31 August, 2008

And so the road racing season comes to an end

I'd like to be able to say I ended the season on a winning note so I will. I didn't win the race- didn't even come second or third. As a matter of fact I came perilously close to finishing "Stone Motherless Last" as one of my cycling mates says. But I won in the sense that I finished every race I started.

That was my commitment when I decided I would try racing and I held to it. There were a couple of times I thought I just wasn't going to cut it but being a bit of an ornery b*st*rd by times, I managed to stick it through. I finished a few on my own, but I found that when I'm conducting my own personal time trial while the rest of the grade has scampered away, I can come back to some of the joys of cycling. The sounds and smells that are so often missed by those hurtling down the roads at 100 km/hr with the windows rolled up. The sight of red-backed wrens along the roadside or a jabiru flying overhead- cockatoos and parrots squawking in the trees. You tend to miss those things when you're concentrating on the wheel in front of you.....

Contrary to last week's painful episode, today was a walk in the park- a 40km walk at an average of about 37 km/hr mind you- but much more enjoyable over all. And yes I got dropped but not at the turn like Sunday last but much further on. And again it was as I came off the front and just couldn't grab the rear wheel to stay in touch. There was a bit of a surge as I neared the back of the group and the poor old pegs just didn't have another 55 metres @ 45 km/hr to bridge the gap.

Anyway I had a lovely ride back in, picked up a couple of others who had been spit out the back and we kept the peloton in sight but just couldn't make up any ground.

There was an end of season barbecue/party this afternoon hosted by one of our club members and his wife. Lots of fun and laughs and making me look forward to next year already- March seems so far away!! There is always the track season......I don't have a track bike yet!!!!!

And "Thanks Dee" for coming out and supporting me and helping at the races. It'll be great when we're both racing next year, eh??

Ride safe

24 August, 2008

One more road race this season..

Today was the second last race of the road season for us and in keeping with tradition (albeit a very short tradition), I finished well back amongst the class- but I did stick to my commitment to finish every race I start.

As I sit here in my compression tights recovering from a rather painful ride, I'm being quite thankful that the wind which is now howling through the yard was pretty much non-existent this morning. The forecast had been for moderate to strong winds all day and we didn't see the first evidence of a breeze until about 10km into the race. It was a breeze that never really favoured the riders as it was pretty much a crosswind going out and coming back.

And the painful part of the ride you ask......it was about the last 6km. I had been dropped at the turn after having taken a couple of turns on the front- someone broke the unwritten rule of "no attacking on the turn." Small consolation as you watch the peloton pull away while you're struggling to get back up to speed. Anyhow I continued with another one of my "personal time trials" and as I neared the turn for our finishing little road loop, I felt a rather painful twinging in the area around my hip joints- both on the front and rear.

No matter how I shifted on the saddle or stood up to pedal, there was no relief. So I finished the race (not last I have to confess) but I had some concerns as to whether I could actually dismount and make my way to the car. I did manage to get off the bike in what was probably a less-than graceful manner to any who may have seen it; and make my way to the car. Hobbling like I just had both hips replaced, I thought that I better make an appointment with the bike shop to do a bit of tweaking on my fit. Today was the first race on the new bike and I never had encountered anything like that on the old bike.

I managed to swing myself into the car and drive home in no small amount of discomfort. The pressure on my hips just from sitting was causing me some serious pain. It took me about 4 minutes to get out of the car and open the gate so I could drive in- then another three minutes to park the car and close the gate. Once upstairs (another interesting challenge) I dropped the lid of a bottle on the kitchen floor. I then realised I couldn't bend over to pick it up. I had to find a pair of long-handled barbeque tongs to extend my reach.

Anyway, after a nice hot shower and putting on the compression gear, I'm starting to feel less like I have been doing some bull-riding and more like I should be able to at least walk out to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. And then I think maybe a bit of a relax in front of the telly for the last day of the Olympics may be in order.

