Thursday, 14 May 2015

What's that coming over the hill, is it a monster?

Link to the song.
Sorry I haven't written a blog for a while, but I've been sadly busy with my journalism work with
Independent Australia.
I say sadly not because I don't enjoy working there, but because my area is (mostly) energy and mining, and writing about this these days under the criminally lunatic and corrupt Abbott government is a very disheartening task.
Add to that the criminally insane and corrupt Baird government in NSW, and the sadly disappointing Palaszczuk government in Queensland, and you've got a recipe for stress.
Since I already have clinically diagnosed depression and anxiety disorder, I, and I'm sure the rest of you, hardly need the criminally lunatic governments of the land adding to our stress load.
However, as I contemplated the latest bloody lunacies of the Abbott lot, I was reminded of why I started the blog in the first place, which was to complain.
And since I haven't been doing it for a while, a few months worth of moaning has been backing up my system.
So, as usual, I will try to keep the complaining about the governments of the land to a barely controlled, volcanic minimum, and get back to writing the blog.
The title of the post comes from a song from a band called, as far as I can surmise, The Automatic, and there's a link to their clip on the Tube of You, as we old fogies call the fangled interweb and all that resides upon it.
I first encountered this song while watching the Tour De France, one of my great loves these days. SBS, whose coverage of this race is simply superb, would put apt songs over bits of significant race footage.
This song was played over a section of racing where a breakaway group had gone off the front of the pack early in the race, and had held out all day, but as the finish of the stage began to loom on the horizon the teams in the chasing pack got serious, stepped up the pace and began to eat up the intervening distance between themselves and the frantically racing breakaway.
When the pack came into site of the leaders it was on a long straight that began with a small hill, and the camera angle panned back from the leaders to show the top of the hill with the now menacing 100 strong rider pack bearing down on them.
It was a great piece of footage, and as ever these days, I knew instantly that I liked the song.
So what brought this to my mind was yesterday when I was out riding and I tripped the speed sign near the golf course, halfway along the flat sprint section that I use when coming home.
I was mightily impressed with myself as it meant that I had broken the town speed limit of 50kph (30mph).
The way the sign works is if you come past there in your car and you are doing more than fifty, then first the sign lights up recording your speed (mine was 53) then it says "Slow Down", then it changes to "check your speed".
I really wanted a photo of myself doing 53, so  had incontrovertible evidence, but by the time I got my camera organised, I only managed to snap the 'check your speed' bit (as you can see).
And before you all say it, no there were no cars immediately out of shot tripping the sign, which I am now claiming.
It was all me.
And quite frankly, I think I did pretty damn well to get the shot I did while humming through at 53kph and steering with one hand.
Of course I was clearly breaking the law by using my camera while handling a vehicle that was at the same time breaking the speed limit, so please don't share this post with anyone you know who is a copper.
Now 53 on the flat is pretty good for a weekend cyclist like myself, but just to give you some stats on real bike riders to put it into context.
The professionals in the Tour De France (TDF) for example, regularly average 40kph for four to six hours while traversing a stage of he race.
Please note that is the average.
My average speed for that time trial run is 30kph, with, as described above a max of 53.
The fastest ever recorded on a bike in the TDF was 110kph, downhill by Tor Hushovd. he was clearly in a hurry, but that gives you some idea.
On flat sprinting stages, those guys regularly do 80 kph when in need, and even on the final stage of the Tour, in Paris, up and down the Champs Elysees, they do 50k uphill and 60-70 down.
However, clearly I'm not them, but even so I felt 53k on the flat was pretty good for me.
I might add, there was an almighty tail wind that day as I came rattling home from Suffolk Park, and my huge wobbling posterior, acted as a near spinnaker to catch the wind and funnel me at speed through the section.
That day I did the hill ride which takes me up through the green hills to the south of Byron Bay. So beautiful up there, and the roads are barely fit for two laden donkeys to traverse at pace, but for the same reason there are few cars, and so things are relaxed up there.
At one point you can see the ocean in two directions, and all around is green, I tend to do a circuit, heading up Hayters Hill to the top, down through Cooper's Shoot, then along Midgen Flat Road, before rejoining the coast road for the run back in to Suffolk Park, then home into town.
Sometimes I go the other way, but that depends on the wind.
This day the wind was howling out of the south and so I knew that it was time for the return leg with the wind, and hopefully a new record time for me, which I achieved by a few tens of metres.

