Monday, December 31, 2007

Mistaken Identity

I don't know how but there were some readers (according to my Dad) that thought the picture in my previous post was of me. Now maybe if my Dad was Prince Charles I might have ears like that that but alas that's not the case - it was in fact a Belgian fellow, Jan Boyen, who is also a pro cyclist (despite being a below the knee amputee). See my previous post for details.

It would also have meant that I was riding again which is not yet the case. Despite the desire, I'm not quite in a position to ride just yet.

However, now that I am on my feet again (so to speak) I am now desirous of doing some form of aerobic exercise as I am starting to become quite the lard arse, at something like 20kg over my race weight. Yikes!

So, on Christmas Day between happily tucking into the oysters, prawns and lobster for lunch and ham, roast pork and turkey for dinner, I discovered my brother had one of those recumbant indoor cycling trainers. Like this one.

So I thought it would be perfect to see if I could pedal. Alas the range of motion allowed by Schooner (my leg) and my knee was insufficient to enable me to pedal. We are not amused.

So what does one do?

Well one checks out alternatives and I have two up my sleeve. Firstly I need to be able to move major muscle groups (i.e. my legs and bum mostly) in a frequent motion with enough resistance and over enough time in order to make sufficient blood pump round my system to start the process of improving my aerobic fitness (i.e. commence the cardiovascular and metabolic improvements I'll need). My slowish and limited walking simply ain't gunna cut it. For the able bodied this usually means running/jogging/brisk walking or swimming or cycling and variants of each using indoor training equipment.

I can't yet do any of these (swimming is out due to small open wound on the leg / risk of infection).

So my alternatives are:
1. find other exercise options I can do; and/or
2. find mechanical measures which would enable me to pedal a bike.

So on front #1 I visited a local gym (Balmain Fitness) today to investigate the options. Looks like a good place to go, the guy I met there said he has one other client in a similar situation and he showed me and allowed me to try a few machines which might do the trick. One was a stepper, which I guess most would be familar with and another was an elliptical trainer similar to that shown at left. As I understand it, the girl doesn't come with the trainer.

What interested me with this option was the motion was similar to pedalling but without the same range of knee joint angle required. Kind of like walking with your feet going in circles. I tried a few rotations and it's just within my current range of motion capability, so I reckon that's the go. Then maybe mix in a fast circuit of weight training and hopefully that will get me back on the long road to competing again.

Option #2 is to create a shorter than normal left pedal crank for the bike, which would enable that leg to make a full revolution on a bike until I am both ready and have the prosthetic capable of enabling me to revert to a full length crank. So my good buddy and track racing super star PeterB (he gets the "B" as I know quite a few Peters) happened to phone me today and he is going to set about getting a 100mm left crank made up (my normal road crank is 175mm and track crank 170mm).

Fortunately it isn't that hard a job for a reasonably skilled machinist as the left crank is the easiest to do (the right crank is a bit more complicated as that side has the spider and chainrings attached). My bikes use Campag square taper cranks, so an old BMX crank will probably do the trick. Add an old style pedal and cage, put the bike on a trainer and as long as I can get on the thing I should be away!

OK, so I have a couple of options to test out over the next couple of weeks so I'll be sure to report back on the success or otherwise.

That's the calorie expenditure side of the equation sorted (well a plan at least). I also have to add to that the more disciplined approach to calorie consumption. I'll just go back to doing what I used to before, which was pretty successful. Since emerging from hospital I have simply eaten too much but I suppose I can't be blamed for having such a lapse for a while.

So Happy New Year to everyone. Let's hope 2008 is a beauty!

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Friday, December 21, 2007


Have a look at this guy, Jan Boyen:

Photo from November 2007 edition of ProCycling magazine. How cool is that leg? Thank insert God or other higher being of your choice for carbon fibre technology.

I want one! It'd go real nice with my carbon Teschner Track Pro.....

Jan is a Belgian pro rider with team Jartazi Promo Fashion - yep a Pro! Nice one.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Anyone for Golf?

Crickey, it's been a couple of weeks since I posted!

Well I have been a busy boy you know. Let's see, I've been hanging around the cycle training forums a bit lately and have a few items of interest flowing out of that which I might post about later.

Also dishing out the pre-Christmas pain to my coaching clients (which is always fun). Hey - if they wanna eat lashings of turkey, roast vegies, pork, crackling and apple sauce not to mention pudding with brandy sauce, then they gotta earn it, right? ;) They do get Christmas day off though, well most of 'em do. A couple want to ride that day anyway.

Renovations at my home took another step along to completion, with painting finished in the lounge room and kitchen. Looks great! Air-con also installed which while not such an environmentally terrific thing, let's face it, it gets pretty hot and muggy here at times and those nights are going to be ever so much more comfortable now.

Yesterday I hooked up the video/audio equipment which has been disconnected for months and put them back in the corner where they belong. The digital radio has been playing all day. I like the ABC's DIG digital radio station, which you can listen to on the net at

Great music 24-hours a day, no interruptions, ads or announcers. Fabulous!

