Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Day Seventy-six: Pain is only transient



A few weeks ago, I posted this photograph and didn't write anything about it. A friend had sent me a link for the climb and there I found the extraordinary image.

I have now, and just by chance, found a couple of posts by Dave Moulton, where he writes about the rider, Fiorenzo Magni ,  and the moment when the photograph was taken.

A little more research and I found that Fiorenzo has won three Giro trophies and The Tour of Flanders also three times. A bit more about this great Italian rider here.

The climb is the San Luca in Bologna. This is a very tough climb and the stage for Simon Gerrans amazing and, in contrary to the Italian's effort in 1956, almost effortless looking win in this year's Giro d'Italia. Undoubtedly, a great moment for Australian Cycling in 2009.

Enjoy!



Saturday, December 26, 2009

Day Seventy-Three: Caetano Veloso and 2010

It has been a while and I can only confirm that I am still hanging out for a good, long ride. Very likely to happen in the New Year as I wait for some form of clearance from the specialist.

Apart from a neck soreness that doesn't go away, I feel that everything else is healing nicely. The next step might be lots of visits to the physio and gym work to get back some strentgh on my left arm.

Training should start in February with some real base kilometers this time, and no racing.

The focus will be on road races in the second half of the year with three events set as A Races.
Before and in between those events, I will be working with a Masters A Team, getting designated riders to the line. Looking forward to that new role.Groover's blog .

  • QLD Road Race Championships in August
  • Grafton to Inverell in October
  • Tour of Bright in December

For now, I am enjoying the festive season (too much in form of food and drinks, I am afraid) and Sandra's parents visit.

Let me finish this post and the year with a beautiful song and a singer who has had an enormous influence on the music and lives of many in Brazil and other Latin countries.

To all, a very Happy New Year, and safe riding!


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Day 55: Bright and a little jealousy didn't kill me

It was another successful trip to Bright. We managed to get there and back without any incidents.

We were close, I must say, as a sleepy truck driver swerved to the right and off the road, just meters in front of us, collecting a few road signs. Then back and across to the left, coming to a stop some twenty meters off the road... This happened in the first thirty minutes of our 3 1/2 h drive. We almost... lets just say, turned around and headed back to the airport.

In Bright, we caught up with Bruce and Mick, good friends from the days we started racing bikes in Cairns and the ones who introduced us to this event. We also met David and Angelo, from
6amers.com, who were in Bright for some training rides. Of the group of six, only two were racing this year, Sandra and Mick.

The Tour of Bright is a fantastic event, this year attracting more than 500 competitors. It is one of those events that, unless you are at the top of your category, you race to improve the times from previous years. There are just too many good riders, who train in those parts of the world and know how to attack those mountains.

Because of the injuries from the accident a few weeks ago, I went down to assist Sandra and not to race. That proved to be very rewarding as she had a great tour, coming home with terrific results and a time 9 minutes faster for the Mt Hotham ascent alone. How good is her coach???

All here!

And talking results here, I looked into the Masters 4/5 ITT results and my 23:03 time in 2006 would put me in 7th place this year, with the winners of both years speeding on the 15 km course at around the same time - 21:50. Something to keep in mind for next year.

Next year!?!? That's right, this event is so remarkable that when you finish it, racing or not racing, you start planning for next year... no matter how bad you went and how much you suffered on the mountains. That's how it is!!

And if you are a cyclist and you were there and didn't get on the bike, you would feel a little jealousy of those hundreds of riders going up and down those climbs. They are just magnificent climbs in a very beautiful part of this continent.

I did.


Sandra's group - Womens C


Concentration before stage one



Mt Hotham climb


Half way up CRB hill



Climb #9: 2.36 km / 5.3%


Bruce


Climb #10: 1.9 km / 9.4%


Riders on their way back



Sandra and Anthony (Ant)



Mick, The Guru


Guru's bicycle



Coffee everywhere


Groover (race report)





AMR

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Big Fifty: to Bright without a bike

This will be my third trip to Bright. The first one without a bike.

We are flying to Melbourne in a few hours. There, we will collect a camper for the 3 1/2 h drive to Bright. We will be staying there for the two nights, will spend one night in Melbourne on our way back and will return to Brisbane on Monday.

It is a quick trip, normaly rushed with building bikes, race registration, grocery shopping, racing, eating and sleeping. Usually, we are too tired to do anything else.

This time, I will be busy before and after the race as I will be taking the role of soigneur for Sandra. I will probably follow the race in the car and experience the race from the side of the road at some point.

I have to say, packing was easy.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day 48: Thirty Seconds to Mars

It is looking pretty grey out there. So, and after my last post, I decided to do my bit to brighten up things a little.