Cheers- ride safe

21 August, 2008

I think winter might be over

Better not say that (or think it) too loud. Looks like we're finally on our way out of the cold weather that has been hanging around for far too long this year. This morning was a balmy 19C when I headed out just before 5:00. It was a bit breezy so I felt I got a real good workout this morning- throw in a bit of hill work and about 35km all up- a great way to start the day.

And my lovely wife Dee has spoiled me again with some extra birthday presents that were a little late arriving- three cycling books. A novel by Tim Krabbe called "The Rider" and two training books by Joe Friel- "The Cyclist's Training Bible" and "Cycling Past 50" which I had hoped was going to give me the secret to maintaining my speed at 50+ km/hr for more than 400 metres but is in fact a guide to fitness and performance for those of us of a certain vintage and beyond.

All my fellow oldies on the roads better keep checking over their shoulders.....

I also treated myself to a new set of lights for the bike(s). The technology and advancements in lighting is unbelievable. I have a set of ultra bright LED lights and a 6 hour lithion polymer rechargeable battery that weighs about 400 grams and has got to be the brightest light I've ever seen. If there is a downside to these lights, it's that I never realised just how much glass is on the road and now it all shows up like a million tiny, sparkling daggers.

The set came with mounts for two bikes so I can set up the roadie and the MTB and just switch the lights and battery from one to the other. There's also a helmet mount if I feel so inclined. And the service was fantastic- I ordered the lights on Sunday on the website- was notified of confirmation and shipping of my order on Monday and had the lights in hand on Tuesday afternoon.

Not one to plug businesses, but this was outstanding- an Aussie company called AyUp

Anyhow, the sun is setting and it's time to grab a glass of vino and start cooking. Oh yeah and there's some sporting events on from Beijing.

Cheers- ride safe

12 August, 2008

Cyclists behaving badly

What is it about some cyclists? They just can't stand to abide by the road rules and cycling etiquette. I have just notified a bunch of my cycling group that I'll no longer be riding with them on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

I've been riding with this group for about a year now and until recently things have been pretty good but there seems to be a mentality creeping in that this is a preliminary stage of the Tour. The regular riders have maintained their demeanour but some of the newer riders feel they have to do anything to stay with the pack. Heaven forbid that they should ever get dropped and have to catch up or ride solo.....no let's throw away all of the good work that so many of us have done to engender positive relations with other road users by ignoring and/or even flaunting road rules.

This morning's incident involved the pack approaching a roundabout and a car entering from the right. Now this car has the right of way and all traffic must give way to said car. Calls of "Slowing" and "Stopping" were heard and several riders slowed and/or stopped. The driver, a young lady, appeared to be intimidated by the number of cyclists and stopped mid-roundabout as several of the group had decided to proceed through the roundabout.

At this point, most of the group rode through and continued on their way leaving several of us perplexed, pissed off and waiting at the roundabout.... Just like that, several months of good cyclist/motorist relations down the tube in a matter of seconds.

So from tomorrow, I'll make my own rides and anyone wanting to join me is welcome. But anyone who decides they want to ride outside the road rules would do well to keep away.

Ride safe- please

08 August, 2008

And all is right with the world....

Just got back from the airport- Dee has returned from Cairns and all is well....

Let me tell you, it was bl**dy cold this morning. I headed out at about 4:45- and yes I did have something to eat today before I left so I didn't blow up like yesterday. I kept my promise and did some hill work- I know it makes me strong, I know it makes me strong, I know it makes me strong.....if I keep telling myself that, maybe I'll learn to (like, suffer, endure- the choice is yours) them more.

Stopped by our favourite Bike Shop today on the way home this afternoon- just for a bit of chat- as you do. Mike asked what happened to me yesterday during the ride- nice to know your fellow riders take note when something is not quite right.

So tomorrow's ride should be on the cool side. Temps are supposed to be into the single digits first thing in the morning so I'll be digging out the woolies again- just when I thought the season had turned and we were heading for warmer temperatures.

