Unpublished post from 2 months ago…and today

WRITTEN AT THE BEGINNING OF APRIL

i wrote this a few months ago, but never got round to posting it.. i guess i hit my peak, and through ill heath or poor luck this feeling continued until recently.. so here is what i wrote then, and at the end i have put a paragraph about where i am now/

Tuesday the suckiest day of the week..  Too busy and i missed writing this so here it is on Wednesday.

The last week has been great.. good work outs, weight loss results and some new personal bests.  Saturday at the You Yangs, despite waking up not in the mood, i was flying.  I felt like i had no chain, riding faster than i ever had before and being able to sustain that effort.  I’m sure part of that is due to my training the last few weeks along with weight loss, but also i think i was on “Form”  Slightly rested and ready to roll. All week i have had that feeling and it has been great.

Mountain bike you yangs
Riding mountain bike at You Yangs

5 days later however- things are different.  I believe i am no longer in form, i am a bit tired and each day the pedals feel a little harder to turn.  Today is a day off the bike which is cool, but i still  have a swim and gym session planned so its not a full day off.

I have been thinking a lot about my progression and where i am and want to go.I want adventure, i want to try something that people say “wow- you did that” i want to see new places and new things.  I still want to do some races.. but i really want to achieves some epic greatness.. I want to achieve the shit that others cant or will not attempt.  Its not about big jumps, or massive air.. its about adventure- getting of the most used trails and experiencing the world around us.  Lots of things i want to do. New Zealand, Mongolia, China and the Australian High country

Written today in JUNE

Reading back on this – wow.. i remember that weekend and that ride, i was really flying but it was pretty much the last time i felt like this.

Increasingly sore, stressed and tired- Maybe when i typed this originally there were warning signs something was amiss.  I did try push trough it and it didn’t work.  I have had to pull back and come at my riding from a different direction.  I have had some time to reflect, and looked back at what makes me happy and excites me… Interestingly i had started to touch on it at the end of my above writing.

Winter bike
Testing the bike out on gravel

I want to ride somewhere, i want to see things others don’t see, i want a sense of achievement and i’m just not so sure i want to compete..  I just want to do it for me.  I want to feel great- I want to enjoy the ride.  So having recovered from my recent heart problem, i have began my journeys..

Where and how far is yet to be decided, but that to is also part of the excitement.  a new location, new scenery- just getting out and escaping the normal.

 

 

Tuesday at 2pm

Gloomy and grey- its the only way to describe today in Melbourne.

Having just finished the public holiday long weekend, its back to work and dreaming of what is ahead this week. The last 3 days have been great, so it is hard to be back in the office, but that also gives me time to rest up a little before this weeks journey.

Bike packing Werribee South
Sunset at the k road cliffs Werribee South

Saturday i left home at sunset for my first bike packing experience. Very cold but good night riding the bike. Watched an amazing sunset followed by a great Moon rise (is that even a word) Got home and set my bivy up along with my sleeping gear.

All my gear worked well including my cheap Chinese saddle bag.  So this weekend i hope to go a bit further- probably will not camp out overnight but definitely stretch legs and increase the distance, if feeling good-then maybe just maybe we can sleep out under the stars

 

Sunday  was taken up by Mountain biking at the You Yangs with my daughter and an hour hard solo loop for me-  great day out, goo d weather and lots of laughs with my daughter.  good Father daughter time.

You Yangs
Alamby at the You Yangs

Monday- had planned to ride 50km outside, but the winter rain started to fall so i loaded up the computer with a  Spanish climb and jumped on the Kickr for a sweaty 2 hours of riding in the mountains in the comfort of home

I feel my fitness coming back quickly and that is great, but most of all my spirit for adventure-  which up till a few weeks ago was just a spark- is now a raging flame, consuming my spare moments of thought.  i find myself looking at maps and planning routes, looking at pic on the internet and wanting to ride to them.  It really is exciting.

So as i sit here at work on Tuesday, The day of the week i hate so much..i am not shitty as normal, but happy knowing i had a great weekend  and lots too look forward too this week.

Lots of mini adventures on the cards in the near future Snow trip- waterfall ride- rainforrrest- pink lakes-dessert.  All these things are within a couple of hours drive from home.

