Saturday, December 31, 2011

To do list

Each new year I try to come up with a list of things to do during the next twelve months. Not your every day stuff but things that I normally wouldn't do, but would be much the wiser for having done so. Kind of like a yearly bucket list without actually kicking the bucket.

I've done things like getting a pedicure, buying a bucket of chicken and build a lamp and turn an old tv into a fish tank.

This year, I've been a bit slack. Partially because of laziness. Partially because I've been overseas for most of the year and have seen and done a lot of things that I only dreamt of. However, there has been one on my list that I have been wanting to tick off for a while: RUN TO WORK.

At the time I wrote this list, I lived 4km from where I worked. I now live 8km away. I hate walking anywhere, never mind running. In fact, the last time I ran anywhere was probably to get the toilet in time. I haven't run any kind of distance in over 4 years!

With today being the 31st December 2011, it was my last chance to tick 'run to work' off my list. So I decided to do it. (Well, to be honest, I had to do it because I told a lot of people that I could and they didn't believe me) I had to dig around for some running shoes and shorts but this morning, I was ready to go.

Before I even got out of the door, I ran into some issues. Where the heck do people carry things when they run?! I had to get my keys and phone to work and reluctantly decided to carry them. How do I time myself? I used to have a heart rate monitor but it is long gone and I was keen to know my time. So I stole my wife's watch instead. It was also an extremely weird feeling to wear ankle socks instead of high cuff cycling socks.

I set off on my run and had to quickly adjust to being on the walking side of the footpath rather than the cycling side. After 2km my legs started to hurt. Aerobically, I was fine but the impact of running destroyed my legs. I decided to walk 200m then run 2km. By 5km, this turned into walk 200m and run 1km.

48min and 8km later, I arrived at work. I put compression socks on and spent most of the day sitting and avoiding the single step that exists at work because it hurt my legs. I thought about the run home and contemplated swallowing my pride and catching a bus home. But I couldn't let the doubters win.

After work, I put the runners back on and head home. My legs were so sore that I had to walk the downhill sections because the impact hurt too much. 42min and 8km later I made it home!

I am currently sitting with my legs elevated and a pair of Skins on. It hurts to stand up. It hurts to walk. It hurts to sit down again. For some reason, my arms hurt! I didn't even use them!!!

I'm not going to lie, I have buyers remorse. I'm ticking 'run to work' off my list and next year's list will definitely have no running activities.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Winner

Christmas is fast approaching and I have given my wife her present a couple of days early. For the seventh time, I have given Emily a bike as a gift.

The first was around five years ago for Emily's birthday. I got my hands on a cheap hybrid that Emily rode to work each day and the bike did about a thousand times its value in work. By the time it moved on, it was well and truly 'used'.



For the next bike I purchased a old school retro ladies bike for $26 from eBay. It was covered in rust and unridable, but after a coat of paint, some new wheels and various other parts, 'Old Red' was born for Emily's christmas present. It is only good for going down to the shops but turns a lot of heads on the way.



The next bike was a poorly thought out road bike that was the wrong size and eventually bastardised for parts. Its life was short-lived and not enjoyed. It simply reinforced Emily's distain for road bikes and put a speed bump in my plans to get her to ride one.

Next was another retro custom build for Emily's birthday. I took an old track frame and build some colour matching wheels to produce 'The Folger'. Emily still loves cruising the bike paths on her single speed and little did she know that it was all part of my plan to get her used to those skinny, high pressure tyres.



The next bike was a dual-suspension mountain bike. Emily hit the trails with a surprising lack of fear, riding over and into pretty much everything. I wasn't allowed to clean her moutain bike as Emily didn't want to look like a rookie on a new bike whenever we went out. It had to have just the right amount of mud stuck to it so she could get some respect.



The 6th bike was another birthday present in the form of a commuter. It was back to the road bike sized wheels and lack of suspension to prepare Emily for a proper road bike. It has since been named 'Nessi' and is her regular transport to work, complete with mud guards and pannier racks.



So this leads to bike number 7 and the final step in my plan. It took a lot longer than anticipated but Emily is finally on a road bike that fits her. She was most concerned with the colour but is thankfully happy with it. After a short ride this morning to experience the typical Friday morning roadie ride to the coffee shop, she has named it 'The Ballerina' because it is so light and dainty to ride.



Unknown to Emily, the next step in my plan is waiting downstairs in the garage in the form of clipless pedals and shoes. She claims that they make her feel claustrophobic and she doesn't want to wear them. We'll see....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Foo

The first CD that I ever bought was Metallica; Ride the Lightning. The second was Live; Throwing Copper. Much to my mother's distain, I used listened to a lot of rock music. After finishing school, I used to rock out to Pearl Jam, The Chili Peppers, Cold Chisel and even the lyrically challenged Nickelback. It was all the rage, long before Britney even did it the first time.