I won't be writing a long post after a friend sent me a copy of the latest Velo Classic Tours newsletter this morning. With great style, the author gives a lesson on our present communication values and hunger for fast-food like information. More reading needed from my part...

From there, I moved to the web site where I found the full piece on the Italian cycling cuture. Well worth a read..
When the Legend Becomes Fact, Print the Legend.

To finish it off, and really brigthen the day (I hope!), check this video by 30 Seconds to Mars, a band from LA.



30 Seconds To Mars - Kings and Queens
Uploaded by RAKhufu. - Explore more music videos.

Have a nice day, off to the physio now, smiling!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Day Forty-six: unshaved legs, call me fluffy if you wish...

It might have been five or even six years ago when a friend of ours returned to Cairns for a visit. She had her boyfriend with her and a few stories about cycling in countryside Victoria.

So, there we were in this nice outdoor bar, not far from the harbour, and this guy talking non-stop about Colgnagos, Zipp hoops, Campagnolo this and that... Sandra and I couldn't put a word in, nor could our friend.

New to cycling, we both had very little idea of what he was talking about. We just nodded now and then and sipped on our cool alcoholic drinks. But it got a bit more embarrassing when the guy decided to look under the table, only to confirm that I knew nothing about cycling and wasn't in fact a cyclist at all:

- D..., look at his legs! Shall we call him "fluffy"?




I don't know when I shaved my legs for the first time. I remember it took a while to get used to the idea. But I did and for the last five years or so, the idea of having unshaved legs never crossed my mind. If it did, I would've said something like:

- Why? It would slow me down, my skin would be ripped off if I had a crash, my masseur would hate touching my legs and all those obscure reasons. Plus, my legs would look so horrible!

In the last few weeks, Sandra called me "fluffy" a few times. I know she didn't mean anything like our friend’s cycling boyfriend did and I don't feel hurt or anything but it does make me think.

At the moment, I don't know if I will ever shave my legs again. It is not that I think my calling for cycling has ended; I often think that my training and racing times might have ended with the accident. I do miss just riding a bicycle and I will get into riding as soon as I get the clearance from the neurosurgeon but I am uncertain if I will go back to training and racing.

The idea of training on the road, five to six times a week for months and months is a bit of a concern at the moment. I know this worry will go away but I also imagine the same thing happening again.

So far, I have lost six weeks of my life. I had to cancel a holiday with my son, I had to stop working, I am missing out on my A event for the year (the Mt Hotham ascent) plus all the racing that is going on in Summer and it is possible that I will miss next years road season...


Similar fracture

Last week I was told to have a MRI done. That's because of a possible soft tissue damage somewhere near the C6. I have also been told that I should stay off the bike until that's all sorted. The surgeon not willing to give me a time frame.

Dramatic as it all may sound, that's how I am starting to see my time with unshaved legs. Or maybe, I should just shave them anyway... given that it is traditional.




Safe riding!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Day Forty-two: Cadel's Shirt




"A phrase that has become synonynous with Cadel, since Stage 15 in the 2008 Tour de France..."  explains who ever is looking after Cadel's affairs, and I would think it must be Chiara, who even has her own sweet "corner" in the official site.

Is this how the first Australian to win a men's world road race championship would like to be remembered? Somehow, it reminds of Bart Simpson's famous "I didn't do it!" phrase, a few years back.







First, we should remember that Cadel is not the first Australian to win a cycling world championship. We have Sam Hill, Warwick Stevenson, Caroline Buchanan and many others. We also have our track world champions. Meares, Mactier, Bates, too many to list here but this link can take us to a few more - Link

Now, on the shirt, I learned about this don't-stand-on-my-dog thing on BSNYC's last post but as the truth must be said, I only really payed attention to it when I read a reply to Cadel's new entrepreneurial exploit, or joke, by one of the regulars on Snob's comments section. It read:


"...& cadel w/ your "Don't stand on my dog:" business ???...

...then get that little fucker off my lawn..."


I found it funny, but I found the comment reproducing my thoughts during that Tour, when Cadel would be seen walking around, hugging this little dog as if he was a sad little boy lost in the crowd and looking for his mum (possibly Chiara).

"I hope he doesn't get on the podium with the dog!" I thought then...

Now, I kind of understand why Cadel had so many issues gaining respect from his peers, including team mates. How could anyone? We never saw the Cannibal walking around with a poodle in his arms and looking all teary after a stage of the Tour.

