Charts and Logs
2005 - Last Chance
2004 - Great Southern
2004 - Manitoba 1000K
2003 - PBP
2002 - RM1200
2008 - USA
2008 - Australia
2007 - Europe
2007 - Canada
2006 - Canada
2005 - Canada
2004 - Australia
2003 - UK
What Works For Me
Audax Club Parisien
Canadian & International Randonneuring Links
Various Western USA Events
More Long Distance Rides
Books & Bicycle Bits
2010 Cycling and Touring Adventures, and Life in General
Snobs Creek Falls - Victoria, Australia
2010 has been a year of ups and downs.
Have any of you been an active long distance cyclist and then gone through something where you completely lost your
fitness and had to rebuild from scratch?
This is exactly what has happened and is happening to me now ... and I have experienced an incredible amount of frustration and defeat.
Sunset on Machak's Last Night
Someone on a recent ride asked me what it was like to rebuild from scratch ... and prior to the past year
I would have replied that it was easier than building up your distance as a newbie to cycling because you've got experience to draw from.
Prior to the past year I had one incident where I was off the bicycle, and off exercise entirely, for 3 months.
On 1 Nov 2001, I burnt my foot to the bone, and three months later I had to go to physio to learn to walk again.
I gradually built up my cycling, and by July 2002, I rode the Rocky Mountain 1200.
Back then, I lost my muscular strength and muscle tone, but for some reason I did not lose my endurance.
But this past year I have not only lost my muscular strength, I have also lost my endurance.
I developed Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) mid-June 2009 on a flight to Australia, was diagnosed at the end of July 2009 when my symptoms
increased from a sore leg to a sore and swollen leg that felt like I was dragging a tree branch around with me rather than a leg ...
and difficulty breathing. I was admitted to hospital where I remained for the next two weeks ...
and went through 25 abdominal injections to break up the clots. I was also put on Warfarin which apparently has the wonderful side effect of sapping energy.
I was off the bicycle from the beginning of June 2009 to the middle of September 2009, a little over 3 months,
and when I started riding again, it was a huge effort.
I have done several long rides since then (see the Miscellaneous Meanderings link below), but I feel like it is two steps forward and one step back.
I do a successful 100K ... and then DNF the next one. I do a successful 300K ... and then DNF my next ride.
I'm running about 50/50 on my successful vs. DNF rate. I simply do not know if I'm going to successfully complete a ride, or not, anymore.
Mid-June, I successfully completed a 100K populaire (but was hoping to do a 200K brevet) on the Saturday,
and then unsuccessfully completed a 100K populaire the next day ... I ran out of time.
Prior to the past year I would have thought that rebuilding from scratch was easier than building up your
distance as a newbie to cycling because you've got experience to draw from. But not any more.
That past experience makes rebuilding from scratch so much more frustrating ... mentally defeating.
When I was building up as a newbie, each longer distance was exciting and rewarding.
Completing my first 50 km ride was great ... completing my first 100 km ride was an accomplishment ...
But now, even when I do complete a 100 km ride successfully, it's not rewarding or an accomplishment,
and instead is often very disappointing because of how slow I was, and how tired out I felt at the end.
I used to be able to knock off 100 km rides with no difficulty whatsoever. At my peak they took me 4 hours ...
even slightly past my peak they'd only take 5 hours. Now I'm lucky to complete them within
the 6 hour 40 minute time limit for a 100 km populaire. I used to finish that distance feeling good ...
now I'm exhausted at the end of a distance like that.
I was rediagnosed with a blood clot in early June 2010. I'm not sure if it is the same last remaining clot that
was still there in December, the last time I had an ultrasound, or if it is a newly developed one.
Nevertheless, we've discovered that I am genetically inclined to develop blood clots, and that particular
genetic mutation, combined with a high homocysteine level, makes me prone to developing cardiac disease.
We're working, relatively successfully, on lowering my homocysteine levels ...
and hopefully getting me off Warfarin, for a while anyway.
One of the Last Photos of Machak
It probably didn't help that just when I was starting to build up my strength and endurance, Machak, my Marinoni Ciclo was stolen.
We were on a 5-day camping and cycling trip (a hub-and-spoke tour) in northern Victoria over Easter, and about 11 pm on Easter Sunday he
was stolen from right in front of the tent. We had just turned out the light in the tent, heard a voice outside, and by the time we got out
of the tent, he was gone. Rowan and I did an extensive search of the town and surrounding area, as did the police officer (including dragging
one of the ponds) but to no avail.
I was, and still am, heart-broken. I still miss Machak very, very much and wish I could turn back time to that night ... to 9 pm or 10 pm that night ...
Not only did I lose Machak, but I also lost everything on Machak (as seen in the photo), with the exception of the waterbottles which
the thief took out of the cages and left on the ground not far from the tent. So not only did I have to get another bicycle, but I had to
replace a lot of my other cycling things as well. I'm still in the process of doing that.
