorts. I feel like I can now write what ever I feel like and not self censor, which, as it turns out is handy given the content of this post.

So, what's been happening since my last post? A SHIT LOAD actually.. and very little of it good. Rather than get bogged down into the knitty-gritty of my life, I'll go through it in point form...

  • My wife of 8 years, Lisa, left me out of the blue after cheating on me with SIMON HASTINGS (he was my friend, training buddy and clubmate FFS, AND he's married with 3 kids!!).
  • Lisa has done nothing but act with utter selfishness and treated me like crap ever since with zero regard for how hurt I was. What impact her actions had on me were washed aside. 10 Years together just flushed away down the toilet like it never happened and I never had a chance to try and work things out.
  • SIMON HASTINGS has threatened me with the cops if I go near him or his family, despite my never attempting to do either. He's nothing but a spineless, worthless, cheating ar$ehole bully. BTW, even after he came clean to his wife (to what degree I don't know), he's STILL seeing my ex... (go on SIMON, threaten me again I dare you! Nothing I've said isn't true....)
  • My own business went down the tubes as a result of the hell I went through, leaving me so far behind financially I have struggled to buy food some weeks.
  • Found a full time job pretty quick but was lied to and that turned out to be casual hours at best. Eventually found a full time job but my car broke down just after starting, leaving me with a $2K+ repair bill- I cant afford it so have no car.
  • Copped 2 speeding fines, both pissant stupid ones... struggling to pay them.
  • I had to move to mums place as I had no where to live after separation - this is a whole new world of hell in itself.
  • After separation all I had was my clothes, a computer, a few bookshelfs, a desk and the car. Didn't even have a bed or mattress!
  • Managed to slice my leg wide open with a broken dinner plate about 2 weeks before Xmas. Ambo trip to hospital and 15 stitches and no riding for 10 days. The day after I finally had my stitches out, I lightly bumped it on a pedal at work, which caused it to split open, blood pouring out, and 8 VERY painful fresh stitches. This wound then got badly infected, extremely painful, swollen and even now 3 weeks later I'm still not over it and no riding as a result for 5 weeks.
  • My bike seriously needs a whole new drive train as its worn to the sh!tter- no $$$ to do anything about it - I just ride and hope the chain doesn't break on me.
  • Now I need to find a place of my own ASAP - Mum pretty much told me to get out!
  • I have so many debts.. I just can't get on top of any of them. New crap keeps hitting me and I never have the chance to catch up.
  • I copped a pedal to the eye while trying to put a bike on a customers roof rack, and it hurt like hell and gave me a black eye. This was 2 days before NYE.
  • And just to top it off, my really good sunnies fell off my head and broke.

And this is just the highlights of my last 7 months. There is TONS more shit I've had to cope with. Just a never ending tide of shit in my life and frankly I don't know how I managed to keep myself alive given the depths of depression I hit.

One night, after Lisa mentioned divorce on the phone to me, I would have most certainly walked to the train line just 50mts from the apartment and ended my life if not for the fact that a mate dropped over unexpectedly.

I spent so many nights drinking myself to distraction and crying to sleep its not funny. I took to sleeping with the TV on all night just so if I woke up, I wouldn't feel so alone.

What also really hurt me what the reactions of many so called friends. Most of my friends have contacted Lisa in some form to let her know that they still regard her as a friend and that they feel no ill will towards her. Yet not ONE SINGLE of Lisa's friends has bothered to call or check up on me to see how I'm doing. In fact, many when I've seen them have treated me like I was dipped in shit. AND THEY KNOW LISA CHEATED ON ME! Its so bad, the last contact I had with Helena (another selfish bitch who treats men like play toys and is utterly clueless about relationships to the point of laughter), even dared to compare me to her ex (who by the way she dumped out of the blue to fly up to Sydney to fuck another guy). So Helena, if you are reading this- what you did to Bill is despicable. You and Lisa fit perfectly together as friends after all. Two selfish women, walking all over whomever to satisfy your vain attempts to lead fullfilling lives. Welcome to spinsterhood ladies- population YOU!


Finally, I had enough of Lisa and her crap and decided I deserved better. I deserved to be with a woman who knew how to love, who knew empathy and care and respect for others. And with that, I put an end to the chapter that is Lisa Coutts. I took off my wedding ring (I had taken to wearing it on a chain as my weight loss meant it was too big to wear on my finger), I took down all reminders of Lisa (photos, etc) and the last thing I still want to get rid of is a drawing of hers she gave to me as a present with a personal message on the back that obviously is utter bullshit given her recent actions. I'm thinking of selling it on Bay but I doubt I would get anything for it. In some respects, I kinda hope it doesn't sell for much. Id hate to give her any satisfaction.

Lisa broke me. My sprit, my life, my heart, my faith in humanity and she's broken my ability to be fully open to women. She's left me financially broke too as a result of the trauma I went through. And what does Karma give Lisa in return for her nasty, selfish treatment of me? Oh... just a free top of the line race bike, free kit and free race entry for being part of the SKCC women's team. Meanwhile, I can't afford to fix my bike, not that I can even ride atm with my fucked up leg.

Life just seems to have it in for me atm, no matter how hard I try to change things.

I since started getting back out there and started internet dating and have been on a fair few dates. I've met some nice women and even had some mini relationships with a few. But I feel a gutting sense of restriction inside me that holds me back from what I used to be with women I fancy. It feels like I can only allow 50% of my heart to be given to a woman and that pisses me off. I'm scared shitless of getting torn apart again. Because I doubt I could survive a second heart break like the one I just suffered.

As time has moved on and Lisa's actions have become more and more clear to those around us, more and more of my friends are expressing disappointment in her. Lisa is losing respect and, I doubt she even cares. See, this is what she does, she fucks up, walks over people, and rather than face what she's done, and be a grown up adult, she just moves on to a new life.

As for SIMON HASTINGS, that cunt will get his just deserts one day. Why his wife is sticking with him I don't know, and I don't know to what extent she knows the truth about what Simon has and is still doing. I think about sending her a letter, to just inform her so she can save herself further pain for I truly feel for her, but do I need that extra trouble in my life?

Probably not.

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Blown away!

After last weeks solid result, I figured it was time to man up and move up a grade. I hadn't counted on racing this week, but circumstances had changed so a later entry was made to the Newham Scratch race (C Grade - 90km) and I was set.

One problem. As I hadn't planned on racing I did two hard effort training rides during the week back to back (Wednesday SKCC ride with just 3 in the working group) and then ATOS on Thursday night. Add to that, Saturday's weather didn't look too flash in the lead up.

So how did I go?

Well, in a word- dropped!

The weather was really shit. 70+kph winds and later- driving rain. I started off ok but never felt strong on the bike. I mean I was keeping up fine and was in the front third up each of the climbs, but I just never felt any zip in my legs. Foolishly I allowed myself get suckered into pulling turns on the front into the wind and just after one of these turns I decided to drop back in the bunch to sit in. Just as I was moving sideways to get into the shelter, someone attacked on the front and the whole bunch accelerated. I was caught out and lost the wheel ahead of me and was promptly dropped. The guy behind me was also caught out too.

So I set forth to hopefully chase them down. I caught and passed one guy who dropped off the back and the other guy who was also dropped I left behind. But I just-couldn't-quite-catch-the-bunch no matter how hard I tried (I was zone 4.5/5 HR for a good 15-20km). I made up some ground and just when I thought I might make it, they pulled away again. I'd have to say, I think there was a few riders that were really B graders racing in C. And I'm pretty sure a few guys were playing team tactics too. Whatever...

So there you go. 17km into a 90km race and I'm dropped and solo with the wind. FUCK! I was pretty pissed off with myself for allowing myself into this position. I continued on into the second lap but by now the bunch was loooong gone, so I just settled into a groove and pushed along. Then it started raining, then pelting. Combined with the now even stronger wind (24kph in the small ring on a downhill anyone?) it was particularly shitty.

Along Three Chains Rd I passed a rider fixing a flat and asked if he was ok. A few mins later, the same guy pulled up next to me. He was a B grader and he was just looking to get back to his car so we both rode together for a while, chatting a bit and both frozen through.

Somewhere along the road, S came powering past, just off the front of D grade with just a small bunch in tow. I looked back for Lisa but all I saw was clear road. Wow.. D was smashed!

