Monthly Archives: August 2010

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What you missed today

Me finally doing a serious hill climb!

My brother and I drove to Hurstbridge and hit out from there. A few very small climbs to get into the mood and then a long hard slog up to Kinglake. Actually there was a bastard of climb just before we hit the big one. Short and sharp, which I always suffer on.

Kinglake is about 500m above sea level and it’s a 7km climb up to it. I’ve discovered I do better when the rides are hard if I have something to pretty to look at. Kinglake is still recovering from the massive fires but it’s an amazing ride up there. The view on the way up was amazing. I would’ve stopped to take a photo but if I had, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have been able to get started again.

I really suffered in the last three kilometres. My average speed dropped down to 12kph. It was okay at first, the grade wasn’t too bad and there were lots of twisty bits to keep me distracted. The higher up we got, the more I suffered. A few times I was certain I wasn’t going to make it but my brother was great, he slowed down and offered encouragement. He actually got in front at one point and forced me to slow down. Being a much more experienced rider, he saw the signs of me about to blow up and made me slow down enough to get my heart rate down.

It was really helpful. My brother was more than happy to explain the ride to me, where the corners were and we worked on finding a suitable tempo that I will be able to sustain on the Degani Kinglake Ride in two weeks. My heart rate monitor is turning out to be a really valuable piece of equipment. I didn’t think I’d find that much for it but I find myself using it all the time.

The descent was awesome. Took us over an hour to climb up but about 45 minutes to get down. The only problem was that it was bloody cold coming down! My brother ended up giving me his rain jacket because I was so cold. We talked about how to descend, how to take the corners, when to brake and where to look to be safe. He stayed behind me a lot of the way, shouting instructions. Heh. My maximum speed clocked in at 60kph and I didn’t even realise I was going that quickly. Of course, my brother shot past me quite a few times. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to ride like he does but I think I did okay.

It was hard going but I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself right now. I suppose it’s because I’m setting goals and achieving them. I may never be the world’s best climber but I’ve proved to myself that I shouldn’t be so defeatist. Hill climbing is definitely about mental attitude and telling myself I can’t do it is stupid because today is evidence that I can.

Me at Kinglake
Me in Kinglake, in front of the restoration project centre.

About to suck down a gel
About to suck down a gel but you can still tell I’m smiling.

Anyhoo… this is something my brother wrote in my birthday card which I really liked:
Bike riding is not about where you are going but what you see, feel, smell and think about along the way. Don’t try to destroy (yourself!) when you ride but create thoughts, ideas and a broad smile on your face. As you discover, make sure you enjoy!

Clickity click

After getting asked by two people if I was still taking photos, I figured it was a sign I should get my camera out and actually use it. There are bigger versions in my deviant art folio.

So, without further ado – pic spam post!!

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Beyond happiness

Sometimes I really do wonder why I do it. Why, in god’s name, am I out on my bike when it’s cold, wet and miserable? Every turn of the cranks is a huge effort and I feel like I’m pedalling squares. Hands have gone numb from the cold and I stopped being able to feel my feet about two minute into the ride. It hurts to breathe because the air is so cold. It’s a torture of my own devising.

And then there are days like today.

That’s not to say it wasn’t cold – it was (4°C). And indeed, my hands did go numb. When they finally warmed up, it was time to not being able to feel my feet. But you know what? It didn’t matter.

On occasion, I manage to feel that elusive cyclists’ high. It’s something beyond the endorphins that have been released. It’s beyond feeling happy. The closest I can come to describing it is that it’s a sensation of fierce joy. Like I could take on the entire world. I want to scream to the sky that I’m here, that I’m truly alive. It’s a high unlike anything else.

This isn’t to say it doesn’t hurt. It does. The cold seeps into every part of my body and to breathe is like breathing in ice. My face hurts, my teeth hurt, my nose goes numb but I am alive in that moment in a way I can never be in my everyday life. My heart pounds and my whole body shakes from the effort. It’s cold, so cold, but somehow that makes it even better. In the moment, I feel like I’m best version of myself that I can possibly be. I’m strong, in control, capable, fierce and utterly blissed out. I rise above all monotony in my life and everything is so clear. All that matters is the moment, the joy I feel. It’s truly living in the moment.

“The bicycle has a soul. If you succeed to love it, it will give you emotions that you will never forget.”
– Mario Cipollini