Chapter 4: Contented?

Perhaps more resigned to the fact that I had cheated the sag wagon and had the chance to share the bitter disappointment with many others.

The Monday I was tired but fine, being driven home by a 17 year old on learner’s plates, it was the Tuesday in the office that frightened me.

I don’t think I have ever experienced such a dramatic low, and hope never to again. I assume it was a combination of emotional and physical exhaustion that led to such a depressed and dysfunctional state that at the simplest task I felt like breaking out in tears. Not pleasant at all.

On waking the next morning it was like I had emerged from quick-sand, a somewhat fantastic creation you have heard of, but never experienced first hand.

Late 2011 In hindsight, I had set myself up to under-achieve, doubting anecdotes, over-emphasising the gradient of hills, setting timeframes with no room for error and just simply not enough training. The training guide was talking 200-300 kms per week regularly, which I chose to read as “100-200 kms should do”, even trying to justify 6 or 7 hours on the mattock and spade as training on one particular weekend.
I knew what was not enough by this stage, and given the commitment that was going to be required, I decided that my daughter’s final year of schooling should take priority, so 2013 it would have to be.

I’ve always found great motivation in keeping my word, so as soon as March came, I started suggesting to fellow FOBs that I needed to train for 12 months and decided “10,000 Ks on the bike and 100 Ks swimming” had a big number ring to it. That coupled with a special BMC gift to myself (courtesy of Peak Bike Hub Heidelberg – PBH) for my 50th and it was time to get truly serious.

Starting with the Otway Classic, ridden in 7 1/2 hours due to a heavy cold, rather than what should have been 5 or 6 hours, I tried to chip away at the big target.
April was still fairly casual, as was May, until I fired up the Garman for the first time and then found Strava.
What a difference a bit of information can make. Not just logging the total, but segment times to compare my best performance with anyone on the same route and more over, cadence was to become my master.

Sharing the data with Hutch one day he described his “sweet-spot” as 94-96 rpm and given my average at this time was in the high 60’s it seemed a little fanciful, but did stretch my comprehension of what it might take given his 2 successful 3 Peaks rides and his dominance on our FOB rides.

June and July were pretty ugly months weather wise but up at 5.45 of a Saturday had now become a ritual and later 5.30 so I could squeeze in a south bound Kew Boulevard before our usual 7.00am Hawthorn start.
There was many a morning where I was joined by only one or 2 others and a few where I was the only silly bastard in the rain. Ian partnered me on a few of these occasions with his very genuine enquiries helping to refocus my efforts on the grand targets.

The problem with good data is it doesn’t lie and it was becoming very clear that I was just not getting in enough Kms despite the weekend consistency so Wednesday morning, often with Dennis, started to get a look-in also.
Trawling the Net for longer rides such as the Great Vic my daughter had completed the year before had not proven too productive and it wasn’t until I read the fourth bullet point on an FPA email (that would normally have gone to Junk) that I first heard of Future 2.

Now at this stage, 8 years into riding, I could count on one hand the number of times I’d ridden 2 days in a row, I just didn’t do it, too many excuses about needing recovery time etc etc and in my defence, plenty of work around the house needing doing. Lloydy (and Nunny) had set the bench mark with Paceline (on behalf of Baker IDI and the Victor Chang Institute) with 8 day rides between state capitals, so 9 Days from Sydney to Melbourne seemed like it just may be a possibility to get the Ks up.

Once again I decided I’d use my word (and peer pressure) to my advantage by asking if any of the FOB’s would like to join me and when Keats said he’d ride the Canberra leg, I had no choice but to sign up. The 2 previous Future 2 Classics had emulated a competitive 1950’s route from Burke to Sydney that Ray Griffen’s dad had completed, all in an effort to raise funds for disadvantaged youth. The 18 of us completing the whole journey, each had a $3000 target and it was only when a few close colleagues offered up some significant support that I started, quite emotionally, to feel the responsibility and faith they were placing in me.

