TCR TUESDAY PERTH - RIDE ROUTE & DETAILS

18/06/2018

Come one, come all and enjoy the perks of riding with those that love the GIANT brand in Perth!

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DETAILS

A social ride around Perth with like minded riders who love all things GIANT.  Leave the ego at home, the TCR Tuesday rides are designed to be safe and good fun.

Start Time / Point - 5.45am, Narrows Bridge North Side

Finish Point - Brew Ha, Kings Square, Perth

See you there!

RIDE ROUTE

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/27828310

DATES

26 June 2018

24 July 2018

28 August 2018

THAILAND TOURING - ROUND 2

20/06/2018

"We made our way back to the army base in Bangkok and settled in for the night..."

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Having spent an incredible 12 days cycling around northern Thailand earlier this year, when the opportunity presented itself to return to this cycling mecca, I couldn’t help but say 'yes.'

As part of my travels to Thailand in March, I undertook a reconnaissance of ‘The Great Mekong Bike Ride’s’ race route on behalf of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.  Due to road works, the race was postponed from March until May.  Whilst I was there, I was asked by the race organisers to provide feedback to help them create a better event.  The fact that the race was postponed was a blessing in disguise as it gave me a reason to revisit the region a second time, so that I could participate in the race.

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My most recent travels saw me spend another 12 days in Thailand.  The first 5 days were spent in the North East racing in the official “Great Mekong Bike Ride”, a sportive style event in its third year of operation, which attracts more than 700 riders from around the world.  The remaining 7 days were spent touring ancient wonders, historical sites and culturally rich landscapes in the area just north of Bangkok, with good friend and fellow travel guide Sea Keong Loh from Venture Wander Travel. 

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The Great Mekong Bike Ride

Having not raced for several years (my focus is now on adventure and exploring the globe) the race acted as a welcome change and was fantastic fun.  Broken into three stages, the race commences in Nakhon Phanom and showcases the very best of the region.  Cities such as Sakon Nakhon are lit up with excitement as the race passes through the city centre and the economy boost this event provides is incredibly positive.  I guided 15 Australians to the race and we agreed, as a group, that it was the best organised event we have ever participated in.  To the organisers ‘Tri-Leage Thailand’ and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) a huge thank you and a big well done!

Some of my favourite things about racing and cycling adventure travel in general, is the cultural immersion that comes from travelling by bike.  The people you meet along the way, the fragrant aromas of the local cuisine and the rich market life.  During the race, the streets were lined with children at every school we passed, making it a truly amazing experience.  Big grins greeted us at the start and finish of the race and many of the locals asked for photographs (a memory of a new friend from afar).  As each racer finished, they were presented with food vouchers, so that they could choose treats from the many food trucks that were there serving us their local cuisine, fresh fruit smoothies and deserts.

The camaraderie between the local and international riders was unreal.  We will certainly be back to race in 2019.  In the meantime, I will do some speed work in the hope of ‘getting away’ in some of the decisive race moves!  Unfortunately, this year my legs were still a little ‘diesel like’ and didn’t have the explosive power required to go with the winning moves.  Seems like a good excuse to go back!

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After a quick flight back to Don Mueang Airport near central Bangkok and goodbyes with friends, new and old, the second part of my trip began and what a week I was in for!

Ancient Wonders of Bangkok

I was collected by my guides Tintin and Patipath, (aircraft mechanics in the Thai Army).  We made our way back to the army base in Bangkok and settled in for the night.  I would never have imagined myself bunkering down in the Thai Army camp dormitory, but it was great fun.  We built my bike and rode off to the local markets for some local cuisine to settle our rumbling stomachs.  Despite most people’s warnings, I am huge fan of sampling the local street food wherever I travel and the Thai food is certainly up there with the best I have tasted. Dinner consisted of a spicy pork broth soup with pork bones and vegetables.  I’ll be honest.  It didn’t look great, but it hit the spot and served as a tasty, hearty dinner the night before our first day of riding.  Tongues on fire from the fresh chilli, we treated ourselves to a fresh coconut smoothie as we wandered around the local craft stalls.  Little did I know that I would later inherit the nickname ‘Mr Smoothie’ from my guides, because of my obsession with the fresh fruit smoothies.

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The following morning, we were woken by ‘Army Radio’ being broadcast through the camp.  My guides explained that every morning at 6.30am, the ‘Army Radio’ sounds as an alarm for all the soldiers.  It was great not having to set an alarm, but it was difficult to press the snooze button…!  Tintin whipped up a couple of Thai style omelettes and before long we had hit the road for our first day of riding. 

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Our destination for the day was Ayutthaya, Thailand’s ancient Capital City.  Founded in 1350, Ayutthaya is home to many ancient ruins and as we arrived into town, we were greeted by spectacular, colourful stone temples.

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The ride itself was 80km in length.  Departing Bangkok, although busy, felt incredibly safe.  The drivers in Thailand are courteous, unlike that of the western world.  There is a sense of urgency, but very little risk is taken.  After 20 – 30 km we were out of the mayhem and riding the banks of a small river system en route to our finishing point in Ayutthaya.  There, we visited the floating markets, sampled the famous delicacies (coconut ice-cream, 20c noodles and fresh fruit smoothies) and then continued to our hostel accommodation.  It was nothing like I would have imagined.

Our accommodation for the night was 'The Busaba Ayutthaya Hostel'.  Think 5 star New York Hamptons.  White wood, lots of greenery and views of the river.  An afternoon rain shower saw the hostel staff kindly cover our bikes with ‘rain coats’ before guiding us to our room. The three of us shared an 8-person bunk room so there was plenty of room for our luggage.  After a quick shower and a change of clothes, we set off to visit some of the amazing temples.  If you find yourself in Bangkok and looking for something to do, I would highly recommend Ayutthaya.  The city is rich in history and the temples and monuments are brilliantly preserved.  

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The second morning we departed Ayutthaya in the car for around 60km to avoid the busy main roads in peak hour traffic.  We commenced our day of riding on a local velodrome.  I haven’t ridden on a velodrome for a long time.  To say that it felt foreign would be an understatement. I couldn’t help but feel as though I was riding on the Roubaix Velodrome,  Thai style!  We then headed south west towards our destination for the day, Kanchanaburi.  Famous amongst backpackers for the huge number of attractions in the surrounding areas, Kanchanaburi is probably most famous for the bridge over the River Kwai – the start of the infamous World War 2 Death Railway to Burma.

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Our ride was 100km along predominantly flat roads.  It was great chatting with my guide, Patipath as we rolled along the rice fields.  I was intrigued by Patipath’s role in the army, so we spoke at length about how the Thai army operated and his role as a helicopter maintenance engineer.  The topic of army/war was fitting.  Rolling into Kanchanaburi, hot and sweaty from the days ride, I couldn’t help but notice the large war memorial in the centre of town.  Patipath signalled that we would ride on and meet our host for the night Aum, and that we would return later in the afternoon after showers and refreshments.

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Aum was a great host and spoke fantastic English.  Racing for the Nich 100+ team, a high-level team within Thailand, Aum looked as though he knew a thing or two about bikes and after introducing me to his ‘bike cave’ at the Hostel 'Baan Ma Fueng' he runs, my suspicions were confirmed! 

That afternoon we explored the war cemetery, the first portion of the Death Railway over The River Kwai and the War Museum.  There was so much information to take in, that I would love to visit Kanchanaburi again and spend more time really getting to understand how the tragic events of WW2 unfolded there.  With my mind full of information, I decided another ride was in order.  Aum was heading off with a bunch of local riders for a fast 50km at 5pm.  I decided to join in on the action.  Unfortunately, due to the rain, the other riders didn’t end up joining us, so Aum and I rolled turns north for 25km and back, behind our scooter riding guides.  As we got closer to the end of the ride Tintin and Patipath ramped up the speed and Aum and I slowly became their victims.  A great ride, although hard and fast, was followed suitably by a chocolate banana smoothie and a large bowl of Pad Thai. It was then time for bed and a good night sleep.

We spent the next day exploring Kanchanaburi by bike and completed 110km through the luscious green landscape.  The highlight of the day was visiting the Death Railway.  Perched high along the banks of the Mae Klong River, the railway was an impressive feat of engineering constructed long, long ago.  The train line, still active, requires visitors to be extremely wary when venturing onto the tracks.  My guides, being local, chose the perfect time for us to traverse along the train tracks, in between trains, and we were able to capture some fantastic images.  Had I been alone, I'm not sure I would have had the courage to walk there in fear of being mowed down by a passing train.  With the signs being in Thai it would have been impossible to make sense of the train timetable!

The second portion of the day, and our finishing point (prior to transfers back to Kanchanaburi) was the Erawan waterfalls.  A spectacular landmark made up of seven, different levelled waterfalls.  We changed into our swimming shorts and set off hiking through the forest.  The legs, a little weary our the morning on the bike, became slower and slower as we climbed higher into the jungle.  We didn’t reach level 7, but decided to stop at level 6 and enjoy a swim in the rock pools.  The views from the Erawan Waterfalls are fantastic and I truly felt as though I was living the life of Tarzan in the Thai jungle.

The next day we headed south toward one of Thailands largest 'Giant' bike stores in the city of Ban Pong.  Working closely with Giant, I was eager to visit one of their flagship Thai stores.  50km under the belt and having sampled coffee at a small coffee shop overlooking rice fields with a magnificent temple in the distance, we arrived at the Giant store.  It was huge, almost like a supermarket and the range of bikes and accessories on offer was mind boggling.  One of my favourite things to do overseas (or at home) is window shop in local bike stores.  I am transformed into a ‘kid in a candy store’ and could quite honestly spend hours just gazing at all the goodies.

