Time Goes So Quickly

Defeat feels like being ripped apart. The feelings inside churn between “if only” and “why”. I cannot grasp onto a single thought of comfort and yet I feel as if I did nothing wrong.

Strava Challenge Completed

The Challenge I had signed up for was going well. I had done 25% in the first week and for myself that was excellent. 335km in a week is good for me, with work, family and anything else that goes in unplanned. So I had high hopes of completing the challenge at the end of the month. Everything was on track according to my weekly plan thought of in the Hopeful places of my mind.

I forgot about holidays. The holidays. We had planned four days down in Warrnambool and I was going to miss everyone of them for the challenge, unless I rode down. But as it turns out it was a good thing I did not ride, with the car breaking down on the way through Campertown and a lengthy drive that my wife did not have to do.

The sun shone. The road looked wonderful. I was perfect weather to ride and I was driving; cars are such a lifeless form of transport.

We got back on the Friday and the car was booked for a service. I had a meeting with a client. Time drifted away and no riding happened. I am 25% through a challenge with 50% of the time gone. Screwed.

Monday ride. Tuesday ride. Wednesday, well I guess you could call it a ride. Back on the bike. Then Thursday… new frame in bike out of action until Monday.

Determination feels like strength. Failure drains all the strength from my body leaving the inspiration to turn to depression. A second challenge which looked to be going so well is turning into another failure. Another mark against my name.

Goals, Achievements and Strava Challenges

So I signed up for a challenge on Strava; needless to say that I failed. It became a tag in my timeline saying “I signed up for a big challenge and failed even attempting it.” It was my first challenge but I thought that riding 500km in a week would be something I could handle. I was taken by the bright lights of success and the calculations that I could make it if only a few criteria were met.

Failure is the ultimate end for most things, taking the shape of the feigned hope once held; a candle of hope that burns bright until a single breath of inevitable failure gently caresses the flame. Failure.

I think the weight of a challenge only full arrives whilst it is upon me. Before then it is calculations and ideas made stronger by the hopeful candle held below my gently simmering thoughts. Calculate from a multitude of outcomes; classify them in positive forms of attainment; tell myself that I will hit every goal and move on. This is how I build my false hopes. It is a wonderful house built by straw-men.

But as with all things I am doomed to repeat the ones where hope can allude me.

Spring Classics Challenge

“For fools rush in where angels fear to tread” Alexander Pope

So I signed up for a second challenge – Spring Classics Challenge from Specialized – and equipped with my hopeful thoughts I started to make my plans. How many days I can ride, how many kilometers I need to fit in. Days that I must ride, days that I can skip. What I soon discovered is that even with careful thoughts and turning pedals i must be consistent beyond all things. One things I cannot promise myself is to be consistent.

Being that I am the father to six children it is difficult to schedule many things into my timetable. Riding, sadly, is one of the flexible items in the calendar that can scale at times to accommodate busyness. As such an item it is the first thing that is cancelled when time gets scarce, which is frequently. I do not ride as often as I would like.

So that has made me change priorities to adjust what I am to do. Less work during the day – which is the best time for it – and a little more at night times to cover the hours. It is not the best way to do things but I shall see if it is something that I can continue into the future. I am smiling at my hopefulness.

At least the time and rides I have scheduled for the next month should make the goal of getting the Strava Challenge attainable. My hope is strong with riding this one.

Jen Voigt is the New Chuck Norris

So. The day after the Tour de France is now, officially, International Jens Voigt day.

The day when you sit down, and let the post-tour-angst be soothed by watching youtube video clips of Jens. Or reading articles about his exploits.

Funny interview with Jens Voigt after his crash on stage 16

Jens Voigt Rant on Spectators

Watch out for the bears in them there mountains…

The Rules #79

Thems Fighting Words

The Tour this year has been pretty average for Australian’s involved in the race. Cadel got the yellow jersey and then lost it. Rogers has been a good help to Cavendish, but hasn’t shown in the mountains. Lancaster has been a solid team mate once more. McEwen, well lets say he could give Chuck Norris a run for his money.

And that leaves Renshaw. In which is a good way to start a war with the UCI. Hard to defend a case that offers no counter arguments, the only thing is to take the penalty and move on.

