Monday, 28 October 2013

3 Epic Weeks, 3 Epic Rides = 3 Epic Impacts......

I have been a little quiet the last few weeks and to be honest I haven’t know whether I am Arthur or Martha.  It has involved a road trip to Sydney with my wife and 4 kids (longest road trip in my life, as those that are friends with my wife on Facebook will attest to),  a flight to and from Perth which included the red eye flight home and then an open house this weekend at our place housing 5 members of my Vision Crusaders team who made it down from Queensland.

So this also included 600+ kms of cycling, 3 nights of very little sleep in small 2 man tents, many cold beers and a truckload of laughs.  All sounds like a load of fun, but we also had a number of solemn moments in there as well.  With this in mind, it is not possible to go into detail about each ride, simply because far too much happened each weekend, but I will endeavour to share as much of the amazing three weeks as I can with you in this blog.

Bec & I in Sydney Day 1 start

The first weekend started with the Road Trip to Sydney.  I was fortunate enough to have my wife and children come to see us off and cheer us home, but even better, they made their way out to the campsite to visit us on the Saturday night.  The Sydney ride was one that was a tough ride for us with Klaus our team captain being diagnosed with leukemia on the Tuesday beforehand.  We made sure we had his ambassador jersey and we each took it in turns riding with it over the 2 days so he was with us.  This has been carried on in both the Perth and Melbourne.  We started the ride from Olympic Park, which for me was amazing.  Being a huge sporting nut, being there in a palce that hold such a sporting significance in Australia was awesome.  The ride out was brilliant as we were placed at the front and allowed to be the first group of riders to go.  Everyone knew who we were as the CEO told them about what we were doing.  They would have known by the end of the weekend anyway with our outfits.  What other group of grown men wear Black Milk leggings whilst cycling?  Yeah we stood out.  As you all know, I am not one to hide in the corner from a bit of notoriety.  I am becoming quite fond of my leggings actually.

Prior to the Start in Sydney
Enjoying Pit Stop #1 in Sydney

The weather was warm on the Saturday hitting 32 degrees, but it was nothing compared to the Sunday.  We had 35 degrees on the Sunday and a northerly wind blowing 20-30kms/ph.  To top it off, it was a bitch of a head wind for 30kms.  Not happy Jan!!!!!  We finished the ride as a group, had my wife and kids there roasting their backsides off, but it was awesome to see Callum standing there with a Vision Crusaders jersey on smiling at me when we got there.  I love that my kids are excited to see what we are doing (whilst the youngest don’t quite understand, the older 2 do) and learning that health and fitness is important.  Thanks to Julie for encouraging this over the last 12-15 months.

The drive home Monday was interesting and tiring, but that was the least of my worries.  I had to attend 3 days of a 5 day conference for work, which meant long days and little chance to rest properly.  Add to that I had to pull my bike apart, pack it and get the rest of my gear all pack for Friday’s flight to Perth.  Perth is a city I have only been to twice before for very short visits, but I really want to check it out more, it is just so far and expensive to get there.  But now I was going to see more of it than I had before on a bike as well.  Friday allowed us to all catch up at bike drop off and even allowed for 4 of the team to get onto the Project briefly as they crossed from Melbourne to Perth for the city Round up.  Woo Hoo us Vision Crusaders are everywhere!

On the Project.
Friday night the 12 of us doing the ride, 11 of which had made it across from the East Coast, caught up with Matt from Kauri Sports.  This guy sponsored us and provided all of our cool gear.  Check out his website if looking for custom made sporting gear (he also does the Vic Crew shirts/hoodies for 12WBT) here.  It was a great pre ride meal with the usual VC laughs and frivolity.  Early to bed for an early rise and ride.  

Prior to the Start in Perth

Day 1 in Perth was probably my least favourite so far.  I had been informed ony days bfore that one of my reasons for riding (Annette) had been admitted to a hospice and not expected to be with us for much longer.  I rode this weekend with a photo of her and myself in my back pocket.  I even shed a little tear at the start line as the ceremonies went on.  Add to this, not only was it cold (worse than Melbourne), we had to ride for approx. 90kms into a bloody headwind.  Not the best when you are a bigger frame guy.  To add to this, the scenery was mind numbingly boring.  We were out in the country side for most of it just looking at paddocks on long straight sections of road.  Add to that, only 40 minutes after we arrived at camp it started to rain and did so until 4am in the morning.  Day 2 had us take a very different route thankfully but it was still cold and threatening rain.  We did however get to see some of the beauty of the WA coast line prior to Fremantle and took in the sights of Penguin Island, Fremantle and the Swan River.  This part at least left me with a fantastic memory and impression of Perth.  

