but who's counting?
Our minds do strange things. They sometimes allow us to wander to places we didn't know existed, they may allow us to overcome stress and pain we could never comprehend, or they can let us find terror and fear when there is no reason. Wherever they take us, the very fact that they can take us to places should be a source of pleasure and inspiration.
As my dear Mum always says, if Men had children the human race would have stopped at Adam, such is a man's inability to endure the pain of child bearing.
These sentiments were ringing in my ears as I "endured" the Kokoda Track in 2008. It was the most challenging thing I had ever done, physically of course, but also, surprisingly, Mentally and Emotionally. The Mental challenge was to get the next step out, albeit that step might be going up, or more dauntingly, going down a vertical mud face. The Emotional challenge was the reflection on the challenges faced by young Australians who sacrificed their all to protect all we hold true today.
Our Trek was joined by 4 women, 3 of whom were hard working mother's all with part time or full time employment with the fourth a highly intelligent Australian lawyer who worked in Hong Kong with a major Global Company. As we discovered she, like many others was chasing demons on the trek which were courageously shared as our journey's unfolded.
After the third night the four ladies were gathered and I approached to test my Mother's Hypothesis.."So Ladies, is this tougher than Child Birth?" I asked.
"Absolutely", "Definitely", "Yes", three of them replied in unison. The three who were Mothers.
The lawyer looked at me and said..."No way!" Aside from the absurdity of a childless person, being either Male or Female, being able to judge, her conviction was such that the old adage of, "Never argue with a Lawyer", rang in my ears.
The next night, after an particularly hard day in which we had ascended and descended 3800m in over 10 hours of hiking I approached the quartet again and posed the question a second time. As she looked sheepishly around firstly at the 3 mothers and then at me. "I certainly hope so, because this is the hardest thing I could ever imagine doing".
The revelation helped me through the last few days....finally I knew that Man can do something harder than childbirth.
But if the mind is as powerful as we believe, I will need all of it on the Bamboo Road. As I road the other day in preparation, my mind wandered to a bit of maths.
Bike Gearing is quite scientific. There is a direct correlation between the number of teeth on the front chain ring and those on the rear gear, and the distance the bike will travel with each pedal stroke. In fact, in track cycling, where there are only fixed gears they calculate the time based on the distance to be covered, by the gearing and the cadence, or the number of pedal strokes per minute. They know that with each pedal stroke they will cover a precise distance. So to go faster, that is cover distance quicker, you just need to pedal faster.
This gets a bit more complicated with bikes with Gearing, whereby more or less teeth can be introduced both on the front chain ring and the back.
Nonetheless, when training for the Bamboo Road, you have enough time to work the permutations and combinations. Based on 2,650 km, at a cadence of 90, going about 20km per hour and with the average of my gear changes I concluded that between Hong Kong and Phnom Penh that's 350,000 pedal strokes. Crickey!