Time was ticking, and we had a 2.30pm deadline at the Mae Klong Railway Market.  For those who haven’t heard of this landmark, it is essentially a street market built on top of railway tracks.  What makes it unique is that the railway tracks are still in operation, and every time a train approaches, the stall holders quickly pack up their stalls, allowing the train to sneak through and as soon as the train passes, the markets set up back on the tracks.  We made it just in time to see the train arrive and the market vendors pack up.   Something you would NEVER see in the western world; this memory will stay with me forever.  The local people are so relaxed and blasé about the fast approaching train that quite literally misses their stalls by millimetres daily.  I guess the key message to be taken away for this experience, is to stress less!!  After a walk along the markets and (you guessed it) more food and smoothies, we made our way south to Hua Hin, our destination for the final two nights of the trip.

Hua Hin is a seaside resort on the Gulf of Thailand and located 200km south of Bangkok.  It is one of the most popular Thai holiday destinations for those living in the country’s capital and home to the best 'Mango Sticky Rice' in the country, something I am well averred in sampling!  Hua Hin is like Phuket but nowhere near as busy.  I would say it’s about as busy as you would want a holiday resort to be, without feeling crowded.  There is an array of offerings for tourists such as local craft markets, traditional Thai massage, shopping centres and fitness studios.  Bordered by Myanmar to the west, there is an impressive mountain range, which is famous for  its wine making.  I’m a huge fan of Bali, however some would argue that in recent times certain areas have become too heavily populated with tourists.  Hua Hin is just like Bali was 20 years ago.

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After checking into the Ibis Hotel, we set off to explore on scooter.  My two guides and I squeezed on to one scooter and shot off to go and explore the streets of Hua Hin.  We came across the main market walk and spent an hour looking around before our stomachs got the better of us.  The food offerings at the markets were quite expensive so we ventured down some smaller lanes and found a local restaurant offering the same food at half the price (the beauty of having a Thai speaking guide.)  Being on the coast, fresh seafood is plentiful and so we indulged in a whole snapper, along with several small side dishes and rice.  Full to the brim (as was the case after most meals in Thailand) we made our way back to the hotel to rest.

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The next morning, I was joined on the bike by Sea Keong Loh, my good friend and guide from Chiang Rai.  Tintin and Patipath followed us on the scooter as we set off south towards Dolphin Bay Resort and the roads we would complete our training on.  Loh was preparing for the Tour of Korea and needed some harder, faster efforts to help prime his legs for the race.  We completed 4 x 10km efforts behind the scooter.  The final 3km of each effort was at full gas.  Safe to say, following this 'torture,' we were ‘stuffed’ and ready to rack the bikes on the back of our support car and enjoy the coastline. We made our way slowly back to Hua Hin’s ocean shores for a swim and a snack at the Dolphin Bay Resort.  The scenery in this part of Thailand is breathtaking.  It is completely different to Thailand’s mountainous north.  The south is flatter, and the seaside vibes reminded me of being back home on the beach.

In my opinion, a mix of Chiang Rai and Hua Hin is ideal.  Mountains for climbing and a somewhat sleepy seaside town for relaxing.  In saying this, the best thing about having two options is that it makes for a good excuse to visit Thailand at least twice a year!

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Our final day was now complete, so we packed our bikes, enjoyed our final dinner together and then made out way back to the hotel for a well-deserved rest.  The following morning, we drove back to Bangkok where I then made my way home to Perth.

Comparing my time in Chiang Rai to my time in Bangkok and the surrounding areas, I can honestly say that both are as brilliant as each other.  The riding in Chiang Rai involves more mountains and lumpier terrain and would make a truly amazing base for a training camp.  Bangkok and the surrounding areas, although not mountainous, make for a different type of riding holiday.  Completing less kilometres each day we had time to visit some of the many attractions that are on offer and for those who enjoy a good mix of riding with culture and history entwined, I would highly recommend a trip such as the one I have just completed.

Later this year, I will be running a series of guided adventures to northern Thailand.  In 2019 I will also run a trip from central Bangkok taking in the many sights I have spoken about above.  If either of these trips are of interest to you then please let me know.

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In closing, a very big thank you to the Tourism Authority of Thailand for affording me the opportunity to return and explore their beautiful country.  The people, food, culture and history are truly amazing, and I look forward to returning to Thailand and sharing the beauty with my guests.

BBB EYEWEAR REVIEW

9/05/2018

"TOP NOTCH EYEWEAR AT AN AFFORDABLE PRICE POINT..."

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Up until now, I’ve been a fan of Oakley sunglasses when I’m on the bike. They seem to work well, and they look good too.  There’s one problem with Oakley eyewear, almost everyone wears them… Not wanting to conform to cycling norms, I managed to track down a set of custom Oakley Jawbreakers late last year and wore them when I rode across the Nullabor in January.  They looked great, but they cost me an arm and half a leg and then I was forced to pass up the other half of my leg as I needed to buy a set of darker lenses to reflect the extreme Nullabor glare.  I was out of pocket some $600AUD…for a pair of sunglasses!?

Upon arriving in Adelaide, as most cyclists do at the TDU, I made sure to check out all the local bike stores to see what new and exciting goodies were on offer. What caught my eye was a set of the BBB Avenger Sunglasses. 

At first, I was a little confused about what brand the glasses were.  The logo was a modernised ‘B’ and upon closer inspection, it became apparent that the BBB brand had in fact re-branded. The new branding looks slick. Up until this point, I’d never really given the BBB sunglasses much attention, however the Avengers really struck a chord.  The shape and colourways were bold and modern and the fit fantastic.

Crossing the Nullabor isn’t cheap (think $7 meat pies and $10 milkshakes) so I wasn’t in a position to buy a set of BBB’s new glasses off the shelf. (they are seriously well priced, more on this later, but my bank account was badly drained!!)

  BBB's new branding is on trend with the latest in minimalist design. Upon closer inspection, the 'B' is lazer etched finely into the exterior of the lens just above the nose bridge.  A nice finishing touch.

BBB's new branding is on trend with the latest in minimalist design. Upon closer inspection, the 'B' is lazer etched finely into the exterior of the lens just above the nose bridge.  A nice finishing touch.

Upon arriving back home, I reached out to the guys at BBB, eager to get my hands on a pair of the new shades and was offered support in the form of sponsorship which is fantastic.  I’m now rocking a couple of different pairs of the BBB eyewear range and can say nothing but good things.  The glasses are fantastically priced, are supplied with three sets of different lenses for differing light conditions and conform to my face with a helmet on superbly. 

  The Avenger model shown here in black, with the photochromic lens in a light tint amidst the afternoon shade.

The Avenger model shown here in black, with the photochromic lens in a light tint amidst the afternoon shade.

The nose piece is malleable so those with big honks (you know who you are) are able to widen the nose bridge and those with a slimmer profile are able to squeeze the bridge so that it holds well when in place.

One of my biggest peeves with cycling glasses is when the arms don’t sit well against the retention system of the helmet.  The arms of the BBB glasses are a great length and I’ve not had any issues whatsoever with fit in this regard

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If you’re in need of photochromic lenses that will change colour with differing light conditions (fantastic for those that ride before or after work), then you are able buy a specific ‘photochromic’ offering in most styles.  The photochromic lens is hands down the best lens of its kind and the rate at which the lens changes in colour when exposed to light is far superior to that of the Oakley’s I owned previously.

The lenses seem to have a hydrophic style coating applied so that when it rains, the water beads from the surface so as not to blur vision. Again, in the past, I’ve found this to be a gimmick (even with the more prominent brands) but BBB has hit the nail on the head and it actually works. Interestingly, this is not a feature advertised on the BBB site, so I’m uncertain whether it’s an additional coating or built into the lens construction itself, but I tell you…it works.    Just last week I was riding in the rain and where I would normally have had to remove my glasses to squint, I was able to keep them firmly fastened and still maintain a clear  view.

So how do the BBB’s compare ‘cost-wise’ to other glasses on the market?  They’re in a world of their own… This is not because of them being a lesser quality product, but more so to do with that fact that BBB as a brand are looking to gain traction within the cycling eyewear market and by offering top quality eyewear at an affordable price, they are certainly on their way to doing this.

The Avenger model that I’ve been using retails for $89.99AUD with the photochromic offering available for $159.99.

The other models I’ve been rocking include the:

Select XL

$129.99 AUD - A traditional style half frame with a large lens for greater sun protection.

FullView

$129.99AUD - A frameless design with an un-compromised field of view.

Town

$59.99 AUD - As the name suggests, a casual ‘off the bike’ pair of shades.

With a range of different frame models and colours to choose from in all models, even the fussiest of buyers will be able to match their glasses to their socks.

So, next time you’re in the market for a high-quality pair of cycling shades, opt not for the Oakley’s (cue the ‘Baaaaa’ of a sheep) but for something in the BBB range that offers a unique style at a fraction of the price. Top notch eyewear at an affordable price point.

  Photo credit: @z_w_photography

Photo credit: @z_w_photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RECIPES FOR ULTRA CYCLING

5/05/2018

Following on from my article on ‘Fueling for Ultra Endurance Cycling,’ I received a lot of interest around the home made nutrition options that were mentioned. These being:

  • The Banana Bread;
  • The Rice Cakes;
  • The Organic Sourdough Bread.

As promised, I’ve put together a series of recipes so that you too, can enhance your performance on the bike and save some money whilst doing so.

Enjoy...

1. David Bryant's ' Bravo Banana Bread'

Makes 1 loaf (10 slices)

Ingredients

- No butter or oil

- 2 eggs

- 3-4 medium ripe bananas

- 200g pot set yoghurt

- 250g wholemeal self raising flour

- 100g pitted dates

- 1tsp cinnamon

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180'C (Bottom heat, fan forced) and line an 11cm x 21cm loaf tin with baking paper.  Coles sell a brilliant silicon baking 'tin' that requires no baking paper or butter/oil.  Upon completion of baking, it can be placed into the dishwasher safely and cleaned without fuss.

