by Darragh on October 22, 2013
For much of the past few years, I’ve been struggling with some form of injury that has come and gone and come again and become incredibly frustrating in the process. And I’ve had very conflicting advice over what it might be and how to solve it. Signs point to something like patellofemoral pain syndrome (PPS), but I’m not exactly sure.
A few years back, I rode out to my usual social soccer game. During the match, I copped a fairly bad tackle into my ankle, and while my ankle was fine (apart from bruising), I found I couldn’t walk properly. My knees and lower back particularly ached and I had to walk my bike home because I couldn’t bend my knee without severe pain.
I went to the physio, and I got some releif out of stretching and massage, but from then on my knees have been incredibly weak. Bending the knees, particularly the right one, cannot be done without pain. Doing squats is impossible as my knees will usually just give way under load.
This year I took up a lot of running and generally have been able to cope. I noted that after playing a game of indoor football, that suddenely I was getting sharp pains around the groin area on the same side as my more troublesome right knee. I thought I had perhaps pulled my groin muscle, and I rested. It seemed to get a bit better, but not totally correct. Even now I still get occasional sharpish pains in the groin when I do exercise.
The symptoms are:
- Weak knees – cannot squat, need to use arms to lift my body weight off chairs.
- Crepitus in knees (like gravel running through the joint).
- Extremely tight quadriceps – particularly the right quadricep.
- Sharp pain occasionally in the right side of my groin/hip area.
- Sitting in a chair with poor lower back support causes nearly unbearable pain in my knees
Does the above sound like classic PPS?
I’ve noted yoga has given me some relief, but not total relief.
Please comment if you have any advice.
by Darragh on October 21, 2013
I’ve been slightly cycling obsessed since I took possession of a new 20 speed cyclocross bike that I bought off my friend WJ. I ride to and from work most days, usually taking a long way back home to make it worth my while. On the weekends I’ve been knocking out fifty kilometres doing an extended riverloop – a ride that is very popular with Brisbane cyclists.
Ongoing knee and hip problems sustained during a random fill in game of netball have meant that I’ve hardly been doing any running. Cycling all the time has meant that I’ve had to relearn many of the skills that I had mastered in my teenage years, a time when my old Repco 18-speed mountain bike was a constant companion.
Back during the ‘90s when I lived in Brookfield, that bike would take me to the local general store, up the dirt road of Gap Creek Reserve towards The Gap, as well as the long and windy roads out to Upper Brookfield and Gold Creek Reserve. Once I road it to Moggill and back which seemed like a giant journey for a fourteen year old. Riding in traffic was not a problem for someone as naïve as me back then. Funny how I’m scared to death of cars nowadays – perhaps I’m just more aware and informed of the seemingly rising number of cycling related injuries.
Brisbane to Gold Coast 100k Challenge.
Anyway, I suppose my cycling renaissance culminated yesterday in my first Brisbane to Gold Coast 100k cycle ‘challenge’. It’s a 101 kilometre journey from South Bank in Brisbane down to Southport at the Gold Coast, taking in the South East Busway, parts of Logan, out the back of Coomera, through Hope Island and, of course, the Goldie.
My previous longest ride in one sitting had been only around 52 kilometres and this was nearly twice the distance. While I knew I was physically fit enough, relying on residual fitness from my marathon that I ran a few months back, almost 4 hours in the saddle was slightly daunting. There were two nominated rest stops along the way – at the 40 and 80 kilometre marks – and I planned to take full advantage of these breaks by drinking, eating and chilling for a few minutes.
I got up at 4am, shoveling down some oatmeal and a banana, donned the lycra and packed my back pockets with energy gels, and rode the five kilometre commute down to the starting zone along Grey Street in South Brisbane. I rode into the orange start zone which for riders who generally ride between 25-30 kilometres per hour – despite the fact that I had actually registered for the slower blue zone.
I then promptly fell over on my bike, failing to get my boots loose of the clips in time, gashing my knee and elbows and landing roughly on the ground. Having fairly recently ‘graduated’ to riding clipless, I had thus far managed to avoid this rite of cycling passage. Dazed, I got up and check myself out – a bit of blood was flowing but not enough to stop me from participating! Here’s the evidence.
I actually had a bit of an issue with my left cleat the rest of the day with it not disengaging without a massive yank (as I type this, I nearly fell over this morning on my morning commute due to the dodgy cleat). You could say I was a bit paranoid for the rest of the journey.
The first part of the Brisbane to Gold Coast ride takes in the South East Busway, meaning no public roads and no car traffic but a lot of bikes. It was pretty fun and slightly surreal as large groups of riders flew past on their speedy road bikes. I had my first experience of drafting, sitting in briefly behind a bunch and feeling the air resistance melt away and my legs suddenly feel all powerful. I can see why people enjoy that so much.
