Trois Etapes 2014 – Team Soldier On

Finally, after a couple of months of imposed silence I am able to announce that I will be competing in with Team Soldier On the Trois Etapes Tour in the French Pyrenees in August 2014.


From 7 to 10 August, seven riders from Soldier On and a pro from Orica GreenEdge will compete against other charities in a ProAm riding over some of the Pyrenees’ most stunning and difficult climbs.

Team Soldier On is comprised of current and former serving Australian Defence Force members; some who have been physically and/or psychologically wounded during operational service.

We have been training as a group and individually for a number of months under the guidance of coach Scott Sunderland; including the Remembrance Ride conducted in April this year and our inaugural training camp in Thredbo last month.

.:Remembrance Ride 2014:.
MCP 042
.:Team Soldier On Training Camp Thredbo:.

Please support us we head towards this once in a lifetime opportunity to raise awareness and much needed funds for Soldier On.

Team Soldier On Trois Etapes Fundraising Page

Trois Etapes 

Soldier On

Soldier On Cycling

Training In Review – Update #1

Training – Week 2 – Backing Up A Big Week
After riding 406.9km the week before I was keen to continue the big kilometres – but my quads had other ideas.

I needed to take it easy and was still finding my groove in the new training program.  I mixed the week up with road riding on Sara and dirt commuting on Emma; this seemed to work and by mid week I was finding my rhythm and spending some much needed time in saddle.

Although I was still in a base-building phase in my training (basically just riding as much as I could handle) I decided to inject some heart-rate zone training into my program.  This proved to be beneficial as I was starting to understand and put into practice the basic ideas of endurance training; something that I will need as second nature during the 24 hour solo.

BIKES 130.:Posing on the Centenary Trail:.

By the time I washed my bikes ready for the next week of riding I had chalked up 402.6km – another 400km week.

Training – Week 3 – A Heatwave Hits Canberra
The weather forecast was not looking promising for a big week on the bike.  Sure I could have just gotten on with it, but was riding in 40’C really worth it this early in my training program; no!

So I got up early and rode to work the long way before the heat kicked in.  Having ridden over 800km in the previous two weeks I was finding it harder to ride for long distances.  My knees were aching and my quads were sore to the touch.  So I backed off a bit and finished up with 302.5km for the week.

BIKES 132.:47.5’C on the ride home was horrible:.

Training – Week 4 – #Winning
The week started off with the aim of riding more on Kate the XTC.  I intentionally kept within my ideal heart-rate zone in order to build endurance on the mountain bike.  Surprisingly, riding at a slower pace with a consistent cadence and heart-rate you are are actually faster over longer distances.  There is less recovery time needed as the higher intensity intervals are no longer there so you can just keep pedalling for as long as you want.

I kept to the bike paths early in the week to get my cadence and heart-rate dialled in before switching to dirt and putting the same principles into action.  I quickly found my rhythm and was finding my new riding style a lot easier to manage and exactly what I would need in a few months time.

I took Friday off work and headed out to Mt Stromlo for a training ride with the focus on climbing and endurance.  My aim of 50km was cut short at 35km after it started hailing and the trails became a mixture of mud and ball-bearing like grip.

image.:Fenceline at Mt Stromlo:.

On Saturday I returned to Mt Stromlo and set off for a high intensity ride with a focus on climbing up the mountain with a red-zone heart-rate.  The ride was going extremely well and I was enjoying the heavy sweating and throwing my bike around the trails with renewed confidence.

On my second lap of the course I was riding up Blackberry Climb when I met a Red Belly Black snake on the trail.

My Pics 044 My Pics 045.:And that’s what a snakebite looks like:.
My Pics 046.:Chilling at in the Calvary Hospital Emergency Department:.

Long story short: I was bitten but not envenomated by the little snake.  It did however mean an enforced but not unwanted rest day off the bike.

At the end of my fourth week of training for the Easter 24 Hour Solo’s I rode 224.5km.  While it is a smaller amount than previous weeks I achieved a lot of goals and learnt some valuable lessons on and off the bike.

A Radical Change In Diet – Or How I Stopped Eating Meat & Became A Vegetarian

Six weeks ago I stopped eating meat.  Much to the chagrin of my Wife, bacon-obsessed cycling group and Mother (who firmly believes that fish and chicken don’t count as ‘real’ meat.).

There are several pros and cons to this change which I didn’t gradually lead into; I basically considered it privately for a few weeks, announced my intention to my Wife and then overnight proclaimed I wouldn’t eat meat anymore.

Why Stop Eating Meat?
The most logical and hardest question to answer.

First off, I’m not one of the ‘meat is murder’ crowd.  I have slaughtered and butchered some of God’s cute little creatures with my own hands, have visited an abattoir and have partaken in countless meat-filled BBQ’s over the years.  My choice to cut out meat is not one based on ethical concerns and I’m certainly not going to be ‘that’ person at a BBQ that asks for the plate to be cleaned before my veggie patties get cooked; oh and I despise tofu!

My decision to stop eating meat comes down to three major reasons:

#1: Mental Health
I live with a depressive and anxiety disorder that makes me prone to rapid mood swings, violent outbursts and irrational behaviour.  Couple this with a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and you get a person that can swing from jovial and on top of the world to a person that is best kept in a dark room away from other people and sharp objects.

A healthy diet plays a large part in maintaining mental wellbeing.  Consuming food is what keeps the body functioning and ultimately keeps you alive.  Prior to changing my diet I would consume a large amount of red meat and chicken.  It wasn’t uncommon for me to eat an entire roast chicken in one sitting and order a steak with a side of steak at Hog’s Breath. 