So I limped back to the start finish and pulled out. I didn't see the point in plodding along for another 30km in these winds and rain, shivering and shaking from the cold. As I crossed the line I popped a mono for the marshals and got a good cheer for my efforts. A little ray of sunshine in an otherwise forgettable day. LOL

Lessons learned
1. Don't go up a grade unless you are prepared for the race properly. See lesson 2.
2. Don't smash your legs during the week and expect to be able to keep up with a fast race.
3. Don't get suckered into pulling turns when you have just gone up a grade.

Time to go back and do some structured training again. After the 3DT I allowed myself to just ride a bit haphazard and its bitten me as a result. I also think last weekends handicap took a LOT out of me and I'm prob still paying the price.



Monday, July 5, 2010

Best birthday ever!

Last weekend I turned 41 on July 3rd, which coincided with the Jim Fawcett Memorial Handicap at Broadford, run over 3 laps of a testing 33km course. I'd done this course as a handicap before and knew it was one tough race.

I was starting in the 20 min group (eg- we were 20 mins ahead of the last starting group) and in my group was a training buddy Paul, as well as Lisa and many of the guys I raced against at the 3DT.

Looking at the start list before the race, I felt we had a pretty good chance of our group taking the win or at least finishing high up and I was really looking forward to it. Personally, I felt like I was gifted the start position and that I and a few others should have been in the 15 min group (to be fair), but that’s what the handicapper worked out and so be it.

We set off and almost straight away I was worried about our bunch. There was a few guys who looked way out of their league and their rolling turns was scrappy to say the least. One guy who couldn’t hold a wheel while rolling turns yet complained when someone would fill his gap, didn’t bother to call about a huge pot hole in the road, leaving Lisa (who was behind him) to hit it really hard, jarring her hand in the process and she was lucky not to go down! Also, the pace was a bit slow for my liking and I was itching to hit the first decent climb to drop the stragglers so we could pick up the pace.

As we hit the steep pitch climb for the first time the inevitable happened and we were down to a working group of 8 riders, dropping about 4 or 5. Unfortunately, one that was dropped was a mate Paul whose rear derailleur cable snapped at the base of the climb. Bugger! He would have made a strong addition to the group.

So on we rode, rolling nicely and setting a solid pace. As we approached the narrow bridge, we had to make a detour onto a side route that was gravel and pot hole filled (we had been pre warned about this with plenty of marshals warning us also). I lead the way through here at what I thought was a very comfortable pace and as I started the climb out the other side of the valley, I looked back to see a 100mt gap behind me. Hmm, note to self- this could be the place to attack on the last lap!

Not wanting to go it alone for 70+ km I sat up and we continued to roll turns, passing the finish line for our first lap with the DNF’d Paul telling us the group ahead (they started 6mins before us), were only 2mins ahead of us now. Now down to 7 riders, the pace kept picking up, bit by bit. Lisa was climbing the steeper climbs really strong and I had to tell her to take it easy as she would have dropped the bunch. I saw a few guys gasping and looking at her in amazement of her climbing so I commented to one that she was my pick on the final climbs to drop us all.

About at the half way point of the second lap we caught limit (the group 6mins ahead of us) and a few of then started working with us with the rest quickly left behind. Ben, a designer mate jumped in and rolled strongly with us, leaving me to think he was going to be a contender at the end, so smooth and easy did he look to be doing it. Meanwhile, my legs were cramping up a little even though I didn’t feel like I was pushed to my limit. I’d been thinking for a few weeks that my saddle was a touch too high but now mid race was not the time to adjust it! LOL

At one point, while rolling back in the slow lane, one of the guys moving up looked like he had run out of oomph to keep moving forward and a gap opened up in front of him. Not wanting to see the turns get delayed, I gave him a helping push to which I “think” he was grateful for. United we stand, divided we fall right? LOL

Through the gravel section the second time I called to Ben
and Lisa to follow my line and speed through and this time I took it with a “little bit” more speed and once again, I opened up a gap in the process. OK- this “IS” the spot to attack on the last lap!

Final lap and we were zipping along at a great pace now. One of the follow cars came around us, stopping at a corner where he cheered us saying we had it in the bag! We all got excited at this thought but with about 20km to go, anything could happen.

Then, just as I was amusing myself with thoughts of “what funny salute could I do if I found myself crossing the line 1st?”, the call came from behind to “stay left” and a quick glance back saw a bunch of deep profile carbon rims coming around us- The A graders! Bugger!

Two of our group jumped onto the back of this group but I made a choice NOT to follow as I could see their pace would see me blowing up. The group ahead rode out of sight and I was starting to wonder about my tactics when we came upon one of the guys struggling along solo, blown up. Ok, still one more to catch I figured and down through the gravel detour I hit it pretty hard, creating a huge gap to the bunch behind me. Game on!

Exiting the gravel I had tons of momentum for the following climb and wouldn’t you know it- the second rider from our original group was right there, alone, half way up the hill ahead of me. BINGO!

Now- I had a plan worked out so time to see if it would work. I caught the rider ahead and went in front, with the other guy now sitting firmly on my wheel. I sat there pulling us along for a few mins till I waved him around on a flat section of road a little before the next climb. Then, just as we started the climb, I came around as if to pull a turn but instead of rolling over I just poured on the power just enough to create a gap and kept that same pace all the way up the climb (thanks to Deryck for this idea!), not looking back, eyes firmly on the road ahead hoping like hell I was “out suffering” the other guy! At the top I glanced back and I had done it! Now with 200+mts between us it was time to go into pure suffer mode to the finish line 3km away.

What a final 3km it was! My legs had been cramping up the last 25km and I could hardly stand up. As I approached the final corner 2km from the finish, a HUGE flock(?) of kangaroos were crossing from one paddock to another over the road ahead of me. I could see that I was going to arrive at the corner right in the middle of the roos and started to panic- “what do I do?” A car approached very slowly from the other direction, spooking the roos with several falling on the road and sliding along on their backs! It was chaos! Finally all the roos saw me and the car and turned back, leaving a gap in the madness for me to ride through. Whew!

The final hill before the finish line climb was pure agony! I couldn’t get out of the saddle and my legs were cramping up as it was even sitting down, so I just had to HTFU and ignore the pain. My mind even crossed to Matt Keenan’s blog about Jim Fawcett and I tried to draw strength from that! I knew the guy behind me would be doing everything to catch me so I just had to get over this last hill and I knew I would be safe. But shit, I wasn’t sure I “could” make it over, now limping along at 13kph!

Finally at the top and with the finish line in far sight I glanced back and I still had 200+ mts on the other guy. Down the valley and max power up to the finish line, crossing in 12th, 3mins down on the winning group and first in our start group!

I was rapt! I didn’t care that I didn’t finish top 10. I didn’t care that I missed out on prize money. I was thrilled to put into place a tactical plan in my head and then execute it to perfection. I was giddy with excitement once I stopped coughing and gasping! LOL

Lisa came in 14th, just 1:10 behind me and looking strong
! As an added bonus, not only did the bunch starting behind us (the 15 min group) not catch us but we pulled AWAY from them. And this was a bunch with some solid C graders in it. That was very satisfying to know as it bodes well for an upgrade to C grade.

After the race Lisa was a bit annoyed. It turned out she was determined to beat me (yeah- on my birthday and all! LOL), but my tactic to fly through the gravel put a huge gap between us that she couldn’t close. I did have a quiet word to her during the race to tell her that I was going to do exactly that, but she didn’t feel comfortable in her skills to follow my speed through the dirt. As I said to her after- “time to do some MTBing perhaps?” I think seeing the time she lost in this one 50mts section, she “might” just relent and give it a go. I know she’s very negative about doing MTBing but I honestly think she would end up having a good time doing it.

Race stats-
33.1kph - Average speed
99km - Distance
1100mts - Climbing
Full results here.

A most awesome day indeed!

(Photo: Myself followed closely by Lisa at the end of our second lap. Photo by Thorle)

PS- I did some googling and a group of Kangaroos is called either a "Mob" or a "Troop". (not a flock! LOL).



Saturday, June 26, 2010

This is what training is all about!

- Posted from my iPhone

Location:Kilvington Dr,Emerald,Australia

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Friday, June 25, 2010

D-Day has arrived - 3 Days of nerves, stress and excitment!

