January 31, 2013
I was looking through one of the cycling apparel online stores, A’qto:Cycle Inspired Lifestyle, and I noticed that they had just formed a partnership with Mark Renshaw, to start a new line called “Renshaw Racing”. At the moment, there are only three t-shirts in the line, but there will be a lot more to come we hope. I had been chasing a blue t-shirt from another supplier, so when I saw the RR t in the blue I was chasing, I had to grab it straight away. Turns out Reidy was on to them as well, and the one that took his fancy was the RR t, which made us the first in Adelaide to have the Renshaw Racing branded t’s.
Turns out they had a competition going at the same time, giving two customers the chance to meet Mark Renshaw at the Hilton, and get to have a chat with him. Awesome! Turned out that Reidy and I were those two lucky customers! We kind of thought that given that it’s TDU time, and they have some serious racing going on, we would get to catch up for a little while, Mark would drop by, say thanks for buying my t-shirts, and head back to his Blanco duties.
Instead of that, we actually got to spend about an hour with Mark, and at some stages he must have felt like he was being interrogated by us! We found ourselves quite often leaning in towards him, asking more and more questions, and him sharing absolutely everything with us, openly and honestly. We spoke about his role in the Blanco team, Browny and what he had to offer the team, Jack, and some of his experiences, and we even spoke about Strava, and the fact that there is a young gun in his hometown who is turning out to be pretty handy on a bike too, and the two of them are continually heading out to break each others records!
He shared with us his thoughts of what roles he may have in the Tours coming up, about the diet required for riding in a Tour, and that nowadays in a Tour, you can actually finish the Tour heavier than you started! He leads a pretty good lifestyle, spends about three months home in Australia, and the rest of the year back in Europe racing. He said it’s funny, towards the end of his time in Australia, he is itching to get back to Europe, and then close to the end of the year, he is itching to come back to Australia!
We then got on to his line of Renshaw Racing, and the partnership he has with A’qto, and where the brand will be going from here. At the moment, it’s still a very new project for him, so they are taking it pretty steady at the moment, with Mark having a lot of input into the designs of the current three shirts. We’re waiting in the sidelines now, to see what will happen next with the t-shirts, and are hoping that not only will more be added to the range, but they will extend the range into cycling gear as well.
The quality of the shirts is excellent, and the fit is perfect, something that A’qto is proud of with all of their garments. When I saw that they had released a new limited number of t-shirts with a dragster on them, it was a pretty simple decision that I just had to get one of those too! At the moment, most of their garments seem to be aimed at guys, so we have been in touch, and fired some suggestions to them about expanding the range to include women’s cut garments too, but to also remember that when they do, just because it is a women’s range, it does not mean that it has to be pink or florally!
We got on really well with the team from A’qto, and are looking forward to more fun with them in the future, especially at next years TDU, where we are hoping to join forces for a combined event in McLaren Vale, but it is early stages yet, and much planning will be required for this. There are a few more items from the current A’qto range that I still want to get, but I just needed to get through the TDU first, before I damage the wallet even further! (So I may have just happened to have bought another new bike too, but I needed it!!!)
Keep the rubber side down,
January 22, 2013
During the TDU of 2012, Steve and Michelle from Procycling Tours, a local Adelaide cycling holiday business, announced that they would be leading a ride from Norwood to Lobethal. We joined in on this experience, and had a great time, and enjoyed the support that the team from Procycling provided, so when they announced that they would be doing it again this year, we knew that we had to be a part of this fun.
The format for 2013 was changed, it went from being a free, basic supported trip to Lobethal in 2012, to a $75 fully catered, fully supported event, taking us on a fantastic ride through the Adelaide Hills. If you’re not from Adelaide, or haven’t visited here yet, we are very spoilt for cycling choices. Within minutes of the main CBD, we can be on either fantastic coastline and beaches, or magnificent hills with your choice of climbs based on how keen you are!
Our ride today took us from Norwood, up to Norton Summit, Summertown, Uraidla, Lenswood, Lobethal, Charleston to Woodside where we were based to watch the pro’s come through three times. We had two support vehicles on this ride, with the first taking the marquee, chairs etc direct to Woodside to ensure we had a prime location, and the second piloted by Michelle, carrying our water, lollies, cake, bananas, spares etc, meeting us at key locations along the way to ensure we were kept well stocked up.