All of this cycling talk (sort of) brings me to a more general topic, which was brought on by having finally, and totally, there is no going back, retired from competitive soccer.
I'm fifty this year, and that was a part of it, but in the end I realised I just couldn't be bothered with all that immaturity any more.
I mention that as a sort of general topic, because, I suspect, those of you who do read the unexpurgated, unabridged and unadulterated rubbish that I chose to inflict on a long suffering reading public, are of similar middle age.
And the general bit seems to be that once you enter middle age, your life is all about what's the latest thing you've had to give up.
Now those of you who regularly read this rubbish on my part, will have already been saying, "Hmmm, this is unusual, Lock has brought us a good thirty paragraphs without mentioning The Simpsons." Well panic over, here is today's Simpsons reference.
in the episode where Granpa Simpson takes up with stone cold Hoochie, (Marge Simpson' words, not mine), Zelda, played by Olympia Dukakis, it turns out she is only consorting with him because he can drive a car.
Which he does, by borrowing Homer's.
However for various plot-related reasons he falls afoul of a group of Hispanic senior citizens gang members, Los Jaquitos.
Whose motto is that they refuse to go out and be seen by anyone who doesn't know what themed restaurant they have eaten at.
Anyway, the argument starts at the Quiki Mart, and one of the Jaquitos says with menace to Granpa Simpson, "I will cut you, as I have cut sodium out of my diet".
And thus back to the rest of us in middle age, whose life is all about giving things up.
I, for any new readers, of course spent twenty years as a drug and alcohol addicted idiot, and the biggest thing I had to give up was of course alcohol and drugs - marijuana mainly.
Many of you will have faced other things to give up, my super fit friend Michael faces sugar as a challenge, probably one well familiar to many of you.
Fatty foods is another common one, smoking of course, though that message finally seems to be getting through, and smokers in middle age are rare these days.
Hopefully rare in the young as well, but as you will all recall, when you are young, you are bullet proof and don't care about things as health in the silly old future.
For me, one of the things that went badly wrong for me was when I quit drinking I thought in my callow ignorance, that I could now eat whatever the damn hell I liked.
Oh no, no, no, Lachlan.
Indeed one of the progenitors of my quitting drinking was that I caught sight of myself in the refection of a car window as I walked down to Wategoes Beach to surf one afternoon.
A wetsuit is very revealing, you can't hide inside one of them, and as I glanced at the reflection, my first honest thought was that there was another middle-aged man walking behind me down to the beach.
"That can't be me, can it?", I said internally, for the man in the window's reflection had an appalling beer gut leaping out of the straining-to-contain wetsuit.
I stopped and looked closer at the picture in the mirror, but no, it was me, and for the first time in a generally active life, I was overweight.
Even when I was a full blown alcoholic I had not been that overweight.
Partly because I was a smoker as well, and nicotine is an appetite suppressant, plus, I guess this is an upside to alcoholism, well not really, but anyway the point was due to my twenty standard drinks a day alcohol habit, I was perennially out of money, and so I would often forgo food at the supermarket to make sure I had enough money for a four litre cask of wine.
If I got hungry I would at least be drunk and not worry about my rumbling stomach seems to sum it up.
Anyway that sight of my overhanging gut led me to start watching my weight, and I became more focussed at the gym on cardio work, and though still drinking I did at least bring my gut down a few belt holes.
Which was why when I quit drinking, two and a half years ago now, I then thought (it seems, though I have no conscious recollection of making this decision) 'well if I can't drink I am at least gonna enjoy my food.'
And so I did.
A 'healthy' meal for me in that period was an entire loaf of bread dipped in olive oil with some lettuce and salad sparsely sprinkled.
'I'm doing the right thing,' I thought.
OH, no, no, no, Lachlan.
Some time after I quit drinking I got on the scales at the gym and discovered to my horror that since I quit drinking I had put ON weight.
Soaring back up to 95kg (200 pounds).
So now I was faced with one of those appalling realisations that come to those of us in middle age, with the metabolism slowing down, that I had to not only not drink, but go an a damn diet as well!
Remember when you were twenty you could drink a vat and eat multiple banquets and still not have excess fat?
So those days are gone, and we coast through middle age giving everything in sight up, and trying to find things to enjoy that aren't bad for us.
And I'll close with this pic, please excuse the vanity if so that's what it is, but after two and a half years of dieting, forgoing pizza, chocolate and beer: after many kilometres ridden up Hayters Hill and out to Ewingsdale at speed, and all that pounding on the running treadmill at the gym, my abdominal muscles are once more visible.
There is still plenty of pork to go around, as you can see, but in the end I finally had something to show for all my abstinence, and so I thought I would damn well show you.
What's more, most looking at that pic will probably end up losing weight themselves, as it's enough to put anyone off their food, and you may never eat again.