Tour da Country - ride for Indigenous Health

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Re: Tour da Country - ride for Indigenous Health

Postby sblack » Mon Oct 14, 2013 5:39 pm

For yesterday's ride it was back to solo training and I'd set myself a tough challenge. Swapping the weekend rides around in the training program to suit the group for many I was left with a two and a half hour ride including 40 minutes at tempo followed by 3 x 15 minute threshold intervals. As I was determined to finish the week's plan I had to get that ride in but I was left with another dilemma. I'd also planned to ride up Jamberoo Pass before the Tour, it's the second toughest climb around here but by all reports, although shorter, is tougher than Brown Mountain, the climb the Tour will take to get up from the coast. With next weekend taken up by other events this would be my last chance to do it. So I decided to have a crack at both on the same ride, knowing the terrain was going to make sticking to heart rate zones a real challenge. Still, what more appropriate way could I finish the hardest week of training than the hardest training ride?

As if I hadn't made things hard enough I found myself setting off with the temperature in the mid thirties and westerly winds of 40-60 km/h. While I knew that just meant more suffering I knew the value of training in such conditions and how beneficial riding in extreme heat had been for my Alpine Classic preparation at the start of the year.

Before long I was into the tempo session, holding back on the climbs and spinning like crazy on the descents to stay in the zone over the hilly terrain towards Jamberoo. Over the last hill and dropping into the valley things suddenly changed. The wind dreamed instantly stronger while cloud cover started rolling in. The air had that summery pre-storm feel about it. I thought either there's going to be a decent downpour to cool things down nicely before the climb or it'll just turn things into a sauna.

I turned the corner to head for the pass and now pretty much directly into the wind. Normally I'd be taking it reasonably easy along here in preparation for the climb ahead but with the tempo session still counting down this wouldn't be the case today. Soon the rain started, the cold, heavy drops stinging as they hit my skin with the force of the wind behind it.

It was brief but heavy leaving everything wet but the heat had it all died out again within a couple of minutes and it was back to being hit an windy.

Approaching the climb I knew I was going to be starting it while still in the tempo session, no time to recover beforehand. The start of Jamberoo Pass is what makes it so tough, averaging 12.9 percent for 2km, the steepest of that the last corner at over 20. I'd reach the bottom with around 8 of the 40 minutes left and climbed as slowly and gently as I could. It wasn't enough to stay within the zone as my heart rate kept switching between tempo and threshold levels.

The intermittent trespassing above the tempo zone was the least of my concerns, I knew there was no way I'd be through the steep section when the timer ran out. If I couldn't stay within tempo on this slope what chance did my recovery interval have? There was no room for recovery and before I knew it the Garmin was telling me to get ready to start my first threshold interval!

As the display swapped over for the interval my heart rate 2 already there, could I keep it there for 15 minutes without the recovery beforehand? Still in the steep section I had little choice but I was nearing the end of it, the mental battle would begin shortly. After the step start the gradient eases for a little while, a chance to recover before some more steep climbing, only this time I'd be pushing hard to maintain a threshold effort through this recovery section. It was time to learn to control the mind. Part of me questioning of by trying to maintain this effort I'd end up failing to finish the climb, another part determined to just keep trying until the interval finished or my legs have up in a cramping mess. It was tough both mentally and physically and I was actually glad when the road kicked up again and just pushing on up the climb meant staying in the zone.

The next recovery interval was a little kinder. The climb actually eased off about a minute in to it so I could get some proper recovery in while crawling along at slow pace. The easing of the effort giving me some new confidence. But the interval and along with it the confidence was over too soon. It was hard being the legs to lift their effort again and this was only interval 2 of 3. I was again glad for the steeper sections that have me no choice but to maintain the effort although the possibility of not making the climb or intervals without stopping was feeling more real.

The mind battled on, winning the argument over my body and pushing it harder for longer than I can remember pushing it before. Then with a couple of minutes left in the interval there was a sign of mixed emotion. The turn for Barren Grounds meant the climb was all but beaten. The portion of flatter (and even some downhill) sections to steeper sections would usually mean things started to easier from here, the resulting confidence boost usually spurring you on to forget the pain. Today the boost of reaching that point was somewhat dimmed by the knowledge that that was only one of my goals for the day.