Shit, I am going to be hated for this and I don't even dislike Cadel Evans but I do think he could really make a worthwhile statement by repeating his efforts of Beijing, when he broke the rules and wore an under shirt with Free Tibet painted on it. Even, if he likes, every now and then, not to take life too seriously.

I do!     







Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day Forty: this is what's going on...

Pain is only a transient state

Last week went really quick. Another one.

Unfortunately, it was marked with another accident in the family. Another driver turned right in front of an incoming traffic and Sandra's effort to avoid him only minimised the impact. She run straight into the side of his 4WD. This time, the driver was decent enough to apologise soon after they got out of their cars.

CarS!! That is right, Sandra wasn't on her bike. I was so relieved.

She is now nursing sore neck and back, nothing broken. Typical whiplash symptoms. She is back on the bike after a couple of days off and looking good for the Tour of Bright.

My hopes of a miracle recovery, which would allow me to race in December are now gone. That leaves me sitting at home (I can't work or drive) waiting for the next doctor's appointment and news that will hopefully take me back to a normal life.  

I have been going for walks with a neighbour. He walks his dog and I tag along for a bit of a chat and to get a bit of exercise. It is not the same as training 2, 3 or 4 hours on the bike but it makes me feel better.

On training, I have a few riders doing the 4 Weeks Program. It has been great getting to know these riders (via e-mail, at this stage) and learning about their dedication to cycling. I can't wait to hear of their results...

Monday, November 16, 2009

What day is it? Thirty-third!

I used to have a different Polar HR monitor. That particular one would display short messages on the hour if it hadn't detected any form of activity in a few days. The messages were the get off your butt type. They were quite funny.

Being almost five weeks since my last ride, I have been wondering what the message would be like. Well, if the Finish guys knew how I feel right now, it would be like:

- Get on the bike, you are going nuts!

It's not that I haven't been in this situation before, I have. This time, I have a new reason to feel like that, and it's sitting right there, two meters from my chair. And apart from a 50 m ride from the shop to the car, a few touches and making very minor changes to it, it has been just like that for over twenty four hours...





Soon!

PS: And a Thank you! to the guys at Fusion Cycles.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Day Twenty-eight & Will, a cool climber

Day 28

I will be heading to hospital sometime today. Getting there will be an event in itself as I opted to catch public transport as an alternative to getting there by car. It is a small contribution by a continual whinger on the ever increasing number of cars on our roads.

The news should be good. I feel well, sleep well and don't have a problem sneezing anymore. Have you ever sneezed with a fractured rib? Don't!


It will be a matter of finding how well the C5 can take some road vibrations. But enough of this episode...

Will, the cool climber

Now and then, I check to see what Will is doing. Will is someone who I first classed as a real climber (that was on my Blogs and Other Links list). He was someone who got on his bike and climbed as many Cols as possible, as this was his challenge. A real climber, I first thought.

Now, after watching his last video, I realise that Will is something else. He is a cool climber. And, he is a cool climber because he is having a lot of fun doing what he does, climb as many Cols as possible.

And what a nice thing to do!

I am sure he has his challenges and he has to prepare himself for them. I am sure he works on technique to get up those climbs and chooses his gear to suit them. But Will has fun when he climbs and that classes him as a cool climber.




I know where I would like to be!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Day Twenty-six & Trek Project One

The start of another week of virtually sitting around and waiting. Still, I am hoping to get to the next weekend on a different note.

I will have x-rays and another cat-scan, which might give me an idea on where I am at the moment in terms of my healing progress. I think, and wish, they will look at the results and will tell me that it has been a very fast recovery and I can go back to my normal life... including getting back on the bike!

And talking bike, my Trek Project One started this weekend. No, I didn't go to the fancy
Trek Bikes website and put together and ordered a Madone 6.9 with the latest components in my favourite colours.

Actually, I did go on the site for a bit of fun but got bored and totally repelled by the idea that I could have my own little message painted on the top tube. Like those little stickers that amateur riders put on their bikes with their names and flag of the country where they were born in, as the pro riders have on their bikes, I find those features very tasteless.

What I did though, was to pull apart my old Trek 370 race/ commuter bike, which has been dumped since
traffic accident #1 last year, and started my own Project One, which involves turning it into a single speed commuter.

 

The Trek 370 in 2004


Knowing myself, this a very ambitious project. Not for its degree of difficulty, or need for a large budget, but for my history of unfinished attempts to construct anything. I was pretty good in pulling things apart, which I did from an early age, but to put them back together was usually a case of taking everything to someone who knew what they were doing to finish "my" project.

So, here it is, the start of Trek 370 SS - Project One!



Skinny, round down tube



Nice welds on the 370




Frame, bars and bent fork



Lots of left overs...



