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2017 started with so much promise.

In February there was our epic attempt at the Low Rocky Point track, followed by a trip to New Zealand in March centred on riding the amazing Old Ghost Road and in April I got to explore new trails in Tassie around Pillans Lake Track and Sandy Cape.

Things were going great.

Right up until June 10th …

Lake Cumberland, West Coast, Tasmania
Heading towards my doom

And then, as happens in any good story, something went wrong.

In my case, I was over on the West Coast for a three day riding adventure with Oliver and his brother, Uriel, and we had just pushed and ridden our bikes up the very steep and rocky 4WD track from Trial Harbour Road to Lake Cumberland where our efforts were rewarded by an amazing landscape ready for us to explore.

We rode (and pushed) our way along various tracks that would peter out into button grass plain and then we’d go explore the next one.

We got to a point where we had pushed to the top of a hill on a track, but the track again just disappeared into the button grass and we had nowhere to go, but we could see another trail over on the next ridge, and we had a choice: we could ride all the way back down the track we had just pushed up and then push back up to the top of the next ridge, or we could just scoot across a short button grass plain between the tracks cutting out most of the descent and climb.

We obviously opted to scoot.

Oliver and Uriel quickly pushed their bikes to the top of a nearby knoll and before I even got to the top, they were racing down the side of the trackless descent to the plain below.

Without even really thinking about it, I jumped on my bike and proceeded down the same way and all was going well … until suddenly my front wheel hit a rock hidden in the buttongrass and before I had time to react I went over the handlebars landing on the ground below, hand out in front of me, and yes, I heard a crack.

I was in shock and was feeling nauseous, but after inspecting myself for any serious injury, I decided that my only real concern was my left hand which felt really weak. swollen and was unable to grip the handlebar grip.

After a bit of rest, I decided I’d recover and with Oliver pushing my bike, we walked over to a nearby mining spot where I came over with a sudden rush of nausea and light-headedness to the point where my vision whited-out a bit.

After I recovered, and not wanting to admit that something was seriously wrong, we made a new plan – Oliver and Uriel would go for a ride along the track we had been heading towards, and I would start pushing my bike (one handed) back to the car with the hope that a bit of rest might let me rejoin them for a ride later that afternoon or the next day.

I think I honestly believed that at the time.

I did a bit of first aid on myself, splinting my hand and walked back to the car lamenting all the wonderful down hill riding I was missing.

Just as an aside – pushing a bike down a steep, rocky hill one handed – hard work.

After Oliver and Uriel had an explore around the area, we headed back to Zeehan and as my hand was quite sore and I wanted to maximise my chances of riding the next day, I decided to forgo a night in my tent at the caravan park and opted to book myself into the more comfortable Heemskirk Motor Hotel instead.

Suffice to say, my hand wasn’t feeling any stronger the next morning and so with a heavy heart I opted to drive back to Hobart leaving Oliver and Uriel to go explore more trails alone.

Despite driving back to Hobart mostly one handed, I still didn’t want to believe anything was ‘really’ wrong and so it was only the next day that I went to see a doctor to find out if I should be worried.

The doctor heard me tell a shortened story of what is above, checked out my hand, and proceeded to tell me, in a very polite way, that I was a complete idiot and that I’d obviously broken my wrist, and then with an instruction that I wasn’t to drive, told me to get myself to hospital as I probably needed surgery.

Fortunately, I didn’t need surgery.  I had managed to fractured the bigger wrist bones, not the small ones (or something like that) and so it was just a cast and time to heal for me.

But that was the catalyst for a year that just seemed to go downhill after that.

As soon as I got my cast off,  I started to get back out onto my bike to do some easy rides …

But then, winter came and I came down with what I thought was that really bad flu that was going around, and as everyone seemed to be getting the flu I decided there was no use seeing a doctor and just got on with life …

Well, to be precise, I tried ‘to get on with life’ up until the point where I developed a cough that was so bad that it hurt to actually cough and so I had to go and see another doctor.