 

Overnight? I’m Keen.. Looking Forward

Back on the bike this week after nearly 4 weeks of forced recovery – after my little heart scare. That time has meant missing my goal event for the year – the “moama 3 hr Enduro”  While it is disappointing not to attend the race after putting a year of training in, i know other opportunities, dreams and challenges are just on the horizon.

I have had 4 weeks to scour youtube and websites -seeking inspiration for the fuel to fire my adventure. I have watched friends attempt rides and not finish races that i could only dream of entering.. but that has stirred me up, lying in bed at night imagining and dreaming like a child.  “Could I” “Should i”  “How can I” “that would be cool” are all thoughts i have had.  I have also had a few darker thoughts “too hard” cannot do it” I am not good/fit enough” But these always get pushed aside by the excitement of what i may be able to achieve.

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I want to ride overnight, I want to go on the rides other wish they had done. I want to camp out, I want to go somewhere, I want to document my journey to amazing places through pictures, to share with others and those taken without a camera, a vision only i see..  memories that only being there in the moment and seeing with your own eyes would make you believe.  It all sounds so romantic and dreamy- a fantastic journey and a wonderful life!!

So this week i am back on the bike.  Just some small rides and slowly getting back into routine.  Riding for fun, and just stretching the legs. I have a bit of a way to go to re-gain my fitness but that’s all part of the journey.

high country adventure

Its very exciting planning and investigating where i want to go.. What is more exciting is going out overnight and coming back the next day.  I am looking forward to seeing how far i can go and which little traveled roads i can cycle.

The next 6 months i will be an explorer, testing my legs, gaining distance and go further than ever before.. I have a dream, and a few goals, but a few mini expeditions first to see how it goes and then we can go from there.  Who knows? maybe by summer this year- i will be riding (and maybe even racing in scenery like the above pics.

 

Feeling inspirational

​”Don’t give up what you want most, for what you want now.”

 That is my quote of the day. I believe we are all guilty at times of giving up our dreams and goals for a short term feel good experience or purchase. 

Despite my recent setbacks my goals of been stronger,fitter,faster and a more healthy cyclist have not changed..  I write this now as I sit on the couch contemplating a bowl of ice cream and browsing wiggle for things I want but don’t need.

I believe this year I have achieved so much- and while I will not attend my goal race- I have already surpassed my expectations and what i thought was my celing of ability.

Over the next month – my goals will change, however the above mentioned goals remain firmly my number one priority.  I already have some ideas of things I would like to do.. things that will continue to test me whilst feeding my growing need for adventure.

Recovery time is a good time to reflect and reset. I refuse to look at this time as a negative thing. I need to make this time positive and keep working towards my ultimate goals and dreams.

Once I am back on the bike in late may/early June.  I plan to knock off one of my first goals- an overnight trip on the bike.. camping out and returning the next day. Nothing too hard- just a mini adventure to test the water. 

Getting the bike prepared and researching options for the trip will help keep me focussed and away from the ice cream bowl for a while. (Probably won’t stop the wiggle shopping spree though)  

Fitness – bicycles – adventure, it sounds exciting!

8 weeks till Moama

Work is tough at the moment and finding work/life balance is a battle.

I’m trying where I can- but I can definitely feel I’m starting to get over it.  Despite having to go to work today (Sunday) My brain is ready to tackle a new week.  I spent a couple of hours doing tasks that need to be done during the week to hopefully free up my time

I Have left the bike at work so at least I know I can ride home – or potential do Mondays session if I get a quiet hour- during the day.  If I do ride home that will force me to get up early and ride back Tuesday.. as both my work cars will be at work..  basically I’m forcing myself to do what I want-not what is demanded of me.

Most days at the moment I am feeling pretty spent.. even when I don’t ride.. but when I do after 20 mins or so I feel better—so I know its medicine.

Moama is 8 weeks away.  Can’t wait.. I am excited..

Why am I excited..  I already know I will do better than last year- but I am excited to find out how much better.  I am stronger-I am more confident- I am lighter – and I am more strong mentally.