Except its not.

The UCI is a bit long in the tooth to be dictating the rules of the road, where there are unsure rules to begin with :: Rules of the Group Sprint :: It is put nicely that the rules of a group sprint are difficult to enforce, and instead of:

Riders shall be strictly forbidden to deviate from the lane they selected when launching into the sprint and, in so doing, endangering others.

The rules should say:

The first rule of Sprint club, is that you don’t talk about Sprint Club.

What is it that you ride?

Really its only fair to throw my cards on the table. What am I riding, this is a bike website, so therefore the author must ride, right?

Well, it is actually a little more complicated than that.

In August of 2007 I posted in excitement about a bike that I had been given for free. Since the bike photo at the other blog, I had replaced the brakes with some STI shifters that weren’t compatible with the groupset – so the Campag Mirage STI shifteres were used only for braking – and added some SpeedPlay pedals. And up until the 18th February it was going swell.

After doing 3,457km I'll take the pedals. Retired.

After doing 3,457km I'll take the pedals. Retired.

On the 18th I went for a ride. The down tube split, which wasn’t exactly a great thing to find out – riding into Geelong and the lower part of the bike starts to swing when I pedaled. Eerie, and I was glad it didn’t happen whilst decending at speed. It was welded up, and I was promised that it would be fine to take on the road. I wasn’t so sure, so I just kept using the trainer.

From the start of March till the start of July I had done plenty of rides on the trainer. Nice but not fun. And eventually after dreaming enough to get back on the road, I decided to try a nice ride on a sunny winters day to test the “It’ll be fine” theory.

I got less than 100 meters before the welding that was safe for the road gave out. Split frame once more.

Nice welding? I dunno. Worked on the trainer just fine.

Nice welding? I dunno. Worked on the trainer just fine.

I have now stopped wishing to get the bike back on the road. It is time for a new bike. And in a ‘Usual Suspects’ like twist the author of this little bike site rides nothing. Pretty adverage story too.

Review : Blazing Saddles

Blazing Saddles Interior

Beside the fact this book makes the grandeur of the Tour seem a little small, it doesn’t take away from the bizzareness of riding through massive and daunting mountains for days on end. Indeed in bypassing the epicness is does bring out the bizaare, crazy, comical and just pure manicness of the Tour. It shows what length men would go to be labeled success and how far the organisers go to make it enjoyable for the rest of us.

I guess the biggest thing this book showed me was that the tour is comical, pharsical, almost abstract and contrived race. But what sport isn’t? With the organisers endeerments and almost chaotic mood swings sending 200 people into the unkown with one goal – some will behave, some will conform and some will act as they choose to – it is as unpreditcable as anything you could think of.

The tour seems to be devised by a board of people, showing the signs of a race marked with awesome racing at one side, and insane antics at the other. It never seems to be an even affair, with wild doping allergations and brutal physical battering sending all particpants to the edge of the phyke.

Desgrange, the founder of Le Tour, said that “the ultimate tour would be one only one man can finish.” And he set out to set that up. But he may not have considered the length men will go for fame, fortune and to suffer. The book shows that, like life, some will cheat, some will succeed but most will fail.

I found the book to be a great once over read. I leant about heroes of the Tour’s past, famous mountains and crazy antics. The race by race reviews were entertaining and enjoyable, especially since it was all from the start, the very first tour in 1903 – ‘The First Annual Congress of Hardy Crotches’.

Rendell provides witty remarks to match the comedic happenings of each tour and makes reading 104 years of epic cycling history a breeze. The from the lesser known riders to the greatest, every tour gets a write up based on how much information was/is known.

It is presented in way to be devoured and enjoyed – no difficult words; especilly if you know a little Tour-Lore, mountain pronounciation and some of the bigger names of cyclists; and no complicated descriptions. I suspect it would be a handy book to have around all your cycling mates to show them how much you know about the Tour.

In the end, this book will probably be a once read and shelve until I want to refresh my knowledge of Le Tour. It has cemented in my mind that the Tour is simply the hardest race devised by men with crazy minds and raced by men who agree to the terms of annihilation.