Still, the knowledge that the next recovery period definately had some flatter sections in it spurred me on to push through the remainder of the threshold interval.

The rest interval still had it's fair share of climbing but it didn't yet get me to the top which meant I still had some climbing to help kickstart the final threshold session. It was only a couple of minutes though and I would have to start spinning out the big gears as the road would follow an overall gradual downward slope for around 5km.

While the legs kept complaining the mental battle was getting easier as the clock counted down. I'd made it this far there was no way I was going to let it beat me now!

With three minutes left the gradual downhill swaps to a gradual uphill but with confidence building I start pushing a bit harder, going from the lower end of the zone to a bit above halfway. The time is ticking down, 90 seconds, less than a minute..... Almost there and then the final beeps! The message on the Garmin cool down until lap button!

I was pretty much spent but I'd made it! There was just one more obstacle between me and finishing the ride. The highest point of the ride was just up ahead, a bit further on and it was just over 2km at just over 6%. Compared to what had already been conquered this seams like a small hill but completely worn out it was a slow grind that seemed to take forever.

At the top it was time to really take things easy, pedalling would be pretty much optional for the next 12km. Before long the limiting factor to my speed is the line of cars in front of me and I pedal just to match their acceleration out of the bends.

At the bottom of Macquarie Pass it was time to start enjoying the wind that had challenged me earlier. The tailwind combining with gravity on the downhills and momentum on the ups to help keep a comfortable pace over the undulations back to Albion Park.

Zipping straight into town it was time to enjoy a late lunch and rest before returning home, satisfied that the training is paying off and with renewed confidence of being able to push through tough sections on the Tour should they arise.

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by BNA » Thu Oct 24, 2013 12:37 pm

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Re: Tour da Country - ride for Indigenous Health

Postby sblack » Thu Oct 24, 2013 12:37 pm

Time has been flying by and the Tour kicks off tomorrow with it's family and community ride!

The last week and a bit had been as much about seeing how far the training had got me as it was about training itself. A busy week off the bike and events on the weekend meant this would not be a week that would follow the plan much at all. I managed to get out Wednesday night for a decent ride. I decided to do a longer segment that would let me get some tempo and threshold work in while giving me some kind of gauge as to how I'd progressed. All was going well, on track for a PB when I dropped the chain on a climb, costing me both the time to get off and fix it as well as getting the rhythm and momentum going again. A couple more grear issues before the end of the segment and in the end I was a little outside the PB, with my third best time. Not too bad considering, may have been able to get it if I'd paid more attention to some bike maintenance in the past couple of weeks. The time wasn't the biggest thing though, the previous attempts at this segment I was stuffed at the end, easing off and just surviving the ride back home. This time I still felt good and decided to keep on riding and sustain a reasonable level of effort for another half an hour of riding, after which I still felt better than I normally would after the segment. Definately looking like the training is paying off.

Friday I was able to get out for a bit of a MTB tune up ahead of Saturday's Tour de SCUM, a 100km MTB ride to finish off the Audax Dirt Series. Much like Wednesday's ride my time was comparable to what I would expect but I felt much fresher towards the end than I would have a couple of months earlier. The more specific training was obviously paying off and I'm sure that spending the same amount of time on the bikes without would not have had the same impact. It's definately something I intend to continue with after the Tour, maybe a short break before kicking off a plan for the ACE250.

After the Tour de SCUM things started easing off for the rest/recovery week. Sydney Spring Cycle made for a nice easy cruise with my wife then some extensions to the commute enough to complete the training plan through this week.

Everything is getting pretty exciting now and really looking forward to tomorrow. If you're in the Illawarra we leave Fred Finch Park at Berkeley at 9am to ride around the lake to Lake Illawarra PCYC with the launch and health day kicking off there at around 11:30.

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Re: Tour da Country - ride for Indigenous Health

Postby find_bruce » Thu Oct 24, 2013 7:14 pm

Best of luck Shane, sounds like you are ready & I'm looking forward to the reports
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Re: Tour da Country - ride for Indigenous Health

Postby sblack » Mon Oct 28, 2013 7:03 am

Thanks Bruce, at the start now, heading off soon. Feeling pretty good even with the busted finger from yesterday's Husky 100 failure. Been a busy weekend after a great family ride and launch last Friday. Will hopefully get some time to do some ride reporting in the afternoons.

