Bike learning

Last Wednesday I drove out to the Yarra Ranges for a bike ride with Wheel Women.

image

You remember Wheel Women? They are the awesome group of women who have teamed up with Cycling Australia to run the empowering She Rides programs for women around Melbourne.

I’ve finished the course and now I’m in that tricky phase after completing any kind of training or education; implementing the knowledge and making changes in my life. But with the great Wheel Women She Rides version it isn’t really a difficulty at all! Each and every week there are several rides posted by Wheel Women for us graduates and other female riders (and occasionally males), and the majority of them suit the level I am at now.

image

Not the level I want to get to, or that my husband or friends are at, or that I have been told or feel that I should be at; just the level that I am at. Which is very encouraging to keep on keeping on with regular bike riding.

There are a variety of rides from different starting points with different groups. I participated in the first ever Hawthorn She Rides program, but there have also been programs in Docklands and Knox and Geelong, and I think one in Bayside…don’t quote me on that one. I know the Hawthorn girls pretty well after eight weeks of classes and practice rides and coffees and tech nights together. So I’m always happy to go riding with them. But I’ve also been on a Docklands ride and a Knox ride and one of the all-in rides out at Warburton. And so far I haven’t found a single lady/girl/woman/chick that wasn’t lovely and helpful and kind and considerate. Also encouraging!

image

Take the Warburton ride last Saturday. The large majority of the riders started at Lilydale for a 70km round trip to Warburton for lunch and back. In the classes and in my first ride after with the Docklands group (group being an optimistic term as there were two of us plus the instructor!) I’d only done up to 20km; not sure that we’d actually hit twenty. We’d done a 2km round trip to practice starting and stopping and turning, and about the same to practice signalling.

image

I’d been terrified of doing really any riding at all before the class because I was, and still am a bit, scared of the effort involved in riding up hills, and that I couldn’t do the distance, being so much less fit than when I last rode. The only ride I’d done in the last two years was an excruciating 5km on the Eastern Freeway trail with my hubby. I wasn’t ready, I wasn’t fit, there were hills and it was just a struggle! It hurt and I wanted to get off and not get back on.

But those first two rides were fine. Then we did a 6km ride into Richmond to the Total Rush store to learn how to fix a flat tyre including taking the wheels off and putting them back on, adjusting the chain and derailleur, taking out the tube and patching or replacing it and putting it back in. That was a great and very empowering session!

image

The ride was pretty good but I got too hot going into town from Hawthorn. I always get hot, it’s just a fact of life now that I’m on the antidepressant venlafaxine. I overheat, I sweat, I wipe off the sweat and repeat! I’m so excited for winter! Well outdoors winter, not indoors winter…heaters are the bane of my life!

Anyway, I got hot and that reduces my tolerance for pushing myself. I get exasperated and just want to do anything to get cooler. It’s such an unpleasant feeling, and I hate that people can see all the sweat on my face, and its still my number one side effect to get rid of on my dreamboat wishlist. I’d followed the clothing choices of everyone else with lots of layers including gloves and neck warmer. But I’ve learnt since that in most situations I’m better off in Tshirt and pants. I get hot riding but the breeze goes through my shirt to keep me cool and I’m happy; it works. I take extra just in case, but don’t put it on until I need it.

image

Anyway, the ride from Hawthorn to Richmond is a pretty flat ride with a couple of little rises but we’d only learnt gears the week before and I’d had a chest infection and hadn’t practiced. Of course I’d used gears before this course, but not correctly it turns out. Gears makes so much difference when you know how to use them! So being hot and exasperated and still coughing from my chest infection I ditched the 6km ride home and caught the train instead. With a flat phone and scant knowledge of the Glen Waverley train line I somehow got off at the right station and found my way by bike the 2km back to the car. I wasn’t that far behind the others.

But the idea that I couldn’t keep up, and riding was hard had received a boost!

image

Luckily the next week we tackled a 14km ride to Herring Island and back that I found easy! From can’t do more than 6km to easy 14km! I don’t know how or why but it happened!

I was worried beforehand, but I ended up chatting to another girl all the way in (the distraction really works!) and at the end I felt like I could have ridden further; I had effort still in the tank waiting to be used! That was a nice feeling.

