EyesUp still rolling – WHY?

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EyesUp has had a year away from blog posts – not unusual even in the brief history of this site.  Writing is sometimes a mental release and sometimes torturous as some of you will know…  one year on from my first multi-day cycling experience, an update is definitely overdue.

I am still cycling –  I’ve covered over 7,200 kms on my road bike plus a few hundred on the mountain bike added to my garage collection last year.  I completed not only 121km event in Lorne, Victoria last September but also the L’Etape Australia ride in early December, including one of craziest hill climbs known to mankind in the pouring rain.  I’ve upgraded shoes, tyres, bike computers, sunglasses and even had coaching sessions – and in a particular moment of madness participated in the Rapha #festive500 Challenge – a mere 500kms of riding between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.  Getting up before 5am has become part of my life on a regular basis… along with protein shakes, sports massages and gel bloks.

WHY?

In February 2018 I spent a total of almost 30 hours on my bike – the equivalent of 4 working days.  All those hours out on the bike provide a lot of time for reflection.  I started cycling with a goal of completing a particular event, but it has stayed in my life – a life which was, prior to that, already packed with work, family, friends and other fulfilling activities I enjoyed.   I have narrowed my “why” down to 4 things:

My competitive nature – I love difficult challenges and proving myself.  Cycling provides constant comparisons, statistics and new goals – you can always get faster and stronger – there is always another goal or event around the corner.  Since ceasing competitive sports a few years ago this has been missing from my life – now I can compete simply with my previous time or even with virtual humans on Zwift!

Gear and technology – you can NEVER have enough new gadgets or gear for your bike – and there are endless people to discuss this with!  Research abounds, new developments occur, bike shops are like a trip to the candy store, and a Wiggle delivery is like Christmas.  I am a born shopper and I love new tech – this sit right in the sweet spot for me.

People – cycling is incredibly social.  I love the solitude of a long ride on my own own some days – escaping from work or family madness.  But cycling in a group thrown together by a common cause creates relationships that would not otherwise happen – and provides diversity and colour in my life that is a constant source of joy.  When you stretch yourself physically, often it is the encouragement of others that gets you through, and this creates a shared bond – this is part of the power in the peloton.

The cause – without doubt the secret sauce – riding for a cause – taps into the other three “whys” and binds them together.  I started riding because there was an underlying reason – to raise funds for cancer research, awareness and prevention measures.  The amazing Tour De Cure team coached me, encouraged me and inspired me to ride hard and raise funds for their program which has so far resulted in 22 significant cancer breakthroughs, and taken the prevention message of Be Fit, Be Healthy, Be Happy to schools across the country.

In case you hadn’t already guessed, this is why I am still training hard – a 3 day stage ride in the 2018 Tour De Cure Signature Tour in May – 400kms from Tinaroo to Port Douglas via Cape Tribulation.  I’m currently covering 250-300kms a week – alongside work and family life this is tough, but not as tough as fighting cancer – we all know someone who has been impacted by cancer in the past 12 months – each of these stories adds a grain of determination to every 415am alarm call and each rolling hill.

Tomorrow I’m setting out on my longest ever ride of 160kms.  I am terrified, but I have some great support and a new pair of gloves to spur me on.

Please help me through the next 7 weeks of training by making a contribution to my fundraising goal of $8,000 via my profile page on the Tour De Cure website.

Now I’m off to get my bike ready for tomorrow… let’s hope I can keep my EyesUp the whole way…..

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EyesUp Rolling #2 – a pinch is not a hill, even though it feels like one

When you travel around Sydney on a bicycle, you suddenly start to realise that very few roads are actually flat at all.  However light your fancy road bike, suddenly every rise and fall in the route is amplified.  Travelling up hill remains my biggest challenge both physically and mentally.

Over a few weeks of training I’ve gained some confidence in my ability to make it, however slowly, to the top of most hills – clip in shoes are a definite help here despite being a serious barrier to my previous hill climbing strategy of just getting off and walking.

On my first proper group ride I was consistently confused by the call of “pinch coming up”, followed by a rise in the terrain and the associated dropping down through the gears and shortening of breath.  I relaxed a little when no one behind me actually used an old fashioned finger pinch to encourage me up the hill faster, but given I couldn’t speak after the climb I kept forgetting to ask for an explanation.  On reviewing my Strava feed later, I could see numerous sections labelled as “Pinch” – I was intrigued. (For those not familiar with Strava, it’s social media for cyclists, perhaps a subject of a future blog!).

