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Entries For: 2007


Dob in a driver

I guess they call it the "silly season" for a reason.

Is is just me or is anyone else appalled by the attitude of an increasing number of Melbourne's motorists?

In particular I am noticing more and more people yacking on their phones in complete contempt of the road rules. It pisses me off big time. There should be a system where you can dob them in. Such a system is in place for littering so why not for talking on your phone? In fact it would be easier to prove as phone records could be accessed.

Anyway that's my gripe for the night. It's raining outside so no racing. Too much work and not enough bike makes Dino a grumpy boy.



In the end it all came down to a fraction of a second. Not once but a couple of times

It was quite simple really. I looked over my right shoulder. Rob dives down below my left.

I was half asleep. I knew it was going to happen and yet it still took me a second to react. By the time I do, Rob is a good 20 metres up the track and I know I'm in trouble. It's still 500 metres to the finish and Rob has gapped me and he has 4 inches more gearing than me. I know he's strong with better endurance than I and with a bigger gear how the hell am I going to catch him let alone get around him.

So I put the head down and spin like crazy to get his wheel. It takes at least half a lap for me to reach him and I'm exhausted. Coming around the bend for the last time I hesitate again for a fraction of a second, not sure when to pull out and try to come around. By the time I commit I'm too late. I hadn't given myself enough time to get over the top and the line is too close. I'm faster over the finish line but can't make up the last couple fo centimetres.

And there it is. I won all the heats only to lose the final. I was completely outsmarted by an opponent who had a definite plan and then the mind and ability to put it in place.

Well done Rob! It was a brilliant race. I wish you weren't my friend so I could curse you and stick pins in a voodoo doll. You deserve the win and we both learned heaps. And despite the heat, the wind and the fatigue it was lot of fun.


Getting better all the time

I didn't trouble the scorers but I felt much stronger on Saturday

Those young guns in B grade better watch out. I may be 30 years older than them and they may be showing me a clean pair of cleats at the moment but I can feel my strength and endurance coming back and I reckon (hope) I'll be giving them a run for their money before too long.

For the first time in a long time I raced pain free on Saturday. A succession of crashes had left me sore from the hip down and at some point I've strained a quad but on Saturday the only problem I had was keeping my heart and lungs inside my chest at the pointy end of the races.

The scratch race was OK. I was stuck on the front with two to go and decided to swing up but in retrospect I should have stayed there dropped the speed to my comfort level then tried to turn the race into a short sprint on the last lap. By swinging off I lost control of the race, the pace was outside my comfort level and when the bell went it was all I could muster just to hang on for half a lap more before sitting up, completely blown.

I tried my hardest in the handicap, working with Ben Schofield for as long as I could but again I couldn't go the distance. An excuse of sorts was that i found my back wheel punctured just before the start and it was a mad scramble to get Nathan's spare wheel on. Thanks Nath!

I thought I would be able to give the motorpace a red hot go but I knew I was in trouble early on. The pace seemed very high very early. Still, I had a bigger gear for this one (90" versus 88 for the other two) and was hanging in there. Then with three or four laps to go it all unravelled. I was sitting third wheel entering the back straight into the wind. Without warning Adin, arguably the strongest the B grader, peeled off early from second wheel. So suddenly I was exposed to the wind and had to put in a huge effort to bridge to Tyler who was behind the guerney. I had barely finished the bridge when Tyler finishes his turn and I have to work hard again to reach the motorbike. I complete my turn and peel off to the back but I'm blown and can't hold on. I'm fairly sure had Adin not peeled off when he did i would have been there in the final lap. I'm also pretty certain I wouldn't have figured in the finish but that's the way it goes.

Not counting Carl, who shouldn't have raced, I finished last at every start and yet I'm happy with the way things are going. The emphasis on my training will soon change from speed and sprint to strength and endurance. I know I've got a decent sprint and good top speed. Now I just need to have the stamina to use those attributes at the end of a race.

Next week is a dilemma. Match sprints on Sunday preceded by club racing on Saturday. I'd like to keep the legs fresh for Sunday but I will do the right thing and support the club by racing Saturday as well. I don't know if the legs and lungs can handle both.

Watch this space


Trying to make sense of my heart rate

My heart rate monitor nearly gave me a heart attack

I just downloaded my HRM file from the weekend's racing and riding and according to my Polar 725x my heart rate peaked during one of Saturday's races at 197bpm! Up until then I had considered my maximum heart rate to be 191 although I didn't see it often. And according to the ballpark formula of 220-your_age my maximum should be 177bpm. So I have some questions...