We may have carbon bikes and teams built around people, but the Tour will always be what it was. As Desgrange wrote after the riders concquered the Ballon d’Alsace: “my opinion that man’s courage knows no limits and a highly trained athlete can aspire to remarkable performances.” I’d add, ‘if inspired to.‘, and The Tour of France is that inspiration.

Echoes of the past elude me

The brain is surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid, one of the functions of which is to protect it from light trauma, but more severe impacts or the forces associated with rapid acceleration may not be absorbed by this cushion. Concussion may be caused by impact forces, in which the head strikes or is struck by something, or impulsive forces, in which the head moves without itself being subject to blunt trauma (for example, when the chest hits something and the head snaps forward). Wikipedia – Concussion

The clocked turned to 1:10pm – Looking around I said, ‘I think you can start the time from now, that I actually remember things.’ How much time had passed since the accident? Unsure. What had happened? Unsure. How… Well, lets say the questions remained unanswered.

The plan was pretty certain today. We were going to head into the Pako Fest in Geelong West as a family and enjoy a walk around the busy area, maybe even sample some foods. But there was a bit of time to kill before we headed into Geelong, so the boys and I went for a ride.

We are rather blessed to live where we do, just up the road is an old railway which running beside it is a rail trail. A nice track that only stops to cross roads, but it otherwise it is an uninterupped ride alng some rather nice scenery to either Geelong or Queenscliff. So we rode up the hill and turned onto the trail towards Queenscliff.

Somewhere between there and the first road, I was riding with the two younger boys, and Nathanel had shot off the front. Joking I said to the boys ‘lets close the gap’. So we started off to catch Nathanael, and really the next thing I remember is sitting on the couch at home.

The crash has been erased from the memory banks. Being helped by a gentleman from the Bellarine Peninsula Railway is completely forgotten, all that remains of that help is a dirty t-shirt from my supposed blood nose. My boys were amazing, walking a severly concussed father home – I can’t remember walking home.

My father-in-law looked at my when we got home, and just kept wondering where I got my sideburn from. I hadn’t had one of those before.

Face Injuries

Face Injuries

What happens next is a mixture of dream and real. I think Josh and Jem came past – Josh must of, becuse my previously broken road bike is welded up. Lots of questions were answered in a haze. I slept a lot. I moved in pain a lot. I chatted a bit. People fussed about, and went on with a semi-usual day.

My wife got home from the shop to find me dazed on the couch. She was asking questions to, and in my concussed state I’d answer as best I could. The curly one was when she asked if I remembered she was pregnant. I stared blankly, ‘How long have you been?’ I asked, ‘Did I know that already?’ – I think she knew then that the concussion was rather bad.

How the crash happened eludes me. My mind is remembering in echoes of black and white. Possibilites of yesterday are just that, I could only remember to intro to this partly because I have decided thats what was happening, and from what I could piece back together from questions I have asked. My Saturday literally vanished.

My injuries are a side burn on my face. Black eye, possibly from when I blow my nose the right side of my face blows up too. Gravel rash on my right knee, shoulder and both hands. Not too bad for a crash, but the worst I have done in some time, the last crash into a car door didn’t leave me like this…

My boys were so awesome. The three eldest helped me up, and with the help of the railway man got me walking. We walked all the way from the rail trail home, down a busy street. And I can’t remember a thing about it. They did so well, I’m a proud Dad.

Sorry about the rambliness of this, while it only happened yesterday I’m still recovering both mentally and physically. I’ll use that an an excuse for rambling a bit.

Will post photos when I find a camera.

When I love Hating to ride.

Nothing would have prepared me for the fighting occuring inside my mind. My alarm brought me out of a deep sleep, and into slight conciousness. Enough to hit the alarm and drift back into sleep again – fighting thoughts of getting out of bed and stepping into the cold air.

Five minutes slip by. To my mind they feel like another hour. My body relaxed and reminding me to stay here “Enjoy the rest. I need to recover.” It says to me. Ah, Blissful sleep, a resting body, and an indeterminate state of mind. Confused, I turn the alarm off and slowly coax myself out of bed – sometimes you have to step up to the plate, and sacrifice a little sleep. Thats what I keep telling myself.