I eventually summoned up the courage to ask a riding buddy what a pinch was.  The explanation was simple – it’s the psychological trick cyclists use of not referring to a hill as such unless it is truly worthy of the label.  A Pinch is something you must simply power up and absolutely not complain about.

Armed with this knowledge and approach, I recently completed my first ride of over 100kms.  As I reflected on this achievement, I took some time to ponder some of the reasons I’ve undertaken this Westpac Tour 200 challenge.  Starting with the funerals I wish I had never been to.

The mother of my son’s friend at childcare who lost her battle with breast cancer in her 30s. The father of a family with boys the same ages as mine who died from melanoma in his early 40s.  The amazing woman who would have been my sister-in-law now if she hadn’t been taken at the age of 39 by ovarian cancer.  The friend who undertook radical surgery and treatment to survive many years longer than predicted to just see his son reach 17 years old.

When I think of these people I find both inspiration in their approach to their situations and frustration that an answer could not be found – I want to feel that I can do something, however small, to prevent this happening to someone else.

 

 

The work of Tour De Cure and similar organisations is vital in funding initiatives and research to support cancer patients, their loved ones and work towards better treatments and research, as well as raising awareness in the community of how getting fit and staying healthy can help prevent many cancers.  I have an opportunity to make a difference, simply by putting some time aside to train, enduring some physical pain and fundraising through my network of friends, family and business contacts.

Those fighting cancer have hills and mountains to climb step by step every day.  I have a small, insignificant pinch of 300kms to power up which can make a difference.

I’m looking for 100 people with $100 each to support me as I ride – thank you to those who’ve helped me get 20% of the way there with 7 weeks to go!  I’m sure there are at least 80 more of you out there, so please donate what you can to my fundraising page here and follow this blog to track my progress.

Ride safe everyone and keep those EyesUp!

 

Eyes Up #13 – #MakeItHappen – Hell Yeah!

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As I contemplated the messages from this year’s International Women’s Day, I realised the reason I haven’t been blogging for a few weeks is because of the sheer amount of interesting events I’ve been attending and the interesting people I’ve been meeting and hearing from.  IWD has become a high profile event in the calendar and a fantastic catalyst to examine how we are both recognising the contribution of women in our society and taking personal accountability for championing change.  This theme was highlighted in my last post, and my recent observations have reinforced my belief that we can all Make Things Happen for ourselves.

A year ago my commitment on IWD 2014 was to ensure I started meaningful conversations on how the way we interact is subject to our own conscious and unconscious biases – most of which are a product of our cultural background and upbringing.  Now I used to consider this type of statement as strictly belonging to the school of political correctness and hence having no real meaning in my life – but one incident a few months back made me reconsider.

A work colleague came into the office with her two young children, a girl just starting school, and a pre-school boy.  As a mother of boys, I naturally was captivated by the mini-man figure with all his bravado and apparent technical prowess with my own work computer.  But when the 6 year old girl had finished drawing a beautiful picture on my desk, I was quick to say how great it was.  She then said something that surprised me – “this picture is for you to take home and show your husband”.  Now that was a lovely thought – but the fact is, at the age of 6, she had no idea of my marital status or even my sexual orientation – she simply assumed, from her own stable nuclear family background, that any woman of my age would have a husband waiting at home, just for the purpose of congratulating me on my day.

Don’t get me wrong – I have no wish to question this lovely image in her mind.  But to me, IWD is about the possibilities for all women to be empowered to live the lives they chose at the time they chose in the way they chose – and to be able to fully realise their potential without the hinderance of bias and discrimination.  All of us grow up with our own experiences colouring our view of what we are and what we are capable of –  which brings me to the “Hell Yeah” moment.

Last month I was fortunate enough to attend a function in aid of 7 times World Surfing Champion Layne Beachley’s Aim for the Stars foundation.  Layne was on a panel of illustrious Australian female sporting stars that evening, and she was asked the question of how she choses between the many options she is now presented with of where to spend her valuable time.  I really loved her response, which was that if unless her natural reaction to a request is “Hell Yeah” she really thinks carefully before accepting.

I’ve taken the “Hell Yeah” as a call to action for how I want to progress in my own life and the example I want to give for my children.  If something feels right and I think I have the potential to do it, I will take a chance even though I don’t have the expertise.  If I can help someone else with a difficult time through sharing my own experiences, I will put myself out there and tell my story.  If I can show my children I can exhibit of tolerance and acceptance, I will try my hardest to demonstrate those traits.  I will not live my life wishing I had been something more, I will be something more.  I have a personal responsibility to show the next generation what it means to be the best you can be, however that looks.

It may be one day at a time, but I will not die wondering.  I WILL #makeithappen.

Hell Yeah.