And for the very first time in years, I felt that exhilaration, euphoria, sense of everything being well and life being exciting that they tell you comes from endorphins! Which was a real revelation! 18 months after my diagnosis of depression/bipolar I finally felt that benefit of exercise that everyone’s been yackedy yacking about! I can see now why they say exercise is good for your mood…but I just couldn’t get anything like that with walking. It was sometimes pleasant but not euphoric. Going to the gym sometimes gave me a taste. Playing squash had gotten me part of the way, but my fitness can’t manage that now. But bike riding really nailed it!

After that ride we rode a longer distance into Fed Square which I managed well, then my Docklands crew ride was 16km, dead flat and along the beach on a glorious day! Perfect!

image

So the Warburton ride. I’d made up my mind that I would tackle the 35km loop on the trail from Woori Yallock to Warburton and return. I could have chosen the 20km loop from Launching Place but I wanted to see how I went extending myself. I was reallly enjoying my riding by now, and had proved myself to myself a bit, and was aptly a fitting graduate from the She Rides Confidence program!

image

I’d wanted to ride the Warburton to Lilydale rail trail for YEARS but never felt fit enough. And herein lies the beauty of the Wheel Women community. A ride that my husband would do, but which wouldn’t really be as valuable to him as his 100km+ weekend road loop. He would enjoy exploring and the scenery, but I’d feel a bit babysat. I don’t have any other friends who ride right now. And going out there by myself is something I’d never think of! But here is a ready made group of women who also want to ride the trail, don’t have anyone to ride with and we all turn up and do it together! Brilliant!

We were told beforehand what speed range we should be able to hold to keep up with the group. I knew that I could maintain that speed based on previous rides, however I failed to consider the difference between riding on asphalt/concrete and fine gravel; the latter is quite a bit slower! But the leaders put me at the front of the group so that my speed would dictate the speed of the group and I wouldn’t get dropped (a cycling term for being less fit/skilled/able than other riders and getting spat out of the back of the group as they gradually pass you by virtue of their better skills/fitness/abilities!). This still happened to me, twice! But I was never left behind.

image

The combination of a slight incline, gravel, starting with no warm up, the group being warmed up and ticking along at a good pace meant the first few kilometres were a struggle! I was maintaining a speed about 4km/hr slower than intended but the first time I was dropped I caught up with the group at a road crossing. I got put at the front but still got inevitably passed one by one as the incline and my quads fought each other! That time I stayed behind for a few kilometres with a very patient partner-of-a-coach tagging me all the way.

image

That’s what I love about Wheel Women; they leave no man behind…or whatever the modern expression is. You are noticed, you are part of the group, you are looked out for, you are helped and supported along the way, and if things go bad thay’ve got your back. Although we’ve been taught how to fix our own mechanical issues its nice to know you’re riding with experienced women who can back you up with technical assitance and spare parts.

Speaking of mechanical issues. I went back out to tackle the Warburton trail on Wednesday with the Knox group, also lovely ladies. I rode two easy kilometres to where I was meeting them for the Launching Place 20km loop. My mum and grandma were driving out to meet us for lunch. And lucky they were! As I was waiting I heard the unmistakeable gush of air passing out of the tube valve, and my back tyre went dead flat! Not good, but the group were coming and they could help. Here was a steep learning curve that I needed and won’t forget. The group leader: Where’s your spare tube? Don’t have one. Okay I’ll see if mine fits, no it doesn’t. That’s okay we’ll patch it, where are your patches? Don’t have any. Okay I’ll use mine, start taking off the tyre, where are your tyre levers? Don’t have any…spoken very quietly!

image

Oh dear!

And the reason I didn’t have them? So silly! The week before I went in to Total Rush to get all the bits and pieces, but I forgot the $100 Specialized voucher that comes with Wheel Women membership. So I postponed buying until the next week when I would be passing by for my GP appointment. Sadly this ride came the day before that appointment! Missed it by that much!

image

Suffice to say I now have all of the above and more! Because the outcome of the day was no one had the right sized tube to lend me, the patch didn’t hold and the valve got damaged and wouldn’t hold any air. The one bike shop didn’t stock my tube size, so they day ended with an emergency pick up from the family, lunch, and a drive home! Very disappointing but I won’t repeat it! 2km total on a lovely mild day with fair weather all round! Dulp!
image

But stay tuned for photos of me doing all the mechanical work with my two bare hands while my hubby commentates from the sidelines. You haven’t seen the last of me!

