Race Day Recap: Darren Smith Classic 2019 SPOILER: I WON!

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It takes all the fun out of it when it is in the title, doesn’t it? Nonetheless, the story is still an exciting one!

Hello my wonderful, loyal readers. A quick life update to set the scene for you: I left the start up I was working at to take a break and recharge myself mentally, only to find myself as part of another start up within a matter of weeks. The short break I did have was perfect, and I got to enjoy many a pro hours ride (check out the vlog I did of one of these here). 

It’s actually not a bad view, really…

The new start up I’m at is very fast paced, with lots of moving parts, and a team over the in UK as well as here in Australia. What does this mean? Late night phone calls most nights of the week. This has led to some reluctance on my behalf to wake up in the mornings at the times required to get a decent workout in. With my current mental fragility in mind, I was beginning to crumble. Here’s the kicker: I was crumbling under my own pressure I put on myself (isn’t it annoying how we do that?). Something had to give. What gave was outdoor, morning workouts. My training sessions became indoor, afternoon sessions on the Tacx in our living room at home. 

The result? More sleep, more flexibility, overall a much happier April. Oh, and…

I won a bike race. 

To be more specific, I won Queensland Classic Road Series Round 3’s bike race. I’ve been a bit lazy with my previous race day recaps, but I actually managed to snag the Leaders Jersey for QCRS at Tyalgum Cup, so I went into the Darren Smith Classic wearing yellow and ready to defend. 

The Darren Smith Classic 2019 is an annual road race held on the Gold Coast in Australia in memory of Darren Smith. Gold Coast Cycling Club put the event on every year, and the course includes exclusive access to a climb up the side of a dam wall. The climb itself I think is a bit over 500m in length, and tops out at about 9%. It’s pretty savage. Especially when you then realise the course is a 12km loop, that you do multiple laps of for your entire road race. So you are riding the wall every. single. lap.

Just for shits and giggles, Tim and I had actually done a few recons of the course in the weeks leading up to the race, sans the dam climb because it is restricted access.

My overall feeling for the course was that it was perfect for me, and I was going to have a great time rolling around on it. As you can see from the course profile below, it is a pretty lumpy course, but ultimately once you get over the dam wall it is kind-of-sort-of-a-little-bit downhill for the rest of the lap. 

I was in Division 3 which was 48kms and 4 laps, and included multiple Grades – Juniors (stopping after 3 laps), Elite Mens Masters C & D, a well as Elite Women’s C & D. The first climb up the dam wall was in neutral as there is actually quite a technical descent on the other side, and since the dam is restricted access there wasn’t much availability for riders to investigate the course for themselves.

But after the climb, it was on like Donkey Kong! I had attempted to position myself as close to the front of the group as possible, more to avoid the concertina effect that occurs at the back of a large group than anything else. The first lap was quick, but as we came around to the second, and first proper race up the climb, the group split apart very quickly. The front group of men got away and I clung for dear life onto the back of a men’s chase group. 

Photo Credit: Adam Weathered

I stuck with them quite easily on the climb, but once we hit the downhill, I was in a spot of trouble. The men flew down all the hills and I had to pedal furiously in my smallest gears to stay just within their draft zone. It all came undone however when we had a turn coming up, and I mistook how soon it had arrived so I began easing off the gas in preparation for a bit of a tight corner, only to realise once it was too late that it was the next turn after the one I thought it was. 

That was the end of my tow from the men. The rest of my race was spent on my own somewhere in no-mans-land. I had no idea if I was coming first or last – I had seen another woman, who is actually my biggest yellow jersey risk, come up the inside to join the front men’s group earlier in the race but I never saw myself go past her so I had no idea if she was up the road or out the back. 

Either way, I just kept going.

On my last lap, about halfway through, Bear and Paul arrived on the live-streaming bike and began recording me. I was confused AF at this point, I didn’t know the heck was going on, but he followed me the entire goddamn rest of my lap. My pain, and awkward lumbering up and over the rollers that I was only a few laps ago dominating like a champion, are all caught on bloody camera. Check it out for yourself:

With the end coming closer, I began pedalling harder and preparing myself to leave everything I had out on the course. I didn’t know if I was winning or losing, but I wanted to make myself proud anyway. So I sprinted all by myself across the finish line. 