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Re: Tour da Country - ride for Indigenous Health

Postby sblack » Mon Oct 28, 2013 8:43 pm

First stage done, finger held up well and although a short stage the day was not without it's events. I've noted them down to jog the memory when writing up the report. Tomorrow we're heading for Ulladulla.

Our family ride last Friday made the Illawarra Mercury as well as WIN news, although I missed seeing it on the news. I'll have more of a report up on the day soon.

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Re: Tour da Country - ride for Indigenous Health

Postby sblack » Sun Nov 03, 2013 7:13 am

While my reporting time had been limited to taking some reminder notes the riding and whole tour experience has been awesome. Rest day yesterday ahead of today, to most the big stage of the Tour, Bega to Cooma, heading up The Brown. We went for a drive yesterday but the bus was chewing through the petrol to quick and had to turn around by half way. So today is going to be both the longest ride and the biggest hill for some riders.

My finger is still going great, however my ribs, which where only a bit tender to the touch for the first few days are hurting more with certain movements, such as out of the saddle climbing so that's going to be interesting today.

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Re: Tour da Country - ride for Indigenous Health

Postby sblack » Mon Nov 11, 2013 10:50 am

Well I've been back for a couple of days now and have a lot of typing/swyping to do to tell the story. It was quite an adventure and hard to believe it's all over now. I didn't get a lot of pics compared to some of the others, there's plenty on the Facebook Page, and that's just a fraction of what was taken. I'll be adding some reporting and a few pics to this thread on a stage by stage basis as time allows, it may take a couple of weeks to get through it all.

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Re: Tour da Country - ride for Indigenous Health

Postby find_bruce » Mon Nov 11, 2013 11:10 am

sblack wrote:Well I've been back for a couple of days now and have a lot of typing/swyping to do to tell the story. It was quite an adventure and hard to believe it's all over now. I didn't get a lot of pics compared to some of the others, there's plenty on the Facebook Page, and that's just a fraction of what was taken. I'll be adding some reporting and a few pics to this thread on a stage by stage basis as time allows, it may take a couple of weeks to get through it all.

10 days to ride, couple of weeks to write up, sounds about right :D

Look forward to hearing not only about the ride but any observations about the very worthy cause.
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Re: Tour da Country - ride for Indigenous Health

Postby elStado » Thu Nov 21, 2013 5:25 pm

Tour da Country?

What's with the "da"?
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Re: Tour da Country - ride for Indigenous Health

Postby sblack » Fri Nov 22, 2013 6:35 pm

find_bruce wrote:10 days to ride, couple of weeks to write up, sounds about right :D

Look forward to hearing not only about the ride but any observations about the very worthy cause.

I'll definatley be including observations on Indigenous Health and any impact of the Tour, the Reconciliation aspect and other observations and lessons that I had along the way on Indigenous culture along the way. I have to say the couple of weeks to write up was way off. I didn't account for being as busy as I have been for the past couple of weeks. The wife spending a week away for a training course as well as the kids both getting sick certainly hasn't helped.I'm still only finding bits of time to write things up and I haven't even got to the point of the first pedal turn at the family and community ride on the shores of Lake Illawarra. Here's what I have so far:

Being a Friday the kids would normally have school but with both my wife and I getting the day of work we also have the kids the option of taking the day of school to do the ride. After all, being part of such an initiative as the Tour as well as hearing the health message and learning more about the gap between Indigenous and Non Indigenous health had educational value within itself and would most likely be a more valuable experience than many school excursions. In a reversal of typical roles, Noah who normally loves getting out on the bike informed us that it was Teacher's Day and he wanted to be at school for his teacher and to give her a Teacher's Day gift. Alex on the other hand, who normally had every excuse available to get out of riding or most sporting activities jumped at the chance for a day off school.

So on a fine Illawarra morning we loaded the bikes and headed for the start point at Berkeley. From there the plan was that Shazz would drive to the finish and ride back towards us to meet on route. Arriving pretty much spot on time we found a car park with a couple of cyclists but none of the other tour riders, in particular the organisers that I thought would be there nice and early. A quick call to Ben and I'd confirmed it was the right spot and he was a couple of minutes away. Taking to Ben when he arrived I mentioned I thought Shane would have been earlier since he'd given me the arrival time for the Tour riders. Ben's response was "you'll learn about Koori time". "Sounds a bit like Fiji Time" I replied. "It's exactly like Fiji time" he said.

