In my previous post I covered my first year experience at the University of Queensland, and a brief military misadventure. In this post, I respond to a request from a twitter follower to hear one of my seven stories which was initially posted here.
After my six month stint at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA), I returned to University part time to finish a couple of failed subjects before moving into the second year of my applied science degree in human movements. I had to work to pay rent and did so as a bicycle courier, eight or nine hours a day, with a 40 minute commute each way. Needless to say I developed into an aerobic animal. When I left ADFA I was a muscular 84 kilograms. After my first 6 months of cycle couriering I had whittled that down to a wiry 72 kilograms, with most of it in my thighs.
Power Couriers were pretty accommodating when I need to study, so I was able to maintain the job for nearly 3 years until the demands of study took over and I had to give it away. I had begun to race and train with a club called Ffast, with my street skills ideally suited to short course criteriums. When the first Australian Universities Games (AUG) came to Brisbane in 1993 I wanted so badly to compete.
I registered with UQSport and was expecting their support as a student, but they denied me entry to the games because I was racing for a competitor club. Disappointed, I watched that year from the sidelines. I made the decision that the AUG was more important to me than my old cycling club, and the UQ Cycle Club became my new home. The next year we prepared for Wollongong.
Wollongong in 1994 was great, I placed fourth in the mens road race and stayed upright in the wet and windy criterium finishing with the bunch. I was just happy to be riding with a talented bunch of mates. I was putting into practice what I was learning in class about exercise management and sports science, and developing an interest in ergogenic aids, mixing my own electrolyte drinks from sourced from sports journals and utilising caffeine and gaurana (not banned substances at University level) well before Red Bull and V became popular.
The next year I volunteered to manage the team for the AUG in Darwin ‘95. But this time I knew we had to pull out a special effort to beat the heat. The games are usually held in September, this is before summer and the wet season, but the daily temperatures average above 32 degrees Celsius with a humidity above 70%. I arranged a self directed study, through the kind support of my lecturer in exercise physiology and the physiology department, which included the use of a heat chamber to prepare my athletes.
Heat training has an effect on endurance athletes similar to altitude training or blood doping. It is a legal method of increasing blood volume and therefore the ability of an athlete to carry oxygen in their blood stream. At the very least I hoped that my study would prepare my athletes psychologically for extreme temperatures and give us an advantage over the teams from the southern states.
The girls did particularly well in Darwin, one of them winning the women’s triathlon and placing second in the overall classification for road cycling. I competed well, but was on a return from injury, so not spectacularly. I was happy that I had contributed to a team success and I hope that the science I applied had something to do with it.
When I returned to Brisbane I placed third in the club’s Triple Crown, which was a small victory for someone three years earlier had been on the outside. In my final year at University I gained a practical placement at the Australian Institute of Sport in Adelaide for my work with elite cyclists. Throughout the early part of my academic trajectory I was always looking for ways to apply my knowledge to practical problems and I hope that this shines through.
to be continued…