My skills are better (despite crashing yesterday on epic on the last berm (not concentrating) I am comfortable with the bike moving around in loose sand.

March Family MTB (22 of 28)
Training in the Sandpit

I know what I am capable of, I know the pain will be there from hour 1.5-2.5…

After my recce ride the other week- I am sure I can do 9 laps and if I push just a bit harder I can get in before the 3hr cut off and set out for my 10th lap.. the ultimate goal.

Pacing is going to be so  so important.  I’m going to aim for 18.5km per hour.  This should see me arrive at the start finish line at 2hours 50 or so..

So goals..

 

  • 18.5km per hour average..
  • 1 bottle changeover every second lap.
  • Grab some food on the alternate second lap. Gel, bar, gel  along with a spare get taped to my top tube to consume at 2hours 15 minutes.. light the afterburners!!
  • 10 lap goal.. setting off on the 10 lap before the time cutoff.  Total time 3hours 20 mins.

By doing the above- I hope to achieve a top 20 finish.. (all the fast guys from Bendigo will be there so let’s rule out top 10 😊

So how will I achieve this.

I think the key is motivation.. this is a battle at the moment when I just want to curl up and hide from the world.. but just getting out on the bike regardless of road/mountain or with the family makes me feel better.

Werribee south beach
Looking good at the beach

Weight loss needs to continue.  5kg to go to get below the goal.  I know I could starve myself and get there quickly, but I am happy with my .5kg a week loss ad I am not having to diet to hard,, just trying eat clean.

Focus more on my sessions.  At the moment I am using riding as an escape from everything else without a heap of focus..  I know what each session entails before I do it, but sometimes a lot lately and just turn the legs without much purpose.

Bike maintenance.  I’m usually pretty good at this, but lately I have slipped a little.  Need to bring back Sunday arvo garage time for Anthony.. just me and the bikes.. a bit of music. etc.

Continue sleeping.. 1030 in the bed regardless of how I feel or what I am up too.  This has really worked the last month

So that’s about it. Some positive, some less than positive but I know what I gotta do.  The girls are being great at the moment.. so supportive and despite me spending little time with them during the week are always there for a quick chat/hug and then some fun on weekend.March Family MTB (4 of 28)

Well that’s the end of the April chapter of the book “Cycling bears monthly training bible”   😊

 

Cheers!!

Ant

Tour of Sufferlandria – Embracing the pain

The Tour of Sufferlandria-Which is 9 days of interval work outs on the trainer by sufferfest. Each “stage” lasted between 50 minutes and 2.5 hours depending on the day, with a mix of sprints, attacks and long sustained climbs being simulated.

My coach Jess asked me to write a quick post about my experience this past 10 days while ticking off one of my goals for 2017

My thoughts before beginning were that it will be easy to finish and if it hurts I can back off a little, I just need to make sure I get on the trainer each day (which I wasn’t looking forward too!)

After the 1st stage my thoughts had not changed much…  However after the 2nd Stage- which was almost 2 hours long- my thought patterns began to change.  I wanted to defeat each stage, and I wanted to accept the pain of each interval stage and push on through the next…  I am not sure where this inner drive came from, no one was holding me accountable if I didn’t put in 100% and given the hot weather- no would would blame me.  I wanted to see what I Could achieve and how much I could push.

wp-1487312046427.jpgBy the 6th and 7th stage I was up against the wall, my legs thrashed, and I wanted to pull the pin. I decided to try and ride it out through the 8th stage of intervals and sweat.

To my surprise within 10 minutes of the first interval my muscles had bounced back and I was hitting my power numbers. There were some darker moments late in this stage as I reached exhaustion but I got through- and recorded a new highest average power for the ride.

The last and 9th stage on paper looked easy.. but it wasn’t- long long intervals of 20 minutes+ at threshold power.. for 2 and half hours,  But after completing the 8th stage I knew my legs would recover and despite the pain- each interval will end.  When the time was up I had finished, feeling proud but not wanting to see the trainer again for a week at least!

So on reflection I can take away a few thing from my successful Tour of Sufferlandia.

