Archives for the month of: September, 2013

When I started writing this blog last year, I decided to name it in honour of my son – affectionately known as the Pok. Well this last week he turned three. And what a whirlwind three years it has been for us. We are so happy to have a healthy, cheeky boy who is full of energy and cunning (though he hasn’t figured out how not to get caught). The terrible twos were not really terrible, and now we are challenged with a little member of the family who is smarter than we give him credit for and he knows what he wants.

Regardless, we didn’t have have the opportunity to celebrate his birthday with family and friends last year so this year we decided to put on a ‘do’. His birthday proper was a few days before the party, and this was the first time he realised that it was a special day. When he woke up he was greeted to presents. One of the presents was ‘requested’ by him – “Daddy, for my birthday I want overhead railway tracks”. These are the wooden rails for the toy trains from Thomas the Tank Engine and Chuggington. Easily pleased. We threw in a few other ‘vehicles’ – some toy planes from the new Disney movie “Planes”. To say he was overwhelmed and happy would be an understatement.

Pok 0100

When he finally came downstairs to eat breakfast he got the chance to open up other presents flown in from the UK from his Grandparents. Happier boy… and for the record it was a special delivery of more trains

Pok 0615

To rev him up for his party, as he was still figuring out what this would all mean, the Mother of the Pok (my wife) got him involved in the food preparation exercise. One of the things he loves doing with his Mum is cooking and it gives me great joy watching him share one of my wife’s passions. He got to assist in making the cake, and it was not a bad effort on my wife’s part.

Pok Cake 0624

We held his party at the hall next to the children’s bike riding venue that I have blogged about previously. We didn’t have any games planned other than “Kids bring your bikes and scooters!” And the kids (via their parents) obliged. They zoomed off in all directions and generally caused chaos. It was great! And a couple of his friends (who had just turned three themselves) brought their new bikes to get rolling too.

Cutting the cake was the topping off of a great kid’s party. We haven’t seen too many times where the Pok was happy and humbled at the same time. This was the first time that he realised that the one day of the year that was all about him was his birthday.

Pok 1793

We are blessed to have a happy and healthy boy who brings us so much happiness. Now it is our job as parent’s to raise him with the understanding of how fortunate he is and that he doesn’t squander the opportunity that he has, and a lot of other children don’t.

I knew this was a possibility as one of my riding buddies MG was running the Sydney Half Marathon this morning, but my ride route this morning was interrupted by the Sydney Marathon. I took off early as I needed to be back home at a reasonable time. As I got to the city I realised that my desired route would be heavily interrupted. There were road blocks everywhere and the police were manning the on ramps to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Western Distributor. I asked one of the officers whether I could go through the road closures and he gave me the OK, but he could not guarantee my return route. This gave me the opportunity to set my fastest time up a completely closed Oxford St in Sydney’s Inner East.

I planned on putting down a couple of laps in Centennial Park, but it was closed off to cars and cyclists too. So I stuck to the roads and headed to see the morning at Coogee Beach and Maroubra Beach. I have only recently discovered the riding around the roads of Coogee Beach, and they are steep. There are a couple of 16% pinches, short and nasty, but I now have a pretty good base off the back of the Gran Fondo. Still I am not a climber and hauling my body up those inclines gets me easily into the red zone. Th final destination before turning back was La Perouse, and the weather was perfect. There were fishing boats heading out of Botany Bay no doubt to take advantage of the seasonal migration. I headed back and tried to put the hammer down at times, until I hit the runners.

Sydney Marathon 2013 - 1

While this photo shows some of the marathon runners, the first athlete that I saw was the fastest wheelchair marathon runner. He was motoring! So I didn’t have a chance to whip out my phone to snap a shot. It was at this point near the Sydney Cricket Ground that my route was heavily interrupted, and a pretty good excuse if you ask me.

I rode further up ANZAC Parade back to the city and then hit a complete road block. This is where I passed the runners who were doing the shorter 9km run. These guys were not the prime marathon athletes but they were giving it a good crack – respect!

