Saturday, 28 February 2009

Lakeside - anticipation, excitement, trepidation

Lakeside – Saturday 28 February 2008.

Emotions – anticipation, excitement, trepidation.


Anticipation and excitement.

Lakeside is the Hamilton Club’s home circuit however I have only raced their once before.

It has recently been upgraded and re-surfaced so I was looking forward to seeing what it was like.

Lakeside is also a very different circuit to Nundah it that it is twice the distance, has a much, much longer straight and ridden clockwise, is usually into the wind. There also 2 distinct hills to challenge the legs.

My other interest in Lakeside is linked to being a part time motor sport fan. Lakeside was for many years the premier Queensland venue for motor sport and a place where legends were born. It would be great to do well there.


I have had a fairly heavy exercise schedule this week involving harder than usual week day rides, and a particularly hard Friday ride. I also added some swimming sessions to my schedule so I was not sure how my legs would be under pressure.

Also, my one race at Lakeside in March 2007 was a rather inglorious affair in that I was blown out the back after about 15 minutes.

The Race

It was tough and the field worked pretty hard. As the race progressed, the rises became hills, the hills became climbs and the climbs became mountains. And the pace remained constant.

At about the 20 minute mark I was thinking I would see breakfast for the second time and talking to other riders after the event, others had the same feeling at about the same time.

I did manage to do ok and walked away with the win in a 3 up sprint.

I was absolutely spent – and absolutely delighted.

On Tuesday I have a full heart review including stress test with the Cardiologist. Hopefully I will be allowed to go up a grade next week.

Now for some training at Mt Coot-tha in the morning.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009


Sometimes, sometimes, it all comes together in a sporting performance.

It may be a game of football or hockey and the rest of the game seems to be in slow motion to you. Every move you make works and your ball handling or control is perfect.

All too often in cycling, be it training or racing we are either struggling for oxygen or struggling to clear the lactic acid from our legs. When our legs are great, the lungs struggle or visa versa, but when it all comes together and everything works as one, it is awesome.

I had such an experience this morning at the Nundah circuit in what was one of the most exciting rides of the last 4 years. An average heart rate of 121 over 62 minutes delivered 37 k’s.

It is often said the most important component of sports performance is mental preparation. I assume the difference between the professionals and us strugglers is the pros have the ability to put themselves in the frame of mind that allows them to replicate maximum performance levels day after day, session after session.

If only I knew how to put myself in the fame of mind to replicate this mornings ride.

Just as a birdie on the 18th hole will sustain me for many more rounds of golf, the ride the morning will keep me coming back looking for the thrill once more of legs and lungs coming together as one.

It was awesome.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Anonymous Heroes

OK, so South East Queensland is still in the grips of a severe drought and we all actually welcome the rain, any rain. However, how many of us morning cyclists can honestly say we were disappointed to wake this morning to find damp, but not wet roads, no rain and an encouraging, if not totally clear sky. I for one was secretly pleased the conditions were good for cycling, and in fact were ideal.

I was out on the well known Nudgee Beach ride.

Exiting the bike path on to Nudgee Road, I noticed another cyclist about 50 metres or so behind me on a TT or tri bike. My mental note to self was to keep riding my own cadence, speed and heart rate and forget about trying to prevent the catch (refer Ego post) and I'm pleased to say I maintained my discipline this time.

He caught me after a few minutes and I then tucked into his slipstream and had a fabulous tow to the beach. (40 kph, 100 cadence, 130 – 135 HR)

At the turn around, I thanked him for the tow and he invited me to tuck in again on the way back.

We got talking and instead of tucking in, he rode side by side.

He said he is a finance executive with a local “all finanz” organisation and we chatted about the financial crisis and the employment down turn. I asked him if he raced triathlons and he said he did. Talk came around to training and he revealed he is preparing for the Port Macquarie Iron Man.

This guy holds down a full time executive job and is married with a child.

He went onto outline his current weekly programme and it was nothing short of an extraordinary commitment.

His training for this weekend is something like this:

Saturday 200 k bike and 3 k swim
Sunday 100 k bike and 20 k run

He mentioned he normally is “just” a cyclist and loves racing and it turns out we belong to the same club. His forays into triathlons are infrequent.

What is amazing about this guy is the incredible commitment and passion he has for his sport. Other than simply doing it, there is no glory, no prize money, no photo or article in the paper or vision on TV. He just does it and loves it.

