Sunday, 24 July 2011

Preparing for the fun and games of our excellent adventure

In September, my girlfriend Stef and I are heading off on our first multi-day bike ride.  Now some of you might think that we would start out slow and perhaps do a weekender.  But for those of you who know either of us, you'd know that we're not the type to start slowly and work up to something, so we found ourselves signing up for the annual Cycle Queensland event.

Cycle Queensland this year is starting at Goondiwindi and will see us travel to Texas, Yelarbon, Stanthorpe, Killarney, Woodenbong, Boonah and Rosewood before heading into Brisbane.  We will travel 570km in the nine days we are on the road, with a rest day at day four after we have climbed into Stanthorpe.  Each night is spent camping under the stars in our own little tents as part of a 1500 strong event village.  Funnily enough, we are probably more excited to be enjoying a fully catered week where we won't have to cook or pick up after anyone buy ourselves than by the actual ride.

Today I packed my bags ready for our trip.  Ok, I know it's well over 6 weeks before we are off, but there are strict baggage limits and as we'll be setting up our own camp, I was keen to see how long it would take.  I also want to be familiar with how to erect my tent.  I do not want to be one of those people looking helplessly at the array of pegs, poles and ropes that is supposed to be my accommodation for the night.  I certainly don't want to be that person if the weather is not so good.

So after packing my bags, I unpacked them and set up my tent.  It's a cute little 3-man tent that takes only 10 minutes to put together.  Add in a very comfy camp stretcher and a self-inflating mattress, my sleeping bag and a pillow along with my two bags and my bike kit and I have a gorgeous little home away from home.

Had a lovely little rest on my stretcher (was almost asleep in fact), when Brendon came downstairs to let me know he'd organised our ride for the afternoon.  Again, as part of being prepared, I pulled down my tent and repacked my bags ready for my next trial run.

Now to prepare my bike.  Before the ride, I will book my bike in for a service (mental note, call  99 Bikes tomorrow to book the bike in for a service).  Before my training rides, I just need to check my lights, my tyre pressure and the general functions of the bike (brakes and gears) to make sure there are no mishaps along the way. Check!

After picking up our biking buds, the four of us headed towards the Gateway Bridge.  Stef and I had already done the climb once this week, but Bren and Pete hadn't done it for a while.  Needless to say, they aced it and made the two of us girls look like rank amateurs (as they always do!).  I had asked Brendon to plan this ride, as he has recently done the ride to Redcliffe and back, and had found some shorter routes from Eagle Farm to Nudgee Beach.  They cut about 15 minutes off our previous time, so definitely in the memory banks for our next ride north.

Anyways, the ride was a good one.  Not too hard, but certainly not easy.  Some very challenging hills (read Gateway Bridge twice) and a couple of 40 something fellas who always put us through our paces.   Stef and I have already agreed that we will not killing ourselves on our adventure - it's all about enjoying the ride, seeing the sights, soaking up the atmosphere and meeting some new people who are sharing our adventure with us.  Bring it on...

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The countdown is on...

With just over 50 days to go until I begin my first multi-day cycling event, I'm back in the saddle.

Winter is not the best time to recommence training.  Two reasons - it's bloody cold and bloody dark.   Layers can assist with the cold factor.  Some mornings I've been known to wear a pair of thermals under my long trackies, a thermal singlet, thermal long sleeve, bike shirt, scarf, beanie and thermal gloves.  Believe it or not, I still get cold.  Any bare skin is almost blue by the end of the ride, and it hurts to shower - it burns as the feeling returns to cold body parts.

The dark is scarier.  Bike lights (well the ones I own) either alert a car you are coming or show you the road ahead.  They do either of these, but rarely both.  Now I don't mind the occasional adrenalin rush, but I draw the line at flying down Whites Rd hill at Manly West with very little line of sight beyond my front tyre.  Pot holes are frightening enough with full visibility, but as a last minute option, it's never a good thing.  Even worse are cat's eyes and manhole covers.  On a frosty morning, hitting one of those with a slick rear tyre can really ruin a good bike ride.

But here's to looking on the bright side, and there is a bright side.  Brisk mornings make for a great excuse to work hard to get the blood pumping and the body warm.  Dark starts result in some of the most amazing sunrises over the bay as we drop the pace and begin the warm down on the way home.  The mixture of dark sky, still, black water and the first pink, yellow and orange rays of sunlight pushing up over the horizon make for a breathtaking reward for a morning's hard work.

Not surprisingly, after a morning's ride, things always seem brighter.  Work seems a little easier to handle, my mood is always on the up and the depression that often skulks around the corner at the thought of another commute into the City for a long day's work is put firmly in its place back on the shelf. 

So think about me on those cold winter mornings when you're snuggled deep under the covers in a warm bed.  I'll be the one out on the bike, getting the legs moving, the heart pumping and the nose running as I head off on another early morning training ride.  As much as I grumble about it, you'll also notice I'm the one with the smile from ear to ear as I'm doing it.  After all, no one is forcing me to exercise.  For the first time in my life I've found that one activity that I'm yet to tire of.  And I'm lovin' it!

Keep those pedals turning!