Finding Nemo

IMG_7283One thing I don’t like about getting older is my forgetfulness, my body taking longer to recover, my lack of patience, the effort I have to put in to keeping up…difficulties in parenting…and the added voices in my head!

The last few months I have been working on finding the younger version of me as I know I cannot recover my former self. I’m trying not to sweat on the small things. Out riding one day I met this young 13 year old boy on his mountain bike. He was full of beans and charisma. He showed me a wheelie and told me he washed bikes to pay for his bike bling. It reminded me that we all use to feel that way. Full of self confidence and love for life.

IMG_8809I have to remind myself that some of the simple things can be the most rewarding. Like discovering little tracks that you previously passed and never explored. Drinking coffee at little hidden places!

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Riding out the Coach’s Blue Bench, propping up your bike, sitting and eating your banana whilst watching the ships leave the port and the world go by.

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I love to ride to Nudgee Beach when I am feeling a little low, and visit #thattree. Some days the tide is out and you can see the whole tree in its splendour. Other days, high tide, the water splashes up against the wall and the tree is hiding its trunk. Washed up jellyfish and shells, swallowed up in mud. (photo cred SouthDog)

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One of the biggest self discoveries was made this year in September, when I joined the Westpac Chopper Charity Mountain Bike Ride…Mudgee to Tamworth (approx. 500kms). I discovered an inner strength I did not know existed. I found my ninja. Every day a challenge was set. Every day I took myself out of my comfort zone. I laughed, cried, swore, and listened to all my inner voices trying to mess with me. I activated my “Don’t give a Fuck” button and just rode. I rode away any negative thoughts. I left them under the bushes at Nundle. But I took away some great lessons. Never let the turkeys get you down (Farside). On this ride we learnt of our travelling friend…gone missing. It was difficult to shut this down for the following days. My husband was at home, assisting the Scottish Police with investigations. She was found dead, having fallen from a cliff. Many things came out of this! You don’t know when your time is up! RIP Lynne.

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Take what you can get! Stop procrastinating and do the thing! What have you got to lose?

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Since that ride, I have checked a few things off from my bucket list. Binna Burra, O’Reilly’s and completion of my first Lifecycle Toowong Orthodontics Women’s Crit Series. I have a passion for HILLS. They make you strong! I have a 75km Buderim9 Challenge 20 December I am training for…I will do this with my brother and two other friends.

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Things I know…Don’t expect things to come easy. You need to have the right attitude. No point in comparing yourself with others. They are on their own mission! Don’t judge. Don’t be jealous. The best training is done ALONE. It makes you resiliant. And you need to get dirty. There are days I have sat on the dirt and cried. I have accepted that I am the person that I am for a reason. I have made friendships. Lost friendships. That’s life. And the people who stick are the ones who not only accept you, but themselves.

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Putting things into perspective

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On Sunday 19 July 2015, at 10:20am, I waited with about 33 female riders, on the side of the road in the small township of Mulgowie Queensland Australia, for the Chief Commissaire to announce the start of the race. A race in honour of a young woman, Mardi Bartlett, who lost her life, doing the thing she loved with a passion…cycling. This was my second road race, a 3-lap 54km course. I felt nervous. Cycling Queensland placed me in C Grade, though I am a D Grade rider. A good friend and mentor, convinced me to go in wide eyed and with the view to learn and have fun. “It’s not the quickest rider that is impressive, but the smartest.”

The ride out was at a safe pace. A tail wind, with moderate rough surface. The fun began at the hairpin turn…straight into a head wind. I got dropped on the second last hill of the first lap. I know why it happened. I had already decided it would the evening before. Lesson 1: Don’t let your negative thoughts win. I was soon in the company of 3 other riders. I rode solo for what seemed like forever. I kept my eye on the group, the band slowly stretched. Soon they were just a speck of dust. I watched them fade into the distance, support cars following. I fought to catch, but I couldn’t get back on. I could see another rider drop. I continued to pedal as hard as I could, in hope of catching her. Eventually I got her! We concocted a plan and so began 2 laps as a team of 2. I have always told myself, that no matter what, I will always finish a race. It’s my number 1 rule. When we got to the finish line for lap 1 my friend and Commissaire shouted “Stay together and keep on riding!”. So that’s exactly what we did. We would do it for Mardi.

