It’s stinking hot when I leave home on my mountain bike at 11:30am. The mercury is well above 30’C and the sun is beating down. I know it’s not sensible to head out in this heat but I had family commitments this morning and again this afternoon so it’s the only way I can squeeze some training in. This training session will be aimed at four things: the Adventure Race Australia that I’m racing in May, the Tre-X off-road triathlons that I’ll be doing next season, general fitness and I want to map the bush trails near home for the Brisbane Bayside Runners and Walkers club.
I had my three-monthly testosterone injection on Friday and it’s wreaking havoc with my left glute. The injection is intramuscular and it hurt a lot going in. The injections usually don’t hurt but I’ve had them in the left side for about 18 months because the right side was causing me problems before that. When I mentioned the pain to the nurse she said I’d need to swap back to the right side again; something that concerns me. But what concerns me more as I ride out is that I can barely sit on the saddle because my left glute is swollen – it feels like I might have compartment syndrome again, like I got the one time I got my injection in my thigh. But I’m determined not to let it stop me – even if it should.
I ride out through the grassy field and across German Church Road into Bayview bushland reserve. I spend the next two hours riding both fire trails and single track while mapping the parts of the bush nearest my home. The trails here are focused on a big hill and some trails are unridable. I ride each trail systematically, making notes of distances between each intersection and major feature in a notebook I’m carrying in my hydropack.
It’s exciting when I find a kilometre of single track that I never knew existed. After all these years riding in the bush I still sometimes find little pockets of track that have sprung up or that I’ve missed commuting to my mother’s and sister’s homes. I am struggling with the heat so my technical skills are appalling today but I’m enjoying being in the bush between the trees. It makes me feel happy.
My mountain bike is a basic rigid frame model that’s I bought from Bicycle Revolution in West End. Bicycle Revolution rebuild bikes from recycled components. The only things that were new on the bike when I bought it in 2009 were the chain and brake pads. I only paid $250 for it and have had hours of fun riding it. It’s beaten up and old so I don’t have to worry about breaking it – because I suspect that’s almost impossible. The only thing I still want to do to it is switch the flat bed pedals to clipless pedals once I feel more confident off-road.
I used to have a flash orange Giant Yukon with disc brakes and front suspension but that was before I switched to commuting to work on road bikes back in 2006. I used to use it to commute to and from work but then I got myself caught between a bus and 4WD, which made me feel vulnerable having wide MTB bars commuting in traffic (the two vehicles were to the left and right of me). I sold the bike to my bother-in-law and then bought my current MTB a few years later when I was looking for something a bit fun to ride after I got sick of riding a road bike.
This purple beast is the bike I’ll be using in the Adventure Race Australia and the Tre-X events. It will probably be the only steel frame fully rigid bike on the course. It will almost definitely be the only bike without disc brakes. And it is the ugliest bike I’ve ever owned. But I love it. The frame is the perfect size for me, the bike works and I feel like a big kid when I ride it. And I always feel happy to be alive when I feel like a big kid. It reminds me about why I’m training and racing – to enjoy the good life.
My left glute is agonisingly painful tonight and I’m a little worried about whether it will be better by Sunday when I have the Kingscliffe triathlon race. I’m going to try icing it tonight and tomorrow in the hope it helps. But I’m happy about my mapping expedition. I covered 10km in 2 hours. It’s not far but given the task and the 38’C heat it was just right for me today.