Oh yes, somebody told me the Olympics start tonight. Gawd, I'm glad I'm not cycling through Beijing. That can't be good for one's lungs.

Ride safe

07 August, 2008

It doesn't pay to oversleep

I'm not quite sure what happened this morning- maybe I had my arm under the pillow and didn't hear the alarm, maybe I heard and turned it off....whatever it was, I woke up about 3 minutes before I meant to be out the gate and on the road. I just can't believe the dogs let me sleep in like that- where's their sense of responsibility? Well I suppose it was on the chilly side so maybe they were looking out for my health.

Anyway....no time for oatmeal this morning. Just grab the water bottles and go. And so away I went and in about 35 minutes I knew it was a bad decision. I was just managing to hang on and by the time the group hit the 2/3 mark, I was done....there was no way I could stay with the pack. And just to rub a bit of salt in the wound, I picked up something in my front tyre- so I leaned forward to see if I could brush it off with my hand; but, in so doing, I seem to have discovered some new Pilates position as the pain that shot through the muscles at the back of my neck made me gasp.

So I eased myself back into position and gently pedalled the next couple of km's while things returned to normal. Who would have thought that missing your oatmeal could be so painful?

Dee gets back tomorrow night (Friday) after a week in Cairns. She has put in a big week doing a mapping project- hopefully she'll be able to get in some km's and some relaxation next week- she's supposed to be on leave!!!

And no race for BoaB this weekend. There is a crit but we're going to a black tie dinner on Saturday night and somehow I suspect that I won't be in race condition at 5:30 Sunday morning.

Ride safe

06 August, 2008

When do you get home?

I'm supposed to be doing a Homer- sitting around in my jocks, watching TV and drinking copious amounts of beer while eating doughnuts. "D'oh!"

I'm batching it this week- just me and the dogs and "Boy howdy am I lonely". Dee is in Cairns for the week and number one son (well, only son when you get down to it) is in Brisbane. I've been out for my regular early morning rides but it just isn't the same coming back to a quiet, empty house. Same during the evenings- especially this evening which is the night when we watch our favourite shows. I could be watching them now but it doesn't seem right- just not the same at all.

I'll go for my ride tomorrow and Friday and then Dee will be back Friday and the world will return to its rightful axial tilt.

I need some retail therapy- think I'll go online and look at some new pedals.

Ride safe

03 August, 2008

50 Years plus 3 days

The birthday boy made it through his 50th with no damage sustained. We had a very quiet day on Friday, spent the morning at home and then headed off to the beach with the rellies for a stroll along the sand and some time spent collecting sea shells. It's something we do far too infrequently, we live in an absolutely spectacular part of the world and we only seem to go to the beach when we have visitors.

Friday we saw four (yes that's 4) people at the beach- and two of them were working cast-nets trying to catch bait fish or prawns for fishing. The beach extends for about 20 km- soft, flour-fine white sand so the density of people was about 0.035 people per kilometre.

Lots of interesting shells to be found and a few were collected to make their way to Canada with Dee's sister. One of the most interesting things we saw were groups of soldiers crabs making their way across the beach. Small troops of bright blue-shelled crustaceans traipsing across the beach ridges on whatever their appointed mission was. When you approached them, they would do one of three things:

A) Keep on going in their loose formation

B) Stop and pull their bright red legs in close to their shell and remain immobile in the hope you couldn't see them

C) Find a soft spot in the wet sand and quickly burrow out of sight.

Yesterday was the regular Saturday coffee ride and today we had a leisurely ride out to the dam and back. We had hoped to ride out to Oak Valley this morning to see the finish of the 120km Charters Towers to Townsville race but had to deliver Dee's sister and partner to the bus stop so we drove (Shock-Horror!!) out to the finish. I had every intention of riding this race but after getting sick in June, I just didn't have the fitness to carry it off. Next year; there's always next year...

Back to work tomorrow =8^( C'mon weekend!!

Ride safe