2. In any large blender (I'm lucky enough to have a thermomix - stole it from my folks…;) ), add the dates and chop on a high speed so that they are broken into smaller pieces. 

3. Add the remainder of the ingredients and combine at a high speed (theres nothing worse than a chunk of flour thats not properly blended upon biting into a piece of fresh banana bread.)

4. Spoon into your pre-prepared loaf tin and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

5. Allow to cool for 30minutes before turning out and cutting into slices.

6. Tear off 10 pieces of alfoil and wrap each slice of banana bread individually.  

7. Pop into the freezer and enjoy on your next ride.

Note

Each slice takes about 1hr to thaw when in your rear jersey pocket.  Perfect for your next mid-ride snack.

2. Rice Cakes

Makes 16 Rice Cakes

Ingredients

- 8 cups (uncooked) of Japanese style sticky rice

- 3 cups of mixed berries

- 3/4 cup of chocolate chips

- 1/4 cup honey

- 1/2 cup coconut milk

- 10g salt

Method

1. In a rice cooker, cook 8 cups of Japanese sticky rice.  Upon completion, the rice may still appear 'wet' however this is what you want and this will assist in binding the rice cakes.

2. In a large bowl, comine the cooked rice along with all other ingredients and mix thoroughly.

3. Line 2 x muffin trays with 'patty pans' and scoop the combined mixture into the 'patty pans'

4. Allow to cool for 30min before placing into the freezer. Leave overnight.

5. Remove from the freezer and wrap each 'rice cake' individually in alfoil.

Voila, the perfect mid ride snack for your next long day on the bike.

Note 

Experiment with different ingredients, there are a range of ideas on the internet.  I find this is the best mix for me, as I enjoy the mixture of berries and chocolate and find myself looking forward to eating on the bike as opposed to it feeling like a chore.

3. Organic Sourdough Loaf

Makes 1 loaf (I generally make two loaves at a time.)

Ingredients

- 450g strong organic bakers flour

- 300ml filtered water (the chlorine in tap water will kill the bacteria in your starter)

- 150g of sourdough starter

- 7g salt

- Nut & Seed Mixture

Method

1. In a large blender, gently combine the flour and 290ml of the filtered water.

2. When combined, spoon the mixture (which will be quite stiff) into a plastic bowl.  Cover with glad wrap and allow to rest for 45minutes

3. Add the flour/water mixture that you combined earlier to a well floured surface and add 150g of sourdough starter, the remaining 10ml of water and 7g of salt.  Knead the mixture thoroughly to ensure that it is well combined. The mixture will be quite sticky at this stage.

4. Add the dough to the plastic bowl and cover with glad wrap.  Let rest for 45minutes.

5. Following the 45 minutes of rest, knead the dough for another few minutes and add back to the plastic bowl.

6. Let rest for a further 45 minutes before popping into the fridge for 4hrs.

7. After resting for 4hrs, remove from the fridge and add the dough to a well floured surface.  Knead for a further 5 minutes and then form into the desired loaf shape on a baking tray on a piece of grease proof paper.  I tend to form my loaves into a large ball and bake them 'free form' (not in a tin).  Let the loaf rise for 45minutes 

8. Preheat oven to 235'C (bottom heat, fan forced)

9. Pop into the oven and bake for 15min. Drop the temperature to 215'C and bake for a further 30-35minutes.

10. Remove from the oven and let the loaf sit on a wire rack for about 1hr. (As tempting as it is, try not to eat the whole loaf in it's cooling phase...Im guilty of this!)

11. Slice into the desired thickness and add to the freezer until required.

Note

- Experiment with different nut/seed additives and flour types. Rye flour will produce a slightly different flavoured bread, as will the type of nuts and seeds that you add.

- Always use filtered water, never use standard tap water

- You will find that this bread is far more filling than any store bought loaf.

- Because there are no preservatives added, it will not last as long as your store bought loaf.  I slice and then freeze all of my loaves to ensure nothing gets mouldy and goes to waste.

- You will likely find someone on gumtree selling a sourdough starter (heck, they will generally be happy to give some to you for free!)

- Ive never made my own starter from a kit and so can't comment on the process involved in doing this.  I was lucky enough to inherit a 15 year old starter from an old work colleague of mine.

Caring for your starter

Your starter is essentially a living organism and this is one of the reasons that sourdough bread is in fact so good for you.  As such, you need to look after the starter.  My 'care regime' is as follows:

- Once a week, add a cup full of plain white flour to your starter along with enough filtered water to form a slightly runny consistency.  This is often referred to as 'the feeding process.'

- Following the removal of starter for your loaf, carry out the same 'feeding process' as above.

- I keep my starter in the fridge at all times.  The only time I remove it from the fridge is just prior to forming a loaf (1hr before hand.)

- If you go away for long periods of time and are unable to feed your starter, don't stress!  You will likely find a layer of mould has formed on the starter when you return.  Fear not, I generally scrape the mould from my starter, feed it and voila, its as good as new.  

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Summary

So there you have it, three simple recipes that require minimal ingredients and minimal time in the kitchen. The beauty of preparing your own food, is that you know exactly what it contains and this allows you to eradicate any nasties.

The trend in cycling seems to be moving more and more towards ‘custom’ and this can only be seen as another form of ‘custom’, that will lead to performance gains (at a fraction of the cost of a new bike!!) Again, a big thank-you to my Nutritionist and fuelling expert, David Bryant.

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FUELLING FOR ULTRA ENDURANCE CYCLING

27/04/2018

What is the most important thing that you put into your car to keep it running? Fuel, right?

Fuel is also the single most important thing that goes into any athlete’s body to keep it running.  Fuel or 'food' as we all call it, is what allows us to continue prolonged exercise.  Our bodies are essentially like coal trains.  Like the train operator would feed the train coal in order to maintain a given speed, we as humans do the same with food. 

The problem is that all foods are not created equal, and there are so many different types of food available to us that it can be difficult to determine exactly which food is best to feed our own personal engines and in what quantities.

  One of my favourite things about cycling in Asia is the food options. A little care is needed when chowing into some of the traditional dishes to ensure you don't bite into fresh chilli.  As demonstrated (badly) above!

One of my favourite things about cycling in Asia is the food options. A little care is needed when chowing into some of the traditional dishes to ensure you don't bite into fresh chilli.  As demonstrated (badly) above!

Up until February this year, I ate what I thought was a reasonably healthy and efficient diet that was in line with the extreme amount of exercise that I do.  A goal of mine, for a long time, has been to shed some excess upper body weight that has remained since my previous life as a gym junkie.  I’ve tried high protein diets, high carb diets, fruit diets, paleo diets and vegan diets to name a few, and every one of these diets had their flaws.  The Paleo diet for example had me lose about 6kg from an already pretty lean frame (80kg at the time,) however it all occurred too quickly and I lost a lot of my ‘on bike’ power. Not acceptable in my eyes!

When I tried a vegan diet, I actually put on weight.  Looking back, I attribute this to eating too many starchy carbohydrates and not enough fruit or vegetables.  But hey, it’s all learning.

Fed up with not being able to reach my goal, I caught up with David Bryant, at Catalyst Dietition in Perth, in order to really focus on losing the upper body mass.  Fast forward 12 weeks and I had lost 4kg, with the majority coming from my upper body.  Astonishingly, in doing this, my power figures on the bike have actually increased which is a tell-tale sign that my diet is delivering to my body exactly what it needs and starving it of what it does not.

Outlined below, I have provided the exact details of my diet (as prescribed by David Bryant) to give you a better understanding of what foods fuel me whilst both on and off the bike.  As a word of warning, the diet information provided was formulated specifically for me, based on my training load and personal physiological attributes.  I would highly recommend that you visit David Bryant (if based here in Perth) or a similarly qualified nutritionist in your place of residence, if a personal diet plan is something you would like. 

MEAL 1 - PRE AM RIDE

If I'm training for anywhere up to three hours, I don't eat.  I generally like to wake up an hour before my ride just so that I'm awake and ready to exercise when I leave the house.  There’s nothing I dislike more than having to rush out of bed, into kit and onto the bike, I just hate it!  My morning ritual for a ride up to three hours involves a cup of coffee pre-ride, and that’s it.  Exercising in a fasted state has been shown to increase the rate at which we burn fat.  In addition to this, the caffeine from the coffee also stimulates the metabolism to kick into gear.  For rides upwards of 3 hours I have 3-4 pieces of homemade sourdough toast with peanut butter (my mouth is watering as I write this…peanut butterrrrrr…)

  I enjoy soy milk in a decaf coffee later in the day (I will cover a blog post on decaf shortly) but pre-ride I always keep my coffee's black.

I enjoy soy milk in a decaf coffee later in the day (I will cover a blog post on decaf shortly) but pre-ride I always keep my coffee's black.

MEAL 2 - ON THE BIKE

As noted above, for rides up to three hours, I won't eat beforehand and in addition to this I won't eat whilst on the bike either.  However, If I am planning a longer ride, say 4hrs or more, I will consume food every hour.  To make it clear, if I have a planned ride of 4 hours, I will eat at the end of hour 1, end of hour 2 and so on.  There are a range of different food options that I take with me (even for rides of up to 8hrs, I carry all of my food with me.  I’m not working a 9 to 5 and as such, don't have a spare $50 to spend at the cafe/servo every time I ride!) Food options range from homemade banana bread to “Scratch labs” style rice cakes, LCM bars, bananas and jam sandwiches.  I’m not a fan of Gels as I find that they upset my stomach.  My preference is to eat whole foods and the reason for this is that they actually fill me.  The banana bread and rice cakes are fantastic. I make them in bulk, freeze them and then pop them in my rear pocket first thing in the morning.  When it comes time to eat them, they are generally thawed and super tasty.  I struggle with muesli bars or oat style bars on the bike as I find the oats have a tendency of getting lodge in my throat…The last thing I need mid-way through an 8-minute effort, gasping for air!  

