28 December 2009

Au Revoir, 2009

So nearly another year draws to a close.

It is probably time for me to become self-indulgent and reminisce about another 365 days, what occurred and transpired, and what I hope for the next 12 months.

The Bike

It was a big bike related year, in more ways than one. I was mentally fatigued at the start of the year, and made a fairly public commitment that 2009 would be a year of less racing and less events.

Yeah right.

Feb saw me ride the Otway Odyssey, March the Wagga 6 Hour (in a pair), April the Mont 24. Somewhere in there was the Tumut 3 Hour, then there was the Forrest 6 Hour (my first 6 hour solo race), then the Scott 24 Hour, and Gravity 12 Hour. Phew.

On less fun bike stuff, I also got cleaned up by a car, which resulted in the untimely death of my beloved Trek road bike. Luckily though it did not result in my untimely death.

After all the insurance malarky was sorted, I was able to upgrade somewhat to a Giant Defy Advanced - a very nice bike, and far far better than I could ever hope to be as a cyclist.

I was also able to add another bike to the quiver - a rigid, singlespeed, 29r mountain bike. Behold, the GT Peace 9r.

It was a bit of an impulse purchase, but one that required alot of scrimping and saving. I've wanted a singlespeed for a while, firstly to toughen me up a bit on the trails, secondly to double up as some strength training. And the opportunity to secure something in 29 inch, just to see what the fuss is about, and something fully rigid, to teach some smoother riding, was too much to pass up.

The bike has only seen limited dirt time thus far, but has commuted to work with me on a number of occasions. The ratio is pretty low, relatively speaking, so on the daily commute, it encourages smooth spinning, high cadence, and is proving to be good for recovery rides. On the dirt, especially climbing, it is tough but achievable, sticks like velcro to a floor rug, and is surprisingly comfortable to ride. It may sound trite, but you learn very quickly to conserve energy and ride efficiently. Attack hard and early, and pray that you don't get caught up behind anyone when you're out of the saddle.

I've tried my hand at a little low-level road racing. I saddled up for C Grade again in the last race before Xmas. A little smarter riding had me with the bunch for much longer (a bigger bunch helped as well), and I managed to attack with about 5km to go, taking 2 with me, and shattering the peleton.

We got caught with about 500 metres to go, giving me a quick chance to regroup, take a breather, and see how it was going to pan out. Someone took off earlier than expected - the baggy shorts gave him away as being a sacrificial lamb - but then someone fitter and faster made a break as well. I took off after him, and absolutely turned myself inside out chasing him down. Slowly, slowly making ground, someone on my tail ready to pounce, am I going to get there... BOOM. Got him on the line, not more than 1/2 a wheel in it.

Now starting to up the training load, as Alpine Audax is in about 4 weeks, and then I've stupidly signed up for the Otway Odyssey again, which is in about 8 weeks.

Km-wise, I didn't set myself a goal this year (well, not publicly anyway). After missing my 4000km goal the year before, I secretly hoped to hit that number this year. And today's ride up Falls pushed me over the line. Very, very happy. Hopefully another hundred by the end of the week, getting me close to 4200 for the year.

Sure, it's not the 15000km that our northern brethren have clocked up, but I'm happy with it all the same!

The Job

Study and job hunting has been slower than I would have liked this year. The initial plan was to have my GIS course completed by the end of 2009 - but with ever increasing hours and responsibilities at the bike shop, time to study has been leaner than I would have liked.

I finally got myself to a position where I felt confident in applying for GIS related jobs, and the back end of the year produced a rash of opportunities, which I duly applied for.

Positions came up locally with GHD (very large engineering firm), Murray CMA, North East CMA, and North East Water. I interviewed with GHD and NE Water (no call up for the other two), and initially thought I interviewed very well and was in with a shot. Unfortunately it was not to be - GHD opting not to fill the position, and NE Water opting for another candidate.

It's a little hard not to be dejected, as the positions do not come up all that often, and to have jobs come up with all the major employers within the space of a couple of months makes me think that it will be a while before any of them need to recruit again. But I am keeping my chin up, focussing on getting the course done, and getting out there and doing whatever piecemeal GIS jobs and projects come up.

The BMI Challenge

One of the bonus side effects of increased bike riding is increased weight loss. For a very long time I bounced around the 105kg mark, give or take. When I started working at the bike shop last year, a more physical work load resulted in a few kg starting to fall off. I never really noticed the weight coming off, the only benchmark I really remember was last year at the Scott 24, I was 100kg.

Things got a bit competitive amongst me and a few of our mates, as we all had a few kg to lose. The idea was to get us all down to the 'healthy' BMI range (for me this is 85kg) - and a little competition never hurt, right?

There was pride on the line, plus a pretty healthy prize to boot. And it came down to the final weigh in, and a 0.01% difference, for it to be won.

We've continued on with the challenge, in a slightly reduced form. I got down as low as 88.5, with Xmas socialising and associated eating, this has crept back up to around 91. But whatever the number is, it is a damn sight better than it used to be.

One could say I am 14% less of a man.


What does it hold?

No idea really.

A couple of things that I know are going to happen:

# Alpine Audax in Jan
# Otway Odyssey in Feb
# Mont 24 in Mar
# Italy in May

A couple of things that I would like to happen:

# Finish the GIS course
# Get some sort of GIS related (paid) work
# Get down to 86kg
# Ride 5000km

But above all, another year enjoying life and being happy is what I'm really aiming for.

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