Hitting a target

Hitting a target is something we all want in our lives. No matter what we think, we all have a target we want to achieve or surpass. 


A goal weight,  a personal best on the bike or on the track, a better weight on the bench press. Or even a new top score on Pac Man. They are all achievable targets if we set our minds to the task.


But then, should we always be shooting for new goals and targets? Are we settling our goals too high? And are we setting ourselves up for failure?


Perhaps every so often we should go with the flow and take it easy and cut ourselves a break. We can’t always be at our very best, no matter how hard we try.


So when we see an opportunity to do what we enjoy, sports or play we don’t need to bust a gut to get another personal best.

Enjoy the moment when you can, as it may not always be there.

You don’t know what you’ve got till its gone 

Take a look around. Look at what you have at home, the car you drive, the friends you have, and the freedom that surrounds you. And now, for a few moments, close your eyes and imagine that it’s all taken away, or even just some of. How would you feel? Disappointed, heartbroken, or lost?

This is something that happened to me over the past few months. I haven’t lost anything from my home, nor has my car been towed away, never to be seen again. But my bike is no longer rideable.
I still have my friends and family, and they are a huge part of my life, in so many ways. But what has been taken away from me, is my freedom.

The freedom to get on my road bike and ride to either a preselected destination, or to hit the road and follow a path less traveled. I miss the wind in my face, the speed beneath my wheels, and I miss the comradery with the cyclists who I shared the roads with.

I also miss the simple thing in life, being able to pick up a cup of coffee with my right hand and not feeling a sharp pain in my shoulder. But I still get my coffee, so there is a positive.

Having to ask family to drive me to any place I need to go, or when they are not around, I need to catch a taxi. And I have already had my rant about my love for taxi drivers.

We take so many things for granted, and we only realise how much they really mean to us once they are gone. Hang on tight to what’s close to your heart, because it can be gone forever in the blink of an eye, and there is no way to get it back.

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone

Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow Taxi

When the going gets tough…

It’s all too easy to give up when the going gets tough. But as the saying goes, the tough get going.

This is always easier said than done, but it doesn’t mean its not possible. With some dedication and lots motivation, there are very few situations that can’t be overcome.

As was the point as I walked through the Alfred hospital trauma centre during my last visit. I noticed a young man walking on crutches, the bottom half of his right leg missing. A car or bike accident perhaps? I don’t know as I didn’t stop him to ask.

By the way he moved, it made me feel he had accepted his injury, and it was not going to stop him from getting on with his life.

This is also the case with many athletes who have overcome major injuries and have continued competing. Perhaps not in the same sport they were in originally, but they have moved on and continued with their lives as best as they can.


So what disappoints me is when I hear other people complain and whinge about how they are hurting from an accident, or from other injuries. These are the people who want to be wrapped in cotton wool and have everything done for them. They want the world to feel sorry for them and want nothing but sympathy.


These are the people who need to dig deep and find the motivation to move forward. It won’t be easy, and there will be hard times. But it will be better than sitting on the couch and moping about their situation.

We are all dealt a hand of cards, it’s up to us to decide how we play them.

Winter is coming


For all of those who think this blog is all about Game of Thrones, prepare to be disappointed.  

Winter is just around the corner in Australia.  And the further south in this great southern land, the colder it gets. 

Life in Melbourne during the long and miserable winter months is not something most people look forward to, and cyclists dread the thought of cold and wet mornings when they are getting ready to head out for a ride. 


Not only does it take three times as long to get ready for a ride, with all the extra layers of clothing, and then if it’s raining, the waterproof booties also take an extraordinary amount of precious cycling time away. 

But, the worst bit about winter cycling; once I am layered up, my bladder decides it requires one more indoor pitstop before hitting the road. 

Once out and about, most of the body warms up except for the face and ears. Depending on the temperature, the fingers may also be frozen solid, making stopping rather difficult and painful. 

But, the end goal of a hot coffee, and an even hotter shower is one of the treats that gets me through most of my winter rides. Other times, sheer stupidly pushes me onwards. 

Once home, cold, shivering and dripping wet. The next task is one of the most difficult. Getting to the shower without leaving a trail of mud and water across the floors. 

Some things for a cyclist are near impossible. This just happens to be one of those things

My First Bike – Childhood Memories

There are so many childhood memories that involve bikes and cycling, and they always manage to put a smile on my dial when I think back to those days of freedom, and yes, some stupidity. Being young and stupid has advantages, now, I really don’t have an excuse, but I still manage to pull of some not so smart moves on the bike.

My first childhood memory of a bike of any type was the one I owned when I was 4 years old. It was sent over from Italy for my birthday, and had to be assembled by my father and an uncle. I’m sure this wasn’t the easiest of tasks, but at least the instructions would have been in Italian, and not written by the people who write install manuals for IKEA.

It was bright red, had a set of trainer wheels, which only stayed on for a very short time, a few weeks was all I needed before I was on two wheels. There were colourful ribbons streaming out from both the hand grips, and both the wheels had bright reflectors attached to the spokes.