  1. Am I about to die?
  2. Am I a freak?
  3. Am I super fit for a 43 year old?
  4. Are heart rate monitors a complete waste of time and money?
  5. Does anyone really care what time it is?

I suspect the answer to all the above is a loud "NO" but I'm wondering if anyone has a heart that makes sense?

Dino (I told you I was sick but no...) Apolito


A long weekend comes to a close...

Sometimes coming to work is a chance to rest!

A big week of cycling in Melbourne came to a close with a stinking hot Sunday that ended a particularly tiring weekend for me.

Why is it that when you have to get up real early you never sleep well the night before? Tossed and turned all Friday night before the alarm went off at 5.15am and I got out of bed already tired. Emily needed to be in the Alexandra Gardens by around 7am for the State final of the Vic. Schools Championships so the stress levels in the Apolito household were very high very early on Saturday!

It was a brilliant morning and a great experience for the kids. They got to race on the same circuit as the pros in the Herald-Sun tour complete with barricades, road closures, finish line marque, "professional" commentary and even a motor-bike escort with spare Zipp wheels. I joked to Emily she should feign a puncture so she could get a ride on one of those Zipp wheels!

She was VERY nervous and the course was quite technical with a hot-dog turn, short sharp climb and a tricky descent with a sharp right hander at the bottom of it. She did very well finishing midfield in about 10th place. Most of the girls ahead of her were from country Victoria and were very strong. (They probably all ride their bikes to school and have lots of quiet roads to train on!)

Emily's was the first race on the program and we stayed on to watch the fellow aboc'ers Will and Bridgette Thomas along with several more Blackburn juniors. It was a disappointing end however as Bridgette had a crash at the hot-dog bend. At the time she was leading.

We got back home around mid-day and it took a bit of coaxing to get Emily to back up for the BBN track meet. But to her credit she did so and rode very well, winning the progressive points score and placing in the other two races.

As for my races, let me just say that sometimes just finishing a race without incident is a good result! Yes, that's right- no crashes this week.  Only three of us in B grade and both Carl and I were blitzed by a young guy whose measure we had last summer. That's the problem with juniors - they make quantum improvements while us old blokes can only hope to make small gains or just hold on to what we've got. It did make me realise how much condition I've lost. Apart from the Trek match sprints these were my first races in about 3 months and I was gasping for air.

Presentation night on Saturday was good although we were all a little tired and could have done with an early rather than a late night. Then Sunday morning I left home at around 8.30am and did about 80km at a very slow E1 pace. I had intended to ride to Glenvale to watch Mick and Carl in the crits but I started from home too late and at the pace I was riding I never made it in time. What a stinking hot day and riding home into the head wind was bad!

In bed by 8.30pm last night and Monday is a quiet day at work - thank God!


OK, now I'm getting annoyed

Another race, another crash. When will my luck turn?

Three crashes in the last 5 track meets. It's starting to piss me off. None of them were my fault and there was nothing I could do. I'll miss another week of training and possibly one or two weekends of racing. Oh and I'll need yet another helmet.

I'd enjoyed the match sprints the week before and was looking forward to a full season of club races. That lasted 10 laps. A touch of wheels in front of me a rider down and I have nowhere to go but straight into him and flying over the handle bars.

Please don't tell me I was lucky I didn't break my ribs again or do a collarbone or it could have been worse. I've got a right to be annoyed and I'm claiming it.


Race Report

Filed Under:

A belated review of Sunday's Match Sprints

I didn't know quite what to expect on Sunday. For starters I was quite nervous about the day itself, not knowing how it would go, who would show up and how I would ride.

As one of the helpers my job was to prepare all the printed material. Most of that was pre-done but I was stressing about the little database program I'd written. We were only using it as a means to printing a neat draw for everyone but we only had a small amount of time to do the draw and get it printed once all the Flying 200's were done. In the end it went OK but there is still room for improvement.

Because I was needed at the data entry table I did my Flying 200 early. It was tough to make a quick clean transition from helper to racer and with very little warm up I did 14.72 seconds. Last summer I was under 14 seconds quite easily but a couple of weeks ago I was above 15 seconds so I wasn't too disappointed. I can improve on that time through the months ahead.

It was very disappointing to see Nathan have to withdraw with a back injury. Our times were very close and I was looking forward to racing him. Nathan is a natural sprinter and had worked very hard through the winter for this series. I hope he's back racing soon.