I’m not sure if it was the excitement of going to watch a stage, or having Steve and his team supporting and encouraging everyone along the way, but I think every rider who took part in todays ride managed to set quite a number of PR’s along the way. Our ride from Lobethal to Woodside via Charleston was fantastic, it was an extra bonus 25km that Steve threw in for us, and a group of us set tagged along behind two of Steve’s team for an awesome paced 25km ride along the same course the pro’s would soon be riding.
Steve had chosen Tiers Rd, Woodside as our viewing point for todays stage, and it was a fantastic choice, as it was a long, steady, straight climb, allowing us plenty of time to be up close and personal with the pro’s. It really is incredible how close we can get! Lunch was served here by Michelle, which was made up of fresh salad rolls, a piece of banana cake and an apple all packaged up nicely for us, and a much needed ice cold can of coke, and cold water. Of course the lollies, fruit cake and bananas were all still available too for the hungry!
The ride home was almost as much fun as the ride out! The only problem with riding out through the hills, si that to get home, you have to ride back over some hills again, but the descents are almost always worth the climb! We followed Onkaparinga Valley Rd out through to Balhannah, Verdun, Bridgewater, Aldgate, Crafers, then on to the freeway bike track. Sounds easy enough, but there are a few great climbs along here too, including German Town Hill, and parts of Gould Rd which can get pretty tiring too! Still, at least it was not Ayers Hill Rd, more commonly referred to as “Bitch Hill”!
from the bottom of the bike track, it’s a fairly easy cruise straight down Portrush Rd to Norwood again, and usually pretty good, even though it can get fairly busy.
We had a few close calls out there today, Steve had a truck driver force him off the road and onto the gravel, Darren and I had a crane driver swerving along Portrush trying to prevent us from passing him, and someone kindly opened a car door on the Parade, which was narrowly avoided only by some seriously smart bike handling skills. So a normal day out in Adelaide really!
We had some great discoveries on the ride today. Michelle discovered that there is a thing called AM radio! That was a bonus. We met the owner of Velo-Porte, who was one of the participants in today’s ride, and a great bloke, and we learned how to fold a collapsible change room! Win/win all round!
So, a massive thanks to Steve, Michelle, and all of their support team, for taking such fantastic care of all us riders joining in with them today. I can certainly see why all of their tours get booked out, these guys are awesome!
Massive thanks to Sarah, for the awesome Christmas present of tickets for this ride, and to Matt and Reidy for also joining in on the fun with us! I can’t wait til Sunday to catch up with the Procycling Team again for the final city stage, where they have booked space at a rowing club for us to watch the race from! Woot!
Keep the rubber side down,
January 8, 2013
Come on people, you know you want to drop your pants in front of thousands of spectators, all in the name of charity! Join us on 20 January for the Undies Run as part of the opening festivities of the Tour Down Under! Yep, we get to run the course that shortly after some of the worlds best road cyclists will be racing on. Shouldn’t be many there to witness it I wouldn’t think?
December 30, 2012
For many of you, you may be thinking that the best present for a cyclist would be a shiny new bike, maybe even two, some new wheels, new cycling kit, or something cycling related. Maybe even a monkey! For me this year, it was a present that money just could not buy, nor could anything replace this gift, and it did not cost a cent!
Now, I am not being ungrateful for the gifts that I did receive, because I received some pearlers from my family, Sarah and her family, and from friends, but the biggest one this year was getting to see my daughter. I have not seen her pretty much since just before last Christmas, so when I was given the opportunity to see her again for a little while this year, I jumped at the chance.
I took the Dadman with me, as I wanted to share this time with him too, as she is not just my only child, but she is also his only grand daughter. We went out on the morning of the 24th, and I was extremely nervous and stressed about it, as I could not be sure if she would want to see us when we got there, and how she would react when we did get there. Naturally, she too was the same, and it is very understandable that she would be nervous.
I was amazed at how much she had grown up since I last saw her, she really is quite the young woman now, and we had a pretty good chat for an hour or so. She has a great sense of humour, so we were able to muck around, and it was like music to the ears to hear her laughing. There were some bits and pieces I had to pick up from the house, and she was helping with all of that, and it was pure awesome to be so close to her again. She even took us into her room to show us how it looks now, and whilst she was saying that it was messy, she really had it looking good, and it was not at all messy like many teenagers rooms can be!
