EyesUp Rolling #8 – in the TDC bubble

I come to you from inside what is known as the Tour De Cure “bubble”….  an intense multi-day experience which cannot fail to have an impact on the way you see life and especially other human beings.

For starters, the logistics are nothing short of astonishing – more than 140 riders, numerous support crew, 2 overnight stops, food, laundry, bike storage – and that’s before you’ve got everyone from A to B via a route of over 100kms per day.  Someone has thought of everything, all we have to do is follow the schedule.

Then there’s the riding – there will not be a person on this ride, however experienced, who won’t be challenged at some point by hills, descents, rain, wind, debris on the road, mechanical issues…. I’ve dug deeper in 2 days than I have for a very long time, physically and mentally.   I expected this to be hard work but there are so many things you can’t control, such as a flat tyre or a closed road, that can throw you off course and invite you to quit.

So what has kept us going?  And why have so many people given up their time to not only train and ride but to act as support crew pouring drinks, moving bags, navigating the peloton cars.  Everyone has a story behind why they are participating, and while we are in the bubble, these stories start to come out and make sense.  Add in the stories from local cancer charities we are donating to, such as last night’s speech from the founder of Quest for Life Petrea King, and not only are we frequently reaching for the tissues but really understanding that what we are doing is making a difference.

Today we made our first school visit, to deliver the Tour de Cure “Be Fit Be Healthy Be Happy” message – and we learnt about Flipman and his nemesis Pitman – I won’t steal their thunder here but it’s worth looking them up on the Tour De Cure School Program page.  I remember many years ago how great it was when a special event happened at school – you got to miss classes and enjoy a break in the routine – it was really special to see the excitement on the kids faces, to hear them understanding the messages that a healthy lifestyle and looking after each other can make a difference in preventing many cancers.  And great to see how they embraces us as riders and we’re full of interesting questions… I was quizzed at length about my shoes and the pockets in the back of my cycling top!!

Looking forward to tonight’s dinner and our final day tomorrow which will both be filled with emotion, I have two things I will take away with me in addition to knowing we have raised funds and awareness to help prevent and cure cancer.

Firstly, I have reminded myself that I am capable of so much more than I think.  The night before the ride I received an inspiring message from my parents re-telling the story of when I first learnt to ride a bike when I was around 4 years old.  I actually still remember setting off without the training wheels along the pavement and chanting out loudly “I WILL DO IT”.  I have been riding a road bike for 12 weeks and tomorrow I will complete 300kms in 3 days riding in esteemed Tour De Cure company, raising over $12,000.  I must continue to set myself goals and test my ability to be the best I can.

Secondly, I have been reminded over and over again how amazing human beings can be.  If you open a newspaper or turn on the TV it’s easy to forget this.  We have formed a Tour 200 team with a cross section of both Westpac and sponsor employees of all levels, but when the peloton rolls out everyone is there for each other.  We know we’ve formed both useful relationships and deep bonds, but as we leave the TDC bubble I will take away the mantra that generosity of spirit is the most important trait I can tap into at both work and home.

If you’ve read a few additions of EyesUp Rolling you’ll know I’ve mentioned several of the people I have been training and riding for.  They have all sat on my shoulder when things got tough in the past two days, and I know they’ll be there tomorrow too.  I have heard their voices and seen their faces, and continued to draw the inspiration to take just one more pedal stroke.

I’ll be keeping my EyesUp in the mighty Peloton 3 for one more day – the Westpac Tour 200 will come to an end tomorrow.  But the Tour De Cure bubble won’t be bursting, it will continue to growand float higher.

#tour200 @tourdecureaus @specialized_bikes @jetcyclessydney

 

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EyesUp Rolling #7 – who ate all the pies?

Food.  It’s constantly on the mind of anyone who is cycling a lot.  One of the unexpected positive side effects of riding 200kms per week has been that you can basically eat and drink what you like, providing you get into bed before 10pm most nights.

So you’d think I would have been prepared last night when, following our pre-Tour 200 get together, we headed off for a well earned beverage and some finger food – sadly I stopped to chat by the door for less than 10 minutes and in that time, as if by magic, the pies and pizza slices had all disappeared behind a horde of hungry cyclists.  I was forced to compensate with a couple (ish) glasses of the finest Pinot Grigio.  Fortunately, there was a suitably large plate of curry waiting for me when I got home.

It is impossible to understate the importance of food to me during the past 12 weeks of training.  When combining early morning rides with a busy day of meetings, one slice of toast too few could result in an inability to operate basic Microsoft Office applications.  On long weekend rides which have run over time I came up with the genius method of texting ahead to my husband to prepare a plate of bacon and scrambled eggs.  These can be gobbled down as soon as I walk through the door.  Trying this with the teenagers in the house was a disaster though….they never got the messages despite still languishing in bed when I returned ravenous  – turned out their attention was on maintaining 10+ snapchat streaks rather than on feeding me.  Thank goodness for the large pile of emergency Bounce protein balls in the cupboard.

I’m eternally grateful this year that hot cross buns made their usual unseasonal appearance in January.  I tend to hold off from eating these until Easter week, but I reckon I’ve been averaging a packet or so a week on my own. Working out exactly what works best as fuel before, during and after riding has been what we call in technology a “test and learn” process.  As a result I’ve learnt to restrict my intake of Thai takeaway the night before a ride, but landed firmly in favour of scrambled eggs before or afterwards.  Test results on hot cross buns are mixed.  And of course a cold Corona definitely has nutritional value after a long, hot slog around Akuna Bay.  Even if it is still 11am…

So the actual 3 days of the Tour 200 is upon us.  Looking back at EyesUp Rolling #1 I am happy to report that I have reached a level where I feel I can call myself a road cyclist, based on the following criteria:

  •  My Tour 200 gear is COVERED in sponsor logos;
  • I now own more than 5 pairs of various coloured cycling socks, and 4 sets of very comfortable cycling knicks ;
  • The pony tail ready helmet still rocks my world but not as much as chamois cream;
  • I am on first name terms with most of the staff at Jet Cycles and I have even purchased a refill for my chain cleaner;
  • I finally cracked it and got a Garmin, complete with cadence sensor.

There are 2 choices post Tour – stop eating or keep cycling.  Hopefully I can find a balance somewhere between the two……

Massive shout out to everyone for reading my blog and giving feedback.  Bigger shout out to all those who have sponsored me, to my gorgeous family for supporting me, and to my 2 dogs for putting up with a lot less walks.

EyesUp will be on air wherever possible relaying how the Tour 200 experience unfolds…. can’t wait!