Last weekend’s big ride really cooked me. I mean really cooked! My quads haven’t felt that sore in a long time. I know the reasons why; not enough tempo rides (slower 60-80km spins), dehydration, and wearing cold weather gear on what turned out to be a warm day. Oh, and some pretty steep inclines too.

So when I rocked up to Wednesday morning’s training session it was no surprise that I hit the wall. What I meant to write was “blow up”. I hadn’t recovered properly before trying to knock out a sprint interval session. The blow up was… humbling (or was that humiliating?). As a result, my head was not in the right place. Throw into the mix my baby girl thinking that she lives in the Fijian or Tahitian time zone rather than on Australian Eastern Standard Time – I must be missing a few REM cycles too.

So that left me with a choice for this morning’s training session.

Show up or pike out?

I was trying hard to build my excuse list, heaven knows I had reasons. When the alarm clock went off at 5am, the question that entered my head was, “why are you doing this to yourself?” It is the same question that pops up when I hit struggle street on a tough ride. It is a question from the wrong space in my head. The negative space. [side note - cravings for dark chocolate cookies, Carribean rum and Coke (multiple), and two quarter pounders live in this space too]. So what is the answer to that question? I have a prepared response for this challenge which is another question, “When I am old and frail, do I want to look back on all the opportunities that I missed to live to the fullest?” That second question was formed when I was 20 years younger, lying on a hospital bed recovering from a knee reconstruction. That whole experience was a collection of harsh lessons, with one hard reality – to not take for granted my mobility and feel blessed that I have it, while I have it.

I made my choice. I showed up. It was a struggle, but I showed up. I set my power targets at 80% to what I normally train at, but I showed up. And as I warmed up my lithium batteries kicked in. I was still tired but I managed to churn through the session and in the end I spun at over 90% of my normal power targets. After the training session I suited up and arrived at work chuffed. I have won this morning, maybe not the Tour de France or the World Championships, but I won.

In the end there is no excuse or choice, it is show up – even if it hurts.

Sometimes this is what I dream about driving… And I would definitely take mine in orange.

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Our boy, AKA ‘The Pok’, has started to say some really funny things with the reasoning of a 4-year-old behind his musings. Some of it is hilarious, or just bizarre.

‘The Pok’ loves coming with me to Bunnings (Warehouse) hardware store. It is always a man adventure, and he is always discovering new things in store. However, the most important purchase at Bunnings is always a sausage sandwich from whichever local group is fundraising. It is always two sandwiches, one for me and one for him – and we never share!

So after I quickly wolfed my sausage sandwich down the chute, he continued working through slowly savouring his while constantly smearing tomato sauce and mustard all over his face.

I was in a hurry and had to exchange an item, so we queued up while he continued to eat.

Two attractive young women walked in, obviously friends, and the one in front caught a glimpse of ‘The Pok’ as. She started cooing at him, and then turned to her friend and said “Look at that little boy, he’s so cute.”

I don’t know how to react to strangers doing that. Guys never do it, but some women of all different ages feel the need to make a comment about someone else’s child. So I kindly smiled, and of course ‘The Pok’ kept on eating his sandwich ignoring the two young women. Side note – I keep on telling my brother that he can borrow his nephew for a day of “shopping” and we will get a shirt or cap made up that says “I’m his uncle”. – End side note.

The girls joined the queue directly behind me, and the one who made the comment then decided it would be a nice gesture to engage with my boy. She bowed down to his level and said, “Hello little guy, are you enjoying your sandwich”.

‘The Pok’ locked eyes on her and loudly…

GROWLED!

Shocked, she recoiled back and awkwardly said to her friend, “I guess that wasn’t a good idea.”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or be embarrassed by my boy’s response. I apologised to the young woman on behalf of both us, “He is not normally like that.” My son finished off his sandwich.

An important lesson was displayed here. Never get in the way of a man (little or otherwise) and his food, particularly if it involves meat.

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It’s a public holiday long weekend in Sydney, so my riding buddy AC made the call – time to go for a ride 120km of epicness. Sounded good to me. The proposed route would be to head south of Sydney, through ‘The Shire’ and into the Royal National Park (RNP). With the return leg via some out of the way roads following one of the train lines. Here is the route, and the profile (yes a bit of uphill ouch in this ride):

RNP_Route

Now Sydney is not known for being friendly for cyclists, us riders wish it was, but it is not. If you want that, then go relocate to Melbourne or Adelaide. So for this ride we set off at 4am, not to get a clean run down to the park, but to avoid the dreaded Sydney traffic on a Saturday on the return. Yes, 4am is when sparrows are farting before they wake up, but hey. This was a tough ride, but also one of the strangest that I have done in a long time.

Firstly I made the mistake of dressing for the cool pre-dawn conditions, and not the warm morning temperature. I got cooked, and received multiple visits late in the ride from the dudes who live in cramp city. Those dudes are buggers, and I am sure they are mates with the ‘Man with the Hammer’.

Secondly after about 30 clicks into our journey, just past 5am, we came up to this rather large guy in khaki shorts riding a flat bar hybrid bike with pannier racks. Our pace was much quicker than his, but as we were coming to overtake him, he looked at us and then buried himself just so we couldn’t overtake him. It was hilarious. He even ran a couple of red lights to get ahead. We were toying with him like a lion does with a mouse, after all we had nothing to prove and had another 90 clicks to go. But as we neared the road that would take us to the RNP we dropped the hammer and dropped him.

Thirdly we had fun(?) on some stupid gradients as we climbed out of the first of several valleys we would be hitting for the day. Only to be buzzed and yelled at by a couple of kids on their learner plates who probably don’t even shave. That would have been around 6:45am – seriously boys, don’t be idiots and get a life.

