Canberra Day Two

12th September, 2016

Whatever else happened today, the photo of the day HAD to be of the weather! A fresh morning of 7 degrees with blue skies and gorgeous sunshine. The temperature climbing gradually to 17 degrees! Ahhh! I just loved being outside today, warm air stroking the skin then a cooler breeze then the cool and warm air mixing but never joining. If you were warm you could move to the shade and the breeze would be enough to soothe you; if you were cool you could step into the sunshine and be warmed up – my perfect kind of day!

The day started with tagging along to hubby’s work at 8.30am so that I could take the car for the day. I pulled out into traffic from his office and saw a sign for the information centre so I headed there for yes, more brochures. I do love brochures! I’m going to be the most cultured and knowledgeable Canberran there is! The info centre is on the banks of Lake Burley Griffin which was looking stunning in the sunlight. I heard the sound of a creaking door as I left the centre which can only be from a Gang Gang Cockatoo, so I tracked it to a pine tree and got a photo right there at the info centre! Definitely a highlight – we don’t often get them close around Melbourne. I could see where they’re setting up the flower festival right there as well, gorgeous beds of tulips! I’m looking forward to checking that out once its open.

I should mention that I was trying to find my way around without using a map or GPS. I do that; I don’t know why. It’s silly, you can’t intuitively find your way. I did okay for some of it but there may have been a couple of laps around the city having missed my turn! Ultimately I resorted to GPS!

I do love the days when I get up early. I feel so much more productive, and even if I spend a couple of hours on one thing, I turn round and still have hours to go. So at 11am, the day was still wide open. I wanted to get my bird watching off to a start so I headed to Black Mountain which is where the Telstra Tower is and went on a 2 hour walking loop. The signs being not all they should be, that turned into a 3.5 hour hike steeply up and down the mountain! I was pretty exhausted by the end, not to mention blisters on my heels and arches and chafed thighs. It’s amazing to me that I wouldn’t have considered that the path would be steep, the name of the place being Black Mountain. Another of my classic disconnects.

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So here’s my photo for Day Two. A perfect combination of the day: blue skies, sunshine, beautiful bush and birds, a stunning Crimson Rosella.

I’ve decided to put whatever photos don’t make the cut for photo of the day onto a new website that I’ve just been setting up these last couple of weeks. Bear with me while I do so, it’s very much a work in progress but you can see my other photos from today (and yesterday, forgot to say so) at my site. Click on Black Mountain Views or Black Mountain Birds to check out today’s photos.

Fun and games

I have been having a really happy time lately. Somehow things have been going really well for me. And for the first time I do believe that my bike riding has something to do with it.

I’ve been cynical of the supposed serotonin-increasing effect that exercise is meant to have on a person. I have experienced severe depression and so many people have told me to exercise, encouraged me to exercise, told me how exercise would help, and asked me if exercise was helping, and referred me to endless articles that supposedly prove how exercise should help me and would help me by increasing my serotonin.

I never got it.

I never felt that I was “better” after exercising, and specifically after riding my bike. I think this is mainly because in my lethargy and weight gain, exercise was so difficult to get started and to maintain that the sheer effort of exercise was greater than any benefit that may have been lurking way back there in the background. I didn’t feel a buzz, I didn’t feel elated, I wasn’t flying high or whatever it was that I was meant to be feeling. What exactly was I meant to be feeling, after all? Exercise was meant to increase my serotonin, yeah? What was the effect or end result of that increase in serotonin meant to be, exactly? What would it feel like if I had it? How would I know I had it? Would it be a direct effect? Would it occur at the time or would the effect be cumulative? I’m sure there are some answers out there but I’ve avoided looking at them, because for a good long while my bike riding was harder than it was anything else, and I just didn’t believe in the serotonin thing.

Until now. I haven’t lost any weight as yet, but half a dozen people have told me lately that they think I’ve lost weight; I’m hoping that means I’ve put on muscle and lost fat but time will tell. I’m a lot less lethargic thanks to returning to work, and having a regular schedule, and places to go, and people to see. Regular bike riding has definitely built up some kind of stamina in me, more than I would have had 13 months ago when I did my first ride with Wheel Women, and thought I would die from it! I view bike rides a lot more optimistically these days, I’m happy to say. This is based on my cumulative experience of so many rides; 60 rides in 59 weeks since March 2015, when I first got back on my bike.

This increased stamina has been improved on recently when I did a 4 day bike riding tour with Wheel Women through central northern Victoria. Anyone who is friends with me on Facebook will have seen the photos! To prepare for the tour I rode every day for 3 days over Easter in the week prior to the tour. I did this to prepare for the anticipated soreness I might experience when getting back on the bike day after day, and to try to build up the endurance that I would need on the tour. I didn’t ride long or far, but riding every day really did something. Then riding 62km, 43km, 37km and 28km for 4 consecutive days  on tour built up another kind of stamina. Arriving at this level of stamina has brought my riding up to another level, and since I got back its been like I’m riding on a cloud. I think it’s because the 3 rides I’ve done since I got back to town are less kilometres, bar one 40km ride, and less strenuous, also bar one ride with a few “gentle” hills, but overall they aren’t as tough as the rides I did while I was away and so I’m riding within my limit, inside my reserves and so it all feels easier!

And I love that!

There’s a saying in cycling, and probably in all sports, and maybe in life too that a certain thing doesn’t get easier as you develop your skills in it, you just get quicker at it. But at the moment I’m not only quicker at riding, but it feels like it’s easier too. And that feels awesome! Not all of it of course, hills are still a bit of a nemesis but I’m even going easier up hills! And I’ve changed my philosophy about hills since the tour. We did 40km or so one day that was more or less flat; my ideal situation, I thought. But now I think differently. Flat terrain just means that your legs go up, go down, go up, go down, rub in the middle on the bike seat, chafe from the bike shorts however comfy they are to start with, get tired, have no chance for a break unless you want to slow down, and it all gets tedious! I thought it was ideal, but now I can see the downsides to flat, and the upside to undulating and even hilly!

At least with undulations or little hills, you get a break while you’re rolling down the other side. It can be quite fun actually, a little up then a little rest on the way down. A little extra work for a little less work; it feels worth it. Plus it’s kind of a challenge for this girl from Flatlandria to operate the gears correctly to get up the incline without changing pedal rotation speed…it can be one way to keep your brain going when your legs aren’t loving the effort.

So here I am, having fun and games on my bike 🙂 I’ve even recently bought a T shirt that says ‘I want to ride my bicycle’. And I’m even heading out on my own after publishing this to do a ride that really sucked a month ago, just to test out my new theory that with the new stamina I’ve built up lately, it’s gonna be a whole heap easier, faster and more fun this time.

Wish me luck!