OK this post was first written for a forum so it’s a bit sloppy, messy and probably has a few errors in fact. But it gives a pretty good overview of how I went at the 3DT-

I just got home and I’m shagged, so please forgive typos, errors of fact and people I've missed. The long weekend is still a bit of a blur atm.

Saturday - Stage 1 - 56km Road Race
Wet, wet, wet! Rode well within my comfort zone the whole way sticking to my pre 3DT plan. Didn't contest KOM but rode to ensure no one got away (eg- 6-7th but on their wheels). Climbing Dons Rd towards the finish I kept in the top 6 and waited for gaps to work my way forward. As the bunch wound it up for the sprint I went at 95% and found myself in 2nd and with 20mts to go saw a wheel just in the corner on my eye so pushed a little more to claim 2nd. Nice! It turned out that despite my asking the question at the pre race briefing, we WERE getting time bonuses (we were told there was no time bonus) so I'm damn glad I gave it some berries at the finish. Felt UBER pumped with that finish with lots of high fives with Paul! You couldn't wipe the smile off my face that's fer sure!

That night was a lot of bike washing, kit washing and I gave Deryck a hand rebuilding the front end of his bike after he crashed during his race. Thank goodness I took the bike stand as it made things a LOT easier!

Sunday - Stage 2 - 5.5km TT
With myself the second D grader TT starter and Paul after me, it made for interesting chasing for Paul and myself.

I had a perfect start and felt really, REALLY good powering off the line. After about 750mts I had to vocally tell myself to calm down as I was in zone 5.3 and I knew I couldn’t hold that all the way.

The Thursday prior to the 3DT, I was taken by surprise by Neil when he gave me a joint early birthday gift from a whole bunch of my cycling friends- A Garmin 500! This proved very valuable for the TT as I could see how far I had to go, what my HR was and it helped me manage my effort better. I can’t thank these people enough!

Anyway, I settled in but I felt s-l-o-w with the head wind and the ever rising road. But I look ahead and could see
the guy ahead getting very slightly closer so that buoyed me on. Then just as I was feeling like I was fading, the bozo in front of my looked back and that was all I needed to HTFU and push on. In fact, looking at my Garmin Data afterwards on the graphs, I can pin point the exact moment where this happened.

I ended up finishing with a 11:34 time and with my car parked just past the TT finish and in the side lane, I kept on rolling down the hill and straight to my car to keep warm. Overall I felt pretty good about that and was now just concentrating on recovery and prep for stage 3.

During the break between stages, I went to the Newham café and chilled out a bit waiting for everyone else to arrive. While sitting there, the Commissioner for our grade (D) came in and told me I took 21 seconds out of the bozo ahead of me
which surprised the heck out of me. I knew I had taken a bit out of him but that blew me away. Especially as I had expected that bozo would smash my TT time. Hmm… this is getting interesting! So much for training form hey bozo?

Stage 3 - 60 km - Road Race
It turned out the fastest D grade TT time was 11:00 so I had the 6th fastest TT time. Good, but I was now about 26 seconds down on GC leader in 4th. Happy to be 4th but I knew I had a heck of a task in front of me if I was hoping to climb higher up the rankings.

So off we go and no probs in the bunch. On one of the KOM's, that bozo
went after a SKCC rider taking a strong 2nd in that KOM points contest. I was just marking the gap to be safe and found myself riding tempo and closing on 3rd for KOM. Figuring- why not, I clicked up a gear, put in 50 mts of harder effort and took my only one and only single KOM point! LOL Who would-a-thunked it! Go you mountain buffalo! Over the top of the climb I hit the front and heard the bozo yell- "we have a break- GO VIDDY GO!" so it was full pelt down the hill in the 11T with a train behind me. Gravity is my friend 50% of the time. But it only took 3km before the bunch was back on. Ahhh well- we tried.

Rest of the race was just about sticking to my plan. Conserve, conserve, stay with any breaks, do as little work as I could and aim for time bonuses at the end.

Up Dons Rd for the last time I was 2nd/3rd wheel with a strong looking SKCC rider leading the way. I moved up next to him and quietly asked if he had much left in him. “Not much” was the reply so I asked if he could give me a lead out (I think my words were- “if you can give me a lead out and I take the win- the money is yours!). So before I knew it my lead out guy started ramping up! Gah.. too soon… we have 2km to go!. A frantic call of ‘not yet, not yet” and things were back under control. With 1 km to go I said- “Ok now.. ramp it up” and the pace lifted. However 250mts later my lead out guy was done and he pulled off leaving me a loooong way out and on the front. With little option I just put the foot down and tried to out run them all. With 100mts to go I thought I had a chance but in the final 20mts I ran out of gas and was swamped right on the line finishing in a photo for second (see Richard’s pic above with 20mts to go). In the end I was given 3rd place and so still 4th on GC, 16 seconds down on 3rd, 22 secs down on 2nd and 26 down on 1st with just the final stage to go. Gah.. now mega stressed!

There were lots of friends up to watch and cheer which was much appreciated. Thanks all- it was much appreciated! Though finding out about my guttural grunts and groans in the sprint was a bit embarrassing! LOL

Sunday night
I was kinda freaked out. I came into the 3DT with a rough hope I could go top 5 but now it was actually happening and I was pooing myself about it! My back pulled up pretty sore that night and my legs were cramping a bit. My fellow accommodation sharers helped with Gabrielle offering me a magnesium tablets and a drink additive, Deryck gave me a tin of our secret weapon and I spent the evening on the lounge floor, feet up, sipping fluids till I burst with lots of deep heat on my back.

That night's sleep was awful. I couldn't stop thinking about stage 4 and every time I did my heart pounded at 130bpm. I felt sick to my stomach with nerves and I couldn't sleep. Even when I raced motocross as a youngster I don't think I ever got as nervous and stressed like I did that night. *shudder*

Monday - Stage 4 - Road Race
Rolled out on the Newham loop AGAIN. I had all the GC contenders written down on my bars with the time gaps so I knew who to follow and not to worry about. Up Roachford climb a guy 5 seconds behind me on GC attacked so all the GC boys followed closely. We were all watching each other pretty close and you could sense the tension (well, I felt it…).

No one attacked along the flat until we turned to head out to Pastoria loop and up each and every climb, a GC guy would put in a solid dig to try and drop some of the GCers (myself included). But they were all for nothing as we all marked each other closely. On the fast decent before the KOM climb, I was leading the way putting the hammer down pretty hard when bozo
came powering around to give me a fast wheel to sit behind. Thanks bozo - perfectly timed but your climbing was pathetic especially for a guy 15 kg lighter than me and not riding with a sore back! LOL!

We hit the KOM climb at the front and I gave it everything I had (which wasn't much given my sore lower back was really killing me by this stage). Half way up, A grade came flyin' past which made things messy. A young kid who was 3rd on GC attacked HARD and flew up the climb while 3 others passed me (I re passed one to cross KOM 4th after thinking I was going to explode 3/4 of the way up). I quickly caught up to 2nd and 3rd and found out the "kid" was waaaay ahead and… sitting in on the back of A grade (big no no!)! A bit of discussion in the bunch and we decided to try and chase him down but sheesh, he was loooong gone (no wonder, he had a 45kph freight train to sit behind)! As we came in to turn to head home (turn right to leave the loop) we couldn't see the kid at all and we figured that he must have missed the turn off (following A grade which had 3 loops to our single loop).

I attacked up the climb out of the loop but to no avail- all the "heads of state" were right there. Bugger! A bit of chatter about "the kid" and given that he was sitting on A, we felt no sympathy for him missing the turn. The kid was freaken strong, fast and aggressive but he paid the price for hitching a ride. A few more half hearted digs by assorted riders over the rolling hills went no where and then it was back on the flat towards home. All the GC boys were up the front 3 wide watching each other. 2km to go and same deal. Lots of tension in the bunch as the meters ticked down.

1km to go and the yellow jersey wearer was trying to push up the left side of me. I was on the left hand most side in second wheel and there really was no room. He tried to get me to "give him room" and I kept telling him to forget it. In the end, he wouldn't give up so I just said- "Mate- if we bump I weigh a LOT more than you; you do the math!" With about 300mts to go the sprint started and I found myself in a crap position. A bit of fighting for wheels and jostling about and with 20mts to go the guy who was 3 seconds behind me on GC passed me just before we crossed the line. FAARKIT!

