2016 In Review – Cycling

2016 was the gap year I didn’t want, but needed to, in order to see the bigger picture.

My goal for 2016 was to find my mojo in a new city… I found it, it just took 11 months.

As with last year, here is 2016 by the numbers.

2016 – BY THE NUMBERS

.:1:.
Number of events I raced in during 2016.

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Wildside 2016 Photo: Matthew Connors Photography https://www.facebook.com/matthewconnorsphotography/

.:50.5..
The amount of vertical kilometres I climbed in 2016

.:75.3:.
In kilometres, my longest single ride of 2016

148:.
The number of days I rode in 2016

.:180:.
The amount of hours I spent riding in 2016

.:340:.
How many times I rode my bike(s) in 2016 – This includes multi-rides in one day such as my daily commute which is 4 individual rides

.:4’439:.
In kilometres, the total distance I rode in 2016

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Wishing everyone a safe 2017!
.:Chad:.

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Wildside 2016 – Prologue – Keeping It Simple (Stupid)

Cycling is a (r)evolution.  The simple action of wheels, cranks and legs turning over and over is metaphor for life.  We navigate through the ups, downs and obstacles life throws at us and we use those experiences on the bike to do the very same with the climbs, descents and technical sections of a mountain bike race.  Wildside 2016 was the race and event that would realistically (for me) combine the challenges of the past, the present, the future and make you use all of that, and more, to push your body to its limits in order to ride a bike along the west coast of Tasmania.

The idea was simple.  A team of Australian Veterans: ten days in Tasmania and a four day stage race; renowned for its beautiful scenery and decidedly difficult course.  The basic premise of lead up and event has been explored and undertaken by various ESO’s in the past and an idea/strategy I had helped to establish and participated in previously with Soldier On Cycling and during the Trois Etapes in France 2014.

Many lessons had been learnt from these various events and sadly, across many ESO’s, not a lot had been done to mitigate the issues that ultimately arise when people physically, emotionally and psychologically wounded undertake a challenging and sometimes life altering event.  Akin to riding up a mountain you are faced with the arduous climb, the elation of summiting and then the relative ease of descending.  But what happens when the riding stops?  This is where the adventure ends and the routine of life starts up again.  Combine this sudden stop with the fragile mental state of a vulnerable person and not only do new issues arise; but older, more dangerous issues can be compounded.

Surely this is something that is taken into account when ESO’s conduct big marquee events?  Well yes, yes they are but…  Service affected Veterans do not act or react like the general populous.  And this is why when the cameras and lights are packed away, when the celebrities disappear and when daily routine becomes the norm again, comprehensive and sustained follow up is a must.

The majority of Veteran ESO’s are established on three pillars: Empower, Encourage and Enable.  Each pillar is strong on its own, but by adding another to a Veteran’s recovery you are laying a stronger foundation to building a better quality of life upon.  While the three E’s are a great foundation for a Veteran’s road to recovery, a three pillar system isn’t the most stable for an organisation looking to provide a robust, tailored and reliable support system for an extremely complex and varied group of people needing support.  A fourth pillar is needed for an ESO to function effectively and achieve the results it sets for itself.  That pillar is Collaboration.

Collaboration has many forms in the ESO environment.  In the Veteran community several ESO’s are providing similar, if not identical, programs and services, whilst some specialise in one area.  Collaboration between these organisations may be the simple act of recommending and establishing contact with another ESO on behalf of a Veteran that would be of better assistance.  Be it due to geographic constraints or the fact that they either don’t provide the service or the other ESO is simply better at it.

Collaboration between ESO’s also requires the absence of Ego.  These organisations are all competing for funding from commercial, industry and Mum and Dad benefactors.  Sometimes this search for critical funds from finite sources leads to a loss of focus on what is effectively a life and death issue; improving Veteran Support Services.  A recent increase in new ESO’s and smaller initiatives targeting single areas highlights the areas in support services that aren’t being addressed or have been put on hiatus by the bigger organisations.  Some of these areas are integral to Veteran’s recovery and just as importantly, establishing connection with and maintaining a high level of awareness with the wider community.