I was thrilled to be able to see her, and to be able to tell her face to face just how much i love her, and how much I miss her. I was able to let her know face to face just how special I think she is, how important she is to me, and that if she ever wants to see me, or catch up again, all she has to do is call, and I will be there. When i hugged her, I did not want to let her go, as letting go meant that I would not see her again for a while, and I just don’t know how long it will take for her to want to see me again.
I was quite surprised myself by just how much seeing her really did rock me, and how deeply I was affected by it. Driving the Dadman back home was a bit of a blur, and he was as equally moved as I was. We both got to have a photo with her, which was really special, as it gives you something physical from the visit that you can take away with you, and we were both just so thankful for that.
When Sarah got home and I started to tell her about how awesome it was to see my daughter again, I was surprised at how emotional I became. I don’t know how long til she will want to see me again, but I really do hope that it will be sooner than next Christmas.
December 17, 2012
December 16, 2012
Amazing how fast this second event has come up, it hardly seems like a couple of weeks since we rode our last one!
We thought this time we needed to tackle it differently, as there were teams taking this event very seriously, so we decided that we should too. Five of the team caught up for an afternoon, of gourmet eating, strategising and bonding, sadly the other members of the team could not make it, due to other commitments, but I am sure we will catch up again soon. After much eating and several fine wines, it was finally decided that we would ride our bikes, and keep the rubber side down. A great strategy that we stuck to for the whole race I am proud to say.
We have decided to stick with the two lap option, as this seems to be just enough for us to race at this stage, and ends up being somewhere around 45km each race. The course at Williamstown is beautiful, with some lovely climbs, followed by some awesome descents, easily the best part of a climb! We did have a serious plan of attack for this race, which was to continue our fun of battling with the Central’s team, which sadly was not in the same format today. The team of about our own ages had been replaced by a team of kids! So change of plan was required, and we reverted to the original one of ride our bikes and have fun!
Milling around and chatting at the start line, we decided that there were a few teams we wanted to be able to catch out on the course, so we really did have a target to aim for, and surprisingly, we pretty much managed to catch all of the ones we intended to! The start line gives you a very small climb to get going, then a beautiful long gradual decline out to Lyndoch, where the turn takes you into a small climb, just to get the legs ready for the Whispering Wall climb. The Whispering Wall climb is not a bad one at all, it pretty much has two halves, meaning a climb, flattens out, then climb again. It lets you spin a bit, and recover your breath, but once you crest it, there’s a lovely downhill to recover on.
The road back into Williamstown again is another beautiful ride, with just some gentle undulations to let you know that you aren’t riding on the flat today kids! The second lap was great. Our legs had warmed up, and the team was loving the ride, you could tell this from the size of the smiles on their faces! Methinks if they can smile that much, I can’t be pushing them hard enough still, or like me, they really do love this sh!t too! (Personally, I think it’s the latter!) Our second climb went really well, including the wall, with no-one waiting too long for any other team member. It was great to see so many of the stronger teams also doing the good domestique thing, and help their team mates up the hills. Some teams were riding three abreast when overtaking, as they actually had two riders supporting their riders who weren’t as strong on the climbs. That’s when you know you have a great team, when the stronger help support the while team, not just riding for themselves, in a team.
The last lap was a corker, especially about the last 10km. We had been overtaken by a ute and trailer, which sadly for us got caught up behind another team who were having some fitness issues, which meant we got caught up behind the trailer with nowhere to go! Shortly after, other teams also started building up behind the trailer, so we had to yell out to the boys in front to move over and allow the trailer to pass, as it was getting too messy back there! This is probably what stopped us from passing the one more team that we wanted to pass, but there will always be next time! Who knows who might be racing with us then, and what kit we might be in?
Today’s team was Sean, Juz, Matthew, Ina, Sarah and myself riding, with Sonya taking some awesome photos for us, and Harriet decked out in team kit as our mascot. Chris was racing in the hills, Reidy was on family duties, and Liam was on birthday recovery! We still have a couple of more riders keen to join in with us, so here’s hoping that the timing of the next event allows them to join in and have some fun as well.
Massive thanks to Sonya for the awesome photos and dog-sitting, Capilano Honey for the Shotz, as well as a big box of the new 10g Shotz for everyone at the Sportif, Chamois Butt’r and Sukkie Hydration.
We love this sh!t!!
Keep the rubber side down,
November 30, 2012
So, after the roaring success of the first Bring and Fix event, it was decided that we needed to stage a second one, and this time, use the lessons we had learned in the first!