Last Pit Stop - Day 1 in Perth

Back to the hotel, pull the bike apart, get packed and changed and off to the airport for the red-eye flight home.  Thank god my teammate Chris had access to the QANTAS Business Club Lounge so we could have a few quiet ales/scotch and soda and a feed.  Jumped on the plane and died. Only waking as we touched down in Melbourne.

Julie & I at the Start of Day 1

So we move forward to this weekend.  With so many of the team coming in from interstate and accommodation  costs being one that we all want to minimise, Julie and I opened our place up to the crew for them to crash.  Over the course of Thursday –Sunday we had 5 members staying with us at different stages.  We also had a team dinner on the Friday night, which is our usual thing pre-ride now.  This ride was a little different for me as it combined my home team (which I had recruited riders from our weekend training group)as well as my VC team.  Add to that it was Julie’s first ride with the VC and this is special for us as we are doing this ride for her dad and to say thanks to Peter Mac.  We took off on the Saturday morning down beach road and it was beautiful, although a bit chilly.  We continued down to Frankston and then headed out into the countryside.  It was cold and windy.  Not what the soft Queenslanders in our team wanted to see.  That was the least of their worries though.  We got to camp in Hastings and found it to be basically a swamp.  It was a beautiful spot, but the rain during the week and made large parts of the area just a bog heap.  Oh well, could be worse.

The crew at the End of the Melbourne Ride

During the night, enjoying a few drinks with the team I received a text message telling me my friend was not expected to make it through the night.  She wanted to thank myself and the team for what we were doing.  Must admit, that whilst I was trying to read the message out to the team I broke down in tears.  It just hit me and to see members of my team sitting there, some whom have battled this shitty disease themselves, others lost family members or have some currently going through, all bonded by this horrible cause.  They understood, they got it.  To think we never knew each other prior to august, now we share this bond and ARE making a difference to people is an amazing thing.

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Yesterday saw the weather start out crappy but once we hit the burbs the sun came out perfectly for us to ride up Beach Rd and show of our beautiful city to the Queenslanders.  We made sure we stuck together and enjoyed this day as it has been a  tough 3 weeks.   We even stopped for a photo opportunity to get a team shot (see below) in Bon Beach at a local residents nature strip with this couch being thrown out.  See it isn’t all about riding bikes. 

Just Chillin watching the Box

We rode into Albert Park, crossed the finish line, had the usual hugs and cheers and then people packed up bikes, headed for home or the airport all to do it again in 3 weeks.  This time we head to Auckland.  I can’t believe that I am going to do a bike ride in a differen country.  If you had asked me 2 years ago if I would do any event in a different country I would have laughed at you.  Funny how times change.

4 Rides Down - 2 To Go

I also want to make a big shout out to 2 very special ladies.  The amazing Sarah McGee and the equally amazing Catherine Hawkins.  These ladies gave up their time to come down to the finish line to cheer us in, which meant the world to Julie and myself.  It was awesome to have Sarah give up time out of her birthday weekend with her sister (she flew from Queensland for this) and Catherine, whom I had not met yet, come to see us.  Amazing ladies and thank you very much from the bootm of our hearts.

I will finish off with a final note to say that thankfully  Annette is still with us, she is heavily sedated and I am sure it won’t be long now.  She will pass leaving her 8 year old triplets and a husband behind at the age of 39 which in anyone’s language is far too young.  If this is not reason enough to try and find a cure for this god damn shitty disease I don’t know what is. 

I am back on the bike in 3 weeks and then 2 after that, but I am still raising money for next year in Brisbane already.  If you are interested in helping myself or Julie please let me know.  

Thursday, 10 October 2013

If I Needed Any More Reasons..........

This time tomorrow I will be in the bus (family car) with my wife and kids heading up the Hume highway bound for Sydney.  No I am not going on another holiday, I am going to Sydney to take part in my second “Ride to Conquer Cancer”.