And then Bear and Tim told me I had won. When Bear started recording me, I had a FRICKING 4 MINUTE LEAD!! I was gobsmacked. And also very, very stoked. 

Unfortunately the two runners up were not around by the time presentations happened so I was on the podium all on my lonesome 🙁

This essentially means I am now in B-Grade also, as I have successfully accumulated all my points that I needed to move up a Grade! I’m now just patiently waiting for the official email saying I have been moved up. At this stage, I will still be competing in Queensland Classic Road Series Round 4 in my current grade however. Not that I mind, it means I will get one more ride in my yellow jersey. Once I move up a grade, I will no longer be able to retain my C-Grade jersey.

Speaking of B Grade, the winner was riding a gravel bike!

Jonnemei, an absolute weapon on wheels, had a mishap with her road bike in the lead up to Darren Smith but instead of pulling out decided to change the tyres on her cyclocross bike (but keep the gravel bike gear ratios lol) and use that instead. And smoked the field. Bloody insane.

The good news keeps rolling, Emily Fowler (Youtuber: Emily Fowler), also made it into the QCRS Yellow Jersey for WOMEN’S FRICKING A GRADE! To think that 2 years ago she was tearing the crit track in C Grade with me and now she’s dominating A Grade and racing NRS. Legend. 

So next week will hopefully be my last race in C Grade! It is the Cunningham Classic, Round 4 of the Queensland Classic Road Series. 97kms across a range called Cunningham’s Gap. Big one. 

I know this entry is a bit more long-winded than my previous Race Day Recaps, but I had to provide a bit of a life update in the background as well. Thank you very much for reading all the way to the end, if you did.

Check you next time!

Race Day Recap: Balmoral Metropolitan Championships 2019

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Photo Credit: Bear Liange, Veloshotz

Hello my friends!

I’m back with another race day recap! The Balmoral Metropolitan Championships was on last weekend, and it was my first time competing in it. Last year, I had entered with every intention of showing up to the start line(s), but as we all know last year was not the year for me. Moving on…

Balmoral Cycling Club, one of the most active racing clubs in Brisbane (and also chief of the hallowed Muzz – read about that here) hold a 2 day series every year called The Metropolitan Championships. This year the series took the form of a criterium on one day (held at hallowed Muzz) and a road race on a well known loop out at Kalbar the next day.

Metros marked my second and third Cycling Queensland races for the year, since I was only able to compete in Round 1 of the Sizzling Summer crit series in January/February. In the lead up to Metros, I had been able to perform 4 weeks of consistent training, thanks to Tim’s infinite wisdom, so I was pretty excited to see how I was going to go in both the crit and the road race.

Stage One: The Crit

Photo credit: Bear Liange, Veloshotz

The crit for Women’s C grade was 25 minutes + 2 laps which is actually a bit shorter than the regular C Grade women’s crits which are normally 30/35 minutes + 2 laps. This had left me less than hopeful for a result in the crit since 25 minutes is an easy time frame for sprinters to last the mile with very little ability for any attacks to stick (not that 30/35 minutes is any better in terms of these timings but you know when you’re scraping the barrel every minute counts hehe).

Photo Credit: Bear Liange, Veloshotz

The crit was relatively uneventful, with my faux pas coming in the second last lap. I lost my position and therefore was in a very bad spot for the sprint, which I tried for nonetheless. I was close to managing a sneaky fourth but alas found myself on the grass to try and avoid an erratic sprinter and came in at 6th or or something similar. Battling for position for a sprint is something I really struggle with – I just don’t have the balls of steel required. I’ll get there though, I’m sure.

Stage Two: The Road Race

The day of the road race started earlier for me a whole hour earlier than anticipated. I had a very drunken and very stinking Tim roll into bed at 3am – exactly one hour before my alarm was due to go off to start the drive out to the race.

We stopped at Maccas on the way there.

The road race is a particularly hilly and lumpy course that forms a loop and the distance you were racing dictated the number of loops of the course you performed. C Grade women was 1 loop only, or 31.5km.