When you are out on the open road a lot happens. You need to be aware of your surroundings and be fully alert. Working together is tricky. You have to find a balance and work as a team. I was full of fight and wanted to smash it. I was also feeling hesitant as I didn’t want to put any stress on my partner or come across with a pushy attitude. She was a fighter! Her attitude was outstanding! We talked to each other, to the cows, made jokes about the cabbages and sang! YES! We sang as we rode up the steepest of the hills “Ain’t no mountain high enough!…Ain’t no valley low enough!…” You learn a lot about yourself when you are thrown into the wind. Rather…a wall! I’m pretty sure it was 30 knots! Lesson 2: The art of patience and power of determination. There is no point into going into something half arsed! If you are going to do the thing. DO IT! So rather than wallow in my self pity, I visualised a young woman in my head. Racing and winning and smiling. Being amongst her peers and celebrating her achievements with her parents and family. Too often I worry about the little things, and not the big things. I am lucky to be alive! To be able to ride my bike with friends and share the joy and excitement and thrill of the race as I cross the line!

Rest in Peace Mardi. You are loved.

Fear Face

Today I was invited by my best mate, Speedie, to join him on his Sunday morning Mt Nebo ride. It’s about a 1,000metre climb up one of Brisbanes most beautiful mountains, right at my doorstep. We took off at 5:30am (dark and chilly) picking up a few friends on our way. The slow climb out of The Gap is the steepest part, at which point you wonder why you chose to do this and not be tucked in bed! Not too far up the road I mentioned to Speedie that at sunrise we may expect to see kangaroos. Did I jinx him…because not even 10 minutes later BAM he runs one down! I still cannot believe he stayed on his bike! A miracle he wasn’t hurt badly. We rode very cautiously from this point.

As many know, I’m not a fan of gutters or steep descents. Not for the lack of wanting to descend, as I carry plenty of weight advantage…but as a result of purchasing a bike frame that is too large, combined with a bung shoulder, I have a great deal of difficulty in positioning my body and reach to the brakes. It’s quite normal for me to get cramps in my tricep if I tense, which adds to my delimma. So, today, I decided to focus on my descent rather than my ascent. I simply told my friends to go on ahead as I prefer to be left alone in this situation. I concentrated on my positioning (bum back into the saddle, body tucked into the top tube), taking the lane, and used the brakes by tapping them before the corners and when I felt a little spooked. I have found that using 25mm tyres have assisted me by softening the blow of the road surface, but finding the corners a little more tricky. In time I should be able to adjust to this.

For me, today was tough. I counted down the kilometres until I arrived safely back into The Gap. I’m pretty sure that we all have our own fears when it comes to cycling. A properly fitted new bike will help. Hill coaching will also get me over this hump and into the right head space. One last note: we all need to remember we are someone’s mother or father, wife or husband, and we have a big responsibility to our loved ones. Ride safe.

Winning: 1. gaining, resulting to victory in a contest or competition

“To be a champion, I think you have to see the big picture. It’s not about winning and losing; its about every day hard work and about thriving on a challenge. It’s about embracing the pain that you’ll experience at the end of the race and not being afraid. I think people think too hard and get afraid of a certain challenge.” Summer Sanders

Yesterday was one of my favourite races to date. HPRW Cycling Club ran the first of a three part Nicol Jackson Race series at Elimbah, Queensland Australia. I entered as D but Club Handicapper moved me to C. Challenge accepted. Two years ago I raced this course, got dropped and rode in last. Yesterday I hung on to the lead group and rode in with them sixth. I didn’t make it on the step, but I stepped it up to a new found level. I was advised by my Coach to do several things. I discussed each possibility and locked in a plan. Knowing full well that the best made plans can fail. Failure use to be hard to accept. Now, it is an opportunity to learn. With each race you need to learn in order to progress. This race was about playing. I played with my strengths. I played with my weaknesses. In doing this I discovered the art of tactics. I worked out who was Queen Bee and who were her workers. In under 5kms I knew what was going to go down. At this point I concocted my plan. I switched off any white noise and I took in a lung full of country air and stomped on my pedals. With each pedal stroke I set the wheels in motion.