  Mid ride enjoying a cold can of coke and some fresh fruit.  Whilst out on the bike, simple sugars are almost always your friend as they are readily available for your active muscles to burn.

Mid ride enjoying a cold can of coke and some fresh fruit.  Whilst out on the bike, simple sugars are almost always your friend as they are readily available for your active muscles to burn.

Food is important but just as important is hydration.  I've found that in the past I forget to drink whilst riding, I become too preoccupied with the task at hand.  I’m reminded of this later in the day when the headache starts.  A good tip that I recommend, is setting an alarm on your Garmin/bike computer to beep once every 15minutes.  This is the perfect reminder to have a sip of your drink. For rides up to 3hrs I consume only water.  For anything longer than 3hrs I use a carbohydrate drink such as Gatorade paired with BCAA's (Branch Chain Amino Acids.)  The carbohydrate drink replenishes my energy stores and the BCAA's assist in muscle growth and importantly for cyclists, prevent muscle catabolism (breakdown of muscle.) 

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In collaboration with R3 Protein, we are developing an Electrolyte/BCAA mixture that will be perfect for cyclists.  Stay tuned for more on this in the coming months.

MEAL 3 - POST RIDE

I have a ravenous appetite following exercise and this is especially true after a fasted session.  The first thing I reach for is my R3 Protein.  I mix this with 250ml of fluid (milk substitute because I don't enjoy milk) honey and frozen mango.  A quick blitz in the blender and voila, the perfect post ride recovery meal.  Cyclists underutilize protein. 

FACT.  One of the single most limiting factors for athletes wanting to increase their fitness is the ability for their body to recover post exercise.  This is exactly what protein is designed for.  Jump across to r3protein.com and buy what I consider to be the leading protein supplement.  It not only tastes amazing, but it is formulated to include everything you DO need and nothing you DONT.

  Being involved with the development of the R3 range allowed for me to provide valuable input as to what I feel is pivotal in a protein supplement.  R3 protein contains everything you DO need and nothing you DON'T, allowing your body to refuel, restore and revive.     www.r3protein.com

Being involved with the development of the R3 range allowed for me to provide valuable input as to what I feel is pivotal in a protein supplement.  R3 protein contains everything you DO need and nothing you DON'T, allowing your body to refuel, restore and revive.

www.r3protein.com

MEAL 4 - BREAKFAST

My favourite meal of the day and the meal that sets me up for the day ahead.  Skimp on breakfast and you will find that you spend the rest of the day eating or wanting to eat!  My go to is simple and only takes a couple of minutes to prepare. I'll eat four slices of sourdough toast (homemade) paired with 4 tablespoons of ricotta cheese topped with a bag of spinach that I cook on the stove in a little olive oil.  Recently I’ve been adding some curry powder to my spinach just before serving.  This adds some nice flavours. 

  Believe it or not, following a ride I actually have cravings for this breakfast...It's that good!

Believe it or not, following a ride I actually have cravings for this breakfast...It's that good!

MEAL 5 - MID MORNING SNACK

Mid-morning I'll eat a piece of fruit (whatever is seasonal,) one cup of pot set yoghurt and a tablespoon of LSA mix.  I always aim for two pieces of fruit in a day (second piece for afternoon tea) along with two cups of yoghurt (second cup eaten after dinner.)

  The Danone Brand yoghurt tastes unreal, is low in sugar, high in protein and full of good natural bacteria.

The Danone Brand yoghurt tastes unreal, is low in sugar, high in protein and full of good natural bacteria.

MEAL 6 - LUNCH

Veg, Veg, Veg.  I eat a lot of vegetables for lunch…and a lot of rice! I’m a creature of habit and most days eat exactly the same thing.  My favourite is 150grams of salmon, 2 cups of cooked brown rice and 3 cups of sautéed vegetables.  I cook my salmon in the oven for about 20minutes and whilst this is cooking sauté my vegetables.  I don't have time to buy and prepare fresh veg every day and so I find that the frozen veg works well.  I will always have 5 or 6 bags of frozen veg in the freezer so that I never have an excuse not to eat my vegetables.  I microwave them for a few minutes just to thaw them out and then cook them on the stove for about 10 minutes on medium heat with a little olive oil, some garlic and some more curry powder (I love the stuff.) I cook 126cups of rice each week and freeze them in 2 cup portions.  Cooking rice every day is a ball ache!

 A typical lunch or dinner.  The total food weight is around 1kg, made up of rice, vegetables and 150g of meat, in this case, oven baked salmon.

A typical lunch or dinner.  The total food weight is around 1kg, made up of rice, vegetables and 150g of meat, in this case, oven baked salmon.

For most, preparing lunch like this each day isn't viable, however, there’s no excuses.  Meal prep all your lunches over the weekend and pop them in the freezer. 

MEAL 7 - AFTERNOON TEA

Between lunch at noon and dinner at 6pm, I snack 3 times.  I like to spread my snacks out across the afternoon so that I'm never hungry but also so that I'm always feeding myself.  I will always eat a piece of fruit, a slice of home-made banana bread (or home made sourdough) with ricotta cheese and either a cup of yoghurt or 3 carrots and half a cup of hummus.  Like I mentioned above, I’m a creature of habit and so eating the same thing every day doesn't faze me. If I'm still hungry after all of this (generally I’m not hungry but rather bored and just wanting to eat) my go to is a cup of black coffee (decaf) and a few big glasses of water.

  Nothing tastes as good as fresh bread from your own oven.  In addition to the cost savings on outrageously priced, store bought sourdough, by making your own, you are able to eradicate all of the preservatives.

Nothing tastes as good as fresh bread from your own oven.  In addition to the cost savings on outrageously priced, store bought sourdough, by making your own, you are able to eradicate all of the preservatives.

MEAL 8 - DINNER

Veg, Veg, Veg.  Again, three cups of veg cooked on the stove top in a little olive oil with some form of Asian/Indian spice to give it some flavour.  200 grams of protein (after tough days on the bike it's always fish and never red meat) and another two cups of carbohydrate.  At dinner time, depending on the length of my session that day and the length of the session the following day, I will alternate between rice and potato.  If I'm looking for more calories I will eat rice and if I’m looking to fill up but consume less calories I'll eat potato.  Interestingly, gram for gram, potato contains a third of the calories of rice.  For those looking to shed some extra weight, I recommend eating potato in lieu of rice to cut out the calories. As a cyclist who is completing long days on the bike, calories aren't always the enemy, and I find that I will generally reach for the rice instead of the potato.  I keep the potato for rest weeks when I'm not burning as many calories. 

  Two cups of rice, two times per day.  I love rice as a source of fuel and nourishment. Somedays, following a super long ride, I will have two cups of rice with soy milk, honey and a scoop of R3 protein.  This combo ticks all of the boxes for post ride nutrition.

Two cups of rice, two times per day.  I love rice as a source of fuel and nourishment. Somedays, following a super long ride, I will have two cups of rice with soy milk, honey and a scoop of R3 protein.  This combo ticks all of the boxes for post ride nutrition.

  Frozen vegetables are a lifesaver.  They're cheap, easy to prepare and the nutrients are snap frozen as opposed to some of the 'fresh stuff,' which has often been transported and stored for upwards of a week.

Frozen vegetables are a lifesaver.  They're cheap, easy to prepare and the nutrients are snap frozen as opposed to some of the 'fresh stuff,' which has often been transported and stored for upwards of a week.

MEAL 9 - DESSERT

Yes, I eat dessert…but it's generally pretty healthy, Sorry!  A cup of pot set yoghurt with a tablespoon of LSA mix and two squares of 90% dark chocolate hit the spot.  If I've completed a big day on the bike, I'll also have a serve of R3 Protein in water just before bed to ensure enhanced muscle recovery overnight in preparation for the following day's session.

SUMMARY

So, there you have it, everything that I eat in a day.  It might appear like a lot but exercising for 6hrs a day causes the body to burn a lot of calories and so it's important to replenish what is lost.  Again, I must reiterate to you that this meal plan was put together by David Bryant of Catalyst Dietitian specifically for me.  David is an Ironman Triathlete and so understands the importance of fuelling for endurance sports.  I highly recommend booking an appointment with Dave so that he can assist you in building your own specific meal plan.

In closing, here are a couple of additional tips and tricks:

- Drink water and lots of it!  My post ride consumption of water is around 3L/day.  I find water is pretty bland by itself and so mix in some diet cordial to help me get it down in the quantities I need to restore my natural balance.

- Meal prep is king.  If you lead a busy life, then prepare your week’s lunches and dinners and pop them in the freezer.  This way there are no excuses for poor decisions.

- Carbohydrate is your friend, low carb diets are your enemy!

- Protein around exercise is KEY and can be looked upon as a legal performance enhancing supplement. R3 Protein is by far, the best I have used.

- Eat your vegetables, they not only fill you up but are made up of macro nutrients that will replenish the vitamins and minerals that your body needs, on a cellular level.

- If you want to eat out, I find Asian restaurants are the best.  The servings are not only large, but the breakdown of carbohydrate, protein and Veg is generally spot on.

Feel free to leave a question below.  Look upon me as your one stop resource for achieving your endurance/adventure cycling goals.