One such area is cycling as a facet for both recovery and raising awareness.  Soldier On Cycling was one such initiative that quickly built a very strong foundation of Veteran and community support.  I’m very proud to say I helped to found and establish this initiative; but like all things that should be kept simple, complications soon arose.  The aforementioned presence of lack of Collaboration and excess of Ego have ensured that the wider Soldier On Cycling community is experiencing an indefinite hiatus whilst a small South Australian contingent experiences a high profile resurgence.  Whilst the original premise and aim of Soldier On Cycling is long gone, it is encouraging to see the aim to support, encourage and educate is still alive with other ESO’s; in particular Mates 4 Mates and Ride 2 Recovery.

Because of the no frills/KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) approach, I applied for and was accepted as member of the Ride 2 Recovery Wildside 16 #VeteranTeam.  The team was comprised of current and ex-serving contemporary Veterans who were all members/active supporters of either ADFCC (Australian Defence Force Cycling Club), Mates 4 Mates Cycling or Soldier On Cycling.  Each of us would bring the very different perspectives of our service and cycling experiences to the team.  The intra-team collaboration between Officers and Enlisted persons, racers and weekend warriors would ensure a fluid and adaptive experience that could become the benchmark for all ESO cycling events in the future.


Post featured image courtesy of Matthew Connors Photography

2015 In Review – Cycling

2015 was the year that I learnt no matter how much time, effort and care you put into training, racing and social cycling; injuries, illness and life will always derail the best laid plans.

My goal for 2015 was to enjoy cycling.  I lost a little bit of my love for the bike towards the end of 2014.  My failure to finish the Scott 24 Hour Solo in October was a huge hit to my confidence and the toll it took on my body would follow me late into 2015.

As with last year, here is 2015 by the numbers.

2015 – BY THE NUMBERS

.:1:.
One major crash during the year
During a relaxed ride on the XTC during wet weather I lost traction and hit the ground hard.  A hairline fracture in my collarbone followed and a few weeks off the bike was required.

.:2:.
Number of notable injuries in 2015
Injuries: Collarbone, torn glute

Number of new bikes in 2015

.:Anna:.

.:Anna:.

BIKES 373

.:Emily:.

.:4:.
Number of events I raced in during 2015

KC15 002

.:Andy & I at The Kowalski Classic :.

.:Suns out/guns out:. Photo: David B https://www.flickr.com/photos/45916358@N05/

.:Suns out/guns out:.
Photo: David B https://www.flickr.com/photos/45916358@N05/

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.:Capital Punishment 2015:.

.:Argo and I repping Soldier On:.

.:Argo and I repping Soldier On:.

.:54..
The amount of vertical kilometres I climbed in 2015

.:151:.
In kilometres, my longest single ride of 2015

.:193:.
How many times I rode my bike(s) in 2015

.:213:.
The amount of hours I spent riding in 2015

.:4’861:.
In kilometres, the total distance I rode in 2015

Wishing everyone a safe 2016!
.:Chad:.

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Capital Punishment 2015 Race Wrap Up

For the 2015 edition of the Capital Punishment mountain bike marathon race, I thought long and hard about entering.  The 2013 event was my first 100km race and was incredibly enjoyable for me.  The 2014 event was a bittersweet event, the seeding system was, for lack of a better term – a shitfight – which saw me start at the back of the race in Wave 6; and concluded with me finishing at the tail end of Wave 2.  I had resolved to not entering the race up until my Wife suggested I race the 50km instead of the 100km event.

Fast forward to the day before the race and I was committed to rolling out and just riding comfortably for 50km.

.:Anna ready to roll:.

.:Anna ready to roll:.

I had intended to ride out to the National Arboretum for the start of the race.  The cold morning combined with the requirement to have lights meant I drove out and would use the long grinding climb up Dairy Farmers Hill as my warm up.

.:Sunrise at the National Arboretum:.

.:Sunrise at the National Arboretum:.

