Thursday, March 31, 2011

Delivering Pain.

Holy crap, I've been off the bike three weeks now and let me tell you this: I am ready to get back on. How ready? You know that bit at the start of "Welcome to the Terrordome"? Yeah, that ready.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

When You Jump Ship.

A while ago I did something kinda shit, and because I'm still not quite sure of my motivations, I'm going to try to rectify it here, in the hope that some kind of epiphany will occur mid-paragraph. JKLP got in touch with me and asked about track coaching, and I was kind of negative in my response. Sure, I gave him a few names, but instead of offering encouragement and phone numbers I chose instead to perpetrate the Brendan Bailey myth - you know, the one that goes, "I didn't get a coach til I was in A Grade on a Tuesday night (it also goes, "I rode a one of the shitty club bikes til A Grade on a Tuesday night," or, "I made it to A grade on the road riding a 90s steel bike with 90s Campy Record," or, as Casey likes to put it, "Me Me Me Me Bikes....."). This isn't entirely true, of course - I was training with Alf from Brunswick twice a week, and Nath had mocked up a training outline for me. I guess what I was trying to do was tell JKLP not to get ahead of himself, but really, that's bullshit. In fact, that's the worst cycling advice I've ever given anyone. If he writes me another message, I'm going to tell him to get way ahead of himself, to bite off more than he can chew and chew like hell. And I'm also going to tell him to get a coach. Because it's the best thing I've ever done for my cycling.

The other piece of advice worthy of consideration is this: you are a cyclist twentyfour hours of the day, seven days a week. It's kind of unfair, in a way. When I played football I'd train twice a week, for about two hours a session, then play on the weekend. That's probably nine, ten hours a week, tops. When I was a runner (sprints, if you're interested) I'd train four nights a week, again for about two hours a session, and then compete on the weekends - probably about ten or eleven hours of my time. Outside of these hours I wouldn't think about competitive sport at all - partially because I was fifteen and found it difficult to concentrate on anything other than girls and how my parents and school and the cops were totally oppressing me, but mostly because I didn't have to. But cycling demands way more of my time - I'm currently doing twenty hour weeks, including gym, and it's not even road racing season yet - and, more importantly, way more of my concentration. Because I know that if I stay out late one night eating pizza and talking shit, my training session the next day is going to suck. There's just no way I can get the best out of my body on five hours sleep. And I know - and this has been a hard lesson to learn - that if I eat Lord of the Fries at any time, any where, I'm not going to be able to get the best out of my body the next day. And I know that if I spend a lot of time on my feet at work then my legs are going to be tired training that afternoon. And that if you train shit, you race shit. It's as simple as that.

I'm not saying that you don't ever get to relax. Of course you do - hell, I go out for dinner and movies and (very) occasionally parties, just like anyone else. But while I'm out, I can't have a 'cycling day off' and lose my shit. It just doesn't work like that. Bodies just don't work like that. No matter how many programs your coach draws up.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I Like To Party Fucking Hard!

This season coming will be my third road season. This year I'm aiming for about 25 days of racing, including combine races and opens. A majority of those days will be wet, cold (I'm talking single figure temperatures), windy and otherwise brutal. At least one of those days it will be snowing - probably the day I volunteer to be a corner marshal. I will take a wrong turn at least once (most likely on a right turn - I'm a track rider, I get confused when turning right...) and ride a long way in the opposite direction until realizing my mistake. I will win races very rarely - not because I'm crap, but because in road racing your opportunities are very limited. I will be beaten by people both significantly younger and significantly older than me. In most races I will lose all feeling in my fingers and toes. I will be relegated or fined at least once for crossing the centre line. I will get changed in the back of my car more often than I care to remember. I'll eat breakfast from the service station next to Calder Park Raceway at least once, and regret it immediately. I'll rediscover which inner-city cafes are open after four on Saturdays.

And then, a little before the end of the season, I'll swear I'm only going to race track from now on.

So, am I looking forward to road season? Oh, hell yeah.

Monday, March 28, 2011

I Consider It A Measure Of My Humantiy.

It's not really fair of me to say that I'd been back training one day when I injured myself, when really the pain in my knee raised its ugly head the day before. I mean, it's obviously funnier to describe it that way, and that's why I'm running with it. Good humour means more to me than medical precision right now. I'm pretty fucking bummed. I know I complained quite a bit about starting back on the program, and getting up at 6am on Monday was a complete shock to the system, but I was kinda looking forward to it. It was all part of the plan, you see. I was going to take two weeks off, then start up training again and come back even stronger than before. But this injury, whatever it is, is not part of the plan. It's a setback, and setbacks do not feature in my goals for this year. Yep, pretty unimpressed.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Give It A Slight Twist.