I will be posting my progress as I go.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Four Weeks Training Program




I have received a few e-mails with questions on training. I have also noticed that a lot of the keywords used to get to my blog are, in one way or another, related to training or training programs. With that in mind, I decided to offer here, a program I believe will benefit a novice racer and anyone else who hasn't followed a training program.

Even if just commuting to work or doing bunch rides on the weekend, this four weeks program will bring noticeable benefits to those wanting to get a little stronger and quicker on the bike.

How did I get to write this program?

First, I have had a few years to experiment with my own training and have worked with a couple of coaches. For my benefit, they had a different approache to training, giving me varied and applicable ideas on what may work when building a program.

I have also completed a Level 1 Cycling Coach Course, which gave me valuable ideas on nutrition, sport psychology and how to put everything together for a basic training program. Unfortunately, at the time, a few things got in my way, including my own racing, and I didn't have the time to do my practical assessment and I was only given the CycleSkill Coach accreditation by the Australian Cycling Federation.

Well, I missed out on a piece of paper but it was good enough for me, I have been able to apply what I learned to design programs for different phases of my training (some good crash training programs) and for different events. The results haven’t been too bad…

If you are interested in getting hold of this program or have any questions, send me an e-mail, I will be happy to answer them and send more information on the program.

Safe riding!

Alberto

Monday, November 2, 2009

Bike handling with Danny and Ryan

OK, this is a quick one, or two on bike handling...

First, I found this video, which can be said to be a bit old now. Still, Danny MacAskill's (it is all in the name) skills just blew me away. For a moment I thought of selling all my road stuff and bike and buying something that would allow me to learn to ride like that. That's just my dreamer's personality talking.

Anyway, here is the video:




Then I came across another video. A bit newer I think and equally amazing. This is Ryan Leech's video:




Yes, I have a lot of time in my hands at the moment. I figured I might as well look around for some interesting stuff rather than just ramble on Cadel's new team or who was "kicking a..e" in the local weekend crit...

Have a great week!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Day Seventeen: Bikes & Phone calls



The last couple of weeks weren't the most exciting. There was only so much I could do around the house before I got drawn back to the computer, reading the news (cycling news that is...), looking at bikes and reading some cycling blogs. I am not into day time TV so the radio was on, tuned to Triple J all day...

On the cycling news front, the 2010 equipment revolution (post 2009 equipment revolution) got my attention. I learned, again, that every bike manufacturer is going to launch a stiffer, lighter, and faster machine for which, every other cycling related company has created a stiffer, lighter and faster piece of equipment to go with it.

Socks and jerseys are now made with carbon fibers. Hence, a humble prediction that by the end of 2010 we will be buying the same fibers to mix with our breakfast cereal or protein drinks for stronger, lighter and faster twitching muscle fibers... Now, that's a thought!

Looking at bikes and day dreaming always took a fair chunk of my spare time. Specially now when I might have to buy a new frame. It can be a bit repetitive some times but I try to look at all types. Carbon frames, steel and Al frames, track and TT bikes, Shimano and Campag groups (I can't stand that SRAM stuff) to go with them... Compact and traditional, black and black with red... The truth is I am always amazed by the beautifully designed gear.

But the more I learn, the more I believe that the reasons I had when I chose my "old" bike are still rationally valid. For one, my friend James liked the R3 (he is a scientist and should know everything). It wasn't very expensive, it was scientifically engineered, it was raced at Paris-Roubaix and at Alpe d'Huez and it was predominantely black, I couldn't have gone wrong.

However, I don't think I should ride the same bike forever, it might be time for change. After more search and price checks, I decided that if I have to, I will replace the R3 with the 2009 S2.




As far as cycling blogs go, I need to mention our friend BSNYC who has created a piece on another Canadian company (Cervelo is Canadian),
GURU Bikes, unusual marketing strategy.

The bikes do look fantastic and do fall in the category of I want one. Well, that is if I had a huge amount of cash to throw around and somehow could ignore the looks I would get from some of Snob's comment writers (the podium seekers) as I rode my new bike. That wouldn't be hard really! Although, I am not into most of the stuff he goes on about (I don't live in NYC and I don't own a fixie), Snob's comments on Contre-La-Mantra: Streamlining Your Sales Pitch are funny and would make me think twice before buying one of those frames.


Aaron's phone call

There have been many phone calls, one of them was from Aaron. It was a very unexpected call as it was the evening prior to stage ten of the
Crocodile Trophy, in the Far North.

Wasn't he supposed to be resting, or self-massaging or fixing his bike?

He sounded really happy and somehow relieved. He said the race was finished and next day's stage was just a formality. Formality? Fifty or sixty kilometers on a MTB are never a formality.