It’s a hard course – from the get go you’ve got 3 lumps to get over before encountering a particularly long, steep ramp. It was on this long steep ramp that I missed the attack that occurred. I chased hard to try and catch, but ended up spending 10kms by myself in no-mans land before the main group finally caught me.

As much as it sucked being alone for 10kms of the race, I also really enjoyed sitting in that threshold zone with a decent rhythm just ticking along. I lost the rhythm once the group caught me, but there wasn’t another chance available of me getting away and staying away.

Leading into the sprint we had a car in front of us that wasn’t sure what it wanted to do and so by the time it got out of the way, I had panicked and thought I needed to start the sprint. So I started it from a bit too far back considering there was a headwind, and it was a slight uphill into the finish. About 15m from the line I was gassed, and only managed to cross the line to achieve 4th place. I was extraordinarily gutted with myself. At the time, I didn’t realise Cycling Queensland road race gave points down to 6th place so I thought I had missed out on points all because I couldn’t hold an extra 15m to get third place.

As it turns out, however, the girl who got 3rd place was disqualified for crossing the middle road line too many times in the race and I got to stand on the podium. Not exactly a glorious reason to be on the podium, but I’ll take it anyway haha.

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The Metros Road Race wasn’t just the final stage of the Metros Series, but it was also Round 1 of the inaugural Queensland Classic Road Series, which is an aggregation of all the classic road races across Queensland brought together under one series. I’m currently sitting in third place on 12 points for GC. The next round is Tyalgum Cup, which is on 7 June. I raced that last year, and placed fourth – let’s hope I can do better this year!

The Wrap Up

Metros highlighted some significant gaps in my fitness. Particularly in my ability to respond to attacks, and also my gearing during crucial parts of a race. I’ve been working on both of these things over the past couple of weeks, and will continue to do so in the lead up to Tyalgum so I do not get caught out again.

But it was still a great weekend of some very fun racing!

Strava Route: My Favourite Climb on the Sunshine Coast

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My Favourite Climb on the Sunshine Coast - My Name is April

I was first introduced to the amazing cycling through the Sunshine Coast Hinterland after I decided to enter the maiden voyage of the Sunshine Coast Velothon. I hadn’t been riding for very long but on a drunken whim one night I entered the three day fondo and set out to spend the next 11 months training as best I could to actually make it to the end.

To prepare, Tim took me nearly every weekend for rides up on the Sunny Coast. This was his territory, he grew up on the coast and swore black and blue the riding up there was far better than anything Brisbane had to offer. With nothing but a Mt Nebo to compare to, all I could do was skeptically believe him.

But he wasn’t wrong. The first several rides he acted as my guide, taking me up down and all around through Bald Knob, Peachester, Razorback, Montville, Mapleton…not to mention Obi Obi, Bellthorpe, and Postmans (these 3 are like the climbs of all climbs on the coast, and I have only done one of them). The Sunshine Coast is an absolute mecca for the mountain goat cyclist.

Most recent photo of Tim and I at the top of Brandenburg!

The one climb he didn’t introduce me to was Brandenburg. And as it turns out, this has become my favourite climb, to date, in Australia. I’m fully aware I have not yet been outside of Queensland or NSW for cycling, so I haven’t got much to compare it to, but in terms of what makes a good climb Brandenburg has it all. It has gravel, steep inclines, cattle grids, chooks and absolutely incredible views of the surrounding Hinterland.

The views are incredible. Cycling blog - My Name is April
The views are incredible….

400m of elevation, and if you come in from the coast and ride back out to the coast you’ve got yourself a handy 80km loop with a tailwind on your way back home. You start the climb in the little mountain town of Mooloolah (winner of Tidy Towns 1987 or something) and finish it at the top of Maleny, giving you a ripper descent to start your journey home.

The climb starts with a teasing short steep incline. If the sharp apex in elevation didn’t give it away the spike in your heart rate certainly will. From there you go down and around a bend and then the real fun begins.

The gradient peaks at 27% on the gravel, and goes up and around a corner just to make it a bit more fun. My only piece of advice is to stay seated, and pick your line well. It can be really tempting to get out of the saddle or zig zag, but deep potholes and loose gravel make both temptations equally risky. Just stay your course and keep your legs spinning, you will make it.