For those in Perth, jump across to David Bryant's website for details about how he can help you.  I highly recommend making an appointment to go and have a chat about your own, personal, dietary requirements.

http://www.catalystdietitian.com.au/home.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEUROPHYSICS THERAPY - TOTAL BODY ENHANCEMENT

24/02/2018

"The most advanced form of training and rehabilitation in the world..."

What if I told you you’d never have to stretch or foam roll again and you’d be injury free and nimbler than ever before?

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If someone had explained this concept to me just 18 months ago, I would have laughed.  If they’d then insisted that they were speaking the truth, I’d have whisked them away into a dark corner at gun point (I don’t actually own a gun…) and demanded that they hand over one of the ‘magic pills’ that they spoke of.

If you’re anything like me, then you hate stretching.  There’s nothing worse than coming home from a ride, spending the day at work, returning home for dinner and then realising that you need to stretch before you really feel as though you’re ready to jump into bed (guilt free…) Perhaps you’re not as obsessive about your stretching as I once was?

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An overuse injury in my early day’s as a cyclist had me feet up, unable to turn the pedals for close to six months.  I was diagnosed with the dreaded ‘ITB Syndrome,’ a common injury for cyclists in which the Iliotibial Band that run’s down the exterior of the quad, becomes so tight, that it results in the bursa (small, fluid filled sacks that lubricate the joint beneath) becoming inflamed and causing chronic pain.  I spent hours at the physio and hours researching exactly what was causing the grief I was experiencing.  Everything I read explained that I should be foam rolling the band itself, loosening the attachment points at either end and strengthening my glutes.  Eager to jump back on the bike as soon as possible, I turned into an ‘obsessive stretcher,’ stretching for upwards of two hours each and every day, in the hope that this would fast track my recovery.

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Upon slowly emerging from the injury, I soon realized that I had become dependant on stretching.  Any minor niggle (which was becoming more and more common) had me stretching and yet even though I was completing a monstrous amount of stretching each and every day, I still felt tight.  How could this be?

This routine lasted for four years.  Four long years of stretching 1-2 hours each and every day.  If I look back and calculate the time I spent stretching in the four years prior to my introduction to Neuro Physics Therapy, I’d have accumulated approximately 2,200 hours of ‘stretch’…the equivalent to three whole months of stretching 24/7. Ridiculous…

Late in 2016 I was introduced to Kam Wilkinson and Teneal Attard (T) from ‘Chaotic Energy’ in Highgate, Western Australia and this is when my stretching regime stopped abruptly.

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Kam & T are experts in the field of Neuro Physics Therapy (NPT.)  In a nutshell, NPT is a unique exercise-based program, which activates the nervous system in such a way that stimulates the body to re-organize itself and return to optimal function, through very light and controlled resistance training – Often within incredible timeframes.

Developed by Ken Ware over the past 30 years, NPT has been shown to consistently benefit clients through its ‘whole body approach,’ rather than isolating trouble spots that require ‘fixing.’  This unique form of therapy enables the body to facilitate all of the healing work required to return the body to peak physical and mental form, without the use of medicine, surgery or physical manipulation.

It’s a difficult phenomenon to describe and so what I’ve done, is put forward a series of questions to my therapist Kam, so that he can provide more clarity on the concept behind NPT and how it will benefit you. But first, I want to describe my experience and the outcomes that I’ve achieved through NPT in such a short space of time.

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As outlined earlier, prior to NPT I always felt tight.  No exceptions. I struggled to reach my toes bending forward, my quads felt as though they were heavy and solid and I always had some form of niggle, be it in my knees, hips, calves or back.  I felt like an old man and yet I was in my mid-twenties, ‘prime time’ as some would argue.

Another thing to note is that in order to feel comfortable on the bike I was required to adopt a ‘duck foot’ position where my heels were in and my toes were out.  My feet were so splayed on the pedals that my heels would rub on my cranks and rear stays with every pedal stroke.  To solve this problem, I purchased pedals with longer spindles but this just led to additional issues. The longer spindles had me feeling as though I was riding a horse.  My stance was so wide and I felt so awkward on the bike that some days I would jump aboard my steed and really question what enjoyment I was getting.  It became a mental battle to overcome how uncomfortable I was.

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The above is no doubt news to most, but this was a struggle that I put up with for years and to this day, I sometime question why and how I kept on riding.

Back to NPT…Initially, I completed an intensive four-day program under the guidance of Kam. At the completion of each day, I was not only physically wrecked, but mentally exhausted too, as my body was going through a series of exercises in which I was able to see what was occurring in my system and then set about changing them.  

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Exercises ranged from leg press to lat pull down and everything in between with a clear focus of symmetry and alignment.  A few key concepts that were mentioned included being centred, calming arousal down and keeping everything innocent.  All of the exercises were completed without weight and yet the levels of fatigue I experienced were like no other I had ever come across in the gym. All exercises are completed at a very slow pace which enables significant refinement to take place physically and emotionally, I really was experiencing how my body was riding my bike.

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To give you an idea of how quickly I noticed results, following the four days of therapy, I had to make drastic changes to the positioning of the cleats on my shoes so that my feet faced squarely forward and in addition to this, I felt improved clarity and had the ability to remain composed when riding at my absolute limits. It was at this point that I realised that Kam, T and the whole of the NPT following worldwide, were onto something...That everyone can fix themselves and learn to be in control through this therapy.

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So how do I go about completing my therapy when away in a remote location on one of my Adventures without access to a gym?  Simple…by completing just four ‘super slow’ squat repetitions at the completion of each day, I can now realign my body back to optimal function.  I complete this prior to bed and voila, the following morning I jump on the bike and feel like new again. It truly is incredible.

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It may appear as though I'm trying to sell you a concept that is too good to be true, but I can honestly say that NPT has changed me.  It’s not only changed me from a physical sense in that I am now more flexible than ever and able to bend forward and put my whole palm flat on the floor in front, but from a mental/emotional sense too.  I am far calmer than I ever have been.  If a problem arises, be it on the bike or in daily life, I can deal with it in a calm and collected manner.  In addition to this, despite the long kilometres I complete on the bike each and every day, I remain niggle free.  If you look to the other athletes that are now using NPT within Australia alone, it highlights how effective this form of therapy is, in allowing these athletes to reach their optimal performance levels in their chosen sport:

Mark Matthews – Professional Big Wave Surfer

Karla Gilbert - Ironman

Jana Pitman – Two time Wold Athletics Gold Medallist

Jonathon Brown – Ex -AFL Player

Reni Maitua – Ex -NRL Player

Nick Kenny – Ex -NRL Player

Simon Dywer – Ex- NRL Player

Pete Jacobs – Professional Triathlete

Matt Spooner – UFC Athlete/Coach

John Maclean – Professional Triathlete / Rower

If the above list and explanation aren’t enough to convince you that NPT is the way forward, then have a good read of my Q&A with Kam below and book into your nearest NPT clinic for a consultation.

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Additionally, if you are seeking the validity and creditability of NeuroPhysics Therapy, check out www.neurophysicstherapy.global and view the research tab.  If you’re anything like me, you won’t look back.  Life changing.

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Q. Can you provide me with a simplistic outline as to who NPT is for, and how it works?

A. NPT is for everyone that wants to improve physical and emotional wellbeing. Whether they want to increase sporting performance, better deal with stress, anxiety or general rehabilitation and also for people who have chronic pain/complex disorders.

NPT is about treating the person and not the condition or symptoms. By teaching you to be back in control of your system and equipping you with the necessary skills, you are actually able to fix the system.

NPT works by understanding what we are. We are living systems that perceive and respond to the environment around us. As a living system, we can only be in one of two states, a state of growth or a state of protection. A state of protection is where the stress builds up in our system (physical/emotional tension.) It’s the isolation of stress that creates disease and disorder. NPT enables clients to move into a state of growth, where the communication lines are open, allowing optimal flow of information and optimal nervous system function. As a result, we are able to control our emotions, our sleep patterns and our energy levels.

Using light weights and moving super slow, we are able to see how the client’s system is dealing with stress day-day, whether in their chosen sport, at home/work or in social environments. Your system will indicate to us exactly how it is behaving and interacting in these environments. In understanding the client’s physical and emotional responses to the environment (in the exercises) we can correct the imbalances in the client’s system and this enables reference points to be created which help you deal in the bigger, stronger, faster world!

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Q. What does a typical session look like?

A. Each client goes through an initial assessment in which we assess how their system is interacting day-day with their environments. They will then start on a Platinum 2 Day Program or complete the 4 Day NPT Intensive therapy.  Following these initial sessions, the client goes onto begin the NPT program. Each session is about continually enhancing and upgrading their system function, so they become better equipped at dealing with their environment.

Q. Does NPT have the ability to fix chronic disease?  Do you have examples?

A. Yes definitely, as mentioned above, NPT is about treating the person. Ken Ware the founder has helped thousands of people for over 30 years in remarkably short time frames. Please see these links for client testimonials:

https://www.neurophysicstherapy.global/research/

https://www.facebook.com/KamWilkinsonNeuroPhysics/

Q. How often will I need to complete NPT each week?

A. Ideally 3 sessions a week, this enables clients to significantly escape the patterns of behaviour that were contributing to their presenting concerns. By continuing the program, you are able to continually enhance and upgrade your system, better deal with stress whilst maintaining composure in all areas of life.

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Q. In my written piece above, I explained to readers that stretching and foam rolling are now an obsolete part of my daily training regime.  Can you explain why stretching and foam rolling are no longer relevant with the introduction of NPT into one’s regime?