The course was designed for me. A nice combination of hilly, flat, curvy and straight. Homeward bound it was ON! My threats: Queen Bee was young and light and fast on the flats. She was going to be first. Helper Bee was young and heavy, had endurance but slow on the hills. All of them hit the hills and slowed so this was my opportunity to play. I attacked each hill and dropped them on all three accounts. I let them pass and tucked in behind. I recovered, then pulled a long turn on the front, by way of thanking them for the pain train. At this point (5kms in from finish) I was spent. I made them hurt! It was so much fun! We all got twitchy and the group got messy. I had a word to the newest rider as was keen to see if she could meet Queen Bees match. She gave it a crack! Her smile alone told the story!

Standing on the podium is not even part of my psyche right now. It’s all about the numbers and the lessons. Sixth place is a winning place. And that’s good enough for me.

To view my stats go here:

http://www.strava.com/activities/329027559

Who do you think you are?

In my life I have met some remarkable people. I would make new friends and bring them home and my mother would critique them to me. I use to think she was being over protective, telling me what to do and rude in some cases. But as I grew older and matured, it occurred to me she was teaching me a simplified version of psychology…and the art of choosing a good friendship over a hurtful meaningless one. I became rather good at finding beautiful people and maintaining strong friendships. Now that I have my own daughter, I talk to her about her friends. We have lengthy discussions about ‘why’ and ‘how come’ and ‘I don’t understand’. For a young woman she is very in tune with people, more so than I ever was or am even now. I keep a watchful eye over her, allowing her to work things out for herself. After all, the best life lessons are ones that are learnt by mistake! I have learnt that there are people in our world that don’t always sync with you. A myriad of personalities that attract or make you retract. It’s difficult to grasp the concept that everyone you meet is not who you think they are from the outside. If you are a good and kind person then people will naturally gravitate to you. I think of it like this…if you are standing out in the dark cold night and are invited into the warmth and comfort of a safe space you would take up the offer. What awaits you may not just be the warmth of a fire or the comfort of a nice hot drink. There are people in our world who don’t hold the same core values as you choose. Even the most educated person can be treated wrongly. They give you just enough to spark your interest, enough to make you feel good about yourself, but then they take it away…so you want more. But you don’t know why. When you get hurt its a horrible ugly feeling that cuts to you deep. It’s difficult to describe to someone who has not. And having the need to find out ‘why’ is so strong you feel you cannot push through without this question answered. I think about people who have lived in abusive relationships. Who have been attacked, sexually abused, taken advantage of. How do they cope? How do they move on? Find themselves again? Getting even is not the answer. Praying for Karma is like expecting rain to shoot up out of the earth. The answer cannot be found. The mystery of these people cannot be discovered. Perhaps we just accept that they are just not right in their heads? Finding space and building walls of protection around one self is one way. Holding up the wall is the tricky part. Surrounding yourself with trusting, loving, honest and caring people helps. Hold onto them tight. And don’t allow your guard to drop so easily. Keep yourself safe. Don’t feel alone. Eyes tell you everything about a person. They are the window to the soul.

Does our mind influence our body?

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Photo credit: Lauren Hooper

The alarm clock belts out a heavy metal song at 4:30am Sunday morning. It’s dark. It’s cold. Damn! Why did I agree to do this? I had a restless sleep, I often do before a long ride. Will I complete it? Will I hold people up? Can I climb up the hills? Will I bonk? Do I need more than one tube? Have I properly hydrated?

