2018 In Review – Cycling

2018 was the year of illness, off the bike injury and a lot of time away from home bike-less…

My goal for 2018 was to ride my bike when I could without disrupting my time with the family.

As with last year, here is 2018 by the numbers (basically 2017 halved).

BIKES 00727.jpg

2018 – BY THE NUMBERS

.:2:.
Number of events I raced in during 2018

.:30.1:.
The amount of vertical kilometres I climbed in 2018

.:80:.
The number of days I rode in 2018

.:128:.
The amount of hours I spent riding in 2018

.:129:.
In kilometres, my longest single ride of 2018

.:128:.
The amount of hours I spent riding in 2018

.:176:.
How many times I rode my bike(s) in 2018 – This includes multi-rides in one day such as my daily commute which is 3 individual rides

.:3,146:.
In kilometres, the total distance I rode in 2018

IMG_6974.png

Advertisements

2017 In Review – Cycling

2017 was the year of little motivation, a lack of fitness and a shift towards not wanting to get on a bike… There was no game to have my head in.

My goal for 2017 was to ride my bike at least four times a week and complete a Gran Fondo once a month… neither thing eventuated.

As with last year, here is 2017 by the numbers.

BIKES 00533.jpg

2017 – BY THE NUMBERS

.:2:.
Number of events I raced in during 2017

.:53.4..
The amount of vertical kilometres I climbed in 2017

.:103:.
In kilometres, my longest single ride of 2017

144:.
The number of days I rode in 2017

.:212:.
The amount of hours I spent riding in 2017

.:340:.
How many times I rode my bike(s) in 2017 – This includes multi-rides in one day such as my daily commute which is 3 individual rides

.:5,395:.
In kilometres, the total distance I rode in 2017

VeloViewer2017.png

Wishing everyone a safe 2018!
.:Chad:.

BIKES 00676.jpg

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.

c7d_6468
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

img_2442

Wishing everyone a safe 2017!
.:Chad:.

bikes-0515

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/
cropped-image3.jpg
.: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:.

image

Kowalski Classic 2015 Race Wrap Up

The inaugural Kowalski Classic, held in September 2012, was my first ever mountain bike race.  Barely a month before, I had bought a Giant Anthem X 29er and the furthest I had ridden on a mountain bike was 36km of half fire-road/half singletrack.

Kowalski Classic AI 004
.:Making something simple look so hard:. (Photo: Aurora Images)

I remember my poor pre-race prep, not enough of some things and too much of other things.  I remember riding the Kowalski Brothers’ Kowen Forest trails for the first time and being in awe, I also remember the incredibly painful cramping; followed by the days of DOMS after the race.

Kowalski Classic 021
.:Quads of fire:.

This was my first taste of mountain bike racing, and I liked it.  Fast forward three years and it was time to once again line up for another 50km Kowalski Classic.

Like my first ever race, my prep was lacking in a lot of areas.  Not enough kilometres in the legs and months of illness wasn’t going to help me get through the race.  A quasi-course-recce the week before helped and didn’t help.  My time off the bike had dented my confidence on the bike and the more technical aspects of the course were a concern for me on race day.

But I had to get on with it and with riding buddy Andy, it was soon time to get those legs spinning and those wheels turning.

KC15 002
.:Me & Gerard Butler… err Andy:. (Photo: Jodie)

The start was fairly relaxed with both of us finding our pace and warming up slowly.  A few climbs in and some flowing singletrack later, we were weaving our way to the front of our wave.  The banter between the riders was friendly and even some of the pseudo-hitters racing up from the back waves were polite prior to their inevitable blowing up.

.:Sweet Rocktape/gloves combo!:. (Photo: Aurora Images)

The journey to the 36km feed zone took in some of my favourite Kowen Forest tracks and the always painful Elevator switchback climb.

.:Mouth breathing since 2012:. (Photo: Aurora Images)

The last 14km of the course would take us through the contentious Romper Room and Stairway To Heaven; two of the more technical tracks on the course.  As expected there was a fair bit of walking and rider dodging on Stairway, but certainly not as bad as I expected.

After a little bit of a drop in my blood sugar level, a small pause was needed at the top of Stairway to have a little snack before heading towards the finish line.

.:Totes in the air:. (Photo: Aurora Images)

The last few kilometres was fast, flowing and fun; a great way to end a great day on the bike!