So what did we learn from the first time? Well, for a start, getting pople to book in, not just randomly rock up. What we did this time, is ensure that on our promotion of the event, we got people to register that they would be coming along, just so we knew what to expect. This worked really well, as we developed a little checklist, with a diagram of the bike on the back of it, that participants had to complete prior to us even looking at their bike. This time we wanted them to tell us what they thought was wrong, so that we could also hazard a guess at the spares we would need.
The list included tyres, brakes, handle bars, saddle, pedals, gear and brake cables, and what was wrong with them. To avoid having to rebuild bikes, or possibly turn people away at the event we also advised on this form that if there was anything more serious than these basics wrong with their bikes, they would need to take the bike to a bike mechanic. To make this a little easier for them, we even included the name, location, and phone numbers of the bike shops in Charles Sturt.
We also put together a ten point safety check for the volunteers, so that when they were given their bike to work on, apart from the issues identified by the bike owner, they also had a guide with every bike of what key things to look for. This included checking the tyres, bell, pedals, lights, reflectors, brakes, chains, handlebars, saddle, helmet, and the size of the bike. There was an eleventh point as well for the volunteers, that if the riders attitude was happy and friendly, they deserve a bike, if they were grumpy and rude, forget about the safety checks!
We also set up two large marquees for the work tables, so that we could all be under shade, and not get too much sun! Given the success of the smoothie bike, we set up another one of those too, which was a raging success again, with some of the kids from Youth Central “racing” on the bike to make the fastest smoothie!
We ended up with over 25 bikes coming through for repairs, which was another awesome success, especially since we had less volunteers this time too. Last bring and fix we ran out of 26” tubes, so this time, I stocked up with more of them, swapping some of our left over tyres from the last event, for the tubes for this one. As luck would have it, we ended up with plenty of 26” tubes, but ran out of 24”!!! Close!!
Our amazing team of volunteers this time were again led by Mike, and Mel, Phoebe, and Reb from the ABK did amazing work, and thankfully, Sarah and Sonya came along too, otherwise we would not have got through all of those bikes in time! The kids from Youth Central did a great job, some of them also pitching in to help with fixing the bikes, and others manning the desks, and assigning service numbers to the bikes. Congratulations to Sarah and Sonya on agreeing to sign up as volunteers for future events!
Was it a success? Most definitely, we had some very happy cyclists who dragged some very sad bikes in, that they were able to ride away from the event! Will we do it again? Well, we are all certainly keen to from the volunteer bike mechanics, as are Youth Central and OPAL, but to do another one will require us to replenish our stock of spares. Whilst StandishWestLakes looked after our needs amazingly well, it was still over $1,000 worth of bicycle parts we have given away in two events.
So, if you hear of any grant opportunities for a community based program that is both helping to provide some young people with new skills, as all of our volunteers were given free bicycle maintenance training, and also helping to get kids and community members active and healthy by making unrideable bikes rideable again, get in touch. We would love to hear from you!
October 10, 2012
It sneaks up on you, this road-riding thing. One day you’re content zipping around on your commuter or thrashing your mountain bike, and the next you’re invited on your first bunch ride, shoe-horning yourself into bib-knicks, inventing justifications for the next bike
purchase and downloading Strava.
It’s a journey defined by physical and psychological milestones. Like the moment you look at your legs rippling with freshly defined muscles straining against the bands of your bike shorts, and instead of pride, you feel your lip curl and a quiver of revulsion...all you can see is hair, hair, everywhere.
October 4, 2012
Ok, so a superhero by night might be a little bit of an overstatement, but I do have to don a mask now every time I go to sleep, so we figured we might as well have some fun with it. We have adopted the identity of Scuba Steve when I put the mask on, as it is a little bit like wearing some scuba gear, as there is a mask, and a supply of air being given to me via a hose, which is connected connected to a pump. When you’re scuba diving though, there is a valve that only allows the air through when you inhale, the CPAP units pump air constantly.
So, what is a CPAP unit? CPAP stands for “Continuous Positive Airway Pressure”, which means when the pump is turned on, it will continually pump air through the hose at a constant pressure, that the sleep technician will set for you based on the script from your specialist. There are lots of different CPAPs available, a huge variety of masks, from a tube that sits under your nostrils, to a full face mask, and a tube connecting the mask to the pump. The unit I am trialling currently also has a humidifier connected to it, so that as it is pumping the “moist” air down the tube, which just means that I don’t dry out so much through the night.