The Rathdowney Randonee…

The drive to Rathdowney with my brother and friend is quick. We check out the temperature outside of the car. At one point it was 1 degree. Have I dressed in enough layers? Kit, arm warmers, gillet, jacket…should I have a woollen thermal on? Leg warmers? We pull into the carpark. Time for a nervous wee. Brrrrrrrrrr! It’s so bloody cold! ZIP! Off with the clothes. Someone really should think about designing a set of knicks with a neat strip of velcro in the pants! We listen to a brief from our ride co-ordinator. Fasties push off before the Wombles. We roll out nice and easy pace. Banter. The countryside crisp, dry and the air chilly. Cows checked us out. Someone calls out HILLS! Off we pedal…and so the fun begins! My third hill in I reach the top and stop. Burst into tears. I have no idea where it came from! Pure frustration? Not being about to do a standing climb? Being last in the bunch? I’m reassured it’s okay. Off we push. Not too long down the road I look up. I see a wall. Here we go! The 19% Lions Road climb we were here for. Luckily I was prepared. I swoop down and around a bend, I changed down to the lowest gear. Are you kidding me? They didn’t lie! This is crazy. I look up. I see others ahead of me scattered about. Some walking. At that moment I decide, I won’t be walking. My plan was, if I stop, I have to roll back down, turn around and continue on up. There was no way I was going to walk. I stop twice. Sucking in the air, the pain in my quads was uncomfortable! I see my brother roll down to me. He encourages me. Urges me on. Lucky for me, because I nearly quit. I hear someone call out my name. It spurs me on. I hit the pedals hard because I knew I had a cattle grid to cross over at the top. I scream out “F@#K YOU!” to the hills. It felt so invigorating! Someone laughed at me. Someone said “Let it out Caro!”. After a quick drink and a bar we rolled on. The descent was so beautiful!

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Reaching the top of Lions Road. Photo credit: Lauren Hooper

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Jon reaching the top of Lions Road. Photo credit: Lauren Hooper

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The smell of the forest, the winding smooth-surfaced road, wind in my face. I spot a bubbling creek and pass under an old bridge. I find myself alone in my thoughts for quite some time before our support rider catches me. We catch up with my friend. At this time we hit a large section of road that was full of loose gravel, pot holes, patched up road as far as the eye could see. We crossed numerous timber bridges held together with hundreds of large bolts. I decided to unclip my right shoe, as I needed to be sure I wasn’t going down! The only thing that went down was my water bottle, it jumped right out of the cage!

We hit a T junction, then turned right onto the highway that would take us through Dairy Flat and the climb to the top of the Lindesay Highway. It was about at the Dairy Flat sign that I teared up. My shoulder having been knocked around by the bad road surface had caused a cramp in my bicep. I gritted my teeth. I figured, at some point this will pass. I rubbed it. Shook it out. Head down, butt up, I threw down the pedals and blocked it out. The SAG stopped and offered a ride. I decided to get a bar and a drink, and turned down their offer, the same with my riding partner. We had gotten this far, we needed to keep on going. Finish this off. Off we pedalled. I dropped back. I started to wander all over the place. I wasn’t too happy at this point. I pulled up, crying. I told Tim to go on without me. He would have nothing of it. He wasn’t leaving me in the middle of nowhere. He convinced me to pedal on slowly, until the SAG returned. I looked down at my Garmin. 70 something kms. I listened to him. He talked to me. I blubbered something like…I’m not letting this thing beat me! It won’t win! He told me that I could give up and be unhappy, or go out and try my best and keep my body moving. It felt like a year…we hit the hill. I dreaded it. I was already in my lowest gear. I started hating it. I stop. Tim said, did you just see that bird swoop down in front of you? And..look over there at that forest! Listen to the sound of the birds. Isn’t this a place of beauty? I clipped back in. I pedalled. I saw ahead, a bend in the road. Just around that corner. I reach the corner. No…nothing but more road and hill! Tim threw me a joke. Made me laugh! We see the SAG. They stop, only 3kms to the top! I gain momentum. Only 3kms. I visualised how far. I visualised the food awaiting. Home baked goodies. Water. Grass to lie on. Finally! We hit the intersection! I pull in, to be greeted by our ride co-ordinator, Yvette, offering food and water. I imagined it was just like lost hikers in the middle of the Australian Red Desert discovering a Pub!