Because my fitness was suspect my overall plan for the day was to control the races as much as I could, keeping them at my pace, then jumping with the hope of opening a gap. I didn't want a long sprint and I didn't want a long drag race. At the same time I wanted the pace to be high enough so that I didn't have a lot of inertia to overcome in the kick. It was going to be tricky to balance all those.

My first race was against Leah Patterson. Leah and I had some ding dong battles in C grade last summer at Blackburn's regular track racing. Leah is strong and smart and has some experience at match sprints. I'd seen her training at DISC a few weeks ago and she looked good. I won the toss and elected to lead and by and large kept the race under control for the first lap and a half. Leah jumped from behind coming into the home straight with a lap and a bit to go. I didn't want a long sprint shoulder to shoulder from this far out so I let her get in front of me with the intention of sucking her wheel. But she kicked again and opened a good gap. For a moment I thought I was gone but dug deep and caught her wheel at the end of the back straight then proceeded to come around her outside. She drifted up a little as we hit the home straight but it worried the judges more than me and I went past her for a close win. It was a close thing and I had to really go deep into the red to catch and overtake Leah. I suddenly felt very tired and was worried about the other races.

I won the toss again for the second race against Maria. I didn't know much about Maria but had watched Rob Monteath beat her in the first round so I thought I would again lead and control things making making sure she didn't surprise me as Leah did. The plan went well and I feigned taking her up the bank with less than a lap to go before diving down, getting a gap and holding it for a win. Two out of two but would my energy hold out?

I watched Rob very impressively beat Leah in his second race with a long (approximately 400 metre) sprint. This had me worried. Rob's fitness was superior to mine. He would be able to drive for longer. If he went for home from a long way out I would have to just try to hang on to his wheel and sprint past at the end. But his gearing was quite a bit bigger than mine 91.8 versus 88.2 so I really wanted to avoid having to spin like crazy for such a long time just to hang on. So the plan was once again to take control and go for a short sprint with maximum acceleration.

Again I won the toss and again I decided to lead. The heat was in effect a dead rubber as we were both already into the final but there was a psychological advantage to be gained as well as aggregate points to consider. I pretty much tried the same thing I did with Maria, jumping at the same point. Coming into the home straight, the sun was behind me and I could only see one shadow - mine. So I thought I was clear but looked around just to make sure. And there was Rob charging at me. I tried to kick again but I was gone and Rob caught me on the line. Bugger. That's one that got away but full credit to Rob.

The final came around quicker than I would like. I was still licking my mental and physical wounds but I was determined to turn the tables on Rob for beating me in the heat. My plan was to keep to my plan. That is, take control and keep control and then execute the finish better than before. But this time I lost the toss. I was afraid Rob would lead and drag me around for a long sprint but alas he elected to follow. I tried to keep the pace down because I wanted to keep everything for one explosive burst at the end. But Rob would speed things up and since I didn't want him to take the lead I was forced to speed up also. A couple of time I considered jumping from the front when he fell back a little but he still had the height advantage and it was a long way from home so I decided against it. I was getting nervous and  gave Rob opportunity to dive under me but luckily he didn't take it.

As we went past the bell Rob was still above me. I thought if I went now, before the bank it would mean he would either have to contend with the slope or come down behind me. Either way it was a chance for me to get a gap. So I hit the pedals hard. Stuff the ribs, I was out of the saddle sprinting with every fibre in my being. I only sat back down after the 200 metre mark and just continued to drive with everything I had. There was a chance I'd blow up before the finish but I wanted to make sure I had as big a gap as possible. There was no point keeping something in reserve for a second kick, I was putting all my cards on the table now! (OK, no more cliche's)

I knew I was going fast and it was an effort to control the bike in the bend and keep in the sprinters lane. Straightening up for the line I didn't know where Rob was so I just buried myself and went over the line for the win. Totally exhausted but elated.

And so ended a great day. Everyone - competitors, helpers and spectators had a ball and we're all keen to do it again in November.

If you've done any sort of track racing before you are going to love this stuff. Thanks Carl for the vision and determination to make this happen.


Completing the comeback

The match sprints exceeded all my expectations

Seven weeks ago when I was lying on my back at DISC with smashed ribs had you said to me I would be racing again within two months I would have politely thanked you for the encouragement and asked you to let me die in peace.

And in the couple of weeks following that crash I had some doubts about returning to track racing at all. So it was against this background of potential doom and gloom that I approached Sunday's match sprints in the inaugural Trek Summer Sprint Series. No matter what the result, good or bad, I would be happy - happy just to be amongst the thick of it again.

