Wednesday, 26 August 2009


It has been a very, very long week.

And it is feeling even longer as I sit here typing away using only the fingers on my left hand.

But I am here typing so that is huge.

Last Wednesday morning I had an accident courtesy of a lady opening her car door into the bike lane on Grey Street on Brisbane Southbank.

Why didn't I give the car more room so that the opening of a car door would have still missed me. Well, there was the not insignificant issue of a second car beside me in the normal car lane.

Doing 35 kph or so at the front of a group of 5 in single file, I hit the point of her door with my left shoulder resulting in a wound down to the muscle.

The impact of the collision catapulted me against the front fender and wheel of the car to my right and in turn onto the road.

An ambulance ride later had me at the emergency department of the Royal Brisbane Hospital and over the coarse of the next 12 hours in Emergency I was x-rayed, stitched, poked, prodded and x-rayed some more.

Result - 4 ribs broken in 6 places, broken shoulder blade and broken vertebrae. I also managed a punctured lung, be it a minor puncture as far as punctures go.

Several days in Hospital followed and I assure you, being a guest of Queensland Health is an interesting experience of fluctuating emotions. But more on that another time.

The major initial concern was the break in the vertebrae. It was some 24 hours before it was officially confirmed as a stable break and I was allowed to move from being flat on my back. In fact, I still had my cycling shorts on all this time (less the bibs which had been cut off along with the jersey and base layer). I say officially because I had been cleared 12 hours before it was deemed official it is just the necessary piece if paper signed by the specialist could not be located.

Let me assure you, much morphine is needed when you are confined to being flat on your back for over 24 hours while also having a break in your shoulder blade. And with nothing to eat and only a wet piece of paper towel allowed to moisten the lips.

The next concern was the threat of infection of the collapsed lung. There was fluid on the lung and it had to be cleared before I could be considered for discharge. They were suggesting this would take 5 or so days.

Fortunately, the exercises for clearing the lungs were similar to those required post heart surgery and with a concentrated effort, I managed to clear the lungs inside 24 hours and was allowed to go.

It is tough and the constant pain from the shoulder (in particular) and the ribs is very wearing. Sleep is close to impossible.

I am lucky as it could have been much worse. I am not lucky in that the incident should never have happened and the chances of the door opening half a metre in front of me when a car was beside me must be very high indeed.

Also, I must mention Laser Helmets. This helmet is exceptional and proves yet again that we should never economise on our protective gear. What I think separates the Laser from the pack is the fit system which really means it is always properly on your head.

The bike looks like being a write off so I have the fun of selecting a new bike to look forward too.

One thing that has indeed been moving is the support and contact from the cycling community, be it the calls from the Hamilton Wheelers Club Secretary or SMS messages from people I hardly know.

For now, focus is on mending the bones and hoping as each day passes the pain eases a little. It is also to hope that I don't lose all my fitness before I can again climb aboard a bike and go cycling.

Monday, 10 August 2009

The Last Straw

I do not very often read something in the paper and get totally peeved about it.

Tonight I am peeved.

Melbourne Storm, Queensland and Australian Rugby League player Greg Inglis has been charged with assault.

Not assault of another professional athlete who also spends hours and hours a week building and maintaining physical power and strength.

Not assault of an athlete from an endurance sport.

Not assault of another male his age.

He is charged with recklessly causing injury and unlawful assault. And who is this alleged assault against? His girlfriend. She reportedly has a black eye (refer Herald Sun).

He is simply the last in a long line of high profile footballers from all codes to be charged with some form of assault of a women. Should we be thankful that in this case there is no allegation of a glass being involved?

I am the first to stick up for equality of the sexes and the rights of women in all walks of life - business, sport, home.

However, no women, no matter what they do to agitate a male should have an unwanted finger laid on them. Never.

Violence against women is a scourge of our society. Violence towards people in general is a scourge of our society.

All and any violence by a male towards a women is cowardly in the extreme. However a highly trained professional footballer who spends an inordinate amount of time building above average physical strength raising a finger in violence towards any female must be the ultimate act of cowardice by one adult towards another.

Professional sports people are role models in society.

I understand the argument that says they are just a cross section of the community who just happen to be good at their sport and they do not sign on to be role models.


It goes with the territory. Sports people get paid the huge money they do because of people like you and me who buy the products of their sponsors, contribute to the value of television rights by watching them on TV and stump up the cash to see them play live. We pay them and have a right to deserve more. We need to demand more.

If they sign the contract for the big dollars, they also sign up to be pillars of the community. Whether they like it or not, when they sign on for the cash, they sign on to be role models and sign over some of their rights as private citizens.

I also hear the argument that the professional athletes of today are no better or worse than they were 20, 30, 40 years ago, it is just that there is more scrutiny of their behaviour.

This may well be true. But it is absolutely true that the increased media coverage that is the scrutiny is also the vehicle that provides the riches they earn. You sign up for the big dollars and in doing so accept the scrutiny. If you don't want the scrutiny, say no to the cash

I have been involved in sport including coaching teenage boys at the elite level in their age group. To say the behaviour of elite, high profile athletes does not effect the behaviours of young people and the development of their values is absolute rubbish because it absolutely does.

Young people DO imitate high profile athletes in all they do - on and off the field.

So what can we do about it?

We can make a protest and demand better behaviour from our sports people. We can react in the way that ultimately effects them the most. We can do this by turning off the television when the football codes come on, by not attending the games and by not supporting the products they promote or the sponsors of them and their clubs.