The very last little bit of climbing involves crossing a cattle grid on a particularly steep incline. I haven’t yet mastered this part and risk a wobbly dismount to cross with bicycle over my shoulder. I do really need to learn how to do this though because getting back on and going is an absolute pain in the ass on such a steep incline.

It’s the rides and climbs like this one that remind me why I love riding so much. During the week I don’t really have the time to go out for any sort of extended long ride, so when I get the opportunity to go for a jaunt through the Sunshine Coast Hinterland it is just perfect.

Looking at the Strava segments for Brandenburg Rd suggests to me that it isn’t a climb that is widely known outside of the Sunny Coast locals / frequent hinterland riders so hopefully this is a little gem that pikes your interest enough to go and give it a go.

This is one of the main reasons I have this blog is to share fun weekend cycling routes with you, so if you do decide to make the trip to Brandenburg, or even want to tag along with me on a ride, let me know because I will be more than happy to!

You can see the route I take here on my Strava.

Rapha Bib Comparison: Which Ones Are the Best?

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Rapha Bib Comparison - My Name is April

I seem to have established myself as some sort of authority when it comes to Rapha’s female cycling wear range. It probably has something to do with the fact that my entire cycling wardrobe is now 100% Rapha (unsponsored might I add, although I feel like I ought to get some sort of kickback for all this good publicity!).

I can’t help it. The quality of their kit and also the colours are just perfect. I’m a sucker for a minimal, simplistic look and this company just nails it. They do, however, have quite a few different collections. They recently revamped their Brevet collection to now be called “Cargo” and I think there are some other design changes underway also.

A lot of the questions I do get asked are around which of their collections I recommend for the most comfortable pair of bibs. I get these types of questions regularly enough that I decided to make a youtube video about it, see below:

If you’re a too long, don’t read kind of person then this is the basic rundown:

The Souplesse II are the winner!

Without a doubt, the Souplesse II are their most refined, comfortable bibshort. In my humble opinion. Their price tag is bloody expensive at $315 but considering Asos have got $600 bibshorts, they aren’t bad in comparison.

As always, I recommend waiting for a sale. Because there will be one. And you will be thankful for it.

Siroko Tech: An Updated Review

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Japan Planning - My Name is April

In hindsight, this blog entry should have been posted a long time ago. This blog entry is an update to my blog entry of May 2018 in which I first reviewed Siroko sports sunglasses.

Back then, at the time, I was happy with my purchase and didn’t expect much from a product that cost me less than I spend on coffee per month. I’d like to reiterate that I definitely was not gifted the Siroko glasses I currently own, nor was I commissioned to write the entry. I’ve explained in past blog entries why I refuse to do sponsored reviews which you can read about here and here.

Some of the readers of my Siroko review, however, have unfortunately not had the same experience as me. I’ve had numerous emails as well as comments on my entry that tell a different story of poor quality products, lack of support from customer service and in worst case scenarios no replacements for faulty products.

This truly saddens me to hear that a company like Siroko which provide an affordable, stylish alternative to a vastly higher priced Oakley or Alba Optics product are not treating their customers right. Just because you have a cheap product, this does not mean your customer service needs to be cheap.

I reached out to Siroko to let them know that one of the highest viewed entries on my blog has become a community forum for customer complaints. I don’t know if I will hear a response, but I do not want my previous review of them to continue to be a driver of sales and revenue when they treat their customers the way they are.

I want to finish this entry by thanking all of you that read my blog, and comment and email me. I read all your emails and comments and appreciate each and every one of you.

I Finally Tried Zwift!

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My First Zwift - My name is April

Whether you’re an old hat or complete newbie to the cycling world, everyone has heard of Zwift. It was the revolution for indoor training. Before I properly researched it (and by that I mean open the website and read the front page) I vaguely knew that it was a virtual cycling program that connected to your smart trainer and enabled you to simulate courses/rides whilst staring at a little moving pixellated depiction of yourself.