Continue reading

What happens when car doors open

The hill was not brutal or challenging. My legs were still reasonably fresh because I hadn’t been out long this morning, in fact I was starting to fire alright up this hill. I had cruised into Geelong, trying to keep the heart-rate in the seventies, figuring I’d take a longer ride in the beautiful weather. Roger was heading to Uni, so the plan was to hook up with him, and then cruise along somewhere else.

The hill flattened out, and I started to recover. Focus on breathing. Look around to survey area. Check upcoming traffic lights. In an instant, a flash of a small red door. A confused grunt. And sky.

I shook my head, trying to ascertain my location. Hard road. Bike on top of me. Middle of busy street… My mind is racing “Gotta stand up, Gotta keep riding. Its what the pros do…” Okay, stand up, at least let the person know she hit me.

I still could get my orientation, things were a little confusing. Two small ladies were standing pretty close to me at this stage, asking if I was alright. I took my glasses off and smiled. “Yes, I’m okay.” More chat to see if I was okay.

I remember trying to feel what was wrong. I could stand up, that’s good. Legs hurt. A small bit of blood. I’m mentally checking everything, while these ladies are talking away to see how I am. Maybe I could have been a little more courteous, but I did just have an MX-5 door swing open on my leg.

“It was just a moment in time. You rode past at the exact time I opened the door…” An excuse if I ever heard one… I agreed, only to save her the trauma, but on a narrow, busy street like this there is no other place for me to ride… I guess it was just a moment in time…

“Where are you going?” She asked. I told her about the trip to my brothers, and by this stage I was rather eager to get on with the riding. Looking back, maybe I should have taken her up on the doctors visit, or a coffee, or something – but at that time my mind was all about getting to Roger’s so I could ride with him.

“Oh my, your shaking.” She said while writing her mobile number into my phone – which I had taken with me that day – “Of course I am,” I smiled “I just had a car door open on me.” I rode off, clipping in and down the street, round the corner and away from the scene of the accident. My leg sore, but I’m still able to ride…

I managed to get back home without any problems. Iced and a small rest was all it really needed. I went out for a ride the following Tuesday, and everything was good until I got home. I think over-exerting it too early made the ligaments a bit tender, so I’ll stay off the bike till Monday, and see how it feels then. But I’m walking okay, and lately haven’t cringed when I knelt on the ground.

Just so you know, the delay for this update was because I was waiting for a huge bruise to surface. One a tiny one came up, and half of it is indistinguishable because of the bike-shorts tan line that is starting to appear after winter.

I could be forgiven for thinking that I should deserve at least a bruise, but I got to say, I like the fact I can get creamed on my bike and get up and ride again. I like that much better than war wounds. And after a few days being sore, I was back on my bike again. It was great…

Training: Intentions

In the deep dark recesses of this particular web page lies a cyclist trapped in a body that is too large. With the yearning to get out and cycle more he has decided to use the date of his brothers wedding to loose a few kilograms.

I know the typical thing is to start a blog to show the progression in loosing weight. And time has come for this to change. This little place on the internet was started because it had to be so much more than a weight-loss blog – even now as I write that word I am shuddering. “Blog”, it’s so web-ified.

What this is, this web-page, is more than that. It is where cycling becomes known as a place of change. It is where cycling becomes known as a place of challenge. It is a little place, in the dark-corner of the internet, where I am here to document change and challenge.

Partially this training section will be where I write about loosing weight, because as I explained before ‘Deep inside a fat body is a champion cycling waiting to bust out’ (okay, maybe I editorialised that statement). So, yes, I am currently overweight but at this stage it hasn’t stopped me from riding – just being a good training aid, carrying that extra weight.

So yes, sometimes I will write about being overweight, but that is not the aim of this particular website. As the catch-phrase says – “If you are not riding epic, you are only commuting” – that is the aim of the website. To inspire more from a bike than it can show itself.

Often times, especially from my recent experience, the idea of riding a bike extends past the idea of riding, and leads right into something more. Where the bike is changed from something that you are doing, to something that you love, right into the realms of something you just need to suffer throught to get home.

And somehow I, along with a few of my friends, hope to capture that essence right here. On this small page, in a dark-lonesome-corner of the internet.