*Much of the photo credit must go to Tina, possessor of the genius behind all that is Wheel Women. Your talent at taking photos while riding knows no bounds! Thanks for documenting my progress in pictures 🙂

Advertisements

Keeping busy

Life has been a little busy lately. I’ve been trying to be an adult, a functioning adult. You know, one that gets up in the morning, does stuff all day then goes to bed at night. Without an afternoon nap or sitting in bed for half of the day or getting nothing done.

So I’ve been adding structure to my day, much like I did last May when I thought I might get back to work soon! Well that didn’t work that time, but hopefully this time I’ll get there.

Last May I took on an eight week photography course, an eight week mindfulness course plus went to the Imax once a week to check out a 3D animal feature, plus a joined a pilates studio and etc etc. I haven’t stayed in touch with anyone but my teachers.

This time I’m in a very different place. I took on an eight week getting back to bike riding course where I made a lot of new friends and still catch up with them every week. I’ve been doing housework: trying to keep on top of the dishes, the meals, the washing, the bins, the groceries and trying to commit to keeping up with the ironing. I have a bird bath, a little flower patch.

I feel like this is the real thing. Like I am breaking through the barriers to get back to the life I had before LRH (my old job). I’m cooking dinners and enjoying it, I’m getting the washing done before we start taking clothes out and wearing them dirty, and so on. My husband is thrilled! He got to love cooking but he’s happy to be alternating nights instead of doing everything; or even just not having to do the meals one night a week! And I’m glad that I’ve moved on from sitting watching him cook feeling useless and pointless and not worth my keep! He’s still surprised when he goes to do a chore and it’s done. It’s almost comical. He asks, who did this? Did you do this? Well yes, yes I did. There’s no-one else here!

I’ve still been trying to get out and about, checking out exhibitions, looking for day trips with either my bike group or my bird watching group. having coffee or lunch or brunch with friends. On Saturday I rode from Woori Yallock to Warburton return, 34km, with my bike group, Wheel Women. It nearly killed me but the weather and scenery and people were all wonderful. Yesterday I had impromptu coffee with a good friend. Tomorrow I’m going on a bird watching outing with Birdlife.

I’m having good days 🙂 And it’s so good!

 

Sunday Summary

Dear friends,

It has been a busy week! For me, I mean; probably not what you would call a busy week. I didn’t work at all, I didn’t get many chores done, and the most I did daily was get out of the house for an hour or two. That’s busy, for me.

I’m so happy that it worked out to be that way!

When I finished work three and a half weeks ago I was worried that the naturally “depressed state I was in about finishing work, together with my ongoing lethargy and tiredness, would result in me becoming a bed bound vegetable again.

Well again isn’t fair; I’ve never ever not gotten up at one point or another during the day. But with no definite reason to get up in the morning, my lack of motivation to get up unless there’s someone waiting on me, and the general listlessness of having no set purpose, I thought that there was a fair chance of me lounging around all day.

And it turned out to be that way for a few days. With nothing planned, with accumulated tiredness from keeping up with my shifts at work for six weeks when they consumed about the last ounce of my energy, and no reason why not to get up, I had some pretty massive sleep ins.

Until I missed my tablets one Sunday night! This happened in spite of the careful routine that I have built into my days after I had previous missed doses to prevent the same thing from happening again. Obviously there’s still a loop hole somewhere that I haven’t found but I’m working on it.

My routine is to weekly make up a medicine box with all the medications that I need to take both in the morning and at night. My pharmacist brain cross-checks the directions on the bottles and boxes with the number of tablets I put into each slot and then double check that I haven’t missed anything by comparing what I’ve packed with my complete list of medicines printed on the bottom of the box. My triple check is when I take each group of tablets and I count again to make sure I have it right.

I set this medicine box right next to my bed on my bedside table so that I should see it when I get up and when I go to bed; this should give me a visual prompt to take my tablets. But I don’t trust this system so I have set a morning and evening medication alarm in my phone. This can only be snoozed three times so I also have a medicines app that generates a reminder at 7am and 9pm for me to take my tablets. This can be snoozed to infinity I think, but the fact that I missed a dose makes me wonder if it actually does have a limit to being snoozed. I’m looking into this.