At the finish there was a bit of confusion between me, and the guy who beat me to the line. I thought he took 4th (4 bonus seconds) and myself in 5th (no bonus seconds). So I figured I got bumped from 4th to 5th by one crappy second. We congratulated each other, shook hands and that was it. 5th. Or so I thought...

With Lisa's race still to come in, I went back to the finish to wait for her while the rest of D went back to their cars at Newham. With it all over, all the pressure and build up and relief and remembering where I was 7 months ago just overwhelmed me and I had to go and have an alone moment on a old tree stump.

I was really happy to-
a) Be able to ride again after laying in hospital pretty freaked out;
b) Be able to race again after the nerve damage never seemed to get any better for months and months;
c) Be able to finish a 3DT after my crap showing last year;
d) To finish top 5 in my return to racing at a tough event like the 3DT.

Well, it turned out we got it wrong.

It seems that the guy who was 3 seconds behind me on GC finished 5th (which it turned out got 2 bonus seconds) which meant- 4th overall for Viddy!

Was I happy? Well, the fist pump when my name was called out at presentations probably said it all! :)

Thanks to all the people who helped and encourage me these last 7-8 months. Many times I felt it was beyond me and your kind words and advice got me through the rough times.

Thank you to all the organisers and the volunteers who stood out in the freezing cold on the corners. I don't know if you heard me but I yelled a thank you as I went past every time.

After the race weekend I was looking through the pics from photographer Ash Milne (excellent stuff btw) and there IS a pic of my stage 3 finish and I DID get 2nd by an inch! See here (look at pic 41 - Im on the right in the SKCC jersey). It wouldn't have changed anything in the end overall but the extra 3 seconds time bonus sure would have made me less nervous coming into the final stage sprint!

(Photo by Richard S)

Edit- Someone's name has been changed to a more appropriate name given recent events. Fuck you S! Your time will come...



Down to business!

If you’ve been following my blog posts (and if not- where have you been? Sheesh…), you’ll know I’ve been back on the training band wagon and getting my shit together. You’ll also know I was training for a goal race- the Northern Combine Three Day Tour in June.

I had started to introduce some higher paced training rides and some sprint work. I went back to the SKCC Kit ride on Wednesday and after at first finding I was getting dropped (urgh!), I was soon powering all the way to the finish with the bunch and feeling better and better.With my goal race fast approaching, I figured I needed to get a few races under my belt to get back into the swing of it. So I renewed my race license and entered my first return race- The SKCC crit at Albert Park in D-Grade.

I was pretty tense before the race but with a tight course with hot dog turns at both ends of the course, I made sure I was at the pointy end all the way to avoid any potential drama. I even went to the front to see how I felt for a little bit, but mostly I sat in the bunch, trying to relax and overcome my tension of being in the bunch again.

Final lap and I moved up to about 6th at the final corner but I just didn’t have the legs for the sprint so sat up and cruised in mid pack, happy to just get that race out of the way.

Afterwards I was a bit bummed to look at my average speed but after comparing it against other grades; EVERYONE had seemingly low average speeds due to the twin hairpin turns (where you almost came to a dead stop).

I also had to remind myself that this was an Open event where traditionally a lot of riders drop down a grade, so effectively I was racing against a lot of C graders. That made me feel a bit better (I used to race C before my accident).

Next up was my return to road racing with a scratch race at Newham- the location of the 3DT.

Racing in D grade, I just wanted to go out, get a feel for the pace, put in some digs up the climbs to test myself against the bunch and generally to test myself with no real regard for my finishing position. This was a dress rehearsal for my goal race and I was treating it as such.

A training mate Paul was racing with me so we kept an eye out for each other, looking after each other, etc.

Up the first main climb on the first lap I held a steady tempo up and found myself climbing it far easier than I remembered doing it when I raced C last year (this might have been due to the overall pace being slower, or maybe I am stronger- *shrug*).

So up each climb I applied pressure, claiming the imaginary KOM points each time. Yep- feeling good.

Up the final climb with just 4 km to go I lead the way and even though I backed off at the top, no one would come around me. I weaved left and right to shake them but they had no intention of coming around me at this point. As we approached I made the stupid mistake of taking a sip of water only to have a few riders attack as I had the bottle in my hand. Panicked, I started spinning the legs fast to keep in touch and with no time to put my bottle away, I had to give it the old Pro “fling” over the rider next to me (after the race a few said I looked very pro doing that)!

As I came out of the final corner with 1km to go, I was in 4th and on what I took to be a strong rider’s wheel. I urged him on only to have him blow up right in front of me. Bugger! So I pushed ahead with 1st and 2nd out of reach now when a guy came grunting and screaming past me (he was screaming at himself to go harder!). With a climb to the finish and with my legs telling me what they thought of all this shenanigans, I eventually crossed the line a very clear 4th and just a little surprised! Awesome!

Next, my goal race- The Three Day Tour! Eeek!

(Photo by Roger Hammond - That's me in the SKCC jersey out front)



Headwind, new training buddies, 2km of 13% and a monster tailwind!

(Pic- My new training buddy taking a well earned break)

Ok so I’m getting my mojo back somewhat as per my last post. Next on the agenda was another loooong ride out to Mt Macedon for my first climb of this hill.

Lisa was racing this day and with friends also heading out to Gisbourne South, she got a lift with them while I took in my own training ride with plans to drop in to see the end of the race on my way back.I set off in cool weather to start my ride out North into area’s I’ve not ridden before. A steady headwind on the way out kept my pace down but I was mentally prepared for this so it didn’t really bother me.

As I rode past Melb International Airport it felt a bit odd to be out here on a bike at 7am on a Saturday morning but strangely liberating all the same. Riding around the back of the airport and watching the planes take off over my head was interesting but that headwind was getting stronger, with my pace sitting at around mid 20’s at best on a flat road. Hmm, this could take a while!

Descending into Sunbury, a Kangaroo bounced along with my next to the road side fence for a few km. It was as if it was pacing me, occasionally looking over at me and adjusting it’s speed to stay just ahead of me (damn half wheelers!). Very cool and it made me giggle out loud! He he, the mind of the solo road cyclist is easily amused!

Getting to the base of Mt Macedon I suffered a puncture but thankfully I was passing a park so I pulled in and set up in a rotunda to replace the tube. Pulling the spares out of my tool bottle I discovered that my CO2 inflator was missing. CRAP! Thankfully I also carry a emergency micro pump but its strictly an emergency backup. So I settled in for 200 pump strokes (actually I think I counted 300) to get the tyre to an acceptable pressure.

Now there is one problem. I’ve been stuck standing as I fixed my bike getting cold, very cold. So my legs have locked up and are feeling like lead until I can warm then back up (normally takes about 6km). But one problem, I have 1 km till the base of Mt Macedon so this is going to hurt just a tad.

As I round an uphill bend, I see a sign that fills me with dread- “2km of 12%”! So I settle in and just accept the pain in my legs. Finally my legs are starting to warm up again and the road flattens out a bit thankfully. But then it kicks up again, and this time the sign says 2km of 13%. Oh goodie…

I finally make it to the Memorial Cross lookout at the top and its totally encased in cloud with howling wind. As I roll slowly along the final path to the cross, my rear tyre goes flat AGAIN, just as I roll to a stop. So there I am, fixing my second flat, huddling out of the wind behind the cross all alone, watching the wisps of cloud zip past me as I pumped my micro pump another 300 times! LOL

Back ok the road and now without any spare tubes left, I decided I should ride down to Woodend to get some spares. Flying down the mountain was awesome fun. After the initial steep twisty part, the road opened out and I was flying along at 55kph, enjoying the ride.

Now with my spares replenished and with the wind finally at my back, it was time to head homeward. And oh what a wind it was at my back!

Climbing a decent sized hill out of Woodend, it suddenly became aware to me that I was doing 35kph with my HR in zone 2 and I was climbing. WOOT!

As I rode along I found my way onto the Calder Freeway (bikes allowed here) and what a buzz that was!

A huge tail wind and mostly downhill meant I could cruise at 45kph with minimal effort on a really wide, smooth shoulder/emergency lane with no bother from passing cars and trucks. Really good fun!