The fasties had left, leaving behind a few Wombles who polished off the remaining treats. I swallowed down 2 cocoa protein balls. I refer to these as my ‘power balls’ as they suddenly kicked in and gave me a second wind! Pedals up! This was the part of the ride I was waiting for. Thirty five kms of road will take us back into Rathdowney. A few years back I had ridden down this range on my MTB so I knew it was a pure slice of heaven! I was at the back of the pack, with Tim following closely behind. Again, making me feel reassured and at ease. I wish I studied harder in English, because I cannot find the words that recreate this moment. Long sweeping, winding roads, circling the side of the mountain. I sat in the middle of my lane with the SAG not too far behind. They signalled with a ‘beep’ when a car needed to pass. I owned the road! I tapped the brakes. I leant into the corners. The wind filled my helmet, hit me in my face like a cold awakening call. The sheer exhilaration! I laughed out aloud, even found myself dribbling! I remembered every corner. Crazy, considering I’d only ridden it once, and driven it once! I felt so alive! Drunk! High!

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“Big Tim”

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My Brother ~ Jon

When I reached the base of the descent I knew I had to chase down my friend. I had seen her not too far ahead, she powered down the mountain a lot faster than me! Tim pushed me. I saw a white jersey in the distance. I picked up the pace. I had to catch him! Close the gap Caro!! Finally! I got to his wheel! I shouted..I’m on! We formed a nice line of three. Looking down at my Garmin I saw we were hitting around 40kph. A beautiful tail wind pushing us along nicely. The road was forgiving! I could see my friend ahead, I shouted ‘jump on!’ and so we became four. The last 15kms being an unbelievable experience! It felt like a TTT, being that I was the last in the pack and taking advantage of my team’s wheels! About 5kms to go I drop back, my shoulder was fatiguing. Tim rolled past, nearly there! He rode not too far ahead, this forced me to hurry along. We rounded the corner, passed the Rathdowney sign and my brother, Jon, approached me shouting words of encouragement. I rolled into the carpark. I looked at my Garmin. 120kms. I was done. Completely and utterly DONE. Not a drop of energy to spare. I could barely unclip. I caught my breath. I looked up and saw the pub. I found myself clipping back in. I was on auto pilot on a mission to find a Lemon Lime & Bitters and a packet of Salt & Vinegar Chips! Mission accomplished.

 

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Rathdowney Randonee Route ~ South of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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Rathdowney Randonee Route ~ Strava data

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Mt Lindesay to Rathdowney to Route. My favourite bit!

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Photo credit: Lauren Hooper

 

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” ~ Dr Seuss.

Highs and Lows of an injury

Ride or Die Caro Leg

 

Nobody told me it was going to get easy.

It’s coming up to 9 months since I crashed my bike. Holding myself together, mentally, has been my biggest challenge. Like today, I opened my mail to read the letterhead “Employment Separation Certificate” from the Department of Human Services. Its another poke with a needle. Dealing with Personal Injury Insurance Company’s who make you jump through invisible hoops like a performing monkey.

People have asked me how is my progress? My shoulder has a lot of joint stiffness still, and the nerve is still a work in progress. The newly generated nerve controls my Deltoid which supports my upper limb. Currently it is inactive. Upside is I have sensation and a new ‘hot spot’ in the old area which was numb…it is rather fascinating! Simple tasks like tying my hair up, raising my arm to hang washing, opening windows, lifting objects to a bench, carrying loads, weight lifting at the gym and sitting at the keyboard for long lengths are still impossible tasks. It causes frustration and sadness. I stare at my arm in the reflection of the gyms mirror and I see another person. I morn the loss of my previous self.

I have learnt that you need to surround yourself with supportive and positive people. Seek professional help to encourage progress. But, mostly, be with friends who help me. This week I had a break through. A friend of mine contacted me and asked me to start a series of very basic exercises, one’s for which he knew I could manage. He talked to me about using my mind to activate my muscles. He re-enforced the power of the mind. This morning I opened a window. I jumped with joy! Inch by inch!