Anyhow, my friend "Jaman" did the Crocodile Trophy! What an effort, I am so impressed that I have to mention it here but I will leave it like that and wait for him to tell the stories when he gets back.

Congratulations Aaron!!!

Some stuff on Aaron's Croc Trophy adventure already on
The Jaman Files.







By the way, I believe he was having a couple of well-deserved commemorative rums when he called.


...more calls

Calls from insurance companies, work, solicitor, a team manager. Team manager? Yes, I got a call from a friend who manages a local racing team (I think he manages it). Anyhow, he asked me if I want to be part of his team for the 2010 season.

- Ah... uh...

- What do you want? He asked then...

Shit, I don't know what I want. Perhaps a whole season of racing for a change... I am now looking forward to the 2010 Road Season!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day Fourteen: ready to start training again and The 2009 Pro Season Video

Lets call it two weeks, given and taken a few hours, since my last ride. It is not certain but that could have been my last ride for 2009 as well.

Admittedly, at times like this, I wish I was a professional cyclist and would get a text, an e-mail or a phone call from the director sportif giving me orders to get on the bike, or plane, to meet the team for a training ride or race in a foreign country.

However, it's not like that. Like most, as much as I still dream of a life resembling that of a pro cyclist, it is not going to happen. I am OK with that, as long as I can keep putting the 300, and the occasional 400 kilometers in a week on the bike.

These last two weeks have been interesting to say the least. I have experienced tinglings and aches like never before. Some fairly intense, I don't mind, but some quite odd. I say odd because they don't seem to be directly related to the injuries I suffered from my bizarre encounter with the motor vehicle.

So, having to get a medical statement from my GP (insurance business), I took the opportunity to ask him a few questions regarding the symptoms I am still experiencing. The answers, apart from the clinical terms, were pretty much in line with what I already guessed and discussed with a couple of friends:

"Mate, you were hit by a car. Your whole body is suffering the consequences of that. I am surprised you didn't break a leg and I consider you lucky for having landed on your head and not have become..."

OK, I got the picture and walked out with my piece of paper feeling relieved. I have nothing to worry about, it is going to be a matter of time, that's all! Meanwhile, I can start to put together a plan for 2010 and can even do some research on what exercises (core and legs) I can do while laying still on my back.

I am content with my short 2009 season and the results I attained with the very short preparation I had. Certainly, something to keep in mind when designing training programs, another pursuit of mine.

My training can start now!


The 2009 Pro Season

On the Pro level it has been a great year. Apart from the drug scandals and accidents, all part of the sport, we watched some great races and some great champions.

The purist, and old, will keep saying that it isn't how it used to be, or "when I was the world champion...", which is well-founded, but it is also important for us to acknowledge the champions of today and encourage the champions of tomorrow. And that is in all levels of our sport.

The video below, does just that. It does it in a uncorrupted style, which I like, as it does not distinguish riders by the bike they ride or the country they were born in.

In my view, that's pure cycling! My friend John Flynn would say:

"It's a beautiful thing!"



Keep riding!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day Twelve: better by the minute & choosing a performance frame



Another weekend recovering from the slightly surreal and, now, to some extent laughable moment.

As expected, I have had problems to get a good sleep at night. Inevitably, I spent a fraction of those hours thinking about the incident, I can't help it. I try to think of a positive aspect (when I find one) and I do make sure I don't feel sorry for myself. I can't anyway, there are zillions of people in some real terrible situations, what happened to me is nothing!

I also think of the probable outcomes. Health, cycling, work, etc... They're all things that are part of my life and somehow have been impacted by what happened. I am positive that I will heal well, will be cycling soon and back at work in a few weeks. Additionally, I am lucky to have a partner who knows me well, supports me well, knows how to get on with things and does not pamper me excessively.


She does, sometimes...


So, that leaves me with one thing to worry about: my bike!!!

If it gets repaired, will it be alright?
If it gets replaced, will I find a better bike?

It is going to be weeks, or months before I learn the answers for those questions. Meanwhile, I will spend some more of those hours searching and like most of us, fantasizing!

Well, I have done that in the past, like all of us, and in fact just before the bloody incident (let me get it out of the system here even though it wasn't bloody at all) I was looking at some top of the range frames, trying to find one that could help me getting a little bit more competitive in races. OK, faster!

And, I put together a list with some of the bikes I looked at. Forgive me if the process was a little unfair as I haven't ridden most of these brands and had to rely on my visual analyses, manufacturer's spill and my own gut feeling to come up with the results. Not very technical, I know, so if you read this and disagree, please correct me at will, I won't feel dispirited.