A. When we stretch any part of our system, we are releasing energy and information from the system and losing physical and emotional integrity along with the events/experiences from that training session. Why would we want to lose that information?? The initial release or experience you feel from stretching is because you have lost the information from that session and your system. Your ligaments, tendons and muscles all store energy at different ratios so once you stretch them, they pull back even tighter. Picture stretching a rubber band or pinching a balloon, you are losing integrity from the system. Our systems are far more complex then these examples and as such, stretching has a far greater impact to our physical and emotional states. Everything in the system is affected.

Why do we stretch?? To acquire temporary relief. We need to address what is actually causing the pain and discomfort, rather than isolating the stress in the system to start with. The isolation of stress is what causes disease and disorder in the system.

This is where NPT comes in. By changing the perception and behaviours that are giving rise to the pain in your system, you are addressing the root cause. So rather than a quick fix you are actually solving the entire puzzle.

Q. We watched the video of you completing the super slow squats with 200kg and then go on to chest press 14 plates, calm, composed and with the ability to speak to the camera at the same time.  Incredible. Can you talk us through how this is possible?

A. It’s all about practicing with composure and starting exactly the same way that you start with the super slows. Getting everything physically and emotionally stable, being in control of your arousal, regardless of where the stress is coming from. This is the key benefit of doing NPT as the stress of the machines resemble stress from life. It’s not something to be fearful of and if it does make you feel that way, this perception needs to change as this is a reflection of how the system is interacting day-day. As you practice with varying levels of stress, gaining greater levels of physical and emotional composure, you become very robust to world noise. Obviously, this is something that has to be practiced and the ability to lift this type of weight and remain calm, collected and emotionally sound takes time. Think of a cycling great, Peter Sagan for example.  Sagan didn’t turn into a superstar overnight.  It takes hours and hours of training to perform optimally on the big stage.

If you are interested in learning more about the treatment itself or studying NeuroPhysics Therapy, please follow the link below or contact Kam.

https://www.neurophysicstherapy.global/careers-education/

The choice is yours, you now know all about the magic pill...but will you take it...?

 

 

 

 

WEEKEND ADVENTURE - COLLIE

31/01/2018

“CLEAN HIS CHAMOIS FROM THE INVOLUNTARY DEPOSITS LEFT AS A RESULT OF THE EMU SCARE...”

DAY ONE - 27th January 2018
121km / 1,331m Elevation

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What happens when you gather five avid adventurers, load all of their bikes onto the trailer, throw them in the back of your VW Multivan and set off for a weekend of exploration two hours South East of Perth?  You have a bloody good time…

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The destination for this month’s ‘Weekend Adventure’ was Collie and its picturesque surrounds.

A little different to last month’s Toodyay Adventure, this month the start point for Day 1 was 200km south of Perth in the seaside town of Bunbury. Having just picked up my custom 8 bike trailer, (which will be for hire throughout Perth shortly,) I was keen to put it to good use and so the Collie Adventure presented the perfect opportunity.

Departing from one of Perth’s Cycling Hot Spots ‘The Raffles Hotel…’, (For those who don’t know, The Raffles have a lycra ban…so no…we didn’t have coffee there!) we hit the road early Saturday morning.  A quick stop for coffee and cake at ‘The Crooked Carrot’ part way into the drive had us arriving in Bunbury soon after.

A quick transformation into Lycra and we were ready to hit the road.  Bunbury didn’t provide us with the warmest of welcomes…we had a number of ‘registration paying citizens’ advising us that we should also be ‘paying registration’ and should be riding in single file.  Here’s hoping they will one day learn the road rules.

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Before long and we were in the country, enjoying the spectacular South West as we rolled turns towards our lunch stop in Harvey.  Like any good ride, we filled up on Bakery tucker before tackling the infamous Harvey Dam Climb.  A long and steady climb winding in and amongst the trees and around the dam itself provided the perfect backdrop for the following hours of riding.

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The tarmac soon turned to gravel, and for the next 40km we found ourselves tapping along on incredibly quiet, but well-kept gravel roads.  Hat’s off to Frank, who was an absolute demon on the gravel.  Frank’s experience on the mountain bike had him descending like a man possessed!

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All was running smoothly until Zac punctured, and then punctured again and then just for good luck, punctured a third time!  Having followed the pack list closely, Zac was sorted and used three of his four tubes.  No one was game to say out aloud (in fear of jinxing one another) but I know for sure that I was thinking that puncture four could only have been minutes away. Fortunately, I was wrong.

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After a hot afternoon on the pedals and a decent stint of gravel, our talk of Powerade and Coke turned to talk of ice cold beers.  Luckily the Federal Hotel in Collie, (our accommodation for the night) did not disappoint and the first sip provided that welcome refreshment that the lads had been craving all afternoon.

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Beers turned into dinner but not without humour.  Paul, a great bloke, Indian Pacific Wheel Race Starter for 2018 and all round funny bastard, won the prize for the ‘most interesting footwear.’  A pair of gold and ‘salmon’ coloured loafers matched Paul’s outfit for the night fantastically.  Paul let on to me later in the night that these were the shoes he had worn to his wedding, so I’m certainly eager to see the wedding photos and the ‘matching suit,’ if such a beast exists.

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Ready for bed but still yearning for food, the boys decided a quick trip to McDonalds was in order.  John, aka ‘Terminator,’ was eager for a burger but admittedly had a violent case of ‘the guilt’s’ post meal.  It’s lucky that our second day of riding had more than its fair share of difficult elevation and so luckily for John, in this instance, he was safe ;)

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DAY TWO – 28th January 2018
95km / 908m Elevation

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We woke on Day 2 to beautiful blue skies and rumbling bellies.  Nothing a trip to the Bakery for a fresh pie and coffee can’t fix.

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A minor detour had us exploring the famous ‘Black Diamond Lake,’ an old Coal Mine that has since been filled with water and now acts as a tourist destination luring visitors from far and wide.  Upon arriving, the sapphire blue water highlighted just why.  With a limestone base, the water appears iridescent blue and juxtaposed against white limestone, creates the perfect backdrop for a weekend away relaxing at the lake.

With kilometres to ride and climbs to tackle, we had a quick look around the lake before setting off South in search of gravel and the infamous ‘River Road Climb.’

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15km out of town we were back on the orange gold (gravel.) The vegetation of Day Two differed greatly from Day One and we found ourselves deep within a pine plantation that reminded us of being deep within the Canadian wilderness.  The terrain was fantastic and the pine provided brilliant cover from the sun.

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Frank had a close call with an emu on one of the longer descents and then missed our next turnoff.  My guess is that he kept travelling up the road and away from the other lads so that he could clean his chamois from the involuntary deposits left as a result of the ‘Emu Scare!’

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The Wellington Dam Kiosk provided a great refuel point prior to our descent along the Wellington Dam river banks towards ‘River Road.’

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River Road is a prick of a climb even when the legs are feeling good.  After a few too many shandies the night before, I’m the first to put my hand up and say that I was struggling just a little. With the Nullabor km still in my legs, and not quite enough recovery, I was happy to let the boys dance off up the hills and drag my sorry ass to the top of the climb alone.

At the top of the River Road and with a tough 3km climb in the legs, we were all eager to descend into the Ferguson valley and back towards Bunbury for Lunch.

The final kilometres were some of the most spectacular as we wound our way through the multiple Ferguson Valley farm stays and back to the Collie foothills.  A final gravel sector had us arriving back in Bunbury in time for a hearty kebab and good post ride banter.

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The drive home was far quieter than the drive down with, all but two of the boys nodding off for a nap.  Funny man Paul, who I’ve decided to nickname ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ provided entertainment even whilst asleep. 

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As I dropped the boys home, on our way back through Perth, I recall thinking to myself how lucky I am to be able to take riders off on Adventures and call this work.

Life is good, and this weekend just highlighted what cycling is all about.  Good times with good mates, both new and old.

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DYNAMO HUB'S - EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

31/12/2017

“I CAN POWER MY GARMIN, CHARGE MY PHONE, CHARGE MY CAMERA AND RUN MY LIGHTS 24/7, ALL WITHOUT HAVING TO STOP...”

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BACKGROUND

Dynamo Lights…The culprit in one of the most common questions I get when it comes to my set-up on multi day trips.  How do I power my devices while on the run?  I can power my garmin, charge my phone, charge my camera and run my lights 24/7, all without having to stop. 

But how…?

The answer relates to my ‘golf ball’ sized hub, otherwise known as a ‘Dynamo.’  Dynamo hubs are clever pieces of equipment and incredibly simple devices to use.  For some reason, Dynamos are a source of confusion with those new to adventure cycling. 

Could the confusion stem from the name and the fact that people relate this with the magician ‘Dynamo’ and fancy magic tricks?  Possibly, but I think the main reason is that dynamos just aren’t widely used within the community and as such, bike shops aren’t required to know a whole lot about them.  In addition to this, it makes more sense for a bike shop to sell a customer an ‘off the shelf light’ and make a quick sale, then it does for them to try and sell a custom wheel.  It could also be the fact that ‘charge and go’ style lights now have a relatively impressive battery life and most would argue that a dynamo isn’t necessary. 

Outlined below, I’ve attempted to cover everything you need to know about Dynamo’s.  I’ve also provided my own tips and recommendation with respect to setup and equipment choices based on my own ‘real world’ experience.

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Essentially a dynamo hub, is a hub that is built into the front wheel of your bike, that generates electricity, enabling you to power your electronic devices.  The original dynamo hub’s were bottle shaped, attached to the fork and driven by the circulation of your tyre.  As the wheel rotated, the dynamo would rub against the tyre and generate friction which could then be utilised as electrical power.  These original dynamo’s were inefficient and caused early wear of the tyre.  In addition to this, they zapped watt’s from the rider, slipped against the tyre in wet conditions, created an audible humming noise and had to be carefully positioned in order to engage with the tyre at the right angle.