Through-out this time I have listened to other peoples struggles. Read motivational blogs. Socialised with groups who paint the picture of my dreams. Swam in a hot pool with broken people. I have seen people with far worse struggles. Amputees, brain damaged and burnt bodies. These people have kept it real to me. When I fall in a heap I think of these people. It up-lifts me. If not, I swing my leg over my bike and go for a pedal. Listen to my music and look at our beautiful City. Sit under a tree and watch people. I see things that most don’t make the time to see. Too busy caught up in their working lives to not see how amazing being alive is!

There are days I see people kick goals. It excites me, yet upsets me. I take a few days for this to pass. And it does. Having my friends check in on me during these times helps me to push through. I am so blessed to have such people in my life. For without my friends I wouldn’t be standing. Take some time to think about your friends with struggles. Sometimes you can’t always solve the problem. To listen to them is the key. Sometimes all they need is someone to talk too. Someone to lean on when times get tough. Someone who won’t judge or criticise. Someone to ask you for a ride.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” ~ Leo Buscaglai

Todays enlightenment ~ situational friends

Today whilst at lunch with my girlfriend, I learnt what a situational friend was. Basically, its a friend in a friendship bonded by a shared situation. Simply speaking, it’s the kind of friendship which gets cut after you leave your shared situation in which you met. Suddenly a whole lot of stuff has come to light for me! I would sit and wonder, why is it this person needed me? Some friends come about through shared experiences, bonding-by-drama, etc. One minute I would be sharing the most intimate things about myself…the next..BOOM they are gone. When that time is over, I’d go on about my business. But be left with this lingering question: Why? I use to think to myself, is there something wrong with me? What did this person want? Did they get what they needed? Did I get anything out of it? What happens when that one thing goes away, should you try to salvage the friendship on the premis of the friendship or just let it go?

I think we all change from year to year, job to job, residence to residence, age to age. During each phase in our lives we befriend people who share situations or environments. We befriend them only because of the commonality of shared experiences, and once those situations or environments change…the friendships usually fade out, too. It’s not like we sought out their friendship…rather, we gravitated toward them out of routine, necessity, boredom, whatever. It is confusing when situational friends are also close friends. A crisis, an urgency of some kind can push people together. When the crisis is over, people stay friends, thinking that because something so hard or horrible or painful or intense pushed them together, the friendship must be true, real, strong, and close. Close friends are real friends, and with each passing day you feel their importance…depending on the circumstances of your mood or the situation you are in.

“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” Helen Keller.

“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing…not healing…not curing…that is a friend who cares.” Henri Nouwen

It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day.

Out riding

It’s been a crazy hectic 6 months.

It’s been a crazy hectic 6 months.

On 12 September 2013 I was in a pace line training session on the Brisbane River Loop for my first Team Time Trial when I collided with another wheel and hit the deck with the gutter pulling me to a stop.

I ended up with a dislocated shoulder, tear to the rotator cuff and lateral muscle with a greater tuberosity fracture to the humorous. Mental pain! I was treated and sent home, with a follow up surgery to repair the damage leaving me in a sling for 6 weeks. After a month of recovery I was able to be treated at the RBH Physiotherapy Dept with one on one physio and Hydrotherapy. I engaged an Acupuncturist for 2 x weekly treatments. Initially I walked to these treatments, but as time progressed I rode a bike. When I was in a good position and had the go ahead from my surgeon and physio, I spent each day at my gym on a recumbent stationery bike and used the equipment for my physio. I attended RPM classes, wearing my sling so as to protect it. The classes made me feel part of a team. And it hurt! But I was determined not to let this misfortune get the better of me. I progressed from the recumbent to the upright to the wind trainer to a commuter to a mountain and then, finally, a modified road bike. Each time I transitioned from one bike to the other I felt a massive sense of achievement. I pealed back the layers of internal pain to reveal a new layer. A stronger layer, and version of me. I discovered things about myself I never knew. I felt grief, pain, helplessness, loss. I found out that my family and friends are the people in my life that are my backbone. My support system. Blair from Lifecycle watched over me and he provided this much needed support. I won some, I lost some. But the ones who hung around are the keepers. I was fortunate to meet a woman whom I friended on Facebook…but had only met a few times. This woman has been through the toughest transition in life. I knew she could keep me real. She messaged me daily, working through my bad moments with me. She was my saviour during these times. She and my One Armed Bandit, who was also convalescing from a bicycle injury…and an amazing woman I met at my gym. Without these women I would have gone nuts. It’s times like these you appreciate your girlfriends.

