Sunday, July 13, 2014

Coming out: Hip Screws & Happiness

There are two things on my mind that are all the rage at the moment; hip operations and coming out of the closet. If anyone thought the sporting and cycling world was ripe with homophobia; I understand your concerns, but I think you’re wrong. 

A recent discovery for myself was that of my own sexuality, and I don’t want to natter on about this ad libitum because frankly, we’ve heard it all before, and Thorpie -the selfish bastard- has stolen my thunder. 

I'm a hospital VIP these days...

But we digress.

The point here is, I am gay. And if there are any other guys or gals out there in the cycling world who are not comfortable in their own skin, who have got that nagging little voice in the back of their head that convinces them the world is going to fall down if they discover who they truly are; well forget your worries. You will be surprised at the positivity of the response when you open up. It's 2014.

But is it all good?

Yes. The thing is, homophobic comments have become second nature; that’s gay, this is gay. And that shit is pretty f**ked to be honest. 

But it’s a product of society -I believe- and a product of people saying things to a group they feel is completely heterosexual. Now, I know I'm drastically over-simplifying a complex and intense topic, but this blog is about cycling. And I don't want to kill everyone getting too deep and meaningful.

Perhaps another day.

Thing is, the very people who drop these disparaging comments regularly, have been the first to apologise to me thinking they may have caused serious offence. But don’t sweat it. It’s a structural problem. And it’s moving forward, not backward [in my opinion].

If only I’d grown a pair and discovered it all years ago. But sometimes you’re just not ready. But now I’m ready.

I was also ready to have these bad boys taken out!

My approach?

I believe attack is the best form of the defence on and off the bike. I simply told my friends I’ve started seeing a guy. And he is amazing. And that’s it. Work out the rest.

And the response?

People are excited for me. They are happy. I am happy. The world is happy.

And that’s what matters. 

What else makes people happy?

Having three frigging big screws taken out of your neck of femur.

Gettings screws out and a free fake tan whilst you're at it. Bonus
I had that done yesterday up at Knox Private Hospital, where they were put in at the end of April last year, after I ate shit out training. If you ever need a hip surgeon, go see Francis Ma out that way. He will sort you.

And with them gone it feels so, so good. It’s just another step on my pathway of rehab, and I’ll be back CharterMasoning it up on Monday as the operation was only a day procedure. 

Give me some painkillers and some crutches and I’m back at it.

On the note of CharterMason, I’ve got to say, wow, what an amazing organisation. I have come into the company as one of the youngest people they have taken on, with the aim for myself -and CharterMason- to train me up to generally kick arse and take-over the world as soon as possible. 

Swapping lycra for suits. Feels weird. No one can see your sock height.

And the response?

Amazing. Very senior consultants, with lots to do and no time to do it, are taking large chunks out of their day to teach me the ropes. 

As within the CharterMason Giant team, the sense of team and camaraderie is second to none.  That makes me happy.

The Moral?

Be honest, be comfortable, be happy. And work hard.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

CharterMason, and what happens after cycling

Racing a bike is fun. Writing articles is fun. Working with big-arse organisations and helping them make crucial business decisions is also fun.

A cyclist. A journalist. A consultant.

All three require preparation. All three require communication. All three occur in high pressure environments where your arse is literally on the line [or the road].

I’ve done the first two. For me, it’s time to start the third.

CharterMason Giant: 'Champions of tomorrow', generally good blokes right now...

What happens ‘after’ cycling?
Life after cycling is something that anyone in the heat of the sport doesn’t want to think about. It’s scary, it’s unpleasant, and it’s distracting. But it remains, nonetheless, the most important question for any cyclist -or any athlete- to answer. 

What would you do if you broke your leg tomorrow? 

What if it was never going to come good? 

I’m not rolling off a sermon here about how everyone needs to study full-time whilst racing. Because not every athlete needs, or wants, to become a doctor or a lawyer. Not everyone needs, or wants, a uni degree. Not everyone needs a high flying job and the stresses that come with it. 