Went to the shops on the weekend to pick up some kitchen stools I had on order. They are now in the kitchen (naturally) around my new kitchen benchtop after some unwrapping and light construction help from David, Cynthia and Mum. An early Christmas pressie for me - yay!

I also got a new (used) car last weekend - a VW Golf 2.0 TDI (a 2007 model, silver, with 8,000 km on the clock). I had to ditch the Subaru Impreza as I can't drive a manual transmission car anymore. The 6-speed DSG box in the Golf is something else though - and the turbo diesel engine pulls like a fast train on crack. Nice!

It's all another step along the way to regaining my independence. I tried a variety of cars, most much larger than the Golf but the Golf had the most room (front and back) and was the easiest for me to get in and out of. It also will take a track bike in the back no probs (one of the most important criteria that).

So car shopping was big on the agenda recently and it was my brother David and his wife Cynthia that really helped me out there (in more ways than one). We had such fun doing it that David bought a Golf too - but he really went for it and got a brand new Tornado Red Golf GTI. We got a good deal buying two cars - so that was cool.

And as far as independence, well the silent partner helping me the most to get through this difficult year was definitely my Mum. She has been there for me since I went into hospital in April, making sure everything was as good as it could be all that time. Day in, day out, nothing was too much trouble. She had to put up with less than ideal living conditions in my construction site of a home while I was getting 24-hour/day help at the hospital. And after leaving hospital, she has been there to help me while I made the transition to home and begin walking again on my prosthetic. There is no doubt that it would have been a shocker of a year without her strength and support. Thanks Mum. Enjoy getting back into your garden.

Of course I have many others to thanks for their support and help through this time as well. Too many to name but they all know who they are. The hundred or so regular and not so regular visitors to my hospital bed, my email and forum buddies, family and friends just doing all those little things, all the cards and pressies I received. I have no idea how many chocolates I got. Flowers, fruit, books, DVDs to watch. I really do have several books on mountain climbing and escaping death now :).

Also those that were there for me in those critical first few days. It was not fun and trying to make sense of it all and decisions about emergency op after emergency op - well without someone like Peter about, it would have been far worse to cope with.

Some did really fun things like organise a birthday party for me (thanks Samantha) complete with special hats for everyone, streamers and flashing lights; organise a bar-b-que for so I could get outside in the wheelchair and enjoy a bit of real air (thanks to uncle Norm and aunty Hilary - yep I really do have an uncle Norm) - it was the first bit of steak I'd eaten in about six months. It tasted good. Others brought food (e.g. Italian home cooked meals from Aud & Bas, and other home cooked delights from Hilary, Phil, several of my cousins and my Mum of course kept up the food supply as the hospital food was, well, ordinary at best).

The night before I went in for my amputation operation, Sam organised a champagne "celebration" drinks with the nursing staff to help keep the spirits high. And the staff at St George Hospital were great.

My track cycling buddies Alan and Peter set up a laptop computer with a wireless internet connection for me - that was a tremendous gesture and was one of the biggest helps for me - it meant I could stay connected and talk to the world at large.

Anyway, thanking some by name and not all is always fraught with danger but they all should know how important it all was to me. Thanks everyone.

Christmas is coming all so fast and now I am back to living by myself. The transition will be interesting.

Finally, following the all clear from my Doctors to look at a return to work plan, I had a chat with the CEO and snr Management at my day job company (who have been really supportive) about my eventual return to work. We had a great meeting and some good ideas ensued. I will likely start sometime after Australia Day (26 Jan) and begin with part time duties - probably in a business improvement /consulting role that the CEO has in mind for me. I can also do some work from home (we have the technology) so that will lighten the physical load somewhat. I kinda need the money too!

Anyway, that's all for today folks. Things are going well.

I'll be back with some more juicy morsels another day.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Jealousy is a curse

Who says real men don't hold hands? I bet they even eat quiche!

OK, so what's new? Well....

My recovery is going well, I don't use crutches any more which is pretty cool although my walking range is still to be built up. It'll be months before I get on a bike though mainly due to the type of prosthetic. :(

I could get a more expensive version (thousands of $) which will enable a pedalling action but my stump will change so much that it won't fit it after 6-8 weeks and it will essentially be useless and I'd need a new one. Prosthetics guru George is going to try and fabricate something for me in Feb '08. So I suppose my next championships will be the '08 Masters Worlds.

Sshhhh - don't tell Schooner - he might get jealous.

Doctors have given me the go ahead to start discussing a return to work plan. That was the recommendation of my Rehab Doctor last week and after consultation with my GP on Tuesday.

My Doctor’s advice is to take it slowly at first, so I am looking for a phased entry of part-time and work from home options to get the ball rolling. He has suggested starting sometime from mid to late-January. It will sure make for a good start to the New Year. I’ll just need to be able to get back on that bike then!

My challenge at work will be more to do with the mental side, dealing with people’s reactions to the disability, the “stress” of the normal work day, readjusting to a newish team, finding my way back to full productivity/value add and so on.

Ride safe kiddies!

Photo ©: AFP Photo

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