I’ve never damaged my body before, so this was new to me. I remember coming home from the hospital after surgery and crying in pain because I couldn’t lie down on my bed. It was horrible. I took some hardcore drugs and slept for about 2 weeks. My body really needed to rebuild and recover. My GP looked after me and kept the pain level under control. The worse part about pain medication is the side effects. Depression being the worse. I had some pretty dark and lonely days. I looked at Facebook and Strava and wept! Crazy hey? But I could see all my friends out there on their bikes enjoying life and I wanted a bit of that. I began to hate my bike. I blamed it for my accident. Only now do I realise that was stoopid! When you clip your foot into your pedal it’s a choice you make. And with choices come responsibility. Life began to have clarification.

When I started to feel more myself I began catching the train everywhere as I wasn’t permitted to drive. It took 4 trains to get the the Nundah Crit Track return, but it was worth it. There I watched my friends on their bikes enjoying the thrill of the race. I met up with my fellow One Armed Bandit and we shared these cool times together. At this time, a special friendship grew with a woman I met last year, at this very crit track. I blogged about her. She heads up a team call Koiled Tineli. She invited me to join her team. I died a thousand deaths. OMG. It was my dream to be part of her team. She was aware of the extent of my injury but encouraged me to participate in her team, no matter the outcome, no expectations. A member of her team rocked up to my place with his toolkit and took components (which my brother bought me) and modified Beauty for me. Let’s refer to him as ‘The Technician’! Suddenly I became part of a picture that was once a dream, but now a reality. My attitude changed. I asked my best mate, Speedie, if I could hook onto his afternoon training rides with him as I was too nervous to ride alone. Here began a beautiful friendship between Speedracer and Beauty. Other friends found out I was back on Beauty and invited me to ride with them as well. I was blown away! The Wombles arranged a Tour de Redcliffe ride in Beauty’s honour! Pink feathers are still found about the suburbs of the Northern Lands.

Blair and the Lifecycle team have been a massive support to me and have never left my side. I now have a new amazing family.

So many lessons.

I have been un-employed during this time. I have a business with my husband and a Part-time Casual Job with a north side company. Financially, tough times! Luckily my teenaged children are old enough to fend for themselves. My daughter has been instrumental in the art of dressing her mother! Again, it’s moments like these that you appreciate what you have and what you need to keep the cogs turning.

During my treatment I met a woman who had major concerns for me as I could only hold my arm passively. She recommended I seek a second opinion as she was not happy with the lack of progress. I took her advice and so began the next phase…an EMG revealed I had a damaged nerve. Tomorrow I will be admitted to the RBH for further surgery. The name is a pretty fancy one: “Left Radial to Auxillary Nerve Transfer”. Cool stuff hey. An incision is made down my tricep and these two nerves are attached together to re-establish the connection to my deltoid muscle. Chances of success are unknown. But if you don’t give it a try what’s the alternative?

Caro&BJ

People ask me…so you actually want to get back on your bike? I met a dude that also had a crash, and he won’t race anymore. He asked me…so why do you ever want to race again? As a child my mother taught me, if you fell off your bike, ‘get up, dust yourself off and get back on again’. For the past 7 years I have surrounded myself with fit, healthy and positive thinking people. There was no decision to be made. Fall down 7. Get up 8. It’s what a mate keeps telling me.

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I have met many people with injuries who have their own stories to tell. I hope that my story can allow you to see a piece of yourself in it and take out of it what you need. Find the better part of yourself and nurture it, allow it to regrow and shine through. NEVER GIVE UP.

Caro xx