In talking with Ray just to gauge the scale of the event, he suggested my current routine and three or four 150km training rides should be enough so I set about upping the Ks.  A particular August Tuesday sticks in my mind primarily because the forecast sunny 17 degrees was 4 or 5 above the average so I took the opportunity to get some hills in via the Dandenongs and despite an alternate route, ended up in Dandenong itself via Stud Road. On to Frankston it was, via one of the most boring roads I’ve ever ridden, only to be confronted by a seasonal head wind back along the bay that had me down to under 20 kph for much of the way to The Sandbar. An optimistic 3.00pm
finish ended in the dark around 6.00pm, but another 160ks was in the bag.

So I can only recommend the ride, as the Future 2 Classic 2012 was one of the most rewarding experiences you could have on the bike, but the people, their character and the total devotion of the support crew to a great cause was an honour to be part of (see my poem, Wheel Classic No. 3).

Such was the satisfaction in completing the 1200 odd Kms that the first text to Lloydy read that I no longer needed to finish the 3 Peaks ride, bringing an understandable response. Finally the “Need” had given way to “Want”.

Dennis’ Around the Bay No. 10 in a row came and went, as did Kinglake, at a pace I could have only dreamt of 12 months earlier but in the remaining months of the year I did let the momentum slip a little.

Over time there have been a few deliberate but torturous starts to the holidays and coupling the PBH “Tour De Eltham” to a Kinglake ride provided the standard I felt was necessary, just under 1500 metres in 84 odd Kms, twice
between Christmas and New Year. It was clear some time back that I was never going to swim the laps I’d hoped to, so the new measure became 1250 Kms for each of January and February, a theoretical 300km per week.
The Monsaalvat-Kinglake route of a Wednesday and riding most Saturdays and Sundays became the norm, along with plans to target a few weekends away as an opportunity for a bit of variety and that big anchor ride for the week.

Strangely enough it was 2 different Richards that provided great support on each of these 150K+ rides, one an FOB (Nunny) to Maldon and one a tennis team mate to Cape Paterson. In fact I later realised it was tennis Richard that I’d been able to share 3 of the 4 biggest rides with in the last 4 months or so, unexpected, but greatly appreciated.

The weather had become frequently stifling and on returning to the working week Lloydy and I started to squeeze in a few sweaty Kew Boulevards of an evening, getting near to exhaustion on a few occasions. As the process of abuse
continued, with lettuce and tuna for most lunches, the weight started to fall off and given I had no intention of trying to push more than I needed to up the hills I was deliberately doing no work on my upper body so was quite
appreciative of my learned son’s assessment of my “old man arms”.

Soon it was time to start the count-down and “only 3 more weeks” seemed manageable. As had become the catch phrase for my daughter’s final exams, “ride over the top” took on serious meaning as I resisted the desire to slack off from taking hold. Being a little concerned that my regular Kinglakes were no “back of Falls” I’d decided Donna Buang represented a fair challenge, so after a standard 100kms on a Beach Road Saturday I planned the big hill for the Sunday before 3 Peaks. All went well until Saturday’s 95K mark but as I stood on the pedals to pick up the pace nearing home the “hanger” capitulated sending the whole rear “ball-sack” of gearing and cogs into the back spokes, with momentum promptly driving them between the frame and remnants of wheel, fracturing my much prized BMC’s frame.

12 months of training, one week to go and I had no choice but to find another trusty steed, “by gosh what a nuisance” (or something of a slightly less palatable nature) crossed my mind. As luck would have it there was still
enough time to fit an alternative and Lloydy had a spare Colnago lying around (as you do) so I quickly accepted his offer to trial it on Donna Buang. Given we are pretty much the same size it felt very close, but different, so after 18 odd Kms downhill I had no breaking strength left in my hands.
After a quick 20 Kms on the Wednesday, “Sean the bike god of Heidelberg” set about recycling my bars and seat from my box of BMC bits on his shop floor and fitting me to the adapted vehicle. The difference was remarkable, yet again, best described as like riding out of there on your favourite lounge chair.

So that was it, no further plans for last minute cram rides, no nerves, just a dull wait for the long drive to Falls on a hot Saturday. Oh, and a longer ride, on an even hotter Sunday!

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