I have to say that with my health difficulties and having Machak stolen, I've come the closest
I've ever been to packing it in, and giving up cycling.
But I don't really want to quit. I want my strength and endurance back!!!!
I want to be able to comfortably ride the long distances again!!!!
Several people offered suggestions. One suggestion was to take a break, which I did over June and July. I rode occasionally and only when
I wanted to. By mid-August (middle of winter here) I felt ready to get on the trainer regularly during the week, and to start riding on weekends again.
We decided to take a break from Audax events for a while, but did one last 100 km populaire at the end of June. I made a decision to ride that
populaire for fun. It didn't matter if I finished in time or not, I was just going to enjoy myself ... and I did! It was a really good ride, and
we squeaked in with about 5 minutes to spare.
We also decided to focus on other activities. So we bought a canoe and we've been out a few times, with plans for more when the weather improves.
The nearby lake is quite full with all the rain here! We set up a gym area with weights and I started doing some of that. Weightlifting gives me an
endorphin rush which cycling does not do for some reason. And I started regularly walking approximately 15 km a week.
Rowan is building me a new titanium bicycle as a long distance cycling bicycle, and we have borrowed a tandem for a while ... to test it out.
Several people offered the suggestion to try a tandem, and I was a little bit hesitant. But when we were offered this tandem on an extended loan,
I was quite happy to give it a try. I have to say the tandem has been very instrumental in rekindling my desire to ride.
It makes me smile to look at it. I enjoy riding it. And when we finish a ride, I want to ride it again! Who knows ... maybe we'll try an Audax ride on it.
Rowan's home had been destroyed in the February 2009 bushfires, and when I moved from Canada to Australia
in June 2009, we moved into a very rustic off-the-grid shack. It was like living in the pioneer days!
Cake baking in the Fireplace
The floor of the shack consisted of sidewalk pavers set in sand ... cold in winter, and tending to flood when it rained.
Our water came from the rain stored in a 1000 litre tank and a 2000 litre tank.
Rowan had rigged up a cold water tap in the kitchen, and I boiled water for dishes and to wash my hair. Our toilet was an outhouse,
and although we did have a bathtub which we used on the occasions when the gas hot water heater worked, we did not have a shower.
Our limited power came from a generator and solar panels which Rowan researched thoroughly, bought and installed.
Our heat came from a large fireplace, and we had to collect firewood from various places in the paddocks where we lived frequently throughout the winter.
We cooked using a camp stove, the fireplace, and a small BBQ. That was one of the more interesting things about the place - I baked in the fireplace!
When we first moved in, the shack was just a metal shell. We insulated and finished it inside so it would maintain some warmth in the
winter and coolness in the summer. Rowan also fixed up the verandah by laying down a floor so that we could have another room in the summer.
The best thing about the shack was the setting. It was beautiful and would have been a lovely place to visit for a weekend. Although living
in the shack was an interesting challenge, it was never very comfortable and also a lot of hard work. I have to hand it to our ancestors! But the
experience gave me a great appreciation for even the most basic of modern conveniences.
For whatever reason, the theft of Machak triggered a decision. After living in the shack, in those very rustic conditions, for a year,
we moved into a small house in a nearby town. What luxury!! Bright lights, heat at the click of a button, hot showers in the mornings, an oven,
carpet on the floor ... and being able to walk to work and walk to the stores!
One of the best things about living in town is that we can hop on our bicycles and ride right from our own driveway. When we were living in the
shack, we had to load the bicycles into the van and drive out of the hills on a mud track to a paved road in order to ride. That was time-consuming and
demotivating. Now we can be out the door and riding in no time!
There probably won't be any really long rides in 2010, but I am hoping to build up to the point where I can finish 200K and 300K rides
again, and feel reasonably good at the end. I think being able to ride regularly and comfortably will play an important role in meeting that goal.
And hopefully the new long-distance titanium bicycle will also play a role in building up my distance riding again. I have wanted a titanium
bicycle for several years, and now I have one! Rowan located and purchased all the components, put the bicycle together,
and even built the wheels for me. I am leaving the frame the natural titanium, but the accent colour will be green.
So I'm breaking in a new green Brooks B17 saddle with titanium rails and copper rivets!! My plan is to locate British Racing Green handlebar tape,
and to paint the forks British Racing Green. I'm also considering the green Pendle Carradice bag.
If all goes well, the bicycle will be finished before the end of the year.
Machka with Titanium Bicycle
Photo Collection of Australia -
especially Victoria and Tasmania.
Machka's Miscellaneous Meanderings - 2010
2010 is a rebuilding year for me ... coming back from recent difficulties and building up my strength and endurance again.
There will not be any 1200K randonnees this year, and no extended cycling tours. But there will be a lot more riding than last year,
including several long rides and several hub-and-spoke tours.
“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year,
but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place.
If I quit, however, it lasts forever.” -- Lance Armstrong