Saturday, December 24, 2011

Soon Enough, Work And Love Will Make A Man Out Of You.

Two hours ago I finished the last road hours of the only hard week I've been able to complete in months. I'd forgotten how hard it was, to be lying on the couch, totally slammed by your efforts the day before (or even that morning), and having to convince yourself to get up, put on the lycra, pump up your tyres, get back on the bike and start hurting yourself even more. The efforts on the program aren't impossible, of course, but from that comfortable position they sure as how feel like it. Added to the physical suffering is the all encompassing grumpy moodiness that accompanies a hard week on the bike - a side effect of any stressful situation, even the ones you choose to inflict on yourself - which only adds to the unwillingness to get the hell off the couch.

But still, this week I did every effort on the list. I got up off the freaking super-comfortable couch, which is the best place to lay in the entire universe, and did them. Training is like money in the bank, and it's the first time in months I've been able to make a decent deposit.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Story Of My Life.

There's a party going on a couple of streets over, and the dull bass thud coupled with the heat is keeping me from sleeping. Interestingly enough, I'm not appalled by the taste in music - they seem to be giving the Wu-Tang a good thumping, with some Cypress Hill mixed in, and I'm ok with that. I wonder, though, if there are a bunch of kids lurking in the corner of that party, with strange haircuts, annoyed expressions and Millencolin tapes in their pockets. Because if that DJ steps away from the stereo for more than five minutes, that tape is going straight into the deck and some kids are going to skank their asses off - until, of course, the DJ comes back, says "What the fuck is this shit?", hits the eject button and flips it back to Beyonce.

I mean, does this still happen? This still happens, right? I'd go look, but I'm not wearing any pants.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Lighting's Bad.

As I mentioned here, I went up and raced in Bendigo a couple of weeks back. I was mostly heading up there for the club Madison, but was pretty psyched to be racing up there in general. First up was a twelve lap scratch race. The pace was, as per usual, pretty hot from the outset. A couple of laps in the pace went up another notch and someone in front of me dropped the wheel. I put the power down and spun my way back up to the bunch. It felt pretty good. We rolled around some more.

When the bell went I was at the front, which isn't the best place to be when a lap is more than 400 metres long. I wasn't too keen just to lead out Sean Finning, who was somewhere behind me, or Jarrod Maroni, who was probably immediately behind him. So I hit it. The wind was up and I figured they'd look at each other a bit, daring each other to do spend their bikkies chasing me down.

It seems that this was exactly how it panned out. I gapped the field, and held the gap until the final straight. Once they got to me I hit it again, and held off until the final breath, when Finning took the win by a wheel.

I wasn't disappointed. I threw all I had into the race and was only beaten by a Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist. It'd been a long time since I'd shown that kind of form, and I was relieved that finally it was beginning to come back.

For training today my coach had scheduled a Madison Skills session with Leigh Howard and Scott McGrory. After the session was done I got chatting to Scott. Apparently he had been in Bendigo that night, and had seen me taking it up to Finning. "It was a good ride," he said, "You made the right move."

I don't know if you've noticed - I may have mentioned it once or twice - but this year I've been pretty sick. After a while being sick starts to get into your head. You start to wonder if you're ever going to reach that same level of performance that you once had. Your confidence starts to be shaken, and you start to doubt. But right now, with some wins under my belt and a compliment from an Olympic Gold Medalist in my head, I feel like I'm ready to take on the world.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Deep In The Country. Deep In The Country.

Like everybody's memory, mine sometimes is unreliable. I can't help but wonder, therefore, if some of my totally rad memories haven't been blown out of proportion, if they become more and more awesome as the days go by. Was that Nine Inch Nails show in 1996 really as mind-blowing as I remember? Were Milko bars really that delicious? Was that Alison girl I made out with in year 8 really such an amazing kisser, or am I just saying that to excuse the fact that I was making out with someone who looked a bit like my friend Evan?

When I haven't raced up in Bendigo for a while the same doubt appears. I always remember the speed, the big wide track, the space and the aggression. But after a few months of just racing at DISC, with the roll-around-and-sprint, bring-back-the-break-immediately mentality that seems to be its defining characteristic, I start to forget that track racing can be any other way.

But it can, and it is. For once my memory was perfect, if not a little understated. Nath and I drove up there on Thursday. They were doing a club Madison and I wanted in. It's a long drive - even longer on the way home - and I gotta say, I was pretty wrecked on Friday. But the racing is hard, damn hard, and those country boys know how to ride their bikes. I reckon I was the biggest muppet in the lineup - certainly the accidental hook I threw at Sean Finning in the scratch race did nothing to dispel this notion. In the Madison I got lumped with some young kid I didn't know. After talking to him before the race I casually mentioned to my brother that we were fucked. I was totally, totally wrong. The kid was a gun. I only contested two sprints (of seven, I think), and he took points in each of the others. Sure, I chased down attacks, stopped gaps from opening up, and did my bit, but he was the one who eventually won the bike race for us.

But it wasn't just that we were winning that made the racing so rad. On that big open track you can really play hard, especially when the wind is up, and you know that your hard work is going to be rewarded. There's the typical Madison mess, with riders everywhere, but the track is wide and flat enough for it never to feel unsafe. I've said it once, and I'll say it again: it just feels fast.

Plus, afterwards, if you've won something, they have presentations, and you get to make a speech. I like making speeches.

Friday, December 2, 2011

23 Million Miles.

About a week ago I promised myself that I wouldn't write any more blog entries about my health, partially because I feel like each time I write that I'm getting healthier I jinx myself, but mostly because I'm finally - probably a good three weeks after everyone else - starting to find it a little boring. Six months of feeling like crap and obsessively searching for reasons why I'm feeling like crap may be interesting to me, but this ain't no secret journal, and occasionally I have to give some kind of consideration to you guys - my "audience", as the creative writing teachers call you. This being said, I'm the kind of guy who loves it when movies have that "where they are now" bit at the end; closure is important to me. So here it is. I'm not promising anything, but this will probably be the last blog entry on my health.

Dr Vic has been really good for me. Apparently a couple of days after our first visit he woke at three in the morning, dug my food journal out of his file, did some quick maths and figured I wasn't getting enough protein. I did some similar maths and agreed - some days I was only getting around 30 grams. So I started boosting it up to a minimum of 100 grams a day. Each time I went back to Dr Vic he asked me about it, and seemed really concerned. Eventually it came out - he once had a patient who was protein deficient, and who had ignored his advice, and eventually died.

While I get the impression that the Doctor still isn't convinced about a vegan diet, and that this death in his past has something to do with it. To his credit he isn't questioning me about it, but rather giving me homework. As such, as well as eating more protein, I have to make sure I'm getting a full spectrum of amino acids each day. There are twenty-one of the little fuckers, and it ain't easy, but being a vegan athlete wasn't ever going to be. Like Dr Garnham he has recommended that I go see a sports dietician, in the home of letting someone else figure out the complicated stuff, and I reckon that's probably going to be the next thing on my list.

The big question is, of course, how I'm feeling. Well, I'm feeling pretty damn good. When I told Dr Vic this he smiled and shook my hand. "You just wait, though," he replied, "In six months your brain will be firing and you'll think you couldn't feel any better. And then in a year you'll wonder how you ever survived feeling like you did six months ago. And then in two years, when you're back at your peak, you won't believe you ever felt so bad. You'll be flying."