A stop at Lisa’s road race and they were, or just had finished. So I hung about for a chat, found out Lisa did awesome as well as a few other mates and training buddies and off I went back the way I came, with a blitzing decent into Sunbury hitting 80+ kph. :D

As I rode back through Melbourne towards home, I was still feeling great. Yes I was a bit weary but overall, I still had enough to power up any climbs and sprint off from the lights. I’m getting there. Bit by bit it was all coming back.

A few stats from the ride-

Eventual route-
• 173.5km's Total distance travelled.
• 26.9kph - Average speed.
• 82kph - Top speed on the downhill into Sunbury with a monster tailwind on my return.
• 2km - According to the sign, there was 2 km of 13% climb up Macedon which was preceded by 2km of 12%! After pushing into a headwind all the way out, this friggin hurt my legs!
• 2 punctures
• 2 Tubes purchased from Woodend cycles which ultimately I didn't need.
• 17kph - the lowest speed I saw while riding out on a flat section of road- such was the strength of the headwind!
• 4 Bottles of water drunk
• 1 Can of Coke.
• 3 Winners bars
• 1 Banana
• 1 Big piece of of home made "Team Garmin" recipe rice snack stuff
• 2.5kg of weight lost during the ride (water no doubt).
• 1 New training buddy – The Sunbury Roo!
• 1 Woman's purse discovered on the road around the back of the Airport
• 1 Pooped viddy!



Regaining my mojo

Last post I hinted at some cool news to report and here it is to bring things up to date to where I am with my riding.

Firstly, since my last actual update I went through a bit of a downer with my riding and life in general really. Work was going crap, I was mega stressed and my training was suffering big time. My left arm numbness was a constant problem and my eating went to the crapper (my typical response to work stress). I was putting on weight and life just was no fun at all. My weight was back up to 98kg’s. FUCK!

So I went back to the drawing board and set down a rough plan for my training. I wanted to race the Northern Combine Three Day Tour if I could so that was my goal event to work towards; it’s always best to have an event to work towards than just train without a focus. So I did lots of base riding on the Richmond Bouli, with very little climbing or intense efforts. Lots of boring, dull, high cadence stuff at a steady pace. Lots of it! I also walked away from some stress jobs and I was starting to feel a bit better.

I did this for about 2 months and I think the backing off in efforts helped my neck/arm tingling and numbness recover. Then I slowly started ramping things up, bit by bit doing more hills at a harder effort and some faster group rides. My weight wasn’t dropping much but I could tell I was putting muscle on as my clothes were getting looser on me.

I started doing LONG training rides on the weekend on my own, riding to places I hadn’t been before and taking in new terrain. I think these did a HEAP to regain my strength, fitness, endurance and self confidence.

One of these rides was a pure ride of exploration (see map here and take note of the route notes along the way). I didn’t really have a plan in place when I left the front door other than to head out Yarra Valley/Kinglake direction. Along the way I would see a road that interested me so I would head off in that direction, not really sure it would take me. I ended up taking a series of ever hillier roads (inc Mt Pleasant Rd) till I spied a bunch of riders strung out ahead of me. Now some would accuse me of being competitive but I like to think of it as giving myself carrots to chase rather than “I must beat YOU” kind of attitude.

Methodically I set about hunting them down, one by one, finally catching the last two just at the base of a killer 13% climb. As I went past them out of the saddle, I knew I had to hold my form all the way up and over the hill for fear that I would look like a dick head if I powered past only to blow up half way. LOL So I grit my teeth and dug deep, pushing my limit the whole way up to the top where a quick glance back saw them no where to be seen. Whew! Now I can flop on the bike and recover down the other side. LOL

A bit later I figured out where I was and I now had a specific road in mind I wanted to explore - Pigeon Bank Rd (a road Jono told me about). So down I went down this “supposed” steep hill.

HOLY FRUCK! This was a monster! Not quite Glenvale Rd steep but it went on and on and my speed kept climbing higher and higher even with my brakes on. I was truly starting to shit myself, hoping it would flatten out as I had no chance of stopping quickly in an emergency and I was worried I might have serious heat build up and have a blow out at 70 kph!

Eventually, after 15 km of never ending up’s and down’s, I found myself at a fork in the road with both directions turning to dirt roads. There was a sign in the middle that said “No Through Road” however, it didn’t indicate which road was a dead end so I stood there, scratching my head not knowing what to do. Finally a local drove up and I asked him which way went to Yarra Glen. “The left road will take you to Yarra Glen mate but that road isn’t made for bikes like that!” he offered helpfully. “I’ll be fine, thanks for the directions” I replied and off I went down the dirt road.

Now, I come from an off road motorcycle background so I feel comfortable on the dirt, what ever the bike I’m riding. But this road was a little bit more than I bargained for, with constant acceleration and braking bumps (you know, those wave type bumps on country roads), lots of loose gravel and rock surface and hills - lots of hills to climb and descend.

As I rode along, a 4WD passed me from behind and 500mts up the road I came upon the driver stopped by the side of the road, the woman waiting for me. She asked where I was going (“Yarra Glen”) and she offered to give me a lift in her car if I wanted. Puzzled I asked her how long this dirt road went for and she thought it was about another 10km. “Well, if they can race on the cobblestones in Northern France, I can do this,” I confidently said and thanked her for her concern. A friendly wave from each of us and off I went. Little did I know what was ahead for me.

As I rode on, the hills got steeper and rougher. I resorted to climbing these steep pitches seated as to do it standing would result in so much wheel spin I was libel to fall over. So, there I was, seated, climbing rough dirt roads trying to weave my way up the smoothest and least rocky path, at a knee popping cadence of about 40 rpm (my usual rpm is 95-ish).

This hurt! A lot! Eventually I came to a fork in the road with a dirt road straight up another painful looking climb, and a nice smooth bitumen road gently down a hill. Now, it doesn’t take a genius to guess which one I took and so, down the smooth made road I rolled, enjoying not having my brain rattled about and being able to focus on the road. But my joy was to be short lived when 3 km down the road this riding nirvana ended in a dead end. So back I went, and up THAT hill I crawled.

Several more km’s of bone rattling dirt later, I found myself on a really steep monster climb (I’d guess 500mts of 18%?) with a really loose base. I tried to ride up it, I really did, but with my cadence now 35 rpm and my speed about 4kph, I had to face facts and get off and walk up the hill. It wasn’t so much the steepness that beat me but the surface I had to try and ride on. Stand up keeping my weight forward to keep the front wheel on the ground and I would wheel spin out of control; or I could lean back for traction but have the front wheel rise up into the air. So for the first time since I was a bit fat oompaloompa on the bike, I had to walk up, all the while hearing Dave T’s voice ringing in my ears “The only time you should walk the bike is when it’s faster than riding!” LOL

Finally I got to the end of the dirt road and rolled into Yarra Glen for a well earned break, tired but feeling very HAF with that satisfied feeling of tackling something a little bit crazy and beating it!

After a break I rode down to Coldstream, Lilydale, Montrose and up Mt Dandenong. I’ve climbed Mt Dandenong from just about every direction before but never this way and after the smashing I had already given my legs in the preceding 90km, this climb hurt. But plod along I did and over the top I rode, descending down the 1:20 with another rest stop at the base and then the final trip home, finishing up with thrashed legs but a happy soul.

That’s it for this post. I’ll save more for the following post (it’s 90% written so it wont be long before it’s posted).



Thursday, June 24, 2010

Blogging on the move

Having recently joined the iPhone set, I'm exploring all the things I can do with the little wonder from those crazy kids at apple.

With my spending so much time out on the bike, 6 days week, I figured posting from out on the road (ok, from the cafe stop) would make for a more up to date blog.

So, here I go with my first test blog post (yeah I know, pretty dull but I do have some cool recent happenings to talk about, trust me!).

- Posted from my iPhone


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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Long overdue update - Part 3

Ok , so far you've read about my big stack. Now on to recovery phase.

So I'm back home, flat on my back in bed and unable to move much. Lisa would set me up with food, drink and drugs before she would go off to work so I was set for the day. Those first few days I was in and out of sleep all day (dosed up on drugs) with just the TV for company. Daytime tv sucks! I'm also stuck in a neck collar 24/7 and despite it being a soft collar, its constant pressure on my collar bones was really painful. REALLY painful.