Diet plays a very large and understated part in balancing mental health.  Certain foods can evoke different mental and physiological reactions.  Chocolate and ice cream are well-known for being the comfort food of choice for emotional men and women.  I am lactose intolerant and love ice cream; ergo the pleasure I derive from consuming it is quickly overtaken as my body promptly reacts to the enzymes it cannot process.

In the way that eating certain types of food makes people happy, the digestive processes after eating red and white meat made me lethargic and as a result unhappy that I didn’t feel like doing anything afterwards.  Something as simple as not feeling like getting off the couch to go for a ride or a walk around the lake would compound itself into feelings of guilt, a distorted self body image and ultimately trigger a mental reaction that would lead to a depressive episode.

Basically, that wonderful meat hangover feeling most people get after eating a meat-heavy meal is absent for me; instead I feel sick, depressed and my body will rapidly purge the offending meal in a most violent way.

#2: Metabolism and Body Weight
I have a fast metabolism and it’s very difficult for me to maintain my body weight when exercising.  Ideally I sit between 75-80kg when riding to a training program.  This may seem like a large fluctuation, but in reality, it is mostly fluid retention and fluid loss during and after rides.

On average I will lose 3-5kg on a 50km mountain bike ride whilst my fluid intake will be upwards of 2-3 litres and calorie intake at close to 2000 calories via energy gels and muesli bars.  My recovery period after a medium to high intensity ride over 50km is close to 48 hours and I will constantly eat and drink to rebuild my energy reserves and gain the weight I lost.

As stated before, I feel sick after eating meat, I also feel full and won’t continue eating which in turn slows my recovery period and has an adverse effect on getting back on the bike and returning to optimal training ability in the shortest time possible.

#3: An (Not-So-Slowly) Aging Body
Everyone gets older and joints and muscles start to ache and some days it’s harder to get out of bed, right?  Wrong!  I’m 32 years old and I have constant pain in my left knee, discomfort in my hands and wrists; and restricted movement in my left shoulder.

I can credit my days in the Australian Army for most of my knee problems and my shoulder to a bike crash which tore my left pectoral muscle last year.  But the fingers, wrists and constant patella issues in my knee; well that is thanks to early onset of osteoarthritis.

There is a link between eating a meat rich diet and an increase in adverse arthritic symptoms.  This is due to the high fat content in non-lean meats and the obsession with meat-heavy meals in Western culture.  Can’t I just switch to lean meat?  I could but it doesn’t negate the two previous reasons I’ve stated and the fact that in just six weeks I’ve noticed improvement with my knee and joint pain and dexterity.

Looking Towards The Future
Will I continue my vegetarian diet indefinitely?

To be honest, probably not.  As I stated at the beginning this isn’t because of an animal ethics issue; this is because I wanted to feel healthy both in body and mind.

So far the basic goal of feeling better is definitely working for me.  I have more energy, I’m eating all the right foods to ensure I get the nutrients my body needs and ultimately I’m enjoying eating more diverse and natural foods.

On a side note if I was trapped on a deserted island and cannibalism was my only avenue of survival I wouldn’t hesitate to eat some human sirloin!

Training In Review – Looking Towards My First 24 Hour Solo

Another Blog series about training! Gah! Why!?
Well its all part of the training that’s why!  Motivation is one of the key components to sticking with a training program; especially one in its infancy.

I find it easier to continue with a training program if I can share the highs and lows with others.  But this time around I won’t be subjecting the masses to weekly updates (to be honest I struggled writing a new piece each week last time) instead I’ll be doing semi regular updates detailing key milestones, mishaps and interesting things.

So welcome to my new series on my lead up training to my next big event…
The OnyaBike 2014 Australian Solo 24 Hour MTB Championships held over the Easter weekend.

Don’t let the Championship part fool you, there will be no riding for a fairytale podium finish; focus more on the Solo 24 Hour part!
Yes that’s right, I am aiming to ride in my first 24 hour solo race, so naturally I have to do some serious training for this upcoming pain train.

Training – Week 1 – The Long Journey Begins
After a fairly relaxed Christmas break in Brisbane riding in the stifling heat (by Canberra standards anyway) and climbing up the never ending series of steep hills I was in pretty good shape fitness wise to tackle my first week of training for the Easter solos.

With a few days left before I had to go back to work for 2014, I decided I wanted to put some extra kilometres under the tyres and set a big total for the week.  What I didn’t expect to do was ride more in the first week of my training than I have ever before.

Monday saw 87.3km on Kate the XTC during a ride to and from Mt Stromlo.  It was a hot day and I didn’t drink enough fluids.
BIKES 115.:Kate posing at Mt Stromlo:.

However I backed it up on Sara the Defy with a 100.3km ride around Canberra on Tuesday.
BIKES 116.:Sara chilling by the lake:.

Wednesday was a New Years Day ride at Mt Stromlo with some of the more dedicated The Berm crew (well those that didn’t race at the Wicked Wombat in Jindabyne the day before).  I rode 27.2km of sweet Stromlo singletrack to ring in the 2014!
BIKES 119.:A fine looking bunch of sober cyclists:.

Thursday and Friday saw the return to work for the new year and joining the Canberra cycling commuting community once again.  In two days I added another 97.2km to the weeks total, just 2.8km short of what I was aiming for.
BIKES 121.:Somewhat hot on Friday afternoon:.

Saturday saw a new bike join the stable and some short rides around Mulligans Flat dialling it in and trying to set some new Strava PR’s!
BIKES 122.:Introducing Emma!:.

As usual Sunday morning comprised of my regular Sunday Morning Social and Breakfast ride with The Berm crew.  A relaxed 56.3km in the morning followed up with a brisk 8.9km in the afternoon on the brand new Emma.

At the end of my first week actively training with a semi-set program and a clear end goal to achieve, I rode 406.9km.