It seemed as if I had found my passion in sports at a very young age. Even though I never raced for a team, I eventually participated in a number of long distance events for charity. For me, in the end, that small bike with trainer wheels was life changing, and in more ways that I could ever imagine.

My recollections of that bike in the first few days, are still clear in my mind, I rode up and down the sideway of our property in the burbs. Up and down in a straight line, and when I reached the end of the sideway, I would get off the bike, turn it around, get back on and pedal back down to the start I did this over and over until I got the hang of turning around in the tight space at both ends.

Once I had mastered the straight line riding, my father added a set of obstacles along the sideway for me to navigate around. This took me more time than I would have thought. But then, I was a four year old child.

Without the training wheels, I was able to zip around the obstacles in a few short weeks. Much to my parents delight. I now had a way of keeping myself amused for hours on end and on my own. No need for daytime TV.

I was eventually allowed to go out onto the streets and down the road to visit my aunt, who lived no more than 15 houses down the street. It was still an adventure, no matter the distance.

The bike gave me something I didn’t have much of; freedom. It allowed me to go places further than the wheels allowed. It set off my imagination and transported me to any destination my mind permitted.

I hung onto that bike for  number of years until I had well and truly grown out of it, and it wasn’t long before I had a bigger bike. One that was purchased from a local shop just down the road. And with that bike, the real adventures began with my friends in the street. But those are stories for another time.

Some memories stay with us until the day we die, for one reason or another. Some are good, and some are bad. We need to treasure the memories that continue to make us smile as the days go by. Because in the end, all we will have are memories.

 

The Road Less Traveled

With another ride all planned out for the day, I headed down the peninsula and towards a ride that always makes me wonder why I keep attempting it on a regular basis. Arthur’s Seat is a 4.5 km ride that ensures my legs are screaming for mercy, half way up. It’s at that point I keep asking myself. Why?

The reason I keep pushing myself up the hill is for the views from the top, and they are spectacular. No matter what the weather, rain or shine, the pain from the ride always seems worthwhile. Well, in my mind it seems worth the effort.

 

So on this particular ride, I decided to take an alternate route home, one which I had only ridden once, and it was with another rider who knew the area like the back of his hand. With a certain clarity, I headed down the back roads that I thought would eventually take me back to the main road and to some semi flat tracks.

The trip back down should have taken no longer than 15 minutes, so when I was still riding along a road that didn’t look very familiar, I did what most men would do, keep going until a sign post came by to look for further directions.

I knew I was well off the beaten track after another 45 minutes, but the views on both sides of the road were well worth the pedal power, and the roads were all rolling  hills, so I assumed the remainder of the trip home would have similar gradients. How wrong could I have been?

After finally finding a road name that was very familiar, I headed in the direction of home, having already been out on the road for over 90 minutes, so I estimated another 60 minutes on the road. Another bad judgment call.

The next two hours saw me riding through some of the toughest and longest hills I had cycled through in a long while.  With every turn, the road continued to climb higher and my legs screamed for a break. I finally gave my legs a rest after an hour of climbing, and could only wonder how much further I had to ride before I arrived at a section of flat road.

As I rested for a few minutes, I noticed another cyclist coming up the hill, struggling a lot less than I had been. I waved him down and asked how far back to the main road.

About another 20 kms, and some decent climbing still to come he said as he waved goodbye and continued onward.

Feeling my heart sink a little,and with no other option but to go forward, I got back on the bike and peddled for another hour before I finally hit the main road. By that stage, I was tired, sore and cursing my lack of direction.  But, I had been on an adventure for the day, one I would not forget in a hurry, and neither would my aching legs.

The pain stayed with me until the next day when I headed out for a ride on some more familiar and flatter roads. No harm in mixing up my rides.

My feelings on that morning are summed up in the Talking Heads song. 

Road to Nowhere

 

 

 

Breaking rules 

There are times you just need to break out of your shell and do something you know isn’t always right. As was the case on my morning ride along the bay and up to Point Nepean.

The road stops about 3 kms short to the most westerly point on the Mornington peninsula and to some sights only seen by a getting there on foot or by shuttle bus. No bikes allowed! As if…

Well, today was the day I would finally see the sights it had offer. A few of the guys I ride with have been down there and recommended the short sharp ride for the views.

The very quick ride down was a little more painful than i anticipated as I mis judged a corner and ended up in a pile of soft sand. No damage to the bike and a cut and bloodied knee for my efforts.

Finally at the bottom, the views were incredible as was the atmosphere of just standing so close to the breaking waves and the feel of the light breeze in a place where I knew I shouldn’t be.

The ride back was harder than I expected, and by the time I reached the top, my legs were burning and felt every downward stroke of my pedals. But the pain was worth the view and the serenity.

Some rules are meant to be bent a little, and not broken.

AC/DC – Breaking the rules