Many of you that follow this blog, perhaps have even donated some cash, will be aware that this means a lot to me.  I have managed to raise $16, 345.80 for my 2013 rides and to say I am over the moon with that is an understatement.  It has been extremely hard to garner that support, has at times placed strain on my marriage, but I am now through that part of it and can just worry about riding.  It is what everyone thinks I am raising the cash for after all.

Well, it would be nice to say that is the case.  Yes I want to raise money for the sake of being able to take part in these rides and share an awesome experience 6 times in 6 different cities.  That is a very airy fairy way of looking at it and to some that is the way it may seem, but sadly this is just a medium for me to raise money in the only way I see possible.  The rides are my tool to help get cash for this insidious disease that is tearing apart families daily and impacting on my world directly.

The reason I started this quest last year along with Julie, is because of her dad.  He is battling his own demon in a rare strain of melanoma.  The doctors gave him 3 months and told him to get his shit in order.  Now anyone that knows Eddie, knows he is a super positive bloke (not once have I seen him grumble about his hand that he has been dealt) and I am over the moon to say this prognosis was over 2 years ago.  He is still not out of it yet, he has undergone some pretty invasive surgery to try and save his life and is now undergoing a trial of a new drug, but whilst we have breathe in our lungs, we will continue to raise money to help researchers find a cure for cancer. 

Eddie - The most positive man I have ever met

Eddie is our initial reason for riding.  It was him that sprung into my mind when I had cramps in both thighs on my Brisbane ride half way up a mother of a hill.  I had a split second to make a choice, get off and walk or tough it out and get up the hill.  I remembered the shit toxic concoction that gets pumped into him every fortnight and that he couldn’t just get off when he felt like it.  If he was sucking it up princess, so was I.  OMG it nearly killed me getting to the top of that hill (yes massive exaggeration, but you know what I mean) but I wasn’t taking the easy way out just because I could.  I have done that far too many times in my life, hence the reason I was morbidly obese.  No more easy way out for me.  Eddie is whom Julie and myself dedicate our Melbourne ride to.

Myself and Annette - Adelaide is for you

Over the course of the last year, I have been lucky enough to meet another lovely lady, sadly battling with Breast Cancer.  She initially had it 9 years ago and after 2 years went into remission and was fortunate to have triplets, which are now 7 years old.  Sadly she has had the cancer come back in her spine.  After spending a considerable amount of time and money getting treatment in China, she is sadly at the point where the cancer has spread into her lungs and brain.  She has lost the use of her legs and arms and is on a breathing apparatus.  She has said that she is just waiting now for the disease to take her but she is spending quality time with her husband and children.  Having met this lady and seen the amazing outlook on life that she has, the way she has tackled this disease and allowed her children to understand that she is going to die, but to embrace it and ensure they do everything they can with the time they have left is incredible.  She mentioned to me that one of her children asked her “Mummy, can I Skype you in heaven?”  This nearly tore me apart.  This lady is who I am dedicating my Adelaide ride to, but sadly she may not be with us to be there, which I was hoping as it is her home town.

I have another friend, whom I met through the 12WBT that is also fighting this bastard.  They never moan about it, keeps a lot to themselves, but I have built up a good friendship with them and they keep me in the loop as to what is happening.  They astound me on a regular basis with what they are still able to achieve health and fitness wise even during treatment.  This proves that some people are extraordinary and can still achieve great things in the face of adversity.  They have become one of my biggest supporters and a major part of my support network over my journey to lose weight and get fit.  They know how much I value their support and friendship and this weekend I ride for you.  Thanks Mate and yes one day we will do something amazing together.  Not sure what, but knowing you it will be crazy (you are a crazier SOB than me.)

Bec - Her mum passed away on Monday

Finally, the thing that made it all hit home this week and kills me to a certain degree.  With all the excitement and hype surrounding our team in the lead up to our next ride, myself and the team were given some horrible news.  Firstly one of my dear friends and riding colleagues had her mum pass away.  This rocked all of us as you can imagine.  There will be many hugs and some tears when we all get together tomorrow for a team dinner.

Following this horrible news, our team captain and the ideas man behind this crazy idea of us riding all 6 rides informed the team that he had been diagnosed that day with an acute form of leukemia and was undergoing treatment immediately.  This would mean that he would miss the rest of our rides due to being hospitalised for a month and then being kept at home after that for daily treatment for another 2 months.  He was devastated that he couldn’t complete the rides with us, we were all devastated that he had been told he was ill.  He is a fighter, having previously beaten melanoma, but we will be doing our best to have as many of our team as the remainder of the rides to carry out his vision.