Winning three of the four heats and then winning the B grade final exceeded all expectations. I had returned to training a couple of weeks earlier but I was untested in the heat of battle. The longest ride I'd done was about 40k. I had done some sprints with Carl and some intervals on the wind trainer but my fitness was down. I still had a pretty good sprint and my kick was not bad but I lacked strength and stamina. I would need to use a smaller gear because I had lost some leg strength and I still had sufficient stiffness and soreness in the ribs and back to prevent me pulling on the handle bars.

So as I left home I told Emily not to be surprised if I lost all my races. By the end of the day I was kicking myself for not winning them all!

Setbacks, both minor and major, can be turned into a very positive experience. They give you a chance to put things in perspective, sit back and reflect. And as you recover and get back on your bike you appreciate every little step you take and you realise just how much fun and how therapeutic riding can be.



The pure joy of cycling

Sometimes watching someone else have fun can be better than doing it yourself - especially if that someone is your daughter!

Earlier in the week I met Carl, John Lewis and Pat Dougherty at the BBN velodrome for some sprint training behind the motor bike. And because it was school holidays and her plans for the day fell through I brought Emily along as well.  I wasn't sure how much riding she'd fit in, she's not strong enough to mix it with the big boys and is still very much a novice on the track.

The plan was for Emily to jump on the track while us old farts rested between our flying 200's and Carl and Pat swapped rolls from cyclist to motor bike rider. This she did although it was obviously pretty boring for the kid to ride along on her own on a windy day.  So Carl decide to give her a turn chasing the motor bike. We were a bit apprehensive because she'd never been motor paced before but I felt she would be OK as she is naturally wheel shy so I didn't think she'd get too close to the motor bike.

Not true! Within a few laps Carl had her within inches of the motor bike and she was comfortably sitting on at 35kph (I think. Carl?) lap after lap. It was a pure joy to see the huge smile on her face as she chased the motor bike. Then at the bell lap Carl revved it up to 40kph (?) and she still sprinted past to easily take the win!

We thought that would have cooked her but Carl, forever the hard task master, had her straight back on his wheel and she did it all over again. The rest of us were shaking our heads in disbelief because....

1. Carl never sits that close to the motor bike himself but was telling Emily to get "within 15 cm" !!!

2. I can't get her to train that hard!

3. You're not supposed to have a big smile on your face when your being motor paced

She finished that effort feeling very proud of herself and promptly did it all over again with Pat a little while later

Emily sure has got a sprint in her for an 11 year old. Walking up hill to school will do that to your legs!


On the other hand....

A reality check today on the BBN velodrome

After my heroics last weekend I'm feeling pretty despondent again right now.

I thought I may have been ready to resume "normal" training this week and with this in mind I went to the Blackburn velodrome with my roadie for some max efforts, sprints and the like.

With the Trek Sprint Series only two weeks away I thought I would practise my Flying 200's. Well I couldn't even finish them. It was bad, bad, bad. I had to sit up before the finish line. I was gasping for breath; heart and lungs exploding out of my chest. I tried two more with the same result - namely no result. Who knows what the time was but it was very, very slow. The only excuse I can offer is the howling wind which was a block head wind in the home straight.

I had thought I might do some E3 intervals but gave that a miss and did some phantom match sprints instead. They were worse than the F200's. No kick. No acceleration. I couldn't hold my speed (as slow as it was) for a miserly lap.

All in all I ended up doing 6 max efforts (3xF200's and 3xsprints) in an hours training and came home feeling pretty shitty and pissed off with the world. Now I'm doubting whether I can even get back to where I was let alone where I wanted to be.

I told you a week was a long time in cycling.


The comeback kid

Filed Under:

I managed a couple of significant rides in this weekend

I surprised myself this weekend.

After getting the all clear from both doctor and osteo during the week to start some gentle riding I was nevertheless quite anxious about venturing outdoors again on Saturday. There was still a degree of pain and discomfort in most things I did and I was still quite restricted in my movements. But I was keen to get out into the sunshine.

Bev came along for the ride and we left my place at around 7.30am. It was a very cold but sunny morning with no wind. I was wishing I could somehow strap a heat pack to my ribs because the cold really bit. However we soon warmed up especially after the climb through the cutting on Rosanna Road.

It was a good thing Bev was with me because I couldn't look over my right shoulder, not good when riding on the road! She was my eyes and ears and kept encouraging me along the way. Thanks Bev. I probably would have turned back pretty soon if it wasn't for you!