.:Argo and I repping Soldier On:.

.:Argo and I repping Soldier On:.

In the middle of Wave 3, the start saw the usual rush until the realisation that the first 10 minutes was, in fact a very steep climb, set in.  I watched as Argo powered off into the distance in front of me, as I settled into a steady rhythm that got me up the hill.

The first section of the race was out of the Arboretum towards Mt Stromlo.  Heaps of grinding fireroad that kept the heart rate up and the legs spinning.  I glanced down at my GPS intermittently, watching the kilometres tick over, trying to work out how long I was going to be on the bike for.  I did the numbers, thought about the singletrack ahead and worked out I should be able to finish in a little under 2 and a half hours.

The Mt Stromlo section took in a lot of fireroad that included what felt like a hell of a lot of climbing interlaced with sketchy descents and even sketchier corners.  A few times I felt the rear wheel washout which lead to some impromptu dirt drifting.

.:Bobby Pin Climb:.

.:Bobby Pin Climb:.

By the time I re-entered the singletrack I knew I had around 30 minutes of riding time left; which would put me across the line in around 2 hours and 20 minutes.  So I pushed on and increased my pace.

.:Pain train:.

.:Pain train:.

During the last section of the race I started to catch the tail end of Wave 1 and looked at my GPS.  I was going to finish the 50km race in under 2 hours and 20 minutes.  So with a cramping left calf I spent what was left in the tank.  I finished in 2 hours and 16 minutes, 20th in my category and 56th overall for the 50km race.  Not a bad result for a middle of the pack hack with roadie noodle arms!

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.:2015 Capital Punishment 50km finished:.

2014 In Review – Cycling

2014 was the year that I learnt that no matter how much time and effort you put into training and racing; life always has other plans.

The year started off with a single goal in mind.  I was going to race in the Easter National Mountain Bike 24 Hour Solo Championships.  I trained hard for this event and all looked good until the event was cancelled.  I kept up my training, albeit, with less intensity; and continued to ride more each week than in 2013.

2014 was the year I travelled to France with Soldier On to race in the Trois Etapes Pro-Am and was the year my beautiful daughter Celeste was born.

My riding year was littered with a number of injuries, incredible highs, depressing lows and amazing opportunities.

BIKES 234

As with last year, here is 2014 by the numbers.


2014 – BY THE NUMBERS

.:1:.
One major crash during the year
During my first race of the year, the AMB 100, I crashed out thanks to a little shit who decided that cutting the course and getting in the way of other riders was a good idea.
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.:3:.
Number of notable injuries in 2014
Injuries: Snake bite, stitches to my left elbow and strained glute!
My Pics 045imageGlute Needling

.:6:.
The number of major events that I raced in during 2014
Every race was a challenge but I’ll never forget the 2014 Trois Etapes in France with Team Solider On!

.:Team Soldier On and our Pro-Rider Jo Hogan:. https://www.facebook.com/matthewconnorsphotography

.:Team Soldier On and our Pro-Rider Jo Hogan:.
https://www.facebook.com/matthewconnorsphotography

.:98:.
The amount of vertical kilometres I climbed in 2014

.:132:.
In kilometres, my longest single ride of 2014

.:287:.
How many times I rode my bike(s) in 2014

.:349:.
The amount of hours I spent riding in 2014

.:8,395:.
In kilometres, the total distance I rode in 2014

Wishing everyone a safe 2015!
.:Chad:.

MCP 080 BIKES 204

 

 

Soldier On Ride 2 Remember 2014

On Sunday 2 November, close to six hundred Soldier On supporters strapped on their helmets and got on their bikes for a ride around Lake Burley Griffin to show their support for Soldier On and Australia’s veteran community.

The ride also saw four of the seven Trois Etapes 2014 riders don their TE kit to take part in a casual loop around Canberra’s iconic lake.

It was great to see so many people out and about wearing Soldier On shirts, and of course, the many people wearing the Soldier On Cycling kit

Photographer extraordinaire, Matt Connors, was out and about taking photos of the event.