Sydney Marathon 2013 - 2

I was able to get back to Oxford Street by riding on the footpaths and then eventually past a couple of other police officers who were on bicycles. They gave me the all clear and I was able to return home. I planned to knock up some 60km, but grabbed only 43km in the end. I got to see the Sydney Marathon, and back home watch the winning athlete cross the line in front of the Sydney Opera House – for the record it was Kenyan runner Willy Kibor Koitile in 2 hour 13 minutes and 44 seconds. And there were 35,000 other runners who enjoyed a bit of tarmac in sneakers to interrupt my ride too 🙂

 

The toughest organised group ride that I will do this year was held yesterday – the Amy Gillett Gran Fondo. This was the second time I have done this ride, and it is a glorious event. It’s tough not so much in its distance (109km + 11km descending back to the finish village) but in it’s climbing – over 1800m of vertical. The real tough bit is the 9km ascent of Skenes Creek at an average of over 6%. Even though it is tough, it is glorious. It is the only ride that I do where they actually shut entire road off to car traffic for the cyclists. And more importantly it is run for the first 40km along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road between Lorne and Apollo Bay.

This year my aim was not to blow up with cramping and manage to get to the finish in a semi respectable time. It is also a race, so you are timed along the route with no real opportunity to cheat – as there are no other roads. The top 25% of riders in each category qualify for the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships with the opportunity to compete for a Rainbow Jersey. That for me is a pipe dream. The key for me was hydration, hydration, hydration. My physio and sports masseuse have been telling me how dehydrated I have been over the last couple of months. The other thing was to be better organised so that we gave ourselves as much time to prepare for the ride in a relaxed fashion. This meant a few things:

  • Grab accommodation at the event hotel for a couple of nights beforehand and the night after the ride. This meant no hurry to check in or check out while getting ready for the ride.
  • Get a ride in the day before to loosen the legs and blow the cobwebs out.
  • “Carb up” the night before at a restaurant, pasta being the dish.
  •  Leave “The Pok” (AKA our son) behind with his Grandparents so we could get a decent night’s sleep.

My riding partner as usual was my brother Marc, and this year we brought our support crews, our wives. They also prepared well for the ride by promptly finding a Spa to book into and source the best place to grab coffee.

Two of the three usual suspects were also in attendance backing up last year, Big Carl, and “Liberace” Dave. Sadly Dave’s wife Sue, also part of the Melbourne riding crew, has been carrying an injury for much of this year and has been off the saddle. She was not happy, and hopefully will join us again for this ride next year.

The Sunday weather forecast issued on the morning of the ride was for 10 – 18 degrees celsius, and only a little wind. Perfect riding weather, and as one of the volunteers said “A great day to be alive!” The Amy Gillett Foundation put on a great event, and there is a real buzz around the event village and particularly on the start line in Lorne.

AGGF 2013 - Start Line

I must admit that I was a bit nervous before the start of the ride, and in our start group it was only my brother and I. Carl was further ahead and Dave was way back. But it was exciting with all the riders around and all revved up by the guy with the microphone. We had to do the obligatory pre-race poses, as any post race shots would have had us looking a bit disheveled.

Usual Suspect 1 – Me

AGGF 2013 - Me

Usual Suspect 2 – My Bro

AGGF 2013 - Pulus

As we set off, my Garmin went on the blink. It was going crazy picking up all the other speed and cadence sensors and this was not what I needed at the start of a ride. It kept on resetting itself and I had to get my bro to ride 100m ahead of me along with our start group just to get it locked in. It had done this once before on a big group ride, so not happy as we ended up faffing about for the first few kms. But it got sorted and we got in the groove cruising along at a cool 32kph. The first 20km is bumpy, and the first 40km before the Skenes Creek climb already has us climbing 450m. The bumpy coast is awesome, it is the Great Ocean Road and we had nothing but clear skies to the horizon. We even had a slight tailwind.