This didn’t particularly appeal to me for a number of reasons – I thought I would get distracted by the screen and not perform my efforts effectively, I felt like it was cheating (as though somehow the indoor trainer is supposed to be un-fun??) and I already spend my entire day sitting in front of a computer so being on the bike was supposed to be my escape from that – both on the road and on the indoor trainer.

But peer pressure got me good. So many online cycling communities spruik live races and even the pros are on board, giving you the opportunity to jump into the Zwift virtual-world and ride alongside some of the biggest names in cycling.

And so I downloaded it, and video documented the entire thing for the sake of my new creative outlet, YouTube, and am sharing it with you below:

P.S If you guys are enjoying the videos I put on YouTube or even have advice for me (as long as it’s constructive advice, I have delicate feelings) then please like/subscribe to the vids – it helps me know what type of content you guys like!

Right, back to Zwift. It was actually really fun, and a lot of my concerns for using the platform have dissipated. I’m still unsure if I will use it for all my indoor sessions simply for the fact that I already spent enough of my day on a computer, but certainly I can see the merit in this program – especially for the poor sods on the other side of the planet that experience incredibly shitty weather for large parts of the year.

So I’m officially on Zwift! I still don’t know how to join races, or even join communities, but I’ve done one workout and will probably look to expand my horizons this week or next!

Do you have any tips for me or any hacks I should know about? I love hacks – motherlode on Sims 3 anyone?

Pre/Post (Mid??) Ride Snack: Banana Choc Chip Slice

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Banana Choc Chip Slice Recipe - My Name is April

I know, fam, it’s been a while since I’ve posted for you guys and I sincerely apologise for this. But, if I’m going to be honest, my bike training has been about as consistent as my posting on this blog…life has really gotten in the way a bit the past few weeks. And by life, I mean work.

Anywho, I recently had the morning off before some surgery, and found myself with some time to spare! So I decided to film myself making one of my favourite snacks at the moment. I call it the completely original, uniquely named, banana choc chip slice.

I’ve been eating it for breakfast before my rides some mornings, and also in the afternoon as a bit of a sweet treat pick-me-up. It’s really versatile! I haven’t yet stored it in a back jersey pocket for a mid-ride eat but when I do eventually get out on the bike for a ride that warrants food, I’ll give it a go. Or, if you guys want to give it a go and let me know how it is that would also be great!

So I did a great job of filming myself making the slice. Such a great job in fact that I actually need to post the recipe below so you actually know how to make it. Check out the video and then check out the recipe below it!

Ingredients

  • Food processor
  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • 2 overly ripe bananas
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 big tbsp plain/vanilla yoghurt (I used coconut)
  • 2tbsp maple syrup
  • 2tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Choc chips

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees fan forced.
  2. Prepare a brownie tin with baking paper.
  3. Throw everything except for the choc chips into the food processor and blend on high until it all looks pretty mixed.
  4. Put about 1/4 cup choc chips into the food processor and pulse it on low to combine the choc chips.
  5. Spread the mixture into the brownie tin and smooth it out.
  6. Lick the spoon.
  7. Put the mixture into the oven for 15 minutes.
  8. Pull it out, sprinkle with choc chips and put back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
  9. Take it out and leave it to cool on the bench for a while.

Race Day Recap: Sizzling Summer Series 2019 Rd 1

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Sizzling Summer Series - My Name is April

It’s been a week, and I’ve only just swung around to writing this recap of my experience in the 2019 Sizzling Summer Series. Don’t hate me ‘cos you ain’t me – I got a life and bills to pay, mental exhaustion is a thing.

The Sizzling Summer Series is a CQ-sanctioned  3 round criterium series here in Queensland that attracts visitors from all over the East Coast to compete. Competition is usually very fierce, and last year was supposed to be my first year of competing however I fell sick and missed all 3 races. The races are held 2 weeks apart from each other (so next weekend is round 2).

This year,they did not have an individual Open D Grade for the women, so the women that would normally race D Grade instead entered as Open C – this meant there were 30 women in my field which is a spectacular turn out. The last time I raced in a field this big, I flipped my bike. So I was proverbially and literally shitting myself.