And the sponsors can either demand action or withdraw their support too. Surely the multi billion dollar superannuation fund HostPlus who sponsor the Melbourne Storm must consider their ongoing involvement if Inglis is found guilty. I happen to know the HostPlus CEO and his values in no way correspond with those portrayed by some of our elite footballers.

I also know the argument that the vast majority of professional footballers are upstanding highly ethical people. And they are. However the likes of Black, Mortlock and Falou also need to take a stance and make it very clear they refuse to be associated as teammates or opponents with these cowards. They need to refuse to play with them at any level of the sports that also pay them so well.

We are not helpless, we can act and by doing so we can make a difference.

And the author is starting now. I will not be watching or listening to any AFL, Rugby Union or Rugby League commercial broadcasts for at least the rest of the season. I will not be attending any more AFL games this year or the Union test in Brisbane in September. And I certainly will not be attending any Rugby League games. I will also be avoiding any product associated with these sports at the professional level.

And if you think it is a waste of time taking individual action, just look at the impact consumer action has had on the Australian Idol TV program and Today FM breakfast program following the behaviour and actions of Kyle Sandilands.

You and I can make a difference. It simply depends on whether you think violence towards women is less important than watching some athletes ply there trade.

In our society today, it is NOT more important. Manners, respect and common decency towards each other is far more important.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Is it all about the bike

It seems to come in waves.

There is a lull for a month or two and then whamo, I get a rush of grief about my bike.

When are you upgrading?
Why are you still riding that old thing?
I see your riding your training bike today........
And from the bike shop, there are not many of these still going around.

However, I admit I am giving it some serious thought.

I have always said that I see no reason to upgrade until I get the impression or feeling that my current equipment is restricting me in some way - or it wears out.

Perhaps it is doing a little of both.

I booked a service with the bike shop last week. I was aware it was some time since my last chain change and felt my cassette might also have fulfilled its life. I also had an increasingly annoying "thump, thump, thump" going downhill under brakes.

Initial Outcome - new chain, new cassette, front wheel re-build and news that rear wheel has about 1000 k's before it also needs a re-build (or about a month)

Plus, 2 days later, new 39 chain ring.

This lead to discussion about the relative cost/benefit of re-building the wheels versus replacing the wheels.

I was surprised to learn what performance benefits I could obtain by purchasing new wheels rather than re-building the ones I have. And for a not much greater cost too. So I decided to do both. Re-build my wheels and keep them as a spare set and buy a new set that will be suitable also when I eventually upgrade the frame.

The wheel discussion then followed a logical progression and we were discussing frames.

My problem is that I simply do not like the aesthetics of sloping geometry and to the extent that I am not interested in hearing about any of the benefits such geometry has (or has not) to offer.

And right now, there are very, very few bikes available out there that do not have sloping geometry.

Yes, Pinnarello is an option but I don't like the look of their forks.

So, in the meantime I will stick with the frame I have, upgrade the wheels and wait for the fashion trend to change - and keep my eyes open for viable traditional frames in the market. And I do like the work of the Melbourne based Baum factory and the Colnago Master X-Light has always had a certain appeal. Shimano, Campag or SRAM to go with the frame. Lets wait and see.

In the meantime, I will continue working on improving the legs and the power to weight equation.

Getting Older - Getting Stronger

I have been counselling a 40 year old (and his partner) over the last 6 or 7 weeks.

He (Justin) under went Open Heart Surgery 5 weeks ago and before the event was very fearful, almost scared about the experience he was about to go through.

My conversations with Justin and his partner covered a range of things all based around the surgery process and what he would experience afterwards.

Put simply, he thought life as he knew it was about to end. Justin likes a beer on a hot day and was concerned he could never have a beer again. He enjoys restoring and riding old motor bikes and believed he would not be able to do any manual work again, let alone ride a motor bike again.

I spent a good deal of time outlining not only what happened pre and immediately post surgery, but also what he could expect during the first 6 weeks or so and what he could do to help himself.

It is common for people under going such an invasive procedure to believe their ability to perform physical activity will be lost forever when in fact nothing is further from the truth.

There is also a belief that as we get older, we lose the capacity for physical activity including athletic performance.

In one of my conversations with Justin I mentioned that despite my heart surgery, at 50 years of age I am fitter, stronger, more active, energetic and mentally alert than I was at 30 years of age.

I have felt this for some time but have never actually articulated it before, partly because society almost requires us to succumb to ageness.

I was therefore very interested to read this quote in an article on about the impact the Raleigh Cycling Team had on racing in the USA. The quote is from John Howard, one of the original team members who now runs a coaching business in San Diego. He had this to say:

"the body is capable of maintaining much more than we ever gave it credit for. Now we realise it is not so much about age, it is how you perceive that. (Back then) you heard athletes talking about their age as if it were a handicap. I choose not to accept it as a handicap. I look at it as a challenge. It is the only intelligent way to judge it"

John Howard (the Coach) comments resonated with me and one of my personal objectives that on each and every birthday, I can be fitter, stronger and healthier than I was on the previous birthday. (And this is my wish for everyone)

As a society we are almost conditioned to give into age. We use it as an excuse for not doing this or that and for that matter, as an excuse for justifying things we do.

It is time for us all to eliminate the excuses and get on with the journey.

(Here is the full article