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Oh my God! It's blown up!

I don't know why amateurs are so derided - I don't mind being called an amateur: well I am certainly one when it comes to bike riding. Amateur is borrowed from the French, it is someone who is a lover of ......... something.

For we Rouleurs a lot of blood, sweat and tears goes in to even being considered amateurs.Even from where I sit now I haveexperienced many  highs and lows. Question? Why bother going on when things don't look so rosy. What does it for you? What does it for us? Is it the passion ??? the passion that  burns  for what we love to do? What drives us when the body can't and the mind is in a no- go- zone?

I'll tell you where I am heading with this: I'm hurt! I've injured my right knee......It's blown up. I had a big week last week at work and play. With Casey Racey on Saturday;  Sunday rode to the Dandenongs from my place - Springvale Road, Cabterbury Road, The Basin and so on. Monday work day ride, Tuesday work day ride again  and then 1 and a half hour ergo at home. Wednesday night 80 k's down Beach Road. Thursday felt sore - day off. Saw Physio on Friday he  said "Take it easy ". . He recommended time off the bike - 3 weeks. He told me to make Voltaren my friend. I said I didn't want to. He told me that it was going to take time to heal and not to put the knee under load.He said I could permanently injure myself. I felt like a fool. I knew all this.

And so this is where I stand,  now training at half volume. for my own good! - this can jeopardise my campaign - the campaign that I started in March, that came through fog, wind and wet days;  yes ,freezing mornings and dark slippery roads at night. "Take it easy!....... or you could develop a full blown case of tendonitis" still freaks me you know. Ouch !!

It was good to wallow for a day or so, but I re-grouped during the week. I checked my cleats - checked their alignment. I swapped to a compact crank so as to spin faster and  not  load  the old knees too much. I've checked the seat height. I've done everything possible me thinks!

Well, yes everything that an amateur would and can do. So I forge ahead, roll on with this disappointment, learn from this  Padwan- as long as" la passione" is still there ragazzo -  keep going !!!after all there's plenty of time.

Arriverdeci Amici

Prega per me.


What a day! What a ride! What a race!

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Casey racey!

Take your life in your hands and literally ride to Casey Fields.  The day was gorgeous, sunny, perfect for riding, a fresh breeze.  This was, I thought, going to be a great day.   I settled in on the ride, I noticed the wind strength increasing - was this going to be painful? I calmed myself down and looked at my pedals turning over, I was now facing a strong headwind - I was attacking the wind - I saw cars flashing past, I was sure they were driving over the speed limit (seriously though, you need to have your wits about you and be on task.  The traffic is very aggressive and gravelly road surface, in places, is hairy and scary!).

I was turning the pedals quickly in low gears the wind hummed through the Mavic spokes.   I was saving myself, saving my energy for the racing to come.  I arrived at "Cranny", rode down the main street looking for the turn.  It was busy, lots of shoppers bargain hunting.  I noticed lots of good looking folk in modified cars - I knew they were cutting blockies, doing laps.  Someone actually leaned out of the window and yelled at me to get off the X1$#* road - their road....  Oh great, yes, the number plates, personalised, you know the type "hotdvl", "blown", "redjet" and of course, not to forget "shedemon". 

I finally arrived ready to race.  Flags were fully extended and a sweet gale was blowing.  Just what I needed a good sandblasting, yes, facial scrub to remove the wrinkles.   Casey Fields is a purpose built bike track for racing configured in a horseshoe.  It has many corners and is generally flat.  There are many places to attack and withdraw, and more importantly for the novice racer,  places to shelter.    I've made it a point to read and reread Thom Pren's book on racing tactics as recommended by Carlo.  I tried nervously to remember what to do, here and now!  As racing began we quickly head into a headwind, on the turns there were crosswinds.   Around again and the sprinters were delighted with very fast tail winds, a slight uphill grade and the circuit finish line was in sight.  The pace was on from the start,  I decided to hang in the middle.   This was going to be a learning race.  As it wore on, time wore the racers out.  There were elaborate shows of strength, it slowed, then it took off....  There weren't many options, either you followed and kept your place, hiding from the wind, or you were hung to dry.  And... the riders did fall away, picked off, lap after lap by the wind.  I was feeling desperate - I had forgotten my race plan (Carlo says - always have a race plan).  Somehow I recovered, I sat in the last ten remaining riders, it was three laps to go - then two laps -  then the bell - I attacked from the middle with 500 metres to go, on that little incline.  I was coming first, I had it in me, I was full of it, forza italia.....I knew that I had fired them up - being chased like a rabbit - pursued!  I could feel them behind me, I looked down at my lolly legs, I was fading fast.   Then I was 2nd, no! 3rd, damm! half a wheel and 4th as we hit the finish line.  Still on the money though ($15.00 with $5.00 to spend).  The race ended and the pain was over.  I turned the pushy northward to home.  I learnt some valuable lessons today.   I sucked down some sweet drinks, ate the jam sandwiches and thought about a T-bone for dinner.  With the wind on my tail I said "arrivederci Cranny".




Picture Frame of a Wannabe Athlete

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Or think! A middle aged man in lycra!

I will be completely honest with you, but lately I haven't exactly been jumping out of my skin. Nor have I had the wish to write lately and you should understand why.

Yes, I've been in the grip of the" training effect."...  Training and  more training  that has been the my mantra,...,committed and focused that's how I have been . Work harder and harder , go faster and faster ,train and become stronger and stronger  (I  hope)  There will be an abundant harvest this year.....Oh I'ts so alluring,so captivating .......Do you want some of this??????