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The size of the field combined with the first race of 2019 ending in a crash (that I thankfully avoided) left me feeling quite apprehensive and nervous about how today was going to pan out. Open C Grade womens is also full of riders that are like me and still learning, or experienced and hungry to bump up a grade. This can lead to two things: a solid race that is controlled well by the experienced, or a complete dogs fucking breakfast.

Due to Cyclone Oma, there was a huge block headwind on the finishing straight, and it strung the women out into the gutter each and every rotation of the crit track. My nerves got the better of me, however, and instead of finding a good wheel amongst the group to hide from the wind, I found myself riding out and in the wind where I knew I was safe. Yes, I deliberately rode out in the wind because I am a giant pussy.

The race was a very fast race for C Grade, and there were some very dicey corners where I always tried to take the inside line. A few women would swing too wide when they came in on the inside, and I just didn’t fancy being on that outside line when they did swing out.

I didn’t contend for the prime, but at roughly the 23 minute mark I did put in an attack towards the end of the finishing straight, in the headwind. I did a solid 20 second sprint out of the saddle without looking back before settling in to a solid pace. I knew the girls would still be close, but I figured if I could just keep my head down and drive a hard pace that it might bomb a few of them. The question would be are they willing to work together or will they just leave people on the front to try and bring me back in?

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I managed a lap with a bit of a gap before a girl tried to bridge across to me unsuccessfully – apparently one was fine to leave out the front but two out there? That would have been dangerous. The women were quick to jump with her and there we remained as a group for the rest of the race.

A few things I learned from this attack – it was a good tactic, but I left it too late. I should have done it earlier in the piece or directly after the prime. I wouldn’t have been strong enough to keep them away for the rest of the race so there was no point in me doing it so close to the end. All it ended up doing was leaving me completely gassed for the final sprint.

Which leads me to the final sprint. I didn’t even contend for it. The previous few sprints that I have been part of and contended for were dodgy AF and not something my already rattled nerves were willing to deal with.

It was a great experience for me, I haven’t done very many CQ events so it was really cool to see the depth and breadth of the other C Grade women around Queensland.

I’m not sure how, other than to just dealing with it, I will get better riding around unreliable racers though. When I can trust a wheel, I am perfectly fine to ride in close proximity but I get very nervous riding around erratic / poorly handled bicycles. If anyone has any tips on this they would be greatly appreciated. How much should I risk, and when is it definitely just sensible to tap out? Is this even something that should be debated? Should I just harden up and stop being a puss?

All in all, I had a really good race. I didn’t crash, it was hard and fast, and I learned a lot of valuable things.

Thank God for Rest Days

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Thank God for Rest Days - My Name is April

I will be the first to admit that sometimes the thought of an upcoming hard session gets the better of me. My entire cycling journey has been a battle with my internal default mode of lazy. If you’ve spent the majority of your life in a state of laziness, then any sort of sport or physical activity will not come easily to you – but boy is it sweet when you overcome it, right?

I’ve overcome my laziness plenty of times – I’ve raced in the rain on several occasions, raced in wind that if I hadn’t changed my front wheel would have sent me careening onto the side of the road and of course there is always the sessions that make you vomit afterwards. But it’s a constant fight. This winter, every morning that I wake up and do a training session will be a battle for me. And fuck that shit is exhausting.

Race Day Recap: White Ribbon Criterium 2018 - My Name is April

Look at this laziness!

People who don’t understand what I’m talking about need not continue reading.

So all this physical exertion, with the addition of the mental exertion means that every single intense training session will leave you feeling far more drained than your average Friday morning coffee roll.

I can handle (during a 5 day week) approximately 3 intense sessions, and that is my maximum. Any more than that and I will spend the rest of my day in a zombie state gnashing my fangs at anyone that dares look at me the wrong way, and my performance (both on and off the bike) will diminish greatly. So one intense gym session and two high intensity cycling sessions per week it is!

Oh, Thursday, my sweet rest day. By the time you come around I well and truly need you. Its how I find the time to write blog articles such as this one, actually wash my hair with real shampoo instead of powder in a can and just take the time to breathe (in the fumes of my fake tan hehe).