As time went on the group was growing. We'd started with a school principle and someone that had seen the flyer and decided to come along and now mostly tour riders and their family and friends. I finally meet TJ who'd come down from Sydney for the day. The other rider for the day was member for Throsby, Stephen Jones, who had been invited to officially open the Tour, his presence a nice boost for raising the profile of the Tour and no doubt had an influence on the Illawarra Mercury and WIN News covering the day.


elStado wrote:Tour da Country?

What's with the "da"?

elStado, I'll have to ask Dale and find out if it's a misspell that stuck or if there is some significance to it. One thing I did learn along the Tour is that Country has an entirely different meaning to Indigenous Australians. While I think most of us would see Tour da Country and interpret to in a way mean Tour of Australia, to an Indigenous Australian Country is a much smaller area, more like a region. So the Tour da Country actually traversed several Countries. I also got some much better understanding of the Welcome to Country which has become a standard part of many events in Australia in recent years. Without an understanding of what Country actually meant it's hard to understand any traditional value in the Welcome, after all there is no need for a Welcome if there's no one new coming to be welcomed. So mistakenly interpreting Country as Australia takes away any need for the Welcome before 1788. Now understanding what Country means and seeing first hand what the Welcome meant to the riders with me means I can far better appreciation the cultural significance. It was sort of along the lines of feeling as if they where trespassing if they didn't receive a Welcome to Country, which included a blessing of the path we where taking. It was also important to get local information from the elders in regards to areas of spiritual or cultural significance, whether that be to pay respect or have some understanding of an area or to avoid any no go areas. There where definitely members of the team that didn't feel at peace being in a new country until this had taken place.
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Re: Tour da Country - ride for Indigenous Health

Postby rama » Fri Nov 22, 2013 6:50 pm

The "da" word may simply be another sign of the spread of American sub-culture.
I didn't like it when I first read the thread title. In my mind, it relegated indigenous Australians to a rap music curiosity.
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Re: Tour da Country - ride for Indigenous Health

Postby sblack » Fri Nov 22, 2013 7:31 pm

I will find out if there is any reason behind the da and should be able to get back to you all with the answer well before I finishing typing up my recap of the tour. In the meantime I updated my VeloViewer and saw the new activity wheel so I decided to make one for the Tour, click on the image to see it full size.

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Re: Tour da Country - ride for Indigenous Health

Postby petie » Fri Nov 22, 2013 8:03 pm

rama wrote:The "da" word may simply be another sign of the spread of American sub-culture.
I didn't like it when I first read the thread title. In my mind, it relegated indigenous Australians to a rap music curiosity.


That's a pretty big generalisation. I think if you don't understand why or how it might be intentional, it's probably a good sign you should take a little more time to learn about the why and how. The tour is obviously starting in the right direction if questions like this are being asked, very heartening!
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Re: Tour da Country - ride for Indigenous Health

Postby elStado » Sun Nov 24, 2013 12:28 am

You want to see "country" and learn about disadvantage of Aboringal people?

Try touring up north next time. I grew up in the remote north-west of WA. Seen it all!
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Re: Tour da Country - ride for Indigenous Health

Postby find_bruce » Sun Nov 24, 2013 7:22 am

I have worked & lived in the Pilbara (remote seems tautological) and been involved in Aboriginal employment issues both there and elsewhere. While the issues, including health, are far more visible in remote areas, that is not to say that there are not serious issues in urban or regional areas. There are different issues every where you look, whether that is the camp on the edge of Newman, Jigalong, Nowra, Brewarrina, Lismore, or the block at Redfern. I am not even close to having seen it all. Personally I would avoid any debate about relative disadvantage as not only are such debates based on an incomplete picture, but tend to quickly degenerate into a monty python sketch.

Lets talk facts for a moment.

  • The life expectancy of an aboriginal person is something like 10 years less than the rest of the population
  • The greatest contributors to higher mortality rates and excess deaths experienced by Aboriginal people are chronic disease, in particular cardiovascular disease, mental health, diabetes, cancers, and injury
  • In 2004-2008, Indigenous people died from diabetes at almost seven times the rate of non-Indigenous people.
  • In 2006-2010, the age-standardised death rate from kidney disease was four times higher for Indigenous people than for non-Indigenous people.
  • other significant health issues include respiratory disease, eye health and oral health
While there are numerous factors behind these Indigenous health issues, one of those contributing factors is physical activity, eg In 2004-2005, after age-adjustment, 51% of Indigenous people in non-remote areas reported low or very low levels of activity, compared with 33% of non-Indigenous people.

