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Old 06-15-08, 07:00 PM   #1
Catweazle
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I'm back, and I can't climb dirt trails!

Well, actually I can, but the effort nearly gave me a stroke! More about that in a minute or two


Hi everyone. I've been absent from here for a few weeks, and I've missed the interaction with you all. I was in the midst of a pretty severe illness last time I was posting in this section, and since then I've had a period of R 'n' R up at my bush shack, followed by a few trips up and down to the city, where my 30 year old son is currently undergoing cancer treatment. He's stuck there for a month of daily radiation treatment. I'm scheduled to go back there in a couple of days time, to provide support for him during the final week or so of that period. (And to bring back the road bike I left there for him to get around on. We had a good time a week or two back, when I had both bikes down there, as the facilities are located in an old and very scenic area on the outskirt of the inner City of Melbourne. Riding around there was a wonderful experience!)

Anyways. That hill! I've dug up some old photos to illustrate the bottom section of it. I haven't got any of the longer top section, but I think you'll get the drift from my description here.

I've had a couple of shortish stays up at my lakeside hut since the last time I posted here in 50+. When I headed up there for the first of those stays - my period of recuperation from illness - I loaded the bike into the back of the truck intending to do some leisurely riding around the rail trails and bush tracks nearby. But I'm afraid the 'boy' in me took over, and I ended up sorta sorry that it did.


There's no phone reception at my hut. After unloading the truck, getting the gas 'fridge going and the generator set up for lighting, sweeping out the hut, attending to the bedding and all the rest of the paraphernalia it was time to ring home, let people know I'd arrived there safely and that all of our gear was still intact....

I usually wander up top of the hill to do that, to where my phone gets good enough reception. But I'd brought a bicycle with me, hadn't I? My eye wandered to it, and the mischievous imp of a boy inside me took control. "I've never really properly checked out Granny Gear on this thing" I thought! That was most definitely a mistake. It was an even bigger mistake to jump on the thing and roll down to the water's edge to ride up the WHOLE hill!


Our 'camp' is quite near to the water's edge, but it's still quite a drop down to the lakeside, as you can see from this lovely view we have:



We've a vehicle track down to the point, with a loop at the end which helps when we're launching the boats. I jumped on the bike and rolled down the 'easy' side to the lovely little spot where I often sit and catch the evening meal.




Down bottom it's flat for about 20 metres before I turn to face uphill and start climbing up the 'hard' side. this first very short stretch is a LOT steeper than it appears in a photo. There's also a lot of leaf litter and debris been tossed into the wheel ruts in that piccy, in an effort to reclaim the washed out track. It's awfully bumpy, with tree roots protruding. On a wet day you'd hesitate to drive a 4X4 up there



The track flattens out a little bit after you pass the end of the loop. It's still pretty steep up intoi camp, though. See. The day I took this photo I even got tired dragging my trusty old fishing buggy back up the hill to the hut!



Through the camp proper it flattens out a bit, with a reasonably gentle gradient where Catweazle was able to get out of granny gear and get a little bit of speed up to tackle the next challenge:



The shocks got tested out well on that drainage ditch before I really started to hurt myself climbing that short, steep little turn to the main track up the hill!




No piccys of the rest of the hill, but once around the corners it's a straight climb up the side of the hill, then a steep left hand turn after you come out into the grassed paddocks, with the wheel ruts through the grass on the hillside creating a stretch which makes car drivers very nervous, and then back to a gentler gradient for the final stretch to the top. All up, from water's edge to the spot up top where I get phone reception there is about half a kilometre of track and a climb of about 50 metres or so. I'm am SERIOUSLY not going to try riding up it again!


It wasn't really the gradient that got to me so much as the extent to which the bike bounced around in the wheel ruts, over twigs and all sorts of other nasty obstacles. And the short bits where the wheel ruts were so deep that I thought the pedal were gonna hit the dirt kinda scared me, too! Worst of all, though, was the state I was in once I got up top. I jumped off the bike and leaned against a tree stump for quite a while before I eventually made that phone call. My heart was pounding so hard that it felt like the back of my head was gonna explode! I was panting so hard that I couldn't have spoken a word if I tried



My family's comment, when I later told them that I'd ridden up that hill?

"SILLY old *******!"