After a few days home I managed to get up and move about the apartment a little. I hopped on the scales out of curiosity and to my amazement I was down to 88kg! As exciting as this was, I knew it wouldn't last given I would be off the bike for a few weeks.

Then I went into hospital for my follow up appointment. The doc took one look at me, consulted my scans and told me another 8 weeks before any riding what-so-ever. My heart sank when he told me this news. I asked if I could sit on the bike on the trainer inside but I got a firm NO!


And so I tried to just move on with my life but it was getting me down. REALLY down. All my friends and Lisa were out riding each morning while I was stuck doing nothing. Lisa would get back from rides all happy and hyped up and it would kill me to see what I was missing out on. After a while I drove out to meet the MRR crew at the cafe but mostly it just made me feel worse to see what I was missing out on. It sucked!

Around this time a few people I know had some back stacks also and they sustained pretty bad injuries (worse than me). And while I felt fortunate to get off pretty lightly, it WAS killing me inside to see my goals slipping away from me. Sure it "could" have been so much worse, but that fact was- I was still watching my hard earned weight loss and fitness slipping away from me.

I had hopes of getting back on the bike about Christmas time and regaining my race fitness in time for Baw Baw but I just didn't know what to expect.

Then one evening, I decided to ignore an overly cautious doctors advice and set up my bike on the trainer with a clothes rack to hold onto (the same way Anna Meares set up her trainer after she broke her neck - see above photo). It felt sooo good to move my legs again but I could see how much I had lost even in that 15 min session. Me pedalling was clunky, my bum hurt and as I was getting off the bike, my limited movement saw me almost topple over, tweaking my neck in the process. Bugger! :(

Then came my follow up visit to the hospital. I had stopped wearing my brace for the previous week as I felt it was hindering me more than helping me, but I wore it into the hospital to avoid any lecture from the doctor. The head doc told me I could get on the trainer now but no riding on the road for a few more weeks, but deep down I knew my neck felt fine and nothing was going to stop me from riding again.

And so, with a freshly purchased new helmet, I took to the roads on Christmas eve to ride down and meet the MRR crew at the cafe. A mate (Neil) loaned me his old bike to ride as mine was still not repaired from the crash (I discovered more damage than I first thought and was waiting on more parts). As I pedalled down the road and rose out of the saddle to accelerate up a rise for the first time, a HUGE smile spread across my face. I was overwhelmed with joy to be riding again.

At first I took it pretty easy with my rides. Mostly flat riding and shorter distances but at that stage I didn't care. I was happy just to be riding. As things progressed, I surprisingly got faster and stronger quicker than I expected. I was doing far better than I thought I would at this stage of my come back and I was pretty pumped. Even my weight wasn't as bad as I expected - 94kg. I went back out to the Dandenogs for some climbing and after a few trips, I put down a 18.30-ish time which was only 25 seconds slower than my PB. I was chuffed!

Then I got my bike back on the road and it was awesome. I had to replace the entire front end (forks, bars, stem, bar tape, headset, etc) as well as giving the bike a total overhaul (stripped it right back, new BB, cables, etc). The new front end made a huge difference to the bike and it did everything better than ever. A friend gave me his old HR computer so I ditched the old mix of bike computer and HR watch (which had died anyway) and I was very happy with that. A new bike light finished off the cockpit and I could finally see in the dark. Awesome!

But all this joy was to be short lived when things (me) started to fall apart for me again... (to be continued)



Sunday, April 11, 2010

Long overdue update - pt2

In my last post I made mention that a challenge was laid down to me and how it pushed me to new highs. This challenge was (ironically enough given it was held today)- The Baw Baw Classic road race.

It all came about because I was moaning about having to loose weight on Facebook and how I was struggling with it. I "naturally" received a whole bunch of "advice" which, well meaning as it was, was all unhelpful ultimately and a bit frustrating. In the end, Jono Lovelock contacted me and said that I should ignore what was being suggested to me and to just follow what I did to originally loose weight as I knew it worked for me. He also laid down a challenge to me to do the Baw Baw Classic road race as a goal to work towards.

At first I said no way, given the horror stories I had read about it including the tales of many many riders walking up the final climb or taking an hour to ride the last 6km. But being the cheeky bugger that Jono is, he kept teasing me till I took his bait and said yes. However I put one proviso on my taking the bait- when (yes, "when".. positive thinking and all that) I made it to the top, I was going to hunt him down and PUNCH him in the arm for making me do the race.

For those of you who don't know about this race, its an open race over about 100km and it finishes at the top of Mt Baw Baw. Mt Baw Baw is a 6km climb at an average of about 12% gradient. This is STEEP and given that it climbs some tough climbs even before you get to the base, its one tough mofo of a race and something that does NOT suit heavier riders.

And so I had a goal to work towards and one that I knew was going to take a ton of hard work. But I had a plan in place and I set forth to achieve my goal.

At first I told very few people about my goal as I didn't want or need everyone telling me to do this or that. I felt confidant in my plan and I was going to follow my instinct.

I started with plenty of hilly rides- Kinglake, Mt Dandenong and such of the weekends with plenty of MRR rides during the week, with the occasional ATOS rides Thursday nights. Interspersed with this was some Tuesday night rides to Mordi and back with a FAST bunch where I got stronger and stronger, even leading out to the final sprint (couldn't contest- some serious A grade legs in that bunch and I know my limits).

I was getting stronger and faster and I knew it. My weight was also dropping, getting down to 92kg's and feeling better for it). My road races late in the season were good even if my finish in the bunch at the end wasn't podiums or anything, I was a strong worker all race, making break away attempts and chasing down multiple breakaways. My finish didn't matter to me- my work effort was more important to me and for that I felt awesome.

Then one Saturday I set forth to do the Crucifix- a ride that takes in multiple climbs of Mt Dandenong to which I added a few extra climbs for added effect. I did 90% of the ride solo, having said my goodbye to my starting group at the top of the 1:20. I paced myself and finished strong with a total ride of 150km and almost 3km of vertical assent.

But my highlight was an ATOS ride one Thursday night in early October when I was at the front 1/3rd all ride, climbing each climb very strong and powering all the way to the finish, receiving few compliments from other riders after the finish line. Hell yeah! That felt good.

But then it ALL went to shit in one mistake one Wednesday evening.

I was racing the Hawthorn crits on the Kew Boulevard in C-Grade. I was feeling very strong with one rider off the front about 100mts away. He wasn't getting away and I was well within my comfort zone, even though I was doing a fair bit of work on the front.

So as we came into the hairpin in second wheel I decided to put some pressure on up the climb out of the corner to drop off any slackers who were just wheel sucking and to pull the break away in. As I exited he corner I took a tight line and with hands in the drops and standing out of the saddle to power up the climb, I saw a dropped A grader about 40 mts ahead up the hill. "No probs" I thought, "I wont catch him till at least the top of the climb" and I put my head down and poured on the power. So away I go, pedal, pedal, pedal and just as I lift my head to take in the coming bend I see mr A-grader riding at 5kph and just 2mts in front of me!


I went straight into the back of him and my world was turned on its head like never before. After the blur that was the crash I was left laying on the ground, feet still clipped in, not quite knowing what was up and down. My arms were searing in pain and my head and neck were feeling very much the worse for wear.

My first thought was one of embarrassment to be honest given I had caused this crash by running into another rider. I remember thinking I hope the guy I hit is ok but then my own pain took over and I was getting a bit freaked out. A bunch of people came running to my aid and they seemed very concerned about me.

I distinctly remember doing a limb check as I lay on the ground- wiggle left foot; tick. Wiggle right foot; tick. Wiggle right fingers; not great but movement was felt- tick. Wiggle left fingers.... wiggle left fingers...... err... "left fingers.. I'm asking you to wiggle... please"...... finally a tiny movement from my index finger and I figured that would do for now.

As I lay there I saw Lisa looking over me as I started to breath fast as I struggled with my pain. A mate was comforting her which eased me a little but oh shit, my arms were in such pain I can't describe it. Think really bad pins and needles and magnify that by 1000!

In my mind I had bones shattered in my arms, sticking out of the skin, given my lack of feeling in my hands. I though- oh this is BAD.

Finally, after what seemed a long wait an ambulance turned up and there was a lot of questions asked of me about my forehead. I didn't feel anything and wondered why they were asking me about it when my arms were my cause for worry. It wasn't till I saw my face in a mirror several days later that I saw the cause for their concern (and this was after the swelling had gone down). Eventually they put me in a neck collar and took me to hospital.

