AstroBoy Racer

We are just in the middle of editing together a series of bike maintenance videos featuring the brilliant Paul Bryant from Astroboy Racer  up in Collingwood in Melbourne. The first posted below is of course fixing a flat tyre, or at least changing the inner tube. I learnt something – my next tyre change will take me a third of the time.

Paul is an extremely experienced mechanic having worked with a whole range of names from the world of mountain biking – Cadel Evans ( second in last year Tour de France and the first Australian to ever make it on to the podium) is in that list. He was the World Mountain Biking Champion before he went into road cycling.

We also are producing a range of other video content for the site including this one on slipstreaming. This video compliments the great article by Chris Newman of The Freedom Machine on Chapel Street in Prahran. If you need a free lesson in group riding Chris runs classes every week or so.

We’ll be producing one of these a week for the next while with the feedback of our users driving the need.

All good fun.


Once A Geek….

It would be nice to think that as I became more interested in sport and physical activity that I’d be able to shuffle off the geek mantle. Alas no – the further I get into it the more it seems  – how you do one thing you do everything – and so I just bring my geekiness where ever I go. It really must be deep in me.

Specifically since I last posted I been getting very interested in sports nutrition, not quite in the league of being anal about gear sizes and ratios  – no doubt that’s in the mail. It seems there is still some divide amongst the scientific community who study such things concerning the replacement of muscle glycogen post excercise.

To take a few steps back , mostly so that I can write the whole thing down and not have to bore my partner senseless yet again, here’s the deal. Your body has a few different sources of energy to draw from when exerting itself – muscle glycogen and fat. The proportion  of each that it uses differs dependant on how extreme the exertion is. At higher exertion, such as riding your bike at any speed at all, you’ll be mostly using your muscle glycogen. Usually these stores will last you for about 1.5- 2hrs before being depleted.  If you haven’t been suppling your body will another available energy source then this is the point at which you’ll bonk. Your body will burn fat for energy but as this metabolic process has twice as many steps it does not provide an immediate and available source of energy like your glycogen does.

I have had the huge and painful lesson of bonking just once – if you’ve ever been there you’ll have been very motivated to never experience it again. The second time I ever went out training down Beach Road I went to Frankston and back – around a 2.5 hr ride. I had some water with me, no electrolytes, no other energy source or food  – and as ever hammered away as hard as possible. After enjoying overtaking people all the way down  I bonked on the way back.  Just turning the pedals was a herculanian effort, it was devastating in a pathetic kind of way. I had to stop, gather myself and limped home to Balaclava with every ancient and overweight grand mother effortlessly over taking me. I had a sense that clearly something bad had happened but had not even the experience or knowledge to give it a name.  ‘Rooted’ seemed the best definition, which in meaning is not disimilar to being ‘bonked’ , depending on what part of the world you come from.

But I digress – to avoid bonking you must ensure you continue to supply your body with an available energy source. Sports drinks and energy gels, and these are not all created equal but I’ll go more into depth about that at another time. There is also some evidence to show that a 4 to 1 ( or 8 to 1 dependant on what your reading) carb to protien mix will enhance your performance substaintially.  Supplying your body whilst riding, if your going for over 2 hours is vital and theres also important work you can do post ride to maximise your muscles glycogen stores.

You  have a short envelope of time, half an hour, post ride to replenish your glycogen stores. Yes, you’ve just got in the door, you’ve avoided ‘bonking’ but you are ‘rooted’ nonetheless. Yes, the couch looks comfortable and standing is difficult but no – its not over yet. Your job now, as soon as possible is to eat complex carbs and protein. The carbohydrates will replenish your glycogen stores and the protein will not only help rebuild muscle tissues but also maximise their ability to store the fuel your supplying them with. The combination of carbs and protein both in training and post training seem to be vital to maximising not only your on- bike performance but also the benefit that you will be getting from the training. Your body gets stronger in recovery – so pay attention to it and you’ll feel yourself stonger each time.

Also, a word on anti-oxidants. If your involved in strenuous exertion you’ll be putting your body under greater oxidative stress. It is a great irony that the gas the gives us life is the great decayer. Greater oxygen levels , up to 10 to 20 times normal resting levels,  while exercising produces more free radical and so  cellular damage, aging and all that comes with it. Although there is evidence to show that if you exercsie regularly the effects of oxidative stress are minimised, anti-oxidants have to be a consistant and deliberate part of your diet. The same studies show that infrequent exercise may be detrimental as the oxidative stress is not minimised as in those who exercise frequently  – weekend warriors beware.

Well – thats the sinple run down. I’ll look forward to explaining it all at a cellular level to an empty room sometime in the near future – fascinating:P

That’s What its All About

We just launched last Friday and, even though Google doesn’t like us,  hundreds of people have downloaded the software we developed to train with and then decided to give away.  Gratifying as this is, the cherry so far came on Tuesday morning when I got an email from Kenya. Nothing to do with my lost African fortune this time  but Samuel thanking us, on behalf of his cycling club, for the software. 