Bikes: would buy x would not buy

Pinarello: "...with a graphic treatment with
sparkly silver." If that's what they think a
$10k frame should look like - Not!

Eddy Merckx: with that name - Would!

Trek: my hard earned cash would go on the
paint job of one of Armstrong's bikes - Not!

Time: couldn't have two of those at home,
not cool for couples to ride around on
same brand bikes - Not!

Look: it comes with a broken top tube, or
I would break it on my next crash anyway - Not!

Giant: sure they look no frills but they
don't muck around, they build race bikes - Would!

Orbea: long story, can't elaborate on this one - Not!

Ridley: partially built in Belgium - Would!

Felt: not 100% sure on the down tube design,
starting to look like something else - Not!

Cannondale: great BB design, traditional frame - Would!

Storck: strong and fast, doesn't look like a
climber's bike, would need another bike - Not!

Cervelo: they only make road racing bikes,
all the energy is directed in building fast
bikes - Would!

So, from the five Would! my final choice is Cervelo. It is not the top of the range so it can be almost affordable. It has been ridden in some tough races, in fact it has won a couple of good ones too. It might not climb as well as the R3 but it is a faster bike... and I have no mountains around here!!


The 2009 S2


After a final touch up...


See you out there!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Day ten: time to reflect and dish out...

"... to learn from it and to pass that on to others..."

I received that as a comment from a blogger-mate based on the other side of the world. Of course, he was referring to the latest in my world on two wheels. But it reminded me of one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place. I wanted to share some of my experiences with people that somehow would find this blog and somehow would change and improve something in their own lives.

Perhaps I haven't succeeded in doing so. Perhaps I never will. But I will keep trying, writing about my experiences and views, as a cyclist or not and on different topics, hoping that someone, anywhere, can one day sit back and say:

"- OK, I am learning something from this..."

Like I am!


Dish #1

On today's post, something on food. When I was growing up, everything, more or less, was related to large and delicious meals. Not the most balanced and healthy meals sometimes (too many desserts) and, as a compulsive surfer and the son of a restaurant entrepreneur, I ate too much, most of the times.

Today is a little different, and as a cyclist the subject always attracts questions on nutritional values and calorie counts. But I am not going to go into those details, I will let someone else do that and will just introduce a dish that is easy to make and, as one will find out and hopefully report on, as nutritious as it looks.


Tuna and Avocado Spaghetti


1/2 onion and 2 cloves of garlic


Broccoli (beans, snow peas or anything green)
and 1 avocado (thrown in last)


Frying with Olive oil


Tuna, spaghetti #5 and
cream (or low fat milk)


Add salt & pepper to taste,
1 x glass of Sauvignon Blanc


Bon appetite and safe riding!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day seven, wishing to be on my bike

This is the first time I have been hit by a vehicle and, so far I only have had minor car crashes as a driver or passenger. I can add to the list a few crashes on bikes; many, many wipe outs during my surfing life and last year's altercation with the van, when I was the one who hit it, putting it in a different category.

Been hit by a car is proving to be a new thing all together. Although, it was a low speed collision, and I only suffered a few injuries, my body seems to be reacting very slowly. Today is day seven and it is still aching as if the incident had happened last night.

My right thigh took the blow that sent me in the air. Luckily it wasn't snapped but it is constantly reminding me that something did happen to it. If I sit for too long, it aches as I get up and if I stand for too long, or just have it stretched in bed for a while, the ache returns as I try to bend it. The incident must have caused some damage to my nervous cells!

Moving to the next part, I have been wearing the neck brace, or cervical collar, for 99% of the time. That's not what the doctor told me to do, I am just too scared to take it off as I go to bed. I am a light sleeper and do move a fair bit during the night, the last thing I want is to make the fractures worst, doesn't matter how small they might be.

That brings me to sleep, or lack of sleep. Three continuous hours is a bonus at the moment and I have probably averaged 5 hours/day in the last week (Is it time to bring some graphs back?). The disturbed sleep is caused by wearing the brace, the intriguing leg and the fractured rib, mainly. Trying to find a position to accommodate the three is literately a work out. In fact, what I've been doing is compromising and sleeping with a bit of pain in one spot until I can't handle anymore and have to move. I then, try to sleep with a bit of pain elsewhere for a while. Hilarious to think how we can negotiate with our injured body parts...

Apart from a sore neck and shoulder, and that's from the rough landing I guess, the fractured C5 doesn't manifest itself. I wouldn't even know that there were fractures if I wasn't told so and of course, not made wear something that makes me walk around like Herman Munster.