I was surprised at how good I was traveling. Sure I was restricted in my upper body movement but the legs felt fresh and strong. I tested my fitness by surging up hills a few times. Not bad. Not bad at all. I'd left Bev behind in the distance. Hmm. Maybe I should have raced at Crib Point after all? <That was a joke, Carl>

By the time we got to South Melbourne I was starting to feel pretty sore and tired. We managed to catch every red light on the way and pushing off each time was a strain. I couldn't really get out of the saddle or put much weight on the arms. So the coffee and Pooh Bar at half time was very welcome. We'd done 25km so far at an average speed of >23 kph which considering all the red lights, stop-starts, and some hills was not bad.

The ride home was uneventful. More red lights and a lot of traffic. By the time I got home I was a bit sore and tired again but had finished 50km and had a big smile on my face. That was way more than I thought I could do.

Sunday morning I awoke feeling a little stiff and sore and not wanting to ride on the road on my own I decided to go to the masters training at DISC. I admit to feeling VERY apprehensive when I walked in with my bike a threw more than just a sideways glance at the spot where I went down.

My intention was to just roll around on the duck boards, on my own, when the masters were resting between their drills and not participate in any of the group activities. I didn't think I had the courage or confidence to go on the track proper. Eventually I did so, when the track was empty, to a round of applause from Carl. The legs were jelly around the bends I can tell you.

Carl jumped on with the motor bike and paced me around for a few laps. I think he got me up to 55kph which was mot bad in an 86" gear. The motor pacing was great, I wish I'd done more. I also did some standing starts (well, with a little push from the holder) 500 metre time trials and even joined in the 60 lap "take a lap" points score just hanging well off the back of the bunch for about 40 laps before pulling the pin. Staying in the drops for that long was too much effort.

So a successful weekend by any measure. Full of cycling because I also went to Siemans for the junior racing and back to the BBN club rooms Sunday afternoon for a meeting of the Trek Sprint Series helpers. Just a week ago I would have said none of this was possible. And three weeks ago I was doubting I'd be riding again this year.

But a week is a long time in cycling/football/politics.


On the road to recovery

Filed Under:

After three long weeks I can see the light at the end of the tunnel

Unless you've suffered broken ribs before I doubt there's anything I can write that can adequately describe what a diabolical experience it is. Still, I thought it might be useful to document how I've been coping (and not coping) over the past three weeks....

The initial impact was excruciating. I couldn't breathe or talk.  I felt I was knocking on death's door. Turns out I had a partially collapsed right lung which together with the broken ribs, pain and shock was responsible for my breathing difficulties. A night in hospital with loads of morphine and ibuprofen took the edge off the pain provided I didn't move, breathe too deeply, cough and above all sneeze.

The real fun started when I got home. I was discharged with a morphine derivative in tablet form, more anti-inflamms and instructions to "Breathe deep and cough regularly otherwise you could end up with pneumonia" Yeah right. This person obviously has no idea. Deep breathing was just not an option. Coughing was best avoided. I couldn't raise my arm. I couldn't bend to put on my shoes. I couldn't turn or twist. Even with the morphine, pain was always there - it just got worse if I stopped taking the tablets

Night time was especially bad. I could only find one partially comfortable position to sleep in - on my left side. But two hours later I would wake up very sore and stiff, totally unable to turn or get up. For the first few nights I needed to wake up Ann every couple of hours who would slowly and painstakingly roll me over and out of bed so I could walk around a bit, take more drugs and get back into bed - again with help. The drugs would make me sleepy and yet I couldn't sleep. And so it went on for most of the first week.

Initially, pain is the most obvious emotion but as the pain started to subside a little my mind would turn to cycling and I became increasingly frustrated, depressed and angry. I was being told I'd be off the bike for up to six weeks and it could be six months before full strength returned. Put simply, this was just not fair. The crash was not my fault. I was totally innocent and unlucky. The guy who caused it remains a mystery. No one had seen him at DISC before or since. He didn't race that night. Just picked himself up and went home apparently. The more I thought about it the angrier I got. I should be training my butt off right now. This summer was supposed to be big for me. We had plans.

Frustration grew. Immediately following my crash the weather turned spectacularly good. God wasn't just content to put the knife in, now he wanted to twist it as well. With Emily's help I managed to climb onto the wind trainer and did a couple of 30 minute easy spins. I couldn't do anything with high cadence because the bouncing hurt. Likewise anything at high resistance strained my back. The wind trainer is in my old darkroom. No windows or natural light of any sort. And yet I knew outside it was glorious sunshine and everyone would be spending their weekend riding outside. Except me. More bitterness. Why can't it be raining?