Klaus - Our Captain lying down on the job

So as you can see, these people are the real fighter.  Whilst so many people have said to me that I inspire them with my rides and that I am doing an amazing thing, I don’t see it like that.  I look at the 4 people above and the thousands of others that battle this shitty disease every day and they are the inspiring ones, the amazing ones and it makes me think.  Why wouldn’t I do this?  Having a sore bum for a couple of days sure beats having drugs and toxins pumped into your body.

Vision Crusaders - Trying to make a difference

Friday, 4 October 2013

The Good the Bad (not as much) and the Ugly…..

This week has been an interesting week to say the least but thankfully a lot more No FFS this week.

Copped a friendly bollocking off a very supportive friend for being negative with my FFS post…….FFS

She is a superstar and always trying to bring the best out of me and had some interesting points, so I was grateful for her input and perspective…..No FFS

I decided that I needed to look at things differently as to where I was at with my training and weightloss, so wanted to mix it up a little with all of it……No FFS

My Saturday training sessions included things I hate doing, burpees, mountain climbers, and I brought back the lunges (never hated them, just hadn’t done them for a while)…..No FFS

Managed to get out on Sunday morning for a bike ride (just a quick one) but love being out on my bike…..No FFS

Huge win here because I had a chance to sleep in and almost took it, but knew I should be out on the bike so JFDI……..No FFS

Got swooped by another f&*king magpie…….FFS

Man I hate those friggin birds with a passion.  3 times in 3 weeks is a joke……FFS

It had my heart rate sky high for the entire ride as it was only 1km into my ride and every shadow I saw after that had me on edge……FFS

Monday night saw me on my spin bike (not as good as my roadie, but I can at least watch telly) and smash out 904 calories in 54 minutes……No FFS

Wednesday night saw me miss my planned run due to me shitting myself about being swooped by magpies……FFS

I have a real problem with these bastards now. Starting to get a complex……FFS

Yesterday I found out that I was in the new Michelle Bridges book…….No FFS

Until I found out one of my photos was of me in my undies………FFS

At least it wasn’t my original photo, which would be very scary…….No FFS

I also found out that there were heaps of my 12WBT friends in the book and one of my training partners…….No FFS

Arrived home to find that I had been sent a free copy of the book…….No FFS

Flicking through it to find that there were more friends in it and followers of this blog…..Woo Hoo……Huge No FFS

Last night Julie said she wanted to do some weights……..No FFS

This was her first real weight session and whilst she cursed me for what I made her do, she never stopped. I was so proud of her and I think she surprised herself…….No FFS

Found out today that my cycling team captain has to have a bone marrow test to see if he has cancer…..FFS

I hate this fucking disease……FFS

Just highlights the reason my teammates and I ride……..No FFS

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Replacing the Light Bulb!! No Energy Savers Here!!

19 months ago I felt like Thomas Edison when I had my light bulb moment.  This moment opened up an entire new world for me and the changes in my life have been nothing short of extreme.  I have seen the most amazing transformation in my mind and body, but it has not all been positive.  Whilst this road of discovery has in general seen a lot of good things happen to me, there have been some moments (quite a few lately) which have left me questioning myself and my ability to complete the journey I set out on.  Strangely enough, I can look at these times and still take the positives out of them when 20 months ago I could not and would have imploded.

Followers of this blog for any length of time will know that my first round was hugely successful.  I managed to lose 24.5kgs in 12 weeks, change my mindset, meet Michelle Bridges when I was on stage at finale and make an entire new group of friends.  This was a huge achievement and time in my life.  I had gone from being morbidly obese and on the way to changing my life and those of my family for the better.  It was during this period that the light bulb moment happened and I am ever so grateful that it did.

Fast forward 9 months and this is where the picture starts to blur a bit and the light bulb starts to dim.  Now I am not saying that all has been bad in the last 6 months, but it hasn’t been amazing either.  I have struggled with the reasons why I was stuck in a rut, but I think I have recently worked it out, with the help of my wife (who strangely enough is not afraid to tell it how it is with me, but not with anyone else.) 