So, it is all moving along on the physical part. The mind? Ah well, this bit goes through some not so pleasant moments but for most of the time I am staying positive and I keep telling myself that everything will be sorted and I will even be able to get on the bike and do some of the local climbs without any physical impediments.

Now, I can't forget to mention my beautiful partner, Sandra. She has been the force behind it all. She is a passionate cyclist herself but has chosen to put all her energy into what's happening to us, even putting aside her bike, her goals and her own battles. That is priceless to me!!

When I look at my bike sitting on the other side of the room, hopelessly, I tell it:

- Hey, get better! I want to go for a ride with Sandra!





Smiling all day!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Deeds, exploits and dreams - Giro di Lombardia 2009 (videos)

Here, where I collate my experiences and, sometimes, what might form the basis of future deeds, or dreams, I choose to show this great race where men on their machines endure an enormous amount of physical and mental hurt just to be able to put themselves a step closer to their goals which can be as far and as hard to reach as my dreams.











Saturday, October 17, 2009

Lucky fella, this one...



It is Saturday afternoon. It has been a while since I found myself sitting at home, not thinking that I should be on the bike or planning my next training ride. It feels strange in a way but it feels relaxing also.

I had an intense week, a week that generated a lot of stress, pain and sadness. Not just to me but to people around me and people many, many kilometers away. Unfortunately, a week that will bring a series of minor and less than desirable issues into our lives.

The injuries from my accidents weren't too bad, they could have been much worst. With time, they should heal and I should have no problems going back to my normal life.

However, the thought of been exposed to those type of situations, which easily could have put me in a more critical state, is somehow scary.

Also scary for the people around me and scary for the people many, many kilometers away. Not because we are cyclists, not because we are good people but because we are people and being people we are forever vulnerable to the sorts of circumstances we have no control over.

Thus, to sit here, quietly, trying to put some words together is delightful. Really.

Thanks for all the Get Well! messages and I will see you out there, soon...

Alberto

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A hot ride ends with a bang!!

During one of the many conversations with Sandra this week, I remembered what I often told my Dive Master trainees when discussing risk management, accidents and fatalities in the diving industry.

- It is a number's game. If we keep taking people underwater, three times a day, seven days a week, at some stage something bad is going to happen.

Luckily, and with lots of hard work trying to minimise the risks, I never had a fatality while instructing. But, bluntly, I had to say to Sandra that training on the roads and getting hit by a vehicle was just a matter of time.

Training and the end of it for a while

The week started with an easy flat ride on Tuesday. After what happened on the weekend, I chose the Nundah-Nudge Beach bike path and Boondal Wetlands to stay away from people and cars in general, coming home with 2 h/51km in the legs. Just what it was prescribed... well, with the exception of my three sprints at the Nundah circuit.

I still like to get on the bike in the middle of the day. The wind has been fairly strong and mostly W/NW at those times and it has been warm. Firstly, I am not an early morning person, if I can avoid getting out of bed at 4:30 AM, I will. Secondly, chances are the Tour of Bright will be run in very hot and windy conditions this year and I wanted to be prepared for that.

So, the Wednesday ride was planned as 3 hours of medium intensity, 80 to 90 Km, and I left just after 12 PM. I like to do those sessions on
Mt Nebo road, even knowing the intensity would rise too much during the first 6.5 km stretch to Mc Affees.

I take a few back streets on the 30 min ride to the bottom of Mt Nebo road, but it is too often that I observe cars going through red lights (in the middle of the day!)and/or cutting me off just to stop at a red light first. It must be the game to play, if some one drives a Ute or a V8 in this city.

This time, it happened on a section of the route I always take an additional care. Like this: driver stopped at intersection; driver gives way to the cars in front of me; driver looks at me; driver smiles and steps on the accelerator... I am not kidding and I was pissed off...

I went on. It was 36 C when I passed the green road sign, the warm head wind and dry air starting to hurt my lungs already. The combination of the two sending my HR to 86, 87 and 88% (170 bpm). I thought I was going to explode before I topped the first climb.

- Ah, well, Mt Hotham might just be like that... push it on!!!

The temperature dropped by 1 or 2 degrees as I rode up and every time I started one of the descents, I would splash myself with lots of water. I really needed to cool down. I also needed to practice my skills on the down hills, hence my max HR for the climb been on a descent (if the Polar was right).

I made it to the 300 m sign in good time but I was already too wasted and could not stay on the big chainring and sprint to the marker. By the sounds I was also making, my perceived effort numbers must have been 9 or 10... 17'19" with an average HR of 163 bpm. Huge in those conditions.