At the start of week two I did something I should have done straight away. I consulted a couple of friends of mine who are sports physiotherapists. One of them is a cyclist who races with CCCC and has broken his ribs before. The other is the clinic owner who I have known since uni, was my best man and works with footy clubs and the Victorian Rugby Union team. Again he has plenty of experience with broken ribs.

I can't over-emphasise how therapeutic it was talking to Gary (the cyclist). He put things in perspective while providing the sort of empathy that can only come from someone who has suffered the same fate. The next day I went to see my regular phsio/osteopath who likewise had broken some ribs while playing football. I wish I'd gone earlier. He explained that it is impossible to break ribs without traumatising the soft tissue around them and I had significant damage to the muscles around and between the ribs. And although I'd only broken ribs 8 and 9, I'd badly bruised ribs 4-7. Everything was in spasm. Tendons and ligaments had been strained.  A very significant portion of the pain and discomfort I was feeling was therefore not the ribs themselves. There's nothing we could do to make the ribs heel faster but we could certainly start working on the other problems.

And so we did. Treatment by Mr. Physio and Mr, Osteo over the past week has certainly helped. I have more movement and can now do most things for myself. I've been able to complete an hour on the wind trainer a couple of times. I've even managed to do some E3 intervals. I'm still very restricted in my movements and the pain is certainly still there but I'm hoping to do my first outdoor ride this weekend. Just something nice and easy. Any takers?

I'm probably another 2-3 weeks from "proper" outdoor riding but I'm increasingly optimistic that I'll be able to make the first round of the Trek Summer Sprint Series at the start of October and the start of the Blackburn track season a week later. I'll be unfit and probably just making up the numbers but someone has to come last and I'll consider myself a winner just for being there!


Thank You!

Thanks everyone for all your best wishes

Lately it seems all blog entries by me or about me are about crashes! I can only hope things will improve and I can start blogging about fun stuff like cycling and winning races.

A big thank you to everyone for all your kind words and thoughts over the past week. I've had emails, phone calls, text messages and home visits from concerned and supportive friends.

A special mention and thank you to Carl for looking after me at the crash site and for trying to keep my spirits high since. I now have the perfect excuse to not laugh at his jokes!

Rich and Bev looked after my bike and car and Bev has been calling almost daily to make sure I'm OK. Sue Dundas (BBN secretary) went miles out of her way on Saturday to come and collect Emily and take her to Siemans so she wouldn't miss out . Much appreciated!

I'm off the morphine tablets and have just started taking plain old Panadeine Forte which aren't nearly as good. I'm taking ibuprofen as well. For the most part the pain is under control provided I don't move quickly, sneeze, cough, talk or breathe. Conversely I'm supposed to take deep breaths and cough occasionally as shallow breathing from broken ribs can lead to pneumonia. Sleep time is the worse. It's almost impossible to find a comfortable position and when I do drift off to sleep I wake up a couple of hours later so stiff and sore it is impossible to move or roll over. I end up waking Ann who helps me move.

I have another doctor's appointment on Monday. Depending on who I speak to it can take 6 weeks to 6 months to fully recover from broken ribs. Stuff that. I hope to start gentle riding on the wind trainer next week and am aiming to be there at the start of the summer track season. I'll be way under prepared but I'll be there.

Again, thanks to everyone who has contacted me.



Fighting the crash demons Part II

The war's not over but I'm winning the battle

Carl suggested I blog my post crash experience as it may be useful for others to see how I coped with the aftermath of my crash a couple of weeks ago. So here goes...

I don't exactly know why I was so badly affected by this crash. Apart from the usual aches and pains, bruises and grazes and a cracked helmet I wasn't really hurt too much. And I have "crashed" at DISC twice before. But those two were easily explained. Too slow on the banks, wrong tyres and not concentrating are a sure recipe for slipping off.

But this one wasn't so easy to explain. I still don't know exactly what happened. I haven't got closure so to speak and maybe that's what has freaked me out so much. The fact I was traveling at 50kph at the time (HRM verified!) and the very distinct and memorable thud as my head hit the boards has also haunted me.

There were a lot of mixed emotions in the following two weeks. There's a lot of pressure to be a "proper tough guy". (It's only a flesh wound...). After all we supposed to be testosterone filled he-men even if we do shave our legs and wear lycra. However in my case I felt it was important to admit to my fears and my hurt. Call me a sook if you want to, but I've always tended to wear my heart on my sleeve.