Cycling can contribute to improved cardiovascular health, lower rates of type 2 diabetes, and there are many people on BNA who will attest that it is much easier to keep the black dog at bay when you are cycling regularly.

Cycling is not the only way to do these things,, but the low level of physical activity among the adult population was one of the things that I understood the tour wanted to highlight at a local level and to be part of the solution.

I was stoked to see Shane take a part in this & I am keen to hear how it went & not just as a ride.
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Re: Tour da Country - ride for Indigenous Health

Postby Mugglechops » Tue Nov 26, 2013 7:11 pm

I am a bit slow but I finally found this thread.
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Re: Tour da Country - ride for Indigenous Health

Postby sblack » Mon Dec 02, 2013 10:22 pm

Welcome to the thread Mugglechops.

I asked Dale about da and he said it’s Koori slang for the and that’s why it was chosen.

Bruce, you’ve got a good grasp of the facts and the purpose of the tour. About the only bit you missed was the reluctance to seek medical assistance or get a health check. Dale was the main speaker for the tour and spoke from personal experience on both counts. Several years back a doctor had told him unless he changed his lifestyle he’d have a heart attack by 40. His dad had a heart attack at 40 but had survived and was to meet us in Bateman’s Bay when the tour passed through. Unfortunately he ignored the symptoms of a stomach ulcer and refused to see a doctor about them, passing away in early October when the ulcer haemorrhaged at age 63. It’s a powerful message when Dale can honestly say “My dad would be here with us today if he’d only had a health check”.

Getting back to the Family and Community Ride some other riders had turned up, including Ben and Shane V. Another person turned up wearing Tour clothing, it wasn’t until he said hi that I realised it was Layne. Layne had been losing weight consistently since I’d known him. Since I’d last seen him he’d lost a heap more plus he also decided to cut off his long hair and shave his long beard. The transformation truly was amazing. Friends and family of Tour riders also made it for the day.

As the time had ticked by waiting for the start I was beginning to wonder if Shazz would make it all the way around from dropping the car off but that wasn’t to be the case. After a ride brief we headed off to find the start of the cycleway and rolled along by the Lake. The bollards to stop cars getting on the shared path proved a challenge for Shane with kiddiecarrier in tow and Ben was having some issues getting his modified extendable broom handle go pro mount point the way he wanted but otherwise it was a cruisy run in the fine weather as we rolled along beside the lake.

Before long we were at the first stop/pickup point with one rider there ready to join the ride. Shazz had made it around to there and waited with support driver Uncle Wayne who had driven the ute with Tour da Country magnets to the meet point to meet any riders joining us there.

A little further on and we were at the second and final pickup point where riders could join us for the final 5km. Being the shortest option this was the one that the target audience for the tour was most likely to join in and it was good to see a couple more ready to join us there.

The planned schedule for the day gave plenty of time for the ride to ensure it was friendly both for kids and less active people meant that by this stage we’d actually made up the time for the late start and by the time we made our way around to the PCYC we where ahead of schedule. Enough ahead of schedule that we’d beaten the media that was meant to be there to film us coming in although a decent crowd had already started to gather to cheer us in.

About five minutes later I would get my first taste of ‘staging things’ for the camera, as with the arrival of the WIN news crew we where back on our bikes, heading back around the corner so we could ride back in for their footage.
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Re: Tour da Country - ride for Indigenous Health

Postby sblack » Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:07 pm

I must apologise for taking so long to get some more into this thread. Life got insanely busy and my forum time has been somewhat limited.

I last finished as we were riding back into the health fair for the WIN news footage. Just after most of us had changed out of our cycle gear it was time for the Illawarra Mercury photographers to ask for a couple of shots on the bikes, rather than get changed again we just hopped on in what we were wearing. A few laps around the PCYC cycle course and media duties where done for the day. It was time to finally head in for the fair.