There are thousands of anonymous, but totally dedicated athletes out there, working extraordinarily hard to make the start line of extreme endurance events and I was privileged to meet one this morning.

Finally, the support provided by the partners and families of these people is also heroic and receives even less recognition than the athlete.
On behalf of all unknown athletes everywhere, thank you.

Friday, 6 February 2009


“And”, she said, “You are definitely not to race tomorrow”.

These were the defining words of Merdi, the Physiotherapist I had an appointment with this afternoon.

Why does a 50 year old, theoretically intelligent male, with a long sporting background and a history of injury management and recovery still let his ego get in the way of listening to his body?


I headed out on Tuesday afternoon for what was to be a reasonably low/medium intensity ride. I had about 30 k’s in mind and intended it to be a walk in the park. My determination for a light ride was such that I took the old steel bike, the one that is somewhat heavy and sports what 30 years ago was the latest 6 speed Shimano group set. But I do love riding it.

When I arrived at the Nundah circuit, there were a few other club members getting ready for a ride. The asked if I was coming to the beach and on receiving confirmation they were doing an easy ride before racing the following night, happily joined in.

One of the guys, Paul, mentioned he had been doing 100 plus k’s per day for he last 10 days and was feeling strong. He took the lead and proceeded to cane the rest of us for the next 20 k’s. It is interesting how the ego overrides the plan when a few guys ride together. There was no way any of us were going to be dropped.

When we finished, I headed home and went through some recovery exercises including some lunges. On lung 4, I felt a jabbing pain in my hip and naturally stopped.


I rode the next morning with no discomfort (River Ride) and really didn’t think much of it again.


On Wednesday morning I did a medium to hard intensity 60 k's and felt good. I then headed off to a group running session on Thursday night and bang. I went to kick a soccer ball some of the guys were mucking around with during the warm up and I felt the same hip pain.


I headed off on a 6 k run, did ok, had a drink and it was off to a series of 300 metre runs. At the start of the second run, seeking to accelerate, my hip went and I was on the ice.

According to the Physio, it is not too bad and is probably the tightness of muscles around the hip joint which she started to release. I can ride, but avoid hills and running is a no no. I also have a range of exercises to do.

Just as I said last time, I will know better next time.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

More than a race (part 2)

I won a bike race on the weekend, by over a minute.

It is a few days over 12 months since I was diagnosed with a severe heart issue and advised I would need open heart surgery to perform 4 bypasses around severe blockages in the arteries feeding my heart muscle – that is, I had to have quadruple bypass surgery.

I was not yet 50 years of age, although I was in my 50th year.

I was quite fit, by no means overweight and ate a reasonable diet. It was quite a shock.

I had passed out while cycling on election day in November 2007. I underwent heart tests and passed them all being cleared to resume normal life and the explanation given for passing out was (quite reasonably) dehydration. However when I passed out again while cycling 2 weeks later, it was obviously something more.

I then endured a few weeks of countless blood tests, x-rays, scans, etc and all came back clear. It was then back to the heart and a decision to perform an angiogram which revealed the problem.

I won’t go into the explanation as to why the previous heart tests had not revealed anything.

I spent quite some time in the cardiologist waiting rooms. I would look at all the other patients, over weight or elderly and think “why me? “and “what am I doing here?”

In order to have the surgeon I wanted and to go to the hospital I preferred, I had to wait 5 weeks. It was 5 weeks walking on egg shells but it also gave me time to learn more about the process I was to go through, the possible after effects and to understand post surgical processes and rehabilitation.

It also gave me time to make some decisions and set some objectives.

I borrowed some inspiration from Lance Armstrong and adopted his Livestrong theme for my journey. I also borrowed a phrase of his “You’ve gotta be strong and you’ve gotta to be brave” as my own and it was the last thing I recall saying to myself as the anesthetic was taking hold. “You’ve gotta be strong and you’ve gotta be brave.

I decided on a couple of things

I was going to do exactly what I was told and do it better than anyone else had ever done it.
I was going to play at least one game of hockey in the 2008 season
I was going to return to work after 6 weeks
I was going to ride my bike by week 4
I was going to relax.
I was going to race again in 2008

I cannot really judge number 1, but all others were achieved

The human body is a marvelous thing and its ability to heal and recover is extraordinary. The skills of our heart surgeons and their support staff are extraordinary and the professionals who care for heart patients in intensive care and then the heart wards are amazing are the post hospital rehabilitation staff.

I won a race on the weekend. I am simply very happy and thankful to be alive, let alone to be able to race my bike.