There was drugged up (thankfully), put through test after test and scans and more. I think the worst test was when the specialist stuck a finger up my bum hole to test my muscles down there. "It's ok" I protested, "its working fine- trust me" I said over and over, but no- they were having none of that. I had to be tested. *shudder*

All the while I was immobilised in the neck collar which was pretty painful and caused me to suffer from anxious moments of claustrophobia. To say I was scared was an understatement.

In the end my arms were just ripped to shreds by the bouli road surface and the terrible pain was actually caused by the nerves in my neck when I hit my head on the front on the very forward tip of my helmet, causing my neck to hyper extend backwards with sever bruising and swelling of the spinal cord. This caused such pressure on the nerves down my arms (and in particular my left side) that I couldn't have ANYTHING touch my arms/hand at all. Even the lightest of touch from a sheet was too much to bare.

And so after 3 days flat on my back, unable to move or do anything for myself, I finally got the all clear that nothing was broken and was allowed to move to a soft collar and finally allowed to sit up,move about and- go home!!

I know that I got off lightly but for me, it was a huge shock and I was shit scared all through it.

The end result of this was 10 weeks off the bike, right when I was starting to really power from strength to strength.


(to be continued...)



A long overdue update - Pt 1

Well, it's been a while since I last posted on my blog but none the less, here I am, still alive (just- more on that later) and still cycling.

Hmm.. what's been happening since my last post? Well a lot and not a lot really. My riding and weight loss has hit a wall after a series of setbacks including a loss of self confidence, loss of motivation (loss of confidence = loss of motivation) and a pretty scary crash in October 2009.

But I'll go back to my last post and try and recap what I've been up to since then shall I?

Well 2009 road season was a bit average for me. I did a few road races, got dropped on some and finished strong at others.

A the 3DT I rode ok in the first stage but got shuffled to the rear of the pack on the final climb which was ok enough as I had plenty of time to move back forward before the finish sprint however the pack was so tightly bunched there was no room for me to make my way through (unless I wanted to cross the center line of the road which I made sure I didn't- unlike some other riders *cough cough*).

It wasn't until the pace really picked up in the last 1 km was I able to find room, moving from the tail to the top 1/3rd. I was bit annoyed as I felt like I had TONS of kick in my legs but I just couldn't find space to put it to use. I found out after that a few guys went WAY over the center line in the road (a big no-no) during the sprint (right in front of the officials) and they didn't get pinged for it! WTF?! Yet I was trying to ride fair, picking my gaps, waiting for space and I even called to 2 riders ahead that had a 1.5mt gap between them that I was "coming through the middle", yet I got a talking too. Hmm... Selective officialdom me thinks.

Anyway, I was very happy to finish so strongly and was feeling optimistic for the remaining stages.

Stage 2 was the TT and I had never done a TT before. I rode ok I guess but not what I was hoping for. I finished about middle of the times for C-Grade.

Stage 3 and I just never felt strong. It was cold and wet and miserable. Normally I would relish the conditions but this day I just felt shite and it showed. As we came to the first climb of the second lap, the pack put some pressure on and my legs did not respond. I gritted my teeth, curled my toes and tried to ignore the pain in my legs but all I saw was the bunch pull away from me. I tried in vain to keep the power on over the top of the climb and decent to try and reel them back in but the bunch just got smaller and smaller up the road and then our follow vehicle went around me which totally crushed my spirit.

As I rode along it was a battle in my mind to keep going. I was cold, alone, demoralised and I then dropped my glasses on a fast down hill. Given I was done for I went back to get the glasses. As I picked them up off the empty country road, a rider came screaming down the hill and abused the fuck out of me. Mind you, this guy had a empty country road with a 1km line of sight of me, a ton of room to go around me and was also minutes off the back of the bunch. The thing was I was trying to get the glasses quickly so I could join with him to work together... but yeah.. fuck you too mate!

As I approached Lancefield to begin my 3rd lap I was beaten! I was shivering from the cold, my legs had given up and mentally I was a mess (see photo at the top of this post). I pulled out and cried as I rode very slowly back to the staging area where our car/gear was set up. I felt so bad for pulling out- bad for feeling unable to go on and bad for giving up. I just wanted to hide from the world so badly and I felt embarrassed to ride so feebly.

And so my 3 Day Tour was over for me with the 4th stage still to come. So home I went, tail between my legs, wondering what to do next. I knew hills were my weakness and I had to loose more weight (I was stuck on 98kg for the past 12 months).

And then a challenge was laid down to me, one that would drive me on to new heights and ultimately, an all time low... (see part 2 coming up next).



Sunday, March 29, 2009

I'm back baby!

Wow! I really suprised myself this weekend with my riding. After a fucking shitful week at work of working from 8am till well after midnight, I hardly got any cycling in at all (1.5 commutes). So I headed into the weekends riding worrying I had bugger all in me. I needen't have worried after all.

It all started with the monthly Franger Fang BBC ride. The BBC (Belgian Beer Cafe in St Kilda) has a "cycling club" which is basically a chance to pay $30 per year which gives you some vouchers and a free monthly breakfast.

The BV forum does a ride that ends at the BBC at 9am with 3 groups riding different distances/speeds- Black Rock (30km @ mid 20's kph average speed), Mordi (50km @ high 20's kph average) and Frankston (80km @ 30+ kph average).

Anyway, PDL and i meet up with 2 others (Blybo and Weeeee) at the start point- back of Luna Park @ 6am and set off south.

We started off sitting mid 30's and as we gobbled up riders ahead of us, we developped a mini peleton beind us of assorted wheel suckers! After Black Rock we upped the pace a bit with everyone doing some work on the front, dropping our followers, hill by hill. Turning into the long straight drag towards Mordi. I put on my Jen Voight (check out the link and watch from 1:28 on if you don't get the in joke) persona and started pounding out the k's on the front in the mid 40's. Ohh... that hurt a little.

No stopping at Mordi so straight on towards Franger with a run straight down the Nepean and once again we had another mini peleton of riders sitting in behind us as we kept up in the mid 30's, with us 4 all taking turns on the front.

At Frankston turn around point (the servo), PDL, Blybo and I waited for Weee to go do his nerdy geo-cashing thing. While waiting, two guys turned up at the servo, one all decked out in Liquigas kit and on a VERY nice looking Time bicycle. Uber bling! He asked us if we could give him a tow back and we all laughed. I took one look at him and figured he could prob blow us away. LOL

The 2 bling guys left before us so us 4 took off for the Mordi return leg and started doing track turns, sitting mid to high 30's. Ahead we could see the 2 bling guys and as I went past them I yelled out for them to "jump on". We kept doing track turns just the 4 of us till the 2 new guys started joining in the turns but I'll be dammed- they couldn't match our pace once then got to the front. So in the end Mr Liquigas dropped off after one turn on the front, while his mate kept trying to do turns with us as I "encouraged" the group to try pick it up and stick to 40kph. Hey- it ain't called a "fang" fer nufin!

As Mordi started to come into sight I let PDL know I was gonna take off and as my moment came, I clicking it up 2 gears, jumped out of the saddle and pull the trigger to hit 57kph in the final 1km run into Mordi. Woohoo! That was fuuuuuun!

After the Mordi stop we started off a bit slow as our legs had cooled off. It wasn't until we hit the Mentone Hotel that we started to get back into the groove and with Weeee not having the legs to go on with it, it was just Blybo and I doing turns on the front till we past the 2 Richmond Cyclery guys.

Then it was myself and the 2 RC guys swapping turns all the way back to St Kilda with PDL putting a few turns in as well. I have no idea what was going on behind me as the pace was well into the 40's now and with only the 3 of us doing 90% of the work, it was a solid workout indeed.

Turned the bend into the final straight towards St Kilda and I went off the front to hammer the last bit out of my legs towards the BP servo, hitting mid 50's till my legs said no more. I was surprised that PDL was not far behind me as the pace had really been on. Top effort!

PDL and I kept up a solid pace the rest of the way to BBC and arrived at 8:45am (and then proceeded to ride up and down the BBC paths, practising some skills) with an average for the ride of over 35kph for about 80-ish km's. Pretty happy with that.