I was managing to hold my own on the 20-speed cylocross, climbing a lot faster than those around me but usually overtaken on the flat by the more lightweight and higher geared road bikes. Not that I was racing, I was simply keen for a somewhat challenging but enjoyable ride.
After the busway, the ride goes onto the streets and we began to see the odd car about the place. Fortunately, police were at hand to control the traffic and I rarely had to stop to give way to road traffic at roundabouts during the early parts of the event.
Once we got to Logan, the ride began to head through fields, and all you could hear was the whirring of wheels as riders sped past farmhouses which I didn’t really know existed that close to Brisbane. I exchanged the occasional pleasantry with some fellow riders and one friendly guy engaged me on a question about the heat retention of my cycling shorts.
I began to feel a bit tired as I went past the 50 kilometre mark and I suspect this more psychological than physical. I smacked down a gel and felt immediately good again. The next thirty kilometres were perhaps my fastest of the entire journey, and had a few minor climbs which I ate up. I have a feeling that I’m a masochist – I love climbing!
The rest stops were a god send, and I made sure I grabbed a banana, a muesli bar, and refilled my water bottles at each break and take the occasional ‘selfie’.
After carbing up at the 80k rest stop, just behind Dreamworld amusement park, I was feeling pretty confident for a nice ride to the finish. Thinking I’d be close to going under 3 ½ hours for the event. I didn’t count on some vicious headwinds, a large amount of riders, and frequent stopping due to traffic lights and heavy traffic on the roads heading into the Southport. I was fretting though – I’d never imagined this ride as some kind of race or anything. I saw a fellow rider fall off his bike due to an unclipping issue, and while I hope for the best for the dude, I inwardly felt a bit of relief knowing I was just the only gumby participating today! Thankfully, all the cyclists in the event seemed very courteous and understanding.
I ended up rolling into the finish, somewhat slowly, at around 3 hours and 45 minutes, the last 20 kilometres section taking almost an hour to complete due to the aforementioned issues. I felt fine, not exactly exhausted, but still tired enough for a good meal and sleep later. I met up with my riding buddy Matt for a quick chill out before heading back home.
by Darragh on October 16, 2013
It’s been eons since I did music writing, but I went to see The Drones and Harmony the other week and penned a few words about the show.
An earlier and slightly different version appeared on Collapse Board.
Here’s what I thought (warning: some rude language)
The Drones – they don’t need commendations, they probably don’t want them. But I’m going to proselytise anyway.
They’re back in Brisbane for I think the second time this year, and I think the third time in the last 12 months. I feel somewhat sheepish admitting that this happens to be my second time seeing the legendary group, the first being way back in 2009 when they christened Brisbane’s HiFi on the venue’s opening night.
Warren Ellis from The Dirty Three once proclaimed them the hardest working band in the world circa 2007. Reading the guitarist Dan Luscombe’s fascinating 2007 European tour diary, this claim is easy to believe. But one get’s the feeling that recent times have seen the band take some time out from The Drones to concentrate on other musical and life projects.
Between 2008’s Havilah and the most recent record I See Seaweed, both guitarist/vocalist Gareth Liddiard and drummer Mike Noga released solo albums, and Liddiard and bassist Fiona Kitschin delayed work on a new Drones record building the perfect pizza oven on their rural Victorian property. But thankfully, The Drones are back in a big way in 2013 and I See Seaweed is a worthy addition to the band’s stellar back catalogue.
After a curry and a bottle of wine at one of the fine local West End establishment, I stumble into a half filled HiFi just in time to catch the opening chords of Harmony’s new single ‘Cut Myself Clean’. If I’m 100% truthful, I’m not so much here to see The Drones as I am to see Harmony. Don’t get me wrong; I’m fond of The Drones, but I fucking love Harmony. Their 10am set at Golden Plains a few years back in front of a largely hung-over or drunk crowd is a precious memory. Their more intimate set at The Waiting Room in Brisbane from sometime last year is even more special. People say they’re the best band in Australia at the moment. I don’t think they’re wrong.
Harmony doesn’t quite transcend those memories for me tonight. They open with the aforementioned ‘Cut Myself Clean’, with guitarist/vocalist Tom Lyngcoln glaring suspiciously towards his amplifier as the band’s unique three-part female choir begins off this newish tune. It’s a slightly sluggish start, but the group eventually hits stride about three songs in, Lyngcoln’s soulful yowl and the band’s fascinating gallow blues dragging previously uninterested punters from the bar towards the front of stage.