But everyone does need a plan, and the best time to start planning was probably yesterday.

My Plan?
Race, study, race, work, race, race, race. I was heavily supported by my parents. I was a lucky bugger. But there was always an implicit arrangement.

The trade-off was: ‘You better study or get a job boy, cos you ain’t riding that bike 24/7’

So I finished high school, worked in a little deli, did a bachelor of commerce at Melbourne Uni and raced my body till it was [literally] broken. 

I wrote a blog, it got me a foot in the media/journo door [thanks Rowan Dever] and I ended up doing a fair chunk of journalism and media work revolving around cycling. It was ace. But as racing ends, so does writing [on a full-time basis], and consulting commences.
Look at these guys on the front! Definitely not me there...

“If I could do one thing for the guys on my team, it’s help them find a job when they stop racing,” 

Were the words spoken by CharterMason’s Leigh Parsons when we had lunch a while back. I’d been wringing my cycling network for every drop of advice on my job hunt. And some odd circumstances, some entrepreneurialism, and a bit of pot luck landed me with a job. 

Now I’m throwing on my consulting L plates and heading off into the business world. Wish me luck!

CharterMason Giant powered by Brennan IT
But not every day will be filled with reports, excel files and KPIs. Ok, they will….

But the evenings and weekends will be filled with time devoted to helping the CharterMason Giant team progress onwards and upwards. As an unashamed cycling groupie, this is my way to stay in touch with the sport. And once my knee is a bit better [long story...] I hope to sneak out on a few team rides and hopefully half-wheel them all on recovery days.

So what does it all mean?

I’m not really sure. But make a plan. Take your opportunities. And don’t be an arsehole. You’ll want a good network when you retire. Don’t go round sucking up to everyone, no one will give you a job for nothing. 

But if you are genuine, and you ask for help, doors will open.

See you all in the office, on the road, or on the net,


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The race is over. Thanks for the fun.

I’ve had plenty of people asking me questions lately. Here are my answers:

[Note: You can tell all the old links on the right of screen need updating, but, well, nah, can't be bothered]

Friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances, Asian travel advocates and fine food purveyors. It is with great regret that I have to announce that I ain’t gonna be racing no more.

My knee is f^^ked. Knees are rather important to cycling. My right knee is f^^ked.

What, but how?
Last April I crashed and broke my neck of femur and collarbone. Bad.
I was not enthused

I was swiftly operated on and my bones healed tremendously well. Good.
Metalic additions
Never give up

But when I started training -initially just rehab and soon after proper riding- my knee (on the RHS, same side as hip and collarbone) proved to be very sore and swollen. Bad.

I had an MRI, it said everything was fine. Good.

But the problems persisted and I ended up getting an operation. Bad.

The operation was also used to clean up some junk in my ankle, from another crash back in china, that had been bothering me for a few years. Very good.

The outer side of my right ankle

The surgeon revealed I had torn the fat pad, and my knee was full of blood. Bad.

But he had fixed it, I could start easy spinning again the day after the operation, full training could recommence in a few weeks. Good. Really good!

But the fat pad remained swollen and sore, a classic case of Hoffa’s syndrome. Bad. So very, very bad.
That would be some blood from my knee

All I want for Christmas
All I wanted for Christmas was my two front knees. But all I got was another MRI. The MRI led me from to the specialist, to the surgeon and back to the specialist. He led me to an endocrinologist, and that led me to the chemist.
I would love a bit of Mt Wellington right now

I had lots of bad stuff happening behind my knee cap, something wrong with the bone. Now that is bad.

My osteoclasts -that normally get rid of old bone- had gone bezerk on my osteoblasts -that normally create new bone- and thus the disabling pain in my knee was explained. It had been going since last April.

A physiological condition that was eating my knee cap. Hmmm, that’s bad.