Just me stroking my pussy

Taking some time for myself at least once during the working week does wonders for my mental health. I get physical benefits from it too, but ultimately the greatest improvement I see is in my headspace. It keeps me loving my sport, and keeps me performing at work.

Thursdays look a little something like this for me: in the morning, I still wake up around the same time I would if I was to go training but instead I sloth about for a little bit playing with Dot and then jump on the computer to write a blog article or edit some photos or play around with some other little side project. I zip off to work a bit earlier than normal with the intent in my mind that I will be leaving on time today. I carry out my work day, and when the clock hits 5pm I am out the door and on my way home; where I then wash my hair, exfoliate my body and slap on my glorious fake tan. After that I have to sit and wait for the fake tan to soak in – a process which I’ve attempted to capture in the images of this blog article.

Check me out being all self-care oriented and playing with my cat

It’s a process and a ritual that I have come to truly love and cherish. It gives me something to look forward to when I wake bleary eyed and groggy on that Wednesday morning. Tomorrow is my rest day. Thursday is the day that gets me through to the weekend (even though the weekend is only one day away). Once that weekend hits, cycling becomes my meditation and I get to put my earphones in, clear my schedule and have the entire day to go out rolling through hills. Bliss.

To some reading this article, it might make them wonder why I do cycling as my sport if I need a rest day so desperately, and the only response I have is that it is for the same reason I don’t give up during an effort when my legs are screaming and my head is telling me that it won’t hurt to just stop – I love the challenge. I love challenging myself and proving to myself that I can do it. My rest day is my intermission, my mid-game pep talk. I rally the troops, give them a glorious spiel to get them amped, and then we break and keep going, amped up and ready for the next bout.

I’ve come to understand that taking a rest day, and looking forward to it,  doesn’t mean you don’t love your sport. I think it means you understand, realistically, what you need to do in order to excel at it (I haven’t quite got this “excelling” part down pat yet but I’m sure its coming).

Perhaps you should try it sometime?

Happy Birthday, MNIA!

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This year marks My Name is April’s 10 year anniversary. That’s right – my blog has been around for a decade. And before My Name is April was Gooberfied, and before Gooberfied was Serenity Musings. For as long as I can remember I found solace in writing words and projecting them out into the world via my own little corner of the internet.


My name is April, 2010 (as far back as the wayback machine captured)

This blog served as both a playground as I dabbled in what has now become a very fruitful career for me (coding), and also as an outlet for all my musings, opinions and everything in between. There was even a spell where my blog was considered Brisbane’s number one lifestyle blog – quite the achievement for a sleepy little river city down under if I do say so myself.


Cute little 18 year old me…

But with the rise of social media came the fall of my desire to blog publicly. What I once would share with you all became my own private thoughts in the form of countless handwritten journals. As the authenticity of blogging disappeared and the introduction of perfect edits, unqualified “experts” and boobs and biceps became the new norm, my desire to write for you and be real for you dissipated. I didn’t wish to be a part of what is now almost considered a dirty phrase – lifestyle blogger. These days, lifestyle bloggers are associated with carefully posed photos, more skin showing than a 60s Playboy magazine, and countless lies being spoken through sponsored white smiles.

There is nothing real or authentic about blogs these days. Almost all of them are sponsored, and in everyone’s quest to make a living, I struggle to wade through the bullshit products they promise are their absolute favourites to find ones that I have the slightest bit of trust in believing are a truly good product. Influencers for me are more of an indicator of which products to never try as opposed to actively seeking out upon their recommendation.


My first coding job, bless…

But this is where I am now torn. I think the world needs a little more real, a little more authenticity. Those of us that retreated and bowed down to the perfect prince and princesses of the modern blogging world need to think long and hard about the role we have to play in keeping that balance in society. When Facetune is downloaded more times than a music streaming app we have to ask ourselves what we can do to fix this – at least, that’s what I have been doing.

And so I have decided that my days of quiet, handwritten reflection are over. For you, and me too I guess. I would be lying if I said there wasn’t also an element of interest in this for me too – I love to write, I love to share my thoughts with others and I also want to furiously smack down and take back the blogosphere, for authenticity and to provide a space that people can trust again.

Don’t call it a comeback.