Trains, Bikes and Christmas

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Train crash

Steve Gurney's totalled Subaru Outback - Train CrashYes, yes! It was me. I took on a train and survived. 

It’s not often that a car occupant just “walks away” from a collision with a train travelling at full speed. Well, I actually ran away. In the movies, the car always explodes into a huge ball of fire and deadly metal shards. So I bolted and cowered in the ditch.

Nothing happened.  The train had disappeared around the corner, my ski gear and bits of car were spewed all over the road in a 100m radius. What was left of the Subaru was quietly idling away, like it was waiting for me to jump back in and continue on to the ski-field, a mere graze to its integrity. Amazingly the door opened perfectly and I reached past the airbags and bent bits to turn the engine off.

Steve Gurney Trained Subaru - Back viewI’m forever indebted to Subaru for building such strong and safe cars. My Outback was only 4 weeks old and had to be totally written off. A shame, but I owe my life to the Subaru Outback with the latest in safety design, strong passenger cage and the fact that all of the airbags went off, even the little knee protectors! I got a wee scratch on my hand, some whip-lash in my neck and some gnarly bruising, but was back on my bike within a couple of days.

The police charged me with careless driving. I pleaded guilty because I know I made an error in not stopping where I could see the train (it was a rural crossing with no lights, barriers or bells). Many people have since shared similar experiences of not noticing a train, and I’m shocked that I, “Mr Adventure”, a supposed expert at managing risk, was not aware of the train until it was too late.

This prompted me to research how it is possible for so many people to hit, or to be hit by trains by accident. I’ve found some great results to share with the police, KiwiRail and Transit NZ, to hopefully save others from this experience. I’ll also include this research in my new book, “Eating Dirt”, on the shelves August 2012.

France Tour

Spin your bike wheels with me.

Do you fancy 16 days of fine French Cuisine, road-biking the best that Southern France has to offer, including parts of the Tour de France, all concluded with a few days on a cruise boat on the Rhone?

Fancy baguettes, olives, cheeses, and salami French picnics instead of Squeezies and Sports bars?

Join me in June/July 2012 where the emphasis is social fun. Of course there will be a yellow jersey for the hardy few, but it won’t be me. I’ll be soaking up the ambience, the sights and the red wine!
Full details here

For the Queenstown folks, I’m giving a talk about this and other adventures Monday 5th Dec 6 pm, Crowne Plaza Hotel. It’s free, but you’ll need to register by phoning 0800-232-320

Silly season training tips

Some folks just love the busy lead-in to Christmas. But some of us have a massive challenge to stay sane in the silly season with the pressure of fitting in training, work, and family commitments with the avalanche of Christmas social stuff.

I’ve found the best solution is to understand that stress is good for our growth, but too much stress becomes “distressful”, affects our health, and makes us grumpy old farts that are not pleasant to be around.

So I accordingly adjust my expectations and commitment loads. Stress is a bit like a boat. It can support a load, but too much load makes it sink, operating at near full capacity is risky if a storm or waves hit. When a bigger load comes, we need to take some other stuff out or reduce the load somehow so the boat stays safely afloat. If the stress is temporary, then the changes can be temporary too.

In practical terms, for example, I might reduce my training load on certain weeks to allow more time for other commitments. I might say no to some invitations, and in general I’ll look at the bigger picture, noting what really matters in the scheme of relationships, balance and happiness. In future years, you can plan training to be more intense in November, allowing recovery and less training in December.

If you’re training for the Coast to Coast, a practical tip for the silly season is to reduce training duration and increase work on skills. Eg focus on developing white water kayaking (at the beach for example) and rough weather skills (do it safely of course!), and rock running skills. You’ll get good fitness as you train for this and spend less time doing it. Once you develop better “rough” skills, you’ll be more relaxed, and a better racer.

Steve Gurney is an adventurer, motivator and storyteller.
He’s trained in developing mental excellence and resilience, teaching and speaking to businesses.


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