But from the chemist came some special drugs [WADA approved, believe me I checked], supposed to do the trick. The pain would be gone in two days as proclaimed by the endocrinologist. Good.

I’m here writing, though, because the knee remains rooted. So it’s time to be realistic. Sometimes shit just ain’t gonna go.
There's been a bit of this
And a bit of this

What does it all mean?
Don’t for one second think this is a bad thing. I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve been given a ridiculous amount of support throughout my career, initially by BikeNow, then the VIS and for a long time now by Avanti. 

Aerodynamics has never been my strong point
Most recently Andrew Christie-Johnston and Steve Price have looked after me whilst I attempted to sort my shit out. And the support they’ve shown obviously sends a message to me, but more so it tells the other guys on the Avanti team that they’re in safe hands. Just do your job, don’t worry about the rest. 

Donna Buang in the snow, a rite of passage

I’ve also got a medical team behind me to rival any professional sports team now, and I’ll thank them in person, because they require a blog post of their own, each. And my parents who’ve put up with me as I punish my body from pillar to post, thanks. I'm a lucky prick. I know that. 
SunTour with the national team

But what’s the point?
The point is this: I’ve literally pushed my body to the edge. Broken more bones than I’ve had hot meals, but loved every minute of it. The sport has given me new friends, taken me to new places and christ almighty, it’s a bit of a cliché, but I would not have it any other way. People do crazy shit just to ride a bike, and I like to think I'm one of them. I will continue to do crazy shit to ride my bike, but I can't expect ongoing support from a team I'm giving nothing to. Time for journalistic endeavours.

Lovin' the Marco Polo days
Once I sort my knee, I’ll be back cruising around, maybe doing the odd club race. Or maybe I'll enjoy the lazy bunch rides I eschewed whilst being uptight and addicted to my powermeter. 
An old favourite, Metro Road champs back in the day
Shit, maybe I’ll have another red-hot crack in a few years’ time. But for the time being, I can't even walk up a step and I would really like to be able to walk up a step. To even think about racing when you haven't been able to load your knee for nearly a year? 

Junior reppin' back in the day
Nah man. Get real. It’s over and out.

I'll always love the Northern Combine races

Let me eat cake

 It's been fun.

See ya.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Bit of a Bingle

On saturday I got back from my training ride to get a call from Huon-Genesys team boss ACJ asking if I wanted to race the Battle on the Border the following week. Pat Shaw was sick and he figured I would be better for the hit out with Tour of Japan coming up. So yes, I said. Yes. Yes. Yes!

Let's race baby!

Then the next morning I trundled out to the 1/20 to do some hard 30 sec efforts whilst cruising away up the 1/20. So yeah, um, anyway, my gears slipped, I managed to kind of 'high side' it, and slap my right hand side onto the road. Hard.

There's lots to write about, and there's lots to say. But I'll keep it simple.

I broke my collarbone and I broke my neck of femur, both on the right hand side. Thankfully surgery was not necessary on the wing, and the leg has gone from screwed, to 'screwed' with 3 Ti additions such that a full recovery looks very probable.

CollarBump Right Hand Side

Either way, I am lucky because it could have been much worse. And I am forever grateful for the friendly passers by who helped me out. The lovely couple who took my bike and even hugged and kissed me whilst I sat in shock! The Ambos were brilliant, as always. My surgeon was great, the nurses were great. My parents are legends, my mates who've supported me are priceless and everyone involved with the Huon-Genesys are incredible.

ACJ running the team is full of nothing but support as are my team mates. I am just a LITTLE bit cut that I can't race with them at the moment... but shit happens.

Snapped like a chicken wing

Now onto the next chapter,

Well I'll keep you updated on my progress but its all hazy at this stage. It just depends how the bones heal. So I could be back training hard in 3 months. Or 6 months. No point getting caught up on arbitrary dates.

Neck of Femur, fractued, but well placed. At least.

