Doing some good

Ok, things are starting to gain momentum. As some of you may remember, in the past I have linked some of my more challenging rides to fund raising for charity. This was actually inspired by Lance Armstrong. I hold a grudge against the guy for the damage that he did to my sport, but I admire and respect the work he did to bring help and hope to a whole lot of people around the world. It inspired me to try and use my riding as a way to make the world a better place, and so for the PEdAL Ed Transcontinental Race I’m proud to say that I will be raising funds for beyondblue. If you want to help, you can donate here!

beyondblue are a charity working to help people with their mental health, focused on help, recovery and resilience. If you’ve never looked at statistics on mental health, I can tell you now that they are scary. If you’re thinking that your mental health is fine and you will never have problems with it, then I am very glad of that. If you’re thinking the same about all of your friends and family, then I’m sorry to say that you are almost certainly wrong. The statistics are that 45% of people in Australia will experience a mental health condition at some time in their lifetime, and the number is similar for most of the western world. It may not be too serious and it may not last too long, but that means that at one time or another nearly half of the people you know will have some kind of mental health problem.

If you don’t believe that, if you’re thinking that number is much too high and wondering why, if it is so high, you haven’t heard about it, the answer is really simple. People don’t talk about it. In fact, a lot of people actively hide it. And it is one of those things that not talking about makes much worse. So I’m funding for beyondblue to raise funds to help them continue their great work on help, recovery and resilience, and also to bring it to the front of people’s minds. On that basis, I encourage everyone to go and check out the beyondblue website over here and learn more about mental health, so that when someone around you has a problem, and it could be your work colleague, your friend, your parent, your sibling, your child,  or even yourself, you will be better equipped to spot the issue and then respond in the best way. Almost eight Australians take their lives every day, and that is just way too many.

I’ve set myself the target of raising one dollar for every kilometre that I race. Now that isn’t very much, and as long as I don’t get lost too often it will probably end up being less than $4,000. Of course, more is better! $4,000 is enough that it will help though, because every single dollar will help. It may be that you have no spare cash right now, or that you just don’t feel like giving it away, or even that you are giving what you can spare to a different charity that means more to you, and all of them are fine too. They are fine because it isn’t just about the money, it’s also about the awareness and the openness. So if you aren’t donating, then just go along to the beyondblue website and have a read, and maybe a share, and you can still know that you have done your part. Thank you!

Don’t forget, you can donate here!

Something is working!

I just rode my fourth race in 36 hours. Now admittedly the first three were all virtual races and in the last of them the computer crashed out after 12 km, but I was still expecting to be totally cooked for this race.

Hard work!

A break went away and I could see it was time to bridge, but it was a long way to a strong bunch. I gave it a go anyway, and before I knew it I was there! I was nearly dropped a bit later on (I actually think they may have sat up for me) but managed to finish with the break, which is better than I’ve done in that race for a while. So I’m not sure why, but it seems that something is going right!
Rowan

P.S. Let’s not not talk about that torque effectiveness number, I’ll worry about that later!

The Wheels Are Turning!

Well, things are rolling along. I managed a good ride last week, 327km of mainly dirt. It took longer than I hoped, but I still have six months to train (at least I did, when I did the ride)! Still, my basic plan at the moment is just to gradually do more longer rides, with maybe a bit of light touring in a couple of months.

Right now the long rides are all happening on my mountain bike. This is reinforcing a few things to me, including the fact that weight is actually a consideration, despite what some people seem to claim, and that saddle choice is critical. Since the day I bought that bike I have been meaning to swap the saddle, and given that I am likely to be doing quite a bit more time on it over the coming months I think the time is now.

I thought I had sorted out my accommodation, but things are not that simple. I really want to be able to pull up and be in bed very quickly – I figure if I have eaten on the bike then all I should have to do is get my accommodation set up, spend 3 minutes servicing the bike and 7 minutes brushing my teeth and taking care of any physical issues that have come up during the day (which will include a bit of stretching). That should mean that I can be in bed within 10 minutes of pulling up, assuming that it takes zero time to set up my accommodation. I’m pretty well on the way to this goal at the moment – I’ve got my trusty ultralight sleeping bag that has accompanied me on a few adventures already, and I now have a fantastic “Alpine Cocoon” bivy bag from Macpac. This thing is light, durable and packs up to be nice and small. The only thing missing is a sleeping mat, because frankly I’m getting older and sleeping on the dirt sucks. But sleeping mats are huge and heavy. Well, most of them are. I did find one though that promised to be a bit smaller, a bit lighter, and even a bit quicker to set up. I even found a shop that stocks them. The only problem was that they only had one single example, and it had been sitting on the showroom floor for quite a while. It had been subject to the whims and rough treatment of any number of passing punters. It is a fairly light weight model mind you and I had my doubts about the comfort levels it would provide, so I tried it out in the shop (just like the rest of the punters had). It was all good there, and it wasn’t until a few nights later when I went to use it in anger for the first time, quite a long way from anywhere, that I realised that it actually went down after about 5 minutes. Yep, somehow while on display it had acquired a hole. So that was a bit of a let-down. Anyway, the shop is a pretty good one, so I am sure I will be able to take it back and swap it without a problem, at which time the accommodation should be sorted. 10 minutes to be in bed will be pretty reasonable (the mat only takes three breaths to inflate it, when it doesn’t have a hole), and this set-up should pack up small and light in pretty good time, so I think 20 minutes to be back on the bike is a reasonable target.

The other key issue to be addressed is that of the bike I will race on. I’m pretty clear about what I want from this bike, the only problem is that I am not sure if I can find someone who will be able to make it for me, and even harder will be to find someone who will make it for me in time. I’m still looking at options at the moment, but am well aware that the clock is ticking!

It’s a brand new blog

This is of course version two, because version one just didn’t work. This one seems to be fine though, so all good. I’ve got the blog working, I’ve got my entry in, and I’ve figured out which front hub I will be using. That seems like it must be all I need to do.

I had a pretty good ride last weekend, except it was awfully hard and took a whole day longer than I planned. Still, these things happen, and I’m sure it won’t happen again, and the view was good. The good news is that we’ve got a very long weekend here, so plenty more time for riding from tomorrow!

Hello world!

OK, it is a go. My entry has been accepted, I’m going to race in Transcontinental No 5. And in the essential first step for any adventure, it starts with a blog!

I will be updating this through the preparation process. I will share the equipment I’m using, the training I’m doing, and the plans I am putting in place. There might even be a hint or two about my route. It will be riveting stuff! Well, maybe more riveting for other people planning similar adventures, but hopefully at least passably interesting for everyone else.

The blog is very basic right now, but the subscribe button works and the blog will get better and better as the race approaches, so I hope you’ll come with me on my journey to the start line!