Advice from the people around me was conflicting. On the one hand there were those who subscribed to the "Get straight back on the horse" theory. Then there were those who said "Don't rush it. Wait until you're ready"

So it was with a huge amount of trepidation that I returned to racing DISC last Thursday exactly two weeks after the crash. I left home not sure whether I'd be brave enough to race. The plan was to warm up and see how I felt before I donated my $10. I got there early while only a few riders were on the track. That was important I think. It gave me time to do my own thing for a while. I was very nervous but bit the bullet and raced.

And I raced OK. I finished all the races, even winning the first sprint of the points score. But I was never assertive or aggressive and left a lot of room around me. I let some gaps open up here and there when I sensed danger and never did I try to force my way into half gaps. From a race tactics point of view it was bad but hey....

So I'll be back this Thursday still somewhat apprehensive but with renewed confidence. The crash demons haven't completely gone but I think I can beat them.


Fighting the Demons of DISC

Filed Under:

The body has healed but the mind hasn't

I bounced back remarkably well for an old fart after my crash the other week. Sure I was sore for a few days but I still put in a solid week's training and managed a three hour ride with Bev and Carl on Saturday.

Then on Sunday I returned to the location of my Waterloo and did the masters training at DISC. Let me tell you I was s#!t scared. I was almost trembling with anxiety/fear from the moment I got on the track. My legs felt like jelly. I couldn't hold a wheel. I couldn't wait to get off. I hoped and prayed we wouldn't be doing any "up high" stuff and sure enough I never once went above the blue line. In the 30 lap warm up and the 40 lap "take a lap" race I gave everyone a wide berth leaving enough space around me to drive a Mack truck through.

So the body may have healed but the mind hasn't been exorcised of the crash demons.

I'm worried about Thursday night....


I got knocked down but I got up again (great line for a song)

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My first crash at speed

Until last Thursday nights racing at DISC I'd had four "crashes" in my cycling career. All were at low speed and didn't involve another bike or car. In fact "falling off" would be more accurate description than "crash". Nevertheless they had still resulted in a broken thumb, fractured elbow and, most recently, hairline fracture to the rib in the infamous slide involving Carl. But unlike many of you I'd never crashed in a race or with the bike moving forward with any sort of speed.

That all changed at the pointy end of the C grade motor pace on Thursday night. The aboc team of myself, Mick Thomas and Matt Ditchfield had again conspired to help each other out and let a team mate back into the paceline if needed. It was going OK and both me and Matt had been able to let Mick back in to prevent him having to drift to the back. But it meant I was on the motor bike with 4 laps to go and had to peel off.

Not wanting to accept defeat because for once I was feeling OK, I didn't go all the way to the end of the line but stayed out in the wind for a lap hoping a gap would open up. It didn't and I had to work hard to hold my position. Then I started to fade and stronger riders were all around me. People were trying to squeeze into gaps that weren't there. I got chopped from underneath which apparently forced me up the track a bit....

THUMP....Someone wacks me behind my right shoulder. I go down and am aware of sickenning loud thud as my head smashes into the boards. I remember thinking "this is not good" and instantly developing a head ache. Then as I'm sliding down another rider crashes over the top of me. I end up lying face down on the concrete with my head throbbing and my arm, chest and back aching already. I don't know how long I was there but it seemed like an eternity. With help I roll over and reveal burns and cuts on my leg, bum and arm. My treasured aboc bib knicks are ruined as is my Descente base layer!

A trip to the doctor and physio the next day reveals no breaks. I've got whiplash from my head slinging into the ground and the usual aches and pains, burns and bruises. My spirit and confidence took a battering too but a quick pep talk from the coach on Friday put everything in perspective and re-ignited my determination. Today a sympathetic Bev took me for a gentle 2 hour ride for which I'm grateful.

I don't know how I'll be on Thursday night. I think my body will be OK but will I be brave enough to race?

(PS I've got new race wheels but I'll talk about them another time...)


The One Eyed Cyclist

A very scary incident indeed

I had a very disconcerting thing happen to me last night at DISC.

At the pointy end of the C grade scratch race (about 5 laps to go I think) I lost the contact lens in my right eye. I have quite advanced keratoconus  in both eyes and the only way to correct it is with rigid, hard, contact lenses. Normally the little buggers stay securely in place so I don't know why one would decide to pop out.

Let me tell you I was very scared. One eye had perfect vision, the other eye basically had none and I was travelling in excess of 40kph. It caused me to lose my sense of perception and depth and so I slowed right down much to the chagrin of those behind me. For a change I was near the front which meant a lot of the field had to go around me on both sides as I was between the red and blue lines.