So the missed dose. You wouldn’t think it would make that much difference; it’s only one dose right? But it does make a difference, at least for me at this point while we’re still fine tuning the medications. Most times when I miss my tablets I end up getting upset over some little thing or teary for not much reason or get in a fight with my hubby! Poor hubby, he has to bear the brunt of everything! I think this reaction has been when I’ve missed my morning dose, which means I miss my antidepressant and my morning lithium dose.

This time I missed my evening dose. That means my evening lithium and my other sedating mood stabiliser. I’ve only ever done this once before. It’s never fun, because it means there’s nothing putting me to sleep! This time was terrible! I’m sure I had a maximum of 4 hours sleep but who knows. When you’re tossing and turning and can’t sleep and want to sleep, time loses all meaning! Poor hubby again, every time I tossed or turned he turned! But I physically couldn’t bear the sensation of lying still! It was awful! I just had to move and move and move and move!! I woke at 5am and tried to exist as quietly as possible til hubby was ready to get up. Then, so out of my recent character that it was laughable, I jumped out of bed fresh as a daisy at just after 7am and left the house before hubby! I was in my runners and leggings and I was off!

Compared to my recent sluggish, only-move-if-I-have-to, and even then moving snail’s pace, I was striding off to the park like I haven’t since I don’t know when, and paced out two laps! It was ridiculous to me even as I was doing it! But it was a fabulous feeling! I could move as fast as I physically wanted to for a change, instead of how fast I physically could through mud bearing heavy weights!!

Incredible! And so friends, this is mania. Or a sub form of it. You won’t see me like it often, unfortunately or fortunately, but you’ll know it when you see it. I’ll be smiling at all and sundry, grinning, laughing, putting out a decent amount of physical effort, having a great day! I’ll be chatting flat out, possibly jumping topics or getting distracted. I’ll be super effective and get many tasks done. I’ll be physically active and able to do a lot more activity than usual.

It’s a feeling that is addictive actually, I never want it to end…to start with! By the end of the day I was pretty sick of it actually because I could hardly sit still or rest, and was just feeling irritable, agitated and like I couldn’t possible tolerate having another night like that. By then the frustration tears were pretty close to the surface, but let me tell you I achieved a great days work! All three loads of washing done, some of it off the line and folded! The kitchen was sparkling clean; I’d cleaned the grout and the stubborn grease on the splash back. Lots of jobs attended to, a family visit where I chatted away like a…like a crazy person! Chat chat chat chat chat chat chat!

But I was glad to put it away. Not glad to go back to lethargy and anergy (absence of energy), but after all it’s a balance. You can’t have everything, so you have to decide on the most important things. Which is not being a whirling dervish, but a calm reasonable person not prone to snap decisions and excess!

My short point at the end of that long explanation was that it broke my bed rest habit and got me out into the sunshine, and the outside world. I watched the ducks paddle, saw the swallows come out to swoop and feed, found a magpie nest without getting swooped and in fact saw the magpie partner watching from on high at a distance. And remembered that I liked the outside and wanted to be out there, not inside all day.

Add to this a pep talk from my psychiatrist AND my GP in the same week about just getting outside, no agenda, no pressure, no panic about how I was feeling, just enjoyment…and the message was clear! Just enjoy it.

So I have enjoyed it! What a glorious week it has been!

Monday started slowly, but a late afternoon trip to Blackburn Lake Sanctuary yielded a fabulous hour of the new Musk Lorikeets ( see earlier post) plus an added hour of delightful favourites. Then a sleepover with our great friends and delightful bubba!

I just love love love this gorgeous Galah eating wattle photo!

I just love love love this gorgeous Galah eating wattle photo!

This is the cutest Noisy Miner sequence I've ever had - mother catches moth, baby screams for it, baby gets moth, mother leaves :) eucalypt

This is the cutest Noisy Miner sequence I’ve ever had – mother catches moth, baby screams for it, baby gets moth, mother leaves 🙂

Tuesday didn’t work out how I had thought it would, but a picnic on the banks of the Yarra river in delightful Warburton with several girlfriends and their cute kids is a pretty fine day if you ask me! In addition I got to see two lots of adorable ducklings and a fun Kookaburra.

