31 July, 2011

Now, how did I do that?

About a week ago, I woke with a sore back- lower back- sort of, just above the waist. Have no idea what I did- there hasn't been any heavy lifting, twisting or turning. No games of football, soccer or hockey- I just don't know.

I did some gardening and some painting, but nothing any different to the normal chores around the house and yard

It seems to be at its worst early in the morning although some mornings there isn't a single twinge. And I have had lots of suggested cures: You need your spine re-aligned,  you need acupuncture, you need to stretch on the balance ball before your feet hit the floor in the morning, you need to stretch your hip flexors......needless to say, I haven't taken on board all of the suggestions.

I have tried some stretches and some ball exercises and while I definitely feel better, I can't say unequivocally that one or the other is responsible for the improvement. This morning I got up for an 80+km ride and as I started to get ready, there was the twinge.

I decided to forego the long ride- it would be rather unfortunate to get to the furthest point from home on an out-and-back trek and start really experiencing some pain (other than the self-inflicted type from mashing on the pedals). Instead, I just did a 50km loop around the city. And the further I went, and the more I warmed up, the better my back felt.

So I guess I'll just have to ride more- what a shame.......

Cheers- ride safe

24 July, 2011

How Good was That Ride???

Like 99.998% of all cycling fans in Australia, I was glued to the coverage of the ITT from Grenoble last night. The hopes of a cycling nation were resting on the somewhat slight shoulders of Cadel Evans and his not-so-slight quads and hammies.

With a deficit of 57 seconds to Andy Schleck, Cadel entered the penultimate stage which was being held on the same course as the TT stage of the Criterium Dauphine in June of this year- a race which Cadel rode as a precursor to the Tour.

Watching the intermediate times come up on the screen quickly allayed any fears that Evans would yet again fall short. Before the half way point, Cadel had erased the deficit and was quickly establishing a strong account with time being the deposits.

It was clear before Evans even crossed the finish line that he would be wearing the yellow onto the Avenue des Champs-Élysées on Sunday and become the first Australian to wear the golden fleece as the victor of the Le Grand Boucle.

Dragging my weary butt off to bed at 2:30 this morning, I didn't foresee getting in an early morning ride and turned off my alarm (and I have been suffering from a very sore lower back for a couple of days- cause unknown but as of Sunday evening is definitely on the mend).

Today was also the big event on the local MTB scene- the Paluma Push. "The Push" is a cross country race/ride which raises funds for the local rural fire brigade in the rainforest community of Paluma- located about 60 km from Townsville. There are two categories- a recreational class which covers 40 km and a competitive class which covers an extra 20 km.

A number of our friends have taken part in this race in every edition of the race and still finish with a smile on their face. I drove up to Paluma to cheer them on at the finish line- having done this race a couple of times myself, any encouragement over those last 300 metres helps you to forget about the cramps, the lactic build up, the bumps and scrapes and is well received.

I took the camera in the hopes of getting some pics- and I did get some pictures- just not pictures of what I thought I was aiming at. I find the digital display very hard to see in bright sunlight and as a result I ended up with shots of riders and backgrounds- sometimes minus the rider. Oh well...

Steve Butler and Ash O'Neill (Steve didn't even get lost this year and had a PB)

Steve Breen's back (at least he's in the picture)

Steve Donaldson (post Timor L'Este secret training)

                                          Bill and Julie (minus Julie)

All in all- good fun. Now it's almost time to watch Cadel make his way in to Paris and lay claim to the Maillot Jaune and a place in this country's sporting history.

Cheers- ride safe


17 July, 2011

Racing Cancelled- Let's go into Rescue Mode...

This morning's (Sunday) race was supposed to be a criterium to be run in place of a road race which scheduled for a circuit which is still showing the ill effects of this year's wet season. Unfortunately, the crit was cancelled. This is a bit of a disappointment as this was to be the last crit before the 3 stage race next month.

So in light of the cancellation, I decided to do a bit of work in the garden while Dee made her final preparations for her trip to Canada. The garden beds needed to be edged and weeded so I got stuck into it. I then noticed a stump- the remnants of a wattle that came down in the cyclone in February. Better get rid of that too while I'm at it so I got the mattock to cut the roots and dig out the stump.

I took one swipe and cut one of the six roots that were keeping it anchored in the ground. As I moved on to the next one- I heard a plaintiff, little mewling cry. Turning to my right, I saw a little pinkish figure sprawled on the sugar cane mulch. It was a very young possum- still mostly hairless with eyes looking to be just recently opened.

I looked in the surrounding trees but there was no sign of Mum Possum. Not sure if this little one was the smaller of twins and was rejected or fell from her mum's pouch but she definitely wasn't going to make it on her own- not with a nesting pair of sea eagles next door who happen to have a couple of young chicks constantly demanding a feed.

I grabbed a tea towel and scooped her up and asked Dee to ring the Wildlife Carers. We are very fortunate to have a wonderful local volunteer group who look after injured and abandoned native creatures. They advised Dee that their Animal rescue Centre was open today and could we bring the possum around. We took the little possum to the carers who immediately placed her in a fluffy pouch and said they would immediately start her on a rehydration formula to be followed by a "milk" formula.

The carer advised that the possum should do quite well- she had a very strong cry and was squirming strongly- very reassuring words.

And for Dee- enjoy the trip back to Nova Scotia. Eat lots of seafood and ride lots of km's.

You know- sometimes it's not about the bike.

Cheers- ride safe

03 July, 2011

Winter Racing and Busted Glass......

After a warmish week (I didn't even have to wear the arm-warmers and leg warmers and full-fingered gloves on a couple of days), the thermometer is having a hard time making its way to moderate and the forecast is for it to be progressively cooler right through next week.

This morning's (Sunday) race saw the club head off to a crit circuit which we haven't used for 9 or 10 years. It's in a smallish light industrial park and with nice wide corners is well suited to some of the newer riders. The only downfall was the glass. Despite the best efforts of the sweepers, some of those lovely little diamondesque daggers were just laying in wait for us.

I think there were about 5 flats in all. I managed to have two- one just before the start and one about 3/4 of the way through the race. A couple of the A graders each had one and a bloke in C grade had an absolute corker. Unfortunately his was not caused by glass but rather he was the author of his own misfortune. Pedalling through one of the corners on a far too sharp angle, he contacted the kerb (curb for NA readers) with his left pedal. That contact threw the rear of the bike sharply to the right- much to the concern of his fellow racers. He did manage to counter balance and bring the bike back under control, but it would seem that the force with which the rear jumped and hit the road was enough to roll the tyre (tire- another concession to the Canadians) off the wheel, exposing the tube which let go like a gunshot.

Needless to say, he and I sat out the remainder of the race. I put my hand up but there just didn't seem to be any team cars or mechanics anywhere to hand me a new wheel- I guess they must have all been watching reruns of the first stage of the TdF.

Given that one of our broadcasters here in Aus is showing every stage of the tour, live, I suspect there will be more than a few sleep-deprived people showing up for work over the next three weeks. The last 10 kilometres of last night's stage provided enough action to pique everyone's interest. Will tonight's team time trial provide anything like that??? Highly unlikely- but you just never know.....

Cheers- ride safe