Although my doctor didn’t call me an idiot this time, he did tell me I probably never had the flu, but that I did have bronchitis, and after sending me off for an Xray told me that it looked like I had managed to get a small fracture in my ribs from all the coughing which was why I was in so much pain.

Thankfully, some good meds stopped the coughing and I was able to recover.

But it was another long period of convalescence and recovery, until finally I was able to get back on my bike.

I rode my gravel bike a few times across the Tasman bridge to work, but then one morning when I got it out of the garage, I noticed the front tyre was slightly flat and, in one of those fateful moments, instead of pumping it up I just grabbed my mountain bike and rode that instead.

While not wanting to reinforce that whole ‘idiot’ theme, I was riding back to my car over the Tasman Bridge that afternoon, and as I went past one of the Gantry’s near the top of the bridge, my slightly wider than usual handlebars clipped the side of the bridge and I remember thinking to myself “huh, that was close – I better take it slow near the bottom“.

But then I promptly got distracted by some random thought, and arrived at the bottom of the bridge at my usual speed as I went through the narrow point between the concrete pylons on the Lindisfarne side of the bridge, and you guessed it – I clipped one side and before you can think “Doh” I was in a tangled mess on the ground with my mountain bike.

A real rookie mistake.

Luckily another cyclist wasn’t far behind me and managed to help me untangle myself from the mess I was in, and then I limped back to my car a bloody mess.

I think I may have broken a bone in the top of my foot (no, I didn’t go and get it X-rayed as I still was hopeful it would just fix itself) but I can tell you if anything touched the top of my right foot I would jump through the roof in pain.  The tops of my legs were also black and blue for a week or so.

And since then I’ve limited my cycling to just the cycle track from Cornelian Bay into town.

Basically six months with no real riding or exercise.

Meanwhile, partly because I didn’t have my mountain biking to distract me, I threw myself into work, regularly working 6 or 7 day weeks, getting less and less fit and more and more overweight.

Going out riding has become a chore, not a pleasure.

Trying to break my slide, I volunteered to help set the Hamilton Heritage Rogaine in November, and was rather depressed when I found myself exhausted and very footsore after just 6 hours of wandering around the hills setting controls.

I also found myself struck by more ailments – gout in my foot, a resurgence of my knee problems from when I broke it nearly a decade ago, and I just keep feeling like I can’t break this cycle I’m in.

And so I find myself where I am now.  A place where it feels like my life is pretty well out of whack and needs serious re-balancing.

But it’s also a place where I know that it is going to take a lot of work to move from where I am, and it is hard to get the energy and motivation to turn the ship that is my life down a new direction.

So at Christmas this year, I did a strange thing.

I did nothing.

Yep, for several days, I just did nothing and relaxed and destressed.

I’m glad I did, as I think I just needed time to rebalance and feel slightly more on top of things.

Slightly more ready for 2018.

And I should say, 2017 hasn’t all been bad, there’s been lots of good memories, many of which are above and some more below …

But it hasn’t been a good year either.

And so, as we’ve been discussing new years resolutions in the last few days, and everyone else has decided they are a waste of time, I’ve decided I am going to make one for 2018, and it is one I unashamedly stole from Episode 2, Season 8 of the Walking Dead:

Carol Peletier: What’s about to happen, it’s not just a few walkers. You know that, right?
Ezekiel: Yes. And yet I smile.
Carol Peletier: Why?
Ezekiel: Do I feel the supreme confidence? Or is my lot, my job, to simply protect such certainty? No and yes. Yes and no. And then finally yes to both. Fake it till you make it, baby. That’s what I’ve done and what I do. I am King because I-I have provided a light to lead my people forward through the darkness, and they have made my fictions realities. So, with all this and everything that’s happened…
Carol Peletier: All of us may not make it. We may not even win.
Ezekiel: And yet I smile. There will be no fantasies of failure this day.
… And yet I smile.  There will be no fantasies of failure this day.
That’s going to be me in  2018.   See you there.


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