Cycle Diary
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Graeme answers some frequently asked questions.
1. Why do you want to do it?
Because we fancy it, it will be fun and we love Australia and its people. Moreover, we have set ourselves more and more demanding goals each year, as part of our love of biking. From a 100kms first bike challenge in 2000, to a 320 kms in a day in Denmark in 2002, to a 2 weeks 900km ride through Spain and France last year, and now this ride.
I believe it will be a journey of a lifetime and a marked challenge. It's also a sort of celebration of life in general and my recovery, so far, in particular.
2. What do you envisage as the greatest challenge(s)?
1. Things we've not planned for, the unexpected.
2. The need to bike day after day for more than 30 days.
3. Coping with the novelty of Australia and its extremes (for us!).
3. Imagine yourself at Perth, looking over the handlebars at the start. What would you feel?
Delight to have got to this stage and excitement and impatience to get on, anxiety over whether I'll be able to deliver what you are looking for, and to complete the ride, nervousness over not wishing to let any one down, especially you and the Aus team including the events you've organised, wanting to have a marvellously memorable time with Peter and our new and old friends - so pretty chewed up emotionally!!
4. How do you ride a bike if you can't push with your feet?
My feet act as passive pivots, that relay the energy from the rest of my legs. More than 80% of the effort comes from my thighs and back, less than 15% from my calves and 5% from my feet. I use shoe clips like any other cyclist, and these hold my feet in place. I have to be especially careful not to allow my ankles to wobble and so hit the cranks!
5. What happens when you stop?
I am very clumsy when starting and stopping. I try to find something or someone to hold onto, when I clip my shoes in. I can do it on the move but this is awkward. Stopping is easier. I either reverse the action or I bend down before stopping and knock one foot out, first. It sounds worse than it is! Peter is excellent and expert in helping me but it does mean I have to plan further ahead than most!
6. How far down your legs does the skin feeling or muscle control extend?
I have skin-touch sensation along the length of my legs but not deep sensation. This deep sensation tapers to next to nothing from the knees down. I can point my feet down but not lift them (a form of dropped foot) so my balance is impaired, especially for standing still.
7. Why silicon socks? What do they do?
These silicon socks are part of an experiment and were made-to-measure. I have other sock-splints which are not quite so good. They enable me to walk without my feet "dropping" and so lessen the likelihood of my falling over my own feet. They also mean that I do not hit my feet on the ground quite so hard. They are especially good in helping me with my balance. I don't use them when I cycle because I do not need them then and they are uncomfortable if worn for long periods.
8. Is there any other special clothing or technical aid you need?
My feeling is inhibited in my "saddle area" so I have had trouble there! Silicon-gel inserts for my shorts are best and the other things you and Barbara have pointed out for me.
9. They say one of the worst aspects is boredom across the Nullarbor or the Hay Plain. Hundreds     of kilometers of flat straight road. What plans do you have for this?
Both Peter and I see this as one of the tests we are most looking forward to! We both like our own (individually and as a pair) company so it won't be a problem. I am reminded of my grandmother's comment that "Boredom is simply a lack of imagination!" I can imagine it will be massively frustrating and un-nerving but not boring.
10. What do you want to do when you arrive at Bondi?
Paddle in the water, have a beer and celebrate with everyone!

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