Below are some of the best (of course some including me!).
Matt’s full gallery is here: Matthew Connors Photography


 

 

The Mont 24 Hour 2014 (Part Deux) Race Wrap Up

After the aborted Mont 24 Hour from April this year, it was good to finally head out to Kowen Forest knowing the race was going to happen this time.

That being said, I’m not a huge fan of team racing.  Sure it is fun and you get to race against other teams as well as try to out-ride your team mates; but there’s just something about it that irks me.  I’m a solo person and enjoy riding by and for myself.  Yes I race, and yes I ride with groups often, but racing with a team is just not my cup of tea.

However, for the Mont 24 Hour 2014, I put aside my prejudices and put a team together that would ride and fund-raise for Soldier On.  Our MK 1 team had a rider change when our ethnic rider Gian was swapped out for Man Mountain and fan of hair removal products, Colin.  So after many months of waiting, our team of vagabond riders assembled at Kowen Forest for some mountain biking and flag waving for Soldier On.

The Mont 001

.:Race plate for 2014:.

Like all good plans, this one had a few hiccups.  Firstly, logistics meant John and I had to set up on the Friday while Chris and Colin travelled from Melbourne.  Secondly, Chris was struck by a severe bout of diarrhoea that would cause problems for him throughout the weekend.

The Mont 002

.:Chris rocking the XL jersey will trying not to poo:.

So the time came when our first rider had to line up with the other several hundred riders for the rolling start.  As it was John’s first race/event he got the honour to start the race for out team.

The Mont 004

.:John chilling during the rider briefing:.

The Mont 007

.:The Mont mass start madness:.

In a rush of bikes, people and dust, John took off into Kowen Forest and started the race for our team.  I had typed up a lap/timing spreadsheet and the next rider up was supposed to be Chris.  With his dodgy stomach I geared up and head up to transition to wait for John to return.  It was hot, stupidly hot and after John tagged me, I pedaled off for my first lap of the race.

Mont 24 2014

.:Lap 1 – “Oh there’s a camera, I better do a jump”:.

After me was big Col, followed by Chris who was on a one way trip to struggle town.  I mentioned before that it was hot.  Well it was really hot and then it rained and it got hotter.  This was during Chris’ lap in which he had to stop a few times for a cheeky spew track-side.  After he tagged John out for his second lap it was very obvious Chris was not going to be riding again until at least tomorrow morning.

My second lap started after 18:00 which was the mandatory time for lights to be fitted on the bikes.  I rolled out with my bar light and battery attached but they weren’t needed.  I made it back in time to watch the sunset over Kowen Forest; which meant Col got the first night lap of the team in.

Mont 24 2014

.:Less sun – still hot:.

I like riding at night, but my two day laps took a lot out of me.  I came into this race with maybe three or four short rides under my belt since the Scott 24 Hour 3 weeks earlier, and I was quick to fatigue.  My first lap saw my heart rate average 190bpm, which is not awesome even when I usually have a high heart rate as it is (80 resting/185 max).

We were all hurting, and with Chris out for the night we made the decision to take a break after Col’s night lap and start fresh in the morning.

Mont 24 2014

When morning broke I was woken up by John’s incessant coughing which signalled he’d be back on the track very soon.  By the time I got dressed and exited my tent, John was heading down to the transition to start us up again.

A little over an hour later I got back on track for my forth (and final) lap, and it was hot once again.  My mind wanted to ride fast, but my legs said “no” and my gooch said “get out of the bloody saddle!”.

Mont 24 2014

.:Last lap goodness:.

Mont 24 2014

.:Don’t eat it in front of the camera:.

Mont 24 2014

.:Jump!:.

After a fun ride in which we all started to feel the aches and pains of not enough training, we cut the race short by a lap and started the arduous task of packing up and heading home

Even with a few spanners thrown into the works, it was an enjoyable weekend on and off the bike.

A huge thank you to Soldier On for providing the entry for the team, Col, Chris and John for riding and everyone that donated to the team’s fundraiser.