Despite this passion for phat guitar solos and long, unruly hair, I never actually went to a rock concert. The closest I came was seeing a disappointing performance from Tame Impala, where I couldn't understand a word they sang.

Last weekend, for my 30th birthday, my friend Oliver got his hands on some tickets to the Foo Fighters concert. I'll have to admit, it was a while ago since I listened to them... like Monkey Wrench a while ago, but I was keen to see them in action.

As I was getting ready to go, it dawned on me: I have never been to a rock concert and have no idea waht is appropriate attire or trend. The only thing I have to go by is cliche movies about the 70's and that Mark Wahlburg movie, Rockstar. I don't own any black leather pants or hair extensions! So where does one find out about these important life dilemas? The same place you find out anything else you want; Google.



So I typed in 'what to wear to a Foo Fighters concert' and it seems I am not alone in my conundrum. There was a plethora of websites telling me that I couldn't go wrong with a pair of jeans and a black t-shirt. So that is what I did. I just wish that the website would have told me that it would get ridiculously hot in a stadium full of people and shorts may be a better option!



The concert was at the Gold Coast, in the Metricon Stadium. Tenacious D was the support act and by the time Jack Black had finished his Tribute, the stadium was packed. With such a vast space on the field to fill, I didn't know what to expect. Maybe a moshpit at the front and a field of Woodstock-style rockers waving their arms around. Being an anti sober-dancer and on an alcohol hiatus after my recent experience in China, I stood in the field awkwardly for 4 hours, like Ricky Bobby not knowing what to do with my hands.



I'll admit that they played some songs that I have never heard before as well as the old favourites. It brought back memories of when I used to rock out with a beer and a cigarette while Black Sabbath played in the background. Now, it's hard to find 10 minutes a week in which to get funky. Since the concert, I have since put the old Pearl Jam CDs back into circulation and have done some reminiscing. All I have to do now is complain about the youth of today and say that the music they listen to has no meaning, not like the music I used to listen to back in my day. I am getting old...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Sobriety

I haven't told many people about this, mainly because it's not a shining moment in my life.

After the last race of the season in China we went to the closing ceremony. At each table, they had bottles of a traditional Chinese drink. I'm not sure exactly what it's called but it smells like metho and is 51% alcohol. I had a few shots and sampled the local beer to celebrate the end of the last race of the season and finally unwind.

After the ceremony, we headed into town. I didn't think I would need my phone for anything so I left it at the hotel. I grabbed about $60 in Chinese money so I couldn't spend too much and my Australian driver's license for ID.

We found a club and someone suggested we get a bottle of vodka. Four bottles later and I don't remember a thing. When I came to, I was being pushed into the garden outside by about 6 Chinese guys. One stood on me while the others took everything out of my pockets including my Australian drivers license and my wedding ring off my finger.

Luckily, my team mate Simon was going past and saw me. He yelled and everyone ran for it. After helping me into a taxi, he found our manager further up in the garden and he had suffered the same fate.

The next day was hell. I could not move my head and I still had to pack my bike before we caught a flight that afternoon.

I struggled to take the wheels off my bike and had to lay down several times in between. I slept for as long as I could before getting on the bus. I slept on the bus to the airport. I slept in the airport terminal while everyone argued with the airline about weight limits. I slept the entire flight. I slept on the bus to the next hotel. I slept once we checked in until dinner.

During the entire day, I said only a handful of words and even they were just grunts. I couldn't eat anything the entire day and barely managed to keep dinner down.

I have since decided to give up drinking for a while and have not touched a drop since that night. It's been just over 6 weeks and so far nothing bad has happened to me since I quit. Coincidence? Probably

Drive it like its not yours

I was trawling through some photos recently and came across a video. It is from the tour of Hainan, after I crashed and was able to spend the day in the team car following the race.




Deon had found himself in the early break away and was around 6 minutes up the road, ahead of the peleton. The day was very hot and humid with rolling hills. This caused a problem. Deon needed water and the support of the car, but so did the rest of the team back in the bunch! If we were behind the peleton and Deon called for the car, we would have to get to him as fast as we could.

This meant that Markus would plant his foot to the floor and drive like a rally driver until he reached Deon. The video below shows one of these trips across to the break. As we turn the corners with spectators lining the streets, you can hear the tyres squeeling as slide around them and the engine reving to its limit. When you hear a beeping noise, these is the car telling us that we are going over 120kph.



To be honest, I was hanging onto the seat for dear life, as I was sure the car would slide out on every corner. By the end of the stage, we actually had to get a new car because the gear box packed it in and wouldn't change out of 3rd!