Saturday, April 30, 2011

Land of the long flat white

Lance is right. It's not about the bike.

It's about the coffee.

Since when was it ever about the bike? Silly, skinny, misguided roadies.

I digress, as part of my feeble quest to become a 'legit' roadie, I have been pondering the remarkable correlation between cyclists and coffee consumption. Perhaps the ability to shot consecutive short blacks is the weak man's substitute for failing to grind a 32-16 up 3 Mile Hill? Even if you have mastered this mean feat, becoming a coffee connisseur is an essential rite of passage in becoming a legit road biker, mountain biker, downhiller, 4X'er, singlespeeder, fixxie, trackie, commuter, poser... whatever.

My limited statistical training cautions me however, in being quick to imply causation. It would be ridiculous to infer that we drink coffee because we ride bikes. That's like saying Rodney Hide was rolled because ACT lacked leadership..

We drink coffee because we ride bikes. Merely a correlation?
Not quite...

Last September, my flat and I conceived a cunning challenge: Sacrifice September. We each had to forego a terrible habit for the month, with the sorest loser shouting a round of drinks on the 30th. The sacrifices ranged from the meek to the essential. For me it was coffee (essential), an un-named flattie, sexual exploits (a meek sacrifice indeed), and everyone else... somewhere in between.

Unnamed flattie failed on all accounts, and I survived a week before sliding into an all-consuming abyss of...well...having to buy drinks at the end of the month, by a long shot (scuse the pun).

My justification? I couldn't function without drinking it. Why? My weekends consisted of this:

Saturday: 3 or 4 hours of training. Coffee,Carb, Protein. 5 hours of study. Dinner, Study, Bed
Sunday: 3 or 4 hours of training. Coffee, Carb, Protein. 4 hours of study. Dinner, Movie, Bed

Other than studying on a Saturday night being pretty pathetic, can you see what is wrong with this equation - what would happen if you took coffee out? The whole damn thing would fall apart! X hours of study would be substituted for Y hours of a pathetic attempt to stay awake, copious amounts of lethargy and worst of all, wrong answers. I would have failed for sure.

Hypothesis proved. Honours in Statistics firmly, but politely declined.

Despite my newly acquired short-term disability, my demand for coffee is still highly inelastic. For you lefties out there, pick up any Economics textbook and have a good hard look at what this means. In fact, so inelastic that this morning I spent the good part of 20 minutes home barista'ring these puppies for my parents and I, courtesy of some Caffe L'affare Primo:

The secret to a great brew

The big one's for Dad. 2 sugars, stirred with love.

Next in my coffee blog series will be an analysis of Wellington's finest. Not only is it home to Rt. Hon John "I'm The F*n Man" Key, but it is also the coffee culture capital... of the land of the long flat white.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My first meeting with a Nun

Exactly 2 months ago today, I was racing at the National Champs in Dunedin. Precisely at this time... I would have been helping Wilson clean Carl’s bike ready for the podium, before heading off to the celebratory BBQ. Well done to my team mates Carl and Katie - both National Champions, and everyone else who braved the Dunedin cold. It’s not called Sunny Dunedin for no reason!

In the 8 weeks since National Champs I’ve been on a training break, in which I have undergone reconstructive knee surgery. The foreseeable future is a long time not training, and I really miss it. I miss spending 2+ hours a day with my bike, my Polar dictating those two hours by minutes, kilometres, and heart rates.

Prior to my knee surgery, and since the final NZ MTB Cup round in February, I’ve had my left arm in a cast, my ass in hospital for concussion, an eye infection, a nasty cold and now my left leg is in a knee brace for six weeks. My surgeon said to me “You’ve really had a bad time lately, haven’t you?” A few other people have said the same thing, but I’m starting to look at it a different way. A lot of my friends are a hell of a lot worse off, some have injuries that are permanent and affect their bike racing in a huge way. They keep going. The one thing I have learned from their experiences, is you can’t really control what happens to you, only how you react to it.

It would be easy to feel sorry for myself, not being able to ride my bike, drive my car, or even just walk without crutches. At the end of the day, though it seems like it now, it’s actually not that bigger deal. In 6 weeks I will be huddled next to a fire at a pub with my flatties, sipping some Emersons, laughing with them at how scared I was the morning of surgery. In 6 months, I'll be nearly finished my degree. Tomorrow I will forget what I did today, and tomorrow I will be one day closer to getting out of the knee brace. It’s all relative, and important to keep it in perspective in order to avoid frustration.

Let me tell you about hospital. I had the most peculiar experience at Mercy. The last thing I remember before going into surgery is giggling uncontrollably at the radio playing in the theatre and telling the theatre staff that they looked like they were from Shortland Street. They told me they don’t have nearly as much fun, then I feel asleep. I woke up a few hours later in the recovery room and sat straight up before being pushed back down on the bed, then fell asleep again. The next thing I knew, I was in the ward with my family. It was great to see them, but it was a real struggle to stay awake, so between talking to my parents and sending txts to people I drifted back to sleep.

When I finally woke up, I tried to eat something. I ate half a chicken sandwich and a yoghurt, which I threw up an hour later. I was then given some morphine and tramadol which made me a bit delusional and nautious. The night was rescued however, by a Nun. I have never met a nun before in my life, so naturally I was intrigued by her sudden appearance. I felt like I was in the Vatican. And in Sister Act at the same time, which is clearly impossible, Whoopi Goldberg would not be allowed anywhere near the Vatican with her grasp of the “French” language.

The surgery itself was a complete success in that my knee was reconstructed. Basically my knee cap was sitting 15 degrees out of the socket, causing my knee to be instable and dislocate randomly (which it did, 3 times over 3 years - don't recommend it). John Dunbar is the brilliant surgeon who performed the surgery. He is a very funny guy who does things his way, his own pace, and says the funniest things. He performed the surgery laparoscopicallu on two areas of my knee, where he released and reattached the lateral ligament, and shortened my VMO muscle, attaching it directly to my kneecap for stability. The most involved procedure however, was detaching my patellar ligament with some shinbone attached, and reattaching it back to my tibia with two screws, more medially. it's called a tibial tuberosity. Gross. But all of this stuff basically means my kneecap is back in the right place and will hopefully stay there for the duration... hopefully...

I’m actually happy to have gone through this. I was irrationally medically sensitive and used to have a big fear of injections and needles, to the point where I avoided taking blood tests a few months back because I was too scared of the needles. Last week I was given 7 injections in 3 days, and after crying at the first one I didn’t get scared of the rest. At all. So without the surgery, I would still be scared of needles! Proof that I didn't freak out at my IV:

So.... where to from now? Well, I’m approaching the whole saga like I would approach training. It’s all about numbers. I have 5 more weeks in a knee brace. So for the next 5 weeks, no I can’t ride my bike, I can’t walk, but I can study, learn about new things and do things I wouldn’t normally do. Once my 5 weeks is up, I am going to focus solely on aceing my exams and rebuilding my body. I will have some ridiculous muscle imbalances that will need to be corrected, and then I will be working on building strength and regaining base fitness for some exciting events next year. I'm moving to Wellington next year to start work as a fresh faced graduate which puts me in a better position to train and race. Secretly I love Wellington far too much and need to go back. Oceania’s in Rotorua will be the peak event in 2011, I will also be doing my first road tour, the Tour de Femme in December and tackling my first Karapoti in March.

Exciting stuff, but for now, I’m going to enjoy being a student.