The final bit of weirdness though was in the final stretches of the ride, with our end in sight. I was cooked and AC rode ahead through a roundabout turning right. I was a good 200m behind him at least, struggling with those cramp city dudes. As I came to the roundabout I signaled with my arm that I would be turning right. I had right of way and the oncoming traffic by law would have to yield, particularly as I was already in the roundabout turning. Rapidly advancing towards me was an Mercedes AMG C63, a car I wish I could afford to drive. But instead of giving way, the Merc sped up and flew into the roundabout cutting me off and forcing me to slam on the brakes and hold the back end of my bike from flying out. The driver didn’t even indicate his change of direction. This is not the first time this has happened and probably won’t be the last, but…

This NEVER happens on a bike ride

The Merc driver took off with me waving my hand at him for the danger he had put me in. Then another large sedan, a Holden (GM) Commodore, came flying past me from behind with its engine revving. This was strange indeed. The Holden flew up behind the Mercedes, almost bumping him. Then a set of red and blue lights in the Holden’s rear window started flashing. The siren came on, indicating to the Merc driver to pull over. Sure enough an unmarked police car witnessed the whole incident and the Merc driver was about to cop a fine or two. The real rub for the miscreant driver is that given it is a long weekend in Sydney it is also double demerit points off your license for any traffic infringement. Ouch! This never ever happens, never! I rode past the cop and the miscreant driver, shaking my head at him. AC was waiting for me and he asked what happened. I gave him the low down, and his jaw dropped – “No way!” The miscreant driver ended up catching up with us, and as he drove past he tapped his finger against his head. Lesson learnt perhaps, I hope so because as riders we are very vulnerable to any metal engined machine on four wheels and we always come out second best.

I am not sure whether I should buy a lottery ticket or not, but thanks to the cop for taking my safety into consideration. And thanks to AC for pulling me along on an epic and weird bike ride.

 

 

Nothing to say, just the photo

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At least that is what the American cycling legend Greg Lemond said. I have spent most of the Winter power training on a Wattbike at Velofix in Rozelle. It has been… systematic torture. But in 3 1/2 months, I have noticed a massive jump in strength and power. Funnily enough, I have not lost any weight. But I have shifted my body around a bit. My quads have bulked up, my waist is smaller, I don’t feel like I am carrying as much fat – but I haven’t lost weight.

But the test of your mettle is always the dreaded power test.

Dreaded, because the 3 minute aerobic power test is probably the worst 3 minutes that I have ever spent on a saddle turning over pedals. It is 3 minutes, flat out, holding on right until the end.

This morning was only the second time I had done it, and it was no better than the first time. To be honest, it sucked! My heart rate went through the roof, my legs were burning, my inner voice was saying “WTF – give up!”. To top all of that off, I had been pushing away a bug that my wife and two kids had as did four of my colleagues in the office – waking up every day this week so far has been draining. The power test sucked!

But you don’t get stronger or faster by watching reruns of Jens Voigt breaking the hour record in a velodrome (though that was what was on the TVs in the gym the morning after he did break the record, while we were crunching out our intervals). So with this morning’s effort, the desired result was achieved. My 100% power rating jumped 17W this morning, and since I started it has gone up 89W (or 32% – I will let you guys do the math to work out what I am pushing). This last weekend just gone, I rode 75 clicks on the road with my riding buddy, and fellow Wattbike torture victim, AC. We rode strong. The following day, I backed it up with a 45 click ride, and while I felt sore I rode strong.

Another riding buddy JB asked me a very valid question, “What are you working towards?” I had asked and answered that question to myself a couple of months ago. I am now in my fourth decade, and I want to see how hard I can go before the inevitable decline. When I am much older, I want to be able to say to myself and my kids, “I could push it like that, and this is what I have been able to achieve. No regrets.”

I think that there are a few more power tests to come, they will still suck.

Velofix_Wattbikes

Spring has truly come on in earnest in Sydney, and it is wonderful to see in all its glory. I think that quite often this is the best time of the year. Warm weather, but not too humid. Days are not too short, but the sun is not rising at stupid times in the morning. And the Gardens are in bloom.

The Sydney Botanic Gardens are very accessible from the Sydney CBD, and it is about now that people flock to the grounds to enjoy lunch on the grass or go for a run. Unlike European gardens, you can walk on the grass and sit down to enjoy nature. So with camera phone in hand, I took a short visit at lunchtime to the gardens and snapped the flora in bloom. These didn’t turn out too bad being taken with a camera phone, but I suppose the light was at its brightest. As usual, the images link through to the larger photos on my Flickr account.

Enjoy!

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Nothing to say, just the photo.

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Our boy, AKA ‘The Pok’, has started to say some really funny things with the reasoning of a 4-year-old behind his musings. Some of it is hilarious, or just bizarre.

The Pok has become quite adept at many mechanical and battery powered devices. His journey of discovery is amazing, and always eventful.

One morning, as we were kidding ourselves that we would get a lie in, The Pok did his usual entry burst into our bedroom with whatever bizarre things were going through his head. He started by playing with his toys at the foot of our bed and somehow ended up in our bathroom. We thought that he might have been going about his “business”, until…

CLUNK, CLUNK!

That got us up.

CLANG, CLUNK!

Now we were very curious…

BANG, CLANG!

That time it required a response. My wife asked him, “[Pok], what are you doing in there that is making so much noise?”
She walked over into the bathroom to see him lifting up the bathroom scales on its edge, about to release (drop) them back on the stone tiles.

“Mummy, the thing that measures feet isn’t working.”

Sure enough, the batteries had gone dead, no matter how many times he tried to tare out the scales.

Needless to say we sourced some batteries so that feet measurement could resume.

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Nothing to say, just the photo.

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