By the way. A coupla days later I jumped on the bike to ride the 10 km or so to the nearest little township, to grab a few things at the shop there. Coming back from there includes a really steep stretch of highway that climbs about 120 metres over a distance of a couple of km. Riding that, on bitumen, hardly even made me raise a sweat. I'm seriously not cut out for that dirt track, wheel rut hillclimb stuff though!

heh heh.....

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Old 06-15-08, 07:39 PM   #2
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Welcome back. Glad to hear you're feeling better, and best wishes to your son.
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Old 06-15-08, 07:54 PM   #3
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Good to see you posting again. I've gave up on climbing those dirt hills

Best wishes to your son.
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Old 06-15-08, 08:08 PM   #4
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Welcome back. Your bush hut sounds like a nice little place. All the best to your son.
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Old 06-15-08, 08:15 PM   #5
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We missed you, glad you're okay. My thoughts are with your son.
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Old 06-15-08, 08:16 PM   #6
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Keep doing it till it gets easy. Then go find something harder.
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Old 06-15-08, 08:17 PM   #7
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I'm sure there's more than a few 50+'ers that have beaten or live with the threat of cancer returning. And I'm equally sure they all feel your pain at having a 30 year old son going through this.

All the best to him and tell him to fight the battle for the win.
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Old 06-15-08, 08:25 PM   #8
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Wish your son a speedy victory. Looks like a nice place you've got there. trail riding in the hills is really fun, it takes practice and is as much about technique as strength/stamina. Like BluesDawg said, keep doing it till it get easy. And you will find something harder.
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Old 06-15-08, 08:28 PM   #9
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It looks like a great place. My best to your son.
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Old 06-15-08, 09:05 PM   #10
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Always a great feeling to pop in here. Thanks for the warm welcomes and good wishes


I'm not really 'back' properly yet for another couple of weeks or so, and I'm not riding all that much lately. Not any distance riding, anyways. It's early winter here, and now that I've gotten over an early season illness I can't really afford to come down with any more 'bugs' just at present. That young bloke of mine has about 'zero' immunity just for the time being, and having bugs would mean I can't go near him. Rides which might see me stuck a ways from home in weather that turned cold and wet are currently out of the question. There'll be plenty enough time later on to get back in the saddle and ride for hours on end


Here's the 'young' bloke, by the way, performing with the Indigenous dance group he runs for the kids in our local community here. That's a couple of my granddaughters and a niece costumed up in the background




Amidst the treatment he's also preparing for a performance with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, which is coming up sometime soon. Playing didjeridoo with the mouth dryness which comes from radiation therapy is gonna be quite a challenge for him. He and I had a good chuckle, though, after his first meeting with their musical director, where he was asked to get hold of a 'didjeridoo tuned to C'. I'm not sure if that erstwhile gentleman is aware of the fact, but the only easy way to get hold of such a thing is to grab a length of polythene pipe from the plumbing supplies depot and cut it down to length until you get the right note
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Old 06-15-08, 10:02 PM   #11
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Forgot to mention:

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Keep doing it till it gets easy. Then go find something harder.
I probably will ride up that hill again at some point or other. But it's NOT gonna be on a 'comfort hybrid' bike!
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Old 06-15-08, 10:05 PM   #12
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Quote:
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Forgot to mention:



I probably will ride up that hill again at some point or other. But it's NOT gonna be on a 'comfort hybrid' bike!
Good idea.
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Old 06-15-08, 10:10 PM   #13
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That's a great picture of your son. What kind of cancer does he have? It sounds like he doesn't want to let it slow him down if he can help it. Wish him the best from all of us, OK?

It's nice to have you back!
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Old 06-16-08, 04:50 AM   #14
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Welcome back Catweazle. I hope your son responds well to the treatment. Your support and a good attitude on his part help a lot.
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Old 06-16-08, 06:18 AM   #15
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Welcome back I wish the best for your Son.
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Old 06-16-08, 11:33 AM   #16
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I got to 60 and I stopped doing the Hard Offroad stuff. Got these road bikes now and they don't like dirt (One of them has a bit of white on it)

Offroad riding is hard when you are not used to it. When you are used to it- it is hard but you get used to it. You may have lower gearing but heavier bike- heavier tyres that drag- terrain that won't stay still and funny things like mud- wet leaves- tree roots and dead ??? to make the tyres spin a bit instead of gripping. But for physical fitness- there is nothing better.

And as you found out- That flat smooth black stuff is far easier to ride on.
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