Taking Off The Uniform

When I left the Army in January 2012, it wasn’t just a change of job. My whole world changed. I was a civilian for the first time in a long time.

The Army isn’t just a job; it is a culture, it is a lifestyle, it is your life.
Say goodbye to the normal aspects of life and say hello to restrictions and new rules that you abide by. Put simply, you get told what to do, when to do it, how to do it and not to ask questions.

Don’t get me wrong, if I had my time over again I would still sign that piece of paper and put on that uniform that still hangs in my wardrobe.
On a daily basis I miss my mates, I miss putting on my uniform and lacing up my boots. I miss being a Soldier. And with tomorrow being Anzac Day I miss putting on my medals, drinking and sharing a warrie or two with my mates.

But I don’t miss the bureaucracy that plagues the ADF. I’m not going to rant for pages about what I think the many issues are and how to fix them; I’ll leave it at one for this post. The ADF does not care about the individual.
It’s quite simple, and I think you would be hard pressed to find any serviceman or servicewoman that disagrees. At some-point somewhere in their career they have been pushed aside, given a very raw deal and told its for service reasons.

I left the Army when I knew I was only a number on a spreadsheet. Qualifications and experience meant nothing when my number was matched to a role I had zero interest in and had explicitly expressed never wanting for a number of years. My fate was sealed before I even got my posting order.

I owe a great debt to the ADF and in particular the Royal Australian Navy for recognizing my anxiety and depression when others dismissed and ridiculed. I spent a very long time learning that what I was experiencing was in fact a somewhat common reaction to my circumstances and not to be swept under the rug.

I had a lot of my issues under control for a decent amount of time with a few acute episodes flaring up in late 2011 when I was fighting my posting order. Only when I accepted that the best option for personal, career and mental health progression was to take off the uniform did my anxiety and bouts of depression subside.

I would never want to forget my years in the Army and the times I served my Nation overseas. But I am happy with my decision to take off the uniform and start a new chapter in my life.

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N+1 Is A Simple Yet Complicated Equation … aka Rule #12

The rules of cycling are applicable to all forms of the sport; be it road, time trial or MTB.
They are many, but they are clear; there are even rules that can be interchanged to allow variations under extreme circumstances.
For the purpose of this post I will focus on one rule only… RULE #12

While the minimum number of bikes one should own is three, the correct number is n+1, where n is the number of bikes currently owned. This equation may also be re-written as s-1, where s is the number of bikes owned that would result in separation from your partner

I own three bikes already.  My beloved Zooey, her road riding sister Sara and my hand built single speed commuter.

As the girly will attest, I spend a lot of time with my bikes.
Put aside the 10-12 hours I spend in the saddle each week; after each ride I will meticulously clean and mini-service Zooey.  Every few days I will do the same with Sara.  And I spent weeks stripping down the frame, sanding, painting and finally building my SS roadie.

It is not a chore for me, it is therapeutic   Maybe it stems from my years in the Army where you unpack, clean, reassemble and refit to fight all of your equipment and stores post exercise or operation.  I’m have a set way I clean and service my bikes; I follow the same formula each time.

…Anyway I like bikes; and I like the concept of Rule #12; you are always on the look out for a new bike.  Which brings me to my +1 bike crush!

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The Giant Composite XTC 29er 1.

It’s an amazing bike.  It looks great, rides great and it’s a carbon frame.  N+1 indeed!
However there are a few complications in my equation:

  • It’s rather expensive
  • I’m getting married soon (do I really need to spend money on another bike?)
  • It’s a hardtail 29er (I ride and race a dual suspension)
  • The girly doesn’t really support/understand my need for this bike

I was at a point prior to my crash and torn pec where I was stupidly bike fit.  I had spent enough time in the saddle that I was stronger, fitter, faster and healthier than I had been in a few years.  The simple truth being; riding gets you fit and healthy and makes you happy.
However I also reached a plateau in my riding too.  I wasn’t getting anymore big gains and I wasn’t getting much faster on my standard rides.  Something had to change.

That change was adapting my riding.  Firstly, my riding position; secondly, my bike setup; thirdly, my nutrition.  I started to make more gains, but they were slower than I expected; I was slightly disillusioned and quietly disappointed.  I made the mistake of increasing the intensity of every ride.  Doing this is sure fire way to failure.  I was experiencing muscle fatigue and DOMS on a regular basis.  Instead of putting together a proper training program I just hit it hard; too hard.

The end result was over training and over confidence… Ergo, a poorly executed jump at the end of a race that resulted in a torn chest muscle and weeks off the bike.

Which brings me back to N+1.  I’ve decided I will compete in the CORC XC Series on Zooey for the time being.  I’ve got some ground to make up once I’m able to ride and I’ll do that properly with a training program and medical guidance.  So no +1 for me in the near future.

For the time being I’ll leave a picture of the XTC above my desk at work and put in the required kilometres on the incredible bikes I’ve already got.

Hopefully one day in the future; for a brief 24 hour period N+1 becomes N, and I’ve got an XTC sitting in my living room…. And then the equation reverts back to N+1 once again.

The Roadie

The Roadie

Every morning I walk down the stairs and see Sara sitting there. She’s good to go; bidons at the ready, tyres at 120psi, Garmin charged and helmet and glasses waiting.

It’s been a week since I tore my left pectoralis major and I’m missing riding.

Starting to think my aim of being ready for Round 1 of the CORC XC series in early May might not happen.

The Agony & The Ecstasy!

Every now and then you have a ride where nothing seems right.  
You are off your game slightly; the legs just don’t seem to have enough for the climbs; your lines in and out of corners are terrible.

It’s during rides like these you have simple offs.  A misjudged corner and you hit it with too much speed and end up in the trees or in the dirt.  Other times you can’t get your shoes out in time and end up on your side with a large chunk of mountain bike using you as a pillow.

Then there are days when you are dialled in and everything feels good.
…And then you meet the ground…

ImageLuge at Mt Stromlo did a number on me this dayImage
I bruised my patella, tore some ligaments and got some nice gravel rash
ImageAn attempt at a “wicked” jump at the end of my first CORC XC race saw me come off at speed and smash into the ground.  Lots of gravel rash from my feet to shoulder but the best was yet to come.ImageA Grade 2 tear in my pectorals major and a few weeks of sling and painkiller action to come.

Currently I’m off the bike for a few weeks while my chest and shoulder heals.  It’s a huge let down considering the amount of training I’ve been doing in the past couple of months.  I’m faster and fitter on the bike than I have been before and now I have no choice but to not ride or risk further injury and time off the bike.

I’m hoping I will be back on the bike in time for the next CORC XC race in early May, but only time will tell.

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@ChadPD

@ChadPD.

About Me Profile

Well the time finally came to move onto a new and better blogo-sphere.

Some may call it a metamorphosis, others a sea change.  I call it Tumblr giving me the shits!

WordPress gives me the ability to develop my microblogging into something more.  If Tumblr was me stripped bare, WordPress is me wandering the lonely tundra that is life in a loincloth!

 


Chad… Early 30′s… Ex-Soldier…
Iraq/Afghan Veteran & Advocate…
Coffee Aficionado… MTB’r… Photoblogger