Fast forward to the present, and Dynamo hub’s are now almost as small as a standard hub.  They come in a range of colours, spoke configurations and axle standards in order to meet the demands of the most discerning cyclist.

 As you can see, there is very little difference in size between the DT 350 front hub (Left) and the SP Dynamo front hub (Right.)

As you can see, there is very little difference in size between the DT 350 front hub (Left) and the SP Dynamo front hub (Right.)

A common misconception that a lot of riders have, is that dynamo hub’s create an unwanted amount of resistance.  Truth be told, modern day dynamo’s cost approximately 2-3 watts from your pedal stroke and as such, the disadvantage is minimal.  So much so, that most ultra-riders won’t turn their lighting off during the day, as the benefit to safety far outweighs the penalty imposed as a result of the dynamo ‘drag.’ I’m guessing that the energy bar that’s stuffed away in your rear pocket and the sunglasses that are perched in the vents of your helmet are costing you more energy as a result of aerodynamic drag!

EQUIPMENT CHOICE

My Dynamo hub of choice and the hub that I’ve been using for close to two years now, without fault, is the Shutter Precision unit from sp-dynamo.com.  Not only are these units reliable, they come in a range of different spoke/hub standard configurations and importantly, retail at a fraction of the price of other Hub systems such as the ‘SON’ unit from Germany.

In addition to the hub itself, what else do you need?

I’m currently using a light/usb charging apparatus that I purchased through Kerry at klite.com.au. The K-lite equipment is all handmade in Australia and represents incredible quality and value for money. The reason I purchase all of my equipment through K-lite, is that it’s all compatible and amazingly simple to setup.

 Complete dynamo 'apparatus,' made up of the following equipment...Simple Bar Switch (Left.) Bikepacker Pro 1300 lumen standlite (Top Right.) Sinewave Revolution USB Charger (Bottom Right)

Complete dynamo 'apparatus,' made up of the following equipment...Simple Bar Switch (Left.) Bikepacker Pro 1300 lumen standlite (Top Right.) Sinewave Revolution USB Charger (Bottom Right)

My current setup includes the following:

-       Bikepacker Pro 1300 lumen Standlite - The light itself also includes a capacitor which acts as a small battery pack. The capacitor is a ‘must have’ in my opinion and is helpful for when you stop and light is required, traffic lights for instance.

-       Simple Bar Switch - Think of this as the wire that runs from the hub itself up towards your cockpit.  There are two connections on the ‘non-hub’ side that allow you to connect your ‘Bikepacker Pro Standlite’ and your ‘USB Charger.’

 The bar switch connects to the tab on the outer of the dynamo hub and runs up the inside of the fork to the handlebars.  I personally tape the wire to the fork to ensure it does not get tangled in the spokes.

The bar switch connects to the tab on the outer of the dynamo hub and runs up the inside of the fork to the handlebars.  I personally tape the wire to the fork to ensure it does not get tangled in the spokes.

-       Sinewave Revolution USB Charger - The USB charger connects into the second port of the Bar Switch and converts the energy generated from the dynamo, into a format that allows you to charge from a USB plug. Garmin, phone etc.

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Another piece of information that’s worth adding, is that the Dynamo hub will not generate enough electricity for you to run your light and charge a device at the same time. Generating light and charging your devices is a bit of a juggling act and with time, you will develop a regime whereby you will charge equipment during the day, and then run your light during the night.

 This image highlights the Simple Bar switch (Left) with the 1300 Lumen light (Top Right) and the Sinewave Revolution USB Charger (Bottom Right) connected.  The silver switch allows you to toggle between what system you are using, either the light or the USB device.

This image highlights the Simple Bar switch (Left) with the 1300 Lumen light (Top Right) and the Sinewave Revolution USB Charger (Bottom Right) connected.  The silver switch allows you to toggle between what system you are using, either the light or the USB device.

I personally don’t run my rear light through the Dynamo apparatus, however there are systems available that do have these capabilities.  My rear light of choice is the Exposure Blaze, which provides 80 lumens of flashing light, for 48 hours at a time.  I generally run my rear light 24/7. This is mainly for visibility whilst out on the road.  Once a day I will remove the light and charge it via the USB plug to ensure that I’ve got enough juice to see me safely through the night.

Note:  I am in no way endorsed by klite.com.au or sp-dynamo.com and so the above facts and figures represent factual information and knowledge that I have picked up over the years.

WHEEL CONSTRUCTION

The important thing when looking at building a dynamo wheel relates to the construction of the wheel itself and ensuring that other factors such as spoke count and rim choice are well considered.  I recently caught up with Adrian Emilsen from Melody Wheels in Perth, a Dynamo Wheel specialist, who provided the following insight with respect to wheel construction with a particular emphasis on dynamo hub’s:

"Building a dynamo wheel is no different to any other wheel in terms of how it’s built. The main difference is that dynamo wheels tend to be used in conditions where absolute performance is less of a concern than reliability. The key components of the dynamo wheel are as follows:

Dynamo Hubs

Shutter Precision (SP) and Schmidts Original Nabendynamo (SON) are two of the leading brands that we’ve used to build many dynamo wheels. There are subtle differences between SP and SON hubs in terms of the hub geometries and hubshell design, however both provide a solid platform for an excellent dynamo wheel. The expected bearing life of a hub is an important consideration although extremely context specific. SON, who use SKF bearings, have a 5 year warranty on their hubs with an expected on-the-road life of at least 50’000km. SP offer a 2 year warranty on their hubs and will replace hub bearings at no charge if there are any bearing wear issues within this time. It’s worth noting that neither SON nor SP dynamo hubs can be serviced by your local bike shop. Both hubs are required to be sent back to the factory (in Taiwan (SP) + Germany(SON)) for bearing replacement. So far we’ve had no reports of bearing failure from either manufacturer.

Rims

Its possible to reuse the rim on your existing front wheel and build a dynamo hub into it. However, if you are considering a whole new wheel you’d be best to speak with an experienced wheel builder to discuss what rim option will best suit your needs. In addition to a broad range of rim design and quality considerations, one of the most important considerations is rim weight. This is because rim weight is a strong proxy for the strength of a wheel and its ability to withstand a number of dynamic loads. Generally speaking we would not recommend a rim of less that 440g for a reliable dynamo wheel (in the 700c/29er rim size).

Spokes

Most dynamo hubs are designed with a higher-spoke count of 28 or more spokes.

The choice of spokes is again contextual, but we only use stainless steel spokes from leading spoke manufacturers (Sapim + DT Swiss). Double butted spokes have improved weight savings and fatigue life over straight gauge spokes. To keep the weight down, we find that the 1.65mm double butted Sapim D-Light is our most popular spoke for many dynamo wheels. In cases where the wheel is heavily loaded, the triple butted (2.2/1.8/2.0mm) Sapim Force is our preferred spoke.  Ultra-light bladed spokes (Sapim CX Ray or DT Swiss Aerolite) are also an option, however they can be more susceptible to damage if something impacts them directly. They are also less suited to roadside wheel repairs (requiring additional tools) to stop the spokes from twisting. For these reasons we recommend mostly round double butted and tripled butted spokes for dynamo wheels.

Nipples

We build most dynamo wheels with brass nipples because ultimate weight savings are not such a priority. Brass is a non-reactive alloy of Copper and Zinc that has a high resistance to corrosion for long-term durability and serviceability. Aluminium nipples are one-third the weight of brass nipples, however they can be affected by galvanic corrosion when they come into contact with other metals, electrically conductive materials such as carbon fibre rims, and more corrosive environments. Despite many negative opinions, we still recommend Alu nipples in a range of wheel builds. Quality aluminium nipples are forged from 7075 ‘aircraft grade’ aluminium for improved strength and hardness. The process of anodising the nipples (when done well) provides a good electrical insulator against galvanic corrosion."

 The 1300 lumen front light can be attached in a range of different locations.  I personally attach mine to either the handlebars or the aero bars depending on the duration of the adventure.  The attachment pieces are all included with the K-Lite system.

The 1300 lumen front light can be attached in a range of different locations.  I personally attach mine to either the handlebars or the aero bars depending on the duration of the adventure.  The attachment pieces are all included with the K-Lite system.

RECOMMENDATION

I trust that the above information has provided you with a clearer insight into how a dynamo hub works and the ancillary equipment that is needed in order to convert your wheel generated energy, into a source that can provide light and power.

When it comes to purchasing dynamo hub’s there are a number of things to consider:

-       What will you use it for?

-       What brand will you buy?

-       What environment will you use it?

-       What ancillary equipment will you need and will this equipment ‘plug and play’ directly with the hub that you’ve chosen?

-       Do I require both the front and rear light to be dynamo powered?

What makes purchasing a dynamo setup difficult is the range of equipment that is available and the compatibility unknowns between differing brands. I recommend contacting a sole supplier/distributor directly and talking with them about your specific requirements.  Kerry from k-lite is a fantastic resource when it comes to the ‘ancillary equipment’ and his knowledge of all things ‘dynamo’ is incredibly vast. For all ancillary equipment, contact Kerry.  With respect to the Wheel Build and the incorporation of the dynamo itself, Adrian from Melody Wheels is an expert in this field and should be your first port of call.

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Note: K-lite does not sell hub’s directly (for this you will need to visit sp-dynamo.com or another hub supplier), however when purchasing from the K-lite website, you are given the option of selecting which hub you will be using and this in turn enables Kerry to send you the specific equipment which in turn, allows you to ‘plug and play.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEEKEND ADVENTURE - TOODYAY

23/12/2017

“A HEALTHY MIX OF TARMAC AND GRAVEL, SWELTERING TEMPERATURES IN EXCESS OF 38'C AND FAST FLOWING DESCENTS...”