‘Am very thankful for your gift and also on behalf of the club,I received your free cycling secrets Software.This will usually help in well coaching our team, so that it can improve more in cycling.

The team is much happy for your assistance in providing the required tactics on cycling.I know very well that you can make us shine in Kenya and in Africa at Large.’

Kenya groupride-10.jpgteam-2.jpg

It’s stuff like this that will motivate this project. We’ll be doing all we can to support these guys as much as possible.

A beautiful thing – and more and more all road seem to lead to Africa. We are currently in the early stages of setting up a ‘Bicycles for Humanity’ chapter in Melbourne, Australia. We’ll be taking second hand and disused bikes , filling a shiping container with them and sending it to southern Africa. There the container will be placed in a community and become a pre-fabricated bike workshop providing skills training, work and business opportunities while the bikes will be distributed to AIDS care workers who typically have to cover huge distances in the course of their work. The initial connection with Namibia and B4H is through an old friend of mine Micheal Linke who currently runs BEN(Bicycle Empowerment Network) Namibia.

Just going there on Google Earth took my breath away. An endless sea of sand stretching to the notorious Skeleton Coast   littered with wrecks from distant centuries. One of the most sparsely populated nations on Earth whose arable land constitutes one percent of its area. Suddenly my most recent little bubble of western malaise was burst and a whole world of possibility opened up.

‘Find something bigger than yourself and there will be no question of ‘how’ now the ‘why’ has been answered’

As I said this blog is ostensibly about cycling – these long roads will take us, take us far from these small things we now define ourselves with. Take us completely and roll forever toward an ever expanding horizon.

Bananas and long roads

This blog is about all things cycling.  This gives it a huge freedom as the more I’m involved with this pursuit , the more I can relate it to almost every other aspect of my life. So this blog is ostensibly about cycling and no doubt will find its way through a broad sweep of my life and work.

Only because this blog is about cycling have I chosen the banana theme. It has a special place in the hearts of cyclists – we’ll leave it at that and hope it grows on me.(it didn’t – I changed the theme after a week:)

Instead of extending metaphors from the kick off, which I often do, I’ll let all this play out organically over the next weeks and months. A little about myself. Now on the edge of turning thirty seven and without a doubt in the best shape I’ve ever been in, in my whole life. I spent most of my teens and the extended teenage hood that was my twenties avoiding deliberate physical exertion and although I can say I was never out of shape, all that I mean is I was never fat. Realistically I was probably in terrible shape. I used to smoke and drink heavilly right up until my daughter was born.

Now I come to it I realise the minds astounding ability for forgeting pain and discomfort. I spent much of my twenties with chronic chest pain… So far in the past now it has lost the edge of reality.

Physical exertion has been one of the great  epiphanies of my adult life. It has bought an order and discipline to the way I do everything. There is something vital, in the truest sense of the word, about it. It is the experience of life itself, of being alive, of being a thing of blood and bellows. There is something in the experience of pushing your body to the edge of its abilities, feeling every cell working, hearing your breath, sensing the blood hurtling around inside you that puts you in intimate touch with what existing physically is all about.

I had no idea.

I used to think sports people were dick heads or morons. That somehow intelligence and physical ability or the pursuit of it were mutally exclusive. A not disimilar duality to the mind/body distinction – which has also been taken apart over the passing years. Its now your mind-body. One system, all of it soaking in neuro-peptides. When your brain thinks something, your whole body thinks it.  As soon as you remove the distinction between the two a whole world of new reason for pursuing being physically healthy comes into play.

But I digress – back to me. I finally got fit in my early thirties teaching myself to swim. Just one of the things I managed to make it to adulthood without putting in place.  There is material here for a whole separate blog – but I went from a struggling breast stroke, almost keeping pace with the seventy year old chinese guy in the next lane to between 1-2 km of free style every morning over a few years.

And the one recurring dream image I used to have, sharks, has never come up since. I sometimes dispare at my unconciouness’s lack of imagination and subtlety.

No doubt I would have continued just swimming but around a year ago I started on a 6 month contract with the Museum which required me to work on site. I have owned a car for exactly one year of my life – a Smurf blue Morris Minor in my final year of a philosophy degree –  so commuting meant a 17 km bike ride each way.  Seventeen km is  small enough to be reckless about how you approach it. I always did it as fast as I could. There was a curse on my then bike , a Merida flat bar road bike, it couldn’t be ridden slowly. I neglected to tell the guy I sold it to.

I spent that six months doing the 35km a day and always trying to beat the best time, it currenly stands at 28 minutes – on a public holiday when there was little or no traffic, and was completely hooked.