The fair was set up out the back area of the PCYC with stands from various local organisations. One of the main Tour sponsors, Medicare Local, was on hand doing the free health checks for anyone that wanted one as well as other organisations with people on hand to discuss and give information on programs and points of contact in the local area regarding indigenous health.

The more formal part of the fair was kicked off with a local elder welcoming us before handing over to Stephen Jones for the official launch of the Tour. It was then time for everyone to head inside where Dale had a bit of a slideshow of last year’s Tour before he got into his talk and the message of the Tour. I briefly mentioned earlier how Dale had been given the message from a doctor to either change his lifestyle or expect a heart attack by 40. I never knew Dale back then and it’s hard to imagine him as the old self he speaks about, partying, drinking heavily, overweight and unfit. He’s now the complete opposite, easily one of the fittest and healthiest people I know. His message is a simple telling of his story with the message of if I can do it so can you.

As well as the health aspect he also speaks about education. Sharing how he couldn’t read or write and that he’d decided to do something about it when his daughter asked for help with her homework and he just couldn’t help. So stating with a numeracy and literacy course he began his adult education and is now a TAFE qualified health worker.

It was then time for everyone to enjoy some lunch. As part of each health fair lunch is supplied to everyone there. Today’s menu was some roast chicken and garden salad as well as fruit and water. Quite a tasty feast to enjoy while returning to the fair. It was good to see a few people at the health checks at all times and also to see a rider who’d joined at the 5km to go mark back on their bike doing lap after lap of the PCYC course. I’m sure he made up the rest of the kilometres he’d missed that afternoon.
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Re: Tour da Country - ride for Indigenous Health

Postby sblack » Sat Jan 04, 2014 11:39 pm

There was now just one weekend before the Tour kicked into full gear and headed off on stage 1 but the weekend wouldn’t be without it’s Tour effecting events.

On the Saturday I was at birthday party for one of Dale’s sons when Dale asked if I was shaving my legs for the Tour. It’s not something I’d ever done and I’d never really considered it. I said my cycling wasn’t at that level. So Dale asked what if we raised some money for the Tour for it. Yeah, no worries, I’d be happy to do it to raise some money. It took Dale one phone call and all of about 20 seconds to have $200 donated for me to shave my legs so come Monday morning I’d agreed to turn up with shaved legs.

Sunday had it’s own events too. The rain delayed Husky 100 was on, so I’d headed down nice and early for the event. I was in two minds about how to approach the ride. Initially I was hoping for a 6 hour time but with the Tour starting the next day I wasn’t too sure on pushing myself that hard so I thought I’d just start riding and see how I went. For 37km things where going great. I was on track for the 6 hours and the legs where still feeling good. Then on a nice flowing downhill section a tighter corner with a mid corner drop caught me out. I was going wide and trying to tighten my line and avoid a tree on the outside of the corner saw the front slip out and me going over the bars. I missed the tree but managed to land on a small rock before it, my left index finger taking the brunt of the impact as it landed between the rock and my body. It immediately felt wrong and looking down the zigzag shape confirmed it was at least dislocated. I tried to straighten it but it wasn’t budging and I couldn’t bring myself to push with too much force to try and realign it. The pain wasn’t too bad but I knew there was no way I’d be able to keep riding with it.

Another rider that stopped to assist helped me get my bike back up to the road where one of the support crew put it on their 4wd and took me back to the event centre. The St Johns guy informed me he could clean it but they aren’t allowed to do anything about the dislocation so I said not to worry and the support crew helped me get my bike back onto my car so I could drive back home and to the medical centre.

The medical centre put it back in place and did the X-rays to confirm there was also a small fracture. From there it was a negotiation of my treatment. The ideal was to have it taped to the finger next to it and to come back and see them in two days. I explained I was heading off on the Tour the next day and so agreed that I would bandage the two fingers together while off the bike for the next few days at least and come back and see him in two weeks when I get back. I’d also ensure I got the bandage covering the finger changed every few days.

So the Husky 100 had left me with a tender finger which I was unsure just how much would affect me on the ride. As a bonus it meant I still had fairly fresh legs ready to take on the ride, they just needed shaving. An hour or so and two razers later they were done and I had the weird sensation of smooth legs to get used to. It was weird waking up to them as they just didn’t look like my legs and I quickly learnt they were slipperier than normal when I put them up on a footrest and slid right off.
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