The following day was SKCC crit racing at Port Melb. I was a bit tired from the previous day and didnt really feel that great pre race but figured it was my last crit for the season so I may as well give it a go.

I started out sitting in the bunch in the high 30's and into the low 40's and was surprised to be feeling ok. Then 4 gys made a minor break so I jumped onto the back of them, and looking back I saw we had a bit of a break on the peleton, so I yelled to the group "we have a break, there is 5 of us, lets work together and go for it".

So we went to work, but unfortunatly only 3 of us were doing (or able to) do the work and we were gobbled up surprisingly quick bythe peleton. :( So I sat back in the bunch for a while to recover a bit after putting in a bit of hard work.

After a bit of sitting in with the bunch doing high 30's/low 40's I looked up to see that 2 guys had jumped off the front by a good 100mts. I looked around the bunch and no one was showing any signs of wanting to chase so I leaped out of the saddle and set sail to chase down the breakaway.

Thankfully no one seemed to be going with me and after about 3 laps with me gritting my teeth and making a pure pain face, I caught up to the 2 man break away. Unfotunatly, just about at the same time, the bunch caught up to me also so my lone chase was for nothing. Argh!

So I settled in for a bit of rest and recovery after the previous efforts. About this time I looked down to my computer to see how long we had to go and saw that my #+!@#$#ing computer wasnt reading a thing! A quick look over at the rider next to me and I saw he had a nice looking Polar computer so I asked him what our time was and I was suprised to hear we only had about 10-15 mins to go.

A quick fiddle with my computer got it working again and either the rider told me the wrong info, or the race organisers got it wrong becase we races for a good while longer.

Along the way there was a few hairy moments with a young guy on a Specialized almost running me and Derek into the wall around the back and him changing lines out of the first corner too. He was in front of me so I yelled out "hey young feller on the Specialized, hold your line mate" and to which her drifted over on me which saw me hitting one of the traffic cones with my foot. Grrr..

Anyway, we finally got the bell lap and I was positioned about 10th as we started the last lap. Around the tight bumpy corners, Derek was just ahead of me so I said to him jokingly, "give me a leadout Derek" to which he replied- "nah I've got nothing" LOL. So I clicked up 2 gears and set off around the outside, passing the whole pack and catching up to the two on the front. Up past the roadworks, I went straight past 2nd place and was pulling in 1st at a great rate of knots to my total amazement!!

Around the last corner I was carrying more corner speed than the guy in first so I went around him but he drifted wide, wider and even wider till I was almost in the gutter. We were so wide I had to ride throught a cut up gravely bit of road normally way off the racing line and around the 1st place rider. However I had gone so wide, a rider cut inside of us and up the inside. I gave it my all to try and; 1. catch the rider a bike length ahead of me and; 2. keep the dogs behind me at bay! I put my head down and just pounded the pedals as hard as I could, totally stuffed since I had already been sprinting for 500mts! The line was ahead of me and I was praying for it to arrive before I ran out of legs. 10 mts to go and I could see riders either side of me in my peripheral vision so I threw the bike forward at the line and was thrilled and amazed to have taken 2nd in C-grade for my first C-grade podium and with 1st only a bike length ahead of me. WOOHOO!

Had a bit of a chat to the guy who finished 4th and the guy who won after the race and it was good to meet more of my competitors. I love racing hard but fair and being able laugh about it afterwards with my fellow competitors.

Next week for the club champs I will be marshalling and then it's into the road season. I'm looking forward to the suffering after my recent long fast paced road rides. To start with, if I can finish with the C-grade bunch in a road race I will be thrilled. My aim is to finish at the pointy end by the end of the RR season, with the aim to make it into B-grade during next crit season. I think (hope) its achiveable. Lets wait and see. :D



Sunday, March 22, 2009

Vidman V's Glenvale Rd

Just something I should have posted ages ago, this is a short video of an insane hill climb in Ringwood, Melbourne.

Head out along Marongah Hwy towards Ringwood, turing off at Deek Creek Road. Turn down a few side streets and you will find yourself on Glenvale Rd. Approching from the south and riding noth, you find yourself atthe top of the BIG hill and its mighty intimidating. Lets just say, I would NOT go down it in the wet.

Anyway, this is a video of my second attempt to climb this hill eariler in 2008. To put this hill into persepctiove, one of my mates with a Garmin 305 said his data pointed to the hill running at about 25% graidient. Its not long, but its scary steep. REAL SCARY!

A group of us did this hill as part of a crazy hill loop late in 2008, however it was a wet, rainy day that day and climbing this hill was slightly on the insane side. the whole way up I was fighting wheel spin, having to be careful with my pedal strokes. It was so bad that only 2 of us rode up with the rest of the group sensible enough to walk up.



Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Lisa's new bike - BLING!

With the aussie dollar dropping so badly and all bikes sky rocketing in price, we decided we should bite the bullet and upgrade Lisa's bike ASAP.

After MUCH shopping about and several test rides (its hard to find a shop that has high end bikes to test ride in Lisa's small size), we eventually settled on a 2009 Scott Addict R3 at a ripper price from Melbourne Bicycle Center in Prahran.

Lisa did test ride several "woman's specific" bikes but in truth, their geometry is hardly different to the men's bikes and the female graphics and colours did little to thrill Lisa (who wants a serious race bike with swirls and flowers on it?).

We had to make a judgment call on the fit based purely on the geometry as compared to other bikes Lisa test rode and her current bike, but it turned out a perfect fit, just as we thought.

We had the shop swap the bars to FSA Wing Pro compact bars in 38cm (same as her current bike). Unfortunately the 38cm don't come in white so we had to have them painted (see below). We also had the shop swap the stock 100mm black Ritchey stem for a white Ritchey stem in 90mm to fit Lisa's reach better.

We went with the white stem because we had plans to bling up the bike with the bars painted white and the headset spacers also painted white to match in. A friend from the BV forum is a professional spray painter so we had him to the bars and stem spacers and he did an awesome job. Thanks Johan! Unfortunately, I managed to put a small scratch in the white bars when fitting them so some touching up is required. Bummer! :(

Then we fitted some nice white bottle cages we found on Ebay (nice find, clean design, work well, glossy plastic and best of all- cheap!).

The stock Scott saddle was swapped for a new Selle Italia SLK Lade Gelflow saddle which is the same model as on Lisa's old bike and its a perfect fit for her tush to rest on!

While shopping for bits online, I came across some metallic gold bar tape from Cinelli that looked like it would match the gold on the frame, so we purchased that. Lisa was a bit apprehensive at first but I (and most of our friends) think it looks awesome (and Lisa is starting to like it now).

I also came across some bling bits and pieces from Purely Custom including champagne colored bottle cage bolts...

and champagne cable ends...

a champagne stem bolt, and best of all, a champagne spacer with diamantes in it (Lisa LOVES this which was a surprise present from me).

A bike this nice deserves everything to be sleek and quality so we brought a Knog Bullfrog rear light which fits really well and is brighter than we thought, plus a Fenix torch for the front light with a Twofish lockblock bike mount to hold it safe and snug to the bars. To power the lights, we brought some decent rechargeable batteries to power it all economically. Sorted!

A Topeak carbon mini pump was purchased and a Pro storage bottle to hold tubes/tools/pump was chosen rather than a saddle bag to keep things clean and neat.

Koolstop dual compound brake pads were fitted to the front brake right from the start for better stopping power and the cables were shortened to tidy things up.

Shimano's 8 degree adjustment blocks went in the brifters to give Lisa better reach as per her old bike...

To protect the lovely frame, some clear System Ex cable rub protectors and a chain stay protector went on the bike for that detailed look...

and a Garmin cadence sensor and second mount kit were brought and mounted with white cable ties to match in with the frame (yes I'm anal enough to go out and buy thin white cable ties to keep it looking tidy, even though I had plenty of black ones laying about).

Matching Ultegra SL pedals are waiting to go on the bike as Lisa's current Nike shoes have a strange problem where the ball of the foot has too much curve in them, leading to the cleat also bending so much that it won't clip into any pedals, except that is her current old 540 SPD-SL pedals (yes I know.. very weird). So the new pedals will have to sit in the cupboard till Lisa's new Sidi shoes can be purchased.

And how does Lisa like her new bike? She LOVES IT and is much faster on it...

Its cool how its all black and all business from the rear...

yet white and bling from the front...