As everyone is aware, I am taking on the challenge of riding in all 6 Ride to Conquer Cancer Rides.  When I signed up for this, our team captain said that our fundraising would be covered by corporate donors, hence the reason I signed up.  I made it clear that I was not capable of raising $15,000 on my own to do these rides.  So with his assurance I signed up.  Low and behold, the corporate sponsorships did not come running through the door throwing cash at us.  I wanted to do it, so had to make sure that I raised as much as possible myself to complete this achievement.  This is where it all started to go pear shaped.

The concept of riding 1200kms in 12 days was daunting enough, but having to raise this money on my own was scary.  In fact without me knowing it consumed me.  This led in part to me becoming stressed by it.  I was worried as to how I was going to raise this cash.  If I didn’t raise it, I couldn’t take part in the rides.  These rides are very important to me, with my father in law battling cancer as we speak.  I have some other friends that are going through their own battles as well.  I wanted to do this for them, but I also wanted to do this for ME.  This was my way of giving back.  How was I going to do it?  Looking back now I can see that this is where it started to unravel.  My diet was falling apart, my training was spasmodic and my mindset was all over the place.  To make things worse I also had a half marathon to train for.  Whilst I managed to train and complete this, it wasn’t to the level I originally wanted to do so.  Now with all this going on, throw in the fact that the scales started to go in the wrong direction.  Talk about a mind F&*K of epic proportions.  How was I going to deal with this?

Well to be totally honest I didn’t.  I kind of buried my head in the sand and thought it would all correct itself to some degree.  The evil vice of wine came back all too often into my life, along with crappy take away foods and just general shitty eating.  It appeared all the lessons I had learnt just disappeared and I was back to the old me.  Holy cow, it seems Mr Edison and his light bulb had burst and I couldn’t find the new one.  Really need to add new light bulbs to the shopping list for instances like this in the future.

Now all of the above looks a bit like a train wreck, and to a certain extent it is.  A lot of hard work had gone into to getting me to where I was and I had basically thrown part of it away by putting on 10kgs.  The positive I like to take out of it is that I am here talking about it, understanding what happened and with the support of my wife and buddies (Yes you Bec and Dayna) working on kicking it up the arse and getting back on track.  This would not have happened in the past.

Now that I have managed to raise the $15,000 and all I have to concentrate on is riding my bike (which is my favourite form of exercise ever) the weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  After a discussion with Julie we worked out that one of my issues was the fact I was so involved in this fundraising and had forgotten certain things.  With this stress gone, we have decided to hit the next few weeks hard.  I worked out that some of the things I have let slip are being prepared, being meticulous with my food (weighing and following a plan) and having workouts planned in advance.  One great thing for me I have decided will be that once my bike rides are done, I will be in preparation for my runs next year and will sit down with my mate and work out a plan for the next 8 months to ensure I am prepared and capable of doing the marathon in July 2014 on the Gold Coast.

I need to look at everything (food, water intake, exercise) and have a plan.  I have always been known to wing it and this seems to be one thing that has come back to bite me in the butt.  Not being prepared or organised is one thing that is destined to set you up for failure and it is showing the early signs of that for me now.  So with a new start comes new plan.  October will see me go dry for the month.  No alcohol at all (well that is the plan) which will be tough considering I have 3 bike rides with my crazy Vision Crusaders team in 3 different states.  I am going to sit down and plan my workouts around my travel calendar and Julie’s work schedule.  This may mean a few early morning runs, but so be it.  I will have 3 weekends where I will burn in excess of 6000 calories on each weekend, so no excuse not to be losing weight (although I will be eating in excess of 2000 calories on each day to get me through the rides).  I will be drinking more than 2.5 litres of water each day and I will be getting back on track.  This is my time to right the wrongs of the last 6 months, get back to where I was and beyond that point and to once again feel good about myself.

In looking for some images for this blog I was reading through some of Thomas Edison’s quotes, which I have scattered throughout the post.  Whilst this amazing man was not worried about my weight loss journey some of his more famous quotes can translate across from what he was trying to achieve perfectly to what we were trying to achieve.  They are exactly what I needed to read today to help me realise that the light at the end of the tunnel is not as far away as I thought.  There is a cupboard full of new light bulbs, I just need to open the cupboard and get them out.  This month is exactly that turning point.