Cute cute cute! Discovering the innocent joys of crawling up and down stairs, green grass

Cute cute cute! Discovering the innocent joys of crawling up and down stairs

More cute! Fluffy Wood Duck ducklings huddling on a rock in the Yarra River at Warburton

More cute! Fluffy Wood Duck ducklings huddling on a rock in the Yarra River at Warburton

Wednesday morning was a return to Blackburn Lake Sanctuary, the top end this time for some variety of bushland and birds. What a day it ended up with a Kookabura flinging a metre long snake around and many cute tiny birds that were hard to capture.

The fabulous post and rail fence that completely encircles my favourite Blackburn Lake Sanctuary

The fabulous post and rail fence that completely encircles my favourite Blackburn Lake Sanctuary

I spotted this Laughing Kookaburra and stopped for photos, didn't realise it was in the process of killing a snake!

I spotted this Laughing Kookaburra and stopped for photos, didn’t realise it was in the process of killing a snake!

I just love being in the Sanctuary - so pretty and lovely

I just love being in the Sanctuary – so pretty and lovely

Thursday, oh Thursday! This was a bucket list day with a girlfriend and it was amazing! Glorious day, two brand new birds that I’d never seen before, loads of flowers, a couple of moths and some damsel flies! Some amazing scenery, the awesome Kuranga native nursery, Birdsland reserve and a flash trip through the Dandenongs (see previous post).

Friday was appointment day and catch up with my old work mates day and getting my favourite bacon and egg sandwich and eating it in the gorgeous Fawkner Park. A picnic above Yarra Boulevard with my fabulous hubby and some new photo ops over the city as the sun set…wow! Can you beat that for a way to see out the work week?

The great outline of Melbourne city backlit by a cloud sunset, blue sky,

The great outline of Melbourne city backlit by a cloud sunset

The brilliant sunshine, the silhouette of a pretty tree and Melbourne - I love you

The brilliant sunshine, the silhouette of a pretty tree and Melbourne – I love you

Saturday was another girlfriend catch up and was great fun finding plover babies and getting swooped relentlessly by their parents! Then we went on a Loch Ness Monster hunt all around the Blackburn Lake and still aren’t sure exactly what was doing so much flashing and splashing and swimming…tbc, duln duln duulllln! We got a fabulous shot of a Spotted Pardalote by the path and had a great lunch at Gourmet Girl – what an awesome catch up! Over tea cooked by sensational hubby we heard and saw two Striated Thornbills in our minimal garden! I think they’re building a nest! Excitement!!

Mummy Masked Lapwing with tiny weeny baby - these must be very new because the plovers have been docile until this week; now they are savage!

Mummy Masked Lapwing with tiny weeny baby – these must be very new because the plovers have been docile until this week; now they are savage!

Not a clear shot but the beautiful front of a Spotted Pardalote

Not a clear shot but the beautiful front of a Spotted Pardalote

Sunday is rest day and I’m glad for that, but boy I am so glad for every bit of excitement and interest that has sprinkled my week and made it actually fun! And thanks to all my wonderful people who are there every day giving me a hand along, and making my life more amazing!

Funny side story. After looking back at the week in the detail above, it made me remember all the good things and I mentioned to hubby that I’d had an amazing week. His response was fascinating: “Really? Maybe the last couple of days have been okay but I thought you had a bad week.”

To which I, in the mood of putting all the good bits together and seeing them in clear focus and forgetting the rest, replied: “Really? But I’ve done all these amazing things.” So we had a chat and here’s another perspective moment – what’s in focus is really clear and the rest in lost in fog.

My hubby was remembering coming home to me still lost in my afternoon nap, to me not able to get my thoughts together enough for our weeknight Bible study, to him making dinner from scratch every single night of the week, to me as a blob instead of an enthusiastic lover, to me struggling to get enthusiastic about any physical activity; basically to him carrying the load of the relationship, the housework, being the bread winner and the carer for this weighty gal.

So yes, if you look at all the cool bits it was a great week. If you look at all the failures it would bring you to tears. If you see all that hubby did to get us both through the week, you like me would have overwhelming admiration for this great fella without whom I don’t know what awful state I would be in!

So my motivation for this new week is trying to even out the load for my good man, and continuing to have great days!