This is currently the song I hear in my head before I go to sleep, and then as soon as I wake up. And you know what? In my head it sounds like fucking freedom.


Oh man, today my two-week-break bliss came crashing down to earth with a thud. And there's still a good six days left. I still need to find the time to take Casey out to dinner, to hit Scooter up for a massage (before he leaves the country to take care of AIS cyclists in Italy... the jerk), to stay up late watching TV on DVD. But there it was, sitting in my inbox when I arrived at work this morning. An email from my coach, with the heading "program." So much pain in those two short syllables.

And then, this evening, I started on my new gym program, a program designed to improve my endurance for the coming road season. Twenty squats with twenty kilos on the weightlifting bar, then eighteen squats with thirty kilos, then sixteen with forty, all the way down to two squats with eighty kilograms on the bar (for the pedants: the weight increments go from ten to five at some point). Eighty kilograms. That's more than I weigh, and today I lifted it twice - after 108 'warm-up' squats. I then do a little bit of work on my arms and core. So, right now, I'm barely able to move. Tomorrow will be worse. It always is.

Some of you may be wondering why at this point. I guess that makes sense. But me, I never ask why. I guess this Bukowski poem - posted by Rapha Condor cyclist Tom Southam on his blog - nicely sums up my reasons. Even if Bukowski was a misogynistic asshole, even if his 'drink your way to the truth' schtick is 'pure adolescent narcissism' (to paraphrase Is Not magazine), he occasionally hits the nail right on the head.

Roll the Dice

by Charles Bukowski

if you’re going to try, go all the


otherwise, don’t even start.

if you’re going to try, go all the

way. this could mean losing girlfriends,

wives, relatives, jobs and

maybe your mind.

go all the way.

it could mean not eating for 3 or

4 days.

it could mean freezing on a

park bench.

it could mean jail,

it could mean derision,



isolation is the gift,

all the others are a test of your

endurance, of

how much you really want to

do it.

and you’ll do it

despite rejection and the

worst odds

and it will be better than

anything else

you can imagine.

if you’re going to try,

go all the way.

there is no other feeling like


you will be alone with the


and the nights will flame with


do it, do it, do it.

do it.

all the way

all the way.

you will ride life straight to

perfect laughter,

it’s the only good fight

there is.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fixed Frequencies.

It's a strange quirk of my training program that I see far more of my gym trainer than I do my coach. I'm in the gym twice a week, and between sets there's a lot of time for us to chat. Most of the time this consists of idle gossip about other cyclists and occasional dissertations on physiology, but on Monday he asked me when track season finished. I told him it had finished on Sunday, and that I'm currently in the midst of two weeks rest before road season begins.

Today I found myself with a new gym program. Put simply, it's squats plus core, with a sprinkling of arms here and there. This may sound counter-intuitive, but I went beyond questioning his wisdom a long time ago. There is no blinder faith than mine, and I'm being rewarded with race results and plummeting TT times.

He's a seventy-one year old pensioner, thin as a whippet, who occasionally breaks into song. He once danced for Australia in some international competition. He trained in the modern pentathlon and was the Hawks running coach. He was a jumps jockey. He can still outlift me. He worked most of his life as an exercise physiologist, specializing in rehabilitation, and can name more muscles than I thought I had. He's fit more into one lifetime that most people could in five, and when he talks I shut the hell up and listen.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Nowhere To Run.

Last night at Brunswick Track Champs (round 1) I knocked two whole seconds off my kilo time. Yep. 1:08:672. And Jay Callaghan, who has taken me under his wing a little bit of late, reckoned it would've been even faster if I hadn't skipped the wheel three times in my start (apparently he was counting). Of course, I dug myself a pretty big hole in doing so, and as such didn't feature in the pointy end of the motorpace, but it's still nice to see those times coming down.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gotta Find A Way.

You Would Like To Have One Too.

At the Austral the other night I was chatting to my coach about my program for this month. He said I'd finally finished my base training (at which point I exclaimed, "That was base?"), and it was time for me to ramp it up. "There's only one thing," he continued, "When did you last have a break?" I thought for a while, then told him that it was about this time last year. "Well then, after Bendigo I'll give you two weeks off."

Of course, I'll still be in the gym three times a week. But other than that, between the 14th and the 28th I will be available to see bands, go out to cafes, come to dinner and attend parties. Hit me up.