Finally, and to be frank, I've kind of lost my blogging 'mojo' per se, in that, I think everyone gets to a point were they feel sick of telling everyone how great they are. I'll be here to fill you in if I have some hilarious stories and still the odd random update (basically what I've been doing for the last year), but for now I am going to focus my journalistic energy on some more formal pieces and just let my legs do the talking once they are back in the swing!

Best Wishes all,

See you on the road. Soon.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Going to plan

I like it when things go to plan.

I got my bike ready last night. I filled my bottles. I got my food sorted for the ride. Even got my clothes lined out. Organised to meet my riding partner at 10am. All of this in order to allow a long, luxurious and glorious sleep in. Yet here I am, at 06:30am. Wide awake.

Screw you world!

On the road to Baw Baw

It's never any fun when things don't go to plan.

If you can chat whilst going up Baw Baw you know that you have ample gearing, and, something ain't right...

I had a shocker last weekend at Baw Baw when I woke up from the deepest, and most intense sleep I've had in a while.... at 03:30AM. Not good! Double not good! Still had an ace time on what is just such an awesome course. And thankfully Ben Dyball who was crashing with me from Sydney came home in 2nd so we still had some pocketmoney to add to the bank.

But that's all short term stuff. I am looking at the medium term plan here. And it looks exciting:

1) Tour of Japan
2) AIS Training Camp
3) Tour de Qinghai Lake National Team
4) Tour of Borneo

1) My first big race with the team for the year. Can't wait. Did it last year, it hurt. I wanted to cry. Multiple times. Yet again, this feast of agony and anguish should deliver some good life experiences and I can't wait to go and chase some results with  my Huon-Genesys team mates who've started the year off very well..

(c) The Wheeler  Nathan Elliot and I chopping off during a Northern Combine race
 2) I was lucky enough to get selected to be part of a Cycling Australia National Team to go to the Tour de Qinghai Lake in July. Part of the preparation will be a two week camp in Canberra involving a lot of training and some new altitude training techniues. As far as I am concerned, this is going to be awesome. I am an unashamed bike nerd and wannabe physiology geek. Give me the stats. Give me the data. Let's do it. Only the promise of proper winter weather in Canberra during winter scares me...(a lot)

3) Tour de Qinghai lake, well I written about it before, so have a read, I promise you'll laugh, or just sigh at all the pretty pictures

(c) The Wheeler   I attacked Nath, and we had a two man TT against each other, he caught back up but there was no sprint due to an earlier crash. So equal first it was for both of us at the first Northern Combine race of the year

4) Tour of Borneo. This was a late surprise. I was initially down to open my serious racing account for the season at the Battle on the Border in a couple of weeks but two of the teams upcoming Asian races (Tour of Borneo and Jelajah Malaysia) both had changes of dates. So with some re-jigging it was decided to let me save my bickies for Japan and Qinghai and then jump into Tour of Borneo which now comes in August. To say that this excites me is an understatement. I'm just hoping that everything goes to plan and this stays the case. One thing I learnt last year, however, is that within a busy season there are that many crashes, changes of race dates, people getting sick, etc etc that nothing ever goes exactly to plan. So I'll just play it by ear then!

I've been getting back to good old fashioned climbing weight, unlike, err, other times...

For the meantime, it's off to Mt Macedon to show some more roads to Jurgen . Yep, I too am a bit shocked that 3rd place getter from Tour of Flanders is now basing his build up to the Tour de France from Melbourne... but I think I understand.

You see he lives upstairs from his fathers bakery. The smell and consumption of fresh baked treats just doesn't seem compatible with his target race weight for the Tour. So Melbourne it is...

So if you spot someone decked out in full Lotto-Bellisol kit around Melbourne, give them a yell! But don't shake his right hand, he still has one big arse filthy blister from Paris-Roubaix.. looks like he tried to high five a screw driver... just another reminder that these buggers are tough.

Snowy times up Donna with GPLama should leave me well prepped for Canberra

But mind you, I reckon two weeks in Canberran winter is even tougher... we'll just have to find out.