While the set showcases many of the band’s newer work, which presumably will appear on the forthcoming record Carpetbombing, it’s ‘Extinction Debt’ from the band’s debut record that once again proves to be the group’s best song. Other highlights include recent 7inch single ‘Do Me A Favour’, and the group close with the excellent ‘Cacophonous Vibes’. This is a great support for Harmony and I’m sure many who may have been ignorant of the group’s excellent music previously may have reconsidered what to spend their merch budget on.
“What’s with all the disco lights?”
I don’t actually know what Gareth Liddiard is talking about but he says this just before the band launch into ‘Baby2’, the song that initially drew my attention and one that seemed rarely played by the band in recent years. And perhaps its inclusion on the setlist indicates some intention; a set full of swagger with minimal sentiment.
This is a good thing in my view. I like it when band’s play with rampant abandon. And The Drones don’t disappoint. As the yowling solo of ‘Baby2’ kicks in, Liddiard looks like he’s exorcising demons with his guitar. Throughout the entire performance, he’s channels a derange Banjo Paterson with a Fender Jaguar. Dan Luscombe looks equally manic and perhaps a tad tipsy – augmenting Liddiard’s almost spiteful delivery with his winding noisy lead lines. Bassist Fiona Kitschin and drummer Mike Noga are comparatively more reserved and newest Drone, keyboardist Steve Hesketh remains self-effacing, workman-like but largely in the background.
They open with ‘I See Seaweed’; a song that’s quintessentially The Drones, with contrasting quiet and loud sections that underpin Liddiard’s abstract storytelling. The dynamics evident in The Drones makes me realise why I prefer them to Liddiard’s solo work. It’s the collective noise of the quintet that give Liddiard’s tales so much more emotional resonance and it’s clearly evident as they wheel through many of the newer material and particularly on their epic ‘Nine Eyes’.
There are the usual crowd pleasers from the band’s back catalogue. ‘The Minotaur’ from Havilah appears early on. A crowd request for Ian Moss’ ‘Tucker’s Daughter’ is met with a powerful rendition of ‘Shark Fin Blues’ which is followed by the sole Gala Mill tune ‘I Don’t Ever Want To Change’ is performed with the usual intensity.
The set highlight is definitely the tragic ‘Laika’ from I See Seaweed. It’s great on record but after seeing it performed live, it’s up there amongst my favourite Drones songs. The sadness of the first dog in space carries so much emotional weight, and it’s hard not to be drawn into Liddiard’s penetrating histories. The band close out the main set with a very well received and somewhat riotous cover of riotous cover of Chuck Berry’s ‘Downbound Train’.
Considering what came before, I’m weirdly not connected to the encore choices. We get ‘Why Write A Letter That You’ll Never Send’, a slower and sombre song that is perhaps a welcome break from the unruly rock that preceded. It’s not a song I’m particularly drawn too, but I see people singing it word for word in the crowd so perhaps I’m in a minority. The band then signs off for the last time by inviting Harmony back to the stage for a rousing version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Diamonds in the Mine’.
I’m not so sure if you’d count The Drones as a commercially successful band even in spite of their Australian Music Prize from years ago. I suspect they all still have day jobs. And while I’d love to rest easy in the comfort that such a great Australian group reap the financial rewards their art deserves, I think they’ve done the hard yards, they’ve cemented their legendary status and performances like tonight reinforce these claims. One suspects that their supports, Harmony, might be on a similar trajectory.
The Drones: they’re a fucking great Australian rock group. Long may they live.
Selfish plug: you can listen to a great live set from Harmony broadcast as part of my 4ZZZ radio show, Live Delay. You’ll get a good idea of how good the band are live.
by Darragh on October 4, 2013
There has been some robust debate happening on a corner of the Internet. I’ve written before about some of my concerns about the rhetoric of “cyber” war in the past (Related pieces here and here), but recently I was compelled to write in to the Lowry Interpreter, commenting on a piece by cyber security expert Ian Wallace. Ian was discussing the coming age of cyberwarfare and new cyberweapons, and I expressed some skepticism as to exactly what these ‘things’ are, requesting some clarification.
“I found the recently published post by Ian Wallace another example of a somewhat frustrating article on ‘cyber’ warfare.
That there is some kind of ‘warfare’ taking place on telecommunications networks (outside of fictional networked video games) is increasingly becoming a taken-for-granted fact. Espionage, crime – sure – but warfare? Unless the definition of warfare has changed substantially, I’m still unsure how an actor might actually use the Internet to gain strategic or tactical advantages in the field of war. Yet articles like the one Ian Wallace has published indicates that there is, or there might be, such uses for the Internet .