On a shelf at home I have a picture frame in full view;It lies empty for me to see.It's empty because it's waiting, waiting to be filled, filled with a result of a completed Melbourne to Warrnambool race.I will see my name there on the result sheet.

Yet fellow riders I see more and more how difficult it is and the great sacrifices it takes not only to train continuously but also to manage a normal life. I guess sometimes I underestimate things and also the follow on effects they have .It has to be all 100% doesn't it?All the little compartments of our lives 100% .....But is it? It can't be! To be Involved in the lives of a growing in a  family, and high pressure job, keeping committments, social engagements and schedules , training ,taining ,training  Arrrrrhhh - the energy levels are low from push bike riding when the needs in real life are high:when spouse and children are around and you're not there......well sort of there.(more coffe more coffee)

It's a struggle - I'm not paid to be an athlete yet I still do my kms.honestly and without gripe. I ride when it rains, when it blows like a bitch and dark.( it's so dark now that I can't see a thing;)   . Yes a work ethic second to none - hmmmmmm a very workmanlike approach to road riding, not at all inconsistent  very measured,very middle aged  - put your money away and when you one day need it you can withdraw.Capito Ragazzo.

So next time you pass a middle aged dude he may be at E3 and you may be at E1 you may giggle and laugh at his effort. Spare a kind thought.....there's more that meets the eye -  So What do you think of them apples?

Ciao Bello    Tanti Baci



A seat for a king.

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It's that elusive sweet spot!

Selle Italia, San Marco, Fizik and Specialized, how many bike saddle companies are there and how many seat fashions are there? How many seat positions? How many varieties are there - all of this does matter to me because lately it adds up to one enormous dilemma and also a massive pain in backside!

You know, all the spin is very convincing, buy the anatomic seats they're the ones that are the most mindful of the nether region (the ones with the cut out)! Yes the variety is enormous and yes everyone is different but why is it so difficult to find one that suits?

How frustrating is it to buy a saddle and hope that it will be as comfortable as the trusted old and discover that it's not, and to wriggle and to move forward and back, forward and back so many times that there are wear patches on the aboc knicks - it's that sweet spot that elusive sweet spot on the saddle that supports the glutes on the long rides.  There's more spin, Specialized have a measuring pad that one that measures your sit bones your iscias tuberosities (I think) and then from the measurements they suggest a suitable saddle. Are you convinced? Hmmmmm?

I have a friend who has a cupboard of saddles at home all in there original boxes. All of which he has tried but don't suit him. All different, from gel to leather - but get this he settled on a Selle Italia in full carbon fibre, a seat that is as inflexible as a restaurant plate and at 78 grams says that it's the most comfortbale seat he has ridden on.....

I just don't get it!


It's dark but listen

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I don't like riding at night and yet I went on.

Sometimes during an ordinary training ride you may discover gold within. Long rides during the work week are difficult. Motivation is low when the weather is unfair, cold and wet.

I started my ride on Beach Road after work. My aim was to ride 80kms. I don't like riding at night, yet I went on.

It was 6 degrees, drizzling and dark, very dark! Perfect. As I settled in to the ride, I began to take in my surroundings. I saw the  front light beaming like a semaphore, the road was also slippery and black like a licorice strap.

There was really no distractions other than a few cars - no scenery, nothing, nothing to look at. I couldn't see my bike monitors I depend on them for training rides hmm - maybe too much.

I started pushing hard, but I didn't know my speed or heart rate - I remembered the old scale of the (Borg perceived exertion table). I felt well within myself. I listened - the seat had a funny creak - the hubs had a particular tick, I didn't know my speed or hr - I sometimes glanced at the egg-shaped pedal strokes - I must work on that!

My hands were welded to the hoods. I listened to the breathing rising and falling. I was drenched. My shoes squelched but I was pumped.

I finished the ride in a good time and in good spirits. I came to recognise how often disconnected we are from what's actually happening when we are riding. So much other thinking gets in the way.

If competitive bike riding is the sum of the mental and the physical then - listening, reading and watching to what is really happening matters a great deal. It is a training step up in the right direction.


Tanti Baci


Will talk soon.


i dare you......

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No guts no glory...or Forza Ragazzo the Warny she's a coming..

I must be completely candid with you and tell you that this is no easy decision. Lots of thinking and lots of tooth grinding went into this and was certainly not made in haste. This has been a huge step for me. It came about one night after asking Carlo to plot my years training. After having been relatively successful in short distance races (relatively) he suggested training to race in the Melbourne to Warnambool Road Race. 'The Warny' he called it. He loves it. He's done it twice. I'd heard of this mythical race, a 300 km race, the longest UCI graded race in the world - HMMM. A mate of mine Signore Giramondo won it a couple of decades a go.

Well let's put our cards on the table here. I'm no pro racer and I'll leave the elite racers to their days work. However, I do love to train hard - really hard - and get a high from racing and finishing well. But I'm a novice. I'm not concerned with winning or losing (come on, I'm in my 40s) but I have now made a blood pact with myself that I'm going to give it a good jolly rogering and I'm not only going to survive the race but also finish it well.

This is a gamble. A huge bet - will it pay off?

Deciding to start an event like this means dealing with risk, especially the risk that failure will result. The failure may range I guess from not keeping up to gruppetto to not finishing. Also fear is a player. Afraid of the pain and discomfort (very afraid) that comes with going far and fast. But you know standing tall to the little voice in your head warning you not to do it is what creates the greatest pleasure of achievement.

Only by confronting the challenge head on, whether succeed or not, is usually all you need to raise the spirit.  

Ciao, will talk soon.


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