  1. My body can overcome my thoughts.
  2. The pain will end when the interval ends… yes it hurts…
  3. Drink Drink Drink. I had to drink up to 3 times my normal amount of water.
  4. I found sleep was most important, I was a lot fresher with a good night sleep.
  5. It was hard but I made it to the end and gave it my all.

 

I feel stronger now.. the last few days on the bike I feel like I can go further..

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Breaking through the “Pain Barrier”

While i’m still not super fit – I am fitter and feel I have more stamina.  I also feel I can break though that mental pain barrier and find that little extra I have to give to an effort.  I know i can get to the end-even when i feel i want to give up.

Also; although I thought I wouldn’t ride on the trainer this week I was back on it after only 2 days.

This week a bit of easy recovery before a hard hit out on the mountain bike.. I really cannot wait to get back outside and off road again and see what changes have come from this “breakthrough” week.

Tuesday at 2.

Lets begin with this- I hate Tuesdays, i always have.  Of all the days of the week i think Tuesday is the worst.  Nothing good can happen on a Tuesday/ Everybody knows… Monday sucks but once its over its over, Wednesday is hump day, Thursday is payday and Friday is the end of the work week.  So Then what is Tuesday?

I always find Tuesdays tough..  Especially today. Still Tired from doing the Sufferfest 9 Day Tour of Sufferlandria- i awoke early to commute to work.  Rubbing salt into the wounds was the rains shower half way to work which got me just wet enough to feel uncomfortable.  A slow day at work is making the hours drag out even further until i get home.

This week, or at least the next couple of days is a rest period. 9 days of intervals in a row took its toll on my legs and i am definitely feeling fatigued.

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Hell Hath No Fury. The title said it all..

A bit of a commute here and there this week along with some gentle rides and rest days, before this weekend heading to the You Yangs for a couple of hours on the mountain bike.

Really cannot wait to get back out on the mountain bike, especially after the last week indoors.  So Am i stronger for the 9 days of indoor hell?  i think so, definitely a bit lighter and a bit more stamina, and this weekend should be a good test.

The Journey so far

Well, as we move into 2017- it is great looking back and reflecting on what was a great year last year.

I set out to improve my fitness and enjoy my cycling more- both ambitions achieved.  I started using a coach to prescribe my training and help me fit everything in, and that has worked great.  sure there were some road bumps along the way- but in general; this really helped keep me motivated in the times i just couldn’t be arsed.

Did some races, improved my fitness and rode in some amazing places. 2016 was great.

Now its 2017- Fitness is on the improve, weight is dropping off me and i am getting faster and riding further than ever before.  Last year i knocked of my goal of 5000km ridden for the year-so this year i have doubled it and hope to see 10000km or more by 2018.

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Sunset Riding in summer!

I have entered a few races this year and have plans of some long rides.  The struggle/juggle between work and training continues- however “the motivation battle” i am winning at the moment.  I have set some big goals for 2017 and with training and some dedication i should be able to achieve them.

This is the first year i am not hitting the “reset” button.. This is the year i am building on what i have already done.

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And lets hope not too much of this!

Such a weird thought, as in every year past i have looked back and thought.. “i need to try harder next year”

It’s summer now, and the weather is pretty good apart from the odd hot day- so this is the time to  cement my base and get it done.

Indoors-outdoors, on the road or off road, Each day i look forward to riding. It is a great feeling to be improving, and also enjoying what i am doing.  No pressure- just a slow progression.

So whats next.  Gazeebo 3 hr night race at You Yangs next week, followed by a heap of training as i prepare for Moama in  May.  More healthy eating (i miss BBQ shapes) and a slimmer/faster Cycling Bear.

 

 

Climbing…

So as i ride more it appears i am seeking out more altitude as well.  Climbing on a bike has never been my strong suit being a larger man, however i have always enjoyed descending.

The old saying goes something like “what comes up needs to go down” but for me the challenge has always been to “get up”.

As I am slowly getting fitter, riding further, riding longer i am also riding higher.  I have spoken several times with my coach Jess about my climbing ability or lack thereof, as at the very beginning she told me that “it never gets easier or hurts less, you just go faster”  So every time my heart rate maxes out on a climb, or my legs give way- i keep telling myself this phrase over and over.