When we got to Skenes Creek it was not as daunting as last year, this was now the second time I would climb this ride. The key is to get into your cadence zone, put your head down, and pedal. And pedal, and pedal. I was saving myself for the rest of the ride so didn’t ride as hard as I could have. This climb after all comes in just before halfway. I was faster than last year, but not as fast as I wanted to go. We had agreed to meet up at the first hydration station 5km after the top of the climb and my bro had been waiting for me for a few minutes. We were both alright so we set off for the first bit of real fun. The descending to the back country of the Otways allowed me to get up to over 70kph – AWESOME!

The next stop was the town of Forrest which is home to some awesome MTB trails and most tempting of all is a great pub with its own micro-brewery. The locals even tempted us with a sausage sizzle. But we stuck to the carb bars and gels, and sadly the amber fluid would have to wait until after the ride.

AGGF 2013 - Forrest

The final third of the ride is where we rode some long and flat exposed sections in the Colac – Otway farmland. As we passed the final rest stop at Dean’s Marsh, we were both feeling good and the onset of cramping had delayed itself. The final 15km to the finish line is nasty with a whole bunch of uphill climbing again for another 250m of vertical with it sometimes topping out at 12% briefly in parts. My bro took off slowly away from me, and I could still see him when we got to the 1km to go banner. It was at that point that I was umming and ahhing about whether to get out of the saddle and smash it. I did with only 500m left and regret not “dancing on the pedals” as soon as I saw the banner. I ended up finishing only seconds behind my bro and relinquished bragging rights to him for another year.

The return to the event village is an awesome 11km descent back to Lorne where you clock 45-50kph average the whole way. Our wives caught us as we got back to the town and we headed over to the village for a well earned bowl of post riding pasta and some laughs. Carl was already there and caught up with us and we waited for Liberace Dave to join us too. The village was cool, and I chose to indulge in a french crepe.

AGGF 2013 - Village

We even stuck around for the winner presentations. There were some real whippets in the group, and some future stars of Australian cycling. Phil Anderson, the Australian Cycling Legend and also an ambassador to the Amy Gillett Foundation, was also on hand to do the presentations.

AGGF 2013 - Winners

All up it was a great event. My nervousness about a repeat of last year’s cramping blow up was dashed, and while my preparation was interrupted by house moves (life), a wicked chest infection, and a lingering throat infection the hard work on the bike before the ride paid off with an enjoyable Sunday afternoon. Big thanks goes to the Amy Gillett Foundation for the great work they did for this event, but also the work they do as advocates for cycling safety.

Extra special thanks to our able support crew who put up with two sore and very tired cyclists. We had a great time and now I am looking forward to the final big ride of the year – the 250km Around the Bay in a Day. Five weeks to go and counting.

And I am looking forward to telling my boy about the big ride.

 

There is nothing like a move of house to reinforce the need to declutter your life of material objects. I have been away from this blog for the last couple of weeks for this very reason. And the shocking reality of my hoarding nature has dawned upon me. It is not that I am a hoarder by nature – and definitely nothing even close to those people that hoard like on the Discovery Channel documentaries where there are boxes stacked to the ceiling and 6 inches of passageway through a room. But in over seven years in one place I have definitely accumulated and held onto too much “stuff”. Part of that stuff is the result of the appearance of The Pok (AKA my son) who has assumed the mantle of king of the house.

Some of it is ridiculous – like the fact that I have kept every copy of The Economist newspaper (magazine) I have ever bought – apparently they now have an online subscription. Other bits are just plain clutter, like the set of golf clubs that I was gifted with in the hope of converting me into a metal stick swinger (sweet FA chance of that happening – I am a cyclist). And then there is just the plain old fact that I have so many clothes that I don’t wear anymore and need to be taken to the charity bin for someone more worthy.

The move has finished now and we are waiting for essential services to be switched on, with the key one being internet. The service levels for doing a simple switch at a telecom exchange box apparently is four weeks. If they had given me the keys to the room I would have gone in there and done it myself in 5 minutes. So I will be able to hook into this blog again (and all the other blogs I follow) soon.

But I think the immediate life priority is to empty some of the boxes directly into the garbage bins. Then get back to normal life and writing my blog.

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