But Smudge, how come you’re so lucky that you have a machine to help you breathe at night? Well it would appear that I have Obstructive Sleep Apnea, a fancy way of saying when I sleep, I don’t breathe so well. I know that I have pretty much always snored, but I guess I have just gotten so used to my own snoring etc, that it does not really wake me anymore. When we did a cycling tour last year, some of the cabins we slept in had bunk beds, and apparently at night, I could get the whole bunk shaking with my snoring. Then I would stop. There would be no snoring, no breathing at all for almost a minute, and just when a bunkmate was thinking about dropping down on my chest to get me breathing again, I would start up! Ruined all his fun really I think!
My partner is an ICU nurse, who by chance happened to also be a respiratory nurse a few years ago in the UK. Seems she was not a fan of my snoring wither, and used to constantly be wearing ear plugs at night so she could sleep, and also staying awake at night watching me sleep, counting the time between breaths etc, so not really getting much sleep herself either. She had asked me to get a referral a few times to get it checked out, but being a bloke, I kept putting it off of course. I gave up in the end as you would expect, and got my referral to see a specialist at the Ashford Specialist Centre, who had a bit of a look over me, my general health, and also spoke to my partner to get her impressions. Based on my partners experience alone, this was enough for him to refer me to have a sleep study conducted.
The sleep study was certainly an experience. I lined up with about five other patients, each to be allocated a room for the night. The sleep technicians were very good, and explained everything they were doing whilst they were hooking me up. They had wires and electrodes taped all over my face, different spots on my head, heart rate monitor, leg monitors and so many other wires. Basically they needed to check what I did in my sleep, how often I wake up, stir, move, roll over, twitch, what my heart rate did, and what stages of sleep I got in to.
With sleep study results in hand, it was back to see the surgeon to find out what we were in for. Turns out he had good news and bad news for us, the bad news, my partner was right with her diagnosis, the good news, we could do something about it. My results showed that I had about 47 events an hour, and never reached REM stage sleep, the type of sleep we need to fully rest/recover, and to have dreams. I also did this wonderful thing called Cheyne Stokes breathing, which apparently is a breathing style associated with end of life! Wow, that was great to find out! It would seem that I have Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, which is a severe narrowing of the throat.
Part of the good news is that I could go to the States for surgery to fix the apnoea! Well, for the paltry sum of around $500,000, with a minimal chance of success I could! Apparently the surgery involves opening up your face so they can try to widen the airways! Harsh!
So the best course of action for me is the CPAP pump, which at $2,500 is a bargain in comparison to the US option. So, now knowing what I needed to do, it was off to Air Liquide to check out the range of CPAPs and masks! I asked for a Batman mask, but apparently no-one has thought of cornering the market yet for those! Instead, what got brought out was a range of silicon masks, and I got to try from a range of what they had in stock. It’s a pretty good setup really, I have hired a trial unit for about six months, during which time I can take the memory card back in to be read, as well as sampling varying masks before making my final purchase.
Yes, these are smart little units, they monitor all of your breathing when you are using the mask, the style of breathing, how many events you are having through the night, whether it was leaking, and how long I slept for. The reports they print out are pretty impressive, and certainly mean a lot to those who can understand them!
Sleep apnoea is a pretty serious ailment. I always thought that it was one of those things that only happened to the unfit, morbidly obese, or those with other chronic issues. Given that I gave up smoking around 2005, I really didn’t think it would be something I would suffer from. Sleep apnoea has been linked to depression, silent strokes and small brain lesions, abnormalities in the blood vessels, high blood pressure, heart disease and strokes, even sudden hearing loss. I am not sure though whether the hearing loss is a risk for me, or a risk for Sarah?
Some of the reading I have done on it suggests that even a month of obstructive sleep apnoea can lead to changes in cerebrovascular function, which can lead to strokes. There are some really scary stories about it, and how bad it really is for you.
I think it will take some getting used to, sleeping with a mask on, and having the constant air flow, but it certainly beats not doing anything about it! I am finding that I am sleeping better now, and I am actually having dreams again now, which seems really strange after so long without any!
If you think that you have sleep apnoea, or your partner is worried that you do, you really should get it checked out. The choice of sleeping with a mask on, versus for example the risk of a heart that gets too floppy to pump the blood around, resulting in a stroke, is pretty easy really!
But for now, it’s time for me to go slip in to my Scuba Steve disguise and get some sleep.
Keep the rubber side down,