This weekend i completed a lap of the Otway ranges, starting and finishing in Forest, Victoria.  I was previously entered in the chase the dog event a few weeks earlier, but happily slept in and avoided the horrible weather of the day.  Unfinished business- so away i set off on Saturday morning.

Unfortunately the first 3 hours were in horrible rain and clouds.  Sometimes towards the top of Mt Sabine, i could see only 10 feet in front of the bike as i was riding up into the clouds.  The legs burned and I wished for every corner the climb would end. Km after km- for a total of 13km I climbed.   It was not a hard climb, maybe 5% average, but there were a few pinches much steeper than that.

It was the length of the climb and the soft wet gravel which burned my legs.  Once at the top I made the call and changed to a fresh pair of dry socks. This made a big difference to my moral and overall feeling.

Entering Turtons Track it was still drizzling with rain and very slippery- however this piece of road would now be my favourite to ride.

The Start of Turons Track

Twisty road that goes up and down in amongst the thick rain forest ferns. I’m sure there was a lovely view to be had- but the drizzle and most made it impossible to see more than 20 meters past the road.  Each twist of the road brought an amazing sensory experience- not just visually but the sounds and smells.  

Wet Roads

Just an amazing place. On this piece of road there were still some steep climbing pinches but they were mostly short- so not to bad!

Just me and the Rain Forrest


The next section was rail trail, mostly downhill and with a tail wind. Not only did my speed creep up- but the sun came out as well. New pair of dry gloves and quickly I arrived at my lunch spot the town of Gellibrand.

Lunch Stop


It’s funny how a feed and the sun coming out change the mood. I was feeling like I had a second wind and pushed on, through the farm lands and onto the last climb of the day.

The sun did come out


This last climb I knew would hurt. I had been warned and expected. With a slight tailwind I put the bike in the easiest gear and just concentrated on each pedal stroke. The climb got steeper, my heart rate went up- bit slowly I created the top- which meant downhill pretty much all the way to Forrest.

Only one downside. The wind had come up and was a headwind home. It’s funny knowing you are only 5km from finishing and then fatigue catching up with your body making it almost the hardest 5km of the ride. Slowly I approached Forrest.

Almost there!!
More cows- cheering me on in the final kilometres

There was no rush- not a race and no one waiting to celebrate my finishing.. except for me. I was celebrating on the inside.

That sign was a welcome relief- i was finished


Getting off the bike and leaning it against the car I realised I had done it.

Strava Stats

 Crappy weather and all. Lots of high moments and plenty of times fighting a mental battle with myself to continue. I feel now the challenge is complete. I can do it. I achieved it. I have ridden on an amazing location and can’t wait to go back there to explore more..  my sense of adventure us been found again- I want more!

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Post ride coffee in Forrest-reflecting on my big day

 

One day at a time..

Getting there slowly..  the fitness continues to improve. My riding has become more consistent and my legs constantly fell tired.  I feel fitter and faster- yet i haven’t really lost weight.

I can go harder for longer…oh that sounds wonderful.. and i can recover faster (every mans dream) and i can fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.

Each day i set about my plan and try to complete it.  It is becoming normal, which is great but sometimes a burden.  When i miss a session (usually the early morning commute) i find myself later in the day looking for a way to catch up.

Keeping consistent and achieving my training goals through winter has been tough in terms of weather. Riding in freezing cold torrential rain, to crisp frosty mornings- winter has thrown it all at me, but i survived and so did the bikes mostly- except for some bearings which have required replacement.

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Not me- but how it winter felt on some days..

To ensure time constraints and weather are not a excuse, i got my hands on a kickr trainer and hooked my self up with a couple of training apps, notably ZWIFT and FULLGAZ..  Both are good and simulate road riding perfectly.  Trainer sessions are no longer a drag and i almost look forward to them.

So the big question.. Am i getting faster?  The answer is most definitely yes..

It doesn’t hurt less-i just go harder and faster.The progression takes time, I have achieved so many middle goals in the last 3 months i just can believe it.  Currently spending a bit of time doing strength and hill work, which is hard work for a fat bloke like me – but it will make me stronger so i continue to give it a crack.