Questions I’d love answered include: have there been recorded cases of states or non-state actors using networked technology for a strategic or tactical advantage in war? Or, in what circumstances can an actor gain advantage in war through use of cyber ‘weapons’ (whatever they might be) that couldn’t be gained using preexisting ‘conventional’ weaponry?
It seems to me that those advocating the existence of cyber war (or its possibility) do a poor job of articulating the utility of cyberspace as a domain of conflict outside of describing it in terms more relevant to espionage or crime. Call me paranoid, but the increasing rhetoric of ‘cyber’ warfare seems more about consolidating state power over the Internet than it has to do with actual important security concerns.”
Unexpectedly, the Intepreter published it and the original author wrote back with a much more detailed and, I think, better response via the Lowry Interpreter which is linked here. I particularly am drawn to this point
“How should governments deal with cyber acts that have a national security impact (espionage, sabotage and subversion, if you will) but which fall below the threshold of ‘war’, especially when the perpetrators are based overseas and often beyond the reach of law enforcement?”
…which I think is a very legitimate concern.
Other people have written in to share their views, such as engineer Tony Healy who opens up with a discussion of Stuxnet making some excellent points and pointing out some key challenges for security. For the record, I don’t disagree that cyber threats don’t exist, I’m essentially engaging in a argument of the appropriateness of the term ‘cyber warfare’.
To briefly clarify, I’m aware of the potential for using networked technologies to gain advantages in ‘war’ however I’m still skeptical as to the current level of utility networked technologies, or technologies or methods that exploit networks have over conventional methods of ‘doing war’. No doubt this viewpoint will change as technology gets even more advanced and integrated and perhaps after our view on what constitutes ‘cyber’ and what doesn’t as it still seems to me that ‘cyber’ is a blanket term used to describe acts of war that might use some aspect of newer technology.
by Darragh on September 2, 2013
I jumped into the Bridge to Brisbane at around the last moment. My partner Kate was participating and many of the people she was intending to run with had pulled out, so I decided to re-enter, after previously saying I wouldn’t. Shrug, I guess.
I had qualified for the red zone (sub 50 minutes) based off last year’s time but due to arriving late at start, I couldn’t get to the Red Zone in time. The shuttle bus service from the RBH next to the finish was woefully under catered for, and I’m guessing hundreds missed the start.
Kate and I lined up at in a section mixed with green (sub 60 minutes) and yellow (I think over 60 minutes) runners. There were a lot of participants in front of us.
I left Kate at the start line hoping to run at a fairly leisurely pace and I guess I did. I had done a big ride the day before – or at least big in terms of my own riding experience (40+ kilometres) – and was feeling a bit tired and tender. The gallons of beer consumed post ride didn’t exactly help.
But it was hard to get going. Massive groups of walkers (identified by their white/grey race numbers) were somehow in front of the running contingent meaning much weaving and also close encounters. It seems that people don’t seem to care about seeding properly which is frustrating for those trying to set a good running time. There were prolonged periods of being stuck behind large groups of walkers.
I ended up running a fairly casual 50:43, which was a minute slower than my time last year. The difference is that last year I killed myself to run sub 50, whereas I was fairly nonchalent on this occasion. What a difference a year of consistent running can make. I guess I can be pretty pleased with a greater than 2 minute negative split on my 5k times, but this only really shows how congested the start was!
As I say every year, unsure if I’ll do this one again. It’s far inferior to City2South.
by Darragh on August 27, 2013
I found this article by science writer David Berreby over at Aeon Magazine somewhat interesting.
Tackling the issue of obseity, Berreby cautions the perhaps overtly simple approach governments and other institutions have taken to explaining rising rates of obesity. This approach basically puts it down to individual self discipline and personal choice, which Berreby is quite skeptical of. He notes:
“Yet the scientists who study the biochemistry of fat and the epidemiologists who track weight trends are not nearly as unanimous as Bloomberg makes out. In fact, many researchers believe that personal gluttony and laziness cannot be the entire explanation for humanity’s global weight gain.”
Berreby goes on to discuss a wide range of possible explanations for the widespread increase in obesity worldwide, explaining certain points of view, although offering little opinion on which may be the best explanation. Nonetheless, the explanations are interesting – ranging from biochemical reactions to the impact of modern capitalist society on the food chain. He also notes an interesting idea about individual stress.
“The story might go like this: being poor is stressful, and stress makes you eat, and the cheapest food available is the stuff with a lot of ‘empty calories’.”
It doesn’t solve any problems but might give you a bit of a wider lens in which to try understand this important public health issue.