Sometimes A Step Backward Is A Step Forward

Quite often we stumble when making our way through life.  There are ups and downs and, of course, many detours along the way.  Recently I have had many ups in my life, but it seems the downs have had a much stronger pull than usual, and I find I am struggling to pick myself up.

It has become apparent in the last several weeks that what I perceived as helping other service affected Veterans through Soldier On Cycling just wasn’t hitting the mark.  It was as if I was my efforts to provide assistance through cycling and other avenues was being humoured and that nothing substantial was being achieved.  I thought hard about this realisation and wondered what I should do differently, what I could do to revitalise what I thought had stalled.  It was at this point that I realised it was in fact me that had stalled and everything else had moved forward without me.

At first this upset me.  This was something that with a handful of others I had built from scratch.  An avenue for Australian Veterans to find a sense of purpose and enhance their recovery through cycling.  It had worked for me and surely would work for others.  And work it did, and it has grown into a massive community of Veterans and supporters across different Veterans support organisations.

This was my first step backward.
I needed to look back at what had been achieved in the past three years and look forward to what I realistically could contribute into the future.  I was giving too much, offering too much and ultimately it was not helping at all.

Another step backward to try to step forward.
I ceased managing the Soldier On Cycling social media accounts and being the main point of contact for group members to contact.  Recently the majority of interaction had been quite critical of the way the cycling initiative has been run, with a small number of interstate members were questioning the overall goal of Soldier On Cycling.

This was my first step forward.
My interaction with these members changed from acknowledgement to rebuttal.  Like them I was just another member of an online social cycling group.  I was a volunteer and I was having my integrity questioned by semi-anonymous Facebook profiles.  More than anything this angered me, and after the criticism and threats I received post Trois Etapes 2014, it was obvious that the best course of action was to remove myself from the situation.  The critics now had their chance to stand up and to make a worthwhile contribution to the group.

I started riding for my recovery when I separated from the Australian Army in 2012.  Somewhere in the last few months I forgot this.  I forgot cycling was supposed to be fun.  I forgot cycling was supposed to be about connecting with friends.  I forgot about my recovery.

A big step backward to look at moving forward.
I put too much emphasis on supporting Soldier On and Soldier On Cycling when it was me that needed the support.  Since I procured the first Soldier On Cycling jersey three years ago I have ridden a total of three times in a different cycling strip.  I felt obligated to fly the Soldier On banner; even more so since I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to ride as a part of Team Soldier On in last years Trois Etapes.  Willingly and unwillingly I became the face and voice of Soldier On Cycling and every ride seemed to have a certain level of pressure and expectation attached to it.

Small steps forward.
Something as simple as deciding to wear a different cycling strip has been liberating.  A new opportunity to embrace my cycling roots again has invigorated me.

While I am moving forward I am not turning my back on Soldier On and Soldier On Cycling.  I will continue to interact with Soldier On and wear the Soldier On strip when I want to.

I am just taking control of my recovery and doing what it best for me.

To quote a very wise person: People should come and go, so go with a warm welcome back and a way to light the path.

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.
image

.: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


R2R 001
https://www.facebook.com/matthewconnorsphotography
R2R 002
https://www.facebook.com/matthewconnorsphotography
R2R 003
https://www.facebook.com/matthewconnorsphotography
R2R 004
https://www.facebook.com/matthewconnorsphotography
R2R 005
https://www.facebook.com/matthewconnorsphotography
R2R 006
https://www.facebook.com/matthewconnorsphotography
R2R 007
https://www.facebook.com/matthewconnorsphotography
R2R 008
https://www.facebook.com/matthewconnorsphotography
R2R 009
https://www.facebook.com/matthewconnorsphotography
R2R 010
https://www.facebook.com/matthewconnorsphotography
R2R 011
https://www.facebook.com/matthewconnorsphotography
R2R 012
https://www.facebook.com/matthewconnorsphotography
R2R 013
https://www.facebook.com/matthewconnorsphotography
R2R 014
https://www.facebook.com/matthewconnorsphotography
R2R 015
https://www.facebook.com/matthewconnorsphotography

 

 

Ride 2 Remember 2014

On Sunday 2 November 2014 I’ll be taking part in the Soldier On Ride 2 Remember.

A social event aimed at raising awareness within the local Canberra community for Soldier On.  The ride will be followed up with a BBQ at the Australian War Memorial.

If you’d like to take part than please register at the link below
http://soldieron.org.au/events/ride-2-remember/

R2R_A4 _flyer_FINAL