DAY ONE - 16th December 2017
158.9km / 1,554m Elevation

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Early on Saturday Morning, seven eager Adventurer’s met in the heart of the Perth CBD for the first of the ‘Jackcyclesfar Weekend Adventures.’  A quick shot of caffeine and a short briefing later, we hit the road, en route for Toodyay and a weekend full of exploration.

Day one, a tough day on the pedals, saw us cover 158.9km (just short of an Imperial Century.) A few of the riders (myself included) were spotted completing ‘bog laps,’ around town, in order to hit the magic 160km at day’s end.

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The famous ‘Bakers Hill Pie Shop’ played host to the Day One, lunch stop.  A top shelf bakery in the midst of the Perth hinterland that did not disappoint.  The riders left with bloated bellies having consumed excess calories required for the remote afternoon ahead.

A healthy mix of tarmac and gravel, sweltering temperatures in excess of 38’C and fast flowing descents through the Avon National Park, the riders experienced it all and reached Toodyay with smiles on their faces and in desperate need of an ice-cold recovery beer.

Note: One of the riders (I won’t mention names) opted for a shandy in lieu of a beer…this rider just may have been me…

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Upon arrival and prior to cold beverages and showers at our pit stop for the night, ‘The Freemasons Hotel,’ we made a quick stop at the local Toodyay IGA.  Food and drink choices ranged from fruit salad, to sushi, with a mix of everything in between.  A special mention must go to Brian Saunders who opted for ‘Almond Milk’ as a protein source.  Upon closer inspection of the packaging, we found that Almond Milk contained no protein.  Better luck next time Brian!

The afternoon rolled into the night and the riders spent the last few hours of sunlight with their feet up at the bar, watching the closing stages of the Cricket over well earnt refreshments.

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There were various dinner choices, however all but two riders opted for the Rump Steak with Chips and Salad.  The bar maid kindly asked how we’d like our steaks cooked…why, I will never know, as they all left the kitchen ‘well done.’  It reminded me of steak from a  ‘Sizzler Franchise,’ no matter what you ask for, you’re always presented with a ‘char grilled’ slab of meat.  That being said, the steak was delicious and certainly hit the spot. 

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Dinner was followed by dessert.  I’m personally not a big fan of desert, but when I’m on the road, I always make a concerted effort to consume the extra calories.  Toodyay was no exception.  The Apple Crumble was served with ice cream (or so the menu suggested…) When the plates came out ‘ice cream less’ Claire pointed out to the waiter that we required the extra calories (bravo Claire!)  A few minutes later we received our bowls of ice-cream.  Perfection.

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DAY TWO – 17th December 2018
110km / 854m Elevation

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We woke to rain and wild wind on Day 2.  We’d been watching the forecast the night before and were hopeful that the weatherman would be wrong.  Rain in WA in mid-December is almost unheard of!  The riders were well prepared and had wet weather gear stowed away in their bags. It rained on and off until we reached Chittering Valley and was a welcome change from the heat of Day One.

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At Chittering, we stopped in at a local Orchard for some freshly squeezed orange juice.  The orange juice hit the spot and was the perfect energy source just prior to our climb out of the valley and back down towards Bullsbrook and the foothills of Perth.  A strong ride by Jaimie Kirkwood and Tom Barrett had us flying along the Great Northern Highway towards Guildford and before we knew it, we were at the Guildford bakery enjoying lunch. 

The final push down the bike path was incredibly enjoyable as we reminisced on the weekend that had been.  We were gone for less than 48hrs but felt as though we’d been gone for a week.  Memories that will last a lifetime.

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A seriously fun weekend away with a great bunch of local riders.  The next of the Weekend Adventures is scheduled to take place in Collie, on the weekend of the 27th and 28th January 2018.  There are limited spots remaining so if you are yearning for adventure and a good weekend away with a bunch of like-minded individuals, then sign up now and secure your spot.

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HONARARY MENTIONS

Tom Barrett – Master photographer and all round strong man.

Jaimie Kirkwood – The gentleman of the road.

Peter Pang – Owner to one of the most chiselled sets of calf muscles within the Perth cycling scene.

Clark Brannin – Conqueror of the gravel.

Claire Tyrell – Gravel descent extraordinaire.

Brian Saunders – The puncture specialist and chief of kit coordination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE 30CM EXPERIMENT

12/12/2017

“THERE ARE TINY RIDERS AND THERE ARE ENORMOUS RIDERS AND YET ALMOST ALL RIDERS USE EQUIPMENT THAT VARIES BY JUST TINY INCREMENTS...”

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When it comes to the cycling industry, ‘conventional’ is a word that applies to almost everything that we do. 

The bikes we ride are all built to meet stringent standards and regulations.  Frame sizing is based on generic top tube/seat tube lengths. The cranks we ride, range in length by about 10mm and stem lengths vary by about 4cm. The list goes on.

Is it just me, or does this baffle you too? Human beings differ greatly in size. There are tiny riders and there are enormous riders and yet almost all riders use equipment that varies by just tiny increments. Why??

‘Conventional’ is a term best described as, ‘being based on, or in accordance with what is generally done or believed.’

A rider who is 6’6 is some 46cm taller than a rider who is 5’0 foot and yet they use cranks that are almost identical in size. It doesn’t add up.

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I spend long hours on the bike, day after day and I am obsessive about comfort and mechanical efficiencies. If you look to the pro peloton, riders will make drastic changes to their position to save just hundredths of a second over a four-hour stage.  Why then, do riders who are partaking in ultra-events that last upwards of three weeks, not look to make changes to their position that will also increase efficiencies?

We all have our favourite position on the bars. For some it’s the hoods, others the drops and for others it’s the flats.  There’s no right or wrong position.  I personally spend a lot of time in the drops and in the hoods, if I’m riding at a more relaxed pace.  What I started to notice when riding for long periods of time is that I was longing for a ‘narrower’ position on the bars.  A position that would allow my upper body weight (the portion that tilts forward and grasps the bars) to be channelled directly in front of me as opposed to ‘at angles’ to my body.

For the last four years, I have been riding handlebars that are either 42cm or 44cm in width (Centre to Centre C-C at the hoods).  The width has generally been dictated by the bars that came on the bike when new, and I’ve never thought to alter this.  42cm seems like a reasonably ‘conventional,’ middle of the line width bar, so why would I want anything different? 

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About 6 months ago I switched to 36cm bars, and immediately felt a sense of relief.  Relief, not because I was ever in pain, but because I never quite felt compact and secure.  The switch to 36cm bars was a lightbulb moment in my cycling career. My comfort on the bike increased, I could spend longer periods of time in the drops, in an aggressive position and my power also increased as I now adopted a more streamlined position on the bike.  I felt great.

It’s common knowledge to most, that I suffer from an obsessive personality.  The 36cm bars felt so good, that I began to fanaticise with the idea of even narrower bars…

Whilst up in Japan completing my North to South crossing in October this year, I became adamant that I would find 34cm bars in one of the local stores. The Japanese / Asian population is generally smaller in stature to European’s and so If I was going to find ‘narrow’ bars, this would be the place. I searched long and hard, but had no luck? The narrowest bar that I could find was 36cm. How could this be? At 6’2 and relatively broad across the chest I was already using the narrowest bar available, how was this possible? 

This started my search.  I spent hours researching online, looking for bars designed for children and small women, but I could find nothing.  I came across a children’s bike manufacturer in the UK who produced 34cm bars, but they would only sell them as part of a complete bike.  I certainly wasn’t going to spend 750 pounds on a children’s bike just so that I could test the 34cm alloy bars…

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I tracked down a set of cracked carbon bars online (42cm 3T Ergonova) and took them into John Ilett, a carbon specialist with a small workshop just South of Perth. We decided to experiment and chop out a 12cm length of the bar to create a 30cm wide handlebar (C-C at the hoods.)  In order to create enough structural integrity, John used a portion of the carbon that he had cut from the bar to create an internal ‘rib.’  You can see from the images where the rib is inserted and although this doesn’t match the original aesthetics of the UD Carbon, it is hidden below bar tape, away from the eye.

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I’ve been riding the 30cm bars for two weeks now and can confirm it’s been another ‘lightbulb moment.’  My connection with the bars feels so compact and so powerful, that I can’t fathom how I ever rode anything wider.  When I switch across to my second bike and the 36cm bars that provide the steering, I feel as though I’m riding bullhorns. Furthermore, when I swap across to a mates bike, typically with ‘conventional’ 42cm bar and allow them to ‘joy ride’ on my setup, I feel as though I’m operating a parachute! The wind captured by my chest proving to be an obvious disadvantage.

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Track riders have been using narrow bars for some time now, the likes of Chirs Hoy riding bars as narrow as 22cm in instances. Some will argue that the ‘closed off’ chest position has the ability to reduce  oxygen intake into the lungs and decrease performance.  I haven’t noticed any disadvantages to date.  One thing worth noting is that when I first started riding more challenging terrain (gravel/sand) on the narrow bars, it required more concentration. The bars are certainly a little more ‘fidgety.’  I’ve had to increase the length of my stem by 20mm to a 150mm stem so as to achieve the same reach, but aside from this, I am now fully adjusted to my new position and won't be making the change back.  

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What’s the story behind this little experiment?  Don’t settle for what is ‘conventional.’ Just because components such as handlebars, cranks and stems only come in ‘normal’ sizes, doesn’t necessarily mean that ‘normal’ is right for you.  Look outside of the box when it comes to your bike fit and perhaps you will stumble across a lightbulb moment too.

Note: The problem with my obsessive disorder and always having to optimise things is that I’m now toying with the idea of even narrower bars…who knows where this will end up!!