Luckily I made it back to safety and Nathan found the lens wedged right down under my lower eye lid. This was a relief as I thought I'd lost it which would have meant the end of the night for me and not even able to drive home. The rest of the night was good with the aboc team consisting of Carl, Matty Ditchfield and myself trying some fun teamwork stuff. We got Matt into the points in the second race with a classic lead out train and we may had done better in the motor pace had I not forgotten the game plan. Sorry coach!

Lot of fun as usual and I can feel some form coming back.


From 25 to 50 in 10 seconds

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Well only 49.8 but I'll claim it

Not sure this is even worth blogging but I impressed myself today during my training session on the Preston velodrome...

Was doing some 10 second max efforts every 2 minutes, jumping from about 25kph in a middle gear (big ring at front, about a 15/17 on the back). Managed to accelerate to 50kph in 10 seconds. Don't know if that's good or not but it felt good and I impressed the little kids who were playing in the infield.

Added some HCLR's and E3 intervals for a very solid 90 minute workout. It was my first outdoor ride in a month and it felt good to be out in the sunshine


It's a small world

Had coffee and muffins with cyclists in Georgia

Finally arrived in Savannah, Georgia last night at around midnight. Took me 30 hours to get here, 5 airports, 4 flights minimum sleep.So what do I do first thing this morning? Get up early for a walk and in search of good coffee. <br> Savannah is a beautiful place and I soon found a great cafe. I knew it was good because there was a group of cyclists sitting outside having coffee and muffins while ther road porn was leaning against trees and poles. 6 Treks, a Cannondale and a Bianchi. Got talking with them and even directed them to the aboc website. The exciting thing is one of them works at a bike shop so I might have to do some shopping. Unfortunatley there's no spare 54cm bikes to be had otherwise I'd join them for a ride tomorrow. Just as well as I really should be working. Hope all is well with aboc'ers downunder. Please keep in touch....I miss my cycling. (Oh yeah, I miss my wife and daughter too)


How to lose a race

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I stuffed up my chance to win the D grade road race at Crib Point

I could see the finish line. I could feel it. I could taste victory.

There I was a mere 200 metres or so from the finish line at Crib Point on Saturday thinking I had it won. But it wasn't to be. I blew my chance due to a bad case of impetuosity. Or was it bad luck, bad timing or inexperience.

Basically I sprinted too early into a strong head wind and up an ever so slight hill. After all it was only a couple of hundred metres and I know I can sprint the last lap of the track at Blackburn and that's 330 metres. So where's the problem?

With about 400 metres to go I was third wheel and sitting pretty behind a guy and a girl driving strong. But then they both blow up simultaneously and I'm left on the front. What do I do now? Where's the coach in my earpiece when I need him? I was faced with a dilemma. Do I get off the front?  No. That would mean I drift too far back and with the finish so close I could get blocked or be caught by a late attack or early sprint.

So I look behind me. The guy and girl are no longer a threat and there's a small gap between me and the next bike...So I go for it. Head down and I start sprinting for the line. The gap widens. I think I've going to win. But my legs are burning (I shouldn't have raced DISC on Thursday night) and the headwind is killing me. I'm dying a rapid death but I will hang on. Then a guy goes past me... What the #$@#$@? Oh well second is not bad. But then 3 or 4 more riders go past me. Shit.Shit Shit. And on the line I'm hit by a bunch of 4 or 5 guys all now going faster than me. Crap. I've gone from thinking "I'm gonna win this" to "Oh well second is not so bad" to finishing somewhere between 5th and 10th within the space of 200 metres.

Where did I go wrong?

Well the legs were sore when I started courtesy of Thursday night racing but they did loosen up after about 10km so I'm not sure that's a valid excuse. I do know I didn't have the kick I normally have. Until the last lap (D grade was 6x 8km laps and about 30-40 riders) I had raced the perfect race. I had managed to hide in the bunch, do minimal work and just have a good time chatting up the Kathy Watt pink girls. On the last lap I thought I better move toward the front but go too close to the pointy end and ended up doing a turn into the wind and up the hill proper. Then a guy attacks and guess which fool chases him? I mangaed to catch him pretty quickly but I'm stuffed and drift to the back thinking my race is over.

So with half a lap to go I'm at the rear again but work my way back to a good position with 400 metres to go. I impressed myself with that fact alone. In other races, in other years I would have been totally blown and come in last but here I was able to finally contest a finish. So I should be happy.

But what might have been....

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