From there, it was the usual "enjoy the climb" approach, L to M intensity, again putting a bit of an effort on the descents and corners. I reached Jolly's lookout in 44'33" and the coffee shop in 48'35". Not Cat 1 times but pretty good for me.

From Mt Nebo on, the ride gets even better. A beautiful descent with lots of fast corners and another 240 m of climbing before the turn off to Samford Valley. The road then turns very steep and I had no problems keeping up with a car for most of the way.

Along Highvale, with a nice tail wind this time, I did one 12 min effort, averaging 43 km/h. It took me to Samford Village quick so a really cruise return home via Bunya would still get me home around the 3 hours/80 km target .


Distance: 71.5 km
Time: 2h54'30"
Ascent: 1630 m

The Bang

It says everything. I didn't make it home last night. A driver decided to put an end to my ride three or four kilometers from home, and on Rode Road of all roads...





The result is: a couple of small fractures on C5, a fractured rib and a very sore right leg, as it took all the impact that sent me up in the air.

It is all a bit unbelievable at this stage so I won't go into details but I am off the bike for a while, ten to twelve weeks, and will not be doing the Tour of Bright this year
(again!) .


"say you will, say you won't
say you'll do what i don't
say your true, say to me
C'est la vie"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The training week that just gone was a...

A good week, in terms of training. I did manage to do the planned hours and almost got the kilometers done, even though, a broken seat collar bolt prevented me from riding on Wednesday.

On Tuesday I did an easy ride to Sandgate, throwing in a few long sprints at the Nundah criterium circuit on the way home. It's a recommendation by Mr Cavendish (
great video here). I must say, I always liked throwing a couple of those when returning home via Rode rd, there are a few little hills which are perfect for that but they never made me a good sprinter...


Usual way home: Rode rd


Wednesday: running around fixing bike.

To catch up, I went out Thursday afternoon on a mission to do a hard, long ride with lots of climbing. I even drew the route on
bikely.com the day before (just made it public!) and almost followed it the whole way. At the end of the ride, I changed the route and took Youngs Crossing rd, intending to stay away from the afternoon traffic and ended up doing a few more hills.

The highlight was finally getting to ride Ocean View Road, which I only knew by looking at the 18% road sign on Mt Mee road. I have looked at that sign dozens of times in the last four years but never had the audacity to actually go up.

Of course, it is just a road sign and I didn't find anything close to the 18% I was hoping for (the Polar said so!). Nevertheless, it is a hard climb with a few 9 to 10% sections and great views, if one can be bother to stop and look. I just wanted to get to the top.



Distance: 134.5 km
Time: 4h 35min
Ascent: 2250 m



Friday, a day for another recovery ride and socialising. Sandra and I rode to town, had coffee with friends, rode home and went out again for a little loop. She had to do a few efforts so I thought it would be nice to hang around. I got home with 60+ km in the legs.

I had planned for a Saturday with lots of kilometers, including a criterium race in the morning and a time trial in the afternoon, thinking that it's what I will be doing on the first day of racing in Bright. Might as well get used to it...

Sandra was doing her
CycleSkill Coach Course . We road together to Murrarie where she took a turn, heading for a day at Chandlers.

The race wasn't what I wanted. The bunch (B grade) was ridiculously big, my number being 65 and the legs weren't quite there. I should've saved my money or entered the B1 race a little later, just to avoid witnessing the chaos that it was. I ended up getting a puncture and getting out anyway, perhaps for the best.

Coffee in town with friends took almost the rest of the morning. From there, I paired up with a mate, and headed home for a refill and an intended ride to Lakeside where HPRW was having the end of the year trophy presentation.

We didn't make it to the presentation due to a grotesquely and absurd encounter with fate. Nevertheless, the two of us managed to get the kilometers, some very fast, my computer showing 93 km, in nine hours...

Sunday is a day for long rides. I would've done the Zupps if working in the afternoon but having the whole day to ride, another excursion to Mt Mee with Sandra and a friend sounded like the right thing to do.

I went up Ocean View road again, this time concentrating on technique on the sections that I have to focus on. For those who are like me and enjoy looking at graphs and values, the climb is like this:



Distance: 4.5 km Ascent: 297 m
Gradient: 5.5% (surprised?)



The sections:

- 1.5 km at 10%
- 0.2 km at 6.5%
- 0.2 km at 10%
- 0.4 km at 10%
- 0.3 km at 9%

Good for a work out, but for week three I am planning to do it twice on the same ride. Just to make it feel like the Mt Hotham ascent.

Week 2: 17h 35min; 467 km (5,000m)


A bit of recovery now, more hard ks from tomorrow.


 
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